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February, 2014 News
Partners in Nature
Backyard Bird Watch
Great Backyard Bird Count Starts NOW! 
Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.Project. We invite you to participate! Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count.  February 14-17, 2014. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world! Check it out here

FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Click here to check it out!
Trail Planning
Our local transportation planning agency, AMATS, is sponsoring a feasibility study to consider the possibility of creating a multipurpose trail that would connect the communities of Suffield, Brimfield and Kent. The study will look at connecting neighborhoods, schools, shopping areas and parks, including Wingfoot Lake State Park, Mogadore Reservoir, Kent/Cooperrider Bog, and the PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail.

Environmental Design Group has been enlisted to look at the possibilities and develop a rough cost estimate.  "This part of the county is growing and we need to plan now for a trail, before we lose the opportunity--there are so many beautiful places that people don't know about yet because they can't get to them" said Mike Kostensky, Brimfield Township Trustee, "this could be a great boon to our community and economy."

The Portage Park District Foundation has created a special fund for accepting donations to the trail project. Donations can be made to the Foundation at the link below, with a memo stating it is for the "Suffield-Brimfield-Kent Trail".

Click to donate.
Ultimate Towner
Obstacle Race
Sat. April 26
Ready for little challenge and lots of fun for a good cause? Sign up for this creative race and have a blast racing solo or as a team to overcome 25 obstacles at the Streetsboro City Park. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Portage Park District Foundation. Volunteers are welcome too!  Learn more and register by clicking here.
"We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to go there."

~Edward Abbey


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Dear Friend,

It's been a gorgeous, though challenging winter so far, with skiers, sledders and nature lovers rejoicing over the persistent  snow cover and winter wonderland scenery of Portage County. 

Take some time with your loved ones to enjoy our native birds who are already mobilizing for a busy Spring. Look for animal tracks in the snow (maybe even bear and bobcat!). Experience the beauty and exhilaration of a frosty walk in the glow of a winter sunset and full moonrise.  

We've had our own challenges to weather with funding cuts, but thankfully, we have plenty of friends who support our mission and see the value of parks to our community's quality of life. Please take a moment to learn more about our efforts, and consider becoming involved, in any way. Together we can create beautiful places and memories to last a lifetime.

Christine Craycroft
Executive Director
1/2 mill Park Levy on May Ballot
With severe cuts in recent years to the Park District, and an operating budget for 2014 of less than $100,000, the Park  Board has placed the issue of a 1/2 mill levy on the May 6th ballot. 

"We've been on a shoestring budget for years and have been surviving thanks to donations, which now make up almost half our budget", said Allan Orashan, Chair of the Park Commission, "it's just not sustainable and now we're in a do or die situation-- we need adequate, reliable funding, or we can't keep going".

The 1/2 mill 10-year operating and improvement levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 property only $17.50/year or $1.50/month.

If successful, the funds would be used to maintain and repair existing parks and trails, open up over 800 acres of parkland that the District already owns but can't afford to improve and operate, and partner with local communities on parks and trails across the county. 

"We have an urgent need, we are asking for a very small local investment, and we provide tremendous value to the community by creating places for healthy recreation, protecting critical natural areas to protect water quality and wildlife, and improving quality of life" said Christine Craycroft, Executive Director, "parks yield priceless returns on our investments, for generations to come".

An independent, all volunteer Citizens for the Portage Park District committee has formed to advocate for the passage of the levy in May. To learn more about the issue and how you can help, visit www.citizensforportageparks.com,, see their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/portageparklevy, or contact Tom Clapper, Chair at 330-687-3889.

16th Portage County Environmental Conservation Awards Dinner
Nominate an Environmental Conservation Hero

Nominations will be accepted until noon on February 16th for awards in the areas of Environmental Education, Green Business, Green Building, Activism and Stewardship.  Awards will be presented at the Dinner on April 5th. For more information, nomination and sponsor forms, click here.

Cross Country Ski Primer
Sun. February 23, 2:00

Whether you're a veteran skier or have never tried cross country skiing, it's time to take advantage of the wonderful snow we've had this winter!

Join Friends of Portage Parks for a group ski on the lovely Headwaters Trail in Mantua. Our friends at the Ski Haus are ready to bring the equipment and offer a beginning lesson to anyone who would like to try it out. 

We'll start at Advanced Rehabilitation and Health Specialists (ARHS) in Mantua, and end with a nice warm drink.

Contact Jason Gregg at the Ski Haus (440-247-4900) to reserve skis, and meet at ARHS, 4707 Mill St. Mantua.
Red Fox Upper Cuyahoga River Boat Access

Construction will soon start on the Park District's newest facility, the Red Fox Boat Access on the Upper Cuyahoga Scenic River in Shalersville.  Perrin Asphalt was awarded the contract to create the 8 car parking area and a path for safe access to the river. The site will serve as the last public takeout point on the Cuyahoga before the restricted Lake Rockwell waters, for boaters who have started upstream. 

The project is being funded entirely by a grant from the Ohio Division of Watercraft, using boater registration fees. Thanks to Portage County Water Resources Department who is sharing the site. It opens up over 6 miles of this beautiful river to non-motorized boaters and fishermen.  An opening is planned for River Day, May 17th.  Stay tuned!
Parks YES!
Portage Parks has lots of fans who love the parks and trails for all kinds of reasons.  We're hosting a slide show on our website that will feature testimonials from folks who use the parks, or just appreciate knowing that we are conserving our natural and cultural heritage. Add your voice-send your photo and phrase saying why YOU love Portage Parks to info@portageparkdistrict.org and then check back regularly to see the show grow.  
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Suite 4
Ravenna, OH 44266