Sunbathers relax on fine grain sand, near shade trees. Beachgoers clad in light clothing or just bathing suits stroll along the shoreline, where boats are visible in the distance.
Dick Taylor and other advocates want to see such a scene, depicted in a 1960s photograph, return to East Harbor State Park near Port Clinton.
They hope a $50,000 state grant to study erosion and prevent a future occurrence will spark that return.
In 1972, a storm washed out 90 percent of this beach reducing the once 2.5-mile long beach to a roughly 1,500 square-foot section.
Taylor leads Beach Aid-East Harbor, a non profit environmental advocacy group. It has been working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to secure funding for the beach's restoration. The group has been lobbying for several years.
"Our goal is to try to increase awareness and promote the priority and importance of doing this," Taylor said.
Taylor said since the erosion, attendance has fallen sharply and state officials have done little to restore the beach. Doing so could pump an additional $20,000,000 of tourism into the north shore economy each year.
"Other beaches in the country have been restored and we feel this one can be also, providing the economic boost Ottawa County has been looking for," Taylor said.
The 54-year-old Findlay-Hancock Public Library employee recalled spending time during his youth at East Harbor's beach. Its hallmarks included fine, grain sand and clean water.
He said on a busy weekend, 30,000 to 50,000 people descended on the beach. Taylor was among them, picnicking with his family.
"There were days you had trouble finding a (spot for a) blanket," Taylor said.
While those days are gone, Taylor hopes people haven't forgotten them. The main goal of Beach Aid-East Harbor is "to reach others who remember and miss the 2-mile sand beach we grew up with at East Harbor State Park."
The organization plans to do that, in part, by working on an educational DVD this spring. It will focus on the beach's history and the science behind erosion and its human cost.
The objective: Urge local, state, federal and private agencies to engage in the necessary research and take remedial action required for full beach restoration.
Beach Aid-East Harbor evolved in 2003, when Taylor inquired about beach restoration efforts at East Harbor. He said he learned state officials had no plans to restore the 9,000 foot section of beach.
"Beach Aid East Harbor has grown from the realization that any restoration 'aid' that comes to East Harbor will only come from the efforts of concerned citizens," Taylor said.
He said the restoration will amount to a multi-million dollar project. Now that Beach-Aid-East Harbor has attained non profit s status, volunteers can seek donations.
Funding from the state will be critical as well, Taylor said.
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