Museum plans to acquire Bristol swamp area

BRISTOL – The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is in the process of acquiring wetland and swamp property in the township to be used as one of the museum’s offsite nature preservation areas.

The museum has spoken to township and county officials in the past year, expressing interest in the Spokane Swamp area, which is mostly natural wetlands. The Spokane Swamp is located off Hyde-Shaffer Road, east of state Route 45

Garrett Ormiston, geographic information systems specialist with the museum, said the museum received a $77,000 Clean Ohio Conservation grant to purchase 72 acres of property in Bristol. He said the purchase process should be completed in the spring.

The museum wants to preserve it for the varied plant and wildlife there, including rare amphibians and plants. Last year the museum hosted two educational nature programs at the site, a night hike and a day hike, for the public.

David Kriska, a biodiversity coordinator at the museum, led an amphibian walk at Spokane Swamp, showing what is available for exploration.

“We would like to continue offering programs for the public. The nature enthusiasts love it. We had a good turnout for the night hike,” Ormiston said.

Kriska said field trips to the properties allow a team of experts to survey for rare plant and animal species and to give tours to museum members and others.

Bristol Trustee Chairman Doug Seemann said trustees see this “as a great opportunity” for the township in promoting eco-tourism near the Western Reserve Greenway Trail and the Grand River Wildlife Area.

“The bike trail there is being used more and more in the spring, summer and fall. … The Spokane Swamp is so wet that it could not be utilized for anything else,” he said.

Last fall, trustees approved a resolution supporting the museum’s efforts.

Ormiston said the process started three years ago with a letter sent to Trumbull County officially expressing interest in wetlands in the county. The county commissioners, in addition to Bristol trustees, have also approved the museum’s efforts.

He explained the museum started to inventory the area and has worked with the private landowners, who live near the site, to work out a sales agreement. Part of that process has been applying for grants to help pay for the purchase.

Several years ago the museum purchased close to 293 nearby acres, near the intersection of Downs and Bristol-Champion Townline roads, known as the Sparks Preserve. The museum owns three preserves in Trumbull County, two in Mesopotamia Township covering 265 acres and the Sparks Preserve in Bristol.

Ormiston said the museum is always interested in looking at properties for surveying with a goal to preserve natural areas including hardwood forests, marsh, swamp and wetlands. Anyone with such property may call the museum at 216-231-4600, Ext. 3352.