Ashtabula County Metroparks

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Wetland Wanderings-Eyring Wetlands Preserve

By on June 7, 2019

Wetlands Wanderings

In the Eyring Wetlands Park

By Joyce Bond, May 2019

The sounds of spring were abundant during my visit to Eyring Wetland this week.  Starting with the sounds of the Ashtabula County highway department.  The County has a portion of Mechanicsville Road closed as it works on a culvert at the intersection of Mechanicsville Road and South River Road just south of the park entrance.  For the next few weeks, until June 14, access to this Ashtabula County Metropark can only be made from the north on Mechanicsville Road.  But this is only a portion of the construction noise that can be heard at Eyring.  Brett Bellas, ACMP Operations Manager, has been busy supervising the construction of boardwalks over some wet areas, mowing of paths and other grass areas, trimming of overhanging branches and repair of bank erosion and holes caused by muskrats.  All of this is typical maintenance work that is continually performed by Brett, his seasonal helper Austyn Hamper and a group of dedicated volunteers referred to as the “Over the Hill Gang”.  All of this work gets the park ready for some busy hiking months ahead. But don’t forget to wear your boots, it is a wetland park after all.

But the occasional sound of construction is not the only noise to be heard in the Eyring Wetland Metropark at this time of year.  The birds are busy and filling the air with their calls.  I am not an expert on bird identification, but I was able to pick of the distinct trill of the Red-winged Blackbird which the Audubon web site describes as a musical o-ka-leeee!  I also heard the calls of Canada Geese before I was lucky enough to spy a group of about 8 birds gracefully gliding across the main wetland pond.  Among the trees, I spied a Black-capped Chickadee who serenaded me with its signature chick-a-dee-dee-dee.

But the most intriguing and pervasive sound out at Eyring at this time of year is the sound of the American Bullfrog.  This true frog is amphibious and lives in freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes. The Bullfrog has an olive green back and sides blotched with brownish markings and a whitish belly spotted with yellow or grey. The upper lip is often bright green and males have yellow throats. Bullfrogs like the warm weather that has finally come our way so there was an abundance of sound as soon as I stepped onto the path.  The male bullfrog’s advertisement call is deep and loud. Jug-o-rum or rumm…rumm…rumm, it calls. Some people think it sounds like a cow mooing, which is why the frog has “bull” in its name. Walking between the ponds at Eyring Wetlands, you might hear a whole chorus of these calls as male bullfrogs let other bullfrogs know the boundary for their territory.  A frightened individual, especially a juvenile, may give out a loud eeek! when it leaps into the water.  I was a witness to this behavior as one after another frogs jumped into the water as I approached.

Bullfrogs eat all kinds of insects, mice, snakes, fish, and other small creatures. They hunt at night, waiting patiently until they see something pass by that they figure would make a good meal. Then, with a powerful leap, they lunge at their prey with their mouths wide open and down the gullet their unlucky prey goes.

So as usual the sights and sounds of the park did not fail to delight.  It is always a pleasure to take the time to enjoy what nature has to offer and to experience what Ashtabula County Metroparks has to offer.


Bike Trail (2)

Coming Soon: New Trailhead for Western Reserve Greenway Trail

By on May 8, 2019


The Ashtabula County Metroparks is building a new parking lot and trailhead facility for improved access to the Western Reserve Greenway Trail in the Village of Roaming Shores.  The asphalt parking area will provide  parking spaces along Rome-Rock Creek Road.  A paved path will connect to the Western Reserve Greenway Trail.  The Ashtabula County Metroparks worked to secure state funding for the project and negotiated a lease to utilize land owned by the Village of Roaming Shores for construction of the new facility.

If you have any questions or for more information, contact the Metroparks Office at 440.576.0717

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The Herbal Eye

By on April 19, 2019

Plant Identification and Relationship – Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day 2019: Monday April 22nd

The Herbal Eye – Part 1

by Leah Wolfe, MPH

The sap is rising, the buds are swelling, and new shoots and leaves are springing to the surface. I’m hearing birds that I haven’t heard in a while. And those squirrels sure look skinny.

