Mentor Marsh: History, Tragedy, Recovery
by: Dr. David Kriska, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
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About the Presentation
Mentor Marsh is a National Park Service-designated National Natural Landmark (1966) for being one of the most species-rich sites on the Great Lakes shoreline. The Marsh was named Ohio’s first State Nature Preserve in 1971 and is a National Audubon Society Important Birding Area. This 806-acre wetland suffered dramatically in 1966 when salt-mine tailings leached into Blackbrook Creek. By 1973 most of the swamp forest trees and marsh plants had died, and the 4-mile long wetland basin was overtaken by reed grass (Phragmites australis), a 15 to 24 foot-tall nonnative invasive plant from Eurasia.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History began the large-scale restoration of Mentor Marsh in 2015. Guided by Museum restoration ecologists, the Phragmites monoculture is being sprayed with an aquatic-safe herbicide and then physically mashed flat to allow native plants to grow. Over 180 species of native plant species have been documented sprouting from the soil seed bank, including three Ohio state-threatened plants. Rare marsh birds—such as American and Least Bitterns, and Virginia, King and Sora Rails are nesting, and wading birds and waterfowl are now frequent. Yellow Perch fingerlings are now using the Marsh as a nursery and Northern Pike are spawning.
About the Presenter
Dr. Kriska joined the Museum in 2003 working for the Center for Conservation & Biodiversity & the Natural Areas Division. He specializes in rare plant and animal surveys, community ecology, and habitat restoration. Since 2008 he’s helped the Natural Areas Division acquire nearly 2,000 acres of critical habitat- the Museum currently has 60 scientific natural areas spread across 11,000 acres that contain unique natural communities, such as old growth forests, marshes, bogs, swamps and fens. These high-quality habitats- many are globally rare, together protect 250 different kinds of endangered, threatened, or rare plant and animal species, and represent the remarkable biological diversity that was once widespread throughout the region.
About the Series
The Interagency Ecological Restoration Quality Committee hosts monthly Webinars in an effort to bring restoration practitioners from across the country together to present and discuss the innovations aimed at improving the quality of ecological restoration data. Presentations are approximately 45 minutes in length, followed by open discussion.
About the Committee
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Great Lakes National Program Office established this Committee (including federal agencies, contractors, and ecological restoration practitioners) in June 2012 to share and develop quality practices that facilitate collection of reliable data for ecological restoration projects funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This Webinar series supports this collaborative effort; please join us! Contact Lou Blume (USEPA Quality Manager) for more details.