Nature & Environment

Westlake Tree Commission hosts annual Arbor Day planting

Friday, April 27, was a beautiful day at Dover Intermediate School in Westlake to hold the annual Arbor Day tree planting ceremony. Mayor Dennis Clough, Westlake Service Director Paul Quinn III, Urban Forestry Manager Stan Barnard and members of the Westlake Service Department were there to assist with the planting of an October Glory red maple tree in front of the school.

Several weeks prior  to the ceremony, all fifth-grade students were invited to submit a poster explaining “Why trees are important to me!” At that time Mary Beth Schneidler, chairwoman of the Westlake Tree Commission, spoke to the students about Arbor Day, the importance of trees and to explain the contest; 117 members of the class designed a poster to enter in the annual contest! The posters were then judged by Stan Barnard and members of the Commission.

Excitement grew as Mayor Clough began to announce the six winners of the contest. The winners – Ciara Weaver, Isabella Frankito, Avery Schreffler, Austin Schneidler, Lindsay Sabo and Pramit Bafna – each received  a proclamation from the mayor announcing their day in Westlake and congratulating them for an outstanding poster. The students also received a ribbon for the winning posters and were told all the posters would be on display the next week at the Westlake Recreation Center.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 10:36 AM, 05.01.2018

Explorer Club 360 and the chemistry of Porter Creek

This is the last in a series of articles written by Explorer Club 360 on the health of Porter Creek, a stream that flows through Westlake and Bay Village, discharging to Lake Erie at Huntington Beach. Concern regarding the creek came from a 2014 study by the Cuyahoga County Health Department that stated that E. coli from Porter Creek was responsible for closing the beach for 10-20 percent of the swimming season.

Our assignment was to research the chemistry of Porter Creek. We looked for characteristics such as pH levels, total dissolved solids, salinity, conductivity and coliform. The goal of the assignment was to see if there is a main source where the most pollutants are being discharged into the creek water. We believe our assignment is important because if our creeks are being strongly polluted it may start to affect our main water source, Lake Erie. By taking these tests we were able to see the main pollutants in the water and how they are affecting our creeks.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 10:02 AM, 05.01.2018

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center launches Astronomy Club

Calling all local sky enthusiasts! Join Lake Erie Nature & Science Center on Wednesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. for the second meeting of Astronomy Club. NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador Bill Reed will share the latest news in space, gadgets and astronomy entertainment in a fun and social environment. Astronomy Club will also feature movie nights in Schuele Planetarium, hands-on workshops and telescope viewing.

Astronomy Club is recommended for adults and children ages 6 and up.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 10:00 AM, 05.01.2018

Cuyahoga River discussion set for May 1

The health of the Cuyahoga River will be the discussion topic for the Tuesday, May 1, meeting of the Westlake/North Olmsted Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland.  The public is welcome to attend at 7 p.m. at the North Olmsted Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library, 27403 Lorain Road.

Elaine Marsh, Watershed Specialist for Summit County Metro Parks, will present “Freeing the Falls,” the interwoven story of the Cuyahoga River, the Gorge Metro Park and its dam. Known for her many efforts for the Cuyahoga River, Ms. Marsh is a 1989 co-founder of the Friends of the Crooked River and maintains extensive involvement in water quality programs through the region.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 11:53 AM, 04.27.2018

Does baby wildlife need our help?

Spring is here and wildlife reproduction will soon be at its peak. As Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s wildlife staff prepares for their busiest season of the year, Director of Wildlife Amy LeMonds answers the most common questions her staff receives about baby wildlife.

Q: I noticed a fawn alone in the grass. Is it abandoned?

A: Baby wildlife is rarely abandoned in nature. Mothers will often leave their young unattended for several reasons. For instance, a fawn lying quietly by itself with no mother in sight is perfectly normal. Deer do this to protect their young, as the presence of an adult would attract the attention of predators.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:51 AM, 04.17.2018

Explorer Club 360 promotes water conservation challenge

This is the third in a series of articles written by Explorer Club 360 on the health of Porter Creek.

Over the winter Explorer Club 360 conducted an environmental study of Porter Creek. We found that its watershed needs help to reduce the negative impact that runoff is having on the creek ecosystem. As a positive and first step forward, we are suggesting the promotion of the Wyland Mayor's Water Conservation Challenge to the citizens of Bay Village and Westlake.

