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Friends of Ouabache SP group raises $75,000 for firetower restoration
Start Date: 5/3/2017
Event Description:
Visitors to Ouabache State Park will be able to climb the firetower again thanks to the park’s “friends” group.

The Friends of Ouabache State Park group has raised $75,000 to rehabilitate the tower. The first $50,000 came in small increments from individuals, families and small businesses, according to group secretary Kathy Schwartz. The last $25,000 came from a matching grant by the Wells County Community Foundation.

“We just had a great response from individuals,” Schwartz said. “We had a donation from a couple who got engaged in the top. We had people who remembered climbing it and wanted their children to be able to climb it. That’s where the money came from.”

The 100-foot tower was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Park officials closed the tower in 2015 because of concerns about safety. The tower’s wood stairs and cabin decking needed replaced.

The park did not have funding to rehabilitate the tower, and the structure’s future was uncertain until the Friends group intervened.

“Reopening this historic icon to the public will stand as a highlight to Ouabache State Park’s timeline,” property manager Dustin Clark said.

The group began fundraising in 2016. Park officials estimated the effort would take five years. Schwartz hoped to finish in 18 months.

The group reached its goals in less than nine months.

“I don’t think when we first started anybody thought we would accomplish this as quickly as we did,” Schwartz said.

This accomplishment has made the group a model for other Friends groups, and they have already been asked to share advice for similar projects in other state parks.

Site work, which will included accessibility improvements, has already begun, according to Clark. Current plans call for the firetower to be restored and in place this summer and fall. The park hopes to reopen the tower in spring 2018.

Ouabache State Park ( is at 4930 E. St. Road 201, Bluffton, 46714.

To view all DNR news releases, please see
Contact Information:
Name: Dustin Clark
Phone: (260) 824-0926
State calendar entry type:
Press Release
State calendar entry category:
State calendar classification:
  • Residents
  • Visiting and Playing
  • Agency Name:
  • Natural Resources, Department of

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