Winter Walk at Novak Sanctuary
The Blanche Kathryn Novak Sanctuary – pictured
above in the summer and to the left in winter– is located east
of Aurora, about 3/4 mile north of the intersection of Townline Rd
and Ohio Rt. 82 (download PDF: Aurora
location map). As shown in the map below, the sanctuary lies both
to the west of Townline Rd in Aurora City limits and east of it in
Mantua Township. There is a very fine Category 3 wooded wetland on
the Aurora side and fields and secondary woods on the Mantua side.
This wetland has the highest species diversity of five natural wetlands
of Northern Ohio studied by the Ohio EPA. The wetland is approximately
5/8 miles from the parking lot on Townline Rd and is reached by a
dirt road. Trails in the woods are marked on the Mantua side as well.
The sanctuary is a rich habitat for nesting birds with at least 56
species on the wetland side and 41 species on the Mantua side. The
area has been part of the spring bird walks of the Audubon Society
of Greater Cleveland since 1993, and the migratory birds seen are
part of that census. An observation blind in the wetlands area was
completed in 2002, further enhancing their educational potential.
The Novak Sanctuary was dedicated in 1999 as a State Nature Preserve
by the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves of the Ohio Department
of Natural; Resources.
Biological Assets: The wetland is protected by
both the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Division of Natural
Areas. In 1997, Ohio EPA published a report that compared natural
wetlands with wetlands created by mitigation projects. One of the
5 wetlands chosen for this study was the Novak wetland. (Fennessy.
S. A Functional Assessment of Mitigation Wetlands in Ohio: Comparisons
with Natural Systems. Ohio EPA report to the Federal EPA. Of the
wetlands studied, the Novak had the highest species diversity. Because
of the nature of this wetland and the interest in it by the U.S.
Corps of Engineers, the Society was able to get an in lieu agreement
with the Corps to buy conservation easements with money given by
developers of areas with small low grade wetlands. Using these funds,
we have been able to obtain one conservation easement and have ongoing
negotiations for another.