New reserve offers playscape of nature

Russ Nature Reserve in Beavercreek. (WDTN Photo)
Russ Nature Reserve in Beavercreek. (WDTN Photo)

BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) – A new nature reserve is now open in Beavercreek.

It offers you 90 acres of new space to enjoy the outdoors.

The Russ Nature Reserve is on Kemp Road just off Beaver Valley Road.

Not only is it being made possible by the generous donation of a longtime Greene County family, but also pays tribute to a special employee.

Among the trees, hiking trails and gardens of the property sits the former home of Fritz and Dolores Russ.

After their deaths, the property was gifted to the park agency and Thursday, park leaders shared it with you.

“It’s 90 acres of prairie and woodland. We’ve been in the process of reclaiming some of the trails that Fritz had open,” said Chrisbell Bednar, Director, Greene County Parks and Trails.

“I spent many times out here with my father hunting on this particular property. And there’s a lot of history here,” said Bob Glaser, President, Greene County Board of County Commissioners.

Now, more families will have a chance to make memories here.

The site includes Greene County’s first Nature Playscape. It is four acres of unstructured play for kids.

“So. this is one of those opportunities where the youth are encouraged, get off the trail, go climb the tree, built a fort, pick a flower.”

It is dedicated to a longtime parks employee.

Jeremy Lovely was killed this past spring in a construction accident while building a new gate at the reserve.

Lovely was instrumental in making the area what it is today.

“With the commemoration of the lovely playscape, we’re celebrating Jeremy’s memory and imagination and creativity with the features in that playscape.”

“Jeremy was a big kid at heart and he would have loved it.”

The reserve is still growing from the inside.

The former Russ home is being converted into a nature education center serving school groups, scout organizations and 4H clubs.

About $500,000 is needed to convert the Russ home for educational use.

If you’re interested in donating to the cause, you can contact the Greene County Parks and Trails at 937-562-6440. You can also visit them online. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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