At nearly 2,000 acres, The Nature Conservancy’s Morgan Swamp Preserve is one of the largest privately protected forested wetlands in Ohio. The swamp is home to an abundance of wetlands including bogs, beaver ponds and vernal pools. A rich diversity of plants and animals call it home, from the beautiful white calla lily to the tiny four-toed salamander hidden among the vernal pools.
Morgan Swamp Preserve is part of a greater wetland system called the Grand River Lowlands, which got its start some 12,000 years ago when portions of northeastern Ohio’s Ashtabula and Trumball counties were occupied by a large glacial lake. This glacial lake deposited a thick layer of silt and clay ranging in depth from 5 to 50 feet. Watertight, these clay soils resulted in the formation of the swamp forest, marsh, sphagnum bogs and sedge meadows that exist in the area today.
These wetlands are critical to the health of the state-designated “Wild and Scenic” Grand River, an important tributary to Lake Erie, which is a source of drinking water for millions of people.
Current Conservation Work
Morgan Swamp and the surrounding area is a 2,000-acre remnant of a 5-square-mile swamp that existed at the time of European settlement. By the beginning of 20th century, the entire region had been subjected to logging, draining, peat fires and farming. Relatively undisturbed for nearly 100 years, Morgan Swamp is recovering from these impacts and is now dynamic and self-sustaining.
Today, the greatest threats to Morgan Swamp Preserve are the destruction of adjacent wetlands, logging within the Grand River floodplain and upland forest communities, and invasive species.
The Conservancy has been working to combat these threats through restoration, land acquisition and education efforts.
- In 2011, a generous donation from the Cleveland-based City Mission expands the preserve by nearly 60 acres and increases protection efforts along the Grand River. This site was later named Grand River Conservation Campus. The Campus is now home to our Dr. James K. Bissell Nature Center.
- In 2009, the Conservancy expanded Morgan Swamp Preserve by more than 250 acres, including a 70-acre conservation easement.
- In 2006, the Conservancy opened Morgan Swamp Preserve to the public. The preserve features a handicapped accessible trail and interpretive signage showcasing the importance of the ecosystem to both people and wildlife.
- Land acquisition focuses on protecting those areas critical in maintaining ecosystem function.
- The Conservancy has for years sustained the unique nature of the plant and animal communities at Morgan Swamp through invasive species control.