Friday, June 8, 2018 OCVN Conference: At The Edge: Protection, Restoring and Interpreting Ohio's Unique Natural Areas

Dec. 13, 2017
Photo credits: Pat Biliter
Welcome to The Holden Arboretum’s 3,600 acres of woody plant collections, grasslands, mature forests and miles of beautiful walking trails. We are delighted to host Friday’s evening activities for the 2018 OCVN State Conference. Our first day activities include some spectacular hikes through some of the most unusual natural areas of northeast Ohio, followed by a herbivore and carnivore friendly BBQ and social hour, in turn followed by opportunities to explore our grounds. You are invited to climb the 202 steps to the top of the Emergent Tower for a view of Lake Erie and the surrounding landscape, and to take a canopy walk above the forest floor.  



Stebbins Gulch is the crown jewel of The Holden Arboretum’s extensive natural areas, as well as one of the most unspoiled natural history preserves in northeast Ohio. One of two National Natural Landmarks at The Holden Arboretum, it is a deep ravine environment with its own microclimate and multiple forest zones. Surrounding trees exceed 400 years in age. The gulch displays one of the most complete sequences of exposed rocks in northeast Ohio, spanning seven named geologic units. The Gulch exudes a strong sense of isolation and remoteness, even though it is only 25 miles from downtown Cleveland. Visitation is restricted for the protection of our guests and wildlife, and is limited to monthly tours by trained interpretive guides. The hike is rated as moderately difficult. It includes one mile of wading through shin-deep water along a deeply incised stream bed filled with cobbles and boulders.

STEBBINS GULCH Learning Topics   

1. DEEP RAVINE ENVIRONMENT: Learn how microclimates impact habitats. The Gulch has a year-round, breeding junco population, and many of its plants and animals reflect more northern latitudes and higher Appalachian elevations.

2. PALEOGEOGRAPHY OF NORTHEASTERN OHIO: The Gulch exposes a 360 million-year-old shallow marine environment, indicative of receding Paleozoic seas over much of Ohio.

3. EROSION PROCESSES: Learn about receding caprock waterfalls, mass movement, flash floods, landslides, and the relative resistance of different rock types to erosion.

4. ECONOMIC GEOLOGY: The high point of the Gulch's scenery are the towering outcrops of Berea Sandstone, widely used throughout Ohio as building stone for buildings, churches, bridges, locks and dams. Exposures of Cleveland Shale are used to discuss black shales as a source of methane, and the pros and cons of fracking.

5. IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING WATERSHEDS: Stebbins Run is a pristine stream, home to one of Ohio’s last populations of brook trout. We'll use the protected stream to discuss the critical international importance of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River watershed.




Lake Erie Bluffs Metropark is nationally significant as one of the few remaining undeveloped lakefront habitats on Lake Erie. The pristine, 9,000-foot-long sandy and cobbled beach is backed by 40-foot-high beach bluffs harboring rare plants, such as the fringed gentian and seaside spurge. During annual migration, the Bluffs is an important resting and feeding location for migratory birds that will use it as a launch point for the 50-mile flight across open water to Ontario. The Bluffs is famous for bald eagle and merlin sightings, among hundreds of other species. The 50-foot observation tower offers an excellent vantage point for spotting birds and wave action on the Lake.

LAKE ERIE BLUFFS Learning Topics 

1. IMPACT OF LAKE ERIE: The winds, waves, storms and weather extremes of Lake Erie create a bluff-lined shoreline that serves as habitat for rare plants and insects.

2. CONSERVATION: A number of federal, state and local agencies and nature clubs combined resources to preserve a large natural area that would otherwise have been obliterated by housing and industrial development.

3. BIRD MIGRATION: Having a large natural area at the shoreline provides a vital resting point and food sources for many species of birds about to cross Lake Erie.

4. BIOLOGICAL SUCCESSION: Originally cleared for industrial development, the bluff forests are now in a secondary growth stage before reaching mature status in the future. Meadow areas are artificially maintained by mowing to provide habitat for field-nesting birds and numerous species of insects.

Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 8AM-4PM  

At the Edge: Protecting, Restoring, and Interpreting Ohio’s Unique Natural Areas

Our conference goals this year includes:

  • Increase understanding of current research on Ohio’s ecosystems and best approaches to long term protection;
  • Increase understanding of interpretative approaches that will inspire long-term stewardship; and
  • Increase understanding of the steps volunteers are using to effectively restore/protect Ohio’s unique natural areas.

The conference will start with registration at 8:00AM at the Lake Metropark’s Environmental Learning Center

Each session will be roughly an hour in length each block will contain one optional hike lead by ELC trained interpreters for a chance to get outdoors. We will have a block of rooms reserved at a special rate of 119.00 which includes breakfast for a single room for June 8 nearby at the Quail Hollow Resort info can be found at:

We are finalizing our speakers now and will have a full list with agenda out in January.  Registration will open this spring.