along lake gets push
TOWNSHIP -- In a collaborative effort, local residents,
private groups and public agencies yesterday took a step
toward creating a 1,200-acre nature preserve along Lake
About 73 acres -- including an active bald eagle nest --
would have public access and protection from development
under an agreement approved yesterday in an effort involving
the Trust for Public Land, Erie MetroParks, the Sandusky-Erie
County Community Foundation and residents north of US 6
in Huron Township.
The agreement comes as part of a larger, multi-year plan
to protect the marsh area known as East Sandusky Bay, which
sits north of US 6, roughly between Griffing Sandusky Airport
east to the Cedar Point Chausee.
''It's gorgeous,'' said Kevin Zeiher, president of Erie
MetroParks' board of commissioners, as he described the
land. ''There's just nothing else like this in Ottawa County,
Cuyahoga County, Lorain County. Erie County is going to
be blessed if we can preserve this property.''
The 73-acre parcel, which sits east of the Sandusky Drive-In
on US 6, includes the outlet of Plum Brook and a cove, along
with meadows, woods, marshland and an eagles nest.
Zeiher and other officials credited owners Peter and Marilyn
Weiland and adjacent property owner Gil Steinen, whose coastal
land has been in his family for generations. Steinen was
among the residents who met with officials, including U.S.
Sen. Mike DeWine, in August to announce the beginning of
the conservation plan.
While the Weilands did not attend yesterday's meeting, they
share the desire to keep the land protected, said Wolfe
Tone, project manager for the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit
''It is very true they are thrilled that their land is conserved
for eagles and other wildlife, that it didn't have to go
to development,'' Tone said. ''They share the vision of
this asset for the community.''
Yesterday, the Erie MetroParks' board met briefly in executive
session, then approved documents that will lead to the creation
of the public area known as the Community Foundation Preserve
at Eagle Point, named in honor of the foundation's involvement.
According to the plan, the Sandusky-Erie County Community
Foundation will grant money to the Trust for Public Land
to buy the 73-acre parcel known as the Bogert-Weiland tract.
The Trust for Public Land also will get money to secure
an option to buy the 900-acre submerged area known as the
Putnam Marsh, which currently is owned by The Nature Conservancy,
another conservation group.
In the short term, Erie MetroParks will lease and manage
both properties; over the next two years, the park district
will search for more than $1 million in state and federal
money to buy them from the Trust for Public Land.
Erie MetroParks does not have a definite schedule for when
money will become available. DeWine has included conservation
funds in the federal budget for East Sandusky Bay, but further
action on those funds won't happen until next year, Tone
''We still have to plug some things in, but I'm excited,''
On the 73-acre area, future additions could include a shelter,
parking area, education center and observation deck; smaller
improvements, such as a trail, could be available by next
summer, according to the management plan.
The park district also approved a lease that will allow
the Weilands to sublease land and remain at their home.
The Trust for Public Land also is negotiating with at least
three other property owners for four other parcels that
will make the preserve complete, Tone said.
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