The challenge requires individuals to take the My Water Pledge, “a friendly competition between cities across the U.S. to see who can be the most 'water-wise.' Mayors nationwide are challenging their residents to conserve water, energy and other natural resources on behalf of their city through a series of informative, easy-to-use pledges online. Cities with the highest percentage of residents who take the challenge in their population category win.”

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:46 AM, 04.17.2018

Westlake Watershed Group to host stream cleanup

Since all stormwater flows directly into Lake Erie untreated, removing trash and other debris from the streams helps keep this vital resource vibrant.

The Westlake Watershed Group will hold the Community Spring Stream Cleanup on Saturday, May 5, from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers are asked to dress for the weather, bring gloves, and meet in the gazebo BEHIND Westlake City Hall at 27700 Hilliard Blvd. Pizza will be provided at noon for all who help!

Please RSVP by emailing sukipu@gmail.com by Monday, April 30. Details at www.cityofwestlake.org/Go-Green.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:44 AM, 04.17.2018

Explorer Club 360: The macroinvertebrate of Porter Creek

This is the second in a series of three articles on the health of Porter Creek, a stream that flows through Westlake and Bay Village, exiting at Huntington Beach into Lake Erie. Our concern regarding the creek came from a 2014 study conducted by the Cuyahoga County Health Department that showed E. coli from Porter Creek was responsible for closing the beach for 10-20 percent of the swimming season.

Our assignment was to study the benthic macroinvertebrate of the creek. “Benthic” means bottom dwelling, “macro” means big (big enough to be seen without a microscope) and “invertebrate” means without a backbone. In other words, water bugs that live in or on the creek bottom.

Our first step in our exploration of Porter Creek bottom-dwelling creatures was to obtain the necessary wild animal permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. At the cost of $25, Wild Animal Permit 19-117 allows us to collect macroinvertebrate for educational purposes.

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Volume 10, Issue 7, Posted 9:35 AM, 04.03.2018

Westlake Rain & Garden Show will explore ways to protect watershed

"Protecting Our Future" is this year’s theme for the City of Westlake’s Rain and Garden Show, which will be held at Crocker Park’s Market Square on Saturday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“The use of sustainable practices and conservation throughout our watershed helps protect our future,” said Robert Kelly, director of the Westlake Engineering Department. “We bring local vendors and organizations together at this family-friendly event, appealing to both adults and children to make it easier to learn how to help keep our local waterways clean and sustainable.”

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 10:11 AM, 03.20.2018

Explorer Club 360: Visual assessment of Porter Creek

This is the first in a series of three articles from members of Explorer Club 360 on the health of Porter Creek, a stream that flows through Westlake and Bay Village, exiting at Huntington Beach into Lake Erie.

Our concern regarding the creek came from a study conducted by the Cuyahoga County Health Department as reported in their June 30, 2014, “A Holistic Watershed Approach to Health at Huntington Beach.” In summary the report stated that E. coli from Porter Creek was responsible for closing the beach for 10-20 percent of the swimming season. Our assignment was to do a visual assessment of the creek, observing the presence of physical debris, foam, wildlife, bank erosion and the water characteristics such as flow, turbidity and clarity.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 10:14 AM, 03.20.2018

Bay Village ranks as a top 'Tree City' in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently announced that Bay Village ranked fifth out of 64 “Tree Cities” throughout the state. The Tree City USA Survey was conducted by the Ohio Division of Forestry to measure the success of urban forestry programs in communities across the state.

The survey scored Bay Village especially high for having an organized tree commission that works closely with the city arborist, and for creating and maintaining a tree ordinance.

The city’s tree commission is currently awaiting approval of an updated Tree Protection Ordinance, which will work in conjunction with the city’s Master Plan. This document details the regulations for planting, maintenance and removal of trees within Bay Village.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 9:43 AM, 02.20.2018

7 hacks to a more sustainable lifestyle

Wondering how you can live more sustainably? Reducing our environmental impact allows for a healthier planet and in turn yields a more productive social, economic and environmental climate. Alexa Wagner, education specialist at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, provides her suggestions on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Shop Sustainably

When browsing through the grocery aisles, look for sustainable products labeled as organic or fair trade. Studies have shown that organic foods (grown without the use of artificial pesticides and fertilizers) actually contain more nutrients than conventionally grown food.

