The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 2, 2014

Nature Conservancy, volunteers help rare bird

Star Beacon

MORGAN TOWNSHIP — Eighteen volunteers gathered Saturday to increase the likelihood of the Common Tern’s survival in the state of Ohio.

Volunteers created 100 wooden bird shelters to make a habitat for the Common Tern just a little bit better and safer.

Shelters will be inserted in a converted portion of the Ashtabula Breakwall designed to attract the Common Terns during migration.

“We are building these very simple shelters that will keep the birds from the sun,” said Central Lake Erie Watersheds Project Manager for the Nature Conservancy Karen Adair.

“It (the Common Tern) is endangered in Ohio. Part of what this project does is create habitat that no longer exists,” she said.

Adair said the conservancy is working with the Army Corp of Engineers on the project to increase the amount of Common Terns in Ohio.

“In April (the Army Corp of Engineers) will put these decoys in,” Adair said of attempts to attract the birds.

“There is so much important work being done in Ashtabula Harbor,” Adair said. She said the Army Corp of Engineers has already created an area to draw the birds to the breakwall during migration.

Adair said there are also significant projects in the works to make Walnut Beach a better place for the environment and for people. The city of Ashtabula, the conservancy and other organizations are expecting to hear whether a request for $700,000 in Department of the Interior funds will be made available.

The money is intended to recreate natural shore patterns to help when severe storms arrive. “When future severe storms happen this is to reduce the effects,” she said.

Workers gathered Saturday morning at the Nature Conservancy in Morgan Swamp area to create the wooden shelters. “We have projects pretty much every Saturday all over Ohio,” Adair said.

Charles Fletcher, of Burton, has worked on dozens of projects over the past 15 years. “I just love doing it and I love seeing what the woods look like when (the projects are complete),” he said.

He is a volunteer project manager and has volunteered more than 5,000 hours of work time.

“I’m a student at Kent State University and I’ve been volunteering at the Nature Conservancy. This is my third year,” said Cassandra Clevenger of Warren.

The 60 acre Nature Conservancy property connects to the Morgan Swamp area that is 1,400 acres, Adair said. She said the property was donated by the Cleveland City Mission several years ago and the Nature Conservancy is beginning to formulate plans for the property.