Conservation stories featuring the Land Conservancy & our partners

June 18, 2015

Mill Creek watershed is sitetrees

of massive tree planting

Three hundred and fifty trees will be planted along Mill Creek, a tributary to the Cuyahoga River, as a result of a $17,500 grant awarded to Western Reserve Land Conservancy by American Forests and the Alcoa Foundation. The trees will be planted this fall in the largest remaining wetland along Mill Creek in the Village of Highland Hills as part of Reforest Our City, an initiative of the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute in partnership with the newly formed Mill Creek Watershed Partnership.

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June 1, 2015

Citywide property surveylorain

set to begin in Cleveland

The nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy, in collaboration with the City of Cleveland, will in June begin surveying all of the more than 150,000 parcels in Cleveland – and the buildings associated with them – to provide an updated snapshot of the condition of those properties. The citywide survey, which will begin this week and run through September, is being conducted by the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute in cooperation with the City’s Department of Building and Housing, Cleveland City Council and local community development corporations.

Survey crews will start in the Collinwood neighborhood and generally work east to west.

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May 1, 2015

Land trusts praise Portman for stanceportman

on conservation easement tax incentive

Ohio’s top land trusts are applauding U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s decision to back legislation that would make permanent a federal tax incentive for those who preserve land with a conservation easement. Portman this week became one of six new cosponsors of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (S. 330), the Senate bill eliminating the expiration date on the incentive. The move drew praise from the Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts (COLT) and its member organizations, including Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Tecumseh Land Trust, the Appalachia Ohio Alliance and the Black Swamp Conservancy.

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March 27, 2015

Grant to help Land Conservancy

preserve property along Grand Rivergrand river

Another 1,000 acres in the Grand River Lowlands in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties will be permanently preserved thanks to federal funding secured by Western Reserve Land Conservancy.The Land Conservancy has been awarded a $750,000 federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to purchase conservation easements from landowners along the Grand River over the next two years. The organization will provide an additional $250,000 for the project. A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values while the owner retains title.

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January 30, 2015

Family permanently preserveslonesome

Copley Township farm

The largest remaining farm in Copley Township has been permanently protected. Lonesome Pine Farm, a 119-acre tract in western Summit County, has been permanently preserved with a conservation easement granted to the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy by owners Sally Gamauf and her daughter, Darcy Brandel. The farm, which has been in the family for 92 years, is on Cleveland-Massillon Road, about a half-mile south of Copley Circle. “Darcy and I wanted to see it remain farmland forever,” said Gamauf, a retired University of Akron psychologist and former member of the Land Conservancy’s Medina Summit Chapter.  “We also wanted preserve the farm in honor of my father and my grandparents.”

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January 21, 2015

Land Conservancy preserves

its first farm in Wayne Countycanaan

Lemoine “Lee” Peart said when she and her family began looking to buy a farm the 1980s, they identified 10 qualities that would constitute the ideal property.  Most of the farms fell short in several areas.  Then Peart visited a former sheep farm in Wayne County, about two miles south of Burbank.“This farm hit everything on our list,” she said.  “Not only did it have what we were looking for in a farm, it had wonderful natural areas.  To this day, people marvel at what a beautiful place it is.”

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January 2, 2015

Former golf course is now

part of Lorain County Metro Parksroyal

A former golf course is the newest addition to the Lorain County Metro Parks.

The park district partnered with the non-profit Western Reserve Land Conservancy to purchase the 97-acre former Royal Oaks Golf Club in the village of Grafton.  Funding for the purchase came from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, a voter-approved source of revenue for projects preserving natural areas in the state, and the park district. The property is now part of the Metro Parks’ Indian Hollow Reservation and preserves approximately 2,100 linear feet of the East Branch of the Black River as well as wetlands, vernal pools, forest and open meadows.

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December 15, 2014Campaign would makemarblehead

lifeboat station a public park

The nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the Village of Marblehead are launching a campaign to create a new coastal park that will provide public access for fishing, hiking and bird-watching.  The campaign seeks to raise funds to acquire the two-acre Marblehead Lifeboat Station property and make it a public park.

Rich Cochran, president and CEO of the Land Conservancy, said it is “an extraordinary opportunity” to make the site – already platted for a residential subdivision by the current owner – a public asset instead of another private development. More than 80 percent of the Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio is developed or privately owned.

The park may also include an ADA accessible, non-motorized boat launch ramp.

Cochran said even if the Land Conservancy succeeds in securing public grants for the project, there will be a critical need for matching funds.  Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to Western Reserve Land Conservancy to fund the project can do so here.

