Looking back on 50 years

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The past year, our 50th year anniversary, wasn’t quite what we’d expected. As we begin the new year, we take a look back at our once big plans for 2020 and new hopes for the future. For 50 years we’ve been intertwined in the fabric of Clermont County, and we hope to continue to preserve and protect Clermont County’s natural resources for many years to come.

Read more about us and the past 50 years of Park District growth in our 50th Anniversary Booklet below. Even though we didn’t get to give these booklets out at park celebrations as planned, we would love for you to take a look!

Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Robin Green, Lead Naturalist

 

 

Gateway to the Great Outdoors: Celebrating 50 Years

For 50 years we’ve been intertwined in the fabric of the Clermont County, one of the institutions helping raise the quality of life for our residents and visitors. For 50 years we’ve provided places where individuals, families and friends can get outside, get active and create lasting memories.

For half a century – as our mission statement says – we’ve worked “to acquire, plan, develop, program and maintain park property in the county for residents and nonresidents alike. To secure the preservation of open space and places of scenic or historic value.”

In 1970 – when the average gallon of gas cost 36 cents – the Park District existed only on paper. It took two years for the former Rotary Club Park in Batavia to be called Sycamore Park and open to the public.

Sycamore remains our biggest – and busiest – park. But we’ve grown to include the adjacent Wilson Nature Preserve, Pattison Park in Owensville, Hartman Log Cabin in Jackson Township, Chilo Lock 34 Park and Visitors Center (and the adjacent Crooked Run Nature Preserve), Kelley Nature Preserve in Miami Township, Shor Park in Union Township and the Williamsburg-Batavia Hike/Bike Trail.

We have partnerships with the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District and the Office of Environmental Quality to protect county waterways and make permanent green spaces.

Clermont County voters overwhelmingly approved a .5-mil, 10-year tax levy in 2016. We are proud of the tangible results produced so far with our strategic stewardship of those funds. Highlights include new picnic shelters, restrooms and playgrounds at Shor, Sycamore and Pattison parks; restoration and painting of the iconic water tower at Chilo Lock 34 Park; upgrades to HVAC and lighting systems at Pattison Lodge, Hartman Log Cabin and the Chilo Lock 34 Park Visitors Center; and the acquisition of 134 acres and buildings on the former Stricker property next to Pattison Park, where we’re making plans for a new Park District headquarters. We look forward to creating new facilities and opportunities at 10-Mile Creek Preserve in Pierce Township and the Grailville Preserve in Loveland. We’re grateful for the first 50 years and hope read more…

New mileage markers at the Williamsburg to Batavia Hike-Bike trail

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An example of the old, faded mileage markers (left), Brendan painting the last marker (center), and part of the team painting a marker (right).

Visitors to the Williamsburg to Batavia Hike-Bike trail will find it easier to navigate their way. Brendan Baker, and his team from Williamsburg Troop 84, painted 60 new mileage markers along the trail for his Eagle Scout project.

He believes the mileage markers will help keep people using the trail safer. “My dad is a firefighter and we thought it would be easier for bikers that have wrecked on the trail” said Brendan. With obvious mileage markers, hikers and bikers can provide the nearest marker number when providing their location. They brought the project to Park District Deputy Director, Tim Carr, who enthusiastically agreed with the idea as the old markers were quite faded.

Brendan with help from his troop, troop leader, and dad spent a total of 111.5-man hours to complete the project. Using long-lasting highway paint, they placed mileage markers every tenth of a mile for the entire 6-mile length of the current trail. Every marker is surrounded by a black box to make the number stand out and help people see where they are going.

Brendan enjoyed the project and especially hearing from “a lot of the nice people that we met on the trail” he said. Many of them were excited to hear that soon they’ll be able to calculate how many miles they’ve been walking on the trail. We at the Park District are so grateful to Brendan and all of Williamsburg Troop 84 for making our trail safer and more enjoyable to use.

Recycle holiday lights while visiting the park

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Help us to keep holiday lights out of landfills. We’re partnering with Clermont SWCD, Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District, Cincinnati Nature Center, Pierce Township and Cohen Recycling making it easier to be green over the holiday season.

Now that's a bright ideaAnytime until Feb. 1 2020, free recycling of broken or unwanted holiday lights will be provided at the following Clermont County locations:

  • Sycamore Park, 4082 State Route 132, Batavia, OH 45103

  • Shor Park, 4659 Tealtown Road, Milford 45150

  • Chilo Lock 34 Park, 521 County Park Road, Chilo, OH 45112

  • Pierce Township Administration Office, 950 Locust Corner Road, New Richmond 45157

  • Clermont SWCD/Agricultural Service Center, 1000 Locust Street, Owensville 45160 (Fairgrounds)

  • Clermont County Water Resources , 4400 Haskell Lane, Batavia 45103

  • Cincinnati Nature Center, 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford 45150

If you’re not in Clermont County, check www.cohenusa.com/lights to find a location closest to you. All kinds of string lights are accepted during this event, including traditional and LED-style bulbs. Please place lights only in marked recycling bins, no pre-lit trees or wreaths.

