Following up on the November 6th speaker program idea stations, the November 10th conservation project lab culminated in the creation of an action plan to begin work on several projects. The December 1st lab will continue to engage people who are interested in furthering local conservation project activities.
I’m in Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society, or WCAS, for short. Many people associate Audubon with birds because it is named after John James Audubon, the 19th-century naturalist who painted birds and is best known for his seminal book, “Birds of America.”
We in WCAS prefer to say that Audubon is not a birding organization, per se. Instead, we think of it as an organization devoted to educating people about the importance of preserving habitat for birds, other wildlife, and people who enjoy it.
Since WCAS began in 1975, we accomplished our mission through monthly programs and field trips. In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, we also conducted three major conservation projects.
Our goal in the next decade is to conduct another big conservation project. We just have to figure out what we want to do, plan it, and pull it off.
Showcasing our three big conservation projects
Toward this end, we decided to showcase our three conservation projects at our November 6, 2018 meeting at Rocky River Nature Center. This blog story is about that meeting and what we hope to do in the future.
We featured personal reports by WCAS members who participated in Donald Gray Gardens (DGG) from roughly 1985-1996. DGG was a green space on the north side of Cleveland Municipal Stadium. A vestige of the World’s Fair of 1936, it became overgrown over the following years and was a haven for migrating birds going across Lake Erie. Many downtown workers birded there on their lunch hours. WCAS “adopted” DGG and conducted cleanups there. In 1996, the City of Cleveland demolished the stadium. Despite the efforts of WCAS members, the city tore down DGG, as well.
At the November 6 meeting, WCAS members also reported on their adventures on Dike 14, located on the lakefront at E.66 St. Dike 14 was a Confined Disposal Facility on which the Port Authority dumped dredge from the Cuyahoga River. When the Port Authority made known its intentions to develop the site, environmental groups, including WCAS, rallied to the cause of saving it as a nature preserve. This effort began in 2000 and continued until 2012, when the Port Authority declared the site a natural area and named it Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve.
Lastly, WCAS members described their efforts to survey birds in the Rocky River (East Branch) Important Bird Area from 2006-2012. The outcome of this project, which was exclusively a WCAS initiative, was giving our data to Cleveland Metroparks (CMP) to beef up their requests for grants to buy private parcels in the East Branch. CMP did this in order to help connect the green spaces around Greater Cleveland, known as the Emerald Necklace.
Following these reports, we conducted four “idea stations,” at which facilitators drew ideas from the participants at the meeting for potential WCAS conservation projects. Following are descriptions of the stations and the ideas people generated:
PREVENTING BIRD STRIKES ON DOWNTOWN BUILDINGS. We asked people to suggest ways similar to the Lights Out Cleveland project. During that project, which occurred this, volunteers picked up 2,000 live and dead birds on the ground that had struck buildings. A WCAS member mentioned American Ceramics Society in Westerville, Ohio has a glass division that makes glass that could preclude birds from flying into buildings.
CLEVELAND LAKE NATURE PRESERVE. Here are ideas people generated for what the preserve could be:
1. Build a boardwalk on the preserve similar to Magee Marsh (located near Oak Harbor, Ohio on the lakeshore).
2. Create mudflats for shorebirds and wading birds.
3. Work on removing non-native plants.
4. Add prairie, edges, meadows, and forests.
5. Maintain the gate to preclude dogs and bikes from going on the preserve.
6. Maintain the fence around the preserve for security.
7. Building an observation tower.
9. Build habitat boxes.
PLASTICS POLLUTION. Concern people have about the misuse of plastics contaminating the environment resulted in these ideas:
1. Reduce or eliminate the use of plastic bags in stores
2. Use our own bags in stores.
3. Stop using straws and coffee cups.
4. Buy refillable soap and cleaners.
5. Buy large stock to refill individual containers.
6. Speak up at stores and say, “No, I don’t need a bag, thanks” or at restaurants and say, “No, I don’t need a straw, thanks.”
7. Hold a cleanup date at rivers, streams, and waterfronts.
8. Adopt a stream or green space, such as Wendy Park.
OPEN MIKE. This idea station drew ideas from people covering a wide range of topics of their choices, as shown by this list:
1. Increase habitat with native plants.
2. Be stewards of land.
3. Build a chimney swift tower.
4. Build a bird blind.
5. Adopt urban gardens to attract butterflies.
6. Educate residents on native plants, habitat yards, and fruit plants. Link residents to resources to learn about these things.
7. Increase native plant seed availability.
8. Advocate for legislation to make cleaning products bio-degradable, and educate people about these this issue.
9. Eradicate invasive plants, such as garlic mustard.
10. Encourage nurseries to donate native plants for fund-raisers.
11. Recognize businesses that plant native species around their property.
12. Encourage schools to tell kids about habitat.
13. Invite teachers to our meetings to educate them about habitat.
The conservation project laboratory
WCAS held a conservation project “laboratory” on November 10 at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Cleveland. The idea of this event was to build on the idea stations that took place at the WCAS program meeting on November 6 in order to create new conservation projects for WCAS. Nine people attended this event. I facilitated the event. Following is a list of potential projects the group generated:
1. Market Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve to attract urban people to visit it and learn about the impact of climate change on bird populations.
2. Raise support for WCAS conservation projects by seeking revenue for equipment, supplies, food, and printing, plus in-kind services for these projects.
3. Generate new businesses that the city could support. Profits could go into WCAS conservation projects. Joe Reardon mentioned making bio-degradable straws.
4. Seek grants for seeds to grow plants on an actual plot of land, maybe with the help of a charter school. Sell the seedlings to homeowners to populate their own yards. This flowchart emerged from this discussion:
The November 10 conservation project lab culminated in the creation of this action plan to begin the work on these projects:
Where do we go from here? So far, some participants of the project laboratory have been e-mailing back and forth, expressing their enthusiasm and reflecting the energy we generated at that event. Time will tell, and I think that something good is going to rise from this work toward developing a conservation project for WCAS.
Tom Romito is an interpreter of Native American Culture, a facilitator of organizations who want to grow, and a Reiki practitioner dedicated to helping people heal. Tom shares stories and skills to help you energize your world.