Tip: Shop farmers markets for fresh, locally grown produce.

BYOB

Bring your own bottle, bag or box. Reusable water bottles are an easy way to implement sustainability into your lifestyle, and will save you money in the long run. Reusable bags also serve many purposes. Bring a few while running errands or use one to pack your lunch.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 9:42 AM, 02.20.2018

Hikes Before Homework

Take a nature break before settling in for homework!

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is excited to announce its new offering for students in grades 5-8, Hikes Before Homework. An education specialist will pick students up at Bay Middle School at dismissal for a brisk hike through Huntington Reservation to stretch their legs, fit in healthy exercise and clear their minds for the homework ahead. After the hike, students will head to the Center to start their homework in a quiet space.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.06.2018

How does wildlife cope with winter?

Northeast Ohio winters call for heavy coats, heated automobiles and cozy fires to escape the cold.

What about wildlife? How do animals cope with the harsh conditions of winter? Director of Wildlife, Amy LeMonds, is here to answer some of the most common questions she receives at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

Where does wildlife go?

Over time, wildlife has evolved and adapted to the climatic changes in their habitats. Animals who cannot cope with winter’s conditions have developed different mechanisms for survival. For example, some animals hibernate throughout the entire winter, while others migrate south to a warmer place.

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Volume 9, Issue 24, Posted 10:02 AM, 12.19.2017

New exhibits for children at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

Among the many live animals, the make-your-own constellation display and the ever-popular log, children and families visiting Lake Erie Nature & Science Center will have even more to enjoy. Two new exhibits have been installed to encourage children and adults to learn about our native species overhead and underwater.

“What is Your Wingspan?” invites children to compare their own arm span with the wingspans of native birds such as blue jays, mallards, red-tailed hawks and eagles. Positioned at a young learner’s level, the exhibit creates a colorful hands-on learning experience and a fun photo opportunity.

“Native Fish of Lake Erie” highlights many of the species living in our Great Lake, along with their size, ecological region and other fun facts. The display was designed in collaboration with Ohio Sea Grant to encourage reading and conversation as young children explore the Center’s live animal exhibits with their families.

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Volume 9, Issue 23, Posted 10:33 AM, 12.05.2017

Eyes to the sky this winter

Winter is known for its cold temperatures and snowy skies, but did you know winter happens to be one of the best times of the year to go stargazing? When winter skies are clear, they are crystal clear and hold some of the brightest stars in the night sky.

The Winter Solstice on Dec. 21 will mark the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year, as the sun will set at 5:01 p.m. Katy Downing, planetarium specialist at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, shares her favorite constellations to spot this winter.

Orion the Hunter

One of the most popular constellations, Orion the Hunter happens to be one of the easiest to find in the winter night sky. Look south in search of three stars crossing diagonally through a large rectangle. The three stars create Orion’s Belt, while the four stars of the rectangle represent Orion’s shoulders and knees. On a clear night, grab your binoculars and look for the Orion Nebula (a formation of gases and dust) within the constellation.

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Volume 9, Issue 22, Posted 9:58 AM, 11.21.2017

A squirrelly tale

Our backyard swimming pool remained open late this year, due to the beautiful fall weather we enjoyed. Louie, our resident Labrador, swims every day when the weather permits – and this fall the days were very conducive to his favorite pastime.

But last week was another story, and the setting for this tale. I looked outside on a cold day and saw a squirrel swimming in the pool. After he jumped out he lay on the deck, shivering from the cold water and exhaustion. My dad and I covered him with a towel for warmth. I called the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center for suggestions. They said to bring him to the Center, if possible.

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Volume 9, Issue 22, Posted 9:57 AM, 11.21.2017

Learn about the importance of our 'Crooked River'

The Westlake Garden Club is extremely pleased to welcome Elaine Marsh to present a program this month on the “Crooked River.” Elaine is the conservation director of the Friends of the Crooked River and project director at Ohio Greenways. Friends of the Crooked River was formed in 1990 to give a voice to the 100-mile length of the Cuyahoga River.

The group's purpose is to "educate the residents of Northeast Ohio to the value of this important watershed. We depend upon the Cuyahoga for our drinking water, wastewater disposal, agriculture, industry, shipping, recreation and wildlife habitat. Its far reaching impact on our lives should temper our view of the Crooked River with care, concern, and deep respect for all the Crooked River gives to us.”

