Black River Audubon Society Restoration Projects

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Above: Male Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva, synonym D. petechia aestiva). Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, Ontario, Canada. Wikipedia.

Black River Audubon Society Restoration Projects

On May 19th, 2018, officially Lorain County Pride Day, BRAS together with volunteers from Elyria Rotary, Elyria High students, and members of the general public planted twelve trees of various species along with milkweed, bushes and other flowers to attract a wide variety of birds, butterflies, and other pollinators to this formerly neglected area just off downtown Elyria.

By Jim Jablonski, President, Black River Audubon Society

​Black River Audubon Society (BRAS) ​has worked on two different environmental restoration projects before and during 2018. These will be described at Council of Ohio Audubon Chapters (COAC) Quarterly Workshop, September 16, 2018, hosted by Tri-Moraine Audubon Society, at the Myeerah Nature Preserve, 7405 St. Rt. 540, Bellefontaine, Ohio by Andy Lance, Conservation Chair, and Jim Jablonski, President.

project #1: Black River Audubon Park

Above: 1) Park sign 2) Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) 3) Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda addressing Elyria High School National Honor Roll students, teachers, and local adults before the program begins. 3) BRAS donated trees to Elyria Sunrise Rotary to plant at Elyria’s West Recreation Park. A Rotary member works with students belonging to Elyria Teens Achieve Success at that park. 5) and 6) Some of the trees and “local residents” after the planting was finished at Black River Audubon Park. 7) Monarch butterfly, Bay Village, laying eggs on common milkweed by David Lewis. 8) American Robin (Turdus migratorius).
Years ago, our founder and benefactor, Jack Smith, bought a small piece of land along the Black River and near downtown Elyria, Ohio and donated it to the city with the stipulation that it would be called Black River Audubon Park.

The two-acre park, half of it heavily wooded and sloping down to the river and the other half a field on a small plain thirty feet above the usual waterline, was found to have been used as a dumping place. In addition, it is said a house once stood on the field. Decades ago it burned to the ground and the remains bulldozed over the bluff leading to the river.

BRAS took on the responsibility, along with a number of other volunteer organizations, to clean the land at the upper level, the bluff, and the riverbank. Despite our best efforts over a number of years, materials kept rising to the surface. We hired a professional landscaper to clean out the rest. This also proved to be ineffective with regard to the bluff. However, it seemed everything near the surface was collected on the field above.

This past January, Jim Jablonski, the BRAS president, received a notice from National Audubon Society regarding the Burke Trees for Birds grants. The notice was passed to conservation chair Andy Lance and board member Kate Pilacky, who also works for Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Together they prepared a grant proposal that was successful in winning BRAS a $2,500 stipend for trees, bushes, and other flora to be planted along the tree of the upper field. The grant proposal was considered to be one of the best NAS received.

On May 19th, 2018, officially Lorain County Pride Day, BRAS together with volunteers from Elyria Rotary, Elyria High students, and members of the general public planted twelve trees of various species along with milkweed, bushes and other flowers to attract a wide variety of birds, butterflies, and other pollinators to this formerly neglected area just off downtown Elyria. In addition, another dozen trees were planted at two historical associations and an Elyria recreational park.

The project has brightened a blighted area and is currently attracting avian and insect life to a central urban neighborhood.

Project Sponsors: 

  • The Lorain County Community College program was sponsored by Lorain County Community College and Black River Audubon Society.
  • The Black River Audubon Park was sponsored by National Audubon Society’s, “Burke Plants for Birds” grant and Black River Audubon Society who worked on and funded the initial cleanup of the park.

PROJECT #2: Meadow Preserve Project with Lorain County Community College

Above: 1) Community College Meadow Preserve signage co-sponsored by Black River Audubon Society. 2) American Bluebird (Sialia sialis) by David Lewis. 3) A long view of the field that we are maintaining as a meadow. It shows the problems we have with teasel but also some of the wide patches of milkweed that have been producing a good number of monarchs. You can also see the bluebird boxes. 4) Kestrel by Sepand Bakhtiari. 5) This is a photo showing the path to part of Wesleyan Meadows, a senior citizen residential area, just north of our meadow. It is not part of the project but the seniors can easily get to the trail if they want to. 6) Community College Meadow Preserve signage co-sponsored by Black River Audubon Society.
After discovering ground-nesting birds in a 23-acre field north of the Lorain County Community College (LCCC) campus more than fifteen years ago, BRAS officers approached the college the college’s administration to ask for the cessation of mowing during the birds’ nesting season. The administration agreed to only mow the field during the fall.

Several rainy seasons led to the neglect of this practice, the field was not mowed at all, and invasive trees, thistle, and teasel began to take over, threatening the availability of this important nesting area for meadowlarks and bobolinks.

Over the last two years, the original agreement has been renewed. BRAS has helped pay for eradication of the trees, reseeding of affected areas, and new signage for the area, turning it into a significant birding area during breeding season. In addition, BRAS maintains a bluebird trail and a kestrel nesting box in the reclaimed meadow. Into the future, BRAS will continue with its reseeding efforts in its attempt to eradicate the invasive plants that have spread into the field.

With the project, we are maintaining a significantly large breeding area for birds that have been drastically impacted by the disappearance of fields and meadows in northern Ohio.

Project Sponsors: 

  • Trees for the Elyria West Recreation Park, Lorain County Historical Society, and Lorain (city) Historical Society were funded by National Audubon Society’s, “Burke Plants for Birds” grant and Black River Audubon Society donated the trees that were paid for through the “Burke” grant.
  • Trees planted at the locations were planted by ​the West Recreation Park: Elyria Sunshine Rotary, Elyria Teens Achieve Success (a group sponsored by Elyria Sunshine Rotary); Lorain County Historical Society trees were planted by Black River Audubon’s Andy Lance, and Lorain (city) Historical Society trees were planted by the Society’s members.
  • The Meadow Preserve Project is funded by Lorain County Community College and Black River Audubon.

Register for the Sept 16, 2018 Workshop by completing the COAC Sept 16, 2018 Workshop Registration Form by September 1, 2018 hereFor more information about the projects, email Jim Jablonski, President, Black River Audubon Society here.



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