The director of natural resources or the director's representative may create, supervise, operate, protect, and maintain wild, scenic, and recreational river areas. In creating wild, scenic, and recreational river areas, the director shall classify each such area as either a wild river area, a scenic river area, or a recreational river area. The director or the director's representative may prepare and maintain a plan for the establishment, development, use, and administration of those areas as a part of the comprehensive state plans for water management and outdoor recreation. The director or the director's representative may cooperate with federal agencies administering any federal program concerning wild, scenic, or recreational river areas.
The director may propose for establishment as a wild, scenic, or recreational river area a part or parts of any watercourse in this state, with adjacent lands, that in the director's judgment possesses water conservation, scenic, fish, wildlife, historic, or outdoor recreation values that should be preserved. The area shall include lands adjacent to the watercourse in sufficient width to preserve, protect, and develop the natural character of the watercourse, but shall not include any lands more than one thousand feet from the normal waterlines of the watercourse unless an additional width is necessary to preserve water conservation, scenic, fish, wildlife, historic, or outdoor recreation values.
The director shall publish the intention to declare an area a wild, scenic, or recreational river area at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in each county, any part of which is within the area, and shall send written notice of the intention to the legislative authority of each county, township, and municipal corporation and to each conservancy district established under Chapter 6101. of the Revised Code, any part of which is within the area, and to the director of transportation, the director of development, the director of administrative services, and the director of environmental protection. The notices shall include a copy of a map and a description of the area.
After thirty days from the last date of publication or dispatch of written notice as required in this section, the director shall enter a declaration in the director's journal that the area is a wild river area, scenic river area, or recreational river area. When so entered, the area is a wild, scenic, or recreational river area, as applicable. The director, after thirty days' notice as prescribed in this section, may terminate the status of an area as a wild river area, scenic river area, or recreational river area by an entry in the director's journal.
Declaration by the director that an area is a wild, scenic, or recreational river area does not authorize the director or any governmental agency or political subdivision to restrict the use of land by the owner thereof or any person acting under the landowner's authority or to enter upon the land and does not expand or abridge the regulatory authority of any governmental agency or political subdivision over the area.
The director may enter into a lease or other agreement with a political subdivision to administer all or part of a wild, scenic, or recreational river area and may acquire real property or any estate, right, or interest therein in order to provide for the protection and public recreational use of a wild, scenic, or recreational river area.
The chief of the division of parks and watercraft or the chiefs representative may participate in watershed-wide planning with federal, state, and local agencies in order to protect the values of wild, scenic, and recreational river areas.