Saturday, August 29, 2015

Two years out and once-defrocked Wildlife Division officer back with agency


After avoiding felony charges in exchange for pleading “no contest” to two misdemeanor charges nearly three years ago, former Ohio Division of Wildlife official David A. Warner has regained employment with the agency.

 

Warner’s first day back with the Wildlife Division was August 10. He assumed the same position he held at the time of his 2012 dismissal: field supervisor.

 

In a legally binding five-page agreement between Warner and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the former will receive $66,000 in back pay.

 

Also agreed to is a $27,000 payment by the Natural Resources Department for employer contribution to Warner’s retirement package along with being credited with lost seniority.

.

Coupled with that payment and credit comes a pledge by the Natural Resources Department to “...take the reasonable legal steps for Warner to receive credit with the Public Employees Retirement System…”

 

The document says as well that Warner is to be given a 60-working day suspension, though this action was deemed retroactively served from September 21, 2012 to December 17, 2012.

 

In exchange for his signature on the document, Warner does agree “...to fully waive any and all claims related to the termination (of) his employment with (the) ODNR/ODW.”

 

Warner signed the five-page settlement August 4th while Natural Resources Director James Zehringer added his signature August 24th.

 

All of this came about as Warner sought legal relief by filing a civil service appeal with the Ohio Personnel Board of Review as well as submitting an appeal in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

 

Originally, Warner was indicted in July, 2012 for alleged theft in office – a fifth degree felony, alleged tampering with records – a third degree felony, and alleged dereliction of duty – a third degree misdemeanor.

 

Those charges were swapped out in November, 2012. That was Warner agreed before the Brown County Court of Common Pleas to plead “no contest” to a pair of lesser misdemeanors: obstruction of official business as well as unauthorized use of property.

 

Warner also agreed to pay restitution to the Wildlife Division for wages he did not earn, a keystone item demanded by Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little as a condition linked to the reduction of charges.

 

All of these alleged misdeeds came about as a result of an Ohio Inspector General investigation. That investigation alleged how Warner – along with Wildlife Division commissioned officer Matthew Roberts - hunted while on duty and then allegedly “fudged” their time slips to incorrectly say they were on duty at the time.

 

Subsequently, Warner was fired September 21, 2012 while Roberts was discharged September 28, 2012.

 

Yet that was then and this is now as Warner has again put on his Wildlife Division-issued uniform, working since August 8th in the agency’s Wildlife District One (Central Ohio) environs.

 

And the mutually acceptable settlement notes in legal jargon how both parties want to put the affair behind them and to move on.

 

“Except as specifically set forth herein, Warner and (the) ODNR/ODW wish to bring a complete, final and irreversible end to any and all claims and disputes…” which have been raised or ever will be raised regarding the issue related to the Warner matter.

 

Efforts to obtain clarification from the Natural Resources Department on a number of points – including whether Warner paid restitution to the state as stipulated in the agreement with Prosecutor Little, and if so, how much – were not successful by this story’s deadline.

 (This story may be updated with details provided by the Natural Resources Department.)


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. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 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, August 24, 2015

Holden Arboretum give deer the boot from institution's core area


While the Kirtland-based Holden Arboretum was all too happy to show deer the door, the welcome mat was strictly one way – and that way was out.

Today – August 24 - the 3,600-plus acre Arboretum took to the woods and fields of its 233-acre “core” area to skedaddle any white-tails found within the deer-forbidden zone.

More than 75 Holden staff, volunteers and Ohio Division of Wildlife personnel spent about an hour and one-half combing through the core zone.

It was their task to drive any animals lounging around in this unit, hoping to funnel the deer by wedging them between columns of heavy-duty wooden fence posts and three miles worth of eight-foot tall Tenax C-style fencing material.

The drivers were split into seven drive cells, each party assigned a set track to follow.

Their object was to motivate the deer to escape through five one-way portals. These planned-for escape route venues consisted of two so-called jump-outs and three escape gates.