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Volume 9, Issue 21, Posted 9:53 AM, 11.07.2017

Drivers urged to watch out for deer during breeding season

Deer breeding season begins in mid-October and runs through December. Male deer, or bucks, can often be found traveling together and marking their territory by scraping the ground or rubbing their antlers on trees. Eventually, increased testosterone and aggressiveness will force the bucks to separate and begin chasing does (female deer).

Whitetails are active around the clock, but less so during daylight hours. Most often, white-tailed deer are on the move at dawn and dusk. Their unpredictable behavior during breeding season can prove hazardous to humans and result in serious accidents.

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Volume 9, Issue 21, Posted 9:55 AM, 11.07.2017

Endangered salamander on view at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

A young Eastern Hellbender is now on display for children and families to discover and watch grow at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

The Eastern Hellbender, Ohio’s largest amphibian and North America’s largest salamander, is currently listed as an endangered species. Hellbenders are completely aquatic and spend their lives under large rocks in clean streams where they feed on crawfish and other aquatic organisms. Pollutants and runoff have caused increased sedimentation in breeding areas, resulting in poor water quality and low survival rates in young hellbenders. In fact, surveys over the past decade in Ohio have indicated over an 80 percent decline in the species.

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Volume 9, Issue 19, Posted 10:11 AM, 10.03.2017

6 fun and educational outdoor activities for young children

We can all agree that exposure to nature provides one of the most reliable boosts to mental and physical well-being, but do you know the great effects nature has on young children?

Our natural environment fosters children’s inherent need to move, touch and learn. Specifically, outdoor play is shown to enhance children’s sensory and social development, improve cooperation, reduce aggression, increase happiness and much more.

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s Preschool Staff shares their favorite activities below to improve your child’s outdoor literacy while enjoying the final days of summer. Not only will being outside boost your child’s mood, but yours too!

Take a hike

In the forest, in your neighborhood or even in your own backyard, go for a slow and mindful walk. Show your child every little thing that catches your eye and notice everything that catches theirs. You don’t need to teach or talk too much, just be present and notice. The lesson will teach itself.

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Volume 9, Issue 17, Posted 9:42 AM, 09.06.2017

How to make the most of August’s solar eclipse in Northeast Ohio

On Monday, Aug. 21, Americans will witness nature’s most spectacular show — a total eclipse of the sun.

What is a solar eclipse? Well, the moon orbits Earth approximately every 27 days. A solar eclipse is the cosmic coincidence when the moon passes exactly between the Earth and the sun, thereby casting a shadow onto Earth and blocking our view of the sun.

Partial, total and annular eclipses can be viewed every so often depending on one’s geographic location on Earth, but next month will be the first time in 99 years that the United States will experience a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse. The path of the moon’s shadow, or where the eclipse reaches totality, will cover 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Unfortunately, the total solar eclipse will not be viewable in Northeast Ohio, but that doesn’t mean we will miss out on this celestial event.

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Volume 9, Issue 14, Posted 9:58 AM, 07.18.2017

Bay Village group works to protect urban forest

Bay Village is known for its beautiful trees, and the city’s tree commission is working to make sure it stays that way for generations to come.

Sixteen trees were planted at Reese Park by the city’s service department last month, and the Bay Village Tree Commission is currently planning a fall planting on Glen Park Drive.

The Bay Village Tree Commission, made up of five residents, along with City Arborist Mike Polinski and City Council Representative Dave Tadych, works with city officials to preserve, fortify and improve the town’s urban forest. Trees help our neighborhoods by soaking up storm water, lessening air pollution, shading our homes (reducing heating costs), improving home values, and providing a home for birds and wildlife.

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Volume 9, Issue 13, Posted 9:32 AM, 07.05.2017

Bay High students win state-level Army eCYBERMISSION

The U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program has announced Bay High ninth-graders Khaled Hamil, Leo Cavalier and Nick LaRossa, the Alpha Team, as first-place Ohio state winners and regional semi-finalists in the 15th annual eCYBERMISSION competition – STEM initiative. The eCYBERMISSION, administered by the National Science Teachers Association, promotes self-discovery and enables students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Last winter the Alpha Team worked to evaluate the environmental status of Cahoon Creek. The team looked at the nitrogen and phosphorus chemicals in the creek soil and water, and determined the canopy cover along its length. Further details can be found in previous articles by conducting a search for “Cahoon Creek" on wbvobserver.com.

