PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
November 15, 2022

Feeding Medina County and Medina County Park District’s Food Distribution Partnership in Lodi Wins First-Place Award of Excellence

The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) has announced the winners of its 2022 Annual Awards of Excellence. Feeding Medina County and Medina County Park District were awarded first place in the Health and Wellness Programs & Events category for their unique partnership.

Medina County Park District’s mission includes the words “to enhance the quality of all life,” but that doesn’t always take the form of parks, trails, and conservation. Beginning last year, the park district partnered with local food pantry Feeding Medina County (FMC) to bring monthly food distribution events to the district’s then-underused Hidden Hollow Camp just outside the village of Lodi, where nearly 15% of residents live in poverty. By doing so, FMC and its volunteers—some of whom are park district staff—are able to serve those in need close to home in a beautiful park area that is open to all.

Katy Fuerst, executive director of Feeding Medina County, stated: “Partnering with the Medina County Park District has made a huge impact on the accessibility of healthy, free food for families and individuals in the southwestern portion of our county.” At the first distribution event at Hidden Hollow Camp in April 2021, 119 people were served. “Little did we know that by November 2022, we would serve 490 people. To date, a total of over 37,000 meals have been provided to participants in this food distribution.” FMC hosts its food distribution at Hidden Hollow Camp on the first Thursday of each month from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

The OPRA Awards of Excellence were judged by a panel of 36 parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio. OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward stated: “This was a highly-competitive process, and the winners have gone above and beyond in improving the quality of life in their communities.” In all, 12 agencies won first-place awards, and 24 different agencies were recognized.

The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on January 31, 2023 at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky in conjunction with the 2023 OPRA Conference & Trade Show.  For more information on OPRA, visit www.opraonline.org.

Feeding Medina County

Feeding Medina County’s mission is to educate, engage, and lead our community in creating an environment where no one goes hungry. The organization provides four community-wide food distributions each month in partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, as well as Weekender Bags for elementary aged children receiving free and reduced lunch in all public schools in our county, transport of food from the Foodbank to smaller food pantries, Staples for Seniors+ Program which brings food and produce to seniors and disabled adults in subsidized housing units throughout Medina County, and operates an Emergency Food Pantry out of its Medina warehouse.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
October 27, 2022

Sharon Nature Preserve Now Open in Sharon Township

Medina County Park District is pleased to announce the opening of Sharon Nature Preserve, a 134-acre property located at 6734 State Road in Sharon Township. The park district acquired the property in 2014 with a $500,000+ grant from the Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation Program. The site officially opened with a ribbon cutting held on October 27, 2022 with park district staff, commissioners, and several members of the community in attendance.

High-quality wetlands dominate the nature preserve, however, a remnant of huge sugar maples resides on an upland knoll in the center of the property where visitors can hike a 0.4-mile nature trail. Open hayfields cover the remainder of the upland ground. Visitors can also hike a 0.6 mile (ADA accessible) gravel trail that loops through a wildflower meadow. The nature preserve is rich in natural resources, including a large swath of wet sedge meadow habitat that borders the Wolf Creek between Ridge and State roads. A pre-acquisition survey of the property found nearly 40 different varieties of trees and shrubs, a number of insects and amphibians, evidence of mammals—including deer, coyote, eastern cottontail, muskrat, raccoon, and groundhog—and several noteworthy species of birds: brown creeper, rusty blackbird, wood thrush, and yellow-bellied sapsucker.

There is a 20-car parking lot at the nature preserve. Biking is not permitted at this site. Leashed pets are permitted. Future phases of development at Sharon Nature Preserve include an additional gravel loop trail as well as stream and wetland restoration. Please note there are currently no restrooms at the site (they will be added in 2023).


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
October 25, 2022

New H2Ohio Wetland Project Coming to Medina County

 LODI, Ohio – As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Medina County Park District (MCPD) are announcing their third collaborative wetland project.  The 173-acre land acquisition made through an H2Ohio grant will be the site of the new Little Killbuck Creek Wetlands project.
 
“This is the latest example of how the H2Ohio initiative continues to expand and grow to serve the people of Ohio,” Gov. DeWine said. “All the work we’ve done and continue to do is to ensure that future generations have a clean, reliable water supply.”
 
