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Published: Wednesday, 3/28/2007

New floor in old barn to be rooted in ash trees

Rick Clabaugh drives a front-end loader to deliver another log to the sawmill as Andy Brown helps. The logs are sawed into planks. Thirty ash trees have been cut for the flooring project at Creek Bend Farm. Rick Clabaugh drives a front-end loader to deliver another log to the sawmill as Andy Brown helps. The logs are sawed into planks. Thirty ash trees have been cut for the flooring project at Creek Bend Farm.
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LINDSEY, Ohio - Thirty Sandusky County ash trees rooted in Ohio's agricultural history have been taken down to serve area residents another way: as wood flooring for a historic barn.

The barn, built in 1871, is part of a 190-acre parcel formerly known as Creek Bend Farm. The Sandusky County Park District acquired that land in 2002 with a $422,522 Clean Ohio Conservation Fund Grant and a $142,250 donation from the heirs of former owner Robert Roush.

The district is reforesting and converting that land, plus 120 other acres it acquired in recent years, into a 310-acre working farm and environmental education center that replicates country life between the 1930s and '50s. The latter parcels were obtained through a combination of almost $310,000 of state grants, district funds, and donations. Hiking trails and canoe access to Muddy Creek are planned.

The combined acreage, now called Creek Bend Farm Park, is 25 miles southeast of Toledo.

"It will be a living history of agriculture in Sandusky County," Doug Haubert, the district's operations supervisor, said.

The idea for the barn's flooring came from the district's response tothe emerald ash borer. Though the 30 ash trees at the site were healthy, officials figured they'd be as doomed as other ash trees the invasive pest from Asia has attacked in northwest Ohio. "The thought was, 'Let's do something with it while we can,'•" said Jean Dieterich, the district's program coordinator.

Andy Brown walks through the barn where he is stacking planks for a new wood floor to be installed inside a barn at Creek Bend Farm. Andy Brown walks through the barn where he is stacking planks for a new wood floor to be installed inside a barn at Creek Bend Farm.
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With the help of a portable sawmill, the felled trees have been stripped of their bark. The lumber that will be used for flooring will be laid inside the barn and dried for months. The district hopes to install it as flooring in the fall, Mr. Haubert said.

The project is the latest in which landowners affected by the emerald ash borer are looking for ways to salvage something from their anticipated losses.

Emerald ash borers are thumbnail-sized beetles from Asia that entered North America years ago via wooden crate shipments to suburban Detroit. The pest, which starves ash trees to death in three to five years, has spread throughout Michigan, Ohio, and portions of other states, as well as Canada's province of Ontario.

The former Roush property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a century farm. Mr. Haubert said it has been a functioning tree farm for years, meaning that it has been selectively harvested and replanted. He said the state certified it as its second tree farm in the 1940s.

Mr. Roush died at 86 in April, 1999. He was Lindsey's mayor in the 1960s and later served as a Sandusky County commissioner. He also was one of the county's leading conservationists. The Roush family last year donated the property's house and garage to the park district.



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