Rotary Club debuts trail to members


Following three months of intensive work, the Wauseon Rotary Club last week unveiled to its members Indian Hill Trails, a new city walking path that will open to the public in September.

The 1.23-mile, $32,000 trail adjacent to Homecoming Park will offer a picturesque walking experience through a wooded area surrounded by wetlands. Financed by proceeds from Rotary Club auctions, the winding course is expected to serve both Wauseon residents and and those of outlying areas.

“We hope this is something that our community, surrounding communities, and visitors will enjoy,” said Tom McWatters III, an attorney and Rotary Club member.

Led by a five-member steering committee, the passive walking route wasn’t expected to be completed until next spring. But the Rotarians decided to focus on finishing a roughed-out path in time for use by the Wauseon High School cross-country team beginning this week.

The idea for the trail germinated a couple of years ago, when the property was purchased by Rotarian Ed Nofziger and his wife, Carol, through a family estate sale. The property owner, George Stuckey, had had visions of developing the land into a park. He passed the concept onto Nofziger, who donated the woodland for the project.

The first phase of construction began May 13, when Rotary Club members began clearing the area. That followed with cutting away dead ash trees, then filling in low spots with soil and establishing a trail access.

Paul Andre, of Andre Land Forming in Wauseon, was selected to act as the unofficial general contractor. “He was just a natural, good fit for us because of his land experience,” McWatters said. Andre partnered with Pete Carr, a district technician of the Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The trail was laid out, and over the course of three months trees and other obstacles were cleared. Indian Hill Trails took shape through extensive work by RJS Rough Landscaping of Swanton, developer Tim Dennis, and volunteer Rotarians.

“It was extremely fast, and a combination of a lot of hard work,” McWatters said. The project also proceeded with a dual function in mind of preserving surrounding wetlands and accommodating draining issues in nearby farmland.

The Tuesday, Sept. 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony will coincide with a county-wide cross country meet hosted by Wauseon High School.

Nofziger said after purchasing the property he felt the wooded part could be put to better use.

“It just seemed like a wonderful place to have a trail for the community,” he said. “It just fell into place after I realized what I bought. I hope that families and schools and people in general come to Wauseon to enjoy the wooded trails.”

On a tour of the trail for Rotary Club members, Paul Andre said the goal was to create a walking path for people to enjoy while keeping surrounding wetlands intact. He said walking through the wooded area can, itself, be an educational event.

“Everybody needs to take their grandkids here,” he said. “(You can) walk through the wetlands and see and understand. How will we turn this into a learning experience? We’re going to get acquainted with the trees and the underbrush, (and) learn some water management stuff, to realize this is what people saw when they came here in the 1830s to conquer the swamp – wetland.”

The trail was elevated so it can be used during parts of the year when swampy areas are more prevalent, Andre said. “This is no different than the pioneers had to do to get to the other end of the county to build a trail, build a high spot, to get through the Black Swamp,” he added.

The trail consists of deliberate bends to discourage motorized vehicles, which are prohibited, and to allow people using it a bit of privacy.

“We made the trail crooked so that you can have one group of people walking on the trail here but never see the people one hundred yards ahead,” Andre said.

The project, which includes 12 acres of northern woods and about 19 acres of southern woods, was undertaken entirely by The Rotary Club. “Rotary sweat, Rotary money. Donation time with a lot of people,” Andre said.

Subsequent project phases over the next couple of years would include the creation of additional paths to connect to the main one and the placement of benches and look-out areas. The Rotary Club’s goal is to eventually turn Indian Hill Trails over to the City of Wauseon.

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Wauseon Rotary Club member Ed Nofziger donated woodland adjacent to Homecoming Park for a walking trail that will open to the public Tuesday, Sept. 26.
http://www.fcnews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2017/08/web1_ed-nofziger.jpgWauseon Rotary Club member Ed Nofziger donated woodland adjacent to Homecoming Park for a walking trail that will open to the public Tuesday, Sept. 26. Submitted photo

Paul Andre, the project’s general contractor, conducted an informational tour of the walking trail for Rotary Club members.
http://www.fcnews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2017/08/web1_andre.jpgPaul Andre, the project’s general contractor, conducted an informational tour of the walking trail for Rotary Club members. David J. Coehrs|Fulton County Expositor

The 1.23-mile Indian Hill Trails was constructed with preserving wetlands in mind.
http://www.fcnews.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2017/08/web1_walking-trail.jpgThe 1.23-mile Indian Hill Trails was constructed with preserving wetlands in mind. David J. Coehrs|Fulton County Expositor
Ribbon cutting Sept. 23

By David J. Coehrs

dcoehrs@fcnews.org

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

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