What's New home


Click any of these to go directly to an update
4/14/14 - Program Cancellation: Total Lunar Eclipse
4/11/14 - Leash Law & Coyotes at Frohring Meadows
4/11/14 - Prescribed Fire Plans: Two Parks Down, One to Go
4/10/14 - Spring: Geocache, Newsletters, Three-Month Calendar, Video
3/28/14 - Late Addition: Ohio Boating Education Courses
3/28/14 - Caveman Crawl Registration Open

3/26/14 - Day-Long Closure of Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve
3/13/14 - Big Creek Park's Meyer Center Hours
3/12/14 - Other Programs & Special Events in the Parks
3/3/14 - Applications Posted: Nature Writing Contest, Nature Arts Festival
2/26/14 - Geauga Park District Wins Healthy Worksite Bronze Award
2/3/14 - Job Openings: Seasonal Maintenance
1/28/14 - Results of Burton Chrismas Bird Count
1/27/14 - Park & Building Closures
12/18/13 - Winter Fun: Cross Country Skiing, Sledding & Walking
11/11/13 - Park Projects
10/24/13 - Public Internet Access
10/16/13 - Ask a Naturalist
10/11/13 - Something's Afoot: Nature Just Can't Stay Put
9/18/13 - Pondside Shelter Now Reservable at Orchard Hills Park
8/5/13 - 2013 Nature Arts Festival: It Happened!
7/12/13 - Results of Burgers-n-Butterflies, Dogs-n-Dragons Census
6/26/13 - Payment Change at Meyer Center Treetops Nature Store
6/21/13 - Black Bears in Geauga?!
6/10/13 - 3rd Annual Caveman Crawl 5K Trail Run: It Happened!
5/23/13 - ENVIRON Completes Valuation Study of Ecosystem Services
4/24/13 - 2011-12 Report to the Public
3/18/13 - Registration Open for 2013 Summer Camps
7/3/12 - Video Demonstration: Why to Never Look at the Sun Unprotected
4/30/12 - Soybeans at Observatory Park?
3/19/12 - South Newbury Union Chapel Added to the National Register of Historic Places
2/16/12 - White-nose Syndrome Found at The West Woods
11/29/11 - Now Accepting Online Gifts
8/22/11 - Observatory Park FAQ
1/28/11 - Keep in Touch Through Facebook, Voices of Nature eNewsletter


Update: April 14, 2014

Program Cancellation: Total Lunar Eclipse

Unfortunately due to the weather, the watch program we scheduled at Observatory Park for tonight's total lunar eclipse has been cancelled. But please don't let that stop you from setting your alarm to see what you can see from your yard or window at home!

According to Astronomy Naturalist Chris Mentrek, the entire eclipse will last a bit more than five hours, beginning about 1 a.m. The moon will then be "totally eclipsed" about an hour and 17 minutes starting about 3 a.m., with the maximum about 3:45 a.m.

Back to top of page

Update: April 11, 2014

Leash Law & Coyotes at Frohring Meadows

Over the winter and spring, Geauga Park District's Natural Resource Management Department has been monitoring the coyotes at Frohring Meadows in Bainbridge Township, and reports that they continue to be active in the same areas as previous years.

"We know from monitoring wildlife cameras that these animals are in the area," said Paul Pira, Geauga Park District's park biologist. "They may be using this park once again for denning, so we're trying to be proactive by cautioning people to respect wildlife and obey the leash laws."

Leash laws are enforced on all Geauga Park District properties, and dogs are required to be on leash at all times for the benefit of dog owners, other park visitors and the resident wildlife. Even the most highly trained and best-behaved pets can be unpredictable at times, so leashing is required for the best interest of all. Failure to follow this law can result in a fine.

Pira notices the impact unleashed dogs have had on wildlife research. "There are numerous other animals in our wetland study areas that we have also documented as being highly disturbed by dogs off leash at Frohring Meadows park," he said. "They have disturbed our trapping research, killed waterfowl and caused us to cease work on some research projects."

