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GLIN==> DOI Land and Conservation Fund Grant: Ohio DNR purchases most of N.BassIsland

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Article published February 21, 2004

U.S. grants Ohio $6M to help buy lake island
357 acres on N. Bass are targeted by state

NORTH BASS ISLAND, Ohio - Ohio is getting more than $6 million from the
federal government to help buy North Bass Island - the largest single-site
grant in the 40 years of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced yesterday it is giving the
matching grant to Ohio. The Department of Natural Resources will use the
money to buy about 357 acres of Lake Erie's last big undeveloped island.

Officials with the ODNR said last night it plans to have the sale finalized
by the end of March.

The state also is acquiring 234 additional acres of North Bass: 68 acres
with money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 127 acres from National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funds; and 39 acres from the state
of Ohio, according to the Interior Department.

In all, the state will own about 590 acres, or 87 percent of the island,
including 2.5 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 58 acres of natural coast

State officials had expected help from federal agencies to buy the island.
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft announced the intention to buy the land for $17.4
million in December and said $8 million would come from the Interior
Department and the NOAA. The rest of the money would come from the state.

North Bass is the least populated of the Lake Erie islands, with 24
permanent residents and a summer population that reaches 35 to 50.

The state has said it plans to preserve the island's natural setting and
offer campsites, hiking trails, and public use for hunting, fishing,
swimming, and nature study. It will not buy the areas that hold 12 homes, a
one-room schoolhouse, an airstrip, a church, and a cemetery.

The island, also known as Isle St. George, is 18 miles from Ohio's mainland
and less than two miles from the Canada border. It is farther north than
any of Ohio's other Lake Erie islands.

Local officials have said they are concerned about the takeover of the
island because state-owned property isn't taxable - meaning the deal will
cost Put-in-Bay Township $15,000 a year in revenue. They also worried about
what would happen to the public entities such as the airstrip and the

Grapes have been grown on the island since the 1800s, though no wineries
are there. The state plans to continue a lease agreement between Firelands
Vineyard in Sandusky and Cleveland's Paramount Distillers, which is selling
the land to the state, to grow grapes on 85 acres.

The Land and Conservation Fund, run by the Interior Department, was created
in 1964 and has given out $3.4 billion in grants that state or local
governments have matched.

 Saturday, February 21, 2004                                                

  Local News                                                                
 (Embedded image moved to file: pic11538.gif)                               
 Feds OK $6M for NB Island                                                  
 Funding part of $17.4M purchase package                                    
 By RICK NEALE                                                              
 Staff writer                                                               

 WASHINGTON -- The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund will dole out   
 $6 million to help the state buy the bulk of North Bass Island -- the      
 largest single-site grant to a state in the history of the program.        
 Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton announced the grant award Friday 
 afternoon. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has collected $17.4    
 million in state and federal funding to purchase 87 percent of the         
 scarcely inhabited island, or 591 of its 677 acres. ODNR plans to convert  
 the island into a nature preserve or state park.                           
 "This is the last island left in Lake Erie that has not been developed,"   
 Norton told the Associated Press. "It's a unique site."                    
 The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964.  
 North Bass Island has been utilized as a "company island" for grape        
 cultivation since the 1800s. The island's primary landowner, Paramount     
 Distillers/Meier's Wine Cellars, negotiated a selling price below          
 appraised value.                                                           
 ODNR will eventually draft a management strategy that could include        
 development of campgrounds, picnic areas, swimming, boating and fishing    
 facilities, trails, hunting and natural areas.                             
 As of fall, 17 permanent residents lived on North Bass Island. The         
 island's one-room schoolhouse, airport, roads, church, cemetery and a      
 dozen privately owned properties will not change ownership.                
 The land deal was brokered by The Conservation Fund, a national non-profit 
 environmental group. A breakdown:                                          
   Land and Water Conservation grant -- 357 acres.                         
   National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funds -- 127 acres.     
   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds -- 68 acres.                       
   State of Ohio funds -- 39 acres.                                        
 ODNR spokesman Jim Lynch said the acquisitions should wrap up by spring.   
 "The Department of Natural Resources is glad that we could work on         
 preserving this island by putting together a variety of different funding  
 options to bring this island into public ownership," he said.              
 Lynch said a ceremony will likely take place sometime this spring to       
 commemorate the island deal, possibly in Port Clinton.                     
 The state will preserve close to 2.5 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 58 
 acres of coastal wetlands, including Fox's Marsh at the island's southwest 
 Last year, Lynch said state management of North Bass Island might parallel 
 strategies employed at Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes   
 National Lakeshore in Michigan.                                            
 Firelands Vineyards will continue to grow grapes under a three-year lease  
 deal, renewable each year afterward. Cultivated vineyard acreage has       
 plummeted in recent years.                                                 
 Contact staff writer Rick Neale at 419-734-7506 or                         
 (Embedded image moved to file: pic01869.gif) Email this story              
 Originally published Saturday, February 21, 2004                           

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               (Embedded image moved to file: pic25667.gif)                                                             
               Feds give Ohio $6M for North Bass buy                                                                    
               By The Associated Press                                                                                  
               NORTH BASS ISLAND                                                                                        
               The federal government has approved a $6 million grant that will help the state buy nearly               
               all of this isolated island that sits less than a mile from the Canadian border.                         
               The grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the largest single-site grant to a                
               state in the program's history, said Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton.                          
               "This is the last island left in Lake Erie that has not been developed," Norton said.                    
               "It's a unique site."                                                                                    
               The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will use the grant, combined with state money and               
               other federal funds, to buy nearly all of North Bass Island.                                             
               It wants to preserve its natural setting and plans to develop primitive camping sites and                
               hiking trails while also allowing hunting, fishing, swimming and nature study.                           
               Ohio will buy 589 of the 677 acres on the island from Cleveland-based Paramount Distillers               
               Inc. The state isn't buying the privately owned homes on the island or its airstrip,                     
               church and cemetery.                                                                                     
               The state Controlling Board in December approved spending $9.4 million for the purchase.                 
               There are no stoplights, stores, restaurants or commercial or retail development on the                  
               island, which has 24 year-round residents.                                                               
               The island primarily has been used to grow grapes.                                                       
               Vineyards produce about 50 species of grapes, which are harvested every September and                    
               October and ferried to various Ohio wineries.                                                            
               But grapes -- and residents -- have been on the decline.                                                 
               (Embedded image moved to file: pic26299.gif)                                                             
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