The weather man had done a pretty good job in recent days of keeping temperatures to the max for May and the skies clear, but the grand opening of the Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve took a hit this weekend weather wise. According to Carol Kennard, Executive Director of the Clark County Park District, volunteers for the cleanup was expected to reach 300 adults. However; the wet conditions and potential threat of more rain brought out around 180 workers.

Kennard explained that the work on the park began a couple of months ago with the help of the Clark County Sheriff’s PRIDE program. On Saturday, volunteers manned hand tools and heavy equipment to removed undergrowth, haul off dead trees and begin the construction of paths leading down to the Mad River and the old railroad bridge.

The park district acquired the land which has been a dumping ground in Mad River Township for a number of years in April of 2015. With a grant from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund Kennard explained that the park district is currently working to acquire additional land from the Robert B. Taylor family and the Ohio Masonic Home to bring the total land to 100 acres when completed. The property will extend from St. Rt 68 to Old Mill Road once completed and an emergency access road is being planned for Lower Valley Pike. The former Clearview Mobile Home Park which makes up the flat area of land that will first be seen by visitors was acquired from the Springfield Conservancy District.

During the work on Saturday, volunteers filled five of the 30 yard dumpsters placed on the property to aid with the cleanup. In addition piles of over 100 used tires were stacked around the property. Kennard explained that the plan was always to build the park on Saturday, May 20 and to host the grand opening on Sunday with activities, demonstrations and vendors on hand.

The park is not totally ready but work will continue moving forward according to Kennard. The wet weather did hamper some of the plans but volunteers were busy working to insure safety when the first guests arrived for the ribbon cutting at Noon on Sunday.

The Mad River Gorge Nature Preserve will be open dawn till dusk daily. A large map board is located at the rear of the property near the pathway that leads down to the climbing area and river access. This rock climbing area is expected to draw visitors from around the country and is touted to be a premier destination which features 40-50 foot cliffs. Dogs are permitted to be in the park if they are on a leash.

Just off of Old Mill Road adjacent to the new park is the Rock City Resort formerly Bass Lake. Owner Susan Ulliman will be investing around half a million dollars into the former fishing and camping lake to eventually offer full camping facilities and easy access to the preserve in early August. She has invested in the lake and stocked it with around 1,000 new fish and has worked to improve the conditions for the wildlife on the property. Ulliman has installed a fence that limits access to the preserve while allowing future campers to enjoy a serene and inviting location. Improvements to the property include a new shelter house, new restrooms and a new electric system so that guests can enjoy primitive tent camping as well as places to park campers. Ulliman acquired the property in May of 2016 and has continued to work on updating the facilities. She plans to offer camping year round and has made the area something that she would enjoy herself she noted. “I want this to be family friendly” said Ulliman of her undertaking. She intends to add an archery range and basketball courts to the 48 acre camping area. Once the property meets all of the county requirements, the location will be offering options for camping while visiting the park within walking distance.