North Fork Preserve in Bath opens to the public

by Laura Bednar

North Fork Preserve, a 78-acre nature preserve, opened in Bath in June. Located at 4400 Everett Road, the property was transferred from the Lemmon estate to Bath in 2020, acquired through the Trust for Public Land and a $1.65 million grant from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund. To complete the transfer, the Lemmon Trust, represented by Dolly Lemmon Powers, Terry Lemmon, Wesley Lemmon and Cindy Lemmon, contributed $650,000, according to Bath Trustee Elaina Goodrich.

The Clean Ohio grant stipulated that the property can be used only for passive recreation activities like walking, bird watching and field study. No buildings can be constructed.

Twenty-three Bath community members served on six subcommittees to learn more about the property. Committees included history, virtual tours, flora, fauna and streams, wetlands, trails and buildings.

Of the 78 acres, 65 are forest, nine are wetlands and the remaining four hold a barn and Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired house. The Bath flora, fauna and streams committee, co-chaired by Dr. Lara Roketenetz, University of Akron Field Station director, identified 411 species of flora and fauna on the property and over 65 bird species.

Bath received a number of grants to propel the North Fork project forward, including a $120,000 grant from the Ohio State Capital Budget, $2,000 for trail markers from the Bath Community Fund and a Summit County Community Grant of $12,500 for trail renovation, the entry sign and informational kiosk, according to Goodrich.

The township is waiting to hear if it will receive a $120,000 Community Development Block Grant for building renovations. The on-site house, built in 1958, will be renovated for use as public meeting space, and the attached carport may become an outdoor shelter.

Two miles of the property’s Triple Loop Trail are available to walk. Access is at 4400 Everett Road. Once cleared, the third loop will point towards Cleveland-Massillon Road, where parking is being considered. ∞

Photo: Bath Township trustees past and present (l-r) James Nelson, Becky Corbett, Elaina Goodrich, Sharon Troike and Sean Gaffney cut the ribbon opening the Triple Loop Trail at the North Fork Preserve. Photos by Laura Bednar.