Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Wildlife area secures $1.8M grant

Plan: Controlled drainage for crops, wetlands

By Sydney Albert
CELINA - The Mercer Wildlife Area has reportedly received $1.8 million in H2Ohio funds, which will be used to construct wetlands and a controlled draining system.
During Tuesday's meeting of the Lake Facilities Authority, Ag Solutions Coordinator Theresa Dirksen told Mercer and Auglaize county commissioners she'd been approached by Sean Finke, manager of the wildlife area. After learning of the grant award, Finke had asked for assistance from Dirksen and the Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District in designing wetlands and a controlled draining system. He had also requested assistance from the LFA in accepting and administering the funds.
The project would entail creating a pump system that brings water from the lake to irrigate the subsurface of local crop land. As the tile system would drain, the water would travel through a constructed wetland for treatment, according to Dirksen. Finke also reportedly had plans to possibly plant additional trees and build additional levies.
In other business, LFA members agreed to award a contract for work on the Gilliland Nature Preserve Expansion pending final review from the Ohio Environment Protection Agency.
Seven bids were received for the project, which would see the construction of wetlands, walking paths and vegetation on a 16.321-acre property in Franklin Township, located off Club Island Road near State Route 219.
The project was estimated to cost $70,617.50. The lowest bid from Fenson Contracting, Fort Jennings, was $50,432.50. Officials said they had questioned Fenson Contracting about their plans for the project and noted the business had done projects for the county SWCD before.
Dirksen also said a first-draft design for the Burntwood-Langenkamp Wetland Conservation Project was expected in the next six weeks. The project would transform 88.9 acres at the junction of Burntwood and Coldwater creeks into Grand Lake's first upstream treatment train.
LFA members purchased the Burntwood-Langenkamp property for $1.1 million in December. The estimated cost to construct the wetland treatment train there is roughly $1.5 million. The only needed permit for the project Dirksen expected would be a general construction permit from the Ohio EPA.
In other business, LFA members,
• applied for real property tax exemptions for the Gilliland, Langenkamp and Quivey properties recently purchased by the LFA.
• paid $2,046.66 in total to the Auglaize and Mercer county treasurers for real estate taxes.
• approved submitting the LFA's annual report to the state.
• noted a year-end unexpended balance of $857,584.63.
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