Where coyotes are denning, pets off leash may also provoke coyote pairs by wandering off trail and finding their dens, Pira said. Click here to watch a video of this type of behavior in California. "There shouldn't be any problem as long as they're on leash," he added. "Hopefully we won't have to close the trails."

Frohring Meadows' Big Bluestem Trail was closed for more than two months in 2012 after a woman and her dog had an encounter with the coyote pair.  In 2013, the same trail was marked with signs at the entrance to the woods.

Rangers will also be monitoring the area more closely during this time to ensure compliance and safety, Ranger Sergeant Larry McKinnon said.

Eastern coyotes are known to inhabit the area of Frohring Meadows. They are normally passive. However, coyotes may act alone or in a small family group to defend their territory. This behavior is normal but may be more intense from January through June due to mating, denning and pup weaning.

The presence of dogs may trigger coyotes to display forms of aggression consisting of yips, howls and growls. Coyotes may follow behind dog-walkers for a short distance. If you encounter a coyote, calmly control your pet and leave the area the way you entered. If you are walking a dog, shorten the leash; keep the dog close and as quiet as possible. Pick up and carry small dogs.

If a coyote does approach, walk backwards slowly and try to discourage it by shouting in a deep voice, waving your arms, throwing objects and looking the coyote directly in the eyes. If you are wearing a coat or vest, spread it open like a cape so that you appear larger. Carrying a whistle with you can help frighten a coyote and alert others.

Please report coyote interaction to the Park District’s Ranger and Natural Resource Management departments at 440-286-9516.

Back to top of page

Update: April 3, 2014

Prescribed Fire Plans: Two Parks Down, One to Go

Geauga Park District's Natural Resource Management Department have pulled off successful rounds of prescribed fires at Burton Wetlands Nature Preserve and Frohring Meadows this month. If you've never seen this process in action, check out this photo album we've created on our Facebook page.

Future plans this spring also have prescribed fires set to manage property at Swine Creek Reservation in Middlefield Township.

The single-day operation should take place sometime before April 30, weather dependent, prior to the nesting season of grassland birds. Burns will be conducted by an Ohio-certified prescribed fire manager and done according to prepared burns plan to ensure proper smoke dispersal.

Signs will be posted for visitors as soon as conditions are conducive to burn; only affected trails will be closed during the time of the burn only. Neighbors, the local fire department, and local law enforcement will be notified directly.
The department also plans to conduct a burn for Hiram College's field station; it has conducted burns for other organizations, such as Case Western Reserve University, in the past.

Controlled burning is a well-established best management practice used to maintain prairies. Burning brush material away reduces weed species, propagates seeds, and creates an opportunity for supplemental seeding of additional grasses and forbs. Please call 440-286-9516 with questions.

Back to top of page

Update: April 10, 2014

Spring: Geocache, Newsletter, Three-Month Calendar, Video

Tap, tap, tap.

Hear that? It's the sound of maple sugaring at Swine Creek Reservation - and us updating the website for spring!

Here are your spring geocache, Voices of Nature newsletter, which includes the 2013 Annual Report, Chit Chat volunteer newsletter and printable three-month calendar. Once you're done with all of those, check out Chief Naturalist John Kolar's venture into the Great Outdoors in our front page video!

Back to top of page

Update: March 28, 2014

Late Addition: Ohio Boating Education Courses

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft will host two Ohio Boating Education Courses this spring, programs submitted after deadline for our spring Voices of Nature newsletter. Click the links below to go to their listings on our website for more information.

Did you know...?

Ohio law requires any person born on or after January 1, 1982, to be able to show proof they have successfully completed an approved boating safety education course if they operate any watercraft powered by a motor greater than 10 horsepower.

Back to top of page

Update: March 28, 2014

Caveman Crawl Registration Open Now

Click here for the Caveman Crawl 5K Trail Run page with details and ways to register online, in person or by mail for the June 8 all-ages, family-friendly event!

