Tuesday, November 21, 2017 Elyria 42°


Lorain County Metro Parks just got a little bigger

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GRAFTON TOWNSHIP – The Lorain County Metro Parks will add a small section of newly-acquired land south of the Indian Hollow Reservation that includes a heron rookery and a small portion of the East Branch of the Black River.

Word of the acquisition was released Wednesday in a statement by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which worked in concert with the Lorain County Metro Parks to obtain the acreage from private hands in Grafton and LaGrange Townships.

The 88 acres straddle both townships immediately south of state Route 303, and southeast of Indian Hollow Lakes Golf Course, and about a mile south of the Metro Parks’ Indian Hollow Reservation.

Details of the transactions to acquire the acreage were not available, according to Ken Woods, director of communications and marketing for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy which is based in Moreland Hills but operates a field office in Oberlin.

Funding for the project came from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund which is administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission, and the Lorain County Metro Parks.

Wood referred questions about the 88 acres that include a Great Blue Heron rookery or nesting colony with 16 nests to Metro Parks officials.

Calls to Metro Parks Director Jim Ziemnik were not returned Tuesday.

In an earlier prepared statement, Ziemnik described the acquisition as one that “offers many great and unique natural amenities.”

Ziemnik added the park system was pleased to be able to help preserve and conserve the acreage.

“We hope someday to be able to offer opportunities for trails and hiking,” Ziemnik said in the statement.

Andy McDowell, vice president of western operations for the Land Conservancy, said the acquisition of the 88 acres will benefit LorainCounty by helping to improve “water quality issues in the (Black River) watershed.”

The 88 acres contains nearly 3,000 linear feet of the main stem of the East Branch of the Black River, and about 130 linear feet of Salt Creek, a tributary to the Black River.

The protected land takes in forested wetlands and 25 acres of flood plain forest that provides shelter, food and nesting areas for birds, fish, small and large mammals and other wildlife.

The land is also expected to help control run-off, prevent erosion and reduce flooding to downstream properties, according to the statement.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy has preserved nearly 500 properties and more than 35,000 acres in northern and eastern Ohio, including the preservation of more than 2,000 acres of LorainCounty farmland.

The non-profit organization has also worked with the Lorain County Metro Parks to protect the 453-acre Firelands Scout Reservation.

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