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December 5, 2014

Land Conservancy helps addcvnp

30 acres to national park

The nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the National Park Service (NPS) have effectively filled a “hole” in the footprint of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) by adding 30 acres of new parkland in Boston Township. The sloping property, located on the south side of Hines Hill Road, just north of the Ohio Turnpike and south of Interstate 271, is surrounded by the national park and includes a portion of Stanford Run, a tributary of the Cuyahoga River.  The parcel is heavily forested and includes several ravines and small streams.The Land Conservancy successfully negotiated a purchase agreement with the owner and identified a funding source that enabled it to acquire the property and turn it over to the NPS, which had expressed an interest in the parcel as far back as 2001. Funding for this project was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action, United States v. City of Akron, et al., undertaken on behalf of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. NPS will manage the property as passive parkland.

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November 22, 2014

Glenwillow, Land Conservancyglen

create park along Tinker's Creek

The Village of Glenwillow and the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy are partnering to create a new 17.5-acre park and protect a half-mile of Tinker’s Creek, the largest tributary of the Cuyahoga River. Glenwillow acquired the wooded property, located on the east side of Richmond Road, adjacent to Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation, with a Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant secured by the Land Conservancy.  It is now permanently protected with a conservation easement held by the Land Conservancy.

The village will own and maintain the park. It will be used for passive recreation and outdoor education.

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November 21, 2014

Land Conservancy: Farmland losses will mountfarmland

if conservation tax incentive isn’t restored

Ohio’s largest land trust is worried that the state may lose thousands of acres of farmland to development if Congress fails to restore and make permanent a bipartisan tax incentive for conservation by the end of 2014. The nonprofit Land Conservancy, which has permanently preserved nearly 40,000 acres in northern and eastern Ohio, including 21,000 acres of farmland, is urging the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to restore the vital conservation tool during the current “lame duck” session. It passed the House this summer on a bipartisan vote and is now pending in the Senate.

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September 4, 2014

Open houses scheduledgirl scout camp

for Crowell Hilaka property

The public will get a chance to tour the 336-acre Crowell Hilaka property when the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the Richfield Joint Recreation District host a series of open houses at the former Girl Scout camp. The open houses will be from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14, Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 26, and from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5.  Attendees are asked to use the Broadview Road entrance, north of Route 303.

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August 11, 2014

Sherrod Brown is keynote speakerbrown

at Ohio Land Bank Conference

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown will deliver the keynote address at the fourth annual Ohio Land Bank Conference on Friday, Sept. 12 at The Westin Hotel in Columbus.The conference, a gathering of local, regional and national leaders on the topic of urban land use and revitalization, takes place Sept. 11-12 and is sponsored by Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, which is working statewide to revitalize Ohio’s cities. “We are excited that Sen. Brown has accepted our invitation to speak and I know our attendees will energized by this announcement,” said Jim Rokakis, a Land Conservancy vice president and director of Thriving Communities Institute.  “Once again, this conference will be a must-attend event for all those who are interested in the future of Ohio cities that were devastated by the foreclosure crisis.” The keynote speaker at last year’s conference was Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

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August 8, 2014

Land Conservancy helps preserveinland

coastal museum property

The Land Conservancy helped the coastal city of Vermilion secure federal, state and local funding to preserve an historic lakeside property with a building that formerly showcased aquatic artifacts. The funding, which included private donations and grants from Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks program, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and the state’s Clean Ohio Conservation Fund enabled the city to purchase the former Inland Seas Maritime Museum property on Lake Erie. The project creates a new public park for passive recreation and provides access to an additional 300 feet of Lake Erie shoreline. The property is now permanently preserved with a conservation easement held by the Land Conservancy.

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July 22, 2014

Maple Heights, Land Conservancymaple

preserve 24-acre parcel near park

The city of Maple Heights and the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute have partnered to create a new 24-acre nature preserve at the Bedford border. The project was completed at no cost to city taxpayers.The parcel is off both Granite Road and Pennsylvania Avenue, adjacent to the boundary line with Bedford, and less than half a mile north of the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation.  A stream valley connects the properties and serves as a basis for extending the corridor, and additional phases of this project could include a trail connecting an adjacent industrial park to the Metroparks. Project funding came from a Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation Program grant and a generous bargain sale donation from the seller, Maple Heights Development Corporation.  The Land Conservancy applied for the grant, which was approved by Natural Resources Assistance Council District 1 and the Ohio Public Works Commission.

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July 15, 2014

County land bank conferencerokakis

set for Sept. 11-12 in Columbus

The fourth annual County Land Bank Conference, a gathering of local, regional and national leaders on the topic of urban land use and revitalization, will take place Sept. 11-12 at The Westin Hotel in Columbus. The conference is sponsored by the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, which works statewide to revitalize Ohio’s urban centers.  Speakers and panel discussions will cover a range of topics -- from land bank strategies, to community engagement, to greening and reforestation projects -- with the intention of sharing practices and findings to continue the progress already being made in these areas of our communities. To register and learn about updates on programming and speakers, visit, or contact Kate Hydock at (216) 515-8300 or

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July 9, 2014

Land Conservancy applaudsglri

Great Lakes funding initiative          

Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the state’s largest land trust, is applauding the introduction of a federal bill allocating $300 million to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in fiscal year 2015. Land Conservancy President and CEO Rich Cochran said it was “great news for the Great Lakes” that the U.S. House of Representatives has set aside the funding in its first version of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.  The Great Lakes funding – the same amount as last year but more than what President Obama requested in his budget proposal – was allocated by the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, of which Rep. David Joyce is a member.