At least 55 acres of wetland will be restored at the Little Killbuck Creek Wetlands site.  The project will provide tremendous nutrient reduction and water quality improvements and would enable the closure of a major point of weakness between the Mississippi Rivers Basin and the Great Lakes.
 
“We are really excited to add to the growing list of H2Ohio wetlands and share the benefits of these projects with everyone in Ohio,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “Each new project strengthens our efforts to ensure that communities in Ohio have safe, clean water.”

Nearly 70 percent of the property is located within the FEMA 100-year floodplain, an area that currently connects the Lake Erie Basin to the Ohio River Basin and poses a risk for the movement of aquatic invasive species. MCPD will work with the ODNR Division of Wildlife to build an interceptor berm that will help prevent the passage of invasive carp species from entering the Great Lakes Basin through the flood zone of Little Killbuck Creek.
 
The area also has a diverse wildlife population.  Seventy-four species of birds including the state endangered Northern Harrier and the state threatened Trumpeter Swan have been documented in nearby fields.

“We’re actively preserving what people love about Medina County,” director of Medina County Park District Nathan D. Eppink said. “The H2Ohio program has been a big part of our recent success, and we’re excited to bring this new property into the park district.”
 
MCPD received a $900,000 H2Ohio grant to purchase the latest property.  The park district previously received a $1.52 million H2Ohio grant to restore three areas near Chippewa Lake, including the former Chippewa Lake Amusement Park and a $900,000 H2Ohio grant to restore 145 acres in Litchfield Township. 
 
Governor DeWine created H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive, data-driven approach to combatting algal blooms, enhancing water quality, and improving water infrastructure over the long term. H2Ohio was launched with support from the Ohio General Assembly, which invested in the program in Ohio’s two most recent operating budgets. H2Ohio operates in partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. The initiative focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring and enhancing wetlands, upgrading outdated water infrastructure, and replacing lead pipes. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
October 20, 2022

New Observation Platform Built by Boy Scout Troup 459 with Funding from Lodi Rotary

platformEagle Scout candidate Zachary Workinger recently led Boy Scout Troop 459 in the construction of an observation platform at Black River Nature Preserve—Bluebell Valley as part of his Eagle Scout service project.  Funding for the construction materials was provided by the final donation from the now-dissolved Lodi Rotary as part of its nearly 100 years of community service. The observation platform, located near the mid-point of the nature trail, provides a spectacular view of the river valley and the Virginia bluebells that bloom here each spring.

Black River Nature Preserve—Bluebell Valley is located at 8500 Richman Road in Lodi/Harrisville Township. Bluebell Valley is a quiet, remote area in which to enjoy nature. Visitors can expect to experience beautiful views of grasslands and woodlands, interesting walking trails, and lush habitat for butterflies and migrating birds. This area was part of a wetland mitigation and stream restoration project in 2002 that restored 8,000 linear feet of the Black River.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
August 23, 2022

Largest Gift of Land in Park District’s History Donated by Westfield Resident

Medina County Park District (MCPD) is pleased to announce the largest gift of property in its 57-year history: 203 acres located in Westfield Center and Westfield Township. It was recently donated by Diane (Dedee) O'Neil. The property includes rich natural resources such as native wildflower meadows, beautiful woods, and a fishing pond. The preservation of this property is ecologically significant because it protects a portion of Camel Creek and a variety of flora and fauna.

Per the pledge agreement, MCPD will begin developing public access to the property no later than summer 2024. The district will be working with O’Neil to finalize a concept plan in the coming months.

O’Neil has appreciated the area since she and her late husband, Rory, who passed away in 2020, first moved there in the 1960s. “With a succession of Labradors who have insisted on daily walks, I’ve explored the fields and woods for years, always finding something that brightens my day—the first wildflowers in the spring, the sounds of the spring peepers, butterflies and bees on the flowers, the brilliant colors of the leaves in autumn, and the glittering crystals of ice on the trees after a winter storm,” O’Neil said. “With this gift of land to Medina County Park District, the woods and fields will be preserved for others to explore, and I hope they will find a favorite spot, something to brighten their days.”

With her donation, O’Neil has earned the right to name the property, according to MCPD Director Nathan Eppink. She chose Rivendell Nature Preserve. The name “Rivendell” is from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. In the books, Rivendell is a place of peace and safety, where guests are always welcome.

