Preserving Nature in Perpetuity

For decades, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) has played a unique role in the lives of our community, providing experiences at its lakes and parks that allow people to relax and connect with nature while making invaluable memories with the ones they love.

While we all have a responsibility to care for our parks and lakes, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Foundation (MWCF) and its endowment fund managed by Stark Community Foundation ensures the watershed will be protected and preserved for generations to come.

MWCF was created in 1996 to ensure financial resources would always be available to support the watershed and meaningful experiences. Originally established as a charitable fund of Stark Community Foundation, it later became its own public 501(c)(3) organization in 2001. Each year, MWCF and its family of funds provide support to enhance facilities, programs, recreational activities and flood reduction and conservation efforts on or around MWCD’s lands and waters.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when strict restrictions were placed on inside events, people in our community appreciated, enjoyed and took advantage of the safety of outdoor activities more than ever—particularly at the 10 lakes and parks protected and managed by MWCD.

Individuals and families spent their days boating, swimming, fishing, camping and hiking at Atwood, Tappan, Seneca, Charles Mill and six other lakes managed by MWCD. The growing interest in outdoor spaces led to MWCD experiencing record attendance at its parks and lakes in 2020, with an estimated 380,000 more people than in 2019.

While some experienced the parks and lakes for the first time in 2020, others have been making memories there for years. Families reminisce about their time at the annual junior sailing club at Atwood Lake, learning to fish at Piedmont Lake, summer nights camping around Seneca Lake and summer youth camps.

“We offer an opportunity for people to give back to the lakes and parks that have been an important part of their lives, whether that’s while they are living or in their estate plans,” said Sheila Hurley, executive director of the MWCF. “The stories that families share, generation after generation, provide such a rich history of their experiences at our lakes and parks.”

Most recently, MWCF generously funded the construction of an accessible fishing pier at Secrest Park, helped purchase new diving suits for the Joint Rescue and Recovery Dive Team of Dover and New Philadelphia and supported the shoreline protection work at Pleasant Hill. Since its inception, the foundation has funded projects totaling $400,000 and counting.

MWCF is looking forward to funding future projects and programs that will ensure the sustainability of the parks and lakes and serving the community and families who experience them.

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