Hach-Otis Sanctuary and State Nature Preserve
At the end of Skyline Drive off of River Road in Willoughby Hills, Ohio
Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland’s Hach-Otis Wildlife Sanctuary and dedicated State Nature Preserve is located in the city of Willoughby Hills, an eastern suburb of Cleveland, Ohio in Lake County. Two families, both members of the Burroughs Nature Club, donated this 81-acre sanctuary in 1944 and 1947 to The Cleveland Bird Club, a forerunner of Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland.
Through the years, thousands of people have visited the sanctuary. Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland has conducted numerous field trips in this sanctuary. Lakeland Community Collage uses Hach-Otis as an outdoor education laboratory, and the local residents have a green space at their doorsteps. The sanctuary provides an area for one to escape the bustle of daily living on well-marked trails and board-walks.
Ecologically, the land represents typical upland woods with fine examples of American beech, northern red oak, sassafras, and sugar maple, with hemlocks in the cooler ravines. The level uplands were logged while the deep ravines remained untouched.
A sample of spring wildflowers will include trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpit, violets, May apple and Dutchman’s breeches. Several species of fern are also found here.
The sanctuary is the home for red fox, white-tail deer, raccoon, wild turkey, squirrels and less noticeable animals such as snakes, frogs, and small rodents. The area provides habitat for many birds including bank swallows, barred owls, pileated woodpeckers, several hawks, flycatchers and a few species of warblers.
Geologically, the area is made of material left by a glacier. The Chagrin River is re-excavating a pre-glacial valley as evidenced by the erosion along the river. The high bluff gives a spectacular view of the Chagrin River valley with both Gildersleeve (also known as Chapin Forest) in Kirtland and Little Mountain in Mentor/Concord on the horizon. See map of the sanctuary.
In 1970, the Natural Areas Act was passed by the state legislature, authorizing The Department of Natural Resources to designate, manage and protect land for educational, scientific and visitation purposes. The act created the Natural Areas Council, a citizen advisory board, which recommends lands to be designated and how each should be managed. Hach-Otis is classified as an interpretive State Nature Preserve and was dedicated in 1977. Hach-Otis is open to the public each day during specified hours. Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland retains ownership and is responsible for its management.
In the spring of 2017, with tremendous help from The Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland was able to complete a million dollar project that increased the acreage at Hach-Otis from 81 to 162 acres. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy helped Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland leverage three dollars for each dollar they committed. New trails, into this new acquisition, will be developed in the next few years.