The team then submitted their write-up of the project to be evaluated and scored by volunteer virtual judges. One judge commented, “This project was extremely well done and I'm very impressed. I'm also thankful that you were able to identify some well qualified mentors to aid in your investigation. That is one of the most crucial aspects of a successful and in-depth investigation! Great job!!”

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 10:11 AM, 06.06.2017

Rehabilitated bald eagle soars back into the wild

After less than two weeks in captive care, a juvenile male bald eagle is free again thanks to the wildlife staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

The Center has performed wildlife rehabilitation as a free service to the public since its inception in 1945. The highly trained staff admits, assesses and treats 1,400 animals a year and over 100 species with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into the wild.

“When I began my career in wildlife rehabilitation 13 years ago, eagle populations were low in the state of Ohio. Today, we admit at least 1-2 eagles a year in need of human assistance,” said Amy LeMonds, Director of Wildlife at the Center.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 10:09 AM, 06.06.2017

DIS students learn the importance of trees

On Friday, April 28, Arbor Day, Westlake's fifth-grade students at Dover Intermediate School participated in a tree planting and award ceremony that was held at their school.

Led by Mayor Dennis Clough, Service Director Paul Quinn III, Urban Forestry Manager Stan Barnard, Tree Commission Chairperson Mary Beth Schneidler, and DIS Principal Alex Fleming, the students were invited to create posters depicting "Why trees are important to me!" Their posters were judged by Tree Commission members John Walz, Margie Rossander, Diane Morris, Justin Parks, Mary Beth Schneidler and Stan Barnard.

Over 70 posters were submitted with six winners being selected. The top posters were submitted by: Marisa Cutter, Aubrie Graber, Anastasia Boursinos, Alex Spring, Olivia Gentry and Ella Navratil. At the tree planting, each of the winners received a proclamation from the mayor along with a ribbon recognizing their achievement. All of the posters will be on display for one week at the Westlake Recreation Center beginning May 1.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 10:20 AM, 05.02.2017

Bay's waterways to get spring cleaning

Now in its 11th year, the Bay Village Waterways Cleanup Day, sponsored by The Bay Village Foundation, Bay High Project Earth Club, Bay Village Green Team and the Scouts, will be held on Saturday, May 27. All are welcome to meet at the Bay Middle School cafeteria to sign in before 11:00 a.m. Volunteers of all ages will go out in groups to clean up Bay's waterways and surrounding areas. Children should be accompanied by a parent or guardian or bring signed permission slip.

The city provides trash bags and gloves for use in picking up debris along Cahoon Creek, Columbia Park, Bay Boat Club, and other portions of the Lake Erie waterfront. The group works for more than two hours and finishes up back at the middle school where The Bay Village Foundation provides lunch.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 9:57 AM, 05.02.2017

Earth Day events in Bay divert tons of material from landfill

The Bay Village Green Team hosted two successful reuse and recycling events at the Bay Village Police Station on April 22 in celebration of Earth Day.

From 9 a.m. to noon, Gateway Recycling shredded paper and collected cardboard boxes from residents. There was a line of waiting cars before the event opened, and the steady stream of traffic continued throughout the morning as residents brought in more than 8 tons of material to be shredded and recycled. Gateway’s representative, Judy Battig, expressed surprise at the total collected weight, stating that it would be expected from a much larger city like Strongsville.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 10:14 AM, 05.02.2017

4 common myths about baby wildlife

Spring is here, meaning wildlife reproduction will soon be at its peak. At Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, Director of Wildlife Amy LeMonds and her staff are preparing for their busiest season of the year. Before the Center begins to receive an increase in animal intakes and phone calls from concerned residents, their expert wildlife staff is here to debunk four of the most common myths related to baby wildlife.


MYTH: "Mothers often abandon baby wildlife in nature."
Baby wildlife is rarely abandoned in nature. Mothers will often leave their young unattended for hours for a variety of reasons. For instance, a fawn lying quietly by itself with no mother in sight is perfectly normal. Deer do this to protect their young, as the presence of an adult would attract the attention of predators.

