WESTERVILLE — Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) recently named Greene County Parks & Trails (GCP&T) the winner of two first place awards.
As part of the association’s 2020 Annual Awards of Excellence, GCP&T won first place in the Law Enforcement Programs & Events category for its Trail Sentinel Program with the Ranger Division.
The Trail Sentinel Program was established more than 15 years ago to serve the community on the county’s bike path trails.
Eighteen volunteers receive ongoing training from rangers, including in the areas of CPR, bike safety and maintenance, and crime prevention. The group focuses on the patrons and the trail users’ experience. They are the direct line of public contact as they patrol the trails, streamlining communications from the community to the correct correspondent, according to an OPRA release.
Trail sentinels act as ambassadors for GCP&T, as well as host several rides throughout the year.
The local parks division also won a first place award in the Capital Improvement Project (up to $1 million) category for the restoration of Pearl’s Fen located off Byron Road in Fairborn.
Pearl’s Fen was originally recognized in the 1980s for its uniqueness as a mound fen. At the time, it was only known to local botanists. The fen was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in early 2000. With the help of a Clean Ohio Grant, GCP&T gained ownership of the fen.
Work on the project started with the partnership with the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association, and co-director Dave Nolin. Not only did this protect the head waters of the Beaver Creek, it also gained region-wide focus with the Source Water Protection Program. The location is now available to the public with an access connector to the Oakes Quarry Park. There is also a unique “floating” boardwalk that goes right over the head waters.
“You and your family can visit this park all year long and always have something to discover!” parks officials said.
Full bloom of native plants is peak in late August to mid-September, attracting photographers and nature enthusiasts to the fen. Educators also make use of the fen, which is full of natural flora and wildlife.
The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on April 28, 2021 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky. One first place award winner will be presented with the 2020 Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation, a “best-in-show” award which includes a $500 contribution to the parks and recreation foundation of the agency winner.
“Parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio work every day to improve the quality of life of the people they serve,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “This effort is a shining example of that kind of work, and we are pleased to be able to present this award.”
The awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.