Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Firearms sales bolster employment opportunities in Ohio, elsewhere


Fueled by the spark of firearms sales the number of people employed in the industry has similarly revved up to tune of nearly 25,000 additional employees over the past two years.

The firearms industry now gainfully employs a total workforce that is just shy of 288,000 people. A good number of these high-paying jobs exist here in Ohio, too.

All figures come from the National Shooting Sports Foundation – the trade association that represents the multi-faceted firearms industry. These numbers are detailed in the organization’s eight-page “Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report 2016.”

Even the news organization CNN was impressed enough to recently publish an on-line business story about the subject.

In its report summation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation notes that nearly 133,000 people are employed directly in the industry with even more people – a shade more than 155,000 – being employed in support businesses.

And these are not minimum wage jobs, either, says the Foundation. The average person employed in the firearms industry collects a paycheck valued at $50,180 annually with a total all-employees’ estimated annual wage package of $14.4 billion.

Even more impressive is the overall estimated annual economic impact to the nation, which is valued at $49.3 billion.

In terms of tax revenue that flows from the worker’s paychecks and the industry’s share of such support, together they turn over $6.2 billion annually in taxes to local, state and federal governments, the Foundation says.

“Our industry is proud to be one of the bright spots in this economy,” the Foundation says in its detailed report.

The Foundation further breaks down the figures on a state-by-state basis. And Ohio does very well for itself, the Foundation says.

In its state-by-state economic impact report segment the Foundation says 11,124 Ohioans are employed directly and indirectly in the firearms industry. That’s good for 6th place in the total number of people employed in the industry on a state by state basis.

These workers earned $369 million in 2014, too; the last year such figures are available.

Perhaps surprisingly increasingly firearms-intolerant California is ranked second in terms of total firearms industry-related employment, only behind firearms-friendly Texas.

Rounding out the remaining Top 10 firearms-related employment states were Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan.

Of course, job growth is directly tied in with firearms sales, and though dips and downturns have occurred so have leaps and bounds.

In 2013 the FBI conducted just over 21 million background checks on prospective firearms buyers. That figure rose to more than 23 million last year, and if the gun-buying trend continues the FBI is projecting it will perform even a greater number of the federal background checks in 2016.

To illustrate this exponential growth in background checks – which translates into people buying firearms – in 1998 (the background check’s first year) a total of 892,840 such reviews were made. That figure exploded to 9.14 million the following year.

And for the first three months of 2016 alone the FBI performed nearly 7.7 million background checks on prospective gun buyers.

Importantly for wildlife management is that the combined federal excise tax paid by all applicable firearms-related business totaled $864 million. This tax revenue stream eventually returns to the states via the Pittman-Robertson Act, which fuels individual states’ wildlife management projects on a cost recoup basis.

All good stuff, reiterates the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

 “The economic growth America's firearms and ammunition industry has experienced over the years has been nothing short of remarkable,” the Foundation says also in its report.

“Over the past couple of years, the industry's growth has been driven by an unprecedented number of Americans choosing to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms and purchase a firearm and ammunition.”

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

UPDATED II: Former Ohio Wildlife Division Chief Scott Zody is dead



Scott Zody, the former chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, has died, leaving his current boss to say he is both stunned and saddened by the personal and professional loss.


Zody – who just turned 50 a short while ago – left the Wildlife Division last October 2 after a 25-year career with that agency as well as with its parent Ohio Department of Natural Resources.


Zody was found dead Wednesday in his Sugar Grove home. Sugar Grove is located south of Lancaster, which is about 31 miles southeast of Columbus. It is believed that Zody died of natural causes.

After giving up his $106,870 salary as the Wildlife Division chief Zody went back to Fairfield County. There he became the chief deputy county auditor as well as chief of staff for Jon A. Slater, the Fairfield County Auditor.

Slater said in a brief telephone interview that he and the rest of his 35 or so-person staff are in a state of sadden shock.

“We really don’t have very many details but we are all deeply saddened by Scott’s death and we wish to extend our deepest sympathy to his family,” Slater said.

Zody leaves behind a wife and two children.

Slater said also that he and Zody knew each other for a long time, both professionally and also as fellow sportsmen.

Together they served in various capacities including as volunteers with the National Wild Turkey Federation, a national pro-hunting and conservation organization.

Slater said the suddenness of Zody’s death was particularly distressing, the former saying the latter “looked perfectly fine to me” prior to his death.

