Portage Park District Plans Morning and Moonlight Hikes

Our friends at the Portage Park District have announced some interesting, fun and informative activities. Check them out:

Early Morning Bird Hike
at Dix Park

Did you ever hear the saying early bird gets the worm? Saturday May 9 at 8:00 am Join our Park Naturalist for an informative, bird-filled morning walk! Dix Park consists of 103 acres of woods and wetlands with hiking trails-at this time of year the woods are filled with a variety of migrating songbirds. Located at 7318 State Route 44, RavennaTownship. Directions: From the intersection with SR 14 go North on SR 44 about 3/4 of a mile to park entrance on east side.

Full Moon
Bike Ride

on the PORTAGE Bike & Hike Trail

Sat May 9th. Meet at 8:15 pm in the Towner’s Woods parking lot for an easy 4 mile round-trip ride to experience the natural sights and sounds of a spring dusk–helmets and lights are recommended.
Towner’s Woods Park is located at 2296 Ravenna Road, Franklin Township. From SR 43, turn east onto Ravenna Rd., go 2 miles to the park entrance.

Mother’s Day at the Park
Spring Wildflower Hike

Sunday May 10th 9:00 a.m. Grab Mom and bring her to Dix Park to enjoy the beautiful woodland wildflowers before they’re gone. Dix Park consists of 103 acres of woods and wetlands with hiking trails at 7318 State Route 44, Ravenna Township Directions: From the intersection with SR 14 go North on SR 44 about 3/4 of a mile to park entrance on east side.

The Portage Park District was formed by the action of the Portage County Commissioners in 1991 as an independent government agency. It is overseen by an unpaid, five-member Board of Park Commissioners appointed by the County Probate Judge according to Ohio Revised Code 1545.

Contact Info:
Portage Park District
128 North Prospect Street
Ravenna, Ohio 44266


Ohio.com – Black bears emerging in Ohio

Ohio.com – Black bears emerging in Ohio

“In 2008, a total of 105 bear sightings occurred in 21 Ohio counties. That included 93 sightings in the 11 counties in Northeast Ohio. total of 32 sightings were verified by tracks, scat, pictures or other evidence.”

Pretty cool. Soon we will have nuisance bear problems in northeast Ohio. This is amazing. Imagine suburban Akron/Cleveland neighborhoods with bears knocking over trash cans. Its coming. I can’t wait. missing piece of our ecological system is coming back!


Mushroom times a comin'

Want to learn about mushrooms? Here is an opportunity to learn to tell the good from the bad, and the ugly:

A mushroom workshop will be conducted at the Malabar Farm Visitor’s Center April 25th, 2009 at 10AM. The workshop will help you identify the vast amount of mushrooms (poisonous and non-poisonous) growing throughout North Central Ohio. The workshop begins with an in class seminar and ends with an outside mushroom exploration hike. Some strenuous climbs involved.

Pre-registration is required by calling the park office at (419) 892-2784. This event is FREE.

The Malabar Farm Restaurant will be open Tuesdays through Thursdays 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Stop by for lunch or dinner and don’t miss the homemade wild mushroom soup.

For dining reservations or more information call 419-938-5205.

Additionally, overnight accommodations are available at the Malabar Farm Hostelling International. Call 419-892-2055 for reservations.

Malabar Farm is located 12 miles southeast of Mansfield, just one mile west of SR 603 on Pleasant Valley Road. Louis Bromfield, a world-renowned novelist and conservationist, created the farm in the 1940s as a demonstration farm for progressive conservation practices. Malabar Farm State Park is the only working farm in the Ohio State Park system. Programs and special events are offered year-round. For more information about this or other programs, call the park office at 419-892-2784 or visit their Website at www.malabarfarm.org.


Appalachian Forest School in Southern Ohio

From a press release sent out by The Arc of Appalachia Preserve System:

Those of us living east of the Mississippi River all share something in common. We live within the primeval boundaries of what was once North America’s great temperate broadleaf forest. Only a few hundred years ago, this nearly unbroken forest cloaked the entire eastern third of the continent. Despite its size, for most citizens our native biome has become an “invisible forest,” fragmented from its original unified grandeur, and unrecognized as a living force in our daily lives.

The Arc of Appalachia Preserve System is encouraging Eastern citizens to awaken to their common forest heritage. Acknowledging our shared home in what was once among the world’s largest forests could help us connect more deeply with our native landscape, connect more strongly other forest stewards across multiple state lines, and anchor a more meaningful sense of place in the world.

To advance forest literacy among citizens, the non-profit Arc of Appalachia Preserve System of southern Ohio is sponsoring the new Appalachian Forest School, an institute offering 3-7 day long courses to be held at various locations within the historic range of the Eastern Forest. Each course includes an emphasis on global and national perspectives, and invites a cross-disciplinary understanding of the temperate forest biome in which the majority of U.S. citizens work and live. Instructors have been carefully selected from professors, field researchers, land managers, and naturalists — combining talents and specialties to present a broad and integrated view of the Eastern Forest. Even as disturbed as America’s Eastern forest is today, the second growth forest that remains in Eastern United States is the largest remnant temperate forest in the northern hemisphere, offering significant potential for ecological study and restoration.

