Ashtabula County Metroparks

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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:  caseylilac13@hotmail.com

 

or  visit the Geocache Page:

http://coord.info/GC83FHN

 

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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.         www.ashtabulametroparks.com.  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.

 

 

 

 

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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 https://www.ohwetlands.org.  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!

 

 

 

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Join Us! North Shore Trail Open House

By on December 26, 2018

Public Meeting:

Thursday January 17th, 2019  6:30pm

Briquettes Smokehouse

Historic Ashtabula Harbor

405 Morton Dr.

Ashtabula, OH

This project recently received competitive funding from ODOT’s Transportation Alternative Program.

Come and learn about the design for the multi-modal connector route between Lake Erie and the Western Reserve Greenway Trail-

We want to hear your feedback!

 

Some refreshments will be served. You may also purchase a meal or appetizer and support your local business!

 

 

 

 

 

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Wetland Wanderings December

By on December 26, 2018

Eyring Wetlands Metropark

Wetlands Wanderings

In the Eyring Wetlands Park

By Joyce Bond, December 2018

I arrived at the Eyring Wetlands Park to be met by the smiling face of the Ashtabula County Metroparks ranger Kristen Fortune.  The parks are currently advertising for a second park ranger.  But for now, Kristen patrols our parks maintaining the safety of the public and providing information as needed.  What a delight to see her out and seeing the evidence of the positive work of ACMP.

As I headed down the trail, all around me the birds flitted around in the rare winter sunshine.  As I discussed in last months blog, many of our feathered friends fly south for the winter. Food diminishes and the birds find better sources in the warmer climates.   But fortunately, many of them stay here in Ohio. While the snow, cold temperatures and gray days keep many outdoor enthusiasts inside, winter bird watching in northeast Ohio can be fascinating.  While the numbers and types of birds may be diminished, the ones that you can see are some of the most interesting species.

Feeding birds at backyard feeders is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States.  But our winter birds are resourceful and can find abundant food sources even when the snow is deep and the temperatures are below freezing.  The birds that I saw at the wetlands were in a group of dried goldenrod seed heads from the summer.  The birds could be seen perching on the plants and plucking the seeds from the plant.  Fallen seeds can also be eaten from the ground if the snow is not deep.

The Eyring Wetlands provide many different food sources for the winter birds because it is comprised of a diverse group of habitats.   In the lower interior areas, shrubs including serviceberry, dogwood, sumac, elderberry, and chokeberry and vines such as American bittersweet and scarlet trumpet vine provide fruit to the bird’s diet.  Though fresh fruit is not available in the winter, the dried and shriveled leftovers will remain on the bushes and vines as a welcome feast.  I saw evidence of the brilliant red sumac seed heads or drupes on the ground and partially eaten.  This may have been the work of the lone blue jay that I saw flying by or maybe a group of black-capped chickadees stopped for lunch. They may even have attracted a cardinal or a rafter of hungry turkeys.

Trees such as oak, pine, sweet gum, crabapple, and maple also produce nuts, fruits, and/or seeds that will be used by birds and other wildlife. The perimeter of the park is comprised of many of these tree species.   The blue jays and titmice have strong bills that allow them to crack acorns and beechnuts open to get to the meaty insides.  The finches are especially fond of the pine nuts that can be picked from the cones.  Tree sap is a sweet treat for the various woodpeckers in our winter landscapes.  These birds will drill deep into a tree’s bark to get any sap that is not frozen.

I can’t forget to mention the raptors.  These birds seem to be some of the most obvious birds of winter, in part because they are more conspicuous against the naked trees and barren winter landscapes. Red-tailed hawks are common and easily seen, as their bright white underparts shine like beacons from the bare trees and roadside fence posts. My backyard has recently been home to a northern harrier identifiable by his white tale.  They are of course after rodents, small mammals and smaller birds.  And like that harrier that I keep seeing may be eyeing the birds that frequent my backyard feeder.

Whether you are braving the elements on a hike or relaxing in your warm recliner beside the window near the birdfeeder, I hope you get the chance to observe some of northeast Ohio’s winter birds.  Below is a shortlist of the birds I tend to see from my recliner.

  • Mourning dove
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Blue jay
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Tufted titmouse
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • Northern cardinal
  • House finch
  • American goldfinch
  • House sparrow
  • Dark-eyed junco

 

Hope to see you on my next wandering or at one of the ACMP birding events.

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Help Wanted: Part-time Rangers (extended )

By on November 29, 2018

Park Rangers (Part – Time)

Park Ranger {Part-Time)
Job Description: Patrols assigned areas for the purposes of assisting park patrons to have an enjoyable,
safe and pleasant park experience. Provides information, education and assistance to park visitors to
achieve resource protection, as well as visitor safety and security. Serves as a commissioned Peace
Officer enforcing Metroparks rules and regulations, and other applicable laws under ORC 1545. Works
to prevent violations of park rules and other laws whenever possible. Protects life, property, and
maintains good order within the parks. OPERS Eligible.
Minimum Qualifications:
Associate’s degree or greater preferred; experience in parks and recreation, ranger services, or
equivalent experience. Valid Ohio Peace Officer Training certification, Excellent communication skills.
Valid Ohio driver’s license. Applicants must be 21 years of age and are subject to an extensive
background investigation including drug test. Applicants must be available to work varied shifts,
including nights and weekends.
Applications, Resume and cover letter must be submitted by 5pm, JANUARY 14TH, 2019 to lnfo@ashtabulametroparks.com. or
MAIL ONLY to: Ashtabula Metroparks 91 N Chestnut Street, Jefferson, OH 44047. For more information (440) 650-4124. EOE.

