Aaron Smith Nature Preserve
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Montville Township is developing the area of the former Blue Heron Golf Course east of I-71 as the Aaron Smith Nature Preserve. The area, adjacent to the Blue Heron Event Center, is open for walking and bird watching. Parking is available at the Blue Heron Event Center. A trail under I-71 connects to Austin Badger Park, where there is also parking.
From Ken Ostermiller
About Aaron Smith Nature Preserve
Welcome to the Aaron Smith Nature Preserve. We hope that the beauty of this land inspires all of the visitors to these parks. This Nature Preserve is dedicated to provide, manage and maintain an outdoor living museum that fosters an understanding and appreciation of nature while building community based programs that maintain and enhance the natural diversity of the park. Enjoy the native plants, animals and the restoration of these natural areas. Be inspired by the beauty of these lands.
Montville Township was created in 1819. In that same year Aaron Smith and Thomas Currier and Austin Badger were elected as Montville Township’s first Trustees. All three sections of this 252 acre park land have been named in honor of these people.
From Aaron Smith Nature Preserve webpage
About Blue Heron Park Complex
What began as the Blue Heron Golf Course, Banquet Hall, and River Styx Grill in 2004 has today been repurposed into one of the most creative community projects in the country — a 252 acre recreational nature preserve consists of three separate but adjoining parks which include a first class mountain bike trail and a lodge-type coffee shop that houses a mountain bike/snow shoe rental business.
Now known as the Blue Heron Park Complex, three beautiful scenic nature reserve-type parks have resulted from grants, contributions and in-kind donations from 25 different agencies and organizations, and scores of volunteers from the community who worked together on various components of the project.
Austin Badger Park contains outdoor fitness stations (donated by the Cleveland Clinic). Also there, mountain bike trails (developed and donated by the Cleveland Mountain Bike Association) were constructed in 2016. More ramps and biking accoutrements are being added in 2018. Spokes II”, a lodge-type coffee shop, mountain bike, and snow shoe rental lodge opened in 2017. Mountain bike enthusiasts can rent various bicycles to try out on the course before buying them and a bike shop in Akron can follow up and make the sale. During the snowy months, outdoor enthusiasts can still enjoy the park by renting snow shoes. And coffee and other refreshments will be available for sale to park users all year round.
The second park to open was Aaron Smith Nature Preserve in 2017. This nature preserve contains walking trails, a field station for nature lovers, and is the home of many types of unusual plants and birds. In 2016, biologists from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History documented the song of the endangered Cerulean Warbler in an area of old growth forest. They also discovered several unusual plants which are now cataloged and stored at their museum. Also during that year, Montville Township received another Clean Ohio Fund Grant to help pay for the cost to connect the forests with native trees there and eliminate invasive species in all three parks.
The third park, Thomas Currier Nature Preserve, is under development.
From Blue Heron Park Complex brochure
No restroom facilities in the Nature Preserve. Restrooms are available at Austin Badger Park and the Blue Heron Event Center.