Jump-outs are earthen inclines placed between fencing. The idea is that deer will run up a ramp and then leap the several feet to outside the deer enclosure. The experiences noted by other entities that’ve employed jump-outs indicate that deer are much less willing to go the other way.

Escape gates are specially designed structures that deer can press against in an outward direction but not inward, says Clem Hamilton, the Arboretum’s president and CEO.

At the heart of the core area’s deer enclosure design – which also includes specially designed metal grates across roadways that repel hoofed animals – is to protect the Arboretum’s extensive and unique plant gardens.

These gardens are popular attractions for members who pay reasonable annual dues as well as non-members who pay a daily rate.

Also, the Arboretum is in the process of a several year/multi-million dollar renovation and construction project that includes the recent addition of a 65-foot tall, 202 step wooden observation tower and a 500-foot long wooden foot bridge that is likewise suspended 65 feet above the ground and courses through the forested canopy.

Besides, Hamilton said, the deer had to go in order to protect the Arboretum’s extensive plant collections that include hundreds of rhododendron plants and a whole lot more floral deer candy.

“One thing I did hear from some of our members is that the fencing was not very attractive but I reminded them that we won’t have to fence the individual gardens,” Hamilton said. “Besides, we’ll now have valuable plant stock and trees that won’t become browse for hungry deer. I’d say that’s a pretty good tradeoff.”

As for how many deer were actually given their eviction notice the 80 or so drivers convinced less than a handful of whitetails to vamoose. Among them was a dandy in-velvet buck that took the cue and used one of the jump-outs to make good its escape.

“We really didn’t know what to expect but there were deer here in the core this morning,” said Holden police officer Tony Piotrowski. “It was a good effort and now we know the jump-outs and escape gates work.”

 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. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was 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, August 17, 2015

El Nino may give Ohio sportsmen the mild winter they haven't seen in 17 years


If the bulk of climatologists’ computer models are correct than Ohio’s deer hunters could see themselves hunting in shirtsleeves while Lake Erie ice-fishing guides may see that their shanties stay in mothballs this winter.

Predicting that an unusually strong – perhaps even record-setting strong – El Nino not only is forming but may extend through the first quarter of 2016, climatologists are looking at its likely far-reaching consequences.

And if those computer-generated climatic models continue to hold steady than the resulting weather affairs may very well claw and maul their way across much of the Western Hemisphere.

For sure it’s complicated with climate-studying scientists cloaking their predictions in some pretty fancy, $10 post-graduate study terminology.

 “All models surveyed predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere (through) spring, 2016, and all multi-model averages predict a strong event at its peak in late fall/early winter…,” says the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center along with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

“At this time, the forecaster consensus unanimously favors a strong El Niño... Overall, there is a greater than 90-percent chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 85-percent chance it will last into early spring.”

In a nutshell, the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the big kid on the block; it can bully, intimidate, recruit and compel a host of other weather-makers, not only in the Western Hemisphere but world wide.

 “Obviously the forecast outlook will be updated and refined, which is something that we do once a month with the next update scheduled for mid-September,” Halpert said.

On average an El Nino condition develops about every three to seven years. The last time an especially strong El Nino muscled weather patterns in a huge way was 1997-1998, says Halpert.

What occurs in the years when El Nino becomes the dominating weather factor the winds higher in the atmosphere’s run more straight line west to east. Thus these upper air currents help keep bitterly cold winter temperatures “locked up over Canada,” Halpert says.

Specifically for Ohio, in a year where El Nino flexes its muscles, precipitation levels from January to March can range anywhere from 63 percent to 75 percent of average for each of the state’s 10 designated climatic regions for the

In terms of temperatures during an active El Nino weather campaign, in Ohio for the period December through February can run from 1.1 degree to 2.4 degrees above average. Again, for Ohio’s 10 designated climatic regions.

As for this year’s ENSO-enhanced weather patterns impacting at least northern Ohio, the odds for warmer than average temperatures are 40 percent, and with the same percentage for below average precipitation.

Refined further then, Ohio could encounter 10 fewer inches of snow.

Currently, climatic computer modeling suggests that for the period December through March drier than average conditions are expected for much of Ohio,” Halpert says.

