Conservancy celebrates property improvements

·2 min read

Sep. 23—MORGAN TOWNSHIP — Partners in the conservancy movement gathered on Thursday afternoon to celebrate improvements at the Dr. James K. Bissell Nature Center at Morgan Swamp Preserve.

Bill Stanley, the director of the Nature Conservancy of Ohio, said the facility is one of the most important in Ohio because it allows for a variety of indoor and outdoor programming that meets the needs of many different people.

"There are a lot of places to learn about nature here," he said.

Trails for disabled visitors and educational opportunities at the center are among the options, Stanley said.

In addition to trails and other outdoor recreational opportunities a solar powered pavilion was recently completed and named for Bill and Arlene Ginn.

Stanley said Ginn was a man who always pushed for excellence and naming the pavilion for them was important. Bill Ginn Jr. and his brother David Ginn represented the family at the dedication of the pavilion.

Ginn Sr. recently died at the age of 98. David Ginn said his father spent 30 years working on nature conservancy and also was involved in 100 non-profit organizations.

"If that was a football record it would never be broken," David Ginn said.

Terry Seidel, director of land protection for the Nature Conservancy of Ohio, said public awareness of the property began in 1933 when Lawrence Hicks completed a study detailing the unique swamp that featured hemlock trees and swamp conditions, which is rare in Ohio.

Seidel said the property was originally roamed by Native Americans of the Lenape Nation. He said an Illinois Supreme Court Justice and a Jewish community group owned the property and later the City Mission of Cleveland.

The commission eventually donated 350 acres of the property in 1986 and the conservancy has been adding acreage ever since, Seidel said He said there are 2,000 acres with more on the way.

Area contributions to the area included a $100,000 contribution, in 2020, by the Civic Development Corporation. The CDC donations helped create a workable road system and parking and trails that meet criteria for disabled people through the American Disabilities Act.

"I have a lot of pictures of the beaver habitat. ... It is truly an outdoor classroom," said Amanda Tirotta, executive director of the CDC.

Marta Stone, a longtime leader in Ashtabula County, discussed her experiences working with the conservancy and her excitement about the property's development.