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May 7, 2014

Nancy McCann namednancy

to Land Conservancy

leadership position

Nancy McCann, a senior development officer at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation for the past 14 years, has been named the Chief Development Officer for the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy. McCann, who most recently served as the Clinic’s Executive Director of Gift Planning and Alumni Relations, will oversee all fundraising and development programs at the Land Conservancy, which is based in Moreland Hills.  She will report to President and CEO Rich Cochran. “We are extremely pleased that Nancy is joining our staff,” Cochran said.  “She is an accomplished professional who has broad experience in all phases of advancement, and she is widely regarded as an expert in the field of major gifts and planned gifts such as charitable trusts.  Just as important is the fact that Nancy also has a deep and abiding passion for our conservation mission.”

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April 11, 2014

Kaptur, Fudge will helpkaptur fudge

lead April 26 fundraiser

U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Marcia Fudge will help lead EverUrban, the April 26 fundraiser for Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute in Cleveland.

Kaptur and Fudge have joined the event’s honorary committee, which also includes Thriving Communities Institute Director Jim Rokakis, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, Cuyahoga County Council President C. Ellen Connally, Cleveland Ward 12 City Councilman and Cuyahoga Land Bank Chair Tony Brancatelli and U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce.

EverUrban, the first fundraiser for Thriving Communities, the Land Conservancy program that is helping revitalize neighborhoods throughout Ohio, will take place at 7 p.m. April 26 at the Ariel International Center, 1163 E. 40th Street, Cleveland.  Individual tickets are $150 ($75 tax deductible), while VIP tickets that include a special prelude party from 6-7 p.m. are $500 ($400 tax deductible). For ticket information, email or call (440) 528-4150.

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April 11, 2014

Efforts to preserve former campcrowell

get boost from agreement, open house

A group of community leaders, conservationists, outdoor recreation advocates and historians is looking at ways to preserve Crowell Hilaka, the 336-acre former Girl Scout camp in Richfield Township.The property is known for its extraordinary natural resources and historic landmarks. A fall open house sparked new interest in preserving the property and prompted an increase in philanthropic pledges to the Friends of Crowell Hilaka, a group trying to save the former camp.  In addition, the owner of the property, the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, has entered into a contingent purchase agreement with the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which has convened a coalition of community advocates in its continuing search for a purchaser aligned with its preservation mission.

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April 1, 2014

Portman, Joyce to helpportman and joyce

lead April 26 fundraiser

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. David Joyce have taken leadership roles in EverUrban, the April 26 fundraiser for Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute in Cleveland. Portman will co-chair the event along with Thriving Communities Institute Director Jim Rokakis, while Joyce has accepted a position on EverUrban’s honorary committee, which also includes Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, Cleveland Ward 12 City Councilman Tony Brancatelli and Cuyahoga County Council President C. Ellen Connally.

EverUrban, the first fundraiser for Thriving Communities, the Land Conservancy program that is helping revitalize neighborhoods throughout Ohio, will take place at 7 p.m. April 26 at the Ariel International Center, 1163 E. 40th Street, Cleveland.  Individual tickets are $150 ($75 tax deductible), while VIP tickets that include a special prelude party from 6-7 p.m. are $500 ($400 tax deductible). For ticket information, email or call (440) 528-4150.

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March 28, 2014

Land Conservancy, Museum partnerlong lake

to preserve rare Summit County bog

Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History are preserving a rare tamarack bog in Summit County, one that is home to 11 rare plant and animal species. The 58-acre Long Lake Bog, located in Coventry Township, has been permanently preserved through a partnership between the nonprofit Land Conservancy and the Museum.  The Land Conservancy helped the Museum purchase the land with the help of Clean Ohio and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency funding and will hold a conservation easement on the property. The Museum will own and manage the bog, which is adjacent to Portage Lakes State Park and Portage Lake Wetland, a state nature preserve about eight miles southwest of downtown Akron.

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March 19, 2014

Land Conservancy applaudsclean ohio

governor's proposal for

Clean Ohio Fund

The state’s largest land trust is applauding Gov. John Kasich’s plan to allocate $100 million for Clean Ohio Fund conservation programs in his proposed capital budget bill for fiscal year 2015-2016.Western Reserve Land Conservancy, a Moreland Hills-based nonprofit that has preserved 534 properties and 38,552 acres in northern and eastern Ohio, has been part of a coalition pushing for increased Clean Ohio funding, according to Rich Cochran, the organization’s president and CEO.

The governor’s capital budget bill for the next two years was unveiled on Tuesday.

“This is a huge step forward for conservation in Ohio and a genuine recognition of the importance of preserving our state’s tremendous natural resources,” Cochran said.  “We applaud the governor for his support of one of the most valuable and impactful programs we have seen.  Clean Ohio will continue to create healthier, more vibrant communities across our state.”

