Nearly 200 acres permanently conserved in Portage County through partnership

Portage Park District and the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy have permanently conserved nearly 200 acres in Portage County.

The organizations partnered in leveraging grant funds to permanently protect 189 acres of high quality natural areas in the City of Streetsboro, an area under continued development pressure.  The project, referred to as the Tinkers Creek Greenway, is comprised of two separate tracts of land: 59-acres acquired by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy then transferred to the Portage Park District, and 130 acres acquired directly by the Portage Parks, who will develop and manage it as a public park.

“The Streetsboro project builds upon a corridor of nearly 300 acres of conservation land in the immediate area, including The Nature Conservancy’s Evans R. Beck Memorial Nature Preserve, Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s Gott Fen State Nature Preserve, the City of Streetsboro’s Wilcox Park, and more,” noted Chris Szell, director of conservation project management for the Land Conservancy. He added, “Within one mile of the property, you’ll find an additional 495 acres of preserved land.”

As with many park and conservation projects, the partners pulled in funding from multiple sources. The Land Conservancy’s tract was generously funded by the Ohio EPA through the Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program (WRRSP), with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), being the sponsor in this case. The OEPA funds were used as local match for the Portage Park’s Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant, along with funds from its voter-approved levy. The landowners even helped out by selling the property at below market value.

The 59-acre property largely consists of high-quality wetlands, including approximately five acres of fen wetland habitat. Fens are fed with mineral-rich groundwater and are noted to have a high diversity of native plant species. Natural resource surveys of the property, conducted by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Natural Areas Program, revealed some 295 species of flora and fauna, with 16 dragonflies and damselflies.

“The Land Conservancy is excited to help complete two vital wetland conservation projects in Portage County,” explained Alex Czayka, eastern field director for the Land Conservancy. “While these lands will be conserved forever, the Land Conservancy is especially grateful to work with the park district. Portage Parks will be the long term owner of these properties and at some point in the future will turn these natural assets into public access areas that can be enjoyed by the general public.”

The 130-acre property was a part of the estate of the late William Gressard, longtime nature columnist for the Record-Courier and passionate conservationist who originally dug the lake for his family’s fish farm business.  The Gressards’ children, Gwen, Bob, Bill (Cheri) and Richard are thrilled that it will be parkland. Robert Fageol Gressard shared his thoughts, “The creation of this park is due to the vision of those who could see what a great asset this would be for Portage County and the residents. I hope all who visit will enjoy the new park.”  It’s also a critical buffer to the adjacent Herrick Fen State Nature Preserve, which is home to several rare and endangered species as well.

“This project provides tremendous value to the community—by protecting rare and important ecosystems, protecting water quality, mitigating stormwater and creating a beautiful new public park for all to enjoy”, remarked Christine Craycroft, Executive Director of Portage Park District.  Over the next year the park district will be inviting the public to participate in planning for the new park site which includes woods, fields, wetlands and a 30-acre spring-fed lake, previously used as a commercial fishery. Possible opportunities listed by Craycroft include hiking, fishing, kayaking, picnicking, primitive camping and educational programming.  The public can stay up to date on the planning process by visiting the park district’s website and signing up for the e-newsletter.

Funding for the project was generously provided by the Ohio EPA through the Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program (WRRSP).  The conservation project was sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).

The goal of WRRSP is to counter the loss of ecological function and biological diversity that jeopardize the health of Ohio’s water resources. Szell said the WRRSP “is an extremely valuable funding source” to protect natural resource-rich properties like this one.  “Many thanks for NEORSD’s continued efforts to improve water quality within our region and support of land protection efforts that advance water quality benefits,” Szell added.

Organizations, like NEORSD, can pursue low-interest rate-loans from the Ohio EPA Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) for planning, design or construction of wastewater, sewer and storm-water infrastructure projects. These organizations and municipalities have the opportunity to further improve water quality by sponsoring a WRRSP project that addresses nonpoint source pollution through the protection or restoration of streams and wetlands.

