Mad River Gorge
Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve, OH
The Mad River Gorge is a unique Hot Spot in that the area just opened for recreation in May of 2017. The site is broken up into two sections. The upper portion is a mostly open site with abundant honeysuckle and concrete pads from its previous use as a mobile home park, while the lower portion is a popular climbing area with 40-foot high dolomite cliffs that are just 50 feet from the short of the Mad River. The lower 40-acre parcel, purchased by the Clark County Park District, had previously been used as a dumping site. The Clark County Park District and the Ohio Climbers Coalition teamed up with 200 volunteers to clean up 125,000 pounds of trash before its opening. Though current visitation is relatively low — about 50 people a day — plans to develop the area further will lead to increased visitation and potential increase in impacts from trash, invasive species, and issues with overcrowding, especially at climbing routes.
Leave No Trace staff worked with members of the Ohio Climbers Coalition, Clark County Park District staff and the local community to help raise awareness about Leave No Trace and the impacts that could come with increased use and popularity of the gorge. The Traveling Trainers hosted a workshop for Clark County Park District staff, including some staff members who did not work at the gorge. The training provided staff with an in-depth introduction to Leave No Trace as well as the tools to best communicate this information with the visiting public. These land managers are now equipped with the means to change visitor behaviors in a way that will mitigate impacts in the gorge before they damage natural resources.
The Traveling Trainers spent time educating various groups from the local community about Leave No Trace. The team spoke with visitors at a local climbing outfitter, focusing on how these individuals could best practice Leave No Trace while at the crag. They also had an informational session for people in the surrounding community at a local brewery. During this session, they had one on one conversations with attendees about the work being done at the Mad River Gorge as well as what Leave No Trace is doing to help protect the area. The cCommunity Trail Day brought in 50 volunteers from as far as Indiana to clean up and build new trails in the gorge.
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