Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Amazing Monarch

Monarch butterfly on Milkweed at Lake Erie Bluffs - photo by greennite

By Tom Koritansky, Natural Resource Manager

Monarchs are part of a group of butterflies known as milkweed butterflies that lay their eggs exclusively on various species of milkweed upon which young caterpillars feed, grow and develop. Monarchs serve a vital function in our planet’s ecology by pollinating many plants in their search for nectar.

Milkweeds are perennial plants. During the summer and into fall, these plants produce showy flowers in various shades of pink and are an excellent source of nectar for many pollinating insects. Milkweed can be found growing in dry upland meadows and old fields, open floodplains and along the edges of ponds, lakes and streams. Besides being the only food source for caterpillars, milkweed also gives developing monarchs protection from predators.

Milkweed contains chemicals known as cardenolides that when ingested give caterpillars a bitter taste. The protective chemistry provided by feeding on milkweed and their bright coloration serves as a warning to predators to stay away. Monarchs migrate south from Northeast Ohio to Mexico in late August. Each year, the voyage becomes more difficult as natural areas that once served as breeding grounds and stopover sites rich in milkweed are removed from the landscape because of land use changes. This loss has contributed to a noticeable decline in monarch populations. Without its milkweed host plant, monarchs cannot successfully reproduce, and without a plentiful food supply rich in flowering plants, all migrants are not able to complete their journey.

Natural areas within Lake Metroparks that contain a variety of wildflowers are incredibly important for the monarch’s survival. Large open meadows with great varieties of flowering plants like those at Hidden Lake in Leroy Township, Skok Meadow at Girdled Road Reservation in Concord Township and Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland are ideal locations for monarchs to stop and feed along their journey. Earlier this year, Lake Metroparks’ natural resources staff planted milkweed in several plots at Lake Erie Bluffs, Lakeshore Reservation and Penitentiary Glen Reservation as a way to encourage breeding habitat for monarchs in those parks.

By planting milkweed and conserving butterfly-friendly habitat, we can all do our part to help save monarchs.

Click here to learn more about Wildlife Management by Lake Metroparks.

Penitentiary Glen Reservation
September 13, 2015 • noon to 4 pm

Bug Day is a free fun-filled afternoon of free family fun including family-friendly games, demonstrations, storytelling, live animal exhibits and buggy activities of many kinds. “Bugology” degree certificates are earned by children who participate in at least five of the “buggy” activities.

Learn how to help bugs like bees and monarch butterflies, whose populations are in decline. The loss of any species weakens the entire ecosystem that all species rely on for survival, including humans. We will take a closer look at these creatures and find out why they are such an important component of the environment and what each of us can do to help. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Experience the Grandness of the Grand

You might not know just how grand the Grand River is if you haven’t been to Lake Metroparks’ River Jamboree! The Grand River represents one of the finest examples of a natural stream found anywhere in Ohio. Mainly due to the rugged surroundings and minimal impact from urbanization and development, the Grand River became the second river to be designated Wild and Scenic by the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program.

The Grand River runs 103 miles passing through five counties in Northeast Ohio. The headwaters start in Geauga and Portage counties, then flow northeast through Trumbull and Ashtabula counties before taking a 90 degree turn into Lake County. Once in Lake County, the Grand runs 26 miles to its mouth in Fairport Harbor. The river borders 12 Lake Metroparks, which protects 30 percent of the river shoreline.

The Grand River has the most aquatic diversity of any Ohio Lake Erie tributary due to the slower moving waters and neighboring wetlands. These wetlands provide fantastic habitat for countless wildlife species including river otters, which have made a comeback after their reintroduction by the Division of Wildlife in 1986. Eagles and ospreys can be seen flying overhead and on warm days northern map turtles and spiny softshell turtles bask along the river bank. There are 87 fish species in the Grand, including longnose gar, smallmouth bass and rainbow darters. Additionally, the river is home to an impressive 22 species of freshwater mussels, the most endangered animals in North America.

Hidden Valley Park
July 12 • 1 to 4 pm
FREE • Registration requested

This year’s River Jamboree allows you to “get wet with nets.” Take the time to try out several different types of nets to find insects, fish, snakes and more. Bring family and friends to jump in and experience the remarkable Grand River with us on Sunday, July 12 at Hidden Valley Park in Madison. Lake Metroparks naturalists and local conservation groups will be on hand with fun activities for the whole family.

The River Jamboree is a free event. Registration is requested and can be made online or by calling 440-358-7275.

Article by Trevor Wearstler, Interpretive Naturalist

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sheep come in all different shares and sizes, colors and personalities

Rachel Gordon Sheep Paintings featured at Shearing Weekend at Farmpark

Sheep have been a companion to humans for thousands of years. They provide us with everything we need – food, clothing, milk, warmth, companionship, shelter, musical instruments – and yet what do we think of when we think of sheep? Most of us think boring, white, fluffy, gentle animals who do not think for themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth! Like people, sheep come in all different shapes and sizes, colors, and personalities.

Like people, sheep like being connected to each other and living in community – and they are each unique as individuals. I am fascinated by the interplay of outer appearance and inner self - our exterior as a reflection of our interior and vice versa - how much we judge and make assumptions based on appearance and the dream of reaching unity in the diversity. Inside Outside Sheep celebrates the uniqueness of each one of us. We are better as a whole when each one of us is able to radiate out what makes us special inside. What’s your inner sheep?

Children will paint their own mini sheep as a craft during the weekend.

Shearing Weekend
Lake Metroparks Farmpark
May 30 & 31, 2015 • 9 am to 5 pm

Watch us shear our sheep of their winter coats and process it into a variety of fiber products. Learn how to spin, weave and make felt and meet fiber-producing animals including sheep, llamas and alpacas.

Meet Rachel Gordon at Farmpark May 30 & 31

Rachel Gordon creates fun and unique art in many different media. She has been passionate about sheep for many years –as paintings, prints, drawings, and small sculptures – and loves how they make her laugh as their personalities emerge. When she isn’t working or hanging out with the sheep, she illustrates children’s books and publishes coloring pages for kids every week on her blog Rachel also works in photography, fiber art, conceptual art and installation, illustration, and printing. A common thread in her art is encouraging people to stop and see the beauty, wonder, and fun in everyday life and objects.

Rachel lives in Cleveland. Her work has been exhibited in the USA, Russia, and Israel. She has been recognized by the State of Israel as an artist of high distinction and was a recipient of the 2014 Cleveland Jewish Arts and Culture Lab Fellowship.

Follow her work on Facebook (Rachel Gordon Art) and her websites and
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About Me

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Lake Metroparks offers a variety of opportunities for fishing including stocked ponds as well as river, stream and lakeshore access.
Lake Metroparks' aquatic resources bring value to our parks and to Lake County. From the depths of our ponds to the edges of our rivers and streams to the beaches of Lake Erie, Lake County's watery resources afford our citizens unrivaled opportunities to enjoy fishing.