A: The Maple Highlands Trail-South is now open from Durkee Road to State Route 528 southeast of Middlefield, then from Bridge Road to Swine Creek Reservation. Two closed portions are still under construction: those from Durkee Road north to State Route 608 (Headwaters Park entrance) and from State ROute 528 southeast of Middlefield to Bridge Road. We will be excited to keep you updated on all the progress this summer, so please visit this site regularly for updates.
Celebrate Earth Day with Geauga Park District and Kent State University at Geauga
Milkweed and maple tree sprouts from Kent State University at Geauga's greenhouse will be free to the public on Earth Day, April 22, at The West Woods Nature Center in Russell Township from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Big Creek Park's Donald W. Meyer Center in Chardon Township from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Maple tree sprouts will be one per pot; milkweed sprouts will be available in clusters of 10 to 12 in a pot, which should be planted in well drained, sunny soil. One pot of each per family, please.
Click here for a press release with more details on this partnership.
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.
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.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft will host one more Ohio Boating Education Courses this spring, 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.
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.
In the interest of exercising wise financial stewardship, paired with significantly reduced visitation, the Donald W. Meyer Center in Big Creek Parkwill 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Q: When will the park officially open?
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?
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.
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.