Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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Wauseon upgrades biking-hiking trail

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Steve Brown, left, Fulton County regional planner, and Tom Hall, Wauseon building and code administrator, say efforts are ongoing to improve their section of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, opening from Wauseon west to West Unity in Williams County later this year.

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WAUSEON - A plaque to be erected this summer near the Wabash Cannonball Trail will signal another in a series of improvements along the city's stretch of the hike-bike route.

City leaders on July 19 will close on a 4-acre all-wooded parcel from the Goodwin family - paid for with a $10,000 state grant - that will be further developed with public walking trails and a picnic area.

"This is a side attraction for the bike path," said Tom Hall, Wauseon's building and code administrator.

The area that sits next to Rotary Park, just north of the bike path, will include a sign indicating it as Goodwin Preserve and direct users past a pond and into the woods.

In the same location on the bike path's south side, city leaders are hoping to use grant money to create a trail head with restrooms for Wabash users - which would mark the first trail head to date on Wauseon's three-mile stretch of the path.

Mr. Hall and Steve Brown, the county's regional planner, say the improvements are a continual effort in Wauseon to improve on its small part of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, which is scheduled to be opened from Wauseon west to West Unity in Williams County later this year.

Wauseon leaders have attracted about $400,000 in state grant money, which required a local match of 20 percent and was used to pave two of the city's three miles of the trail. When that's done, Mr. Hall estimates the city eventually could approach $500,000 in grant funding for a variety of trail projects.

Next week Mr. Brown will file a grant application with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in hopes of acquiring money - possibly as much as $20,000 - to plant wildflowers and other native plant species along parts of the trail and nearby sites.

In conjunction, members of the city's tree committee are in the midst of a tree planting project to select scenic trees to be located along the trail in the vicinity of Wauseon High School. There, Mr. Hall said, the trees would be a buffer for residential areas and a scenic addition.

Mr. Brown said the city is investigating what native plants could be selected for the area if the city's foundation grant is received. But he said wildflowers in general are planned.

On the same trail in Fulton County, members of the Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association Inc. recently erected their first trail head near Delta, just east of Wauseon.

In conjunction with that project, volunteers planted a variety of native species, among them cardinal flowers, dense blazing star, goldenrod, and lobelia.

Gene Markley, vice president of the association overseeing the bulk of the trial in Henry, Fulton, and Williams counties, said members are not planning major plantings or paving their stretch of the trail, as in Wauseon.

He said they've attracted much smaller funding sources, with the workload handled by volunteers. He said members are trying to get culverts opened so the path can officially extend into Williams County. "We just quietly keep working away on the trail," Mr. Markley said.

Contact Kim Bates at: kimbates@theblade.com or 419-337-7780.

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