As an ever curious seeker of wild plants and mushrooms, I am happy to see familiar plants and intrigued when I find something new. I watch to see who’s up and who’s not, who lives next to who and who is off alone. Who loves the sun, and who loves the shade. What I see betrays the relationships and roles of forest dwellers, whether plant, animal, or creepy crawly.

Forests or meadows or lonely shorelines show us how community works. Each plant and animal has a role in the daily cycles and evolving state of the community. As much as we understand these roles through scientific observation, there is still an element of the magical in the ways that these systems balance themselves.

Then there are the between spaces or the edges. First there are the transitions zones between one ecosystem to another, such as the shoreline or the forest’s edge. Then there are the edges humans create, parking lots, sidewalks, factories, logging, trails, etc. These edges fill up with a class of plants often used in herbal first aid, as if these transition zones are wounds in the earth’s surface. Mostly we call them weeds.

But among these healing plants we also find poisonous plants and mushrooms. Some have medicinal uses if properly processed, but for the average hiker and forager they are best avoided. Some folks are so sensitive that touching them is enough to cause a reaction. Some plants are so poisonous they can kill.

Poisonous mushrooms have been in the news of late because they seem to be increasing in numbers, which means mushroom foragers better have good identification skills. Poisonous mushrooms shouldn’t be touched much or at all. If you are collecting mushrooms for identification only, make sure you don’t put them in the same basket as edible mushrooms. Some edible mushrooms have poisonous look-alikes that can only be identified with a microscope. So be careful.

The first rule of foraging whether for healing herbs or wild foods is: know the poisonous plants. To recognize earth day, springtime, and the relationship we have with plants, I offer a list of plants to be left alone either because they are rare, poisonous, or toxic.


Rare Plants

Some of these medicinal plants can be cultivated in gardens. If you wish to use them medicinally, be sure to learn how to use them and source them from companies or herbalists who practice ethical harvesting. You will need an understanding of energetics, body constitution, and how each herbs interacts with those factors. There are also possible interactions with medications and supplements, so seek an experienced herbalist if you aren’t sure. Also, please don’t gather plants from metroparks – protect these plants and their ecosystems.


American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)it is illegal to harvest this plant in most situations, unless you have permission from the owner of private property. A permit can be obtained to harvest in Wayne National Forest, but then you have to find it. More info here: Luckily ginseng can be grown. Although the OSU factsheet below is discouraging, I have seen single plants thrive in pots.



Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) the Lobelia species in general are becoming more rare and have been identified as at-risk by United Plant Savers. Several species are easy to grow in gardens.




Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa formerly Cimicifuga racemosa)this plant has two look-alikes. One that has toxic red berries called red baneberry and the other has white berries with black dots earning it the name doll’s eye (classified as poisonous).  



Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) – often confused with meadow rues. The cohosh plants are known as “women’s” plants but the word cohosh has been attributed to an Algonquian word meaning “rough.”



Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) – this plant has a blood red root, hence the name. It is most commonly used to burn warts off and is used to dry up wet respiratory conditions. Some people have skin reactions if they handle this plant with bare hands.


Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) – this at-risk plant can often be substituted with the root bark of the invasive barberries.   


Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) – this unusual looking plant has toxins that one source says dissipate when the plant is sliced and dried and then cured for a year. But don’t touch there are many easier wild foods to seek.


Most orchids: the most common orchid in the area (in my experience) is rattlesnake plantain. Photo:

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens) – a tiny woodlands plant with fuzzy flowers.


Ramps: These are like wild onions with wide leaves. They are native to hardwood forests. Unfortunately, they are being harvested to the point of extinction because people are digging up all of them and leaving none to grow back. Ramps should be thinned to avoid crowding, but you have to leave many for the following year. Some folks just use the leaves like green onions to not kill the plant.


Trillium (Trillium spp.) – the way that the common white trillium grows in large patches leads people to believe that this genus is not in trouble. However, it is getting harder to come across the less common species such as the red trillium and there are many species of Trillium. :



Some Common Toxic & Poisonous Plants 


Buttercups: These are have shiny yellow petals that look like melted butter, but don’t be tempted to eat them. They are toxic, causing irritation of skin and mucus membranes. A not-so-shiny relative, Celandine, can induce inflammation of the liver if used correctly and the yellow-orange sap from the leaves can burn off some warts.





