Go green, get blue (and wet!)
Tue, Jun 02 2009 at 5:22 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
Visitors to this week’s Blue Weekend nature festival near Toledo will be offered rare guided tours of recently restored wet prairies – reminders of a time when marshes and swamps dominated the landscape in Northwest Ohio.
“You’ll need knee-high rubber boots for these hikes, but they will be special experiences,” said Gary Haase, preserve manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Kitty Todd Preserve.
At 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Toledo Metroparks will host a hike at the Dorr Street Prairie, on Dorr Street just west of Irwin Road. A second wet prairie hike will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Kitty Todd Preserve, 10420 Old State Line Rd. Swanton. Wear knee-high rubber boots and come help us search for blooming wildflowers, spotted turtles, blue spotted salamanders and other wetland wildlife.
Wet prairies are a type of marsh that flourishes where the water table is high, as it is here along the ancient lake ridges of Lake Erie. This portion of the preserve, located in the Oak Openings Region outside Toledo, generally is flooded half the year, said Haase said.
“This area was all part of an historic wet prairie that was seven miles long and a mile wide,” Haase said. “It was mostly drained for farming and settlement in the 1800s.” The drainage system, while effective at creating farmland, robbed the landscape of its natural ability to recharge the groundwater supply and filter water running off the farms and cities.
Thanks to a grant from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, and funds from a project involving the City of Toledo and the Ohio EPA, The Nature Conservancy and Toledo Metroparks were able to restore more than 100 acres of wet prairie at the two sites.
Restoring the prairie involved cutting and removing many trees that do not belong in the prairie but grew up after the land was drained. Native plants were then planted, including Great Lakes goldenrod, wiregrass and blue-joint grass. The end result is restored habitat and cleaner water flowing into the Maumee River, Haase explained.
Blue Weekend, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, annually celebrates the unusual plant and animal diversity of the Oak Openings Region, a historic natural area with the highest concentration of rare and endangered species in the state of Ohio.
The name comes from the abundance of blue plants and animals in the region, including the Karner blue butterflies, wild blue lupine, bluebirds, bluejays, blue spotted salamanders, big bluestem, blue herons, and blue racer snakes.
Activities are centered around various parks and preserves around the Toledo area. For more information about activities and locations, download the complete Blue Weekend Schedule and the locator map.
Other highlights for Blue Weekend 2009 include:
Lou Campbell State Nature Preserve Open House and Grand Opening
Sunday, May 17, 12:00 noon - 4pm.; guided hike at 1pm
Lou Campbell SNP will be permanently open to the public with a newly constructed trail system.
Oak Openings Nighttime Bonfire
Saturday May 16, 7:00 pm, Kitty Todd Nature Preserve
Join naturalists from the Oak Openings Region Conservancy for a night hike and other after-dark activities. Stay for s’mores and fireside chats.
Sunday May 17, 1:00 pm - 5:00pm
Cosponsored by Hostelling International– Toledo Area Council, this family bike hike will explore the Oak Openings by pedal power. Contact Cindy Warner at 419-861-1058 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Rain Barrel Workshop
Sunday, May 17, 1 p.m.
Olander Park Maintenance parking lot
Call (419) 882-8313 for more information
Rain Garden Presentation and Installation
May 16, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Oak Openings Lodge
Learn how to create a rain garden and then help Metroparks staff install one at the Buehner Center.
Oak Openings Blues Photo Exhibit
May 16 and 17, 12:00 noon- 5:00pm
Secor Metropark- Center for Nature Photography
Free exhibit featuring photos of the Oak Openings Region.
MNN is working with The Nature Conservancy to bring you state-by-state environmental information.