New boat ramp unveiled at Berlin Lake

Doug Vallance of Canton, Ohio, left, shown with the Rich Carter, executive administrator of the Ohio Division of Wildlife's Fish Management group, was first to use the new Berlin Lake boat ramp. Vallance, who showed up to fish for walleye, called the facility "a deluxe ramp.” (Photo courtesy of ODNR)

ATWATER, Ohio — A highly awaited $1.3 million boat ramp opened May 25 at Berlin Lake in the Berlin Wildlife Area in northeast Ohio, according to the Ohio DNR.

Berlin Lake is considered one of the most popular boating and fishing lakes in Ohio, the ODNR said in a news release. The 8,518-acre wildlife area and lake are located in parts of Stark, Mahoning, and Portage counties. In the summer, the lake’s water surface can cover 3,590 acres, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

The new ramp at 15988 German Church Road near Atwater on the lake’s southern end will take pressure off the heavily used Bonner Road boat ramp located at the lake’s northwest end, according to the ODNR.

When workers were spreading mulch around a new road sign marking the mile-long, dead-end entrance to the ramp, at least 41 people stopped to ask when the boat ramp was to open, said Phil Hillman, District 3 fish management supervisor.

The lake is best known for its walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, black and white crappie, and channel catfish. In addition, the lake supports a small muskellunge fishery, with some muskies reaching up to 40 inches, Hillman said.

“It’s a beautiful facility with a great access point,” Hillman said. The newly opened boat ramp includes a two-lane concrete ramp with floating docks and asphalt paved parking lots for 78 car-trailers spaces and 17 car-only spaces.

Construction began in 2016 by Beaver Excavating of Canton. Hartman Engineering of Lewis Center, Ohio, along with the ODNR Division of Engineering, designed and developed the project. Funding for the project was from the Division of Wildlife’s Boater-Angler Fund, which comes from a portion of the state sales tax on gasoline, according to the ODNR.

Seventy-five percent of the project’s cost will be reimbursed to the DOW from the federal Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the ODNR stated in a news release.

The SFR program provides grant money to the states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Insular Areas fish and wildlife agencies for fishery projects, boating access, and aquatic education. The program is authorized by the Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950, sponsored by the late Sen. Edwin Johnson of Colorado and late Rep. John Dingell Sr. of Michigan.

Doyle Hartman, owner of Hartman Engineering, said he spoke to the German Church Road boat ramp’s first user, Doug Vallance of Canton, who showed up to fish for walleye as the opening ceremony was concluding. Vallance called the facility “a deluxe ramp,” Hartman said.

Hartman is more than satisfied with how the ramp turned out.

“I am really pleased,” he said. “The people who had the vision should be commended.”

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