Mayapple: the fruits are edible, the roots are a cathartic, which means they’ll give you diarrhea if used incorrectly. This plant is also considered at-risk of being endangered.


Poison plants in the carrot family: This link shows how to tell the wild carrot from poisonous look-alikes: 



Poison ivy, sumac, or oak: mostly what I see in our area is poison ivy. Luckily, there is a plant called jewelweed that counters the effect of poison ivy. It’s best to just cover your skin and avoid exposure, but if you somehow end up around poison ivy, look for jewelweed. Take a handful of it and rub on the skin before and after your hike. Here is an article on how to identify these three poison plants:


Poke: European settlers in North America learned to make ink from the purple berries of this plant. Many documents during this time were written with poke including the first copy of the U.S. Constitution. The most poisonous part of the plant is the raw leaves and the raw seeds. The root of the plant has a stimulating effect on the lymphatic system and is traditionally used externally on swollen lymph nodes and other lumps. It can burn the skin if not prepared properly and overdose of the raw leaves or berry seeds can lead to death. However, there is a traditional recipe for poke salet. When heard, this sounds like poke salad, but please don’t eat raw poke. Here is some more info:





The USDA’s list of plants in Ohio that are endangered, threatened, and a few believed to be extinct.


United Plant Savers has a list of threatened native medicinal plants with tips on how to grow them in your garden or woods.


Ohio State’s Fact Sheet on Poisonous Mushrooms



Leah Wolfe, MPH, is an herbalist and educator at the Trillium Center is NE Ohio where she leads classes and workshops on how to forage for medicinal herbs wild foods, make home remedies, and grow herbs and food. She has a background in public health and health research. She volunteers for Ashtabula County Metroparks’ Programming Committee.
































Ashtabula Metroparks Announces Master Planning Forums

By on April 19, 2019



The Ashtabula County Metroparks is announcing a series of public forums for the general public as a part of Metroparks’ Master Planning Process. The meetings are being held to gather ideas and interested party’s recommended priorities as the Board and Staff chart the future direction of your Metroparks system.  A stakeholders’ meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 16, from 2-4pm at the Ashtabula County Commissioners’ Meeting Room at the 2nd Floor of the County Courthouse, 25 W Jefferson Street, Jefferson.  Four public forums are scheduled to gather ideas:

  • Thursday, May 30, 6:30-8:30pm – Conneaut Human Resource Center, 327 Mill Street, Conneaut.
  • Tuesday, June 4, 6:30-8:30pm – Rome Township Fire Station, 3162 US Route 6, Rome.
  • Wednesday, June 5, 6:30-8:30pm – Pymatuning Valley Primary School Sunshine Room, 5571 US State Route 6 West, Andover
  • Thursday, June 6, 6pm-8pm – Ashtabula County District Library, 4335 Park Avenue, Ashtabula.

Over the past few years, many people and organizations have contributed to Metroparks’ growth as an evolving and professional park system beyond Harpersfield Metropark and the Western Reserve Greenway Trail.   Since the voters approved the Metroparks Levy in 2014, Ashtabula Metroparks has made great strides in providing safe, clean and accessible parks and trails with amenities throughout the County.

These strides include the opening of six parks, added miles of both accessible and primitive walking trails, pavilions, restrooms, parking lots, fishing pier, bridges, benches and picnicking facilities throughout the Metropark system. Metroparks has tripled both the number of and acreage in its open parks, grown its total acreage, enhanced wildlife habitat, preserved wild and scenic rivers and greatly expanded its maintenance and services provided. Metroparks has also hired park rangers to bolster park safety and added volunteer-led programming throughout its parks.  Metroparks has partnered with other organizations to leverage an additional $10 Million in outside funds to multiply taxpayer investments, expand the park system and open new parks and trails.

In the next year, Ashtabula Metroparks is planning to complete the long-awaited North Shore Trail, beginning the Pymatuning Valley Greenway Trail and open additional parks and trails.  “With the kind of growth residents have witnessed, it is also clear that we have only begun our work. Development of a ten-year Parks Master Plan will help to guide and inform that future work”, observed Larry Frimerman, Metroparks’ Executive Director.