“Understand that during an El Nino pattern there is typically a stronger signal for drier weather than for below or above average temperatures,” Halpert says as well.

Take Lake-Effect snow storms which “…may mask the ENSO response in some years at stations in the vicinity of the Great Lakes and (the) Appalachian Mountains,” says also the National Weather Service.

Still, the prevailing historical record notes that for seven of the past eight El Nino-enhanced events precipitation was less than the recorded average.

 “During a moderate to strong ENSO, winters in the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes are likely to be warmer and drier than normal. This in turn results in below normal snowfall across the region, aside from lake effect areas,” the Weather Service says in one of its latest reports on the subject.

As might be expected, climatic are hedging their best computer modeling guesses. A more transparent El Nino-inspired climatic view is still one to two months down the road, Halpert says also.

“It’s a possibility, not a promise,” Halpert says. “We can’t always be correct.”
 
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. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was 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.
 
 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

(UPDATED last four paragraphs) Maine's fish and wildlife agency jacklighted by "The Animal Planet"





Maine’s state wildlife officials were none too pleased that the non-network network Animal Planet opined for the abolishment of so-called big-game trophy hunting.

Even more horrifying for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was that Animal Planet’s on-line website encouraged readers to contribute to two of the so-called animal rights movement’s most outspoken anti-hunting groups: The Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Why any of this should honk off Maine’s fish and wildlife managers and game wardens is because one of the Animal Planet highly touted and prestigious weekly program is “North Woods Law.”

This one-hour-long weekly program (new episodes are aired on Sundays) focuses on Maine’s game warden service.

Consequently, for the Animal Planet to air on a weekly basis the daily interactions of Maine’s game wardens with lawful an unlawful sportsmen and sportswomen and then advocate not only abolishing trophy hunting but also pitching a plea for donations to the HSUS and the IFAW has – on the surface at least - proved over the top for that state’s fish and wildlife managers.

Such is particularly true since the Animal Planet made an anti-trophy hunting sales pitch during its August 2nd North Woods Law episode.

Fueling insult to injury the HSUS even largely bankrolled last fall’s failed attempt at the ballot box to outlaw several forms of Maine’s black bear hunting.

The Animal Planet’s “Animals Are Not Trophies/This is why Cecil’s Death Matters” statement – which is still being posted on-line as of this writing – says in part: “(The) Animal Planet is outraged and heartbroken by the recent killing of Cecil the lion.

“The network strongly opposes the deplorable practice of trophy hunting, asserting that it devastate conservation efforts, reduces wildlife populations and weakens the populations’ gene pools.”

If that statement were not enough than the string of readers’ comments about the possibility of poaching of Cecil was even more strident.

One commenter said Cecil’s death was “murder” while the Minnesota dentist accused of the act – Dr. Walter James Palmer - is “white trash” and who should be “hung.”

None of which pleased Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Mart Latti, Outreach and Communications official with Maine’s Fisheries /Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said he had not seen the Animal Planet’s August 2nd episode with its anti-trophy-hunting public service announcement.

 

Nor had Latti taken a gander at the Animal Planet’s web site that prominently displays its position paper on the subject. And this position statement still resides alongside the Animal Planet’s promotion of “North Woods Law.”

 

“I can tell you that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has contacted the production company of the show to voice our serious concerns with the placement and content of Animal Planet’s statement including the online links to the Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare organizations that are opposed to all types of hunting.” Latti said.

 

“We are working to fix this situation, and either (I) or another member of the department will be in touch in the near future to provide you with an update.”

 

That said, as of this writing the Animal Planet’s web page layout and content still highlights an unchanged “Animals Are Not Trophies” commentary.

Going further, the on-line “Channel Guide Magazine” web site said that the Animal Planet presented “World Lion Day” programming August 10 as “a marathon of lion-related” shows that will be “dedicated to Cecil the lion…”

“..(Animal) Planet’s campaign ‘AnimalsAreNotTrophies.com’ is a resource for those who want to take action against trophy hunting and poaching,” Channel Guide Magazine quotes the Animal Planet as saying.

