June 19, 2021 – By Kimber Caito, Media Coordinator, Fairfield County Park District
There are three properties for which master plans have been prepared. These are not yet open to the public so you cannot visit, but you can learn what is planned for their futures. One is Hansel Park, about seven miles east of Lancaster. Another is Misty Valley Park in Sugar Grove. Today, I want to tell you about Stoney Hill Park.
THEN (before 2017) This 62-acre site in the southwest-central part of the county was acquired in 2015. Part was received by donation from Deanie Dorwart. The rest of the property was purchased with a Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant.
NOW (2017-2020) A long-time volunteer, Roger Grossenbacher, purchased 1,200 trees from Fairfield Soil & Water Conservation District’s annual tree sale and donated them for Stoney Hill Park! Of course, trees improve habitat for wildlife and beautify the park, but his motivation was more altruistic – to combat climate change. Some scientists say the planting of trees is one of the simplest and least expensive things that can be done to sequester carbon.
WHITE PINE was selected for the Hamburg Road side of the park to provide a nice buffer. Because it grows quickly, it will sequester a lot of carbon. To reforest another section of the park, native trees were selected. TULIPTREE is often mistakenly called ‘tulip poplar’ but it is not a poplar at all; it is a magnolia. It is a fast-growing tree that will soon provide food and shelter for native birds and other animals. RED OAK will not grow as fast as Tuliptree, but it grows faster than many other oak species. They will provide a very valuable food source – acorns!
WITCH HAZEL and EASTERN REDBUD can grow very well in the rocky soils found at Stoney Hill Park. A healthy forest needs a healthy understory, the layer of trees and shrubbery that grows beneath the forest’s canopy. These two smaller species will provide that. Their growth will help the other trees thrive by decreasing soil erosion.
Thanks again to Roger for such a generous donation. He and other volunteers, Carol Abbot, Mike VanBuren, Ron Swain, Lisa Rector, and FCPD Director Todd Younkin, Education Services Coordinator Marcey Shafer, and Park Technicians Chris Varga and Chad Reed, braved the cold and heavy rains on three separate occasions to plant and place deer guards around the trees! A special thank you goes to Fairfield Soil & Water Conservation District for their annual tree sale, invaluable advice, and the loan of some supplies needed for the work.
TOMORROW. From this park, there are amazing views of the hills in unglaciated Fairfield County! The master plan will take advantage of scenic overlooks and striking features of the property such as honeycombed rock outcrops.
The proposed three-mile trail will provide a more challenging hike at this location than at our other parks. Since many trails in this part of the county are in nature preserves where dogs are not allowed, many will be happy to know dogs will be welcomed at Stoney Hill! Other possibilities include dark sky and wildlife viewing areas, a scenic overlook deck, sledding hill, bouldering area, and perhaps even a designated fishing area for children and an archery range. The plan will be implemented in stages and is subject to change based on factors such as public feedback, construction costs, etc.
Although visitors are not allowed at parks that are under development, we cannot wait until we can say, “Come!”.
THANK YOU to Fairfield County residents, for supporting Fairfield County Park District! We appreciate you and the trust you have placed in us, permitting us to care for the more than 1,046 acres of important and beautiful parklands in Fairfield County.
Get Out to Explore & Discover your Fairfield County Parks! Find this and all locations at fairfieldcountyparks.org.
And…watch for more ‘Then, Now, Tomorrow’ stories.
- Mambourg Park
- Stebelton Park at Rock Mill
- Wahkeena & Elias B. Wagner Nature Preserves
- Zeller Park & Lockville Canal Park
- Cross Mound Park & Sensory Trail
- Smeck Park: Then, Now, Tomorrow
- Arnery Run & Two Glaciers