The Master Plan process brings opportunities to vision what Ashtabula County Metroparks system will look like going forward.  Metroparks is working with its consultant the Environmental Design Group to listen to and contemplate your ideas as it develops its final plan. Al Fazenbaker of Lake Erie College will facilitate the meetings.

Of course, development of a Master Plan requires future funding to implement the plan. A key element to Metroparks’ funding is its parks levy. Metroparks’ five-year park levy funds would continue if the levy is renewed by voters.  Thus, passage of a continuation levy would be an important component in making the Plan a reality.

In addition, Metroparks will post shortly a link to a Survey Monkey questionnaire for public input. We hope you will participate in the public involvement process.  A parks brochure and draft park system map with proposed/expected facilities and amenities at different parks can be found on Metroparks’ website at, under the information tab.



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Ethnobotany Trail Walks available this year at the Ashtabula Metroparks

By on March 11, 2019

Join herbalist Leah Wolfe for the first of four seasonal plant walks in the Ashtabula County Metroparks!

March 24, 1-3 PM

Hatches Corners Metropark

5467 Center St. (Rt 7) Monroe Twp

The first is a late winter/early spring stroll in the Hatches Corners Metropark, with frequent stops to identify trees by bark, patterns, buds, and twigs. She’ll talk about how people use barks, buds, twigs, and sap for food and medicine. The group will walk 1.5 miles total on a wood chipped trail.


May 19, 1-3 PM

Clara D Peet Preserve (Camp Peet) Metropark

405 Creek Rd Conneaut

This walk will go through a spectacular riparian zone where lots of spring ephemerals grow and bloom before the canopy leafs out. Many of these plants are edible or medicinal and some are considered at-risk of becoming endangered. Join this walk to learn about how these plants are used, which ones not to harvest, and which ones can be grown in your own garden.


July 14,   6-8 PM

Lampson Reservoir Metropark

1259 State Rt 307  Jefferson Twp

At the height of summer is the best time to practice plant identification by looking at flowers. Flowering plants are categorized by flower characteristics. It is important to learn this skill if you are interested in foraging. Accurate identification is vital before using any wild plant for food or medicine. Herbalist Leah Wolfe will help you learn to identify flowers while talking about the edible and medicinal qualities of summertime plants. We will take an evening stroll in order to avoid the heat of the day.


September 15, 1-3 PM

Eyring Wetlands Metropark

906 Mechanicsville Rd  Austinburg

In the fall, it is time to look for berries, roots, and Autumn herbs. This walk will focus on finding the kinds of plants that people use for food and medicine in the fall. Join Leah for the last walk in this series and take comfort in the abundance of plants in NE Ohio.


All walks are free and open to all ages. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Dress for the weather, waterproof boots recommended. Please sign up by sending a message to the Trillium Center at 440-812-9921 or write to This will ensure that you are contacted in the event of a date change. Leah is a teacher at the Trillium Center in Conneaut, OH, a member of the American Herbalists Guild and she works on community projects with Herbalists without Borders.


Leah Wolfe, MPH

Community Herbalist and Health Educator

Trillium Center

(440) 440.576.0717

lone cyclist on paved greenway trail

Western Reserve Greenway Trail 7th Annual Spring Cache Event

By on March 11, 2019

Join us for the 7th Annual Clean up  Day  !  (Cache In, Trash Out!) on the Greenway Trail

We will meet at Lampson Staging Area Pavilion at 11am  on Sunday April 28th, 2019.

Bring gloves and trash bag, snack or potluck to share afterwards. Group photo.

For more information or to sign up contact:


or  visit the Geocache Page:


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Metroparks Boosts Ranger Coverage