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February 21, 2014

Rokakis praisesjim

FitzGerald's proposal

for demolition funding

The head of the nonprofit organization responsible for securing more than $182 million in demolition funding for Ohio cities is applauding Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s proposal to issue $50 million in bonds to raze homes in Cleveland and its suburbs.

Jim Rokakis, director of Thriving Communities Institute and a nationally recognized expert on the foreclosure crisis, said he is pleased Cuyahoga County may be adding to the demolition funds already allocated by the federal government, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the City of Cleveland and others.  FitzGerald’s bond issue proposal for Cuyahoga County would still need the approval of County Council.(Read the Plain Dealer's commentary on the speech here.)

FitzGerald made the proposal at his State of the County address on Wednesday.

“While vacant properties are especially troubling—and devastating to inner city neighborhoods—their impact is felt by property owners all over Cuyahoga County who are paying millions more in property taxes to cover the losses to the City of Cleveland tax base, “ Rokakis said.

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February 13, 2014

Study says demolitiondemo

helps curb Cleveland

mortgage foreclosure rates

Cleveland neighborhoods in which blighted homes are razed generally have lower mortgage foreclosure rates, according to a new study of the impact of demolition in the city and inner-ring suburbs over a four-year period. The study also concluded that residential property values “can be hedged by demolition activity across Cleveland submarkets.”  The study area was comprised of four submarkets, ranging from high functioning to extremely weak. Findings indicated that stronger neighborhoods realize the largest home-equity benefits. The study, which was conducted by the Griswold Consulting Group at the request of Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute and funded in part by Cleveland City Council, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Eva L. and Joseph M. Bruening Foundation and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, looked at the effect that residential demolition had on real estate equity and mortgage-foreclosure rates in Cleveland and several inner-ring suburbs between 2009 and 2013.  Other sponsors include land banks in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Stark, Summit and Trumbull counties.

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January 23, 2014

Ohio Plan seeks demo $200 million

in Chase settlement

A broad coalition of civic organizations and public officials wants Ohio to receive $200 million in funds from the $13 billion settlement of mortgage-fraud claims brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against JPMorgan Chase.The Ohio Plan, the coalition’s proposal for the settlement funds, calls for the money to go toward the razing of dilapidated properties throughout the state, programs to prevent home foreclosure and abandonment, the renovation of blighted homes and the re-purposing of vacant parcels resulting from demolition.

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January 15, 2014

Land Conservancy preservedlake erie bluffs

more than 4,000 acres in 2013

The Land Conservancy permanently preserved another 51 properties and more than 4,000 acres in 2013, marking one of the organization’s best years ever.The preserved property total was only one short of the Land Conservancy’s high-water mark in 2011, while the 4,011 acres permanently protected in 2013 represented the organization’s fourth-best year behind 2012 (5,525 acres), 2011 (5,524) and 2007 (5,249).   In addition, the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, which is helping revitalize urban centers throughout Ohio, assisted in the formation of new land banks in Ashtabula and Richland counties in 2013.

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January 6, 2014new trustees

Four are named to

Land Conservancy board

The Land Conservancy has named Tom Butch, Ruth Swetland Eppig, Nancy Rubin and Craig Owen White to its Board of Trustees. The Land Conservancy, formed in 2006 by the merger of eight local land trusts, has permanently preserved 533 properties and more than 38,000 acres in northern and eastern Ohio.  In addition, its Thriving Communities Institute helps revitalize urban centers across the state.

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October 22, 2013

Rokakis: Help foreclosure victims whojim

still live in blighted neighborhoods

A nationally recognized expert told advocates for urban revitalization that the forgotten victims of the foreclosure crisis are those homeowners who paid their mortgages and taxes on time and maintained their houses, only to see their property values plummet due to vacant and abandoned structures in the neighborhood.

Jim Rokakis, vice president of the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy and director of its Thriving Communities Institute, urged those attending the Revitalizing Ohio’s Vacant Properties conference to advocate for homeowners who remain in blighted neighborhoods but feel powerless to enact change.

Rokakis made the plea in his opening remarks at the Oct. 22-23 conference in Columbus.

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October 8, 2013

Parkland acquisition addsmedina marsh

to Medina’s green corridor

The Medina County Park District’s acquisition of a tract off Fenn Road is the latest link in a corridor of conserved land through parts of Medina and Medina Township – one that is two miles long and covers more than 600 acres.The park district worked with the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy to acquire the 87-acre Medina Marsh, which is located south of Fenn Road and east of Pearl Road in Medina Township.  The Medina Marsh parcel connects the county park district’s 41-acre Vansco Nature Preserve to Medina’s 308-acre Reagan and Huffman parks, which in turn are adjacent to Lake Medina, a former reservoir that is now a 190-acre county park.

