Public camping returns to MetroparksWritten by Don Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Metroparks of Toledo Area often hosts campouts by scouts and other groups. But starting Labor Day weekend, anyone can camp out at Oak Openings.
The White Oak picnic area, on the parkway just west of state Route 295 south of Toledo Express Airport, will open as a public campground starting with the summer-ending holiday weekend.
Campsite fees will be $20 a night for a single site and $30 a night for a group site. The campsite, with eight individual sites off the drive into the picnic area and two group sites in the open field behind it, will offer treated well water, restrooms, gray-water disposal and a picnic shelter. Firewood is provided.
The new site marks the return of group camping to Oak Openings after the park’s campsite was wiped out in the 2010 tornadoes, and the return of individual camping to the Metroparks district after an absence of several years, said Scott Carpenter, director of public relations for the parks.
There used to be family campsites at Farnsworth Metropark along the Maumee River, but the traffic and noise along what was then U.S. 24 made them unpopular, Carpenter said. With U.S. 24 traffic now routed to the north along the new “Fort to Port” highway, Farnsworth camping is being considered again, he said.
At Oak Openings, the new White Oak campground is situated along many of the park’s hiking and riding trails, including the 15-mile Boy Scout trail. The park’s trails also link to both branches of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, former rail lines running west and southwest from Toledo to as far west as West Unity and Liberty Center.
The park district had wanted to open the campground on Memorial Day weekend, Carpenter said, but getting together things like the necessary state health certifications “took a little longer than we wanted,” he said.
The campsites cost less than $10,000 to build, Carpenter said, and Metroparks staff came up with the ideas and did the work.
The campsites will be available year-round, including winter camping, he said. Reservations will be available at www.metroparkstoledo.com after Sept. 1.
New park plans
A recent public brainstorming session yielded ideas, and another meeting in October will give serious consideration to what ideas are practical at what will be Metroparks’ newest park, a 1,000-acre farm near Lake Erie in Jerusalem Township.
The Howard farm, which Metroparks has acquired and will develop with the help of Ducks Unlimited, is located on the curve on State Route 2 near Bono. Its 1,000 acres reach almost to Lake Erie — there are two residential areas on the actual lakeshore — and connect to it by way of Ward’s Canal.
One goal is to restore the farm to wetlands where possible, Carpenter said, and to develop the rest for park purposes. The October meeting will be the next step in determining what those purposes will be.
Hunting is a possibility, though the details of how to do that need to be worked out, he said.
Converting a farm back to wetlands and adding a park “is not something you get to do every day,” Carpenter said. “It’s a pretty special opportunity to do this.”