Former Natural Resources Director Honored by State Organization

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Former Metroparks natural resource director John Jaeger received the Ohio Biological Survey's Naturalist award for his contributions over many years to conserving the natural heritage of Ohio.

The award was presented February 29 at OBS's annual conference, held at the Toledo Zoo. [See below]

John worked in many capacities throughout his 26-year Metroparks career, beginning in law enforcement as a ranger and manager of Swan Creek Preserve. He was a naturalist and historic interpreter in the Educational Programming Dept. before becoming the park district's director of natural resources in 2002.

In his director role, John oversaw land protection, habitat management and restoration activities until his retirement in 2008.

John’s botanical legacy remains at Metroparks. For many years, he trained volunteers and staff in Ohio native plant identification, as well as appropriate monitoring techniques. In addition to monitoring many of Ohio’s rare and endangered plant species in the Metroparks, John created precise mapping to show where each of these populations was located. These populations have all been catalogued in a GIS database for everyday use, and the records were  submitted to the state’s natural heritage database to provide a better understanding of the Oak Openings Region’s unique flora.

John established Metroparks first formal plant community monitoring program at Oak Openings Preserve to document vegetation changes over time, especially in response to land management prescriptions. These monitoring plots established by John two decades ago are still in use today, providing a critical foundation to one of Ohio’s longest running ecological monitoring programs.

John is a perhaps best known as an engaging interpreter of nature and history. A favorite program was his portrayal of the Black Swamp Doctor, his great grandfather, Dr. Frederick Jaeger, who was a German physician from Woodville, Ohio in the 1840s.

John’s legacy as a botanist and interpreter is rivaled by his legacy as a conservationist. He was responsible for developing Metroparks first formal land acquisition plan which was used as the foundation for a 2002 levy that resulted in the acquisition of over 4,300 acres of new parkland in the Toledo region.

Using his extensive knowledge of the Oak Openings Region, John created the framework for the Oak Openings Corridor and was responsible for acquiring several key landholdings, including lands that would become two new Metroparks: Wiregrass Lake and Westwinds. Within Lake Erie’s coastal marsh region, John played a critical role in negotiating the acquisition of the 1,000-acre property that would become Howard Marsh and developing the restoration plan for the northern expansion of Pearson Metropark to create 300 acres of new Black Swamp forest habitat.

In the decade since his retirement from Metroparks, John has applied his energy and expertise to a new region as a tireless volunteer for the Arc of Appalachia.

Video: Lou Herbet profiled John for a story on WTOL.

 

OBS Conference Held in Toledo

The Ohio Biological Survey brought its annual conference to Toledo February 29 for the second stop on the “Physiographic tour of Ohio” -- the Northwestern Ohio Glaciated Lake plain.

OBS partnered with Metroparks, the Toledo Zoo and the Ohio Division of Wildlife to highlight the unique landscape features and biological diversity of northwest Ohio and the Lake Erie shore.

The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium hosted this special event, and Metroparks was able to showcase this unique region, offering field trips to Oak Openings Preserve and Howard Marsh. Approximately 200 people attended.

ODNR Director, Mary Mertz gave the keynote talk, discussing the new H2Ohio plan, which is an investment in targeted solutions to help reduce phosphorus runoff and prevent algal blooms through increased implementation of agricultural best practices and the creation of wetlands. She also highlighted many other conservation success topics around the state.

Other topics included the health of Lake Erie, Oak Openings region and northwest Ohio habitat restoration, glacial and post glacial land-forming events of northwest Ohio; orchids, and Blanding’s turtles.

Tim Schetter, Metroparks director of natural resources, gave a presentation, "Restoring Northwest Ohio’s Natural Heritage"; and staff members Kim High, Denis Franklin and Karen Menard led field trips.

An educational poster session was also included, with Metroparks presenting posters on rare plants, long-term butterfly monitoring and the Oak Openings Breeding Raptor Project.