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February 20, 2013

Land Conservancy praises introductionpress

of bill to fund home demolition

Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which launched its Thriving Communities Institute program to address the foreclosure crisis, is applauding a bill introduced by area congressional representatives to establish a bond program to fund demolition of vacant, abandoned and tax-foreclosed homes. Land Conservancy President and CEO Rich Cochran and Thriving Communities Institute Director Jim Rokakis, a national expert on the foreclosure crisis, praised U.S. Reps. David Joyce, Marcy Kaptur and Marcia Fudge for introducing the Restore Our Neighborhoods Act, which would authorize up to $4 billion in new bond allocation for states to help fund demolition.

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February 11, 2013

Land Conservancy applaudsgstm

renewal of enhanced

easement incentive

Congress has renewed the enhanced income tax deduction for conservation easements through 2013, and retroactive to the beginning of 2012. This incentive will help the Land Conservancy work with farmers, ranchers and other landowners to increase the pace of conservation. Landowners who act quickly to conserve their land can now enjoy these benefits, but they’re currently set to expire December 31, 2013.

Lapses in the enhanced incentive hamper our strategic conservation efforts and are frustrating for landowners. That’s why the Land Conservancy is working so hard to enact legislation to make the enhanced incentive permanent.

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January 10, 2013

Land Conservancy merges with

Little Beaver Creek Land Foundationlbc

Little Beaver Creek Land Foundation, a 20-year-old nonprofit that has worked to preserve the Little Beaver Creek watershed in Columbiana County, is merging with Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the state’s largest land trust.


Under terms of the merger, the Land Conservancy will assume responsibility for monitoring the approximately 184 acres currently protected by conservation easements held by LBCLF. In addition, LBCLF will be represented on the Land Conservancy’s board of trustees. The merger took effect Jan. 1.


“We have long been impressed with the great work done by the Little Beaver Creek Land Foundation and believe that by merging our two organizations we can dramatically advance our collective conservation mission in the region,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of the Land Conservancy.  “We believe this merger will be a win-win for the people of Columbiana County and everyone living in this amazingly beautiful watershed.”


Jackman S. Vodrey, longtime LBCLF secretary-treasurer, said, “As one of the original founders, 20 years ago, of the Little Beaver Creek Land Foundation, I'm happy to support the members' overwhelming vote to merge with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. We have had a rewarding 20 years of growth, but to best serve the future protection of Little Beaver Creek, merging with the Land Conservancy is a giant step forward for us.”

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January 3, 2013

Kathy Obert Hill joinsKathy Obert Hill

our leadership team

Kathy Obert Hill, who headed one of the region’s top public relations agencies for 10 years, has been appointed Chief Strategy and Engagement Officer for the nonprofit Land Conservancy. Obert Hill, who was board chair and chief executive officer of Edward Howard & Co. before negotiating the 2010 sale of the firm to Fahlgren Inc., will serve on the Land Conservancy’s executive team and oversee stakeholder engagement, including development, communications and marketing, government relations, education and events.

Rich Cochran, president and chief executive officer of the Land Conservancy, described her as “a multi-talented executive with expertise in a wide range of disciplines, including strategic planning, traditional and digital marketing, branding, public relations, advertising and investor relations” and said her insights will help the organization advance its mission of preserving land and thriving places.

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December 3, 2012

Streetsboro wetlands arebeck

permanently preserved

A 116-acre parcel containing high-quality wetlands and three rare species has been permanently preserved, thanks to a partnership between the city of Streetsboro, the Land Conservancy, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. The action means the property, located on state Route 303, can never be developed. The city owns the parcel, which was formerly owned by the Verna Beck Trust, and will manage it as a nature preserve. A state environmental covenant and a conservation easement held by the Land Conservancy permanently ban development of the property, which contains high-quality wetlands and three rare species: Water Avens, a Tiger Beetle and the largest population of the endangered high-bush cranberry found anywhere in Ohio, according to researchers from the Cleveland Museum of Natural mroe button



October 12, 2012

Land Conservancy opens newconservation center

conservation center in Moreland Hills

A generous, unsolicited gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous has enabled the Land Conservancy to build a new campus and conservation center in Moreland Hills. The facility, which relocates the Land Conservancy’s headquarters from Chesterland, officially opens this week. About two-thirds of the Land Conservancy’s 35-member staff will be based in Moreland Hills, with the rest working from field offices in Cleveland, Akron, Oberlin, Medina, Painesville, Orwell and Orrville.

Located at 3850 Chagrin River Road, the project that created the Land Conservancy’s new home was part of a six-year, multi-phase land protection project that permanently preserved about 135 acres in Moreland Hills, creating beautiful, publicly accessible hiking trails and further extending Forest Ridge Preserve. A painstakingly restored (and recycled) 5,000-square-foot historic century home and newly constructed, environmentally-responsible 11,000-square-foot addition will now house the Land Conservancy’s main office.

