Nature Conservancy continues park project

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By DOUG DONNELLY

The Nature Conservancy recently completed a few days of clearing the underbrush at the Whiteford Stoneco Community Park at the corner of Whiteford and Sterns Rds., helping to further enhance the park.

The conservancy has been working on about 14 acres of the park for months now, working to restore the native alvar prairie to the wooded area on township owned park property. It is being done at no cost to the township.

The woods are being cleared from the ground up, allowing more sunlight to hit the ground and helping to restore the natural prairie.

Eventually, Nature Conservancy officials say, box turtles, grassland, birds, butterflies and natural grasses such as big bluestem and Indian grass, should reappear on the site.

Michael Losey, crew leader with the Nature Conservancy, said the non-profit agency will continue its work on the 14 acres, including removing some of the garbage that has been dumped onto the site.

“We will determine if we need a Dumpster or something back there,” he said.

The woods were mostly inaccessible prior to the conservancy starting the project less than a year ago. Today, visitors to the park can walk through the woods and the sunlight hits the ground.

The township hopes to further work on the site and try and obtain grants to fund more work in the woods.

Whiteford did win a $3,000 grant about a year ago from the Monroe County Environmental Health Fund and is using the first portion of that money to purchase a picnic table and a bench for the park. The second half of the money could be used for signs and the walking trail to encourage use of the wooded area and the newly-restored alvar prairie.

Losey previously told township officials that the prairie is so rare that only a couple are thought to still exist in the western Lake Erie Basin.

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