Similarly, raccoons and squirrels will frequently retrieve their babies when they end up out of the nest too early. They often maintain more than one nest or den site and will move their babies as needed.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 9:59 AM, 05.02.2017

Foam: Natural causes or pollution in our waters?

If the Cahoon Creek has a "clean bill of health," as reported by the Sea Scouts in the March 21 issue of the Observer, why is there foam in the creek? Is it from pollution? This question was posed by a reader of the Observer who lives by the creek. Two members of the Marine Environment Explorer Club 360, Norah Hamil and Jennie Koomar, set out to answer this question. Research suggested that a close examination of the foam would point to its source.

Foam is generated when there is a change in water surface tension and air is introduced. Surface tension is that force on a water/air interface that forms a slight film on the surface of water. Surface tension is what forms beads of water on a newly waxed car and also allows certain insects and spiders to walk on water. When certain chemicals, called surface active agents or surfactants, are introduced to the water the surface tension is reduced and then as air is introduced by turbulence, foam is formed.

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 9:59 AM, 04.18.2017

Birds of Lake Erie Day: For the beginning birder to the expert conservationist!

Join Lake Erie Nature & Science Center for its second annual Birds of Lake Erie Day on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Get ready to learn all about our local feathered friends, Lake Erie birding and much more with programs and activities for all ages, including:

  • Presentations by the Center’s expert wildlife staff on rehabilitating bird species
  • A bird hike throughout Huntington Reservation to the shores of Lake Erie led by Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist Tim Jasinski
  • Appearances from the Center’s ambassador animals and presentations by Project Wildlife students
  • Planetarium programs discussing the effects of light pollution on wildlife
  • Fun family activities
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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 10:22 AM, 04.18.2017

Spend Spring Break at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

Join Lake Erie Nature & Science Center over spring break for a special selection of star shows and animal encounters to engage the whole family! Meet the Center's resident animals at Critter Encounters and travel to space in a wide variety of planetarium shows. Don't forget to browse the indoor and outdoor exhibits! Programs will be offered April 17-21 and are $2-$5 per person. Information about all of the programs is available at lensc.org.

The Center is open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and offers free admission to the public. The Center will be closed on Sunday, April 16, for Easter.

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Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 9:19 AM, 04.04.2017

Cahoon Creek gets clean bill of health

This past winter the Sea Scouts, along with the middle school Marine Environment Explorer Club 360, conducted a study to determine the effects of runoff and storm water on the Cahoon Creek. We set out to determine if the creek was being affected by anthropogenic pollution. The study included analysis of the soil, water, over cover density and macroinvertebrate at the source of the stream (the Metroparks, Bradley Woods Reservation), at the mid-point, and at the mouth (Bay Boat Club).

The soils ranged from sandy to silt/loam to clay at the mouth. This difference helped explain the higher level of phosphorus at the source. A clay soil has great phosphorus ion holding capabilities whereas a sandy soil would allow phosphorus to easily flow into the stream. The over cover density or amount of tree growth along the stream, studied by looking at Google Satellite views on the web, averaged above the 100 feet width recommended by the experts. Other anomalies such as an acidic pH level of 6.0 and a low level of macroinvertebrate at the mouth could be explained by sampling later in the day with an overcast sky and limited sample size.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:08 AM, 03.21.2017

Backyard astronomy guide to visible planets

Keep an eye out for visible planets in March and April’s evening skies with the help of Katy Accetta, astrophysicist at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

Mercury

Mercury, the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System, is never too far from the sun in our skies. Mercury orbits the sun in 88 days, the shortest orbital period in the solar system, and spends most of its time behind the sun, in front of the sun or right next to the sun. When Mercury’s position and the sunset coincide, it becomes possible for us to see the often-hidden planet. Now is the best time of the year for ambitious sky watchers to catch Mercury as the planet will be set low in the western sky now through April 1. An especially great evening to catch Mercury, Mars and a crescent moon all in the western sky is March 30, where Mercury will resemble a bright star next to the setting sun.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:15 AM, 03.21.2017

Westlake Rain and Garden Show helps celebrate, protect environment

The City of Westlake’s Engineering Department and the Westlake Watershed Group are sponsoring the 6th Annual Rain and Garden Show to bring together experts to help individuals, families and businesses take simple steps to help our environment stay healthy for generations to come and learn how to save money at the same time.