By on February 28, 2019

JEFFERSON – The Ashtabula County Metroparks has hired two additional part-time park rangers to boost its safety presence in its parks and trails.
Rangers Pamela Bradek and Shalana Satterwhite were sworn in as Rangers by Metroparks Board President Robert J. Best at the Feb. 13th Board of Park Commissioners’ meeting.
“We are pleased to add Rangers Bradek and Satterwhite to make our park experience even more secure,” commented Mr. Best.
Both newly hired rangers come to Ashtabula County Metroparks with a wealth of experience in the field of law enforcement.
Bradek has been in law enforcement since 2004, including at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s/Sheriff’s Offices, a police officer in the City of Ashtabula, Jefferson Village, Eastlake, as well as Geneva on the Lake. Ms. Satterwhite brings experience since 2001, including East Cleveland and Highland Hills Police departments as well as the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeland Community College and Public Safety Driving School.
Bradek and Satterwhite join Ranger Kristen Fortune to comprise the Metroparks’ Ranger unit. Metroparks park rangers are uniformed, commissioned law enforcement officers through the Ohio Revised Code and have
been through rigorous training through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and are connected to other law-enforcement entities in the county.
Ashtabula County Metroparks has a memorandum of agreement with the Ashtabula County commissioners and the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department for dispatch, aid and data access. Its rangers have arrest powers and are fully capable of enforcing every aspect of the law in their provision of public safety primarily within areas of Metroparks jurisdiction. Park rangers enforce both park rules as well as the Ohio Revised Code.
“I’m excited to be a part of Ashtabula County Metroparks as a park ranger. It is truly an honor to serve Ashtabula County and do my part to keep our parks and trails safe and secure,” commented Ranger Bradek. “I have enjoyed meeting the Board, staff, volunteers and park attendees so far.
I love being out in nature and throughout our beautiful county. I enjoy meeting residents and welcoming visitors to our Metroparks. I grew up in Geneva but am still discovering new and different experiences in our Metroparks in order to help make your park experiences safe and enjoyable. I was born in Ashtabula County and am glad to be working at Ashtabula County Metroparks.”

Ranger Satterwhite commented, “I’m happy to be continuing my law-enforcement career in the outdoors. I love the parks and trails. It will be my pleasure to keep them safe and secure.”
Rangers Bradek, Fortune and Satterwhite will be working at various hours and times to protect all of Ashtabula County’s Metroparks and trails to keep them safe.
“We are very excited to have our two new Rangers. It may be the first all-women’s law enforcement unit in Ohio,” commented Marie Lane, vice president of the Board.
“Again, not only will our rangers keep our parks safer, but they will add ranger presence on top of the already existing Metroparks Bike Patrol. We anticipate that with the added law enforcement presence, it will provide an even greater deterrent to people that otherwise might have got- ten into park mischief to respect Ashtabula County’s parks and residents,” Executive Director Larry Frimerman added.
Ashtabula County Metroparks is an Ohio Revised Code statutory park district providing quality park experiences in nine currently open parks covering over 1,100 acres of publicly accessible parkland throughout Ashtabula County and founded in 1959. It owns and manages 30 miles of paved, ADA accessible greenway and bike trails as well as 12 miles of primitive trails throughout its park system. Ashtabula County Metroparks is primarily funded through a five-year parks levy which passed in 2014, which has permitted the significant expansion of its park holdings and open parks. Since 2014, Metroparks has tripled the number of open parks and publicly accessible acreage as well as adding amenities throughout the Greenway and each of its open parks.
For further information  on events or other activities, please visit the Ashtabula County Metroparks website page.  Follow us on Facebook.
For questions, please call (440) 576-0717.


Pictured from left to right:  Marie Lane, Metroparks Board Vice President; Ranger Satterwhite; Ranger Bradek; Robert Best, Metroparks Board President


photo of proposed map and trail of the North shore trail project

North Shore Trail Update

By on January 22, 2019


For Immediate Release


North Shore Trail May Begin in 2019


Ashtabula, OH.  The long-anticipated Ashtabula Metroparks’ North Shore Trail is now expected to begin in 2019, it was announced at Metroparks’ North Shore Trail public meeting last Thursday, January 17.  The 4.25-mile trail will continue the Western Reserve Greenway Trail from Trumbull County all the way to Ashtabula Harbor and Lake Erie at Walnut Beach. The North Shore Trail is the final terminus of what will be the 110 mile Great Lake to Rivers Trail.


The North Shore Trail is primarily on-road, with a combination of bike lanes, widened sidewalks, share-the-road sections, a small portion off-road trail, and utilization of existing sidewalks. Metroparks and its project consultant, the Environmental Design Group provided an update, status report and opportunity for questions and comments from the nearly 50 attendees at Briquettes Grille. Maps of the route, cross-sections and roadway renderings were both presented and available for review at the forum.


