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.


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