“In the years that we have owned the land,” O’Neil said, “we’ve welcomed scout troops, the third-graders from Westfield Elementary School for annual field trips, and many others. Now, with the park ownership, Rivendell Nature Preserve will soon be open to all.”

Throughout its history, MCPD has benefited from individuals who have generously supported the park district to make it what it is today. If you are interested in learning more about contributing to preservation and park district projects, please contact MCPD Development Coordinator Natalie Peacock at (330) 722-9364.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
August 2, 2022

Park District’s First Park Grows by 15 Acres

Opened in 1972 as Medina County Park District's (MCPD) first park, Green Leaf Park is a microcosm of what the park district is all about – nature, recreation, reclamation, preservation, and the protection of woods and wetlands for the benefit of people and the ecosystem in which we live. In June, Green Leaf Park grew by 15 acres thanks to a $231,964.50 Clean Ohio grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission. This 15-acre acquisition helps protect the Wolf Creek, which flows east into Summit County, ultimately reaching Barberton reservoir, which provides drinking water to the city of nearly 25,000 residents.

The park district had been working with the landowners for several years to preserve this property. In addition to protecting the Wolf Creek, the natural features and wildlife of these 15 acres are outstanding. Staff from the natural resources department documented numerous spring wildflowers and neotropical songbirds here. A total of 144 native species of plants, animals, and fungi were recorded over three different site visits prior to the acquisition. Large trees on the property, such as American beech, American basswood, sugar maple, and various oaks, provide food and refuge for many animals. Some of the trees there are as large as three feet in diameter.

Director Nathan Eppink commented, “I'm especially pleased with this acquisition. Its preservation benefits multiple counties and communities, and like so many of our successes, this one crossed the finish line because of the people involved including patient sellers and dedicated park district staff.” The application for the Clean Ohio grant included support letters from the Medina County Soil & Water Conservation District, the city of Barberton, ODNR Division of Wildlife, Summit Metro Parks, and park partner West Creek Conservancy.

Sharon Township Trustee Kim Miller said, “The Township is excited for the growth of the Medina County parks. Now more than ever, families are wanting more open space and parks. The township is grateful for this property the district has worked so hard to acquire.”

Green Leaf Park is located at 1674 S. Medina Line Road in Sharon Township. The park includes a .85–mile nature trail, 1-acre pond, 80-person capacity open-air shelter, sledding hill, and a youth football/soccer field. The Hard family log cabin (circa 1817) is also located at the park. It is one of the oldest remaining dwellings in Medina County. This pioneer family home was moved to Green Leaf Park by the Sharon Historical Society. Medina County Herb Society maintains an herb garden near the log home for park visitors to enjoy. Looking out over Green Leaf Park’s diverse amenities, lush green space and mature trees, you’d never guess this property served as the Sharon Gravel Pit in its former life. From the early twentieth century to 1971, untold tons of gravel and sand deposited by retreating glaciers were excavated from the site.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
May 25, 2022

Holmesbrook Park Now Operated by Medina County Park District

Earlier this month, Medina County Park District (MCPD) signed a 50-year lease agreement with the city of Wadsworth to operate Holmesbrook Park as a county park. Holmesbrook Park is located on College Street near the intersection of College and Leatherman roads. Although Friedt Park is in close proximity to Holmesbrook Park on Leatherman Road, it is not included in the lease agreement.

MCPD will be responsible for daily management and capital improvements at Holmesbrook. The 58.3-acre site is the largest park in Wadsworth and includes a pond, streams, and nature trails. Director Nate Eppink said, “It's a win-win. Medina County Park District now has a presence in the city limits, and Wadsworth can invest more of its resources in other parks and amenities. It's been a goal of mine to establish a presence in the city of Wadsworth, and our board has supported that effort.” MCPD has similar lease agreements with Brunswick and Medina to manage Brunswick Lake and Lake Medina, respectively, as county parks.

MCPD staff will develop a master plan for Holmesbrook Park by year's end -- to include planned improvements and possible additions based on terrain, accessibility, and other factors consistent with the park district’s mission and industry best-practices. The park district looks forward to directly serving the residents of Wadsworth via this mutually-beneficial agreement.

Mayor Robin Laubaugh commented, "We are thrilled that the Medina County Park District will now have a presence in Wadsworth. Holmesbrook Park is a bit of a hidden gem, and we are excited for the improvements that will take place over the years to enhance this area into an even greater asset to the community.”


