An area for environmental studies, research and community engagement activities at The Ohio State University at Mansfield is becoming a reality through the generosity of Grant and Mary Milliron. The gift includes design and construction of the Grant and Mary Milliron Research Wetlands & Classroom adjacent to Riedl Hall.
“This is the first project of what we hope will be several ecologically rich areas that will be accessible on campus for education, research and community enjoyment,” said Dean and Director Stephen Gavazzi.
Plans include construction of a three- to six-foot-wide walkway from the existing path on the west side of the wetlands to the east side, with an observation platform near the center peninsula. The boardwalk will be handicapped accessible. Three small non-public walk-extensions would be provided for restricted access for research.
An outdoor hillside classroom for instruction will be constructed southeast of Riedl Hall, placing sandstone in theatre-style seating on a slope with a limestone pad for the lecture area. The sandstone will be supplied by Milliron. The outdoor classroom will accommodate 25-40 students and will have WiFi capability.
Plans are underway for educational signage that will be placed along the boardwalk which will contain information about wetlands plants and animals.
Work will be completed by Simonson Construction Services, Inc. of Ashland. The company also designed and built the interpretive building at Ashland University’s Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Study Center.
The project is the first of many similar conservation, research, and community use projects in the planning stages across the campus’ 640 acres of vernal pools, pine plantations, legacy forests, prairies and streams.
“It is amazing to recognize the variety of natural resources that are available right here on the Mansfield campus,” Gavazzi said. “Eventually, we hope to complete a comprehensive walking trail system to connect all of our ecologically interesting areas.”