New boardwalk opened to burned marsh

MENTOR, Ohio (AP) - Seven months after a fire destroyed half of an ecologically sensitive marsh, officials opened a new fire-resistant boardwalk in place of the worn, wooden planks that were destroyed.

Officials from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History showed off the newly built, $84,000 wooden boardwalk for Wake Robin Trail on Friday.

The wooden slats of the 1,100-foot trail are made from pau lope, a Brazilian walnut, also known as iron wood, which has a fire resistance equal to concrete.

The trail was replaced with insurance money and donations, chief botanist Jim Bissell said.

"It was worth the extra cost to get the boardwalk made fire-resistant," he said.

Bissell said the new trail will again allow access to the marsh area closed for several months after the fire. The soggy, mossy ground is too wet to travel without the boardwalk.

The April 28 fire destroyed about half of the 800-acre marsh 25 miles northeast of Cleveland. Flames stretched 30 to 40 feet high and black smoke could be seen for 20 miles.

Police said they believe the fire was set, but no arrests have been made.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)