- Michael Cooper Staff Writer
The Clark County Parks District was honored by a state parks and recreation association for having one of one of the best projects in the state this year, the 78-acre Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve — the largest climbing area Ohio.
The district won a first-place award in the Natural Resources & Conservation category from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association last month. It was honored at the association’s annual conference earlier this week at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky.
The gorge project was also nominated as one of three finalists for the Governor’s Award, a best-in-show style honor given to the best project in the state. However, the Youth 2 Work program, managed by Cincinnati Recreation Commission, won the top honor.
The district won a roughly $800,000 grant from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, allowing it to purchase land from private owners, as well as clean the land and remove invasive plant species. The free park allows climbers to scale cliffs in the 40- to 50-foot range.
Last May, more than 200 volunteers and 60 sponsors came together to build trails, clean up the former dump sites below the cliffs, and remove invasive species, officially opening the park. More than 125,000 pounds of trash were removed in one day.
Mad River was also recently chosen as one of sixteen Leave No Trace Hot Spots across the country. Hot Spots are outdoor areas that have experienced visitor-related impacts including excessive trash, damage to vegetation, trail erosion, and disturbance to wildlife.
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