Lake Erie field guide in the works
$29,000 grant awarded for project
Port Clinton News Herald
Lake Erie Coastal Ohio, Inc. and the Ohio Chapter of The
Nature Conservancy have received a $29,500 Lake Erie Protection
Fund grant to design a Lake Erie Islands Field Guide and
to develop a survey regarding visitor needs and expectations.
The grant was awarded Sept. 4 during an Ohio Lake Erie
Commission meeting in Cleveland. Monies from the grant
come from the sales of license plates depicting the Marblehead
The Nature Conservancy and a partner organization, The
Nature Conservancy of Canada, have identified the Western
Lake Erie Islands as a Priority Conservation Area. They
recently completed a site conservation planning process
on the island with input from more than 50 agencies, organizations
and local participants.
"The western Lake Erie islands and reefs are a mosaic
of important aquatic and terrestrial resources, crossing
the boundary of Ohio and Ontario," said Kay Carlson
of the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. "Globally
rare shoreline alvar communities and the federally-listed
Lake Erie water snake are found on the island coasts.
The islands and coastal areas provide critical stopover
habitat for migratory birds. The waters of the region
are shallow, warm, relatively clear and high in nutrients,
making this the most productive habitat in the Great Lakes.
The reefs and coasts provide spawning and nursery grounds
for walleye and other fish."
The Nature Conservancy and the conservation team participants
identified nature-based tourism as a strategy for raising
awareness of the island's unique natural features and
for encouraging these areas to be protected as tools for
tourism. The Nature Conservancy has teamed up with Lake
Erie Coastal Ohio to implement a plan for creating a nature-based
tourism tool for the islands to protect the resources
while boosting island economies.
Lake Erie Coastal Ohio, Inc. is a nonprofit organization
developed in March 2002 that links those with both tourism
and resource protection interests along the Lake Erie
shoreline. "Nature-based tourism is one of the fastest
growing tourism markets," said Melinda Huntley, executive
director. "But these folks want something more than
just birds and flowers. There are more people who want
to explore both nature and history than there are those
that seek only nature during a vacation experience."
The field guide will highlight more than 40 different
sites on Kelleys Island, South Bass Island, Middle Bass
Island and Pelee Island.
Detailed information about the islands' geology, ecology
and history will be provided such as how the islands have
embraced their resources over the years, including settlement
patterns, military history and importance, grape-growing
and wine-making industries, and the importance of unique
island habitats, including alvar.
Project funding also includes the development of a survey
that will be a part of the printed publication.
"Resource-based travelers are generally Baby Boomers
with discretionary time and dollars," said Huntley.
"These guests explore areas year-round, so they are
important for us to reach as we focus on extending our
tourism season and diversifying our tourism experiences.
The survey will explore these travelers' expectations
and desires. What did they like best about their experience?"