Resident Fights to Keep Upper Mon River Locks Open

Fairmont Times West Virginian
26 July 2012
By Nicole Lemal

FAIRMONT — Opportunities for economic development and tourism may be what Marion County strives for, but local resident Lana Smith is concerned a recent announcement could hinder this goal.

Locks on the Upper Mon River at Hildebrand and Opekiska are due to be closed off for recreational purposes in October due to budgetary issues. Once this happens, there is no turning back, Smith said during the Marion County Commission meeting on Wednesday.

“These locks are very expensive,” she said. “Once these locks are closed, they will not reopen, and I can’t stress that enough.” 

Formed in 1990, the Upper Mon River Association (UMRA) was created to assure that the locks remained open. At that time, the association was concerned that services would be reduced because usage was measured by commercial activity.

A resolution was drafted three years later to request recreational passages also be included. Instead of moving forward with the resolution, the Pittsburgh District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to an arrangement, in which the lock hours would be reduced but would still be open on the weekends and holidays.

Since then, the association has operated at those hours for 91 days during the summer. But this opportunity could be in jeopardy.