Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Mill Creek Park hopes new technology could prevent algae growth and fish kills

A Youngstown-based environmental company is running some tests around Mill Creek Park for the next few weeks, trying to find ways to kill off dangerous algae.

Green Water Solutions will be testing a new technology around Lake Newport over the next few weeks, using a system that puts more oxygen into waterways.

“A new form of aeration, similar to what we just installed at the Lily Pond,” said Nick Derico, natural resources steward at Mill Creek. “That system was designed to run 24 hours a day, 365. This will be more of a limited treatment period.”

The system doesn’t use hazardous chemicals. Instead, it sprays tiny ozone bubbles into the water.

“The technology is injecting ozone, infused into the nanobubbles,” said Chris Antinone, Jr., with Green Water Solutions. “The nanobubbles sink into the water. One of the things we are trying to do here is put it in downstream, let the nanobubbles come upstream, and see how far they work and how well it works coming up.”

The ozone turns into oxygen, and cleans out some of the nitrogen and other pollutants algae need to grow.

It’s being done in late summer because that’s when algae blooms are the worst.

Scientists from Youngstown State and federal agencies will monitor the results.

“They’re going to look at what’s in the water and what did we take out of the water,” Antinone said.

The park is interested to see how the project turns out. It’s been tested before at Mosquito Lake and in Florida.

This could be a way to control the dangerous bacterial growth like the one that killed thousands of fish in the park in 2015.

“In theory, it is possible,” Derico said. “I don’t want to say a solution, but it could help control those bacterias.”

The company will track nanobubbles down through the park’s waterways and see how far they travel.

Full article at wkbn.com

Course in Canfield gives disc golf a fling

Weeks of warm to cool weather remain this season to enjoy the new disc golf course in Canfield.

The MetroParks Farm Disc Golf Course at the MetroParks Farm, 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road in Canfield, is open and ready for amateurs and professionals alike.

There is a simple nine-basket course for “newbies” to learn the game, which has grown in popularity over the past decade, said Justin Rogers, planning manager for Mill Creek MetroParks. But for more-experienced players, or less-serious players who want to enjoy a hike through the wooded areas at the farm, the 18-basket “championship course” offers twists and turns through wooded areas and meadows, featuring ponds and fresh air, Rogers said.

The $25,000 course was 10 years in the making and partially funded with an Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant.

After finding a location and getting a grant, it took about a year to design and construct the course, Rogers said.

Rogers said he believes the course will attract clubs and teams of people who play the sport competitively and low-key recreators alike.

“Playing disc golf can be a very personalized experience. It can bring in people who are experienced and competitive, and bring people who are novices interested in it who haven’t played. Plus, the equipment isn’t expensive, and the course is free,” Rogers said. “It is good for children and families, too.”

Roger’s son, 6, made a “birdie” on the course, and it made the boy’s week, Rogers said.

The site was selected because restrooms already exist, along with parking areas and water fountains at the farm. And the course is diversifying the types of activities and people who will be tempted to visit the park, Rogers said. There are also animals, pond fishing, a rain garden and a hall for rent.

The bike way runs through the area. There is a natural playground, an archery range, special events and agricultural programs offered already at the farm, Roger said.

“We felt the area was void of this type of activity, and it is directly in line with our mission to provide recreational opportunities and educational ones,” Rogers said.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset.

Full article at vindy.com

Disc golf course opens at MetroParks Farm in Canfield

There’s a new type of sport to play at Mill Creek MetroParks Farm.

A ribbon-cutting was held Tuesday at 10 a.m. for the opening of the new MetroParks Farm Disc Golf Course on Columbiana Canfield Road in Canfield.

The 9-hole learn-to-play course and an 18-hole championship course is set up with unique settings of wooded areas, meadow and pond landscapes.

The project is part of the MetroParks five year capital improvement plan and was funded by an ODNR grant.

The object of disc golf is to get the disc into the basket in the least amount of throws.

“It is two courses. An 18-hole challenging forest course that is predominantly wooded through meadows and across the pond and everything across the farm. The 9-hole field course is designed to be a learn to play course,” said Justin Rogers, Mill Creek MetroParks Planning Manager.

The disc golf course is a par 60 and about 6,000 feet long.

The course is free and open from dawn to dusk.

Players do have to bring their own discs.

Full article at wfmj.com

New disc golf course opens in Canfield

A new disc golf course opened Tuesday in Canfield.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the new MetroParks Farm Disc Golf Course located at 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road.

The course includes a 9-hole learn-to-play course and an 18-hole championship course.