“Cecil’s senseless slaughter is a vivid reminder of how vulnerable these magnificent animals are to human threats.”

And yet with all of this being said the web site for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife does not yet at least include any commentary addressing the agency’s concerns.

Indeed, on Animal Planet’s “This is why Cecil the Lion’s Death Matters’” commentary by a Jodi Westrick, the non-network network not only includes “North Woods Law” as a “tag” item but likewise includes a coupling to a North Woods Law segment entitled “Deer Bait Leads To Evidence of Poaching.”

This, as of August 19, presumably after the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife contacted the Animal Planet to express its “serious concerns” and was working “to fix the situation.”
 
The rebranded Columbus-based “Sportsmen’s Alliance” – formerly United States Sportsmen’s Alliance – did not return with a reply regarding an inquiry pertaining to this matter.
 
 
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lake Metroparks' archery deer hunting lottery now underway


Better known for its steelhead fishing opportunities, Lake Metroparks also annually provides the chance for some lucky deer hunters to have their own catch of the day.

However, the hook for this deer hunting possibility is for Lake County residents only. Plus, owners of businesses based in Lake County.

In other words if a person or business pays property taxes in Lake County they are good to go in terms of eligibility for participating in Lake Metroparks’ annual drawing for the agency’s controlled archery-only deer-hunting program.

A lone exception to this Lake County resident-only rule is a series of hunts embracing veterans with service-related injuries.

This overall package of hunts is intended to help manage the deer herds at several Lake Metroparks’ properties.

Last year lottery-selected hunters connected on 13 does and six bucks. These animals coming from seven parks system’s designated deer-management units.

These units are – with their respective 2014 deer kill – Big Creek Corridor (two deer), Lake Erie Bluffs (three deer), Indian Point Park/Vrooman Road Corridor (four deer), Indian Point Park/Upper Area (one deer), Blair Road Property (two deer), and River Road Maintenance Property (seven deer).

Registration for the lottery already is underway, says Tom Koritansky, Lake Metroparks’ Natural Resources Manager.

The registration process is available through an online portal via Lake Metroparks’ web site - www.lakemetroparks.com - and which extends to 11:59 p.m., August 25th.

In-person registration is available, too. Such sign-ups will be taken through 4:30 p.m., August 25th at the parks system’s headquarters, 11211 Spear Road, Concord Township, Koritansky says.

“Once again, we’ll be selecting eligible participants through a lottery and then assigning them to locations and groups based on the order in which they were chosen in the drawing,” Koritansky said.

Koritansky said as well that the Lake Metroparks’ controlled archery-only deer hunts will run concurrently with Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season; that being September 26 through February 7.

“Since there are 19 weeks in the state’s archery deer-hunting season, we will structure our hunts into five, three-week groups and set for the first 15 weeks of the season, and a pair of two-week groups set for the last four weeks of the season,” Koritansky said.

Other eligibility stipulations for the lottery – besides the requirement of being a Lake County resident or a Lake County business owner – include being at least 18 years old.

Participants who are successful in this - the lottery's fifth installment - will have the option of naming a partner to hunt in their place whenever that successful applicant is unable to hunt, Koritansky says.

“Understand that partners must meet the same eligibility requirements as do the primary hunter,” Koritansky says. “But participants will be permitted to bring one non-hunting guest who must remain in the vicinity of the hunter at all times, so there won’t be any deer drives.”

As has been required with previous Lake Metroparks archery-only deer hunts, each participant must successfully pass a proficiency test with their archery tackle. Likewise all participants are required to attend one of the mandatory pre-hunt meetings in order to receive a permit.

Sites for this year’s hunts include River Road Park in Madison Township, Indian Point Park along Vrooman Road in Leroy Township, Lake Erie Bluffs and south of Clark Road in Perry Township, and the agency’s Blair Road property, south of the Grand River, in Leroy Township.
Participants at Blair Road hunt within one general area.  There will be up to two participants hunting at a time at the Blair Road Property.