Application

For Full Job description click below:

Full Job Description

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Wetland Wanderings November

By on November 29, 2018

Wetlands Wanderings
In the Eyring Wetlands Park

By Joyce Bond, November 2018

As the cold and gray descended on our Ohio landscape recently, I was fortunate to spend some
time in warm, sunny Florida. I participated in a couple of the local wildlife presentations put on
by some knowledgeable naturalists that included seining for fish and crustaceans in a tidal
estuary and identifying shore birds along a barrier island. It was an interesting venture outside
of what I might see here at home. But it had me thinking about the life of our wildlife during
the Ohio winter.
There are three basic ways that wildlife deal with winter. Like a some of our native Ohio
humans, many of the wetland bird species fly south for the winter. Waterbirds like the loon
and grebe have left the area followed by the seagulls that migrate from this area. Most of the
dabbling waterfowl and diving ducks have also left the area to avoid the frozen water surfaces.
If you find yourself catching a glimpse of a few hardy wetland birds there is a wonderfully
comprehensive catalog of Ohio wetland birds that I highly recommend available at
https://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/publications/birds%20and%20birding/pub41
8.pdf.
The other way that animals deal with the winter cold is to plan ahead. They store food, get
there houses ready and bulk up. I spied the winter retreat of the muskrat at Eyring Wetland.
Muskrats have year-around homes that are
either built burrowed into the bank or on the
marsh bottom by piling up the plants into a
dome-shaped mound. In these plant and mud
lodges, the muskrat then chews out an
opening and layers the removed material to
the top of the rising mound up to 2 or 3 feet.
Muskrats spend lots of time in their winter
homes and their shacks — eating food from
their autumn caches plus other marsh plants
foraged under the ice. They can dive for up to
15 minutes to gather plants because their
heart rate decreases under water, and oxygen
is drawn from stores in muscle tissue. Thick,
waterproof fur keeps them dry and warm.

Muskrats are in many ways well adapted to survive the winter. Diving muskrats can gather
food without swallowing water because their lips seal shut behind the incisors. Nimble front
paws manipulate the roots of cattails, water lilies, arrowheads, pondweeds and other marsh
plants.
I also saw evidence of beaver activity in the Wetlands. The beaver lives a similar winter
existence to the muskrat using its lodge and the food stored in the fall to stay warm and fed,
with occasional forays down into the water at the underside of their lodge to access food
caches that they have anchored to the bottom of the waterway.
One of our most common squirrels, the Eastern gray squirrels
forage for nuts, seeds, buds, and flowers of trees. As winter
approaches, squirrels carry their food and bury it in several
locations. Eastern gray squirrels have an excellent sense of
smell, which they use to help locate food that they’ve hidden
away. These critters are homeotherms, which means that
unlike some mammals, their body temperatures remain fairly
constant throughout the year; they don’t hibernate. In the
winter, squirrels spend less time foraging outside their dens,
and it’s more common for several squirrels to share a den.
Squirrels also prepare for winter by bulking up. Throughout
fall, they maximize food consumption and body mass. In
winter, when food is hard to come by, these reserves will
help the animals survive. Dens are typically
used by squirrels in the winter and are
constructed in healthy, living trees (often by the
expansion of abandoned woodpecker holes). A
second type of housing are nests or drays.
These are usually located high up in the forked
branches of large trees and consists of leaves and
twigs arranged as needed. Several of these can be
observed at the Eyring Wetlands Park. A dray
usually serves as a place for squirrels to seek
shelter during warmer summer months. However,
drays can also be used by squirrels during the
winter months.
Another animal that we were fortunate enough to
see on our wetland walk was a frog. Amphibians
utilize the third way of dealing with the Ohio
winter and that is to go into hibernation. Frogs
and toads are cold-blooded, so their body temperatures take on the temperature of theenvironment around them. Aquatic
frogs usually spend the winter at the
bottom of a pond or other body of
water. But they don’t burrow down
into the mud. Frogs can be found
hanging out on the bottom,
sometimes even slowly swimming or
moving around. On the day we were
walking, the temperatures had
“soared” to the mid-40’s and our frog
was slowly moving about on the
pond bank.
During my wetland walk, I identified
three typical ways that animals, and
sometimes humans, deal with the
Ohio winter.
 Migration to a warmer area;
 Storing food and preparing a nest to protect them in their year-round habitat; and
 Hibernation
In your yard and in your walks around the Ashtabula County Metroparks you should be able to
identify other animals that use these wintering techniques. So enjoy your winter time
wanderings wherever they may lead.

Sign up for a Bird Count!  December 29th, 2018:  National Audubon Society Annual Christmas Bird Count. People can sign up to count for a full day or a half a day, Mark Hanneman is the Ashtabula County contact person.  He can be reached at 440 -812-5986

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Time to start Thinking About Snow Removal

By on October 26, 2018

Ashtabula Metroparks will be taking quotes for two snow plowing routes.   One in the Conneaut Area and one along the Western Reserve Greenway Trail. To pick up a packet or get more information contact Brett Bellas 440-536-1502

Proposals due by Nov. 13th 10 am.

QUOTES ARE NOW CLOSED. WE ARE NO LONGER TAKING QUOTES FOR THIS JOB.