“Maybe somebody that is older and advanced plays, and they want to bring their kids out, their grandkids out and introduce them to the game of disc golf. This is the perfect facility. It is obviously picturesque, and there is plenty of other things to do there at the farm,” said Justin Rogers, planning manager for Mill Creek MetroParks.

The disc golf project is part of the MetroParks’ five-year capital improvement plan.

The course was funded in part by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Full article at wkbn.com

Recreational boulder climbing could be coming to Mill Creek Park

On Monday, Mill Creek MetroParks announced it was considering allowing for boulder climbing in a section of the park.

Behind Bears Den Cabin in Mill Creek Park is an outcrop of boulders that would be ideal for climbing.

“I wished there were more rocks here but the rocks that are here are good quality,” said Norm Swann, director of the Ohio Climbers Coalition.

One of his jobs is to gain access for climbers. Swann said these boulders would be perfect.

“It’s not a large area, it wouldn’t be a destination climbing area but for local folks, maybe you get off work, you come out, boulder for a couple hours, get some exercise.”

Right now, it’s illegal to climb the rocks at Mill Creek Park.

People do get hurt bouldering.

“It’s a sport like any other sport,” Swann said. “There are injuries.”

That’s why a big concern of park officials is liability.

Swann said it shouldn’t be because Ohio has a recreational use statute.

“It does limit liability for the landowner as long as they don’t charge a fee and it’s a recreational activity.”

If the MetroParks Board approves, it would only be for one of two rock or boulder climbing areas around Youngstown. The other is the Logtown area near Lisbon, but ropes are needed there.

At Mill Creek, though, Swann likes what he sees.

“There’s a lot of big holds. There’s a lot of big holds for the feet. It is a little overhung, which makes it a little more challenging,” he said.

But Swann likes a challenge.

The top two priorities of the Ohio Climbers Coalition in creating climbing areas are parking and the approach area to the climbing site.

Swann said the Bears Den area is perfect. It has abundant parking and an easy approach.

Full article at wkbn.com

MetroParks commissioners discussing changes to rock climbing, electronic mobility device rules

A few changes could be coming to Mill Creek MetroParks in the near future.

At a meeting Monday night, park commissioners heard two proposals regarding changing or refining two park rules.

One would allow for the public to climb rock faces at designated locations throughout Mill Creek Park. Currently, rock climbing is not allowed.

The second would clarify where and how personal electronic mobility devices such as scooters and golf carts could be used inside the park.

The proposals are in the early stages right now and it could be a while before any changes are implemented.

“You can even identify what speed they can be operated at. So it’s not a simple policy to write, which is why we’re taking our time and evaluating all options,” said Aaron Young, executive director of the Mill Creek Park District.

Park commissioners would also have to address insurance concerns before allowing rock climbing inside the park.

No rules were voted on at Monday’s meeting.

The next meeting is set for Oct. 16.

Full article at wkbn.com

Project to renovate Mill Creek’s Ford Nature Center gets big financial boost

The renovation to an important landmark inside Mill Creek Park got a little closer to reality Monday evening.

Almost five years ago, Mill Creek MetroParks announced plans to renovate the Ford Nature Center.

The project received a $300,000 donation Monday night from the Michael Kusalaba Fund.

The donation was approved by a unanimous vote.

A plaza attached to the rear of the new center will be named the Michael Kusalaba Plaza.

The total cost of the project is $3 million.

No dates were announced for the start of the Ford Nature Center renovation.

Full article at wkbn.com

Culvert replaces turnpike bridge

Work on the eastbound lane of the turnpike near Kirk Road finished last week, and along with it, the structural work to the south-facing facade of a culvert for the Mill Creek MetroParks bike trail also was finished.

The $6.3 million project is funded through the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, which gets its income from tolls paid to use the 241-mile road, said turnpike spokesperson Brian Newbacher. The culvert replaces the turnpike bridge near Kirk Road, and makes way for an established section of the Mill Creek MetroParks bike trail, which is part of the larger Lake to River Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail that runs from the Ohio River in East Liverpool to Lake Erie in Ashtabula.

“The turnpike contacted the MetroParks about the removal of the bridge,” said Mill Creek MetroParks Planning and Operations Director Stephen Avery. “They involved us from the beginning.”

He said the MetroParks and turnpike collaborated on the design and detail of the tunnel’s two identical concrete facades that when completed will resemble real rock like the kind used in structures at the Kirk Road trailhead.