The 2009 Course Schedule includes:

Forests of the Ozarks, “Life on the Edge,” May 26-June 1st.
Visit pine-oak woodlands and remnant old-growth forests on the interface of two major biomes — where the Eastern temperate forest meets the prairies of the Midwest. See the nation’s largest and cleanest spring-fed river systems, rich canebrake communities sheltering Swainson’s warblers, wild rarely-explored caves, collared lizards and other fascinating reptiles, and wet orchid-strewn glades in one of the largest forest wilderness areas left in Eastern United States.

Trees of the Temperate Forest, July 12-17th.
Learn how to recognize 45 species of primary temperate forest trees, learn forest succession principles, and apply skills in interpreting the health and history of any single woodlot. This course will prepare you to recognize approximately 90% of the standing trees in forests located throughout the forest heartland, from Maine to Tennessee.

Forest Waterways, Lifeblood of the Eastern Forest, August 16-21st.
An integrated view of the richest aquatic systems to be found anywhere in the temperate world — the streams and rivers of Eastern United States. Learn the global significance of our rivers’ fresh-water fish, mussels, salamanders, crayfish, and other aquatic wildlife; and their ecological inter-relationships.

Private Forest Landowners Course – Managing for Biodiversity, Sept 18-20th
Learn how to clarify the management goals you hold for your privately-owned forest. Unlike most courses which teach owners how to make financial profit from the timber assets of their forest, this course teaches interested owners how to sustainably manage a forest for the primary purpose of restoring high biodiversity of native plants and wildlife.

2010 and beyond:

Forests of the Far South – Exploring the Wilderness of Florida’s Panhandle

Forests of the Far North – Forests of the Boundary Waters of Minnesota

Forests of the Heartland – The Mother Forest of the Southern Appalachians

Spring Ephemerals – Wildflowers of the Eastern Forest

Interpreting our Eastern Forest Heritage – Training for Teacher Naturalists

For more information on the non-profit Appalachian Forest School, see www.highlandssanctuary.org/WE/AFS.htm
For recent copies of Nature Notes from the Eastern Forest, click here: www.highlandssanctuary.org/naturenotes.backlist.htm

Description of Sponsor:

The Arc of Appalachia Preserve System is an educational non-profit organization that operates 12 preserves and stewards a total of 3000 acres in rural southern Ohio for the purpose of forest biodiversity preservation. The Arc of Appalachia operates visitor education and hiking trails at the Appalachian Forest Museum, featuring dramatic educational murals that interpret the global significance of the temperate broadleaf forest. The Appalachian Forest Museum is located in its headquarters, the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, in Bainbridge, OH, 45612. The Arc of Appalachia also sponsors The Appalachian Forest School, offering adult courses that advance temperate forest education and conservation among Eastern citizens.


America's Most Endangered Rivers

Today, American Rivers released its list of America’s Ten Most Endangered Rivers. The nonprofit group stands up for healthy rivers, and has compiled this list based on the magnitude of threat faced by the rivers, major decisions that could impact the health of the rivers, and the regional or national significance of the river.

Making this list doesn’t mean a river is polluted, but it does mean degradation looms in the near future. It also seems that the rivers listed change from year to year, so this is not a list of the worst, or most endangered, so much as a list of currently threatened waterways.

My question is this: Why, in today’s enlightened atmosphere, where the environment is finally becoming a mainstream issue, do we have rivers that are endangered? Why, when human life depends on clean water, would we take actions that threaten the lifeblood of our species?

What can we do about it? We can make sure our leaders in our state capitals and Washington know how important rivers are to our environmental and economic health. We can make sure we don’t mow to close to out backyard streams. We can reduce our use of lawn chemicals. We can build rain gardens that allow water to sink into the ground instead of running off into storm sewers, which in turn run into our rivers.

We can also spend out leisure time along rivers and in natural areas, which sends a strong message to political leaders. When parks and rivers are visibly loved, it will make it that much tougher to make political deals that allow for their destruction. Now, get outside and enjoy a river!


Its Spring, but there's snow on the ground

Well, it had to happen. I was walking a beautiful property along a tributary to Tinkers Creek in northeast Ohio last week, and one of the land owners commented on what a beautiful day it was. Then his brother-in-law noted that it would snow one more time.

“When was the last Easter you remember without snow?”, he said.

I grinned for lack of any memory of Easter weather. I did, however, silently hope he was wrong. Well. He was right. I woke up this morning to a blanket of snow. We had planned to be camping this week, but my astute wife checked the weather and we realized this was not the week to take two little kids, and a rambunctious dog out in a tent. I was disappointed, but of course she was right. Allegheny National Forest can wait.

Instead, I had to comfort myself with some low quality photos of last weekend’s outdoor wanderings at Punderson State Park and Geauga Park District’s West Woods. I am including a couple of early bloomers in this post just to make it feel more like spring today. The first is a photo of a cluster of skunk cabbage Symplocarpus foetidus flowers taken in a wetland at West Woods. I have seen skunk cabbage blooming around northeast Ohio wetland and seep areas since the last week of February this year.

The yellow flower is coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). A naturalized wildflower, coltsfoot grows along trailsides, roads, and in disturbed areas. It is one of the earliest spring flowers. Although non-native, it does not appear to cause ecological harm, at least as far as I can tell.

This next photo isn’t a flower, but it is as beautiful as one. This is the nature center at West Woods. Geauga Park District did a great job on this wonderful building. If you are looking for a great place to learn about nature, or just love cool buildings, visit West Woods nature center.