Sunday, March 15, 2015

8 November 2014 Preserve Conserve Protect

Geauga has been our home in Ohio for a long time. Besides a deep, shared belief in the conservation and protection of green spaces and wildlife habitats, we both understand the practical dollar value of living in an area where a strong conservation-based park system creates a desire to locate. In the state of Ohio the county park system is run and managed at the mercy of a probate judge. It had work well in the past. The park system flourished under the guidance of Judge Chip Henry. All that changed when a drunken driver ran down and killed Judge Henry. Geauga County suddenly became a convenient place to send the current judge to remove him from Columbus.

The focus of the park system began to shift from a conservation-based park to one with a strange misguided vision. The Executive Director was sent packing, the Park Board members soon followed to be replaced by handpicked choices of the judge. Soon the District's bylaws were under attack in a misguided program to "open" the parks to all. Geauga Parks' Observatory Park was the eighth dark sky park in the United States. Observatory Park boasts amazing opportunities to view the stars. The last remaining native brook trout population in Ohio is within land managed by Geauga Parks. Geauga Parks have been a solid partner assisting the Western Reserve Land Conservancy in its mission to protect and preserve remaining undeveloped areas in northeastern Ohio so generations forward will be able to enjoy the remaining open areas.

Into this level of focused conservation entered a judge with what appears to be a decades old vision of the country in which he lives. He appears to envision a county park system with baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and tetherball courts. Children and families no longer go to the park for picnics where the family plays a ball game. Kids no longer play pick-up games. Their organized sports activities happen almost exclusively within the scope of organized leagues. The local communities offer significant, well-kept fields which sit unused unless needed for a league game. There is no absence of these services except in perception stuck in the past. So far, fields set aside for monarch butterflies have been converted to soccer and baseball and half a paved wheelchair trail has been removed.

We spent our Saturday afternoon offering our support of a small, but dedicated, group of people who are united to protect Geauga Parks from this continued attack.

After the meeting, we took Phineas for a much deserved walk at Geauga Parks' Best Preserve. We found the geocache there and enjoyed a few bird sightings including a loon.

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