You can explore the natural world of…Ohio. Yes, you can. Ohio has two outstanding conservation and environmental education organizations than can inspire even the most indoors-oriented of people. Through their public programs, guided hikes, and serene natural areas, The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes (NCSL) and the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System (AAPS) are assets to the Buckeye state.
Yet it seems almost a non-sequitur that these two groups can do such similar things. This is because the NCSL and AAPS are in nearly opposite localities.
The AAPC buys land for conservation purposes in South-Central Ohio, an area where the Midwest Plains meets the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. This grassroots-based organization seeks to “reunite the temperate forest” and create a continuous corridor of preserved green space across this region. The center piece of their lands is the pristine and scenic Rocky Fork gorge, a small river that is in a nearly pristine condition. The surrounding land is generally rural and sparsely populated. The Appalachian Forest Museum interprets the natural habitats of the region with exhibits and visitor services.
The NCSL preserves one of the last remaining sections of an urban stream and wildlife corridor among the hustle and bustle of the inner-ring suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. The northeastern part of the state is considerably more populated, yet despite problems of urban blight, the Doan Brook remains relatively intact (see Photo A).
Photo A: Doan Brook, an urban stream that remains surprisingly intact. Photo copied fromon 9 July 2011.
The NCSL seeks to reunite people in the city to the natural environment. It also seeks to restore the vitality of the Doan Brook stream and watershed. The Nature Center itself has classrooms and hands on exhibits that welcome visitors into their urban nature preserve.
It’s interesting to think how these two organizations are so similar yet they work in such different landscapes. Map A shows an aerial view of the two regions to give you a visual comparison of what lands these people are working in:
Map A: Aerial views of the two regions. The Arc of Appalachia (left) is much more heavily wooded and considerably less developed than the area around the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes (right).
Perhaps one day these two places could be physically connected. Essentially, we could have “corridor” of green space, wildlife habitat, urban renewal projects, and sustainable agriculture from the NCSL in the suburbs of Cleveland all the way down to Ohio Appalachia. Folks may say projects like these are too ambitious, but if you can allow yourself to fantasize for just a few moments, then ask yourself: How amazing would that be?
This is the website for the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes:
This is the website for the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System:
This is my previous blog posting about Doan Brook, the small stream in the city that passes by the NCSL: