In the end, it was the practical thing to do.
Facing public opposition in a political climate of property rights and mistrust of government, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources with an outward show of good grace backed off from its intent to designate the Vermilion River a state scenic river.
Property owners along the riverbanks feared the doorway being opened to an erosion of their property rights, despite the state's insistence that would not be so.
While we wonder what would have been so bad about a designation that might have opened up more resources to helping preserve the scenic nature of the river, we can also see, along with the state, this was not worth the years of expensive litigation and acrimony that surely would have resulted.
For their part, the property owners have recognized it's in their best interests to preserve the river, because of the scenic qualities of the river that, in fact, enhance the values of their properties. They, in a statement faxed to local media in response to the state's decision, pledged to keep up the quality of the riverbanks. One can only assume this will be a combination of care for one's own property and a watchful eye on the upstream neighbors to ensure their activities don't hurt one's own property.
Perhaps that's the way it's supposed to work: self-interest, enlightened or not, resulting in betterment of the situation for all.
Perhaps if enough people thought that way, we could in fact do away with some governmental expenses without devolving into a society of the haves protecting their own at the expense of the have-nots.
One can only hope.