The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

November 12, 2012

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Lampson Lake a new outdoor sports haven

The transformation of Lampson Lake from a reservoir with an unsafe dam to a 92-acre Ashtabula County Metropark with public fishing and duck hunting is now in full swing.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy staff members recently installed 17 wood duck nesting boxes at the lake, which was formerly used as a drinking water source for the Village of Jefferson. The boxes were funded by a $1,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and assembled throughout the summer by youths attending the 4-H Camp Whitewood.

In addition, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife this fall is stocking thousands of fingerling largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegills at the lake.

The former reservoir’s earthen dam was unsafe and potentially hazardous, according to a state safety inspection report, and rebuilding it to modern standards would have been costly to Ashtabula County taxpayers.

The Land Conservancy arranged for the purchase of the property with funding from an Ohio EPA 319 Grant ($182,000), the Ashtabula County Sportsmen’s Recreational Land Conservation League ($46,000), the county ($40,000) and USFW Service ($2,000). The Land Conservancy contributed staff time and services to the project; in addition, the Ashtabula Chapter of Ducks Unlimited has agreed to monitor the duck nest boxes.

In 2011, the former reservoir was drawn down to so soils could be assessed and site work completed. Earthwork and wetland plantings were completed August 2011, with final plantings and seeding done about three months ago. The project, which reduced the size of the lake but added 24 acres of restored wetlands to the existing 30 acres of high-quality wetlands, was designed and constructed by Enviroscience Inc.

“We are honored to be part of this great community project and to help pull together the public and private funding necessary to transform this beautiful property into a public park,” Brett Rodstrom, the Land Conservancy’s northeastern field director, said.

The property, which is in Jefferson Township, contains three-quarters of a mile of frontage on Mill Creek. The land will be officially turned over to the Ashtabula County Metroparks next spring.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources had determined as far back as 1994 that the 0.5- to 0.75-mile-long earthen dam was in “poor condition.” The dam, which held back a reservoir with an average depth of 10 feet, deteriorated due to erosion, animal burrowing and tree roots.

Brandon Mitchell, executive director of Camp Whitewood, said the wood duck boxes were made from local lumber.

“The campers and staff enjoyed assembling and painting the boxes throughout the summer camp sessions while learning about conservation and providing habitat for wildlife,” he said.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that has preserved more than 420 properties and more than 30,000 acres in northern Ohio. In Ashtabula County alone, the Land Conservancy has preserved 51 properties and 5,512 acres. The preserved acreage includes the Land Conservancy-owned Ashcroft Woods Preserve, a nearly 900-acre tract in the Grand River Lowlands as well as no fewer than 10 agricultural easements in excess of 200 acres.

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