Participants heard that the trail will begin at Lake Erie, wind its way through Ashtabula Harbor and the City of Ashtabula and connect to the Western Reserve Greenway’s HL Morrison Station Trailhead at West Avenue in Ashtabula.


Conversely, for those beginning at the Morrison Station Trailhead, the trail makes its way north on West Avenue to Ashtabula Parks’ Smith Field before turning westward to Michigan Avenue.  The trail then continues off road through a vacated section of Michigan Avenue, picking up the roadway at 16th St to 8th Street. From 8th Street, the route crosses Lake Avenue, then heading northeast to Goodwill Drive at Ashtabula Harbor.


The trail will continue to Bridge Street, head up the Point Park steps utilizing a bike trough, head west from Point Park and the Maritime and Transportation Museum on Walnut Boulevard to Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum and finally to Walnut Beach and Lake Erie.


Ashtabula Metroparks’ Executive Director Larry Frimerman introduced the consultant, Ohio Department of Transportation representatives, Metroparks Board and staff, providing background of the project, thanking funders ODOT, CDC, ODNR, Robert S. Morrison Foundation, Ashtabula Foundation and others. This $1.3 Million phase of the project is funded by Ohio Department of Transportation with a Civic Development Corporation matching grant. “This project is – 30 years in the making from conception. We have so many to thank, including those of you here whom have persevered.” “This project has had multiple iterations and routes over time. This route ended up being the most practical, direct and with least resistance as well as fewest obstacles.” “You may want to think of this as Phase 1, just getting us to the Harbor and the Lake”, he continued. “Maintenance and management of the on-road and off-road portions are covered by the MOU with City of Ashtabula. The consultant and Metroparks are working closely with ODOT District 4.


“The trail will be patrolled and safeguarded by our park rangers as well as the volunteer Bike Patrol, noted Metroparks Board Vice President Marie Lane.


Michelle Johnson, Director at the Environmental Design Group, provided the presentation and rationales for different components, route and approaches. “Trails provide a transportation route, fitness opportunity and recreational amenity that complements both economic development and quality of life. The North Shore Trail will provide access for residents to and from important work and leisure destinations.  It provides an amenity for tourists as well”, Johnson observed. “The trail is being designed to meet the needs of all classes of cyclists and pedestrians, from those that are very comfortable riding on city streets to those who feel much more comfortable on off-road trails. At this point, other possible routes are not possible with the budget and project funding constraints. Federally funded off road trail projects starting from scratch are averaging $1 million/mile,” she added.


Johnson asked audience members and the general public to submit comments or contact the Environmental Design Group or Metroparks with comments and thoughts. “This portion of the process is necessary so that we can begin the design and engineering process in earnest, receive the needed permits and approvals and shortly thereafter to be able to bid out the construction contract. If we are able to keep ducks in a row, we may be able to let the bidding process late in the spring, and then begin construction as soon as late summer or fall of this year”, she added.


The North Shore Trail is considered a major link for bike trails throughout Ashtabula County, officials said. It is included in the city of Ashtabula’s and Ashtabula County’s land use plans.


Next, Metroparks is seeking funding to plan and begin the Pymatuning Valley Greenway Trail, another long-awaited project that could spur both economic development and quality of life improvements in the county.


Ashtabula County Metroparks is a statutorily created County park district founded in 1959.  Metroparks has a five-member Board of Park Commissioners which is responsible for governance and policy of the Metropark system. Ashtabula County Metroparks is primarily funded through a five year, ½ mill real estate property tax approved by the voters in 2014.  Metroparks first started receiving levy funds in 2016. Since 2016, Metroparks has opened as well as added amenities to six of its nine open parks and has added over 10 miles of hiking trails throughout Ashtabula County.


For more information on the North Shore Trail or Ashtabula Metroparks, visit  Metroparks on Facebook, or contact the parks office at (440) 576-0717.






