LISBON - A 752-acre park in Madison Township is nearly complete and a dedication ceremony will be held Wednesday.
Hellbender Bluff was created when the Columbiana County Park District began acquiring 657 acres in the area of East Liverpool Road and the West Fork of Little Beaver Creek.
Park District President Dottie Betz said the district made its first acquisition of 460 acres in 2009 with the help of The Nature Conservancy.
This map shows the location of the new Hellbender Bluff Park.
The remaining 292 acres were acquired with the help of The Nature Conservancy, Clean Ohio Conservation Fund and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), she added.
In addition to funding, the acquisitions were made possible through donations such as a 40-acre parcel from the ODNR and half-a-million dollar gift to The Nature Conservancy from an individual requesting the money be spent in the county.
Betz was pleased to point out the park was made possible without any cost to taxpayers or the park district.
She estimated the park cost more than $1 million and noted that the district typically operates on a $15,000 annual budget.
"This is a big deal," she said.
The park is still under development but currently provides opportunities for hiking, wildlife-watching, hunting and fishing.
The district only recently completed a 1,700-foot-long access road and parking lot. Construction was funded by the district and cost a little more than $120,000.
"We did that through saving up our road fund for several years," she said.
The district gets about $25,000 per year in state tax revenue from ODOT.
Future plans include a pavilion estimated to cost $20,000 and additional hiking trails.
"Money (for the pavilion) will need raised through donations and grants. We are trying to get things started," she said.
She also said American Municipal Power will begin its own $200,000 reforestation project this fall. The company will receive carbon credits for the work to 186 acres within the park.
The reforestation will be within an area that had been mined and reclaimed and is not highly traveled by hikers, she explained.
"We are very happy to have this much done," she said.
The dedication ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. and will include brief remarks and a ribbon-cutting, and light refreshments.
A two-hour guided hike to the creek is also scheduled for those interested. Visitors may also explore shorter trails from the parking lot.
The park is located just west of state Route 7 between Lones Road and East Liverpool Road. The entrance is located on East Liverpool Road 0.7 miles west of state Route 7, according to a park district press release.