Park District part of new Tail Trail

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Don’t leave your dog at home.

The Clermont Park District partnered with Discover Clermont and several business across the county to create the new Tail Trail for area dogs and their human counterparts.

The Tail Trail includes dog-friendly hotels, patios, parks and paths all across the county. The best part? Your four-legged friend unlocks discounts and deals their people can enjoy at stops along the trail.

There are eight stops along the trail for people and pups; you’ll qualify for a custom dog tag from Discover Clermont when you visit all eight.

There are three Park District properties along the trail.

Chilo Lock 34 Park

Did you know that a sea lion was once caught in the Ohio River at Chilo Lock 34 Visitors Center, the site of a former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lock and dam. Located right on the Ohio River you, visit Chilo and learn about the history of the Ohio River and its paw-some locks and dams. The park also features a 1.5-acre wetland in the park, providing great wildlife-watching opportunities with two picnic shelters and a steamboat-themed playground.

Canine’s choice? Scouting out the river for rogue sea lions.

Kelley Nature Preserve

Created in part with a gift to the Park District by Virginia Kelley as a memorial to her husband, Walter A. Kelley, the 42-acre nature preserve in Miami Township sits along the scenic Little Miami River features more than a mile of hiking trails, newly renovated canoe/kayak access to the Little Miami River, scenic river views and a meadow with a spectacular display of summer wildflowers.

Canine’s choice? Checking out the paddlers coming in and out of the Little Miami.

The Grail

The Grail is a rural oasis that welcomes the public to walk the pet friendly natural trails that crisscross 70 acres just outside of Loveland year-round during the daylight hours. The trails loop through fields, woods and the O’Bannon creek. All pups on leashes are welcome to explore the trails.

Along the trails, Grail initiatives and places of note are marked with blue and white signs. The Grail is known for the wide variety of birds spotted and with a newly installed bird watching station on a short loop close to the parking area, perfect for those who want to enjoy nature without hiking through the trails.

Canine’s choice? Bird watching with their humans.

Other Tail Trail locations include East Fork State Park – Main Entrance, East Fork State Park – North Entrance, Green Kayak Grille & Pub, Harmony Hill Vineyards & Estate Winery, Little Miami Brewing Company, Old Milford Parlor: Coffee & Ice Cream, Roads Rivers And Trails, Stonelick State Park, Valley View Nature Preserve – Entrance One and Valley View Nature Preserve – Entrance Two.

For more information on the Tail Trail, please visit the Discover Clermont website here.

Waterways getting a workout

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MIAMI TWP. – The new boat launch at Kelley Nature Preserve got a workout recently.

Miami Township Fire and Emergency Medical Services dropped the inflatable rescue boat from its technical rescue truck into the Little Miami River June 9.

While the rescue itself was called off – nobody on the river was in danger – seeing the technical truck in action at the preserve was a good sign.

The launch opened earlier this spring with the intention of making the Little Miami safer for water sports enthusiasts.

According to its website, Miami Township Fire and EMS has extensive training and response ability for technical rescue situations. The department has the capability to provide expertise in Rope Rescue, Swift Water Rescue, Ice Rescue and Lost Person Search.

“Multiple personnel are trained to the Technician (the highest) level in all four disciplines. All fire department personnel are trained to at least the Awareness level for technical rescue situations.”

Funding for the new launch point came from a State Capital Improvement Grant. The Clermont Park District partnered with Miami Township Fire and EMS department to build it.

In addition to the safety aspect, the new launch marks a major improvement for canoe and kayak users who have made Kelley Nature Preserve one of the busiest access points to the Little Miami in Clermont County.

The Park District has several other river access points in its system, both on the Little Miami and on the Ohio.

At Chilo Lock 34 Park, the Park District maintenance team – in one annual sign of summer approaching – installed the floating docks at the end of the ramp into the Ohio River. (Heavy rainfall and rising water earlier in the month pushed the dock placement to the end of May.)

Canoers and kayakers can get on the East Fork of the Little Miami from Sycamore Park in Batavia. As plans to revamp the oldest park in the system continue this year and next – there are already new picnic shelters and restrooms in place – look for access to the water to improve as well.

