West Creek is pleased to announce full funding for The Bird Family Bog Preserve from H2Ohio and Clean Ohio. The 171-acre property presented a rare opportunity to protect one of the few extant bogs in Ohio. The bog is the only historically known site in Ohio of the rare and endangered Labrador Tea.
The property has been referenced in scholarly studies of peatlands of Ohio for decades, and the level of research and attention to this bog over many years created a unique opportunity to conserve an important natural feature that is likely to yield new findings through the years, working with West Creek’s professional and academic partners.
Only two percent of Ohio’s peatlands remain which are generally concentrated in Northeast Ohio. This rare habitat in Ohio remains under threat from development, mining, agriculture, filling, draining, and dredging. The Bird Family Bog has been subject to attempts at drainage over the past 50 years to little avail. This and other threats to the bog created an immediate need to conserve the property and decrease potential hardwood succession within the bog. Seven hundred linear feet of tributary to the feeder canal of the Breakneck Creek runs along the northern portion of the property within a 63-acre floodplain area, and the property contains 43 acres of category three wetlands.
The bog is surrounded by a wooded upland buffer and several agricultural fields. The conversion of the agricultural fields to successional riparian upland buffer will further enhance the ecological functionality and diversity of the Bird Bog and provide a vital buffer for the bog. Resource conservation and elimination of agriculture on the site will help to meet the goals of the Middle Cuyahoga Watershed Action Plan to reduce flooding, reduce sediment and nutrient runoff, and provide opportunities for passive recreation.
The property is contiguous to private land conserved through a conservation easement and is within the Portage Park District’s envisioned Breakneck Creek Greenway. The acquisition and protection of the property meets the goals of the Portage Park District’s Master Plan, and the area is identified as a sourcewater protection area for the cities of Ravenna and Kent. Preserving the entirety of the property was imperative to protection and restoration measures along Breakneck Creek.
Conversion to any other use would have been devastating for the bog, as well as associated drinking-water feeder streams and wetland complexes. Continued farming practices would also have impacted the bog. Management plans will include management of potential invasive species (although none have been identified within the bog), reforestation and meadow restoration of former fields, and enhancement of the manmade 3-acre farm pond.
West Creek will be the interim owner of the property while some of the restoration, reforestation, and bog management occur. Ultimately, the property will be turned over to the Portage Park District as a park and preserve.
Projects like this would not be possible without the help and support of our partners, including the Portage Park District, H2Ohio and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation Fund and the Ohio Public Works Commission, The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Ohio State University, Portage Park District Foundation, Rootstown Township, Portage County, and of course the efforts of all of our staff and Board.