Though available now to wander through, the trail of the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve will officially open for the public this Saturday. The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at Coffee Creek at the main pavilion before the start of the 8th annual Field Station 5k Frenzy Run and Walk.
The race, hosted by the Field Station Cooperative and directed by one of the teachers, Brenda Campbell, will be the first large-scale event on the new trails.
The Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy Board of Directors closed about one mile of the established trails in March of 2014.
Katie Rizer, the Executive Director of the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy, said the trails were closed to allow a four-lane vehicle bridge to be constructed throughout the trails.
According to Rizer, in the 1990’s the Lake Erie Land Company designed the center to include four bridges to intersect throughout the preserve while maintaining a continuous trail system. Meaning, the nature preserve will always be a running, hiking, family-friendly trail community without the concern of vehicle traffic.
“As plans for Coffee Creek Center have been revised over the years, only one of four of the bridges remained in the master plan: Gateway Boulevard Bridge,” Rizer said. “When Urschel Laboratories, the global leader in food reduction technologies, purchased 158 acres on the east side of Coffee Creek, the time had finally come to construct the bridge.”
“During the construction process, trail access was limited to the northern two-thirds of the trail system.”
Now, with renovations done, the Frenzy 5k this Saturday will be just one of many races and events scheduled to take place at the watershed preserve. The calendar which includes the dates of events such as, Rebuilding Together and concerts featuring local bands, can be found on the Coffee Creek website.
Coffee Creek has been a popular, social-gathering since the donation of the Coffee Creek Center in 1999. Since then, the park’s well-groomed trails, streams, and shelters have been drawing locals and visitors.
“With over five miles of trails that meander along a restored salmon stream it makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere!” Rizer said. “It’s awesome!”
Over the years, there have not been too many changes to the natural settings of the preservation. But, the board of directors has restored some of the native plants and kept other invasive species at bay.
“We’ve done extensive restoration, including over 300,00 native plants plugs that were installed around 1998 and we’re watching them grow,” Rizer added. “We’re also starting to see new buildings along our borders and are working with neighbors to help protect our preserve from infringements.”
As a nature-focused and environmentally concerned cooperative, the Field Station chose the trails of Coffee Creek for the annual 5k run and walk.
“The staff at Coffee Creek have been wonderful to work with for the last eight years,” Brenda Campbell said. Campbell, whose role as race director is new this year, has attended the race as a runner and volunteer in the past.
“We really like the fact that it has trails, and is ‘naturesque’,” she added. “The preserve embodies everything the Field Station stands for and the racers seem to enjoy the venue.”
The race starts Saturday morning at 8:15 a.m. with three different distances including a 1k, 2k, and 5k for runners ages three and over. Registration remains open until Friday May 29th at 3 p.m. and entries will be available during packet pick-up and race day morning.