Ice floe debris still keeping walleye anglers out of park

Walleye run in the Maumee River

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

Most of the massive ice chunks have since melted, but the destruction from the ice floes in Buttonwood Park remains.

The Wood County Park District Board made it official Tuesday, by voting unanimously on the resolution to close the park along the Maumee River in Perrysburg Township for an indefinite period.

Last month, the board saw photos of the destruction from the ice floe that towered over six feet high in some areas of the park. Trees between the river and the park parking lot bear scarring at least six feet high. The parking lot was demolished, and the soccer fields once covered with ice are now completely covered with debris left behind from the ice floes.

This is not an ideal time to have the park closed, since the Maumee River is entering peak walleye season, Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said.

But there is just no way the park district can rebuild the parking lot and clean up all the debris quickly, Munger said.

And the park district will likely rethink its parking lot and soccer field placements, since this is the second time in four years that the flooding has taken out the parking and sports facilities.

Park staff walk past massive ice wall last month at Buttonwood Park.

Conversations are planned with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine how the park district can use the floodplains there.

Though Buttonwood Park is closed due to the damage, anglers can still access the Maumee River from Hull Prairie Road, a township road which acts as an entrance to the park. The road goes all the way to the river, and people can park along the roadway.

The park district is allowing people fishing to walk along the bank of the river – but they must stay out of the woods, parking lot and soccer fields.

Jeff Baney, assistant park director, said he is hoping to get an EPA permit to burn the wood debris on site.

Park board member Bill Cameron asked about the possibility of volunteers helping to pick up the wood debris, and take what they want, so the wood wouldn’t be wasted.

Baney said much of the wood is in large chunks, and would require the use of chainsaws.

Though it would be good to find a use for the wood, “I’m not real comfortable with that,” he said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board heard an update on the plans to turn a house at Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve in Perrysburg Township, into an interpretive center. The building, formerly the home of the quarry owners, will be transformed using about $274,000.

Because the second floor of the home did not meet accessibility standards, the top floor will be taken out – allowing for huge two-story windows to overlook the quarry and bird feeders, Munger said.

Plans call for an exhibit space, a small climbing wall with padded floor for children, a focus on quarry operations, hands-on learning activities and quarry tools for kids to play with, geological information and the history of quarrying in Northwest Ohio.

The center should be open to the public next spring, Munger said.

In other business, the board heard a brief update from Jim Witter, park district program coordinator, about the diversity of programs offered at the county parks. They range from bird hikes and escape rooms, to beer programs, and ‘taste test the past,” focusing on depressions era food.

“They have been filling up. It’s great to see,” Munger said of attendance at the park programs.

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