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March 22, 2012

Demolition bondsvacant home

aim to prevent

'tsunami of blight'

Reporter Jennifer DePaul of The Bond Buyer has written a timely piece on a bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Steve LaTourette and Marcia Fudge that would provide $4 billion for states and land banks to issue demolition bonds to raze demolish vacant, foreclosed and abandoned homes across the country to prevent “a tsunami of blight.” Jim Rokakis, director of the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute, helped craft the bill and is quoted in the story.


March 9, 2012


Fifth-generation farms

preserved in Erie County

Nearly 600 acres of Erie County farmland have been permanently preserved by conservation easements granted by the Wallrabenstein family to the Land Conservancy.

The easements permanently restrict development of the land.

John and Shirley Wallrabenstein preserved their 415-acre farm in Oxford Township, while John’s mother, Marge, preserved her 150-acre farm in Milan Township. The fifth-generation farms have been in the family since the 1880s and are some of the most productive in the region, according to Andy McDowell, the Land Conservancy’s western field director.

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February 23, 2012

Trumbull County couplethompson

preserves a record 3,100 acres

A Trumbull County couple has permanently preserved nearly 3,100 acres of farmland and natural areas in what is believed to be the state’s largest-ever land conservation transaction. Richard and Rhonda Thompson of Kinsman donated 23 conservation easements totaling 3,095 acres to the nonprofit Land Conservancy.  A conservation easement is a legal document in which the donor voluntarily restricts future development on his or her land while retaining ownership.

More than two-thirds of the property preserved by the Thompsons – about 2,157 acres – is farmland, and the conservation easements protect more than 11 miles of stream frontage. 

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January 24, 2012

Parkman Township farm isweedon

permanently preserved

A 285-acre working dairy farm with one of the most scenic views in Geauga County has been permanently protected by an agricultural easement barring future development. The Weedon Reservation Farm located at the corner of Route 528 and Hosmer Road in Parkman Township, is now permanently preserved for agricultural use under an easement held by the Geauga County Commissioners and the Land Conservancy.  This working dairy farm was preserved under the state’s Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, a statewide, farmland-protection initiative administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

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January 19, 2012

Land Conservancy helps collegeHiram photo

add acreage to field station

Hiram College has added 152 acres of protected woodlands and wetlands property as part of its James T. Barrow Field Station east of the college’s main campus.  The Land Conservancy partnered with the college to acquire the property, which was formerly owned by Isaac Yomtovian and is adjacent to the Field Station.

The land was acquired as part of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program. The transfer expands the Field Station property to nearly 550 acres. 

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December 27, 2011

Grant to help start Erie County land bankanna

A $40,000 grant from the Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation and two partners – the Randolph J. and Estelle M. Dorn and Frost-Parker foundations – will be used to establish a county land bank, one designed to return vacant and foreclosed properties to productivity. The grant will help cover the cost of setting up the Erie County Land Reutilization Corporation, commonly referred to as a land bank.  Jim Rokakis, director of the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute and a national expert on urban land revitalization, has been working closely with Erie County officials over the past few months to start a land bank.

Anna J. Oertel (pictured), executive director of the Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation, said the organization is proud to be able to partner with the Dorn and Frost-Parker foundations to establish the land bank.

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December 17, 2011

Rokakis will appear on '60 Minutes' segment60

Jim Rokakis, director of the Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute and a nationally recognized expert on the housing foreclosure and vacancy crisis, is scheduled to appear on the Sunday, Dec. 18 episode of “60 Minutes,” which airs locally at 7 p.m. on CBS affiliate WOIO Channel 19 (after the Cleveland Browns-Arizona Cardinals game). Jim was interviewed by “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley for the segment, which is titled, “There Goes the Neighborhood.”  The report details how “recession-fueled foreclosures are causing extremely high vacancy rates in some neighborhoods, ruining the values of the occupied homes and forcing the demolitions of once valuable properties.” You can watch a preview of the segment here. This weekend, the Land Conservancy is also launching a new website dedicated to the work of Thriving Communities.  Visit the new site at

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November 1, 2011

Land Conservancy receivessolec

Great Lakes conservation award

The Land Conservancy and its conservation partners have been honored by the top environmental agencies of the United States and Canada for preserving land in the Grand River watershed and increasing public awareness of the ecosystem.


The Land Conservancy’s Grand River Corridor Protection Project was chosen as a 2011 Success Story by the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) from 30 U.S. and Canadian nominations.  The award recognizes outstanding efforts to protect the Great Lakes Basin.


The SOLEC Success Story award was presented to the Land Conservancy at an Oct. 26 conference in Erie, Pa. SOLEC, which is a joint effort between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, provides independent, science-based reporting on the state of the health of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.


The Land Conservancy, which works to preserve the scenic beauty, rural character and natural resources of northern Ohio, has permanently protected more than 4,000 acres in the Grand River Watershed.  The protected land includes the Land Conservancy-owned, 883-acre Ashcroft Woods property near Orwell in Ashtabula County.