 Koritansky says that participants hunting at the River Road Park unit will hunt from pre-determined locations with stands provided by Lake Metroparks.

“Participants do have the option of bringing their own professionally made stand or blind, and can hunt within a 100-yard radius of each of these sites,” Koritansky says. “We will have eight stands at River Road Park.”
Participants at Indian Point Park and Lake Erie Bluffs will be required to hunt within assigned areas also, says Koritansky. 

Likewise, hunters may tote their own professionally manufactured stand or blind if they so choose. 

“We'll have three areas available at both Lake Erie Bluffs and Indian Point Park,” Koritansky said.  “However, one area was removed at Indian Point this year because of the construction of the new high-level Vrooman Road bridge.”

Results for the hunt lottery are planned for posting on Lake Metroparks’ web site as well as available at the parks system’s administrative office on August 27th.

As for the special veterans-only hunts, Koritansky says that service-connected disabilities were the criteria used in the past and will rule again this year.

Veterans-only hunt applicants also must be at least 18 years old.
However, applicants for the veterans-only hunts feature the additional requirement that they be sent directly to Lake Metroparks headquarters or else completed in person at the agency’s office.

Prospective veterans-only hunt applicants that are completed in person have as their deadline 4:30 p.m., August 25th and if mailed, postmarked by August 25th, Koritansky said

“Those persons selected for the veterans hunts will be assigned hunting sessions throughout the archery deer-hunting season and will be based on the overall number of applicants, their needs and accommodations as well as the level of interest,” Koritansky says.
“We may employ a lottery system to select participants if the number of applicants exceeds the number of available hunting slots.”

Importantly too, says Koritansky, is that each participating veteran may be joined by a non-hunting guest.

Hunting for veterans with service-connected disabilities will take place at the Big Creek Corridor – Williams Road Property, Indian Point Park – Upper, and Hell Hollow Wilderness Area. 

Participants hunting at these locations will hunt from stands or blinds installed by Lake Metroparks. 

There are three locations available at the Big Creek property and two available at Indian Point – Upper.  Another two locations will be made available at Hell Hollow if the capacity at the other two properties is exceeded. 
The schedule for the veteran-only hunts will be posted by September 4th.

Interested applicants can get more information about the controlled hunt programs by visiting  www.lakemetroparks.com/conservation/wildlifemanagement.

 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. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was 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.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

From an abuntant alien predator to possible climate change all threaten Lake Erie's yellow perch


One study does not a consensus make.

Still, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife may have the opportunity to latch onto a fisheries study written by Ohio State University professor Stuart A. Ludsin as to why Lake Erie sport anglers as well as commercial fishermen continue to encounter meager catches of yellow perch.

Ludsin’s study strongly hints that the recent poor quality of Lake Erie yellow perch fishing is the result of long-term global warming.

The professor’s report is detailed today in a Page One News-Herald story written by one of its reporters, Lindsey O’Brien.

This study and Ludsin’s comments also appear online with TechTimes.com. and other Internet-based news outlets – including a July 15 Ohio State University on-line wire story, available at news.osu.edu/news/2015/07/15/yellow-perch.

It is Ludsin’s argument - and compressed into the university’s July 15 story’s lead paragraph - that “Research has suggested yellow perch grow more rapidly during the short winters from climate change, but a new study shows (that) warmer water temperatures can lead to the production of less hardy (yellow perch) eggs and larvae that have trouble surviving these early stages of life in Lake Erie.”

Thus the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife has yet another argument – or excuse, depending on one’s point of view – that last year’s and this year’s to-date Lake Erie yellow perch fishing has skidded to the point of almost grinding to a halt.

Agency personnel have likewise said that Lake Erie yellow perch anglers are fishing in all the wrong places, hanging on to traditional perch-jerking stomping grounds instead of bouncing around, looking in different locations.

Add to that point of view is Ludsin’s assertion that Lake Erie’s abundant population of the non-native white perch is a potentially significant factor in what the fisheries biologist believes is a general and steady failing of yellow perch stocks.

