Park district continues growth at 50 years

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Park district continues growth at 50 years

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Donald Knight from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service talks with participants in a 2016 canoe trip along the Great Miami River about habitat and wildlife along the river corridor during a stop at the 38-acre Miami County Park District Duke Park extension property at Troy. The property is one of hundreds of acres owned by the park district. CONTRIBUTED

The Miami County Park District has grown over the decades from a five-acre park along the Stillwater River to 15 parks spread across the county.

The park district — known for activities such as the Hug the Earth Festival and the fall Farm Fest — turns 50 this year.

The park district’s mission includes conserving natural resources and enriching the quality of life for the people of Miami County through stewardship, environmental education, outdoor experiences and passive leisure activities.

The district is overseen by a three member board that includes John Wannemacher, who has been on the board more than 40 years; Douglas Haines; and Robert Malarkey.

Most of the district’s funding comes from a 10-year, 1.1-mill levy that will expire at the end of 2019.

“The park district has evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of the community. It started as conservation only and stayed that way for many years,” said Scott Myers, park district executive director. “However, with the growth of people looking to conserve their property and the community wanted more access to those areas, as well as being a partner to build the bike trail, the Park District has accommodated that.”

Most recently, district activities and programs have been affected by people looking for healthier activities and the desire for community events such as a Fall Farm Fest, he said.

The first park, the F.L. Blankenship Riverside Sanctuary near Covington sits along the Stillwater River. The land was donated in 1970 and sanctuary opened in 1975.

The largest park is the Lost Creek Reserve near Troy with 457 acres at the former Knoop Farm. The district’s headquarters now is based at the Lost Creek location.

In addition to the parks, the district has 10.5 miles of bikeway, much running along the Great Miami River.

The district over the years has added facilities with an array of different offerings from the trails and waterfall at Charleston Falls to the Hobart Urban Nature Preserve located in the midst of Troy; and an archery range at Garbry Big Woods.

Last year alone the district reported the following highlights:

• Around 9.750 people attended 280 public programs.

• Nearly 2,600 attended the Hug the Earth Family festival.

• More than 12,000 showed up for the Fall Farm Fest at Lost Creek Reserve.

• A total of 884 people volunteered for the district for 3,570 volunteer hours.

• The district hosted four high school interns and four college interns.

For more information on the park district, go online to www.miamicountyparks.com.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

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