Darke Co. Parks honored by DAR


GREENVILLE — The Fort GreeneVille Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution had the pleasure of honoring the Darke County Park District with the NSDAR Conservation Medal on it’s 50th Anniversary. The criteria for such award is based on outstanding efforts in wildlife and nature conservation, establishing leadership in regards to wildlife parks and nature resource management.

As someone having taken the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the DCPD, Eileen Litchfield was instrumental in her recommendations to the DAR Conservation Chair in Washington D.C., as was Steve Shaltry. Litchfield states in her recommendation letter, “We are so fortunate to have the staff of Darke County Park District and all that it has to offer for the future generations of Darke County. They have found a great blend of conserving nature, preserving history,and educating on conservation through fun and recreational activities in natural environments and engaging all through outreach.”

Shaltry says in his recommendation, “When I started as Park Board Commissioner in 1994, I never imagined this growth and improvement. It has happened because of the drive and innovative thinking of the people of our county who wanted the role of conservation education to continue for future generations to come.”

Darke County Park District is dedicated to nature and resource management, it sustains efforts to improve the environment and educate the community on conservation issues, it’s members going above and beyond the requirements of their jobs, as indicated in its many noted contributions to the community. Whereby, the Fort GreeneVille Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution Conservation Committee had the pleasure of honoring the Darke County Park District with a Chapter Certificate, the National Conservation Certificate, and the NSDAR Conservation Medal on it’s 50th Anniversary!

Upon receiving the prestigious honor, Director of Parks Roger Van Frank, extended his gratitude, “The entire Park District staff and Park Board of Commissioners are honored to have received such a wonderful Conservation Award from the National Chapter of the DAR especially with this being the Park Districts 50th anniversary year. We strive each day to continue to give the local and regional area quality programs and outdoor experiences.”

The Park District was created in 1972, by way of a donation of a wooded area known as Coppess Nature Sanctuary. Since that time, the Park District has acquired additional land to now include 15 parks with over 1,000 acres. The properties were donated in full or in part to the Park District by families who wanted to preserve beautiful and important pieces of land for use by the community.

The “Mission of Darke County Park District” is to acquire and preserve land areas which possess special natural and historical features, as well as managing and maintaining these resources for the benefit of its residents. The Park District has a staff of administrators, naturalists, maintenance personnel and volunteers dedicated to providing appropriate educational and passive recreational programs and activities.

The many services offered include schoolroom programs, field trips, summer camps, and other educational and conservation events. Among the many grant projects Darke County Park District has taken part in:

Greenville Creek Trail construction: RTP and Clean Ohio, Worth Family parking lot construction and Shawnee Prairie Preserve: Nature Works, Routzong Preserve acquisition: Nature Works and Land & Water Conservation Fund, Alice Bish Canoe Launch construction/stream bank repair: Division of Watercraft, Three Boating Safety Education Grants: Division of Watercraft , Phase 1-7 Tecumseh Trail acquisition and construction through ODNR Clean Ohio.

The Park District promotes our area’s agriculture community and provides recreation in a variety of natural settings. Instead of ball fields and playgrounds, rather, these parks embrace and preserve natural habitats and cultural features that are an important and integral part of our community. The 15 various parks showcase woodlands, prairies, wetlands, wildflowers, seasonal vernal pools, streams, swamplands, savannah, native tree arboretum, and natural habitats. Several parks include historical sites such as a working mill, an 18th century log house, a reconstructed Anthony Wayne Peace Council House, as well as native Indian lands. Also much enjoyed throughout the different parks are kayaking/canoeing, biking/ hiking trails.

The Discovery Center provides its visitors with kayak, canoe and bicycle programs and rentals.

A Nature Center was built in 1997 at Shawnee Prairie and is full of educational displays to the delight of its visitors which displays hands-on exhibits, including an 18th century log house, a blacksmith shop, a sugar shack, observation towers, amphitheater, children’s natural play zone, and a raptor enclosure.

A second Nature Center, Bish Discovery Center, was acquired in 2018 and focuses on educating its visitors about sustainable living, renewable energy and how to have a positive impact on our environment both now and in our future.

~ When one hears the word “parks”, it often brings to mind, playgrounds with various swings, slides, and merry-go-rounds. Parks are certainly a form of recreation. But, unless one takes the opportunity to visit any of the many parks that Darke County Park District offers, that person is missing out on a wonderful experience!

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