“Scott was a tremendous colleague and friend,” Slater said. “He’s going to be missed.”

Likewise, Natural Resources Director James Zehringer told his agency’s personnel via electronic notification that he, too was sadden by the news of Zody’s sudden death.

Scott was the assistant director of ODNR, served as interim director and was most recently the chief of the Division of Wildlife before accepting a position with Fairfield County that kept him closer to home and allowed him to spend more time with his family,” Zehringer said in his email to departmental staff.

“Please join me in keeping Scott’s wife, Beth, and his children, Nathan and Lauren in your thoughts and prayers.”

In a September 16th, 2015 blog about Zody’s departure from the Wildlife Division and the Natural Resources Department, it was noted that the former state had a lengthy career working for various Ohio county and state governmental institutions.

Among them included the Fairfield County Board of Commissioners, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and the Legislative Service Commission.
 
Zody also at one time worked for former Ohio State Senator and Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Richard “Dick” Schafrath.
 
And in 2014 Zody unsuccessfully applied for the job of executive director of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks District.

 During his nearly four-year stint as the head of the Wildlife Division Zody had to deal with a mind-bending array of contentious issues, including internal  issues involving personnel, whether the Wildlife Division or the Ohio Department of Agriculture should have authority over deer propagation businesses, along with the appearance of chronic wasting disease in a Holmes County captive deer herd, and facing two consecutive failed attempts to get the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly to increase non-resident hunting license fees.

This story will be added to when further details become available.

 
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. Jeff is the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

 

 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ohio's first week spring turkey kill numbers post gains (sort of)


Ohio’s wild turkey hunters took full advantage of last week’s pleasant weather to ace an increase in the state’s wild turkey kill.

At least for the first week of the season’s four-week-long hunting period, anyway; and when 2015’s numbers are placed alongside those of 2016.

Last week Ohio’s turkey hunters registered 8,629 birds as being shot; or up from the 8,158 turkeys shot during the 2015 season’s first week.

Continuing with comparisons, the 2014 first-week spring wild turkey hunting-season kill figures show that 8,074 birds were shot.

In all for this year’s first-week spring season totals, 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties recorded gains, some significantly. Among them is the current leader – Ashtabula County – whose first week statistics show that 261 birds were taken, up from last year’s first-week kill of 195 birds.

Other noteworthy counties that posted increases included Clermont – 207 birds for this season’s first week and compared to last year’s first-week take of 160 birds. Another example is Muskingum County which saw this year’s first-week kill grow to 242 birds. That figure is up from last year’s first-week take of 217 birds for Muskingum County.

But this year’s first-week spring turkey season kill figures can be somewhat misleading. A number of the traditionally top spring turkey hunting counties demonstrated decided declines in 2015 when placed alongside those of 2014.  

Ashtabula County’s first-week turkey kill in 2014, for example, was 253 birds. Thus this year’s spring turkey kill in Ashtabula County of 261 birds actually more closely mirrors that of 2014 than it does that of 2015.

Another example of this recovery in the first week turkey kill numbers is Geauga County. This year 125 turkeys were registered as being taken there for the first week of the season. While that 125 number is up considerably from its 2015 match-up of 98 birds, it is really a near identical twin to its 2014 number of 123 birds.

Harrison County serves as another illustration to the paradox. Here and for the first week of this spring turkey-hunting season 212 birds were recorded as being killed; up from the 194 registered during the first week of the 2015 spring season. Even so, the 212 birds reflect almost perfectly the 2014 first-week turkey kill in Harrison County of 214 birds.

Even so, the bottom line when addressing county-by-county bird kill numbers – at least for the first week anyway –  points to a fine to-date spring wild-turkey-hunting season. In essence, the data strongly suggests there were more winners than there were losers.

Still, along with gains seen from 2015 to 2016 were some declines recorded in the spring season’s turkey kill numbers. Here, 23 counties displayed losses with the remainder of the counties registering respective identical first-week kills.

Among the noteworthy counties with declines were Coshocton (209 this seasons’ first week verses last season’s first-week kill of 229); Guernsey 216 for this season’s first week verses last season’s first-week kill of 242), and Vinton (141 for this season’s first-week kill verses last season’s first-week kill of 182).

With nearly three weeks remaining in Ohio’s four-week-long spring wild turkey-hunting season – it runs until May 15th – there is still plenty of time to fill a tag.

