20 ACRES OF THRIVING HABITAT
RESTORING THE NATURAL AREA
Learn about the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes Restoration Initiative and access valuable educational resources for your classroom.
In 2019, the Nature Center launched a property-side habitat restoration initiative in order to increase biodiversity, improve water quality and flood control in the Doan Brook watershed, and provide higher quality habitat for wildlife. Since then, we have made substantial progress. First we cleared approximately five acres of invasive shrub species (privet, Japanese honeysuckle, and buckthorn) that had edged out native plants and formed dense thickets in many areas of our 20-acre property. We then planted native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species to restore upland forest, floodplain, and wetland habitats. Between 2019 and 2021, we installed over 6,300 native plant species with the help of local students and our teenaged Summer Stewardship Volunteers.
Diversity of Habitats
Despite its urban location, the Nature Center contains a diverse variety of native habitats. In a short walk around our 20 acres, visitors can observe riverine marsh habitat, floodplain forests and swamps, vernal pools in rich hardwood forest, and upland forest along the ridges overlooking Doan Brook. Given the easy accessibility the Nature Center provides to these examples of Ohio's native habitats, the National Park Service designated the Nature Center a National Environmental Education Landmark and a National Environmental Study Area in 1971, one of the first organizations to earn this designation by the Park Service. The Nature Center is also located in an Audubon Important Bird Area, and dedicated volunteers have been collecting bird banding data at our site for over 20 years.
Our comprehensive restoration initiative is designed to address threats to biodiversity including:
• Invasive plant species that out-compete native species
• Overabundance of deer that results in the forest understory being over-browsed by hungry deer
• Pests and disease that weaken our forest habitat by attacking native tree species
Beech Leaf Disease
The most recent threat to our forests is posed by beech leaf disease. This disease, which was discovered in Ohio in 2012, has been documented on the Nature Center’s site and typically causes tree death within six years of initial infection. There is no known cure at this time, so we must plant a variety of different tree species and encourage forest succession in areas where mature beech trees dominate the canopy. In choosing which trees to plant, we have used the U.S. Forest Service’s Climate Change Tree Atlas to select species that are adapted to the future climate predicted for Northeast Ohio. This will help increase forest resiliency in the face of anticipated climate change and associated threats such as pests and disease.
RESTORATION IN ACTION
View our restoration sites through our visitors' photos to watch changes in vegetation over time!