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Hellbender Bluff Park Opens in Ohio

November 25, 2011
By Larry Claypool - Publisher & Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

EAST LIVERPOOL, OH - A chance to enjoy Ohio's natural beauty and additional hunting and fishing opportunities have been expanded with the opening of Hellbender Bluff Park in Columbiana County. In late September, the Columbiana County Park District and The Nature Conservancy dedicated the new 752-acre park with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The new park is located north of East Liverpool, OH, just off state Route 7 and state Route 11, along East Liverpool Road. The public land features rolling hills (some of the acreage is reclaimed strip mine land), fields for game bird hunting, wooded areas for deer and squirrel hunting, hiking trails and a creek (west branch of Little Beaver Creek) for fishing. It's an excellent area for wildlife and bird watching. Other features and trails will be added in the future. To date 8,500 trees have been planted by volunteers at the park.

The Little Beaver Creek is an Ohio Wild and Scenic River and National Scenic River. It's also excellent fishery.

Article Photos

Columbiana County Park District officers (from left) Mike West (Vice Chairman), Dottie Betz (Chairman) and Tom Butch (Commissioner) pose for a photo during the ribbon cutting ceremony at Hellbender Bluff Park.

The creation of Hellbender Bluff Park did not come easy, and involved several people and many organizations, both private and pubic. It took three years to come to fruition. The effort was jump-started by a $500,000 monetary donation from Salem, OH residents William and Margaret Baker through their estate trust.

The Bakers willed money to The Nature Conservancy and asked that the funds be used in Columbiana County for a conservation effort. Bill Stanley, director of conservation and Terry Seidel of The Nature Conservancy were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremonies. The Nature Conservancy is a worldwide organization, based in Arlington, VA.

Locally the $1 million Hellbender Park project was spearheaded by the Columbiana County Park District. That group's chairperson, Dottie Betz, welcomed about 60 people to the ribbon cutting ceremony and thanked those involved in the effort. Park District board member Tom Butch, Columbiana County Commissioner Penny Traina, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft Chief Rodger Norcross and Bill Stanley also addressed the crowd.

Other organizations and businesses that assisted with the project include: Little Beaver Creek Land Foundation; Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative; Columbiana County Park District volunteers; ODNR Division of Wildlife; Clean Ohio Conservation Fund; Cleveland Metroparks Zoo; Columbiana County Federation of Conservation Clubs; Huntington Bank; Ohio State University; Oxford Mining Company and many other local volunteers.

The park is named after a large salamander (hellbender) that inhibits the stream in parts of Little Beaver Creek. The hellbender is the largest aquatic salamander in the United States. It averages in size between 11-20 inches but can reach 27 inches in length. And is considered an endangered species in Ohio.

The hellbender once thrived in pristine streams in the Ozark and Appalachian mountains, and throughout the Ohio River valley. Today, hellbenders are limited to relatively few healthy stream systems and can be found in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

For additional information about Hellbender Bluff Park visit these websites: Columbiana County Park District,; The Nature Conservancy, www.nature; or ODNR site at www.dnr.state.oh.



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