However, statistically about 46 percent of all spring turkeys are killed during the first week. Only about 18 percent of the season’s total number of birds taken is shot during the second week.

By the third week that number falls sharply to 14 percent of the total kill and to 13 percent for the final, forth, week. Youth hunters add another nine percent or so to the overall spring season total.

Last year Ohio issued nearly 66,000 spring wild turkey-hunting permits of all types: Adults, youths, non-residents, reduced rate senior citizens, and free senior citizens and handicapped.

Editor’s Note: A list of all wild turkeys checked by hunters during the first week of the 2016 spring turkey season is shown below. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for 2016, and the 2015 numbers are in parentheses. 

Adams: 220 (184); Allen: 37 (37); Ashland: 88 (92); Ashtabula: 261 (195); Athens: 168 (160); Auglaize: 22 (21); Belmont: 255 (246); Brown: 167 (162); Butler: 93 (76); Carroll: 169 (161); Champaign: 46 (56); Clark: 8 (13); Clermont: 207 (160); Clinton: 19 (23); Columbiana: 179 (179); Coshocton: 209 (229); Crawford: 45 (33); Cuyahoga: 4 (3); Darke: 17 (15); Defiance: 143 (123); Delaware: 47 (50); Erie: 28 (23); Fairfield: 50 (53); Fayette: 9 (7); Franklin: 10 (4); Fulton: 54 (63); Gallia: 212 (196); Geauga: 125 (98); Greene: 11 (12); Guernsey: 216 (242); Hamilton: 60 (43); Hancock: 25 (29); Hardin: 49 (46); Harrison: 212 (194); Henry: 31 (27); Highland: 163 (156); Hocking: 161 (116); Holmes: 111 (109); Huron: 54 (68); Jackson: 188 (172); Jefferson: 202 (182); Knox: 144 (166); Lake: 21 (24); Lawrence: 146 (111); Licking: 140 (189); Logan: 57 (52); Lorain: 58 (51); Lucas: 30 (20); Madison: 5 (2); Mahoning: 104 (85); Marion: 19 (18); Medina: 70 (58); Meigs: 229 (224); Mercer: 9 (7); Miami 9 (7); Monroe: 220 (234); Montgomery: 11 (10); Morgan: 172 (170); Morrow: 97 (81); Muskingum: 242 (217); Noble: 153 (163); Ottawa: 1 (0); Paulding: 58 (41); Perry: 121 (115); Pickaway: 13 (12); Pike: 132 (123); Portage: 95 (98); Preble: 55 (45); Putnam: 40 (39); Richland: 130 (133); Ross: 183 (153); Sandusky: 14 (7); Scioto: 129 (115); Seneca: 69 (78); Shelby: 22 (23); Stark: 120 (88); Summit: 26 (20); Trumbull: 204 (194); Tuscarawas: 208 (197); Union: 29 (19); Van Wert: 11 (10); Vinton: 141 (182); Warren: 55 (39); Washington: 222 (252); Wayne: 49 (45); Williams: 133 (128); Wood: 16 (6); Wyandot: 42 (49); Total: 8,629 (8,158)

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

UPDATED Ohio's spring turkey season hunters post impressive first-day kill numbers


Ideal weather almost certainly played a significant role in Monday’s large take of birds during the opener of Ohio’s spring wild turkey-hunting season.

Hunters registered a kill of 2,511 birds for the season’s opener. That figure is a gain of 7.54 percent from the 2015 spring season opening day kill of 2,335 birds.

Some noteworthy counties posted some eye-popping increases, too. In Northeast Ohio Ashtabula County turkey hunters shot 85 birds. That figure is up 89 percent: From the 45 birds killed on the 2015 opener to 85 birds taken on Monday (April 18th).

Harrison County saw a gain of 34 percent (up from 50 birds to 67 birds); Ross County saw a gain of 20.45 percent (from 44 birds to 53 birds); Clermont County saw a gain of 36.59 percent (from 41 birds to 56 birds); and Adams County which saw a gain of 16.67 percent (up from 48 birds to 56 birds).

There were more than a few opening day losers, however. Gallia County experienced a nearly 13 percent drop (down from 54 birds to 47 birds); Vinton County saw a decline of 44 percent (down from 59 birds to 33 birds); Jackson County experienced an 18.64 percent drop (from 59 birds to 48 birds); and Washington County, which saw a 31 percent plummet from 84 birds to 58 birds).

