Carol Kennard, executive director of the Clark County Park District, takes photos of the Mad River Gorge climbing area. The Clark County Park District has recently purchased Mad River Gorge and pulled over 125,000 pounds of trash from the gorge, but they still have more to go. Leave No Trace Behind has chosen the gorge as one of 15 hot spots in the country to assist with this process. Bill Lackey/Staff

Cleanup day set to remove more trash, build trails at Mad River Gorge

About 125,000 pounds of trash has been removed from the Mad River Gorge already this year but there is still more work to be done, according to Clark County park leaders.

Leave No Trace, an environmental group that specializes in cleanups and preserving nature, were at community meetings and in the Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve this week. They, along with the Clark County Park District, are hosting another cleanup at the gorge this weekend.

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The gorge is a new park behind the now-defunct Clearview Mobile Home Park on Dayton-Springfield Road.

“This week we have been fortunate to be a Leave No Trace hot spot,” Executive Director of the Clark County Park District Carol Kennard said. “It’s one of 16 locations that was chosen this year.”

The Clark County Park District won a roughly $800,000 grant from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, allowing the district to purchase land to create the new park.

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The area in the gorge was originally filled with trash from decades of illegal dumping that volunteers have since tried to move out.

“We had a major cleanup weekend in May,” Kennard said. “A lot of work had been done before that. But during that weekend we pulled 125,000 pounds of garbage out of the gorge. It was from years of dumping in the gorge.”

So far, Kennard said, new trash hasn’t shown up at the gorge since the May cleanup. But the work isn’t done. Volunteers will be out again this weekend to pick up more.

“On Saturday and Sunday, we are inviting the public to come out, to help us with our conservation efforts here. We are still removing evasive honeysuckle, we are still building trails, lining the trails with rocks, closing trials we don’t want you to use and picking up trash. It takes an effort to really get it out of the gorge.”

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On Saturday, anyone can join from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to work on the trails at the gorge, 2710 Dayton-Springfield Road. On Sunday, scout troops will be working in the gorge from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In the future she hopes to establish one day every month for a cleanup day in the gorge to keep the space beautiful.

With the help of Leave No Trace, the new park will let visitors enjoy nature at its most pure, Kennard said.

“Enjoy the natural environment while respecting what’s there and making sure when the next person comes along, they will have the same enjoyable experience that we have,” she said.

The park also offers premier rock climbing. The Ohio Climbers Coalition bolted routes into the rocks for climbers already and will help monitor the bolts and the usage of the routes.

“The natural cliffs are great for climbing,” Kennard said. “The climbers that are coming out are keeping it clean.”

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