Back to top of page

Update: March 26, 2014

Day-Long Closure of Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve

Thank you in advance for your cooperation as we close Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve on Wednesday, May 21, for a Youth Fishing Derby for special needs children, a joint effort of Geauga Park District, Union Sportsman Alliance and Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

Back to top of page

Update: March 13, 2014

Big Creek Park's Meyer Center Hours

In the interest of exercising wise financial stewardship, paired with significantly reduced visitation, the Donald W. Meyer Center in Big Creek Park will no longer host public visitation on weekends or government holidays. Functioning as Geauga Park District's primary administrative center, the Meyer Center will continue to host public visitation during the regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Since this building has increasingly operated as an administrative center, it has seen a drastic reduction in weekend visitation, and a cost analysis revealed potential savings in no longer maintaining and staffing it on weekends when programs and events were not occurring.

That being said, the Park District will continue to host the summer amphitheater concert series, and encourages programmers to continue to use the Meyer Center in their planning of public programs and events. Additionally, the Cherry Room and the Frances Hall Amphitheater remain available for reservations by outside groups and requested programs.

The future use of this building will be addressed as part of the leadership team's strategic planning process to determine best practices going forward.

Back to top of page

Update: March 12, 2014

Other Programs & Special Events in the Parks

Consider visiting the parks for these programs and special events being hosted by outside agencies!

Sunday, April 13:
The inaugural Lake Health 20 Mile Drop, the first joint Lake and Geauga county running race, will utilize the beautiful Geauga Park District and Lake Metroparks bike paths en route to Headlands Beach State Park. It will also feature a 10 Mile Drop starting in Concord. Bus drop at 7:10 a.m.; start at Chardon Square at 7:30 a.m. Click here for the 20-mile route. Learn more at www.lakehealthrunning.com.

Back to top of page

Update: March 3, 2014

Applications Posted: Nature Writing Contest, Nature Arts Festival

Click here for a 19th annual Nature Writing Contest application. Entries must be submitted by Monday, April 21.

Click here for a 23rd annual Nature Arts Festival exhibitor application, and our Special Events page for festival details and schedules as they become available.

Did you know...? The writing contest gets a freshening-up this year with a new spin on how it's done! First place-winning works will appear in upcoming Voices of Nature newsletters, which hit every mailbox in the county, and runner-up works will be promoted online. Writers will also be invited to read their work during the Nature Arts Festival on Sunday, August 3.

Back to top of page

Update: February 26, 2014

Geauga Park District Wins Healthy Worksite Bronze Award

For its commitment to employee health, Geauga Park District has become a proud recipient of the Ohio Department of Health's 2013 Healthy Ohio Healthy Worksite Bronze Level Award. The award recognizes comprehensive worksite health promotion and wellness programs, as well as efforts to facilitate and encourage employee health, enhance productivity and ensure a healthy work environment.

"Geauga Park District started on this path with a small idea in 2001," said Robin Pilarczyk, human resources manager. "Today, wellness is behind everything we do for our staff and for the community we serve."

Back to top of page

Update: February 3, 2014

Job Openings:Seasonal Maintenance

Click here for details on new job openings in our Operations department.

Back to top of page

Update: January 28, 2014

Results of Burton Christmas Bird Count

Click here to see the tabulations from our program and general Burton community count on January 4.

Back to top of page

Update: January 27, 2014

Park & Building Closures

Unscheduled building closures are always announced on WYKC or WEWS in Cleveland.

Have you ever wondered how the Park District handles significant snow events? Wonder no more: snow removal and maintenance always occur in the order of roadways, parking lots, restrooms, then trails. That being said, once a snowstorm subsides, maintained trails will be groomed within 24 hours.

If you do choose to venture into the parks in severe weather, please be safe! Dress properly, drive carefully and be aware of road conditions and drifting snow.

Back to top of page

Update: December 18, 2013

Winter Fun: Cross Country Skiing, Sledding & Walking

So many ways to enjoy the winter!