In all, 48 counties saw gains, 28 counties recorded declines, and the remaining 12 of Ohio’s 88 counties saw identical 2015 and 2016 opening day spring wild turkey season kills.

It is interesting to note that this year’s opening day spring wild turkey season kill of 2,511 birds is squeezed between the total 1987 and 1988 spring season kills of 2,268 birds and 2,629 birds, respectively.

Other talking points for the spring season (based on the 2015 provided statistics) points to the fact that 46 percent of the total kill is taken during the first week, 18 percent during the second week, 14 percent during the third week, 13 percent during the fourth week, and nine percent during the youth-only two-day season.

Ohio’s 2016 spring wild turkey hunting season continues through May 15. Hunters may take up to two birds but only one per day.

Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon through May 1st. Hunting hours from May 2nd to May 15th are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

Here is the complete county-by-county 2016 Ohio spring wild turkey hunting season opener kill figures along with those for 2015 in parentheses:
 
Adams - 56 (48); Allen - 11 (10); Ashland - 24 (28); Ashtabula - 85 (45); Athens - 42 (40); Auglaize 8- (3); Belmont 73 (77); Brown - 47 (54); Butler - 27 (13); Carroll - 53 (53); Champaign - 12 (12); Clark - 2 (5); Clermont - 56 (41); Clinton - 9 (6); Columbiana - 50 (50); Coshocton - 72 (67); Crawford - 15 (11); Cuyahoga - 2 (1);  Darke - 4 (5);  Defiance - 50 (34); Delaware - 11 (9); Erie - 8 (3); Fairfield - 14 (11); Franklin - 3 (2); Fulton - 15 (19); Gallia - 47 (54); Geauga - 36 (37); Greene - 4 (3); Guernsey - 67 (72); Hamilton - 18 (4); Hancock - 5 (10); Hardin - 13 (14); Harrison - 67 (50); Henry - 8 (10); Highland - 49 (49); Hocking - 46 (28); Holmes - 40 (40); Huron - 17 (14); Jackson - 48 (59); Jefferson - 60 (52); Knox - 52 (47); Lake - 6 (8); Lawrence - 38 (34); Licking - 46 (54); Logan - 13 (16); Lorain - 20 (14); Lucas - 13 (4); Madison - 3 (0); Mahoning - 30 (36); Marion - 8 (7); Medina - 18 (15); Meigs - 63 (63); Mercer - 2 (2); Miami - 1 (1); Monroe - 57 (58); Montgomery - 4 (5); Morgan - 32 (41); Morrow - 30 (22); Muskingum - 67 (62); Noble - 42 (43); Paulding - 17 (11); Perry - 48 (39); Pickaway - 2 (4); Pike - 38 (30); Portage - 30 (28); Preble - 22 (9); Putnam - 8 (13); Richland - 43 (40); Ross - 53 (44); Sandusky - 4 (1); Scioto - 32 (27); Seneca - 21 (31); Shelby - 12 (9); Stark - 31 (24); Summit - 9 (3); Trumbull - 72 (60); Tuscarawas - 69 (66); Union - 9 (3); Van Wert - 4 (3); Vinton - 33 (59); Warren - 12 (14); Washington - 58 (84); Wayne - 18 (9); Williams - 39 (38); Wyandot - 8 (11); Total - 2,511 (2,335).
 
 
 
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ohio's youth enjoy fine youngsters-only spring turkey season


Ohio’s kids gobbled their way to a just-concluded youth-only season kill of 1,564 bearded wild turkeys.

That figure is statistically a mirror of the 1,589 turkeys that youngsters age 17 and younger shot during the 2015 youth-only wild turkey hunt.

Last year youths accounted for nine percent of the state’s total spring wild turkey hunting kill of 17,679 birds. The highest total all—classes spring turkey kill was the 23,421 birs registered in 2010.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife just released the numbers for the April 16th and 17th season.

Today’s general spring wild turkey season opener kill numbers will be delivered tomorrow, April 19th.

Certainly youths enjoyed fine weather for their two-day hunt, just as did everyone else who participated in today’s general spring season opener, which continues through May 15.

Here is the list of all wild turkeys checked by kids’-only hunters during the 2016 two-day youth spring hunting. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for 2016, and the 2015 numbers are in parentheses.

Just what to make of the figures is interesting conjecture and likely will dovetail with something meaningful (or not) when the results of the general season are posted.

