Conservation board considers improvements to Fern Cliff

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


Fern Cliff, a 56-acre wooded multi-use county park located west of Crawfordsville, is likely to see some improvement, following a discussion by the Washington County Conservation Board.

Board members met Thursday to review the condition of Fern Cliff and other properties under their management.

Executive Director Steve Anderson updated the board on the inadequacies at Fern Cliff, suggesting that the park was due for a renovation.

?The shelter needs to be replaced. It was built in 1966. They put a new roof on it in 1990, but it?s past repair,? he said. ?The pit toilets were installed in 1986. They need to be replaced and probably should be moved to another location.?

Anderson provided board members with a handout that included photos detailing the park?s deficiencies.

The Fern Cliff Recreation Area, located near the intersection of Spruce Avenue and 320th Street, features the junction of the north and south forks of Crooked Creek. A steep, north-facing bluff gives it its name along the northeastern portion of the park.

In addition to hiking and primitive camping, the park is open for public hunting. The surrounding timber is a popular squirrel hunting area. Other games species present in huntable numbers include white-tailed deer, rabbits and turkeys.

Board member Barb Donkersloot praised the natural beauty of the site and suggested that the improvements recommended by Anderson would enhance its popularity.

The board asked Anderson to prepare further recommendations for renovation of the park.

In other business, the board reviewed renovations in progress at Foster Woods Park near Wellman.

The park pond was drained last year for reconstruction and is now refilling from natural sources. Additionally, the shoreline was improved and a new shelter constructed at the pond?s edge. The pond will be restocked for public fishing.

The board heard an update on the reconstruction of the Marr Park Study Pond. The pond is used for educational seminars by Park Naturalist Pam Holz. Local schools frequently contact Holz for guided instruction in aquatic life.

Board members approved a resolution to contract with MSA Services for work related to the development of the Kewash Trail near Washington and discussed opportunities to fill an open board position.