GALENA — Earlier this week, Columbus Recreation and Parks issued an update on the boardwalk at Hoover Reservoir.
“The 1,500-foot boardwalk at Hoover Reservoir near Galena has been inspected by professional engineers, and it was determined that the boardwalk is not safe for individuals to use,” the department said Monday. “Because it’s not safe to use, the boardwalk will be closed until it has been redesigned and rebuilt.”
The boardwalk was popular with birdwatchers and fishermen alike.
“Next steps include conducting an environmental assessment of the area and doing public outreach with the community to learn what residents would like to see with the redesign of this boardwalk,” the update continued. “Investing in this new boardwalk will create a more sustainable and accessible amenity for the local community. The new boardwalk will most likely be completed and open to the public in 2024.”
Columbus has 20 nature preserves covering more than 2,000 acres, and four of them have Galena addresses. Nearly half of the acreage surrounds Hoover Reservoir, which was built in 1954 to provide Columbus with drinking water. The preserves were dedicated in 1988, the city said.
The boardwalk is part of the 161-acre Hoover Mudflats preserve at 28 Front St. The water level at the northern end of the reservoir recedes in the fall, exposing the mud. “These mudflats are vital stops on the migration route for shorebirds that nest in the Arctic,” a pamphlet on the preserves said. “Other notable birds found in this area are osprey, bald eagle and peregrine and merlin falcons.”
Mud Hen Marsh is at 8742 Big Walnut Road. The 54-acre preserve has an observation blind overlooking a pond that is good for viewing warblers and woodpeckers.
Hoover Meadows is at 3715 Sunbury Road. The 75-acre preserve is described by the city as “a wetland mitigation site with a diversity of habitat types including woodland, wetland, vernal pool, grassland and stream. The wetlands provide good habitat for migrating marsh birds such as soras and bitterns. There is a large vernal pool located in the woods. This pool that dries up by the end of the summer is vital breeding ground for amphibians.”
Gertrude S. Lawrence Woods is at 4856 Red Bank Road. This 29-acre forest is above two ravines going into the reservoir, with two overlook points. The ravine areas also drain and become mudflats in the fall, the city said.
Another reservoir-area preserve, Hoover Prairie, has a Westerville address.
Columbus became the only city nature preserve program in Ohio in 1987 and has since added preserves in 2000, 2004 and 2016. “The nature preserves are jointly managed by Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Columbus Division of Water and the Nature Preserve Advisory Council,” the city’s website said.
There are a number of rules issued by the city regarding protecting the preserves. “No fishing is permitted in the Hoover Meadows and Mud Hen Marsh sections of Hoover Nature Preserve,” is among them.
For more information, visit www.columbus.gov/recreationandparks/.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.