PPG Lime Lakes

PPG Lime Lakes
2445 Vanderhoof Road
Barberton, Ohio 44203

Also, see Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

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Summit County

PPG Lime Lakes
Coordinates: 40.9798981, -81.5903091
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Photos by Susan Carpenter
Ohio Birding Day Hike
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

Tips for birding PPG Lime Lakes
Access is currently restricted to roadside and trailside birding. Birders may park at the Vanderhoof Road trailhead parking lot of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail, 2445 Vanderhoof Road in New Franklin. The Towpath Trail may be accessed there for trailside birding of several of the reclaimed lime lakes both north and south of the trailhead.

In addition, there are informal roadside pull-offs along Vanderhoof Road at its intersection with Grove Road and at the service drive to PPG’s construction compound just west of the Rex Hill Road intersection. At either of these locations views of the reclaimed lime lakes are possible along the fence line. Informal pull-offs are also available on Rex Hill Road to the east and Eastern Road to the north for views of adjacent wetlands and limited views of the lime lakes.

Birds of Interest
Species diversity and sightings are increasing with each passing year of maturity of the grasslands established there. Raptors being sighted, including Rough-legged, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned and Coopers Hawks. Dickcissels, Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark have been reported, as have a wide variety of songbirds. In season enormous flocks of blackbirds are seen passing over the lime lakes and roosting in the nearby wetlands on Eastern Road and Rex Hill Road, including reported Yellow-headed Blackbirds. American and Least Bittern and Sora have been reported in the Eastern Road wetlands.

About PPG Lime Lakes
From 1899 until 1973, lime and water slurry, a byproduct of PPG Industries’ soda ash production used in glass-making, was pumped into six diked settling ponds, covering a total of more than 600 acres. Water was drained from the ponds or lime lakes, leaving behind fine-grained lime deposits up to 50 feet deep. The resulting flat, barren landscapes were too alkaline and nutrient-poor for plants to grow, as well as hazardous to groundwater contamination. In the early 1980s, PPG was approached about pursuing research into the reclamation of the lime lakes, using nutrient-rich wastewater sludge from the area’s municipal wastewater plants. On-site research and monitoring over the next several years, experimenting with mix ratios of lime spoil to sludge and plants tolerant of the conditions, proved the efficacy of the restoration. Not only were the high highly alkaline levels of the lime spoil mitigated but the heavy metals found in the wastewater sludge were found to be chemically bound up in the mix. The research also showed that certain woody and herbaceous plants would tolerate the altered lime spoil and these were incorporated into the reclamation and regrading plans. The results gained OEPA’s approvals for reclamation and continued monitoring of lime lake #4, as a full-scale test of the process. With the success of this initial work and over the next decade and a half each of the lime lakes was ultimately reclaimed and revegetated.

Later, and after the completion of the County’s Trail and Greenways Master Plan, the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition negotiated with PPG for the access rights for trail development through PPG lands adjacent to the lime lakes and the Tuscarawas River between Barberton to the north and Clinton and Stark County to the south, completing that portion of the 110-mile Ohio and Erie Canalway National Heritage Area.

Today, the lime lakes look more like a nature preserve than the environmental wasteland they once were. The reclamation of the lime lakes is a true environmental recovery success story, host to an ever-growing population of wildlife.
From Denis Mersky

Restrooms at the Vanderhoof Road Trailhead.