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Trumbull and Mill Creek Metroparks receive funding for improvements

Two local parks benefited from the $19.2 million in project funding doled out by the Ohio Public Works Commission this week.

Trumbull County MetroParks has been awarded $449,358 for improvements to the Champion Wetland Connector property, and the Mill Creek MetroParks is receiving $150,000 for Wildlife Sanctuary expansion improvements, according to an OPWC news release.

The funding is a part of the commission’s Clean Ohio Conservation program.

MILL CREEK METROPARKS

Mill Creek MetroParks Natural Resources Manager Nick Derico said the Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located in Beaver Township, was acquired in 2021 using funds through the same program.

“Now we’re coming back to the same fund asking for improvement dollars,” he said.

Derico said the primary use of the funds will be to provide better access to the property.

He said the metroparks plans to expand the current entryway to the sanctuary, install a gravel parking lot and install a trail system.

“Beyond that, there will be a number of ecological improvements funded through the same grant,” Derico said. “That will include some invasive species management, basic plant management. We will be doing a native prairie restoration in a former agricultural field, and we’ll also be doing some reforestation and tree planting in that same agricultural field.”

Derico said it is going to be a “transformative year” for the wildlife sanctuary.

According to the OPWC news release, the Clean Ohio program is dedicated to environmental conservation including acquisition of green space and protection of rivers and streams. Grant recipients agree to maintain the properties in perpetuity so they can persist for future generations.

“These projects are critical for protection of Ohio’s natural resources, biodiversity, and habitats,” Linda Bailiff, OPWC director, said in the release. “It’s a great time of year to get out and explore the many parks and preserves throughout our great state.”

TRUMBULL COUNTY METROPARKS

Zachary Svette, executive director of Trumbull County MetroParks, said the park system plans to use its funding for the “acquisition, restoration and improvement costs” regarding the 117-acre property.

The property contains 54 recovering wooded acres that include wet meadow, marsh, shrub / scrub, and forested wetlands, and the remaining 63 acres are agricultural fields. The site also contains three streams, including a portion of Center Creek, and wetland habitat makes up approximately 35 acres of the property and was assessed as a category 3 wetland.

“The forest is recovering from a selective-cut that took place in the last five years, and the 63 acres of agricultural fields will be restored with prairie pollinator habitat,” Svette said in an email.

Svette said the metroparks plans to manage the property as a passive public park and protect the natural resources with Clean Ohio deed restrictions.

“TCMP will manage the property for public access with initial emphasis on access for hunting and development of a trail and parking area. Acquisition, protection and restoration will prevent development of the property, benefit water quality, support recovery of the forested habitat, and provide public green space adjacent to the Western Reserve Greenway Trail,” he said.

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