A cold, sunny winter day is a good time to visit one of the many parks in our area. The Seneca County Park District has a growing number of nature preserves to enjoy through the year, and each season highlights different aspects.
For those readers who are already friends of the parks, how about becoming a Friend?
The Friends of the Seneca County Park District is an organization formed to support the parks financially and with volunteer efforts in many different areas. The Friends meet monthly, on the second Wednesday, in the basement conference room of the RTA Building. The meeting begins at 6 p.m., and visitors are welcome.
The first park, and the largest, is Garlo Nature Preserve. Just south of Bloomville on SR 19, there are 292 acres of woodland and fields, with a lake and two smaller ponds and more than 7 miles of trails.
An ongoing project is the construction of an historical village with a log cabin and a blacksmith shop painstakingly restored, with a second cabin under way. The Nature Center houses a nature-based pre-school and is a center for programs and classes. Many of the trees are labeled, and a rain garden, butterfly garden and flower beds are seasonal delights.
Forrest Nature Preserve is on CR 6, just east of SR?231, and the 23 acres border Honey Creek on the east and west. An 80-foot bluff overlooks the creek, where there is good fishing.
Material found in the kiosk in the entrance parking lot lists some of the plants and wildlife waiting to be seen by visitors. Picnic tables and benches encourage visitors to sit and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Steyer Nature Preserve is 141 acres of beautiful woodlands with the entrance on CR 33 at the Sandusky River. Eight bridges have been constructed by volunteers, extending the 4 miles of trails across ravines.
There is a 70-acre hunting area with access from Pleasant TR 148. An interesting feature that shows up well at this time of year is a bright green Christmas fern that grows profusely along the high banks of the Sandusky River. Beautiful trees include two oaks estimated to be about 300 years old.
Zimmerman Nature Preserve is on 5 acres along Willow Creek off SR 18 between Autumnwood Care Center and Genex. This land was developed into a county park with an emphasis on disability access.
Raised beds showcase herbs and flowers, and a special water pump can be operated from a wheelchair.
Bowen Nature Preserve, between county roads 38, 27 and 24, is mostly prairie with a wetland which is a wildlife haven. The historical West Lodi Church is part of the property and is being restored with a new roof.
The Seneca County Park District partnered with the state and Tiffin University to restore a wetland off CR 26. Tiffin University Nature Preserve features vernal pools and a hiking trail through the area with bridges, picnic areas and a gazebo.
Clinton Nature Preserve consists of about 35 acres along the west shore of the Sandusky River between Tiffin's Schekelhoff Nature Preserve and East TR 132. The river here cuts through limestone bedrock producing riffles on the surface. There is a paved trail along the river, and a grassy trail through the grassland portion of the park.
The district also is a partner in Opportunity Park. Seperately, the district is working with Mercy Hospital on the development of Mercy community Nature Preserve on hospital property, scheduled to open in the spring.
With all these parks available, and no public funding provided, volunteers are crucial to park upkeep and supervision. You can become a Friend for a small donation.
Contact the Friends at P.O. Box 872, Tiffin, call (419) 447-8091 or come to a meeting. You would be so welcome.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.