In a March, 2014 Ohio Outdoor News story Ludsin is quoted as saying that between white perch, walleye, white bass - and even adult yellow perch - the latter’s offspring hardly have much of an opportunity to reach maturity.

“There are between 46 million and 106 million predators in the western basin,” Ludsin says in the Ohio Outdoor News story. “In just 24 hours they can consume between 32 million and 189 million perch larvae. That is an enormous number.”

And given that Lake Erie’s white perch constitutes 90 percent of the waterway’s aquatic predator base, the species easily is the lake’s most prolific predator; Ludsin says.

“If not enough food is available, the (yellow perch) larvae will grow slowly and be vulnerable to predator like white perch,” Ludsin adds via the Ohio State University’s most recent electronic media posting.

Similarly, says Ludsin, if white perch were absent from Lake Erie then yellow perch larvae likely would have a fighting chance.

“But having short winters leads to low-quality larvae is a big disadvantage because of the risk of getting eaten,” Ludsin says.

And now comes Ludsin’s clarion claim that climate change may be an even larger factor as to why Lake Erie sport anglers – and commercial fishermen – are struggling to find and catch fish.

“There are a lot of factors that can help explain why yellow perch numbers are low in Lake Erie,” Ludsin says. “The water winter temperatures clearly are an important one.”

Even so, Ludsin is willing to admit that fisheries biologists still do not have all the dots, let alone the line, that could link one culprit to another as to why Lake Erie’s yellow perch stocks continue to wither.

Consequently, Ludsin cautions, there is “no quick fix” as to improving Lake Erie’s yellow perch numbers.

“Yellow perch might have an inability to adjust their spawning to take advantage of those warm temperatures when they occur,” Ludsin says. “Is there something hard-wired in them, like some physiological limitation, or an effect of (water) temperature on hormones? We just don’t know.”
 
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
 

 
 

 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lake Metroparks enlarges its most rugged and wild reservation


Lake Metroparks has made a heavenly addition to its 845-acre Hell Hollow Wilderness Area in Leroy Township.

Approved at its July 15 meeting the agency’s Board of Park Commissioners agreed to spend $175,000 in order to buy 43 acres of basically land-locked woodlands in Leroy Township.

The new acreage dovetails nicely with the parks system’s goal of acquiring property that is adjacent to existing holdings, says parks deputy director, Vince Urbanski, .

“It’s a fair price, especially considering that it’s been landlocked ever since Interstate 90 was made,” Urbanski said.

That highway delineates the property’s northern boundary while the existing Hell Hollow portion is to the east.

Easily one of Northeast Ohio’s most rugged and challenging properties Hell Hollow deserves the title of “Wilderness Area.”

“It’s pretty rugged so getting access there will be a challenge,” Urbanski said. “At some point we’ll look at providing access to this track and some other properties through a network of trails.”

Unique features of this new and long-coveted parcel include fronting about 2,000 feet of bank along Paine Creek.

However, since the property is located upstream of Paine Falls the opportunity for migrating steelhead to find their way to this stretch is nil, says Urbanski.

And even though the addition of the new parcel means Hell Hollow is now 888 acres strong this unit still stands in the acreage shadow of 942-acre Girdled Road Reservation in Concord Township.

So any future acquisition will prove a horse race as to which unit will claim itself as the parks system’s largest entity.

“Part of our acquisition goal is to acquire property adjacent to existing park holdings,” Urbanski said. “It’s this kind of linkage that we’re looking for.”

In other park board activity the three-member body approved spending $147,900 to build a 70-foot long by six-foot wide pedestrian bridge over a 20-foot deep chasm that will link two segments of the parks system’s ever-increasingly popular 600-acre Lake Erie Bluffs park in Perry Township.

On one side of this natural ravine barrier is 148 acres with remainder on the other side. By adding a pedestrian bridge consisting of an aluminum superstructure and a wooden deck visitors will be able to hike between the two parcels without needing to employ mountain-climbing gear.

“Construction will begin as soon as the contractor can mobilize its resources,” Urbanski said. “We anticipate that completion will be in October sometime, weather determining.”

 
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. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 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.