When I think of Ohio, I don’t necessarily think of tourism. At least not like Florida and Disney or Arizona and the Grand Canyon or New York and the Big Apple. Granted, we have The Wilds and Cedar Point, which personally was the highlight of my summer as a kid. We would head there each June, always, it seemed, ending up with a flat tire somewhere along the way. Besides the flat tires, the one thing that I remember most about driving to Cedar Point was the Great Blue Herons that we would always see. Mike and I would make my dad stop the car so that we could get out and watch these amazing birds. What I didn’t know at the time was that bird watching, as we were doing, is a big part of the tourism dollars that come into Northern Ohio.
I recently read an article in Twineline, a publication put out by the Ohio Sea Grant and The Ohio State University. In the 2012 Winter/Spring edition, “The Benefits of Birding,” written by Matthew Forte, states that about 2.4 millions birders come to Ohio each year, adding around $30 million and nearly 300 jobs to northern Ohio’s economy. Before Dr. Philip Xie of Bowling Green State University did his research, no one was certain just how many birders were coming into the state each year or how much money those birders were generating for our economy. (Click here to see Professor Xie’s full report.) Something else I didn’t know was that one of North America’s best birding sites is located in Ottawa County’s Magee Marsh. They have a birding festival in early May that attracts thousands of attendees looking for rare birds. Warblers seem to be the most popular attraction, although many other kinds of birds show up. There is also a new website, lakeerieohiobirding.info that shows birding sites along a 312-mile trail along Lake Erie’s coastline.
Can you imagine if our arboretum became a birding destination? First of all, that would be wonderful because it would mean that we have the kind of habitat that made birds want to come to our area. And how wonderful having more birders visiting our arboretum would be for local restaurants, hotels and other shops. It would be a win-win situation for everyone involved – and we are on our way to making it happen. Pete’s already noted some birds in the area that he hasn’t seen before, many now feeling more comfortable in the ravines that are getting back to their origins, without so many invasive plants growing in them. I can’t wait to see what shows up this spring in Glen Echo.
Until next time!