Oberlin Preserve

Oberlin Preserve

Western Reserve Land Conservancy is celebrating the opening of a new signature park in Lorain County – the 63-acre Oberlin Preserve – and we need your help to install enhanced park infrastructure and ensure funding to care for the property in perpetuity.

Located in the City of Oberlin, this unique property is part of the Black River Watershed. The Oberlin Preserve features a variety of native habitat and also has important historical  significance.

Give now to support the ongoing conservation of Oberlin Preserve!


Signature Features of the Oberlin Preserve

The Land Conservancy recently restored approximately half of the Preserve to native prairie, a rare habitat type that takes particular management strategies to remain healthy over time. With few prairie areas in the region, the property provides a unique glimpse at native grasses, shrubs, and pollinators. Since its initial restoration planting, nearly 600 native wildflower plants, more than 50 native trees, and 30 acres of prairie seed have been planted by corporate and community volunteers, as well as students from Oberlin College. Prairie species spotted this summer include Big bluestem, Nodding wild rye, Blazing star, Rose milkweed, Rattlesnake master, Prairie dock, Virginia mountain mint and Cup plant.

The Oberlin Preserve also includes additional habitat types, such as fields, woodlands, wet sedge meadow, and forested vernal pools. These habitats provide shelter, food, and nesting areas for birds, amphibians, small and large mammals and other wildlife. The site has been host to scientific research and biology surveys as far back as 1888, according to records at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

An additional point of significance for the land includes its previous owners, the Copeland family, notable black political figures around the time of the Civil War. Delilah Evans Copeland and her husband, John Copeland, Sr. came to Oberlin in 1843 to protect their children from slavery. Once in Oberlin, the Copelands were very active in the abolitionist movement and fugitive slave assistance network in the 1850s-1860s. Their son, John Anthony Copeland, Jr., became a member of the Oberlin Anti-Slavery Society. He participated in the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue in 1858, where a group of men worked together to free a runaway slave who had been captured under the Fugitive Slave Act, and was later hanged alongside John Brown after the raid at Harper’s Ferry. Despite this tragedy, John Sr. signed on to serve with the 55th Ohio Volunteers in the Civil War in 1862, continuing his quest for an end to slavery. Various descendants of the Copeland family continued to live on the property until it was sold by Delilah and John’s granddaughter in 1925.


Vision for the Oberlin Preserve

The rich legacy of the land as well as its diversity of habitat has inspired the Land Conservancy to make the Oberlin Prairie publicly accessible.

Research demonstrates that spending time in nature can reduce stress, relieve depression, and enhance our mood. During the COVID-19 crisis, Ohio residents are visiting public parks and preserves the Land Conservancy has created all across the region in order to connect with nature, stretch their legs, restore their minds, and rejuvenate their spirits. These moments spent outdoors have crystallized the essential nature of our mission and the importance of our work. Access to greenspace is imperative for human health, now more than ever before. But more outdoor spaces are needed. Across the state, parks and trails are crowded with people looking for a reprieve from digital screens and the news.

The Oberlin Preserve is directly adjacent to the City’s Recreation Complex, which includes outdoor sports facilities and the Lorain County Metro Parks’ Splash Zone Aquatic and Fitness Center. Students from Oberlin schools and Oberlin College are within three miles of the property. Additionally, the Oberlin Preserve is directly adjacent to a former rail bed connector trail that links the North Coast Inland Trail to a trail that runs parallel to the Recreation Complex along Hamilton Street. This important regional biking and walking trail runs 13 miles from Elyria to Kipton.


Realizing Our Vision

While Oberlin Preserve is now open for public use, Western Reserve Land Conservancy is raising funds for ongoing maintenance of the preserve and to install enhanced park infrastructure features.

For more information, please contact: 
Elizabeth Grace at egrace@wrlandconservancy.org or 216.513.4073