Nature hike to usher in season at Beaver park

By Virginia Ross

The preserve has 80 acres of nature trails.

EAST LEWISTON — The Beaver Township Park Board will kick off its 2009 spring/summer education program at the nature preserve Saturday with a nature hike led by Amy Schuler of Mill Creek MetroParks.

The hike begins at 6 p.m. at the open-air pavilion at the Beaver Township Nature Preserve off state Route 165 in East Lewistown, west of New Buffalo Road.

“This is the second year we’ve been able to offer these programs at the nature preserve, and we’ve been very pleased with the interest and the turnouts we’ve had,” said Scott Conway, township park administrator. “There’s a lot of educational value at the preserve, and our goal is to make it available to as many of our residents as possible.”

The nature preserve features about 80 acres of nature trails, a footbridge, picnic areas and numerous wildlife. Guided tours may be scheduled by contacting the park board.

Attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes or boots and to dress appropriately for all nature preserve activities.

The township bought the land at the nature preserve about four years ago with a $150,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Public Works Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.

Ohio Edison Co. had owned the property. Most of the land remained in its natural state until the township bought it, Conway said. The township has invested funds from its general account for supplies, but most of the labor has been provided at no cost, he added.

Over the past few years, volunteers have put a lot of time and energy into transforming the nature preserve into an outdoor classroom. Volunteers have built benches and planted trees, among other activities.

There are bat boxes throughout the site and a structure with a garage and open-air pavilion. Portions of this year’s education programs will be presented at the open-air pavilion near the preserve’s entrance.

“We have really relied on our volunteers to get things going at the nature preserve and our other township parks,” Conway said. “We’re still counting on them and hoping more people will want to get involved with what we’re doing.”

Conway said he encourages area residents interested in helping to join Friends of the Park, a volunteer group that works on projects at the nature preserve and Woodworth and Memorial parks.

XFor more information about volunteer opportunities or events and activities, call the park board at (330) 549-9552.

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