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
May 19, 2022

Park District, Nonprofit Selected to Manage Historic ‘Farm in the City’

Aerial View of Rt18 farmFor a number of years, sheep could be seen grazing on a nearly 17-acre sanctuary in the midst of a heavily-developed commercial area along Route 18, next door to Medina Hospital and just outside the Medina city limits. Last fall, when the estate hosted an auction on the property, speculation swirled about the future of 4092 Medina Rd. Would it be developed? Would the buildings be razed?

Medina County Park District and its nonprofit partner, Friends of Medina County Parks, Inc., are pleased to announce they will soon be the stewards of the well-known but, perhaps, misunderstood ‘farm in the city.’

This unique property, which consists of three houses—most notable of which is a Victorian-era home—plus several outbuildings, was owned by Mr. Edson J. Brown and Mr. Ross M. Trump, both prominent antique dealers. It was Brown and Trump’s wishes that their Medina Township property be preserved as a working farm for cultural, educational, and aesthetic purposes; as a green gateway to the city of Medina and a way to balance encroaching commercial development; as a museum and historical site; and as a community space that inspires future generations.

Elizabeth M. Bux, attorney for the estate, commented, “We are delighted to be working with the Medina County Park District and Friends of Medina County Parks, Inc. on this project.  Mr. Brown and Mr. Trump would be very pleased with the plans for their beloved farm and with the enormous benefit that it will provide to the community.”

Upon Brown and Trump’s passing, a committee was appointed by the estate to select an organization that could formulate a vision for the property and make it a reality. Friends of Medina County Parks, Inc. (Friends) and Medina County Park District (MCPD) submitted a proposal in February. Upon reviewing a handful of proposals submitted by other pre-selected applicants, the committee chose Friends to hold the title to the property and manage estate-provided funds for its long-term care, with MCPD acting as the property manager. Much of the grounds are protected by a conservation easement held by Western Reserve Land Conservancy. MCPD was the natural choice to manage the land, permit public access, and offer activities and experiences consistent with local history.

The property is located along a busy state route in an area of great interest to MCPD. Opportunities to protect land and form pedestrian/greenway connections in the eastern part of the county will become increasingly challenging in the coming years as our community remains one of the fastest-growing areas in Ohio. Not far from the property is Lake Medina, where MCPD has a number of exciting capital projects planned—from improving fishing and kayaking access to establishing a third entrance with an accessible-to-all trail and more. In addition, 20 years ago, Ted and Willette Chandler donated 100 acres to the park district off East Smith Road. The Chandlers’ donation agreement prohibits development on the property for 75 years—with one exception: construction of a bike trail. MCPD was recently awarded a $500,000 Clean Ohio Fund trail grant that will enable the district to build the “Lake Medina Greenway” from Smith Road to Lake Medina via an easement with Summa Hospital. This property will become part of a greater network of public spaces managed by MCPD.

MCPD will update its master plan for Lake Medina this year to include all of these new opportunities, including the farm property. That site will not be a typical park/nature center that is open daily to the general public. Entry would be by invitation only for special events, programs, meetings, workshops, and tours. Friends and MCPD are developing partnership agreements with a number of local non-profit organizations to discuss uses of the buildings as well as the grounds. The Medina County Historical Society, Feeding Medina County, the Medina County ADAMH Board, Hope Recovery Community, and Cathy’s House are among them. Through this unique gathering of partners befitting this unique opportunity, Brown and Trump’s wishes and vision for the property can be achieved.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
May 16, 2022

Chippewa Lake Master Plan Finalized

In 2021, Medina County Park District (MCPD) engaged OHM Advisors to help develop a master plan for the former Chippewa Lake Amusement Park which was purchased in June 2020. The site is located on the shores of Chippewa Lake, Ohio’s largest inland glacial lake. With public input acquired through meetings and surveys, OHM and MCPD designed a master plan to transform the site into a future public nature area. Both short and long-term improvement projects are included in the master plan. The Chippewa Lake Master Plan is located on the park district’s website at www.medinacountyparks.com. Click on the “Parks” tab, then select “Chippewa Lake Master Plan,” the last option in the menu.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
April 12, 2022

Expansion of Lake Medina Greenway Trail Made Possible by Clean Ohio Trail Fund

Lake Medina is a hidden oasis nestled between Route 18 to the south and Granger Road to the north, just west of Interstate 71. With the completion of the Granger Road parking lot and trail improvements at this site in 2020, attention has now turned to the next phase of trail connectivity to this very popular park.

