Port Clinton’s Lakefront Preserve
Years of negotiation and partnership paid off in Port Clinton recently when the city was able to finally purchase and preserve 14 acres of land with almost one-half mile of publicly accessible lakefront. The Port Clinton Lakefront Preserve connects a city beach and a park, creating one of the longest stretches of public access land on the Lake Erie shoreline. The city chose the Black Swamp Conservancy to be a permanent steward of the preserve.
Linda Hartlaub, president of city council in Port Clinton, made the preservation of the land a personal mission. For many years Ms. Hartlaub and former mayor Tom Brown worked with land owners and lease holders trying to put together a deal that would allow the city to gain ownership of the entire piece of property, but complex deeds and titles were roadblocks. The project began to gain momentum when Ms. Hartlaub involved the Trust for Public Lands. This national organization has an Ohio office in Cleveland. Their staff did the painstaking work of tracking down and negotiating for 15 parcels of land involving dozens of leaseholders. “They really did their job,” Ms. Hartlaub said of the Trust for Public Land staff. Neal Hess of the trust says that the land “is a great asset to the City of Port Clinton, and a valuable natural resource as well.” Funds for the purchase came equally from Clean Ohio fund and from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP).
Terms of the conservancy say that the land will remain public access in perpetuity, and no large structures will ever be built on it. Low-level activities are permitted and plans call for a path or boardwalk that would serve bicyclists and birdwatchers. The area includes wetlands, excellent vantage points to watch bird migration, and has potential as an eagle habitat. The Black Swamp Conservancy notes that some invasive species should be removed to allow native plants to flourish. Ms. Hartlaub said, “The Black Swamp Conservancy is a local, proven organization. We know that they will be wonderful stewards of the land.”