Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9, 2018 OCVN Conference

Dec. 13, 2017
Photo credits: Pat Biliter
Registration will open in March.

Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 7:30AM-4PM
At the Edge: Protecting, Restoring, and Interpreting Ohio’s Unique Natural Areas

Our conference goals this year include:

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

The conference will start with registration at 7:30AM at the Lake Metropark’s Environmental Learning Center, 75250 Alexander Road, Concord Township, Ohio 44077. Cost $40

Friday’s pre-conference field trips will focus on understanding and interpreting some of the most unusual natural areas of northeast Ohio-- Stebbins Gulch, a National Natural Landmark at the Holden Arboretum and the Lake Erie Bluffs Metroparks, one of the few remaining lakefront habitats on Lake Erie.

Field trips will be 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 or to take a canopy walk above the forest floor.  To register for these field trips, go to: ___TBD___ .  For a full description, see below.

On Saturday join us for a full day of field and classroom sessions at the Lake Metro Parks Environmental Learning Center where we will learn how scientists, volunteers, and conservationists in Ohio are successfully restoring, protecting, and interpreting our significant natural areas.  For the Saturday speaker list, go to the end of this page.

DESCRIPTION OF STEBBINS GULCH:  (Field Trip #1) - Friday, June 8, 2018

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.


DESCRIPTION OF LAKE ERIE BLUFFS METROPARK:  (Field Trip #2) - Friday, June 8, 2018

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  - Friday, June 8, 2018

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  - Full Day Conference

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

The conference will start with registration at 7:30AM at the Lake Metropark’s Environmental Learning Center

Each session will be an hour in length and each block will contain one optional hike lead by ELC trained interpreters for a chance to get outdoors. We will have a block of 70 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:

2018 OCVN Conference Speaker List

Session Leader

Session Title

Session Summary

Harvey Webster, Director, Wildlife Resources, CMNH including managing the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden

Wildlife Beyond the Edge


Kevin Magee, Deputy Director, Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE)

Diving Lake Erie: Bathymetry, Geology, Shipwrecks, and Environmental Concerns

Lake Erie is a dynamic, fascinating body of water and this talk describes Lake Erie from a diver's perspective. It discusses the things normally hidden by its waters.  This includes its bottom bathymetry, geology, historic shipwrecks, the environmental threat from algae blooms, and its potential for use as a source of wind energy.

Howard Simon, OCVN and member of the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Advisory Committee

Cuyahoga River Watershed

This session will include a history of the Cuyahoga River and the role it played in the environmental movement. Howard will discuss how local participation has led to marked improvements.

Nidia Arguedas, PhD, Conservation Planner

Earthworms Below Ground

Earthworms have brought about gradual but enormous changes to soil structure, soil chemistry and soil life, impacting not only the relationships among the organisms both below and above the ground but also in the atmosphere.  During these two linked presentations, we will explore these dynamics and make sure to add earthworm identification to your skills.

Mary Huey, Retired Interpretive Naturalist

Why Citizen Science?

Learn about the scientific importance and personal benefits of participating in 'citizen science' projects as part of the growing community of volunteer naturalists including finding projects to fit your interests and schedule.

Becky Donaldson, Mentor Marsh Naturalist, Mentor Marsh Carol H. Sweet Nature Center

Waving the Green Flag in Fighting Phragmites

Mentor Marsh's sheer size makes it a treasure on Ohio's Lake Erie coast even with its invasion of Phragmites.  Learn how Mentor Marsh has changed over the years and how recent restoration efforts, hard work and many partnerships have led to both increases in biodiversity and community engagement.

Marian B. Williams, VP, Education, Holden Arboretum, Holden Forests and Gardens

An Immersive Experience: Transforming Mission Based Stories for Visitor Engagement

In 2015 The Holden Arboretum opened the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower to create a fun, immersive forest experience for visitors to better support our mission to Advance and Inspire a Deeper Understanding of Plants to Enhance Life. Our challenge as educators was how to transform staff expertise content into engaging yet substantive stories about northeast Ohio native trees and forests for the visitor.  Additionally, we faced the challenge of interpreting these stories in a way so they wouldn't be overshadowed by the structure's 'entertainment' appeal.  This program will focus on the interpretive development process used from message refinement and field-testing through product development.

       Gabriel R. Karns, Visiting Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Terrestrial Wildlife Ecology Lab

Helping Wildlife Get the Edge

Gabe will focus on some recent and ongoing research that will get you thinking about how we might better manage habitat edges and transitional areas for wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Mike Watson, Conservation Biologist, The Holden Arboretum

Earthworms Above Ground

Invasive worms and soil research

Herb Broda, OCVN, Professor Emeritus, author, outdoor education specialist

Tips and Tricks for Working with Kids

Herb Broda joins us for a lively session focusing on effective ways to design energizing outdoor learning sessions for children from grades Pre-K to 8th grade.  We will focus on the nuts and bolts of outdoor learning, some grade-level specific tips and a suggested template for an outdoor session.

Dr. Rebecca Swab, Director of Restoration Ecology, The Wilds

Restoring for Wildlife - Tradeoffs and Benefits of Prairies

At The Wilds we have undertaken restoration efforts to replace low diversity cool season grasslands with high diversity prairies. Overall, results on this landscape show that engineering sustainable diverse ecosystems following mining requires more work and different methods than current reclamation laws require.  Restoring prairie is beneficial for some but not all species.  Therefore, mixing cool season and warm season grasslands on reclaimed minelands across the landscape may maximize wildlife diversity.