Brush Creek grant gives Adams County tourism a boost

The Maumee Bend access improvements which will hopefully be completed by September, according to Tom Cross, Director of the Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau.  Photo by Tom Cross.
The Maumee Bend access improvements which will hopefully be completed by September, according to Tom Cross, Director of the Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau. Photo by Tom Cross.

ODNR provides funding to develop two access sites for canoers and kayakers

By Patricia Beech

In the heart of Adams County, amid rolling hills capped by woodlands, Ohio Brush Creek flows past some of Ohio’s most beautiful and pristine landscapes.

While paddle power provides a gateway to these hidden vistas, access sites for canoes and kayaks have always been difficult and limited.

Now, however, through the efforts of the Adams County Travelers and Visitors Bureau (ACTVB), easy access to the creek will soon be a reality. James Zehringer, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently announced that a grant for two access sites has been approved.

The put-in sites will be located near the twin bridges on St. Rt. 348 and near the bridge on St. Rt. 125, a rowing distance of approximately 2.5 miles. From the 125 location canoes and kayaks may continue on downstream to the access site provided by The Nature Conservancy at their Creeks Bend picnic area on Wagonner Riffle Road- an additional 2.5 mile float. According to Cross this section of Brush Creek was chosen because water levels remain high throughout the summer and fall months.

Both access sites will be designed to withstand flooding, and will feature concrete steps, boat ramps and parking.

“This has been a dream of mine for a long time,” said Tom Cross, Director of the ACTVB. A fervid advocate for tourism in Adams County, Cross has tirelessly promoted the appeal of local landscapes and waterways.

A number of years ago in cooperation with Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) four access sites were granted on St. Rt. 41, St. Rt. 73 St. Rt. 348, and St. Rt. 125, but only the access site on 73 near Serpent Mound was developed. The rest remained foot paths marked by public access signs.

According to Cross, “Other access site are available only with landowner permission, and with landowners just tolerating local folks and limited use.”

Cross has lobbied for the access sites for several years, even providing a guided tour for ODNR officials who he says were impressed with the waterway. On a fishing trip last year with Mike Miller, Chief of the Division of Watercraft, he asked what it would take to get access sites developed on Brush Creek, and Miller assured him he’d do what he could to help make it happen. “It pays when you’re fishing with people,” Cross says. “It’s kind of like being on the golf course, you can get a lot of things done.”

Thanks to Miller’s efforts, the project won approval, and was passed on to Ted Welsh, Federal Aid Coordinator for the Division of Watercraft.

Welsh and Cross visited the four public access sites and chose those at St. Rt. 348 and St. Rt. 125. Cross says he believes developing these sites would be a boon for tourism.

“We’re trying to draw people into Adams County,” he says. “Eco tourism is probably our biggest growth industry. Records from 2014 do reveal a 20.8 percent jump in the number of people who visited the county.

“Canoeing and kayaking are so popular and we want to provide an opportunity for people to come out here and see Brush Creek, which is a very unspoiled stream, but right now it is primitive and rough with no way to get into the stream.”

Construction on the sites is expected to begin after spring water levels drop to the lowest point. Cross says he hopes to see the project completed by September.