Blackbrook Audubon underscores the return of biodiversity to Mentor Marsh during presentation by Becky Donaldson, on October 15

Several years into a large-scale restoration, Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve is teeming with life again. Blackbrook Audubon invites everyone to hear about the renewal of native plants, birds and other wildlife to the 691-acre marsh at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15th at Penitentiary Glen. Becky Donaldson, a naturalist in the Natural Areas Division of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, will share the science, stories and photographs of the Museum’s restoration successes in the “Return of Mentor Marsh Birds and Biodiversity.”

Designated an Important Bird Area by National Audubon Society, the marsh was drastically altered when salt-mine tailings were released into it in the 1960s. By the 1970s, most of the swamp forest trees and marsh plants had died. A nonnative, invasive reed grass, Phragmites australis, filled the void and left a monoculture of vegetation incompatible with local wildlife. The 15-foot-high wall of grass blocked native plants and presented a fire hazard to surrounding neighborhoods. Aerial and ground-based spraying combined with mechanical trampling have suppressed Phragmites enough to allow the seed bank to sprout vegetation once common in the marsh. To accelerate desired ground cover, the Museum has planted more than 19,000 plants of two dozen species native to the marsh. This has provided food and cover for insects, amphibians, birds and fish, nurturing a resurgence of life in the marsh.

The program is open to all. Penitentiary Glen is at 8668 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Kirtland. For more information, visit Blackbrook Audubon Society. Follow Blackbrook Audubon Society on Facebook. Blackbrook Audubon is the local chapter of National Audubon Society covering Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake counties.

Pictured In Cover Photo: Virginia Rail catching tadpole in Mentor Marsh

Photo Credit: Joan Scharf