Wetlands Wanderings Blog: by Joyce Bond

By on January 22, 2019

Wetlands Wanderings

In the Eyring Wetlands Park

By Joyce Bond, January 2019

With the cold and snow of the new year discouraging even the hardiest from venturing outside, let’s take a moment to discuss why wetlands are so important.  Throughout history wetlands have provided materials for food, fiber and shelter that support civilization.  This is evidence by the enormous wetland complex area of the Tigris-Euphrates delta, considered the “cradle of civilization”.  Wetlands can be the most diverse and productive natural systems in the world.  Unfortunately, as human cultures grew from reliance on natural subsistence to an agricultural society, wetlands were often viewed as wastelands. But with the increase in water pollution, flooding of cities and towns, the decline of fish and wildlife species, people began to gain appreciation of the values of natural wetlands.   Here in the United States public and scientific recognition of the importance of wetlands in the 1950s and 1960s, resulted in the 1972 Federal Clean Water Act.  Though not a wetlands protection law, this action resulted in the acceleration of scientific study and a better understanding of the function, identification, and delineation of wetlands.  Since that time, indicators used to identify wetlands have moved from identifying water and associated plant communities to an approach that considers a combination of factors that include vegetation, soils and signs of hydrology.

So, what is a wetland?  For regulatory purposes in the United States, under the Clean Water Act, the term wetlands means “those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.”  Wetlands are therefore defined by the presence of water, and certain identifiable vegetation and soils.

Though the term wetland would seem to indicate the presence of standing water, the amount of water present in a wetland can vary greatly. Some wetlands are permanently flooded, while others are only seasonally flooded but retain saturated soils throughout much of the unflooded period. Still other wetlands may rarely flood, but saturated soil conditions still are present long enough to support wetland-adapted plants and for hydric soil characteristics to develop. Hydric soils develop when chemical changes take place in the soil due to the low-oxygen conditions associated with prolonged saturation. The soil survey for Ashtabula County lists 10 hydric soil classifications and 15 non-hydric soils with a hydric component.

Different plant communities may be found in different types of wetlands, with each species adapted to the local hydrology (the quantity, distribution, and movement of water throughout a given area). Wetland plants are often referred to as hydrophytes because they are specially adapted to grow in saturated soils. The many factors of water, soil and plants lead to a wide variety of different types of wetlands.  In the Midwest, these typically include the following:

Marshes are wetlands that are permanently flooded or flooded during high water periods at the edges of rivers, streams, lakes, or ponds. Marshes may be dominated by submersed, floating-leaved, or emergent vegetation, including cattails, pondweeds, water lilies, and various sedges, rushes, spike rushes, grasses, and forbs.

Emergent marsh is the marsh found around shorelines out to relatively shallow water, and is generally characterized by up to 100% cover with emergent plant species. In the Midwest, these species may include graminoids (grasses and grass-like plants) such as river bulrush and rice cut grass, as well as characteristic forbs such as purple false foxglove, nodding bur marigold, pickerel-weed, and duck potato. These marshes are ideal habitat for a wide range of animals, including mink, muskrat, raccoons, Great Blue Herons, and a multitude of dragonflies, butterflies, and other insects.

Hemi-marsh is found in deeper water and is characterized by an open mix of emergent and/or floating-leaved vegetation interspersed with a submersed plant community. The submersed community may consist of species like sago pondweed, coontail, and wild celery, while the emergent or floating-leaved group can include deeper water species like broad-leaved cattail, American lotus, white water lily, and common bur reed. The rich vegetation also provides an exceptional nursery for young fish and is a great production area for the zooplankton and insects that are a critical part of the food web.

Sedge meadows (or wet meadows) are wetlands with permanently or near-permanently saturated soils. They may form a transitional zone between marshes and other wetlands with less-saturated soils, or occur in wet depressions and swales or around groundwater discharge zones. The meadows are wet grasslands often dominated by sedges and grasses with relatively few forbs (broad-leaved flowering plants). Birds frequenting this habitat include the King Rail, Sandhill Crane, Northern Harrier, and Sedge Wren.

Wet prairie is an ecosystem that is the driest type of wetland in the Midwest. Wet prairies are herbaceous wetlands dominated by a mixture of graminoids and forbs such as little bluestem, northern dropseed, prairie Indian plantain, marsh phlox, and foxglove beardtongue.