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October 18, 2011

Redevelopment expert speaks at land banking conferenceDan Kildee

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and Western Reserve Land Conservancy co-hosted the first-ever state conference on land banking in downtown Cleveland on October 12.  Dan Kildee, co-founder and president of the Center for Community Progress, delivered the keynote speech for The First Convening of Ohio Land Banks conference provided an interactive forum to discuss tactics and strategies with county officials and others who are considering this tool to address urban blight.


Jim Rokakis, director of Thriving Communities Institute, and Paul Kaboth, vice president and community affairs officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, kicked off the inaugural conference, one that not only encouraged the launch of new county land banks throughout Ohio, but also will provide an ongoing forum for networking and progress.


Kildee is nationally regarded as a pioneer in community development and neighborhood stabilization, having founded the county land bank model in Michigan. In 2007, Kildee’s land bank program was named winner of the Harvard University/Fannie Mae Foundation Innovations in American Government Award for Affordable mroe button



September 12, 2011

LTA president praises work of Land Conservancywentworth

One of the nation’s top conservationists described the Land Conservancy as “an extraordinary civic institution” and applauded the preservation work done by the organization in northern Ohio.


Rand Wentworth, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Land Trust Alliance, of which the Land Conservancy is a member, spoke at Friday’s EverGreen EverBlue, the Land Conservancy’s annual benefit.  This year’s event, which was held at the recently preserved Stoneybrook Farm in Hunting Valley, drew a crowd of more than 600 people.


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August 30, 2011

Meetings will focus on Grand River plangrand river

Residents of Ashtabula and Geauga counties will have a chance to voice their opinions about the future of the Grand River watershed at a series of public meetings scheduled by the Land Conservancy and the Grand River Partnership, which includes groups working in the watershed.


The sessions will allow the public to discuss the creation of a Watershed Action Plan – a locally based document that represents the needs of the watershed’s residents – for the Upper Grand River.

The first meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Ashtabula County Soil & Water Conservation District, 39 Wall St., Jefferson. Residents within the following communities are encouraged to attend: Austinburg, Cherry Valley, Denmark, Dorset, Jefferson, Harpersfield, Lenox, Morgan, Richmond, Sheffield and Trumbull townships plus the Village of Jefferson in Ashtabula County; and Thompson and Montville townships in Geauga County.

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July 11, 2011

Legislators praised for introducingconservation legislation

landmark conservation measure

Private landowners – and especially family farmers – will be the beneficiaries of legislation, co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Betty Sutton, D-13, Jim Renacci, R-16, Tim Ryan, D-17, Robert Latta, R-5, Marcy Kaptur, D-9 , and Steve LaTourette, R-14 , to make permanent the federal tax incentive for donations of conservation easements, according to the state’s largest land conservancy.

Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy, applauded the introduction of the landmark tax incentive bill.  The incentive, which is slated to expire at the end of 2011, has helped the Land Conservancy work with willing landowners in our community to conserve more than 15,000 acres of agricultural land and natural areas since it was first enacted in 2006.


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June 21, 2011lee

Friend from Hong Kong visits future headquarters

A Land Conservancy member who lives half a world away from northern Ohio paid a visit to the organization’s future home on Tuesday. Ting Fong Lee, a former Firelands Land Conservancy intern who resides in Hong Kong, toured the Moreland Hills house and property that will become the Land Conservancy’s new headquarters sometime in 2012.

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May 26, 2011rattler2

Our search for endangered rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes live in northern Ohio – a fact that surprises even some longtime residents.


The endangered Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, a venomous snake whose bite is rarely fatal to humans, can be found in the Grand River Lowlands.  Herpetologist Greg Lipps, who has done extensive research on the Massasauga and has worked closely with Western Reserve Land Conservancy, recently led a group in search of these snakes. 

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May 23, 2011

McDonald and friends rock the Beachlandpete

A crowd of more than 260 people packed the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern on Saturday night for the second Conservation Rocks! concert sponsored by the Land Conservancy.


The show featured musicians who also work in the field of local conservation, including the Land Conservancy’s Pete McDonald, who performed with Pete McDonald & the Black Oaks.  Other acts were The Swamp Rattlers (featuring staffers from Geauga Park District), Fat City (with Harvey Webster of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History) and Drake Hollow featuring Steve Madewell (Lake Metroparks) and Al Bonnis (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service).


“We had an absolute blast,” said McDonald, the Land Conservancy’s director of stewardship.

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March 16, 2011

New institute seeks to revitalize vacant urban landrokakis

An innovative initiative designed to revitalize vacant urban land will bring together leading forces in land conservation and urban land issues in northern Ohio and beyond.


The Land Conservancy announced today that it will join with former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis  (right) to create the Thriving Communities Institute, which will be devoted to facilitating the transformation of aging and declining urban areas through troubled mortgage and land vacancy mitigation, land conservation and land reuse in an intentional and integrated manner.  By leveraging the Land Conservancy’s resources and Rokakis’ pioneering experience with an innovative land reutilization tool, the Institute will be able to take a regional approach to conservation planning that benefits its historic but distressed cities...

