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Published: Friday, 10/23/2009

Metroparks adds parcels for wildlife corridor

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Metroparks of the Toledo Area has acquired six more parcels of land in western Lucas County, four to help build a wildlife corridor between its Secor and Oak Openings parks in the future.

Deer, squirrels, and rabbits aren't the only ones that would benefit from such a vertical strip of green space; the park district wants to groom a hiking trail inside the corridor for area residents to stroll between the two sites.

The project is part of an overall master plan Metroparks of the Toledo Area has developed to preserve more land within the historic and ecologically fragile Oak Openings region, Tim Schetter, the park district's land planning and acquisition manager, said.

Known as the Oak Openings Greenway, about 81 percent of the land required for the corridor has been locked up by the park district, he said.

"This corridor would connect the two parks with the Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve, the Lou Campbell State Nature Preserve, and the Nature Conservancy's Kitty Todd Preserve," Mr. Schetter said, adding that the park district may try to establish mini corridors between those preserves and the two metroparks.

"This is the whole Green Ribbon Initiative [a campaign for more green space launched by area officials several years ago] to connect all of these together," he said.

The park district's three-member board of commissioners this week authorized the six most recent purchases, ranging from $39,000 to $150,000.

The deals include 16.552 acres to expand Secor Metropark eastward and 1.56 acres to close a gap in Providence Metropark.

The former is at 9404 Wolfinger Road and was acquired from Thomas and Marcia Yoder for $132,416, with $80,712 coming from revenue generated by the state's Clean Ohio Fund that voters authorized in 2000. With it, Secor Metropark's acreage will be expanded to 586 acres.

The land features a mixture of forested wetlands and upland pasture, which will be allowed to revert to natural vegetation, Scott Carpenter, Metroparks spokesman, said.

The latter is the only parcel purchased solely with Metroparks dollars. It comprises 1.56 acres at 13205 Toledo Napoleon Road, near the center of Providence Metropark. It was acquired from Dolores M. Miller for $42,800. A mobile home and outbuilding will be removed. The land will be reverted to natural vegetation, Mr. Carpenter said.

"It completes Providence Metropark," Mr. Schetter said. "That has been a priority acquisition for many years."

The park district will be reimbursed for the four parcels that are to be part of the future wildlife corridor. Money for those sites is coming from the Ohio Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, a state EPA fund for protecting the state's water resources. They are eligible because of their proximity to the water table.

The four sites include 15 acres at 1225 Schwamberger Rd., purchased for $150,000 from Rose Mary and Richard Wylie. That parcel includes wet prairie and a wet woods. A house on the property will be demolished, Mr. Carpenter said.

Also included is 10 acres at 925 and 1005 Schwamberger Rd., purchased from Enedino and Sarah Deleon for $100,000. It also includes wetland and wet woods.

Five acres were purchased at 10982 Frankfort Road from Rochelle Bradley for $41,500. That land consists of mature pin oak swamp forest habitat, Mr. Carpenter said.

And 4.69 acres, at 11020 Frankfort Rd., were purchased from Howard and Bonnie Badgett for $39,000. It also has a mature pin oak swamp forest habitat.

All Metroparks funds spent on land acquisitions have come from the park district's 0.3-mil levy that Lucas County voters approved in 2002. It is authorized through 2012.

Park operations are funded through a separate 1.4 mill operating levy approved by voters in 2007.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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