Fens and seeps are wetlands that are fed by groundwater that “seeps” out to the soil’s surface. Fens are typically alkaline from groundwater emerging from calcareous or dolomitic soils or bedrock zones, and they contain a layer of peat formed from dead plant material. Seeps are typically found along the base of slopes or glacial moraines where water emerges from saturated soils or a spring.

Bogs are basin wetlands for which precipitation is the only source of water; they are typically not fed by surfacing groundwater or streams. Bogs are generally dominated by sphagnum mosses, which may form a floating mat over deeper water that supports a rich assortment of specially adapted species.

Swamps are wetlands dominated by woody vegetation that typically have standing water during at least certain times of the year. They are often found in low-elevation floodplains along rivers or slow-moving streams.


When you next get the chance to hike around Eyring Wetland Park, look for the identifying characteristics of the marshes and wet meadows that are found there.  If you want to learn more about wetlands, workshops are offered by groups throughout the State including the Ohio Wetlands Association.  Check out the events tab on the website at  For our next wander we will discuss the benefits of our wetlands.

winter creek in snow

Lampson Reservoir Metropark

By on January 16, 2019

Reservoir Meanderings

By ACMP volunteer Sheryl

Today was a glorious morning! I had the privilege of hiking the Lampson Reservoir Trail with our CEO, Larry Frimerman and our Operations Manager, Brett Bellas. Our goal was to ensure that our trail was navigable, well-marked, and ready for our guest Naturalist, Judy Semroc, from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History next month!

Judy will be leading a winter nature walk here on Sunday, February 17 at 2 pm. Her reputation precedes her, as I’ve heard that she can even make a stroll across a parking lot interesting!

On this excursion she plans to explore nature in

winter in Ashtabula County. We will look for tracks, signs, homes, hiding places, unusual ice formations, and much more while walking the trails at Lampson Reservoir Metropark.

This morning’s temperature was 23°, and all trails were snow-covered. Mill Creek was still flowing swiftly at the waterfall, however the dammed area above the creek seemed to be pretty well frozen, as evidenced by two sets of parallel deer tracks across the snow-covered ice. The low lying wet areas, where the reservoir overflows its banks, were also frozen solid. Most of the smaller tributaries along the trail still had water flowing. Thank goodness for the many bridges and boardwalks constructed this past summer by the Ashtabula County Metroparks staff and volunteers!

There were very few visible birds this morning. Larry spotted a Black Capped Chickadee, Brett spotted an American Bald Eagle, and I caught a glimpse of a White Breasted Nuthatch and a second Chickadee. The only waterfowl that were visible were a few dozen Canada Geese across the street in an open pond. I am always thankful when there is open water for the birds to drink in the winter.

Yes, they can eat snow when absolutely necessary, but it really stresses them on cold winter days, lowers their body temperature and makes them even more vulnerable to predators in their weakened condition.

We observed a number of tracks along the way: baby raccoons, small and large deer, mice, squirrels, fox  and either a really big dog or another very large footed creature!

It is important to ensure that no one gets lost on the trail. At one point there is an 8/10 of a mile loop that takes you back to the same location. The trail is difficult to see at times in the white of the snow.  We set out to rectify this situation this morning.

We also wanted to avoid confusion with other colored tags and ribbons.

To that end, we removed as many old flags and ribbons as we possibly could, and replaced everything with fluorescent blaze orange ribbon tied up into bows. There should now be a fluorescent blaze orange bow visible at all times along the trail once you’re no longer walking along the path by river’s edge.

The second reason for wanting to remove the old tags, was that some of them had been on the trees since before Lampson Reservoir became a Metropark. Some of the trees were experiencing the beginnings of girdling, where the tie becomes tighter as the tree grows and it essentially cuts off the tree’s ability to pass nutrients across the constricted area. Sadly, this can lead to the death of the tree. Girdling is sometimes used in the horticulture industry to intentionally kill a tree, thereby making it easier to cut it down later, or eliminating the need to cut it down altogether. This can also be accomplished by peeling off the bark in a complete  360° circumference around the tree. However, I am quite certain that that was not the intention of the previously placed flags. We used over 250 feet of fluorescent orange tape today and hopefully that will make future hikes for everyone more enjoyable!


Happy meanderings! Hope to see you on February 17!


P.S. Dress warm, in layers, along with gloves, scarf, hat and waterproof boots!