One of the best-kept secrets for access is behind the Park District maintenance building – Roadside Park – on Ohio 222 across from the Sheriff’s Department.

Park District Naturalist Robin Green described a late-May outing that ended there.

“When the river is high enough, both Sycamore and Roadside Parks make great take out spots for your kayaks or canoes,” she said. “We put in at the tail waters of East Fork Lake and got out at Roadside Park.

“Along the way we floated right below a great blue heron rookery, through Wilson Nature Preserve and some enchanting fog, past Sycamore Park and under a bridge. There were at least 20 herons at the rookery.”

Waterways have been – and remain – open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Park District is pleased to serve the residents of and visitors to Clermont County and offer opportunities to connect with and enjoy the area’s natural resources.

Park District playgrounds re-open

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As the state of Ohio relaxes restrictions on activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clermont Park District continues adjusting its services.

Beginning June 10, 2020, playgrounds in the Park District re-opened for guests.

The Park District has playgrounds at Shor Park in Union Township, Chilo Lock 34 Park in Chilo and Sycamore Park in Batavia; the new playground at Pattison Park outside Owensville is not complete, but should be ready for visitors later this year.

Hiking trails, walking paths and river accesses in the all the parks have been open – and busy – throughout the health crisis.

“The experts have said since they started placing restrictions back in March that exercising and getting some fresh air is a good idea,” said Chris Clingman, Park District Director. “We are glad people have been active in our parks all along.

“We are pleased to re-open our playgrounds and give children and families even more opportunities to get active outside. We will conduct daily sanitizing on the play sets and encourage our guests to continue maintaining social distancing when they visit.”

(Park District naturalists Robin Green and Joe Scharf created a brief video to illustrate just how far six feet is to maintain social distancing standards. Check it out right here.)

Restroom facilities in the parks remain closed, but port-a-potties are available.

“We made these closures to protect the safety and health of our guests and our staff,” Clingman said. “Now we are glad we can start returning to regular levels of activity throughout our system and look forward to more announcements of things coming back on line.”

For questions about the Park District, please write to parkdistrict@clermontcountyohio.gov.

New fence fronts historic Hartman Cabin

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From left, Shannon Behimer, Darrin McWhorter, Jamey Seals, Eagle Scout candidate Dylan McWhorter, Doug Doherty, Ben Behimer, Jim Seals and Erik Stults helped Dylan with is fence-building project at Hartman Log Cabin.

JACKSON TWP. – Roll down U.S. Highway 50 and you’ll catch a glimpse of something new looking old.

Dylan McWhorter – a 17-year-old Eagle Scout candidate from Milford High School – recently completed his service project for the Clermont Park District.

He constructed a historically accurate split-rail fence along the road fronting the Hartman Log Cabin on the southeast corner of 50 and Aber Road.

With 19 posts and 54 rails, the fence covers nearly 200 feet.

“The negotiations for this project go back to November,” McWhorter said. “I spent a few hours doing the research and then making a plan on how to build it. I was really fortunate because in school we were learning about that period – the 1830s – in my AP U.S. history class.”

He planned to build the fence in early spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw him a curve.

There were some challenges scheduling people to help. Fewer than would normally participate in an Eagle project volunteered because of state restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people. There were a few delays in having supplies delivered.

“You kind of have to expect that with the times we’re in,” McWhorter said. “I just had to be understanding.”

Dylan McWhorter’s Eagle Scout project built a new spilt-rail fence at the Hartman Log Cabin on U.S. 50 and Aber Road in Jackson Township.

The build finally happened May 15 and 16.

“I inspected the new fence and Dylan and his crew did an excellent job,” said Park District Deputy Director Tim Carr, who coordinated the project with McWhorter. “The new fence looks great. We thank him for this beautiful project.”

McWhorter said now that the project is complete, his favorite part was the opportunity to work on a historical site. He visited the cemetery adjacent to the park and saw where several members of the Hartman family are interred.

“It’s just beautiful land,” he said. “I’m glad to contribute to it. In the future I’ll be able to walk down there and say I was able to add something to it. It just brought joy to me to work on it. I’ve been a big fan of historic America. It just felt like my kind of project.”

“I think preserving (the Hartman) land honors their legacy. Being some of the first Ohio settlers and preserving their cabin for this long is important to share.”

McWhorter recently completed his junior year at Milford High School, but will be jumping right to the University of Cincinnati Clermont College next school year. He’s considering a major in political science.

He began his scouting career as a Cub Scout in kindergarten and has enjoyed his 12-year affiliation with the scouting program, more than half of which were with Troop 128 – led by Peter Jofriet – out of the First Methodist Church in Milford. His favorite scouting memory is his first summer camp out at nearby Camp Freelander.

