Thursday, January 11, 2007
Get away this summer
All those little islands up around Put-in-Bay are relatively unknown as great places to "get away" on little sunny vacations. You can camp on cliffs overlooking Lake Erie for cheap. When it's warm, it's better than driving or flying somewhere south. Looks like the state is trying to expand the areas people can utilize:
State won’t encourage visits to new Lake Erie island park
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — Plans for a new state park on North Bass Island include fishing and hiking but not tourists.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources wants to preserve the Lake Erie island’s natural beauty while allowing low-key activities such as swimming and wildlife watching.
The state doesn’t want large crowds to visit, said Dan West, head of the Division of Parks and Recreation.
“It is not a site we encourage people to go to,” West said. “There isn’t anything to do.”
The island doesn’t have any restaurants, shops or ferry service. There is a grass airstrip and a small marina for the 20 year-round residents.
The state in 2004 bought nearly all of North Bass Island using $17.4 million of state and federal money.
The island is just two miles from the Canadian border, but 18 miles from the Ohio shore.
A plan released last week includes primitive camping sites for backpackers and fishing along the shore. There are no restroom facilities, but the state would like to add portable bathrooms in the next couple of years, West said.
Facilities on the island will be developed as money allows, he said. “We have no capital money available at this point to do anything,” West said.
About 140 acres, including coastal marshes and wetlands, will be managed to protect native species and to allow visitors to watch the wildlife.
Vineyards on the island have been cleared away, but the state plans to continue leasing 38 acres to Firelands Vineyard of Sandusky, West said.
Grapes have been grown for wine on North Bass Island for more than 150 years, said Claudio Salvador, owner and winemaker at Firelands Winery.
Firelands grows premium European wine grapes on the island, he said. “I have four full-time employees who live and work on North Bass Island,” he said.
“We have a very longterm relationship with the state,” Salvador said. “It’s an important part of the history of the islands and they want to preserve it.”
The park at North Bass Island is part of the Lake Erie Islands state parks, which includes parks on Kelleys Island, Middle Bass Island and South Bass Island.
North Bass and Middle Bass islands are now largely undeveloped, quiet places, much different from their neighbor South Bass, home to Put-in-Bay with its party atmosphere and one million visitors each year.
Information from: Sandusky Register, http://www.sanduskyregister.com/cgi-bin/liveique.acgi$schfrontpage? frontpage