Judy Wells/Paulding County Progress
	Stephanie Singer of the Defiance County Soil and Water Conservation District shows Oakwood resident Phyllis Bidlack the proposed access sites along the Maumee River. Bidlack is a member of the Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor committee.
Judy Wells/Paulding County Progress Stephanie Singer of the Defiance County Soil and Water Conservation District shows Oakwood resident Phyllis Bidlack the proposed access sites along the Maumee River. Bidlack is a member of the Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor committee.
By JUDY WELLS

Feature Writer

PAULDING – Approximately 20 people attended an open house at the Paulding County Carnegie Library on Monday night. The topic of the open house was the designation of the Maumee River as an Ohio Water Trail.

The Defiance Soil and Water Conservation District, Toledo Metroparks, and other agencies are working towards having the river, from the Indiana state line eastward to the Maumee Bay, designated as a Water Trail.

A Water Trail is a cooperative effort by agencies, communities and organizations to map, sign and maintain river access sites for public use. Waterways that meet the criteria and gain community support are designated as official Water Trails by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft.

In order to receive that designation, the waterway must have access for canoes and boats at least every ten miles. Certain access sites would also have running water, restroom facilities, parking and a shelter house.

Securing the designation will also require the support of the jurisdictions along the 108 river miles in Ohio. There are 11 municipalities, 21 townships and more than 30 recognized access sites in the five counties along the route.

Paulding County currently has three potential access sites – Riverside Park in Antwerp, an area near Forder’s Bridge and the just-announced area near the Cecil Bridge. Riverside Park is located in Carryall Township and the other two sites are in Crane Township.

Water Trails benefit local paddlers and tourists alike by providing a consistent, safe experience with standardized signage, printed materials and online resources.

“Metroparks of Toledo has an interest in this project because we want to provide more waterways and areas for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy nature,” said Marty Overholt, project planning coordinator of Metroparks. “We can provide resources to help move this project along and expertise in how to make it happen. We don’t want to say we’re the driving force, but we’re definitely an interested partner.”

Stephanie Singer, watershed coordinator with the Defiance County Soil and Water Conservation District, said she’s excited about the project.

“With all the counties, townships and municipalities working together, this will be one of the most exciting and beneficial projects we’ve worked on in a long time,” she said. “There is a great deal of interest in recreation on the rivers and streams of our area. People just don’t know where to go or how to get started.”

Mark Greenwood of Antwerp said he sees a great benefit in the areas in the county being designated as Water Trail sites.

“It would boost the number of tourists coming to the county and would help improve our economy,” he said. “I enjoy being on the river and I think a lot of other people would too if it was more accessible to them.”

Rachael Hollinger and her fiancé, Charlie Seslar, live in Antwerp and own the Park Station and other properties along the Maumee.

“We’re thinking about putting in a canoe livery and maybe some rental cabins,” Seslar said. “We’ve put quite a bit of time and money into Park Station and are still trying to decide exactly which way we want to go. We think the Water Trail designation would be very beneficial to our whole county.”

The open house in Paulding was one of five held to answer questions and gather public comments as part of the designation process. The last meeting will be held next Tuesday in Toledo.

For more information on the Water Trail visit https://metroparkstoledo.com/Water Trail.