NASHPORT – Naturalist Michael Durst arrived at Dillon State Park in February, but already had a passion for the park.
“Dillon is an incredible park,” he said. The 2,285-acre park and attendant lake has “a mind blowing amount of biodiversity” and an abundance of habitats that provide plenty to see and do for any nature lover.
Durst grew up in the Akron area in an outdoorsy family. He fished with his grandfather on Lake Erie and hiked with his parents. In addition, he worked on his father’s farm.
College took Durst to Columbus, where he studied science and zoology before moving into evolutionary biology and plant pathology.
Still a lover of the great outdoors, Durst enjoys hiking, fishing and what he calls “general wildlife enjoying.” He lives on a small farm near Lancaster, and he said he does much of what he does at work at home. “I enjoy walking around and seeing what I have on the property, comparing and contrasting between what I see at the park and what I see at home.”
Durst is working on creating a nature center in a building near the Dillion Camp Store. The building once housed a nature center decades ago, Durst said, but it had long fallen out of use. The park has scheduled a number of events throughout the year, including cleanups, nature presentations and the annual Christmas in July and Halloween campout. On Friday, Durst will lead a night hike and and longer spring hike on Sunday. More information is available at the park’s Facebook page.
The park has great opportunities for hunting, fishing and boating, Durst said, as well as an archery range. The mountain bike trails are among the best he has seen in a state park, he said, and there are extensive bridle and hiking trails as well. The adjacent wildlife area offers even more opportunities for outdoor activities.
“Every day that I am here I feel more connected to the place,” he said, “and you really realize what a wonderful place it is.”
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Friday, April 8
8 pm The Park After Dark: one-mile guided night-time hike. Meet at the Naturalist Cabin. Wear sturdy footwear and dress for potentially cooler temperatures and bring water / snacks.
Sunday, April 10
9 am Springing into Hiking: Meet at the ‘B’ trailhead adjacent to the beach parking lot for an approximately 2.5-mile guided hike exploring sections of three different trails and the different habitats present on each. Wear sturdy footwear and bring water / snacks.
Saturday, April 16
10 am Easter Bug-gy Hunt: Search for all kinds of bugs and other similar creatures hiding in the environment around us. We’ll collect probable bug “homes” and take a look at what’s living in there. Meet at the Naturalist Cabin.
11 am Easter Egg Decorating: Show your creative side with wooden Easter egg decorating outside of the Camp Store. All materials will be provided and eggs can be taken home.
1 pm Easter Egg Hunt: Meet at the Archery Range for a festive Easter Egg hunt for children.
Saturday, April 23
10 am DIY in the Dirt: Join us at the stage next to the Camp Store for an informative Earth Day weekend presentation and workshop on sustainable home gardening, including making seed starting pots, compost, and more. Information on other eco-friendly resources will also be available.
10:30 am Native Wildflower Workshop: A native Ohio wildflower presentation and seed-sowing workshop at the stage outside of the Camp Store.
Sunday, April 24
9 am Springing into Hiking: Meet at the ‘X’ trailhead for Licking Bend Trail at the marina parking lot for an approximately three-mile guided hike exploring our Licking Bend and Eagle Ridge Loop trails. Wear sturdy footwear and bring water / snacks.
2 pm There’s More Than People in the Park: A special teen-led program focusing on the tracks and other signs of our local wildlife with a scavenger hunt and more. Meet at the stage outside of the Camp Store.
Saturday, April 30
11 am Dendrology at Dillon: Arbor Day celebration that will kick off with an approximately one-mile hike focusing on some of the park’s trees. Meet at the Naturalist Cabin. Wear sturdy footwear and bring water / snacks.
1 pm Arbor Day Tree Planting: Help commemorate this year Arbor Day with us as we welcome some new “branches” to the park with a campground tree planting ceremony. Meet outside of the Camp Store.