Since its inception, The Miami Conservancy District (MCD) has actively preserved land for recreational use. Of the 44,000 acres of land MCD bought for flood protection, it retained about 3,300 of these acres to be “reserved” for recreation areas upstream (behind) the dams. MCD also planted about 410,000 trees between 1927 and 1944.
In 1967, MCD turned over the responsibility of maintaining and patrolling the recreational areas at the dams to the Montgomery County Park District, now known as Five Rivers MetroParks. This lease agreement covers the reserve areas at Germantown, Englewood, Taylorsville and Huffman dams. Lockington Reserve near Piqua was leased to the Shelby County Park District in 1981 for professional management.
From 1930 through the 1950s, MCD staff helped to develop the foundation of Montgomery County’s park system. MCD, in its role as land steward, developed the reserve areas as parks for public use. Using Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) resources, MCD added park shelters, picnic areas, walking trails and other amenities to MCD land. MCD also initiated the creation of Carillon Park and the Wright Brothers Memorial.
Blazing a new trail
The Miami Conservancy District became a recreation trail leader, building trails along the river corridors in Montgomery County. In the mid-1970s, MCD initiated the development and construction of the Horace M. Huffman, Jr. River Corridor Bikeway, an 8-mile loop around the river in downtown Dayton. Today, the trail is known as the Great Miami River Recreation Trail. MCD owns or maintains nearly 34 miles of recreation trails for biking, skating, walking, jogging and enjoying.
Since 2004, Miami Conservancy District has promoted safe river recreation through its three Play it Safe maps and guides for the Great Miami, Stillwater, and Mad River Water Trails. These rivers include more than 250 miles and offer public access points to safely enjoy the waterways.
At the request of communities, Miami Conservancy District built low dams along the Great Miami, which created pools in the river for recreational uses like boating and fishing.
MCD continues to play an important role in recreation trail development and is an active partner in numerous recreation and riverfront development projects, including Dayton's RiverScape and recreation trail projects in Miami, Montgomery, Warren and Butler counties.