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Fernald Preserve Attracts 50,000 Visitors

July 10, 2014 - 3:48pm

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The Fernald Preserve Visitors Center opened in August 2008.

Gary Studer, a longtime resident of the greater Cincinnati area, is a regular visitor to the Fernald Preserve in Ohio, enjoying activities like trail walks and bird watching.

On Saturday, March 1, 2014, Gary became the 50,000th recipient of the guest services provided by the Fernald Preserve Visitors Center and its staff. In honor of the occasion he was photographed, interviewed, and presented with a gift bag of items imprinted with the Fernald Preserve logo.

Gary’s favorite part of visiting the preserve is meeting birders, bird watching, and participating in the informative and enjoyable public programs that are offered at the site. He likes to explore new areas as they become available for public use, such as the recently opened wildlife observation blind and access path. Gary shares his appreciation for nature and the site with friends and family, who occasionally accompany him on his outings.

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Fernald Preserve’s milestone visitor, Gary Studer, enjoys the restored natural areas.

Since its opening in August 2008, the Fernald Preserve has offered the public a variety of services including trails, nature and history programs for all ages, a community meeting room, and educational outlets like the Cold War Era museum. The site’s visitors center is open Wednesday through Saturday, and the 7 miles of walking trails that wind through acres of restored, native-Ohio habitats are available 7 days a week during daylight hours.

Today, the local community of birders comprises one of the largest groups of guests to use the nature trails at the Fernald Preserve. Restoration of expansive wetlands and grasslands invite nesting and refueling during migration by many bird species that are uncommon to the area. Recently guests have enjoyed watching the activities of Great Egrets, Eastern Meadowlarks, Wilson’s Snipes, and Northern Harriers. Gary is often among the many visitors who come to the preserve armed with binoculars and cameras.

Public program activities are offered at the site on a regular basis (approximately 1,000 people attend each year), and Gary can often be found feeding his interests through participation. Working with staff, he has set up his large telescope so other visitors can experience an “astronomical extension” to one of the site’s evening events, such as a Nature at Night Hike, or an Owl Prowl. The naturalists at the site are always happy to see Gary among the public program guests.

Upon completion of its construction, the Fernald Visitors Center was awarded Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED); the first to receive such an award in the state of Ohio. Tours of the sustainable building and its infrastructure are sometimes requested by interested guests.

Remediated and restored wetland and grassland areas can be seen through the center’s panoramic viewing windows. Trail access and a shaded, outdoor shelter are right outside its doors. The Cold War Era educational exhibits are considered the best in the region. The exhibits recognize former site land owners and remember the thousands of Cold War workers employed at the Fernald Feed Materials Plant during its production years.  All were part of the historic effort to protect America by participating in the construction and operation of a nationwide weapons-production complex. Exhibits also detail the former site’s closure and clean up, recognizing the myriad of stakeholders who were involved in the extensive effort.

Each year approximately 3,000 people make the Fernald Preserve and Visitors Center one of their experience destinations in order to learn more about the Fernald site and its history. Another 2,000 people participate in non-profit organization meetings that are hosted in the center’s state-of-the-art community meeting room.

On an annual basis, an additional 2,000 to 3,500 people are offered opportunities to take part in special request programs that are tailored to meet their group’s needs. Topics range from site history to ecological restoration, and local natural history.

Gary Studer, like many others, enjoys the changing landscape and the ecological recovery at this community asset that is the Fernald Preserve.

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