In 2018, the park district was awarded $150,000 through the state capital budget to assist with construction of a trail that will extend from the State Route 18 entrance of Lake Medina, south toward a proposed trailhead at the future Chandler Nature Preserve located on E. Smith Road. Due to the length and complexity of the proposed trail, the park district decided to seek additional funding and submitted an application to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Clean Ohio Trail Fund in April of 2021. The park district is pleased to announce that it was awarded the maximum grant amount of $500,000 for the Lake Medina Greenway extension. Construction of the approximately one-mile greenway trail extension will, likely, occur in late 2023 or early 2024.

The Clean Ohio Trail Fund, administered by ODNR, is one of three components of the Clean Ohio Fund, which restores, protects, and connects Ohio’s natural and urban places. To date, the program has awarded nearly $106 million to provide Ohioans with better access to recreational opportunities through the creation of nearly 500 miles of trails and the acquisition of 128 miles of abandoned railroad and greenway corridors. “Ohioans loves to get outside and take in the natural beauty this great state has to offer,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “I’m excited for families and friends to have even more opportunities to see Ohio through every season.” To learn more about Ohio’s trails, please visit trails.ohiodnr.gov.

“The city of Medina is very grateful and appreciative of the efforts of the Medina County Park District to obtain a $500,000 Clean Ohio Trail grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the expansion of our existing collaborative trails. These trails support our Healthy Medina initiatives by encouraging walking, running, and bicycling to benefit the health of city and county residents,” said Mayor Dennis Hanwell.

The project required the acquisition of a trail easement across the Summa Health Medina Medical Center. “We’re proud to partner with the Medina County Park District on the Lake Medina Greenway extension. This project represents a significant investment in our community and underscores our commitment to the health and well-being of the people we serve. We look forward to the completion of the project and congratulate everyone at the park district for achieving this important milestone,” said Luke Smith, director of ambulatory services and property management at Summa Health Medina Medical Center.

Lake Medina served as Medina’s municipal water source from the early 1960s until 2002, when the 197-acre site was leased to the park district. The park features a 1.1-mile gravel trail along the lake and a 1.4-mile paved trail that follows the West Branch of the Rocky River and connects to the city of Medina’s multipurpose trail along Reagan Parkway. Located on Ohio’s Buckeye Trail, Lake Medina is popular for hiking, fishing, biking, kayaking, and cross-country skiing.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
January 25, 2022

Medina County Park District Preserves Land in the Black River Watershed

In early January, Medina County Park District (MCPD) purchased 35.1 acres on Avon Lake Road (SR 83) in Lodi. The purchase was made possible with a $232,850 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission’s Clean Ohio Fund. Less than $30,000 was paid locally by the park district.


The property will allow MCPD to, one day, provide public access to a 104-acre parcel that MCPD
acquired in 2001. Together, the newly acquired 35.1- and existing 104-acre parcels will be considered part of Black River Nature Preserve, which includes the Bluebell Valley and Hidden Hollow Camp areas on Richman Road in Lodi. "This acquisition was two years in the making but well worth it," said Nathan Eppink, director of the park district. "The land makes expansion of Black River Nature Preserve possible and additional recreational opportunities available in the future."


There are several significant environmental benefits of preserving this ecologically-rich land. An
assessment by MCPD's natural resources staff identified numerous aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish species indicative of good habitat in the stream along the western boundary of the new property, a stretch of the East Fork of the East Branch of the Black River. The property also includes more than 20 acres of woods that rise some 64 feet above the water. The mature, forested riparian corridor supports migrating birds that visit the area in the spring and fall.

There is no timeline for development of the new property, but a concept plan was included in MCPD's Clean Ohio Fund grant application. "Lodi is an area we're very excited about," Eppink said. "We've recently made changes at Hidden Hollow Camp to make it more accessible year-round, and Bluebell Valley will see improvements this year including a small picnic shelter and observation platform overlooking the river."


MCPD’s natural resource staff has already transformed seven acres of farm fields located at the back of the new property, seeding it with a mix of native grasses and wildflowers. In addition, to supplement the natural succession taking place, over 500 native tree seedlings were planted including oak and cherry.


