Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve

The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is an existing 88-acre former dredge disposal site that has become an extraordinary wildlife haven adjacent to Gordon State Park/Cleveland Lakefront State Park at the northern end of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio. Over the years, the Nature Preserve has become naturalized and provides a exceptional opportunity for access to Lake Erie as well as access to a remarkable diversity of birds that either make their home in or use the area as a rest stop during migration, plants and other wildlife. Hundreds of species of birds have been sighted at the Nature Preserve along with butterflies, native Ohio plant species (trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses), mammals (coyote, deer, fox, mink, rabbits, raccoon), and reptiles.


February 6, 2012 Opening Day


The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is an 88-acre nature preserve with 1.3 miles of hiking trails.

CLNP is a remarkable location for passive recreation, nature observation, environmental education, research  and appreciation of diverse habitats.

Plan and enjoy your visit. The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is open during daylight hours.

Sorry, no pets, bikes or trash are allowed at any time as this is a nature preserve.


Save the Dates: Special Programming at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve

The Fall Open House is proudly sponsored by the Environmental Education Collaborative and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority

Saturday, September 22, 2012
7:30 am to 2:00 pm

Fall Open House 


Look for more exciting news and changes at the Nature Preserve! The entrance to the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is now located behind the ODNR State Park office. The trailhead can be accessed from the parking lot at the ODNR State Park office.

Photos are from a new wood-chip entrance trail being prepared from the pine trees near the ODNR State Park office parking lot to the new site entrance gate. A bobcat created the trail and we are waiting for delivery of wood chips. Thanks to Port Authority, ODNR, Metroparks, the City of Cleveland, Collaborative members and many others for your support!

A new self-registration entrance kiosk near the new site entrance was being created by a local scout as his Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project.

Check the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve Facebook page for a photo diary of images.

Click here for a list of birds observed at the May 19, 2012 open house, Miigration Mania.

Click here for a list of birds observed at the September 25, 2010 open house,

Click here for a list of birds observed at the May 16, 2009 open house, "Nature in the Neighborhood."

Jim Bissell, Curator of Botany at the Cleveland Museum of Natureal History confirmed a new plant species to Cuyahoga County, growing in an unlikely habitat near the Nature Preserve. In June 2001, Jim visited the Nature Preserve. When he left he cut across the lake bluff on State Park land and collected a few sedges from a seep on the Lake Bluff. The sedge, new to Cuyahoga County, keys to Carex brevior, a State Threatened species known from only two locations in Northeastern Ohio, NASA Plumbrook and the Museum’s North Kingsville Sand Barrens. The Museum’s Herbarium also has a historical specimen from Cedar Point in Erie County. Jim plans to relocate the population and do a count in June 2009.

Image courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Hurd, E.G., N.L. Shaw, J. Mastrogiuseppe, L.C. Smithman, and S. Goodrich. 1998. Field guide to Intermountain sedges. General Technical Report RMS-GTR-10. USDA Forest Service, RMRS, Ogden.

The Collaborative installed an informational kiosk on November 19, 2007 at the Cleveland Lakefront State Park near the entrance to the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. Take a look and learn a little about the history and plans for the Nature Preserve. Thank you to the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, Cleveland Metroparks and Cleveland Lakefront State Park for their help and support.

More new signage on site at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve: Thanks to Robert Fischer , a 16-year-old Shaker Heights High school student, who completed the project as part of his Eagle Scout community project. Robert designed, built and installed the signs with the help of his father Andy after meeting with the Environmental Education Collaborative over the course of a few months. Project time was approximately 85 hours. Thanks Robert!

Click here for more general information on the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve.

Click here for an article on the Cleveland Lakefront (Dike 14) Nature Preserve in Balanced Living Magazine.

Environmental testing and a risk assessment were conducted because of the source of the dredgings. Partners Environmental Consulting, Inc. from Solon, Ohio was the contractor for the environmental testing and risk assessment, working with The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District. The US Environmental Protection Agency granted funds of $200,000 for the Dike 14 Brownfield assessment and risk analysis. An 8-acre landfill is part of Dike 14. (The landfill was used from 1968 to 1970). Any disturbance to a landfill must receive authorization from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency before the work begins in accordance with Ohio Administrative Code 3745-27-13, commonly called Rule 13. This assessment project is now complete. Click here to access the quarterly reports, the Phase I & II, and ecological and human health assessments posted at

The risk assessments shows that controlled public access is safe for its environmental education usage. Now the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve can be protected and promoted as a nature preserve to provide environmental education to residents and school children. This has been done successfully at a similar disposal site in Buffalo, NY, called Times Beach.

During its history, the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve has become a unique bird attraction on our city’s lakefront. It has been called a “high performance” site because of the number and diversity of birds using the site. Birds use the Nature Preserve as a migratory stopover site because of its size, its strategic coastal location and the diverse wildlife habitats (grasslands, forest, meadows, mudflats, shrublands, and wetlands). The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is located at the intersection of four migratory bird routes: Lake Erie, the shore of Lake Erie, the Cuyahoga River Valley and the Doan Brook Valley. There is no other good stopover site for a 60-mile expanse of shore; the closest other sites being Mentor to the east and Huron to the west. Audubon Ohio has designated the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve as an Important Bird Area (IBA). For more information on IBAs click here.

