Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fernald Preserve Grand Opening

Today I had the opportunity to visit the brand new Fernald Preserve. Fernald is located in Harrison, OH and opened its gates for the first time on Wednesday August 20. After years as a uranium metal production facility, it has been converted to an amazing wildlife preserve. The U.S. Department of Energy has spent $4.4 billion to decontaminate the land from its days as a uranium facility. An additional $14 million was spent on ecological restoration and the building of a visitor center.

Fernald - 1988

The preserve covers 1050 acres and has a wide variety of habitats to explore. With 400 acres of woodland, 327 acres of prairie, 140 acres of open water and wetland, and 33 acres of savannah, the birding and photography possibilities are endless. There are many areas that will provide wonderful shorebird habitat when the water is low and all of the wetland areas are already home to many Green Herons. With the variety of habitats, this site offers great birding opportunities all year long.

They incorporated many eco-friendly features in the visitor center. They are using geothermal heating and cooling that will use the surrounding lakes to control the temperature. They have also built a marsh behind the visitor center that will act as a water treatment facility for the center’s waste water.

Fernald Preserve Visitor Center

While it does not appear that the preserve is completed yet, it holds tremendous potential for the future of birding in the Cincinnati area. The area has a few trails throughout the property but will hopefully allow more access by creating more trails throughout the property especially the woodlands. Even without the additional trails, it is an amazing place to bird.

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