Lake Erie’s Last Large Island Sold To Ohio
North Bass Island, the last large, undeveloped island left on Lake Erie, will be protected with more than $6 million given to the state of Ohio as a matching grant by the federal government.
The grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the largest single site grant to a state in the history of the program.
The state plans to purchase land to create parkland and outdoor recreation opportunities on the island. Located in Ottawa County, North Bass Island is owned by one distillery and once was in use for vineyards.
The Paramount Distillers, Inc., through its Meier’s Wine Cellars subsidiary, has negotiated a selling price below appraised value. Although grapes have been grown on the island since the mid-1800s, less than a quarter of the tillable acreage remains in grape cultivation and there are no wineries on the island.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will use the LWCF grant to acquire 357 acres on North Bass Island. Future development will include campgrounds, picnic areas, swimming, boating and fishing facilities, trails, hunting and natural areas.
An additional 234 acres of island property are being acquired– including 68 acres from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds, 127 acres from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and 39 acres from the state of Ohio.
A total of approximately 591 acres of the island’s 676 acres will be acquired. protecting 2.5 miles of undeveloped shoreline and important coastal wetland habitat. The nonprofit Conservation Fund is helping to facilitate the land’s protection.
Congress enacted the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1964 to provide conservation funds derived from receipts from oil and gas drilling on the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf. The law authorizes up to $900 million a year in LWCF funding.
Since its inception, federal grant obligations totaling $3.4 billion have been matched by state and local contributions, for a total LWCF grant investment of $6.8 billion.
The Department’s request, combined with the request for the U.S. Forest Service, would bring total government-wide LWCF funding to $900.2 million. Interior’s $660.6 million would include $153.3 million for land acquisition and $507.3 million specifically for cooperative conservation partnership programs, of which $93.8 million is provided for the state grant program.