It was estimated by the Wildlife Division that the state had more than 180,000 wild turkeys in 2013 with the population appearing to be stable.

In 2015 the Wildlife Division sold 9,245 youth-only spring wild turkey hunting tags along with 41,392 adult spring wild turkey hunting permits plus another 4,679 tags to eligible senior citizens.

Adams: 34 (36); Allen: 11 (10); Ashland: 29 (24); Ashtabula: 44 (32); Athens: 22 (32); Auglaize: 4 (2); Belmont: 40 (38); Brown: 31 (37); Butler: 10 (19); Carroll: 25 (30); Champaign: 7 (4); Clark: 2 (2); Clermont: 29 (22); Clinton: 1 (5); Columbiana: 38 (43); Coshocton: 34 (48); Crawford: 6 (2); Cuyahoga: 0 (0); Darke: 14 (15); Defiance: 44 (27); Delaware: 5 (5); Erie: 6 (2); Fairfield: 7 (6); Fayette: 5 (1); Franklin: 3 (2); Fulton: 15 (11); Gallia: 31 (32); Geauga: 23 (27); Greene: 1 (0); Guernsey: 38 (50); Hamilton: 8 (6); Hancock: 3 (3); Hardin: 5 (4); Harrison: 39 (41); Henry: 11 (11); Highland: 36 (36); Hocking: 14 (27); Holmes: 21 (29); Huron: 12 (22); Jackson: 34 (38); Jefferson: 39 (31); Knox: 23 (32); Lake: 4 (2); Lawrence: 24 (22); Licking: 16 (33); Logan: 17 (6); Lorain: 12 (5); Lucas: 4 (4); Madison: 2 (0); Mahoning: 18 (19); Marion: 4 (3); Medina: 12 (12); Meigs: 31 (44); Mercer: 1 (1); Miami: 2 (0); Monroe: 51 (57); Montgomery: 1 (1); Morgan: 28 (30); Morrow: 14 (19); Muskingum: 33 (48); Noble: 55 (44); Ottawa: 0 (0); Paulding: 8 (11); Perry: 26 (31); Pickaway: 3 (2); Pike: 17 (14); Portage: 19 (12); Preble: 10 (10); Putnam: 12 (12); Richland: 21 (33); Ross: 29 (25); Sandusky: 5 (1); Scioto: 13 (9); Seneca: 9 (15); Shelby: 5 (6); Stark: 13 (21); Summit: 3 (1); Trumbull: 46 (35); Tuscarawas: 44 (46); Union: 5 (2); Van Wert: 1 (1); Vinton: 32 (25); Warren: 12 (4); Washington: 52 (40); Wayne: 6 (6); Williams: 28 (19); Wood: 3 (4); Wyandot: 9 (10). Total: 1,564 (1,589).

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

UPDATED THROUGHOUT Ohio Division of Wildlife's "Operation North Coast" investigation nears conclusion


The Ohio Division of Wildlife’s investigation into alleged illegal selling of fish and game continues, though agency officials believe its investigative agents “are getting close” to submitting their findings to local prosecutors and possibly to respective grand juries.
Called “Operation North Coast,” the investigation began about two deer-hunting seasons back along with last year’s Lake Erie walleye-fishing season, Wildlife Division officials have said.

So intense and comprehensive is “Operation North Coast’s” on-going investigation that it will “easily eclipse the agency’s ‘Operation Clanbake, or any other deer-related case to date,” says Ron Ollis, the Wildlife Division’s Special Operations Supervisor.
 “We are still in the process of reviewing the immense amount of evidence seized during ‘Operation North Coast,’ ” said Ollis.“ Wildlife officers and investigators continue to work through the evidence, scoring antlered deer, comparing harvest records with the tags on the deer and information provided during the interviews and seized records.”

Initially, “Operation North Coast,” led to the issuance of five search warrants and the interviewing of around 40 individuals, also says John Windau, agency spokesman.

Potentially impacted county prosecutors include those from Wood, Erie, Ottawa, Lorain, Portage, Richland, Cuyahoga, and Ashtabula counties.

Charges are expected against at least some individuals for various alleged illegal activities discovered in the course of the investigation and subsequent and related agency-driven efforts, both Ollis and Windau say.

“We are beginning to set meeting dates with prosecutors to discuss what is known so far. In some of those meetings, decisions will be made on whether misdemeanor charges are appropriate, or if dates should be set for grand juries,” says Ollis.

