Historic Camp McKinley Preserved!

February 22, 2021

Western Reserve Land Conservancy has partnered with the Buckeye Council of Boy Scouts for America to establish permanent protections for 195 acres of historic natural lands off of Furnace Rd. in Lisbon, Columbiana County. Camp McKinley is a Boy Scout camp with miles of headwaters and tributaries into Little Beaver Creek, home to Ohio’s largest population of endangered Hellbender salamander.

“For current and future Scouts, Camp McKinley will be a place where children can explore and experience Ohio nature at its finest,” said Brett Rodstrom, vice president of eastern field operations at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “We are proud to partner with the Buckeye Council to protect this historic natural landscape. Knowing that our future wildlife enthusiasts will be able to create lasting childhood memories at Camp McKinley makes this a special project indeed.”

Camp McKinley is a historic camp whose history began in 1807. Gideon Hughes, a local businessman, built a blast furnace on the grounds of Camp McKinley in what was then known as “new Lisbon” to supply the needs of the settlers heading west. The remains of the furnace are still visible on the property. Hughes also built a stone home across from his furnace known as the McKinley homestead. President William McKinley’s grandparents lived at the property for many years, and it is believed that President McKinley spent many summers wandering the hills of what is now Camp McKinley. The property has been a camp for the Boy Scouts of America since 1934 and the camp Ranger now lives in the historic home. Several canal locks remain on the property, complete with the original cut-stone walls.

“Camp McKinley is one of Buckeye Council’s most historic properties,” said Jesse Roper, Scout Executive and CEO at Buckeye Council, Boy Scouts of America. “Generations of Scouts have built memories at Camp McKinley and we are so excited to be able to preserve this property for generations to come. Camp McKinley’s history, natural surroundings and community support make this an ideal place for Scouts to learn and grow.”

Camp McKinley will remain private property for the use of the Buckeye Council of Boy Scouts. It contains 145 acres of mature forests, 30 acres of wetlands, and 1.3 miles of headwater tributaries that flow into Beaver Creek and McKinley Lake in the eastern portion of the protected property. Trails meander through the forested landscape and campsites. The campfire pits, Central Lodge and Chapel, and a dock into McKinley Lake make for a wonderful outdoor setting. Oak, maple, black cherry, and American beech trees cover nearly 40 acres. The changes in topography throughout the protected property provides a range of forest diversity and unique habitat for wildlife, providing shelter, food, and nesting areas for birds, fish, small and large mammals, and other wildlife. Natural areas preservation also promotes groundwater recharge for local aquifers. Funding to purchase the conservation easement for the property came from an Ohio EPA settlement with Nease Performance Chemicals designed to protect water resources along Little Beaver Creek.

“Little Beaver Creek is recognized nationally as a scenic river, we can attribute that to the decades of conservation and preservation of natural areas,” said Joshua Emanuelson, Little Beaver Creek watershed coordinator at the Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District. “Partnership and collaboration between local landowners, government, and conservation organizations, such as Western Reserve Land Conservancy, are tools in the conservation toolbox that are utilized to improve water quality and protect key land areas from degradation. The results of this conservation and preservation is the tremendous biodiversity in habitat and wildlife that this area provides.”