Clean Ohio Funds Preserve Oak
Three projects of the Metroparks of the Toledo Area are the top ranked applications and have been recommended for funding through the Clean Ohio Fund. The Clean Ohio Fund allocates money to each Ohio County for the preservation of open space and to increase public access to natural areas. From the five proposals submitted in Lucas County, the three Metroparks projects ranked highest in the evaluation process.
The Metroparks projects are all in the Oak Openings Region – a globally rare ecosystem in northwest Ohio. One project expands the Oak Openings Preserve Metropark to the west including into Fulton County which falls into a separate Clean Ohio Fund district. Applications were coordinated between the two counties. The expansion area includes high quality natural areas and some croplands. Following acquisition of the property, plans are to restore croplands to forests and prairies. Completion of this project will expand Oak Openings Preserve to 4,185 acres and connect the Village of Swanton to Oak Openings Preserve.
Two other projects contribute to a long term plan to connect Secor Metropark and Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in a band of protected habitat called the Oak Openings Greenway Corridor. The Eber Road Barrens is an Oak Savanah, part of the rare Oak Openings habitat. This property will provide a direct connection to the Louis Campbell State Nature Preserve and other Metroparks properties within the Oak Openings Greenway Corridor. The Monclova Swamp Forest is a high quality wetland. Upon its completion, this project will allow for the future development of a direct trail linkage connection to the Wabash Cannonball Trail and Maumee Western Road.
Tim Schetter, director of natural resources for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, described the land acquisition as “phenomenal habitat.” He noted that public access and recreation will be enhanced by connecting hiking and biking trails between preserved areas.
All Clean Ohio Fund acquisitions require local matching funds. The Metroparks created a Land Acquisition Fund with a successful levy in 2003. This 2014 purchase will be the final expenditure of that fund.
Proposals for Clean Ohio Funds are evaluated by the Natural Resources Assistance Council (NRAC) which is facilitated by TMACOG. Each proposal is evaluated for how it preserves open space and enhances riparian corridors and waterways. Other criteria include providing public access, adding quality habitat to an existing park or preserve, preserving floodplains and wetlands, and protecting habitat for threatened or endangered species. See the scoring methodology here.
Oak Openings Preserve Expansion: 320 acres of land, including 214 acres in Fulton County and 106 acres in Lucas County.
Monclova Swamp Forest: Four tracts of land totaling 41 acres.
Eber Road Barrens: A single tract of land of 34 acres.