MAHONING VALLEY $1.59M available for environmental projects



More than $1.26 million was granted in the two counties to protect nearly 250 acres of natural resources in 2002.
By VERONICA GORLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- About $1.59 million is up for grabs for preserving natural areas in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
The money, part of the Clean Ohio Fund, is available to local governments, parks, soil and water conservation districts and nonprofit organizations, said Kimberly Mascarella, director of environmental planning for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.
The fund will pick up the tab for up to 75 percent of a project preserving open spaces, sensitive ecological areas and stream corridors. Local sources are expected to cover at least 25 percent of the funding, she said.
Two informational meetings will be held to assist applicants in understanding the fund and the application process:
U6 p.m. Tuesday at Austintown Township Administration Building, 82 Ohltown Road, Austintown.
U6 p.m. Wednesday at the Howland Township Administration Building, 205 Niles-Cortland Road, Howland.
Workbooks and pre-applications will be available at the meetings. Pre-applications are due Feb. 21, and the final application deadline is May 2, Mascarella said.
The $1.59 million is the second round of funds allocated by the Ohio Public Works Commission for the Clean Ohio Fund. The Clean Ohio Fund will provide $400 million over four years to finance projects under the Green Space Conservation portion of the fund, also known as Bond Issue 1 or House Bill 3.
2002 projects
In 2002, the first year funds were available, District 6, made up of Trumbull and Mahoning counties, was eligible for $1.4 million. Some $1.26 million was granted to five projects in the two counties:
UHowland Township's purchase of 120 acres adjacent to Mosquito Creek.
UMill Creek Metroparks' purchase of 56 acres adjacent to its farm in Canfield Township.
UAustintown Township's purchase of 30 acres adjacent to its park.
UThe Mahoning River Consortium and Mill Creek Metroparks' purchase of 25 acres of wetlands in Boardman Township.
UThe city of Warren's acquisition of 15 acres in downtown Warren containing an abandoned railway to develop a new park.
This year, another $1.4 million is available, as well as the unused portion from 2002, Mascarella said.
An 11-member Natural Resources Assistance Council made up of representatives from Trumbull and Mahoning counties review the projects, she said. Approved projects are submitted to the Ohio Public Works for the final stamp of approval.
"I think we'll have a better response this year just by word of mouth of what pot of money is available," Mascarella said. "We can look back and see that the first round of money was well-spent, with 250 acres of natural, open spaces protected in Mahoning and Trumbull counties."
For more information, contact Eastgate Regional Council of Governments at (330) 779-3800.

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