Erie County, OH, Conserves Woodland Watershed
Cleveland, OH, 4/6/01 – Today, the Trust for Public Land announced the permanent protection of Edison Woods, a 1,300-acre nature preserve located in Erie County, 50 miles west of Cleveland near Cedar Point
Through a creative public-private partnership, coordinated by the Trust for Public Land, the 1,300-acres of woods, wetlands, and meadows, commonly known as Edison Woods, was purchased by Erie MetroParks and will be managed as a nature preserve, safe-guarding the area’s water resources while providing an ecological legacy for future generations. This effort, the largest land conservation accomplishment in Northern Ohio in recent decades, involved the Trust for Public Land, FirstEnergy Corp., Erie MetroParks, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, City of Marion, State Senators Jeffry Armbruster and Larry Mumper, and countless other individuals and organizations.
The site was formerly owned by Ohio Edison Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. Since 1991, Erie MetroParks has leased the property from the power company, enabling the park district to open nature trails and manage the site as parkland. The acquisition of Edison Woods by Erie MetroParks ensures that the property will be permanently preserved as a natural area.
The Trust for Public Land and Erie MetroParks partnered with the City of Marion, located northwest of Columbus, to acquire funding for the project through Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, which is a new and highly innovative effort to protect and restore the ecological function and biological diversity of Ohio’s water resources. Under the program, Marion agreed to sponsor the preservation of Edison Woods by increasing the size of a low-interest loan that the city is receiving from Ohio EPA to improve its wastewater treatment system. Under this arrangement, Erie MetroParks has received between $4.4 and $4.5 million to acquire Edison Woods. In the future, Erie MetroParks will receive more than $1 million to restore as much as 300 acres of wetlands on the property. In turn, Ohio EPA has reduced the interest rate on Marion’s loan so that city actually saves money, while still providing the funds for acquisition of Edison Woods. In addition, the Department of Natural Resources is directing $250,000 to Marion to help with a local park project.
“This is a win/win/win situation,” notes Christopher Knopf, Direct of the Trust for Public Land’s Ohio Office. “Ohio EPA’s creative approach to funding important water-resource protection has allowed two communities to benefit each other.”
Three years ago, FirstEnergy Corp. made the decision to sell Edison Woods. This prompted Erie MetroParks to collaborate with the Trust for Public Land to find a way to preserve the land as permanent public parkland. In the fall of 2000, a levy to provide funding to preserve Edison Woods was narrowly defeated. Erie MetroParks and TPL then immediately sought alternative funding.
Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in our communities and to protect our natural and historic resources for future generations. Nationwide, the Trust for Public Land has helped conserve more than a million acres valued at over $2 billion. Two years ago, the Trust for Public Land gained widespread attention by demolishing the Richfield Coliseum and transferring the property to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Trust for Public Land Ohio Office receives funding from The Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation, along with other foundations and individuals. For more information about the Trust for Public Land, please visit our website at www.tpl.org.
THE EDISON WOODS PRESERVATION TEAM
- Erie MetroParks, which is permanently protecting Edison Woods as a public nature preserve.
- FirstEnergy Corp. and its subsidiary, Ohio Edison Company, which demonstrated responsible corporate citizenship when it enabled Erie MetroParks to use Edison Woods beginning in 1991 and pursued the conservation of Edison Woods before entertaining offers from developers.
- Friends of Edison Woods, a group of ordinary citizens, who kept the public aware of the special natural resources at Edison Woods.
- City of Marion, which agreed to assist in the preservation of Edison Woods while involved in an important and complicated upgrade of its own sewage treatment plant.
- North Coast Regional Council of Park Districts, consisting of Erie MetroParks, Lorain County Metro Parks, Medina County Park District, and Sandusky County Park District, which assisted in the preparation of the Edison Woods management plan, a prerequisite for participating in the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which was flexible in providing financial support to the City of Marion.
- Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, whose innovative, first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program made preservation of Edison Woods possible.
- State Senators Jeffry Armbruster and Larry Mumper, both of whom acted as critical liaisons to public officials.
- Trust for Public Land, which coordinated the efforts of the other partners and helped facilitate the transfer of the property to Erie MetroParks.
EDISON WOODS – A PLACE WORTH PRESERVING
- At 1,300 acres, Edison Woods is the largest conservation effort in Northern Ohio in recent decades.
- With more than 900 acres of forest, Edison Woods provides critical wildlife habitat for foxes, coyotes, deer, amphibians, and other animals.
- Edison Woods is a bird watchers paradise, providing a haven for migratory birds traveling between summer and winter ranges.
- Edison Woods contains over 460 species of plants, making it one of the most biologically diverse areas in Northern Ohio. The spring wildflower display at Edison Woods is superb with trillium and other plants blanketing the forest floor.
- Edison Woods contains hundreds of acres of wetlands, including the headwaters of Old Woman Creek, which is one of just 25 water resources across the country that is part of national coastal research system.
- A sandstone escarpment traverses Edison Woods, marking the western edge of the Appalachian plateau and affording dramatic views of Lake Erie and Kelleys Island.