June 29, 2016

Mostly clear

Park district buys 87 acres for nature preserve

The Medina County Park District is growing. Officials announced this week the acquisition of the 87-acre Medina Marsh, a tract of land south of Fenn Road and east of Pearl Road in Medina Township.

The park district worked with the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which helped secure funding for the land, including a $963,702 Clean Ohio grant, $75,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Small North American Wetlands Conservation Act program and $257,100 from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.

The Medina County Park District has acquired the 87-acre Medina Marsh, which is south of Fenn Road and east of Pearl Road in Medina Township. Park officials plan to make the area a nature preserve. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Medina County Park District Director Tom James said grants paid for nearly 100 percent of the purchase, which also was supported by the Medina Township trustees.

Though Medina Marsh is not yet open to the public, officials say it will become a nature preserve available for recreational use, educational pursuits, research and nature study.

James said he could not give a date for when the area would open.

“At this point, we have not developed a plan for facilities,” he said.

Township Trustee Ray Jarrett thanked all involved in preserving the land, saying the property “serves as a valuable long-term water resource protection project.

“This will help to maintain and improve water quality in the West Branch of the Rocky River sub watershed and the larger Rocky River watershed,” Jarrett said. The property links a 2-mile corridor of land through Medina and Medina Township that covers more than 600 acres.

The Medina Marsh connects the district’s 41-acre Vansco Nature Preserve to Medina’s 308-acre Reagan and Huffman parks, which are next to Lake Medina, a former reservoir that is now a 190-acre county park.

Experts say such natural, unbroken corridors are important to wildlife and plants and contribute to a higher quality of life in a community through outdoor recreation opportunities and higher property values, according to a news release from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

“This is an extraordinary piece of property in terms of natural resources and will provide an important link in what will be a beautiful, protected green corridor along the banks of the West Branch of Rocky River,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of the land conservancy. “We are grateful to be able to assist the Medina County Park District, which is one of our very best conservation partners.”

The property includes two high-quality wetlands and a heron nesting area.

Formed in 1965, the Medina County Park District has more than 20 properties and manages more than 5,200 acres.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.