Ohio Awarded $1 Million for Wetland Preservation at Lake Erie Public Access Site

Public access to Ohio’s 312-mile Lake Erie coast will be expanded because of a $1 million grant that will help Lake Metroparks acquire 209 additional acres as part of the Lake Erie Bluffs preservation site.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), in partnership with Lake Metroparks and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, was awarded the funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2013 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants Program. The land to be acquired includes 110 acres of high-quality coastal wetland habitat.

“Coastal wetlands serve as some of nature’s most productive fish and wildlife habitats while providing improved water quality and recreational opportunities,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “These grants will help our partners implement high-quality projects that support conservation and outdoor recreation.”

Ohio’s grant is one of 24 projects in 13 states to receive a share of the 2013 wetlands funding. The funding will be matched with local dollars to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands, thereby providing long-term conservation benefits to fish, wildlife and their habitats.

The Lake Erie Bluffs site targeted for acquisition includes forested wetlands, high-quality vernal pools and areas of hummock-hollow wetlands. These areas provide habitats for more than 15 state-listed rare plantand animal species including the yellow–bellied sapsucker, an Ohio species of concern, and the spotted turtle, an Ohio threatened species. The site also has 440-feet of Lake Erie shore and habitat suitable for the federally endangered Indiana bat.

“This is a nationally significant project, and we are grateful for the opportunity to play a role in creating this preserve,”said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy.”Our partners recognized the rare opportunity to preserve this important section of Lake Erie coastline and worked to make it happen. By permanently protecting this amazing property, Lake Metroparks is helping to make our great Lake Erie accessible to everyone, now and in the future.”

Lake Metroparks acquired and made improvements to 139 acres at the Lake Erie Bluffs site, located east of Blackmore Road and bisected by Clark Road in Perry Township, which opened to the public on July 2, 2012. This latest proposed acquisition is part of a larger conservation initiative by Lake Metroparks and other partners to permanently preserve approximately 600 acres of undeveloped property along a nearly 2-mile stretch of Lake Erie shore.Through state, local and nonprofit partnership efforts, more than $5.48 million in grants have been secured for acquisition and improvements.

The latest $1 million grant will be administered by the ODNR Office of Coastal Management, with a total of $3 million in local match provided by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Lake Metroparks, for a total project cost of $4 million.

“The preservation of Lake Erie Bluffs is an example of a large-scale conservation effort possible only with the collaboration and commitment of many regional partners,” said Lake Metroparks Executive Director Paul Palagyi. “No one organization can accomplish the task alone, however, together many conservation partners have successfully identified the opportunity and coordinated a strategy to protect critical coastal shoreline and wetlands.”

Once the land transaction is final, Lake Metroparks will own the Lake Erie Bluffs site and manage it as a nature preserve and public park open for passive recreational use and educational pursuits. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy will hold a permanent conservation easement to the property.

Lake Metroparks strives to provide the citizens of Lake County and the broader region with the clean, safe and outstanding parks and outdoor education programming.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy works to provide our region with natural places that nourish and support vibrant and prosperous communities by identifying, preserving, restoring and maintaining essential assets like clean water, working farms, wildlife areas and parks.

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