A Win Fore Conservation River Cliff Golf Course to Become a Public Park

Black Swamp Conservancy was recently awarded a Clean Ohio grant to purchase River Cliff Golf Course, in Fremont. The 70-acre property contains a mile of frontage on the Sandusky State Scenic River.

“We are working in partnership with our friends at Sandusky County Park District on this exciting project,” says Conservancy executive director, Rob Krain. “Our goal is to restore natural habitat, develop small-scale park amenities, and then gift the property to the Park District for public use.”

The Conservancy will purchase the property this spring, but River Cliff will continue to operate as a golf course through the 2017 season. After that, the Park District has committed to providing periodic mowing and other routine management while funding is sought for habitat restoration and park amenities. We anticipate that process taking about three years.

Park District director, Andy Brown, expressed his excitement about the partnership, saying that “Restoring the golf course, and expanding the stream side forest along the Sandusky River, will be a great asset to the community. With plans to provide hiking trails and picnic areas as well as river access for activities like fishing and kayaking, River Cliff will be a fantastic recreational resource. It is also a planned destination for the North Coast Inland Trail’s extension plans, linking it to other parks, schools and community centers”.

The City of Fremont has been instrumental in helping to build excitement for this project in the community. “Mayor Danny Sanchez has been a great partner, helping to coordinate support from the city, county and township for the grant application and future visioning of this property” said Krain.

“The Sandusky River is home to annual walleye and white bass spawning runs that make for excellent fishing opportunities. The impending  removal of the Ballville Dam, the major impediment to fish spawning in the river, combined with the efforts by Black Swamp Conservancy and its conservation partners work to restore fish habitat in the river will help to create a more vibrant fishery for these popular sport-fish, while also improving conditions for rare species, like the river redhorse,” said conservation manager, Chris Collier.

In addition to its numerous public recreation and wildlife benefits, this project will improve water quality in the Sandusky River and Lake Erie. Portions of the property regularly flood during high water events, washing fertilizers and other pollutants into the river. Part of the restoration goal will be to improve floodplain function and to restore wetlands on the site.