As part of the City’s “Go Green” Program, the Rain and Garden Show will be held on Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to raise awareness on storm water quality and promote eco-friendly products and healthy living. Attendees can also enter a free raffle for a special prize.

The event is free and open to the public. After five years at the Westlake Recreation Center, this year’s show will be at the new Market Square at Crocker Park, located at the end of Market Street, west of Trader Joe's. Free parking is available nearby.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:30 AM, 03.07.2017

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center offering wildlife internships

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is seeking two interns to join their Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff and take part in a unique educational opportunity this upcoming summer. Interns will gain hands-on experience working side-by-side with staff by assisting with animal care, wildlife rehabilitation and public education.

Responsibilities include:

  • Assisting with the cleaning, feeding and additional daily care of resident animals
  • Assisting with the care of animals admitted to the wildlife rehabilitation program
  • Assisting with the Center’s public education and programming
  • Department administrative and organizational duties
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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:31 AM, 03.07.2017

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center unveils new NASA exhibit

NASA ViewSpace is your direct line to everything NASA, and it is now ready for visitors to enjoy at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center!

Located in the Center’s redesigned "Space Corner,” ViewSpace displays the latest images, movies, animations and news from NASA observatories. This astronomy exhibit never goes out of date as it showcases a variety of topics including astronomy photos of the day, updates on the Hubble Space Telescope, discoveries made on the Mars Exploration Rover and more. ViewSpace will provide visitors with 5-10 minute segments presented in an easy-to-read format. Its captivating music and stunning images are not to be missed!

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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 9:49 AM, 02.21.2017

Sea Scouts and Club 360 visit the source of Cahoon Creek

The Sea Scouts and Explorer Club 360 went on a field trip to Bradley Woods Reservation on Jan. 13 in search of the source of Cahoon Creek. We were accompanied by Cleveland Metroparks naturalist, Martin Calabrese. The Sea Scouts and Explorer Club 360 are working on eCybermission projects, a STEM competition offered by the Army Educational Outreach Program; the Scouts and Explorers are investigating the effect of pollution in Cahoon Creek on plant growth and testing soil and water samples from the source, middle, and mouth of the creek.

During our research for the project, the course of Cahoon Creek was traced upstream through Bay Village, Westlake and North Olmsted to its primary source in the Bradley Woods Reservation. Mr. Calabrese led a hike through Bradley Woods which is the ONLY swamp forest on the Metroparks property, to find the exact source of Cahoon Creek. While we hiked Mr. Calabrese showed us how to use a densitometer, which is used to see how dense the land around you is. It has a mirror with grid lines on it and you look at the mirror facing up and count how many squares out of 24 have tree branches, trees or leaves. 

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:55 AM, 02.07.2017

5 ways you can help endangered pollinator populations

It may be difficult to look at a black and yellow insect with a stinger and not think, “Yikes! Get that stinging thing away from me!” However, the fuzzy variety of yellow and black insects, the honeybee and bumblebee, are not likely to cause you any harm.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently designated the Rusty Patched Bumblebee an endangered species, a first for bee species in the United States. Their status will go into effect on Feb. 10, as will their new federal protections and recovery plan.  

The bumblebee population has struggled in recent years, mainly due to habitat loss caused by the mowing and development of grasslands and prairies. In order to prevent the increase of bee and other pollinator species on the endangered species list, we must be proactive. 

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 9:40 AM, 01.24.2017

Students launch Cahoon Creek ecology study

To answer the question, “Is the Cahoon Creek polluted with urban runoff and storm sewer drainage?”, a seventh-grade team from the Explorer Club 360, and a ninth-grade team from the Sea Scouts, are collecting bed stream soil and water samples along the course of the creek. Explorer Club 360 will plant seeds in the collected soil and water them with the samples taken from Cahoon Creek. The ninth-graders will do a soil classification study and chemical analysis of the water and soil samples.

After tracing the course of Cahoon Creek on a large scale topographical map, the two crews determined that the creek runs from its mouth at Bay Boat Club through the city of Westlake to the origin or primary headwater in the Metroparks' Bradley Road Reservation of North Olmsted. The students gathered at the mouth of the creek where it flows into Lake Erie for a discussion with Lt. Col. Paul Moody, an associate professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 10:09 AM, 01.10.2017