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January 27, 2011

Historic property may becomeLang home

Land Conservancy's new home

Western Reserve Land Conservancy, whicht has preserved nearly 23,000 acres in northern Ohio, plans to move its headquarters to a parcel adjacent to one of the preserves it helped to create in Moreland Hills. The Land Conservancy plans to relocate to a 22-acre parcel on the west side of Chagrin River Road, opposite the Cleveland Metroparks’ Polo Fields, by making an addition to the historic main home on the property, according to Rich Cochran, president and CEO of the Land Conservancy.  The home, one of three buildings on the property, was originally a one-room schoolhouse built in the 1830s.  The property is adjacent to and surrounded by the village’s signature park, Forest Ridge Preserve ...

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January 10, 2011

Feb. 2 session will highlightaepp

farmland preservation program 

Farmers can learn more about the benefits of the state’s Agricultural Easement Purchase Program when the Land Conservancy, Medina Soil and Water Conservation District and the Ohio Department of Agriculture hold an informational session from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Medina County University Center, 6300 Technology Lane, Lafayette Township. Following an overview of the AEPP program by the Office of Farmland Preservation, Andy McDowell, who is the Land Conservancy’s western field director and has been involved in the protection of more than 4,000 acres...

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December 21, 2010

Good news:  Congress renews tax incentivewelton's

for those who preserve their land

The state’s largest land conservancy is applauding the renewal of a federal tax incentive for private landowners – especially working family farmers – who protect their land with a voluntary conservation easement.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which serves a 14-county region in northern Ohio, endorsed the move by Congress to renew the incentive, which had expired at the end of 2009.  The tax incentive has helped the Land Conservancy work with willing landowners in our community to preserve more than 22,000 acres of productive agricultural lands and natural areas. Conservation-minded landowners now have until December 31, 2011 to take advantage...

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December 3, 2010smiths

Family preserves nearly 700 acres in Huron County

A Huron County family has permanently protected 686 acres—some of which it has owned since the 1830s – in cooperation with the Land Conservancy. Howard and Sharon Smith of Sherman Township have placed conservation easements on three properties in Sherman and Peru townships in west central Huron County…

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November 19, 2010Rich

Land Conservancy CEO receives Conservation Award

Rich Cochran, who started as the lone employee of what is now Western Reserve Land Conservancy and now heads an organization that has preserved more than 22,000 acres in northern Ohio, has been named the recipient of the 2010 Conservation Award by The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Cochran, the president and CEO of the Land Conservancy since 1996, was honored during an awards ceremony on Nov. 19 where he was presented with the award on behalf of the Museum’s Board of Trustees...

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November 4, 2010YDC

Ohio EPA releases Brandywine watershed review

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has made public its Limited Environmental Review of the Brandywine Wetlands Protection Project in Hudson. The project, which consists of ecosystem protection focusing on preserving water quality in the Brandywine watershed ...

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October 25, 2010

Reservoir draw-down is first phase of park planlampson

Lampson Reservoir will be slowly drained over the next three weeks as part of a joint  plan to eliminate a potential flooding hazard and create a new Ashtabula County park.


The goal is to turn the land into a 92-acre county park with a publicly accessible, fishable area while restoring wetlands to improve water quality and habitat for fish and waterfowl.


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October 12, 2010burtonmorgan3.htm

504-acre park dedicated in Portage County

The 504-acre Burton D. and Margaret Clark Morgan Preserve, the newest addition to the Portage Park District, was officially dedicated in a ceremony Oct. 8 at the Shalersville Township property.


The preserve, which contains wetlands and forests, was created when The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation worked with...

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September 27, 2010

Landowners help celebrate conservationPete McDonald

The Land Conservancy on Sept. 23 honored those who have permanently preserved their property with conservation easements.  The event was held at Orchard Hills Park in Chester Township.

The approximately 60 landowners...

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August 30, 2010

Big turnout for second 'Yoga on the Preserve'yoga

More than 450 people took part in the second Yoga on the Preserve on Sunday at the Geauga Park District’s Orchard Hills Park in Chester Township.  The event was cosponsored by Cleveland Yoga and Western Reserve Land Conservancy...

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August 23, 2010big swamp

Museum and Land Conservancy preserve Big Swamp Woods

The Land Conservancy, in partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Natural Areas Program, has preserved 81 acres of a 430-acre wetland complex in Fitchville Township in Huron County. Big Swamp Woods, located in the headwaters of the Vermilion River watershed...

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medina clean upJune 7, 2010

Oh deer! Fawn freed during Medina cleanup

Dan Miltner noticed something moving on the banks of Champion Creek. Miltner, one of about 25 volunteers who were cleaning up a half-mile stretch of the creek west of Roscoe Ewing Park...

medina clean upMay 6, 2010

Another 630 acres preserved in Huron County

An additional 630 acres of farmland and natural areas in Huron County have been permanently preserved by property owners working with Western Reserve Land Conservancy...