Grand River Conservation Campus
The Grand River Conservation Campus has been shaped by the generations of people who have lived and worked here—from early settlers who farmed the land, to a private hunting retreat in the early 1900s, to a religious retreat for Jewish and, later, Christian communities.
Today, as part of The Nature Conservancy’s Morgan Swamp Preserve, the Grand River Conservation Campus remains a place where people can enjoy nature through numerous passive recreation opportunities, all within a beautiful backdrop of unique habitats, rare plants and abundant wildlife. In fact, a hemlock yellow-birch forest community, one of the rarest swamp forest communities in Ohio, still thrives on the Campus grounds.
The Campus offers a number of amenities that are open to the public, including the Dr. James K. Bissell Nature Center, nature trails, an Accessible fishing pier at Bliss Pond, a canoe/kayak launch on the State Designated Wild & Scenic Grand River, and a children’s playground. There is also a pavilion for picnicking and a gymnasium that can be rented out for athletic activities and other events. (See the separate tabs on this page for facilities rental information)
Current Conservation Work
At the Grand River Conservation Campus, there is always a flurry of activity focused on ongoing restoration, recreation and education. Past and current projects at the Campus include:
- In 2017, the Conservancy opens the Dr. James K. Bissell Nature Center—the first nature center of its kind in Ashtabula County.
- In 2016, the Conservancy enters into an agreement with Lake Erie College to allow students and faculty access to the Campus, Morgan Swamp Preserve, and other Conservancy preserves in northeast Ohio for guided research opportunities.
- In 2015, the Conservancy is granted its third Great Lakes Restoration Initiative-funded project for northeast Ohio. The project resulted in the control of invasive species on an additional 500 acres throughout the Grand River watershed.
- In 2014, the Civic Development Corporation of Ashtabula County gives the Conservancy a grant of $44,350 to create Accessible and primitive foot trails, an Accessible fishing pier, and interpretative signage. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife grants the Conservancy $6,000 to construct a canoe access point along the Grand River.
- In 2013, outlying buildings are removed to reduce the Campus’ footprint and restore areas to a more natural condition.
- In 2012, a Conservancy project funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative controls 400 acres of invasive species in the Ashtabula River watershed.
- In 2011, the first Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)-funded project in the Grand River watershed results in the control of 831 acres of invasive plant species throughout the watershed.
- In 2011, the Conservancy acquires the Grand River Conservation Campus through a generous donation from the Cleveland-based City Mission. This acquisition expands the Morgan Swamp Preserve by nearly 60 acres and increases protection efforts along the Grand River.