We must all be good stewards of natural resources

It was an easy joke for years. The Cuyahoga River caught fire, it is the reason we have a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it was synonymous with “contaminated” and “dirty.”

Now, maybe not so much. It turns out changes in environmental policy and practice mean (according to the EPA) it is now actually safe to eat fish caught in the Cuyahoga. Well, part of it, anyway. The green light was given only between the Gorge Dam in Akron and the edge of Lake Erie.

“If you safely can eat the fish, we know that’s a great indication that water quality is improving,” Ohio EPA Director Laurie Stevenson said last week.

It has been 50 years since the river caught fire because it was so polluted with waste from nearby steel mills and other industrial contaminants. And, we know part of the reason there are fewer industrial pollutants in that part of Ohio is because the industries themselves have dried up and gone away. But certainly another part of the reason for such a positive change is the degree to which Ohioans took the necessary steps to be better stewards of the natural resources all around us.

“This is an example of the progress that can be achieved when you collaborate and dedicate resources to improving the quality of water in our state,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. “We need to continue to invest in our water resources so that we can see additional improvements.”

Indeed. But we must also continue to be personally, and on a corporate level, responsible for making the changes we can to take care of our water and our other natural resources. If nothing else, there is still about 40 miles of the Cuyahoga to go …