Cross Country Skiing

Trails are once again being groomed at Orchard Hills Park and along The Maple Highlands Trail between Mountain Run Station in Chardon and Claridon Troy Road. To get the most up-to-date trail grooming updates all winter long, please visit our Facebook wall.

Cleared Trails for Walking

Park operations crews regularly clear snow from paved walking trails at four parks: Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve in Chardon, Sunnybrook Preserve in Chesterland, Frohring Meadows in Bainbridge, and now on The Maple Highlands Trail-North from Big Creek Spur north to the Lake County line. (The trail will NOT be plowed from the spur south along Route 44 to the Highway Patrol.)


Sledding hills can be found at Orchard Hills Park and Beartown Lakes Reservation. For after-dark sledding at Orchard Hills, find the pole with the "Lights" sign and switch, and please turn the lights off upon the last person's departure.

Back to top of page

Update: November 11, 2013

Park Projects

Construction on the new reservable shelter at Observatory Park is done for the season. A photo of how it will be left till the spring has been posted to our Park Projects page.

Back to top of page

Update: October 24, 2013

Public Internet Access

Public internet access is now available at Observatory Park with the password NIGHTSKY, The West Woods Nature Center with the password CHIPMUNK, and Big Creek Park's Meyer Center with the password SQUIRREL.

Back to top of page

Update: October 16, 2013

Ask a Naturalist

Geauga residents are having a great time asking a naturalist questions about things they find in Nature (and making their way inside their homes). Take a break and check out their interesting Q&As.

Back to top of page

Update: October 11, 2013

Something's Afoot: Nature Just Can't Stay Put

Get the scoop on our new indoor exhibit on our Special Events page.

Back to top of page

Update: September 18, 2013

Pondside Shelter Now Reservable at Orchard Hills Park

If you're looking to reserve a shelter with a fireplace and electricity, you may now consider Orchard Hills Park's Pondside Shelter. Please be mindful, however, of the fact that this scenic shelter has no drive-up access.

Click here for more seasonal images of this spot.

Back to top of page

Update: August 5, 2013

22nd Annual Nature Arts Festival: It Happened!

The sunshine and moderate temperatures brought out many nature art lovers to Geauga Park District's Nature Arts Festival - 1,221 people on Saturday and 1,309 people on Sunday, an attendance increase of more than 500 from last year!

Visitors to the festival saw close to 50 artists displaying/selling their work, a full schedule of demos and workshops, artists painting "en plein air," food/snack vendors and creative activities for the entire family. Many festival-goers also tried their hand at making artistically decorated paper hats, bug/critter sculptures, stick weavings, rock paintings and chalk art!

This year's Outstanding Booth/Display Award winner, who will return to next year's festival as Featured Artist, was Janet Mandel, a painter from Kennedy, New York.

From her website: "Janet Mandel has received both regional and national recognition over the past 35 years for her fashion illustration, fiber art, portraiture and wildlife paintings. Her exclusive focus since 1995 has been her detailed watercolor portrayals of both wild and domestic animals. She is a member of several animal and wildlife rescue organizations, and is active in her local chapter of the National Audubon Society. Her work has been published since 2001 by the National Geographic Society, the National Audubon Society, the Smithsonian Institution and the SPCA. Her work is licensed in this country and abroad. Janet's work depicts her love and respect of wild creatures, and her sense of humor regarding the more domestic variety. It is her attention to detail, as well as her use of embellishments that makes Janet's work unique."

Jonathan Green of Novelty, Ohio, was the Geauga Park District Foundation's lucky raffle winner this year, taking home the signed/numbered framed print of "Hummingbird" by 2012 Outstanding Booth/Display Award winner Chandler Beatty.

And last but not least, here are your chosen winners of the People's Choice Competition...very much deserving!


