By WARREN DILLAWAY
Two decades of dreaming became reality Monday morning as more than 75 people gathered to celebrate the opening of Lake Erie Bluffs.
Lake Metroparks partnered with state, federal and local governments, and local environmentalists and businesses to make the dream come true.
The property was purchased for $11 million after securing local, federal and state grants. The 600-acre park is located a two-mile stretch of shoreline by Lake Erie.
The funding for the purchase came from a variety of organizations, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Conservation Fund, the Novak Trust, Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District with the help of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the Trust for Public Lands.
A barred owl and a red tail hawk, from Lake Metroparks’ Penitentiary Glen, set the tone for the ceremony, while an eagle appeared almost on cue at the end of the dedication ceremony.
“This is a testimony to the idea that if you have imagination there is no limit (to what can be done),” said Lake Metroparks Board of Park Commisioners President Frank Polivka.
“This collaboration is a very unique situation,” Polivka said describing the multi-levels of government, coupled with environmental groups and local leaders.
U.S. Rep. David Joyce, R-Geauga, said the event went beyond local interest.
“It is not a local thing. It is a national thing. You are helping save the habitat for future generations,” he said.
Craig Butler, assistant policy director of the Ohio Environment, Energy and Agriculture Office said Gov. John Kasich views Lake Erie as a jewel.
“The state is happy to be a part of this,” he said.
Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Cameron Davis said he spends a lot of time all over the Great Lakes and commended the cooperative operation that made the project a reality.
“It is the kind of thing that doesn’t help with the wave of a magic wand. It happens gallon by gallon,” he said.
Rich Cochran, president/CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy said, “We are only 30 minutes from downtown Cleveland, but we could be on the northern coast of Oregon.”