New Property Expands Forest Run MetroPark

Forest Run Wildlife Preserve Area in Ross Township, southeast of the City of Hamilton, is getting considerably larger, thanks to a conservation purchase by The Trust for Public Land. The 255-acre Timberman Ridge property is being added to the existing 82-acre property located north of New London Road, MetroParks of Butler County and The Trust for Public Land announced today. The combined properties will be known as Forest Run MetroPark.

Mostly former farmland, the Timberman Ridge property also supports grasslands, prairie, woodlands, a stream corridor, bottomland floodplain, and cold water springs. Access to the ridge will offer visitors three-mile scenic views. The Three Valley Conservation Trust will hold and maintain a conservation easement on the property, which will support conservation, education, and passive recreation opportunities.

“We are thrilled to support MetroParks of Butler County with the expansion of Forest Run,” said Kim Kimlin, Ohio project manager for The Trust for Public Land. “Forest Run MetroPark is truly becoming a natural area destination for surrounding townships, Hamilton, and Butler County. We are grateful to MetroParks of Butler County, the State of Ohio, and the Three Valley Conservation Trust for their commitment to this important conservation opportunity.”

Although the adjacent City of Hamilton offers local park areas, Forest Run MetroPark will be a more expansive destination park for residents with larger green spaces. And in Ross Township, once one of Butler County’s faster growing townships, the purchase maintains natural green space among existing development.

“The Timberman Ridge addition to Forest Run will increase public passive recreational access in an area previously under-served by the MetroParks,” said Jonathan Granville, MetroParks of Butler County Executive Director.

Funding for the $1.3 million purchase came entirely from a Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation program grant, as administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission.

In 2010, the Trust for Public Land also assisted the MetroParks of Butler County in assessing the feasibility of conducting a dedicated parks levy. Voters approved the levy and the proceeds will support the MetroParks’ development and maintenance of the expanded park. The Board of Park Commissioners also approved a land management plan for Timberman Ridge in December 2011.

Details of a public input process for a master plan for the property will be forthcoming. The existing 82-acre Forest Run Wildlife Preserve Area has already been enhanced with picnic areas, a new playground structure, a trail, and a wildlife observation deck.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to partner with MetroParks and The Trust for Public Land. In addition, the partners may be able to use the project to leverage additional areas for protection,” said Larry Frimerman, Three Valley Conservation Trust executive director.

“The Richard J. Fitton Family Foundation focus is on land conservation. Partnering with The Trust for Public Land and MetroParks of Butler County allowed the Foundation to ensure the preservation of the land while also opening it up to public usage,” said Shelley Spillane, vice president and trust officer for First Financial Wealth Management. First Financial serves as the trustee of the Foundation.

The Clean Ohio Fund, first approved by voters in 2000 and overwhelmingly renewed in all 88 counties in 2008, is a $400 million state bond initiative that invests in local communities by preserving green space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation, and cleaning up abandoned industrial sites known as brownfields.

Since it was founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land has helped protect 3 million acres of land in 47 states. In Ohio, TPL has protected more than 13,000 acres valued at more than $136 million. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its mission to preserve land for people.

MetroParks of Butler County is a county-wide park system established in 1955 that operates under the direction of the Board of Park Commissioners appointed by the Probate Judge. MetroParks currently owns and/or manages over 3,000 acres offering guests opportunities for outdoor recreation and access to historical sites. The park system also offers boat and facility rentals, a dog park, sledding hill, newer Lodge for social and professional functions and much more.