“You were deep in the wilderness and away from technology,” he said. “You can just appreciate nature. That’s import to be able to preserve and respect the land.”

Eagles sighted in Batavia

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Crossing the bridge in downtown Batavia last week, Clermont Park District Director Chris Clingman saw a handful of people looking at something. Then saw it himself.

An American bald eagle.

“I parked and went on bridge,” he said. “Turns out there were two of them; one was on the other side of the bridge.”

He snapped some photos with his phone and sent them to the Park District’s interpretive naturalists.

The resulting Facebook post – shared by Robin Green at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 25 – as of Wednesday morning has a reach of more than 27,000 people (and counting) with more than 6,400 engagements and 200-plus shares.

It’s the second-most popular post in in Park District history, behind only Green’s photo of a snake in a tree at Pattison Park earlier this year which reached more than 31,000 people.

At the end of January this year, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division announced a citizen science project to help find every eagle’s nest in the state.

Once an endangered species, there were only four nesting pairs of bald eagles in Ohio in 1979. By 2007, they were removed from the federal list of threatened and protected species and Ohio followed suit in 2012.

The 2020 count marked the first such effort since eagles came off the list eight years before.

On April 22, the ODNR released its results; with 707 confirmed nests in 85 counties. Citizens reported about 2,500 nests to the Division of Wildlife, whose officers and biologists went on to verify the locations.

Ottowa (90) and Sandusky (50) counties led the state in nests. Clermont County officially has four nesting pair, as does neighboring Brown County to the east. To the west, Hamilton County has three pair. Nearby Butler County has eight, Warren County four and Clinton County two.

“I have seen one passing through before, but others have seen them in the area,” Clingman said. “There is an eagle nest on the East Fork, so we should be seeing them throughout the Batavia area.”

The Park District would love to see and share your local eagle photos. Please send your JPEG images to parkdistrict@clermontcountyohio.gov, along with the date and location you saw the eagle.

Fishing Derby delayed

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OWENSVILLE – The annual Matt Maupin Memorial Fishing Derby For Kids – co-hosted by the Clermont Park District and East Fork Bass Anglers and scheduled for May 9 – became the latest event affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine stated in his April 27 daily briefing that the order prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people remains in place for the foreseeable future.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Mark D. Motz, Park District community relations manager. “This event is one of the highlights of our spring. It’s wonderful to the see the Pattison Park fishing pond packed with kids and families from all over the county.

“We’re also proud to celebrate the memory of Matt Maupin – a fisherman himself – one of the heroes who paid the ultimate price so those of us back home could enjoy events like the Fishing Derby.

“However, the health and safety of our guests has been and will continue to be our first priority. We will comply with all state and local mandates to make sure people can avoid exposure to or the spread of the corona virus.”

Last year, about 60 children in three age groups – 7-and-under, 8 to 11 and 12 to 15 – participated. With parents, grandparents and volunteers, about 200 people ringed the lake. Alex Richey in the 12 to 15 age group hooked the largest fish of the day, a 5.39-pound bass.

50th Anniversary picnic postponed

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While the COVID-19 crisis continues and the state of Ohio begins making plans to open up parts of the economy starting May 1, the Clermont Park District will postpone a community event scheduled for mid May.

“At this point, we don’t know enough about what the rules from the state and county will be for large gatherings,” said Park District Direct Chris Clingman. “We will always err on the side of caution to make sure our guests and our staff stay safe and healthy.

“It’s unfortunate. I know people are anxious to get outside and socialize again. We’re glad our parks have been open for hiking and exercise during the state’s stay-at-home order, but bringing so many people together in one place is more of a risk than we’re willing to take.”

As a result, a community picnic to celebrate the Park District’s 50th anniversary fell victim to the pandemic.

Originally signed into existence Feb. 5, 1970, by Clermont County Probate Judge Charles Jackson, it actually took a year for the fledgling organization to own any property – 23 acres along the East Fork of the Little Miami River – and two before that parcel opened to the public as Sycamore Park.

In the ensuing 50 years, the Park District grew from existing only on paper to managing nearly 1,000 acres of parks, nature preserves and green spaces.

Scheduled for May 16 at Chilo Lock 34 Park, the 50th anniversary picnic would have featured the musical talents of Wild Carrot, a Cincinnati-based American roots music combo.

“This would have been a terrific opportunity for us to begin thanking the people who enjoy the Park District,” said Mark D. Motz, community relations manager. “We’re sorry we won’t be able to do this particular thank you, but look forward to a time when we can celebrate together safely.”