Portage River Water Trail on track for 2020

Larry Limpf

Planners of a water trail along a stretch of the Portage River are on track to submit an application to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources before the end of the year.
Mary Pat McCarthy, a spokesperson for the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, said details about access locations and the design of brochures and signage will then need to be approved.
An official launch of the water trail could be held in late summer of next year.
“The exact (access) sites are not finalized, pending discussions about right-of-ways and other property issues. But it’s coming together,” she said.
Letters of support for the trail have been received from elected officials in Bay, Freedom and Woodville townships; the villages of Oak Harbor, Pemberville, Woodville and Elmore and the City of Port Clinton.
Ottawa, Sandusky and Wood counties have also expressed support as have the Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Ottawa County Parks and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Some communities have yet to voice their support for the trail but none have expressed opposition, McCarthy said.
She said private landowners or businesses with property along the river may submit letters.
Sara Guiher, a TMACOG water quality planner, presented a map of the trail plans to Port Clinton City Council in July.
She said it would start near Pemberville and proceed about 36 miles to Port Clinton. Personnel from the ODNR, TMACOG and Portage River Basin Council are designating safe access points to the river as well as possible parking areas.
According to the ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft, there were 257,528 registered paddlecraft in the state last year. The figure includes kayaks, canoes and other craft such as rowing shells but not stand-up paddleboards.
Tom Arbour, land and water trails coordinator for the division, said Ohio registered only 67,880 paddlecraft in 2006.
“The growth rate has also steadily increased each year, and I will be very interested to see if the growth shows any sign of slowing when our numbers are calculated at the end of 2019,” he said.
Rick Claar, mayor of Elmore, said the village will host a meeting Nov. 12 of representatives from communities interested in participating in the trail.
He said the meeting will be used to discuss access points and other issues.
For information about the Portage River trail contact Sara Guiher at 419-241-9155, ext. 1147 or email guiher@tmacog.org


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