1st - "Spring Snow (Tree with Barn)" by Linda Kelley

2nd - "Luna Moth" by Brian Norcross

3rd - "The Winner (Chickadee/Titmouse)" by Jim Foy

Mixed Media

1st - "Brook Trout Chair" by Bobbie Wheeler

2nd - "Tulip Lamp" by Don Pfaff

3rd - "Birds in My Window Quilt" by Mary Mears

3rd - "Nature Inspired Hand Rail" by Don Pfaff


1st - "A River Runs Through It" by Bobbie Wheeler

2nd - "Yuma Trail (Moose)" by Wayne Chunat

3rd - "New Year Birds" by Kari Collier

Children’s Ages 8-12

1st - "Loud Lion" by Hannah Berman

2nd - "Squirrel" by Bradford Fran

Children’s Ages 13-17

1st - "On Morning Watch (Zebra)" by Rachel Rich

2nd - "Grey Tree Frog on Porch" by Francis Kennedy

See you again for the 23rd Annual Nature Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday, August 2 and 3, 2014!

Photos: Diane Valen

Back to top of page

Update: July 12, 2013

Results of Burgers-n-Butterflies, Dogs-n-Dragons Census

Thanks to the 82 people who joined us July 7 for our annual Burgers-n-Butterflies, Dogs-n-Dragons program at Swine Creek Reservation! The weather was "iffy" in the beginning but turned out good, with dragons making a bigger appearance this year.

Click here for the results of what we all found in the field - a total of 18 species! - compared to results since 2007.

Back to top of page

Update: June 26, 2013

Payment Change at Meyer Center Treetops Nature Store

Effective immediately, Big Creek Park's Meyer Center will only accept cash or check at its Treetops Nature Store. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Back to top of page

Update: June 21, 2013

Black Bears in Geauga?!

Reports came in last night of a Black Bear at Orchard Hills Park.

What to do if you see a bear in person? Says Senior Naturalist Dan Best: "Enjoy the view!" There is no need to run away - in fact, the bear will likely run away from you. And of course keep your dogs on leash, as off-leash dogs can exacerbate the situation, as they also can with coyotes.

Back to top of page

Update: June 10, 2013

3rd Annual Caveman Crawl 5K Trail Run: It Happened!

Thank you to the nearly 400 runners and walkers who made this year's Caveman Crawl 5K Trail Run a successful fundraiser. The event raised $11,987 for the Chip Henry Institute for Outdoor Adventure!

Results from 2013: Word docPDF

Photos from 2013Photos from 2012Photos from 2011Course Map

Now mark your calendars for Sunday, June 8, 2014, for the fourth annual event, and stay tuned to our Special Events page for details!

Back to top of page

Update: May 23, 2013

ENVIRON Completes Valuation Study of Ecosystem Services

To enable the Park Board and Geauga County to better understand the value that comes from preserving its Park District properties, the Burton office of ENVIRON International Corporation volunteered in early 2012 to crunch satellite and GIS data and compare that data with peer-reviewed literature on the dollars-and-cents value of their ecosystem services. Now the results of ENVIRON's study are available to the public, and will be featured in your summer Voices of Nature newsletter! Click here for the slideshow presented to the Park Board in May; click here for the full report.

Back to top of page

Update: April 24, 2013

2011-12 Report to the Public

We are pleased to announce that our 2011-12 Report to the Public is now available for your review on our Press & Publications page. Thanks to all who made 2011 and 2012 so successful!

Back to top of page

Update: June 3, 2012

Video Demonstration: Why You Should Never Look at the Sun Unprotected

Observatory Park Naturalist Chris Mentrek embraced the Transit of Venus as an opportunity to demonstrate what would happen if we were to gaze directly at the sun withour eye protection.

Warning: Demonstration utilizes the eyeball of a deceased cow...but if you can handle that, consider this a must-view!

For more than 85 other videos, including many already from this spring, visit Geauga Park District's YouTube channel.

Back to top of page

Update: April 30, 2012

Soybeans at Observatory Park?

As part of the land management plan at Observatory Park in Montville Township, visitors this summer may see soy crop growing within and immediately surrounding the Planetary Trail.