Windau also said the agents’ work included at least two deer-hunting seasons plus last summer’s walleye-fishing season.

Besides the possibility of alleged illegal selling of fish and game there is evidence that suggests there was some “gross over-harvesting” of deer in at least some instances, Windau said as well.

The genesis of the investigation, Windau said, was in part prompted by calls to the states Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) hotline; a toll-free telephone project that allows the public to call in with possible fish and game law violations. Tipsters are potentially eligible for monetary rewards.
Ollis explained further that the agency also employed surveillance and observation, along with “good old fashioned ‘game-warden’ work.

“There was a great deal of under-cover work, (too),” Ollis said.

And because of the investigation’s enormous scope, says Ollis, the Wildlife Division’s four-point law-enforcement project’s protocols include continued evaluation of the “mountains of evidence and statements,” along with any public disclosure of individual names for alleged illegal activity when and if charges are filed.

 
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

 Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. Jeff is the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

 

 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lake Metroparks buys two parcels: One offering additional steelheading and the other access to a pair of parks


Lake Metroparks is tacking on two new parcels of property, one of which that will give steelhead anglers an additional 1,800 feet of publically accessible elbow room along the Grand River.

The other parcel will add 72 acres that will allow public access to a pair of existing Lake Metroparks’ holdings; one that offers good to excellent small lake angling and the other one being what almost certainly is the most rugged and remote property in Lake County.

Being picked up at a cost of $118,200 is a 16.2-acre track, located off Bates Road in Madison Township. It dovetails with the parks system’s existing 45-acre Riverview Park and lies opposite across the Grand River from the agency’s 619-acre Hogback Ridge Park.

Hogback Ridge Park is noteworthy because it contains the final downstream portion of Mill Creek, one of Northeast Ohio’s most productive and popular small stream steelhead fishing sites.

By securing the new parcel Lake Metroparks not only will put another 1,800 linear feet of Grand River frontage into the public domain, the buy – funded by almost one-half by the voter-approved Clean Ohio Fund – will help  lock in a riverfront corridor from any future private development, says the agency’s executive director, Paul Palagyi.

With the property now owned by Lake Metroparks its river frontage will link with the one-half to three-quarter-mile-long riverfront footage provided by Riverview Park, stretching upstream from the Ohio Route 528 bridge and south of Interstate 90.

“There is an impressive stand of timber there along with some high-quality wetlands,” Palagyi said.  “If we hadn’t bought it now the current owner almost certainly was going to have it logged off.”

Palagyi said that while steelhead anglers will be able to access the site via the Riverview Park portal an even better way is to ford the Grand River at the mouth of Mill Creek. When the river isn’t gorged with snow melt or rain runoff, of course, Palaygi also says.

“I’ve crossed here myself on several occasions and it’s an excellent location for steelhead fishing,” Palagyi said.

Interestingly, said Palagyi also, is that while the property was actually privately owned many anglers had longed assumed it was part of Riverview Park, though it wasn’t.

“I doubt that the old owner even knew the property was being used by fishermen,” Palagyi said.

As for the other land purchase that one consists of 72 acres and is located on Kiffen Road in Leroy Township. Its selling price was $434,442 with $199,999 coming also from the Clean Ohio Fund.

This parcel sits catty-corner to Lake Metroparks’ 111-acre Hidden Lake Park and just south of the agency’s rugged and remote 888-Hell Hollow Wilderness Area, which offers an outstanding hiking vista. From its bluff a visitor can look down into a 100-foot deep gorge.

This park also is a component of the Lake Erie Birding Trail, and has plant species more associated with Canada than northern Ohio. Among the more uncommon-for-Ohio-seen bird species encountered here include several species of warblers.

However, though Hells Hollow is cut by Paine Creek the property is located above Paine Falls, a high enough barrier that prevents further upstream advance by steelhead trout.

Even so, the new chuck of real estate is a welcome addition, says Palagyi.

“We’ve long wanted a way to connect Hidden Lake with Hell Hollow and now we have the means to get that done,” says Palagyi.

Palagyi said as well that each parcel passed Lake Metroparks litmus tests for acquisition. These buying points include whether the sought-after property is contiguous to an existing Lake Metroparks holding, or if it can provide public access to one of the following: Lake Erie, the Grand River, or the Chagrin River.

“The owners of both properties wanted to sell to someone so it’s best that we bought them now,” Palagyi said.

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff is the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.