Nature Playscape at Infirmary Mound Park

We have some exciting news to share and we would like your feedback! The survey link is below.

The Licking Park District is proposing a large Nature Playscape at Infirmary Mound Park to be installed in phases over the next few years. Imagine standing at Shelter 5 and looking out onto a beautiful landscape that invites children and adults to explore. Rocks, logs, stumps, and hills beg for climbing and rolling. Slides built into the hill ask for a fast descent. Ropes structures among the trees allow the pretense of an alter ego, be it an explorer or a trapeze artist. A slow moving intermittent stream invites creeking and a search for critters, while a zipline hints at the thrill of danger (in a safe way.  A willow hut allows for secret meetings. Prairie paths of native flowers invite pollinators to visit and encourage kids to become naturalists, while benches allow parents to relax under large inviting trees.  The overall layout, referencing the Alligator Mound, and other playscape features will celebrate Licking County’s unique cultural history. That is the vision of a natural playscape at Infirmary Mound Park.

Natural Playscapes/playgrounds are a growing trend in the field of parks and recreation. These outdoor spaces are carefully created to facilitate unstructured nature play in a way that encourages creativity, exploration, and hands-on learning.  Research has found children play longer on natural playgrounds. They also show greater improved physical fitness and social and cognitive benefits such as increased cooperative behavior and constructive play as compared to traditional playgrounds. In essence, kids are happier, healthier, and smarter when they have access to immersion and play time in nature.  Research has also shown that kids with experience being outside in nature show greater stewardship of our natural resources as adults.

In today’s age, children spend anywhere from 4-9 hours a day on screen and are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Many do not have access to green spaces. The intention of the Nature Playscape at Infirmary Mound Park is to be a regional destination for families. Here children can explore this ancient, yet somehow ‘new’, and healthier way to play.

Scroll through the pictures for more information on features and inspirations. Please fill out the feedback survey here: https://forms.gle/jBWHkmKLMUGWAirY8

A Tale of Two Crayfish Species: Research at the Licking Park District

GRANVILLE, OHIO (April 5, 2021) The Licking Park District actively supports research that informs the management of our natural resources. Invasive species, and the detrimental impact they have on native species, are of particular concern. In 2020, The Ohio State University graduate student Krystal Pocock collected native crayfish from Lobdell Reserve as part of a larger project examining differences in leaf consumption by crayfish in Ohio. Crayfish are important to stream systems as they break down nutrient rich, coarse leaf litter. However, research has suggested streams with non-native crayfish have accelerated leaf litter breakdown and reduced standing leaf litter. This reduces available habitat and food for fish and aquatic macroinvertebrates and may lead to reduced biodiversity.

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Natural Surface Trail Conditions and Equestrian User Impact

GRANVILLE, OHIO (March 16, 2021) Every spring in Central Ohio, rain will be in the forecast, LOTS of rain. And every spring, the Park District faces the challenge of determining when trails are capable of handling the impact of horse traffic. Throughout the spring season, trails tend to be more saturated and hold more water, sometimes taking days to dry. Riding horses on muddy trails increases erosion. Once ruts are formed, they are negatively impacted by more travel and water. Because of this, occasional closures to horses are required. We ask that our equestrian friends assist us in maintaining our trails by avoiding trails that are closed to horses. Trail status can be checked on our website, Facebook, Twitter and our 24-7 Trail Hotline.

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Licking Park District Board of Park Commissioners Selects Kiracofe as 2021 Chairman

GRANVILLE, OHIO (February 5, 2021) Jim Kiracofe was again selected by fellow Park Commissioners as the 2021 Chairman. He served as Chairman in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Mr. Kiracofe has been a member of the Board since 2015. He is a former District Program Administrator of the Licking Soil & Water Conservation District and still actively farms in the Utica area. Mr. Kiracofe’s leadership has guided the Board and Park District through the continuing COVID pandemic and he works closely with the Director in accomplishing the mission of the Licking Park District.

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2020 Carnivore Study

GRANVILLE, OHIO (January 19, 2021) A pilot study to assess the presence/absence of bobcats, red fox, gray fox, and coyotes within Licking County was recently led by Dr. Shauna L. Weyrauch of the Ohio State University at Newark. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) in particular were of interest as they are a recovering species in Ohio after being extirpated in the mid-1800s. Currently little is known about their abundance and distribution within Licking County, which sits on the north-west edge of their range. Multiple parks managed by the Licking Park District were selected for observation using non-baited camera trapping stations set up along game trails.

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Thermoplastic Mile Markers on TJ Evans Trail


GRANVILLE, OHIO (November 17, 2020) The Licking Park District in conjunction with the Licking County Engineer’s office recently completed installation of thermoplastic mile markers on the TJ Evans trail from Johnstown to W Main St in Newark. The markings followed ODOT standards of starting from West to East. The marking began at the trailhead in Johnstown off Jersey St and continued for 14 miles to W. Main St in Newark.

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Lobdell Reserve Multi-Use Trail Improvements

9 Dec 2020 Blog


GRANVILLE, OHIO The Licking Park District staff and volunteers have worked hard this year to maintain existing natural surface trails, re-route closed trails and add new trails at Lobdell.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held November 24 to celebrate the recent work completed at the Lobdell Reserve, in Alexandria, a 210 acres reserve with 8 miles of trails and a championship caliber disc golf course.

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Licking Park District – Updated COVID 19 Notice

2 Sep 2020 COVID-19

GRANVILLE, OHIO (August 31, 2020) The Licking Park District has experienced increased park usage this season! People are looking for outdoor activities close to home and we have many parks and trails to enjoy.

Our parks remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with caution. We still encourage caution when visiting us. Playgrounds and restrooms are open. We ask that you bring wipes and masks and practice safe park usage. People have continued to ride horses, hike, mountain bike, walk their dogs and run in our parks.

Programming has continued, often using virtual methods to reach the public. These virtual programs include; Paint the Parks, Book Club and All About Plants. In-person programming (limited size groups) include Yoga, Tai Chi & Art in the Park. Visit our website for details.

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