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.

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