Walkers warm up to parks in winter PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 07 January 2013 10:57
Lisa Keating and Phil Odenweller walking across a bridge at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Despite frigid temperatures and a new blanket of snow on the ground, the Wood County Park District keeps its patrons busy with a variety of winter activities and seasonal programming.
"It varies by park," said Head Park Ranger Todd Nofziger in a recent interview. "There's regulars that are going to come out and walk their dog every day, walk the trails, get their exercise no matter what" the temperature or the time of year is.
"The snow kind of affects things a lot," said Park District Director Neil Munger. The trails located throughout the parks aren't plowed - which may seem an inconvenience, but is done with safety in mind. Munger explained that, once plowed, the trails can't be de-iced, and could create a hazard when they freeze. The trails remain open, but are to be used at the walker's risk, he said.
While walkers, hikers, and the inveterate cross-country skiers can be seen at the parks during the winter, other more unique opportunities are also available.
"We also have public hunting areas," said Nofziger, of the areas located in the Baldwin Woods Preserve, on Range Line Road in Weston, and also at the Slippery Elm Trail's Cricket Frog Cove area, located on Freyman Road west of Rudolph Road. Hunting is allowed through a "Hunting with Permission" program overseen by the ranger department.
"We have a hunting by permit program," Nofziger said. "People have to register with us and then they sign up for a day to come up out to hunt." The rangers regulate the number of people who come out to hunt at the sites each day.
When the cold deepens and the ice thickens, other activities are also in the offing.
"When the weather permits, once the level of the ice reaches a safe limit, we open that up for ice skating" at the W. W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg.
Nofziger indicated that the ice isn't thick enough for skating yet, however.  "We've only had ice on it for about a week now, but if the weather stays cold like this, I anticipate the next week or so we'll go out, drill some test holes and, once it reaches the appropriate thickness, we'll open that up."
Ice fishing is also planned. The W. W. Knight wetland area will be opened up for ice fishing once the ice gets thick enough. There was no such opportunity last year, given the mild winter experienced in northwest Ohio.
"We're hoping the weather will allow," said Munger.
Also popular during the winter are the park district's facilities.
"We also have 10 rental facilities," said Nofziger. "So we've got 10 rental halls that are always busy this time of year. More company parties, things like that. Those keep us busy."
With snow on the ground, the rangers keep a lookout for snowmobilers, though "they're not a huge problem, we do get them from time to time on the bike trail. And the people buzz through some of the parks and the trails every once in a while. Not a huge problem, but it's something we have to deal with every winter, especially the first snow."
"There's always something going on out in the parks," said Nofziger. "They're open 365 days a year, so it doesn't matter what the weather is, we'll be open."

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