Camp Myeerah officially property of the City of Bellefontaine (Audio included)
5/5/2014 11:16:12 AM
By Joel Penhorwood
A re-dedication ceremony on Saturday has officially given the city of Bellefontaine ownership over a former girl scout camp in the eastern part of the county, which will now be operated as a nature area available for use by the public.
The Myeerah Nature Preserve, located at 7405 St. Rt. 540 and more commonly known as Camp Myeerah, has been utilized by the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio as a camp in one capacity or another for the past 55 years.
In 2012, the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio board of directors commissioned a study to guide long-term planning. The study recommended the girl scouts investigate options to sell Camp Myeerah while focusing on choices that would allow continued usage of the area.
The answer came in the form of a new city park. The girl scouts were recently able to sell the 449-acre camp to the city of Bellefontaine for use as a new public recreation area.
Kris Myers, superintendent of the Bellefontaine Joint Recreation District, says one of the biggest accomplishments outlined in the deal is the ability for the city to take ownership of the property without the use of any additional tax dollars. Through the help of the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society, the Trust for Public Land, and the Bellefontaine Joint Recreation District, the girl scouts made the deal reality.
Myers says the land is now an official park and will be regularly open from dawn to dusk for use by the public.
Listen to Myers talk about the deal and the future of the property
Myers says the new purpose of the land is centered around its use by the entire community and not just the Girl Scouts. With that being said, the youth organization is very satisfied with the outcome of the deal.
“We are very excited for this outcome for Camp Myeerah. This is a win for the girl scouts, for Bellefontaine, and the surrounding communities and for the preservation of a unique and beautiful piece of property,” said Roni Luckenbill, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio CEO.
The property, which includes a lake, lodges, trails, forests, and meadows, is largely untouched by man and therefore has the quality of being a pristine area situated within the Bellefontaine Ridge, making it unique to the county. For that and other reasons, the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society and the area chapter of the National Audubon Society took great interest in the project.
Dianne Knipp is president of the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society. She says the group is managing conservation easements over the entire property to help manage its important birding habitat. Those easements were donated by the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.
Knipp talks more about the unique property
The Trust for Public Land is a national, non-profit conservation organization that is based in Cleveland, Ohio. The office works at the will and request of communities and organizations. In this case, the city of Bellefontaine and the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society approach the Trust for Public Land in order to gather the finances needed to purchase Camp Myeerah from the girl scouts.
Funding for the $1.385 million purchase came from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund. The trust then purchased the property and handed it over to the city of Bellefontaine as a park for “all future generations.”
Senior Project Manager for the Trust for Public Land Dave Vasarhelyi (pictured right) was one of the speakers at Saturday’s ribbon cutting ceremony. He mentioned the mission of the project was to preserve “land for the people.”
Listen to Vasarahelyi go into detail about the landmark project
The Bellefontaine Joint Recreation District is in the process of developing a management plan for the public to enjoy Camp Myeerah for overnight camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, and bird watching.
Saturday also served as an Environmental Education Weekend for the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society, bringing in nature buffs from around the state to witness the re-dedication.