Press Release
For Immediate Release
December 16, 2021

Hidden Hollow Camp Won’t Be Hidden Anymore in 2022

Effective January 3, 2022, there are two major changes planned for Hidden Hollow Camp located in Black River Nature Preserve in Lodi. First, the site will be open to the public year-round unless the enclosed building on the property is reserved. Since Hidden Hollow Camp’s opening in 1984, it has not been open to walk-in visitors. Historically, the general public has only been able to utilize the site for day-use reservations or to attend naturalist-led programs. Second, the public will be able to reserve Hidden Hollow Camp for overnight camping. Reservations for day-use will only be allowed on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Camping will be permitted on Friday and Saturday nights only. This will allow the grounds to remain open to the public Mondays through Thursdays on a regular basis.  The site will also be open to the public if there are no weekend reservations.

Planning and Operations Manager Isaac Smith commented, “Opening Hidden Hollow Camp to the public on a regular basis will offer another park site in the Lodi area for hiking, bird-watching, or fishing in addition to neighboring Bluebell Valley which opened in 2020. We are also pleased to offer overnight camping to the general public as a new recreational opportunity – a first in the park district’s history.”  

The enclosed building at Hidden Hollow Camp offers the perfect amenities for an “indoor camping” experience for up to 75 people, including a wood-burning stove, scenic wraparound porch, movie screen, electric range, food preparation tables, and a refrigerator. Please note, this facility is one large room. There are no beds, bunks, or cots. Alcohol is permitted, inside the enclosed building only, when reserved for day-use or camping. Drinking water, restrooms, and a gray-water disposal pit are located outdoors. There’s also a large campfire ring and a team-building challenge course. Neither RVs nor travel trailers will be allowed. Tent camping is permissible in addition to the use of the enclosed facility. Only one reservation is permitted per day.

The grounds feature a beautiful one-acre woodland pond and two nature trails. In geographical terms, a “hollow” is exactly as it sounds – a small valley or basin in the land. At the bottom of Hidden Hollow is the West Fork of the East Branch of the Black River. The rich soil of its floodplain is home to towering sycamore, black willow, and black walnut trees -- along with a diverse array of wildflowers. The trees and thickets here provide ideal habitat for migrating warblers. Visitors should plan on bird-watching during spring and fall migration.

Improvements to the entry drive will be made next year to accommodate increased usage of the site on a daily basis. Reservations for camping will open starting on January 3, 2022.


PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
November 18, 2021

H2Ohio Initiative Funds Restoration of New Nature Preserve in Litchfield Township

Medina County Park District (MCPD) was recently awarded $900,000 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, as part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, to restore 145 acres in Litchfield Township. The property is located in the Central Basin of Lake Erie with water flowing north to our Great Lake. Restoring the property will reduce nitrogen and phosphorous loading in the watershed which can contribute to harmful algal blooms -- an issue that has plagued Lake Erie in recent years. This project will also see the creation of more than 60 acres of wetlands and the introduction of native plants.

The park district plans to open this site as the Litchfield Wetlands Nature Preserve by the end of 2022. Director Eppink noted: “I'm looking forward to establishing a nature preserve in an area without a Medina County Park District presence. After chasing a number of funding opportunities to restore this property over the past decade, we are grateful to receive such significant support through the H2Ohio initiative.”

The land was purchased by MCPD in 2009 with Clean Ohio funding. (Clean Ohio grants are administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission.) There is currently no public access to the site as it has been farmed under an annual land management agreement to keep invasive plants from taking root. MCPD will budget $300,000 of its own dollars for public access improvements including parking, restrooms, and trail surfacing. Planning & Operations Manager Isaac Smith envisions more than 1.5 miles of trails for visitors to enjoy once the site is built.

Launched by Governor Mike DeWine in 2019, H2Ohio is a collaborative water-quality effort to provide clean and safe water to Ohio. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency each has a significant role in H2Ohio through the natural infrastructure of wetlands, the reduction in nutrient runoff, and increasing access to clean drinking water and quality sewer systems. To learn more, visit h2.ohio.gov.

This is the second award the park district has received from the program. MCPD's first H2Ohio award was for $1.52 million to restore three sites near Chippewa Lake in Lafayette and Westfield townships. One of those sites, a 7.5-acre parcel along the Chippewa outlet located off Kennard Road, will be completed next year. The district will also add parking and a kayak launch at the site.