About the Portage Park District: Portage Park District conserves important natural areas and creates parks and trails for public use and enjoyment.  It manages over 1,870 acres of land and 14 miles of hike and bike trail, connecting communities across Portage County. Learn more at

About Western Reserve Land Conservancy: Western Reserve Land Conservancy provides the people of our region with essential natural assets through land conservation and restoration. The Land Conservancy has preserved natural areas and working farms in 17 counties in northern and eastern Ohio. Its urban program, Thriving Communities, works statewide to clean and green urban centers devastated by the foreclosure crisis. To date, the Land Conservancy has permanently preserved more than 670 properties and more than 50,000 acres; created more than 140 public parks and preserves; led the efforts to create 41 county land banks across Ohio; and planted more than 3,500 trees in the city of Cleveland.

Portage Park District Foundation Holiday Arts & Crafts Sale

The Portage Park District Foundation is pleased to present an arts and crafts sale featuring the work of 34 artists.  The “Nature’s Store Holiday Arts & Crafts Sale” will be held December 7 and 8, 3-8 p.m., at the Downtown Gallery located at 141 East Main Street, Kent.

A reception will be held both evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with refreshments available.

All the pieces in the juried show have been inspired by nature and include acrylics, watercolors, photography, sculpture, jewelry, cards and more.

“We are very happy with the work the artists submitted for our second annual show.  The pieces are beautiful and capture the beauty and power of nature,” said Sally Kandel, president of the Portage Park District Foundation.  “They are simply inspiring.”

Through donations of a portion of the artists’ sales, the show will raise money for the Portage Park District Foundation, which supports the Portage Park District.

“This is a great opportunity to do some holiday shopping.  The majority of our artists are local and are sharing their talents for the benefit of the parks,” said Beth Buchanan, vice president of the Portage Park District Foundation Board.

The Kent State School of Art provided help and support for this program.

For more information contact Sally Kandel at

Now recruiting volunteers for 2018!

Volunteering just takes a few steps to get started!

Click here to review opportunities and then: 

1. Fill out our online application

2. Once you have completed an online application, you will need to attend a short orientation to learn about how our volunteer system works.

3. After orientation you will be able to access our volunteer portal and view and sign up for opportunities.

If you would prefer a paper version of the volunteer forms you can: Download the Volunteer Application Form

For more information click here to visit our volunteer page.

Cassini mission to Saturn presentation at Morgan Park

Saturday, November 18, 5 – 6:30 p.m. 

Morgan Park, 8828 State Route 44, Ravenna, OH 44266


Sign up here!

Join NASA Solar System Ambassador, David Dailey for a short presentation on the Cassini mission to Saturn. You will have a chance to ask questions after the presentation and our volunteer Sky Ranger, Guy Gillespie will be on site with telescopes.

Please dress for the weather as this presentation will be outdoors. We will have benches available for seating, or you could bring a blanket to sit on. There are no restrooms on site, so please plan accordingly.

If there is inclement weather, the presentation will be cancelled. We will notify you the morning of the event. You must sign up to receive notifications about this event.

Alert: Portage Park District to fill cracks along paved trails and parking lots


October 13, 2017

Press Contact:

Andrea Metzler, Public Engagement Coordinator

Portage Park District

(330) 297-7728

Portage Park District to fill cracks along paved trails and parking lots

RAVENNA, Ohio – On Monday, October 16, Portage Park District will begin to fill cracks along paved trails and parking lots. The process will take approximately two days and is slated to be complete on Wednesday, October 18. Trails and lots affected are:

  • The PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail, beginning at the Franklin Connector and continuing to Oakwood St.
  • Lake Rockwell Trailhead parking lot
  • Cleveland Rd. Trailhead parking lot
  • Dix Park parking lot
  • Berlin Lake Trailhead parking lot off of State Route 224

This improvement is the final step in the Portage Park District Pavement Preservation Project.

The Portage Park District’s mission is to conserve Portage County’s natural heritage and provide opportunities for its appreciation and enjoyment. For more information, visit or call (330) 297-7728.