The Mill Creek MetroParks is expanding after acquiring 161 acres of land in Smith Township.
The MetroParks now owns Hawkins Marsh, which is located on W. Western Reserve Road.
“The property is of interest because of the 161 acres. Nearly 80 acres of that are forested wetlands which are category three wetlands which are high quality,” said Executive Director of Mill Creek Metroparks Aaron Young.
Young said it was the perfect opportunity to preserve unique habitats while serving a previously under-served area.
The MetroParks partnered with West Creek Conservancy in the acquisition of the property, and Young said in this instance it was very cost-effective with about 75% of the funding coming through the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.
“But the balance — the 24% — was made available through a bargain sale, so this is an acquisition where zero tax dollars were expended,” said Young.
Young said development of the parcel of land is going to be limited due to what’s supported by the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.
There will be no active recreation on the property. Rather it’ll be geared toward passive recreation activities like hiking, walking and birdwatching.
oung said they’re currently working on an application for another round of funding to potentially fund those improvements.
As for when the project will be complete, that will depend on the funding application.
Young said he wouldn’t expect any development of the parcel until 2023 or later.
“Any chance we can get to serve individuals or a community that we didn’t have a presence in before is a day to celebrate and today is that day,” said Young.
Mill Creek MetroParks now contains more than 5,000 acres of land, with the addition of the Hawkins Marsh area.
Read the original article at WKBN