By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
PARADISE -- Mill Creek MetroParks is using a grant and donations to preserve 250 acres south of Western Reserve Road for a wildlife sanctuary.
Carol Potter, park spokeswoman, said the park will pay $500,000 for the former Paradise Fish Farm, between Western Reserve Road and Calla Road. The park received a $285,000 Clean Ohio grant to cover part of the purchase, with the remaining $215,000 coming from donations from three private foundations.
The Beecher Foundation, John and Doris Andrews Trust and the John Finnegan Foundation all contributed.
The owners, Richard and Timothy Calvin, will continue to live in a house on the property, paying $1 per year, for as long as they want. The transfer of the property is to be complete by Oct. 15.
"The bird population is phenomenal," Potter said, adding that 400 different species of birds have been sighted there, including nesting bald eagles.
It's also home to different plant species, and large and small mammals.
"It's very important in the routes of migratory birds," Potter said.
The newly created Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary will be maintained as open space, conservation area and wildlife habitat.
Deed restrictions on the property require any recreational and public uses be designed "to be compatible with the protection of riparian areas and water quality, and important wildlife and plant habitats."
The deed restrictions also prohibit "manipulation of water courses, marshes or other water bodies" and "activities or uses detrimental to water purity or the quality of aquatic habitat ..."
The sanctuary property is within a mile of a 117-acre parcel on Tippecanoe Road that the park is seeking a grant to purchase. Potter said the park is still negotiating with the owners. Nothing has been finalized.
The park is seeking an $800,000 Clean Ohio Grant to buy the land owned by Orvets Sod Farm LLC. The park would seek additional funds from private donors to provide a local match. Park funds would not be used.
If that grant is approved, additional money received and the purchase goes through, the park also would keep that land, more than half of which is considered a wetlands, in its natural state.