This week’s Nature Fix comes from West Creek Conservancy’s Board of Directors Treasurer, Eric Sluss. Join us as we continue our journey to explore conversation sites throughout our region. Together, we’ll explore some well-known trails and hidden gems we think you’ll be excited to learn more about.

The Hike: Dusty Goldenrod Preserve

On a crisp morning this past January, I set out to explore a 30-acre property that West Creek Conservancy acquired in 2019.

As I drove through Cleveland’s east side, the sun was starting to peak over the trees to light up a winter day.  I listened to the news on the radio: record bush fires in coastal Australia, severe ecological aftermath, thousands of koalas and other wildlife perishing.  The underlying note was that many flora and fauna, unique to that area of the world, were inching closer to becoming endangered species.

Before I got into my car and turned on the news that morning, at-risk species were already on my mind.  In fact, at-risk species was my reason for visiting Cleveland’s far east side.  This 30-acre property is not just an ordinary tract of land with trees on it.  This particular property is special.

We may take it for granted, but Northeast Ohio has a fantastic array of plant and animal life, including rare and endangered species.  For this particular property, in the late 1990s, a researcher discovered a plant species in the area.  Until this discovery, this plant had never been located in Ohio.  After 20 years, this small patch is still the only known location in the entire state where you can see its brilliant yellow blooms.  Several other rare plant species also grow within the property.  West Creek Conservancy has acquired these 30 acres to perpetually protect these species as well as the wetlands, forest, and streams that run throughout it.  Due to the ongoing ecological preservation of these Ohio treasures, the plants and exact location have not been disclosed in this article.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to visit many of America’s natural wonders, which left me with an appreciation for conservation and a sense of adventure.  I want to ensure that the Northeast Ohio community has access to natural areas as well as protect those areas that are critically significant for water quality and biodiversity.

In 2014, I was introduced to West Creek Conservancy, and its mission to “enrich the lives of people in Northeast Ohio by conserving natural habitats, restoring the ecological value and sustainability of urban lands, and expanding neighborhood opportunities to experience nature.”  In other words, protecting rare and endangered species is right up West Creek Conservancy’s tree-lined alley.  After joining the organization’s finance committee, I was hooked on the mission and have served on the board since 2015.

As a board member and the Treasurer, I have seen the impact that West Creek Conservancy’s 5 full-time staff members provide our communities.  Each year I know that my tax-deductible donations are going into projects that continue West Creek’s work – Protecting, Restoring, Connecting.  And as the Treasurer, I can confirm that 91 cents of each dollar donated from members like yourself goes into our communities in the form of land and water conservation.  With the yearly support of our members, we can ensure that our region’s treasures, including Ohio’s rare plant species, continue to blossom.

– Eric Sluss, West Creek Conservancy BOD Treasurer

This property’s conservation was made possible by the strong collaborative efforts of Euclid Creek Watershed Partners, Cuyahoga SWCD, and your West Creek Conservancy team.

Dusty Goldenrod Preserve Gallery: Our Hike