The Nature Conservancy’s new Northeast Ohio Project Office and recent additions to the Conservancy’s Morgan Swamp Preserve in Ashtabula County will be the subject of community discussion at a series of open houses scheduled for June.
The Nature Conservancy, a private conservation organization that has protected land along the Grand River for at least 25 years, will host three open houses at the former site of the Grand Valley Christian Center Camp, 3973 Callender Road. The 58-acre camp and more than 25 buildings in Rome Township were donated to the Conservancy in January by City Mission, a Cleveland-based charity.
The meetings will be held on June 7, 14 and 15. Each meeting will be focused on subjects of interest to specific audiences, including: outdoor sports enthusiasts (June 7); residents and elected officials of adjacent communities (June 14) and the general public (June 15).
Attendees are encouraged to bring and share ideas for the future of the property and its buildings during the session that begins at 6:45.
“We’ve scheduled three different open houses so that topics specific to each group can be shared and discussed in detail, but anyone is welcome to attend any of the meetings,” said Karen Adair, The Nature Conservancy’s Northeast Ohio Projects Manager.
Each meeting will follow the same schedule: Guests are welcome to arrive as early as 5:00 p.m. A self-guided tour will be offered at 5:30 p.m. The program will begin promptly at 6:45 p.m. and conclude at 8:00 pm. Light refreshments will be served.
The land donation has been added to the Conservancy’s Morgan Swamp Nature Preserve, the largest privately protected inland wetland in Ohio. The preserve spans 1,300 acres in Rome, Morgan and Trumbull townships and is bordered approximately by Footville-Richmond Road to the north, Rt. 45 to the east, Callender Road to the south and Windsor-Mechanicsville Road to the west.
Adair said conservation of the property’s key natural features are the highest priority for the former camp property and some of the buildings will be used for the Conservancy’s office and land management needs.
“Beyond that, though, the ultimate use of the camp and its buildings is in the process of being evaluated and carefully considered,” she said. “We hope these meetings will bring out a wide range of stakeholders who might help us evaluate the camp and its importance to the public, and consider different possible uses for the buildings and grounds.”
Conservationists know the Grand River areas as a rare swath of “north woods” in the Midwest, perfect habitat for painted trillium, snowshoe hare, and other rare plants and animals normally found in more northern climes. A swampy forest dominated by hemlock and yellow birch trees once covered about five square miles along the Grand River, arguably the cleanest river flowing into Lake Erie.
The Conservancy and its partners have worked for many years to protect what is left of this forest. It’s the only place in Ohio that this northern-style habitat is found – due primarily to the large amounts of lake-effect snow generated by Lake Erie. Surveys have identified 108 bird species, 24 fishes, 26 reptiles, and 24 mammals make their home in the preserve – including the snowshoe hare, which was reintroduced there in 2005.
Morgan Swamp has been open to the public since 2006, when the Conservancy constructed an accessible trail with interpretive signage. The preserve is open Monday-Friday, from dawn to dusk.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.