Earth Day Coalition is part of a diverse and unique collaborative to provide a Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve-centered educational resource for children, families and local and regional schools. We would like to welcome our newest member - the Ohio Department of Natural Reources, Cleveland Lakefront State Park. The Environmental Education Collaborative is composed of:

The Collaborative is dedicated to providing exemplary environmental education for students, teachers, families and the greater community, and promoting environmental stewardship of the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve as a unique place for people and nature on Cleveland’s lakefront.

"Field Guide: Getting Ready to Visit the Dike 14 Nature Preserve" is an introduction to the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. The Environmental Education Collaborative encourages you to use this guide and to explore and enjoy the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. In a very short time you will be able to walk the paths of the Nature Preserve, listen to the sounds of the wind, waves and wildlife, learn from interpretive signage and discover and celebrate the diverse wildlife treasures on Cleveland's lakefront.

We invite you to download and store electronically or mechanically one copy of this work for personal or non-profit educational use, provided that the notice of copyright ownership and license appears on the copy made.

This easy-to-use guide has been formatted to include beautiful illustrations, historical, habitat and natural history notes, ecology links and additional resources for you to explore. Click on any of the following sections for a snapshot of the remarkable natural resources that can be found at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve:

Cover - front and back covers; click here to download.
Inside Covers - credits and contact information; click here to download.
Introduction and History, Getting Ready to Visit; click here to download.
History of the Great Lakes, Dredging and the Nature Preserve, Watersheds and Water Quality, Weather and Seasons, Wings and Wind; click here to download.
Birds - pages 16-30; click here to download.
Trees, Shrubs - pages 31-36; click here to download.
Plants, Wildflowers - pages 37-43; click here to download.
Mammals - pages 44-52; click here to download.
Insects, Butterflies - pages 53-58; click here to download.
Reptiles - pages 59-60; click here to download.
Bird Checklist - pages 61-66; click here to download.
Ohio Standards and References - pages 67-72; click here to download.


The Discovery Pack
is a unique backpack filled with activity kits providing a menu of favorite time-tested environmental education activities to help you connect with nature. The Discovery Pack will link your classroom or family to an emerging, revitalized 88-acre urban green space, the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio.

 Discovery Packs expand the capacity of students, teachers and families to access a distinctive place-based community resource for environmental education. Using the Discovery Pack will promote off-site investigation and expand on-site exploration at special events.

 A limited license is hereby granted to individuals who view this work on the website identified to download and store electronically or mechanically one copy of this work for personal or non-profit educational use, provided that this notice of copyright ownership and license appears on the copy made. All other rights reserved.

Cover; click here to download
Manual; click here to download
Flower Visitor Bingo; click here to download
     Bingo card
Terrific Trees; click here to download
The Insects Around Us; click here to download
How Water Flows – Surface Runoff; click here to download
Place Matters – History and Geography; click here to download
Lake Erie Weather; click here to download
     Weather 2, Weather 3, Forecast, forecast map, Record sheet, Scavenger hunt, Symbols, Weather station, Cloud types,  Cloud chart
Mammals – Who Was Here; click here to download
     Data sheet, Checklist 1, 2, 3, 4, A, B, C
Birds and Habitats – Who Lives Here; click here to download
     Checklist, Bird walk checklist, Parts of birds, Pidgeon plumage, Naturalist journal
Butterflies; click here to download
     List of butterflies

For more information on the Cleveland Lakefront Plan and the Small Area Plan for the Kirtland Quay/Gordon Park click here.

To view the city of Cleveland's plan for the Kirtland Quay/Gordon Park area that includes Dike 14 click here.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management has developed the "Ohio Coastal Atlas" Second Edition to map and provide geographically-referenced information about the coast of Lake Erie and highlight the many tools and resources for the Lake Erie Watershed. The Atlas is available online at Contact ODNR at to inquire about a DVD. Be sure to check the "Habitat" section that mentions the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. Download "Habitat" here.

Dr. Chris Stanton of Baldwin Wallace College is working with a team of students on summer 2008 research projects on the Dike 14 site. BW Summer Scholar Michele is beginning a herpetology survey.Green sheets and wooden cover boards were placed around the site to attract snakes and amphibians. Turtle traps were also placed. Kayla and Katie are monitoring the presence and quality of the aquatic habitats, sampling them for aquatic life and comparing Dike 14's pools to vernal pools in the Metroparks. Greg is catching flying insects that are active around the wetlands with malaise traps. Stephen is conducting a weekly breeding bird census by walking a transect. Picture below are of the research equipment on site.

The following additional information was compiled in the spring of 2004 by Jessica Ferrato, a student at the Environmental Law Clinic, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University.

Analysis of Dike 14 Nature Preserve which answers some questions about the hierarchy of jurisdiction over the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, the legal considerations which factor into its land-use planning, and questions pertaining to its future use.

A power point presentation

Additional information available at Earth Day Coalition office

Check back soon for additional information, updates and Coming Events at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve.