The Lorain County Metro Park’s (LCMP) Sandy Ridge Reservation, located in North Ridgeville, Ohio, contains approximately 526 acres, including the entire 120-acre Sandy Ridge Wetland Mitigation Bank. The Stream and Wetlands Foundation (S+W) established the mitigation bank in 1997 and the site has been open to the public since 1999.
Residents and bird lovers come from near and far to enjoy the natural areas, walking the beautiful trails and boardwalks that provide visitors numerous vantage points to view the multitude of wildlife. This year, the park announced the first successful Sandhill Crane nesting. The Sandhill Crane colt can be seen many days feeding along with its parents in the wetlands. Bald Eagle nesting continues at Sandy Ridge with several different pairs joining the initial pair. In addition, Trumpeter Swans have been nesting at Sandy Ridge for the past four years to the joy of many visitors.
The wetland mitigation bank includes a large marsh complex that is adjacent to a mature wetland forest. The distinctive habitat within the park attracts a diverse assemblage of waterfowl, wading birds and shore birds. Park staff have identified 250 bird species with 111 documented as breeding. Patronage at Sandy Ridge Reservation continues to increase every year, with many visitors proclaiming that this is one of the best wildlife viewing areas in Northern Ohio.
“Plant and animal diversity has continued to increase over the past couple of decades due to the diligence and hard work of the park system staff,” said Joshua Michalski, park manager for Sandy Ridge Reservation. “The Lorain County Metro Parks strives to further increase ecological diversity and productivity of Sandy Ridge Reservation, along with a focus on education and community outreach.”
Prior to the settlement of the area, much of the Sandy Ridge Reservation supported extensive amounts of wetland habitat. However, like much of Lorain County, it was drained and converted to farmland for many years.
“We started working with Dan Martin (former LCMP Director) in 1996 to develop the wetland bank project,” said Vince Messerly, president of S+W. “Dan’s goal at the outset was to restore a high-quality wetland that could be easily visited, with trails that would allow people to see wetland flora and fauna up close. The objective was to help improve people’s appreciation of wetlands and to foster their care and protection for future generations. I believe the Sandy Ridge project has clearly met all of Dan’s original goals.”
S+W Foundation is very proud to have supported the Lorain County Metro Parks, the long-term owner and managing partner for this beautiful wetland restoration project that is enjoyed by people of all ages. “In partnership with the S+W Foundation, Sandy Ridge Reservation has evolved into an important wetland habitat,” said Michalski. “A large thank you to S+W, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio EPA for all the work they did making Sandy Ridge Reservation possible.”
Read more about Sandy Ridge Reservation and its diverse habitat here.