These plantings will prepare the soil for native Alleghany meadow planting as early as late 2013, if not 2014, according to Park Biologist Paul Pira.

"Soybean agriculture is proven to prepare soil for the seeding of a native Alleghany meadow," Paul said. "Even after harvest, leftover remnants of the soybean will provide a healthy situation for planting."

About 20 acres, also including two plots in the un-trafficked front portion of the park, will be leased for $1 this year to the same Huntsburg farmer who has farmed this property in years past. The property has been a working farm on and off since the 1930s, and not farming it could also allow invasive species to take root. "The farmer is basically doing us a favor by doing this," Paul said.

Application of the herbicide Roundup will occur on these plots as early as May 4, be performed once within a two-week window, weather permitting, and take only several hours to complete. Neighbors will be notified immediately, signage will be posted at least a week in advance, and only affected trails will be closed during the time of the spraying.
According to Land Steward Bob Lange, soybeans will be planted shortly thereafter.

A native Alleghany meadow will ultimately maintain the property as open space allowing for great views of Observatory Park's unique features, such as its Great Pyramid of Giza corners – all the while fostering biological and ecological integrity, beneficial species of plants and animals, Paul said. "We hope to improve our chances of success by this method."

Observatory Park, already open to the public daily from 6 AM to 11 PM, celebrates its Grand Opening this June 16. Get all the details of this special community event on our Special Events page!

Back to top of page

Update: March 19, 2012

South Newbury Union Chapel Added to the National Register of Historic Places

The Union Chapel trustees received official notification this weekend confirming that South Newbury Union Chapel - located on property protected by Geauga Park District - has obtained the prestigious listing on the National Register of Historic Places. For your reading pleasure, here's an outstanding blog by The Davey Tree Expert Company about the what the chapel and the nearby Centennial Oak represent: freedom and equality for all.

Back to top of page

Update: February 16, 2012

White-nose Syndrome Found at The West Woods

Click here for today's unfortunate news, that bats hibernating at The West Woods are affected by white-nose syndrome (WNS). For a federally kept map of all the sites WNS has been found, click here.

Back to top of page

Update: November 29, 2011

Now Accepting Online Gifts

There are many ways that the Geauga Park District Foundation accepts gifts on behalf of Geauga Park District - and now it has added online giving! Click here for a complete list of options, including the quick and easy way to do it online.

Back to top of page

Update: August 22, 2011

Observatory Park FAQ

The new Observatory Park in Montville Township has been given permanent status as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association! Read the official press release at this link.

Q: When will the park officially open?
A: Observatory Park is officially open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily year-round with later hours by programming and special permit.

Q: Will there be walking trails?
A: Yes, the Planetary and Weather trails amass 1+ miles, and future phases of the park will include woodland trails connecting Observatory Park with the Nassau Astronomical Observing Station.

Q: When will horse trails be installed?
A: Geauga Park District's Board of Park Commissioners is discussing ways to make this a reality; we'll keep you updated on this website.

Q: Where is the Case telescope, and when will this be open?
A: The Nassau Astronomical Observing Station is right up Caves Road from Observatory Park, and will open after funding is obtained for its renovations and improvements through a future phase of construction. Learn more about ongoing fundraising issues on the Capital Campaign page.

Q: How big is this park, and what else can we expect to see here?
A: Learn more about Observatory Park and all its offerings, present and future, on the Observatory Park page.

Q: Can I access the weather and seismic station data online?
A: You sure can! Visit the Observatory Park page and click the Weather & Seismic Station tab for links.

Do you have a question? Email it to sward@geaugaparkdistrict.org and get a quick answer.

Back to top of page

Update: January 28, 2011

Keep in Touch Through Facebook, Voices of Nature eNewsletter

It's never been easier to find out what's going on at your Geauga Park District! Click here to receive our new Voices of Nature eNewsletter, featuring pictures, articles and upcoming programs - "Like" us on Facebook or "Follow" us on Twitter for daily updates and special insights from our experienced naturalist team.


Back to top of page