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.
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.
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.
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.