Standing in front of the structurally complete facade under the eastbound turnpike traffic, Avery explained four colors of stain will give the concrete surface a natural rock look. He said a black keystone will be inlaid above the center of the tunnel, and in-set words reading “MetroParks Bikeway,” also will be inlaid with black to make them stand out.

Newbacher said although turnpike workers maintain all turnpike bridges, it was important to include the MetroParks in the design.

“We wanted to be a good neighbor and involve them in the project,” Newbacher said.

The turnpike commission also provided a paved, just more than a quarter-mile detour for MetroParks trail users. Avery said he believes part of the detour will remain in place when construction on the culvert is finished, mainly for turnpike maintenance. The part of the detour that connects to the bike trail will be torn up, he said.

A MetroParks counting device located several miles south of Kirk Road tallied about 83,000 trail users over the course of a year — averaging to about 227 per day. Avery said he believes the daily use of the Kirk Road trailhead is much higher than that number, as it is a popular place for cyclists and walkers to begin.

Newbacher said the culvert project has been part of the turnpike’s capital improvement project for the past two seasons.

“We looked at different options with that location because the bridge itself was becoming a problem for our maintenance crews, and this became the best option,” Newbacher said.

The move from bridge to culvert will mean less future maintenance on the structure and a long-term cost savings.

The project, which began in spring of last year, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Full article at vindy.com

Old McDonald takes his barn to Canfield Fair

Llamas and turkeys and rabbits. Oh my…

It seemed like that’s what the wide-eyed children were thinking as they followed the little dirt path at Mill Creek MetroParks’ Old McDonald’s Barn at the Canfield Fair earlier this week.

Bill Gilmore, an educator / naturalist for Mill Creek MetroParks, brings about 30 animals to the fair each year.

“I help the kids pet the animals, then ensure that the kids have fun with them,” he said.

Gilmore, of Howland, brought the animals from the MetroParks Experimental Farm on Colum-biana-Canfield Road. People also can visit them there when it is not fair time.

The staff at the barn said they do their best to take care of the animals and their well-being is their highest concern. Staff is scheduled daily at 7 a.m. to begin feeding the animals.

This year, sheep, donkeys, geese, ducks, a rooster, chickens, rabbits, goats, a Holstein calf, a llama, an alpaca and several different species of birds were featured. Gilmore also had a pot-bellied pig in tow.

“We call him Peter Porker,” he joked, referring to Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker.

And Gilmore held a kid — a baby goat — so a different kind of kid could pet him.

“It’s a ball here,” he said about the fair. “We’ll have wall-to-wall people on the weekend.”

Gilmore, who has worked for the MetroParks for two years, served as a biology teacher for 36 years at Southeast High School in Portage County.

In addition to the farm, Mill Creek MetroParks features many other animals and locations to see them. They include Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, with more than 200 documented bird species, along with deer and muskrats; Newport Wetlands attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and beavers; Mill Creek Preserve is 44 acres of birds, dragonflies, butterflies and giant crayfish; Vickers Nature Preserve has ducks, herons, river otters and an equestrian facility; and McGuffey Wildlife Preserve has wild turkeys, woodpeckers, hawks, deer and coyotes.

Old McDonald’s Farm at the Canfield Fair is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. today, Sunday and Monday.

View full article at tribtoday.com

MetroParks Farm hosts first Nature Live event

The Mill Creek Park hosted their first Nature Live event on Aug. 4 at the MetroParks Farms.

Education Manager Mandy Smith organized the event with the rest of the education team.

“We as a group decided to kind of combine forces and make it a little bit more nature oriented instead of just one animal or group of animals,” Smith said.

She explained that the event was usually a bug or reptile day, but that the parks decided to combine all of the events into one that focused on a wider range of animals.

Smith said that at the event a number of organizations were present to showcase their animals.

Bee keeper Don Kovach, Birds of Flight, representatives from the South Side Butterfly event, and Keith Gisser with Herpes Alive were all present at the event.

“We are just promoting education, conservation of nature, awareness and appreciation,” Smith said. “It’s just a day to come out and enjoy.”

The event featured a number of actives for children of all ages.

Smith said that there was a room dedicated to Pre-K children being able to play and explore different types of animals.

The event also featured a touch table where community members can feel different types of fur and animal skulls.

A number of reptiles were available for children to hold, and there was even a honey tasting table.

“Anyone can come in,” Smith said. “We just want everyone to come and learn something and enjoy the farm.”

As they entered children received an activity card.

Smith said that if they completed five of the eight available activities and mark them on the card they receive a naturalist diploma to take home.

The barns at the MetroParks Farms were also open for community members to explore on their visit.

Full article at vindy.com