The Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland (ASGC) has a long and proud history of service to the Greater Cleveland Community and its members. It is one of Cleveland’s oldest continuously operating environmental organizations. The elements of our mission have remained consistent since our founding in 1923 as the Susanna Louise Patteson Memorial Association:
- protection of wildlife habitat
- making educational programs available to members and the public through a lecture series
- field trips using our sanctuaries and other resources
- and, environmental advocacy.
We work to create a “culture of conservation” in the greater Cleveland community. We are a 100% volunteer organization funded by dues and donations.
The Society has existed under several names. In 1928 the original name was changed to “The Cleveland Bird Club”. During its early decades, the Society was closely affiliated with the leadership of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Metroparks. We remain an affiliated Society of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. In 1951 The Cleveland Bird Club voted to affiliate itself with the National Audubon Society, and our name changed to “The Cleveland Audubon Society”. The name changed to “The Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland” when we voted to become a full chapter of the National Audubon Society in 1985. There are currently over 1200 members of ASGC.
National Audubon Society determines the assigned service area for our chapter by zip codes. Currently our service area’s western border is the Cuyahoga River, south to the Ohio turnpike. On the east the border is the Lake County line, south along the Geauga County’s western line to Portage County and east to Twinsburg.
From its early years the Society has been interested in holding land as wildlife habitat and for educational purposes. In 1941 The Cleveland Bird Club purchased the 165-acre Aurora Sanctuary, believed to be the oldest privately held Nature Preserve in Ohio. Between 1944 and 1947 two contiguous properties in Willoughby Hills were donated to The Cleveland Bird Club, forming the 81-acre Hach-Otis Sanctuary. In 1991 William Novak of Aurora donated the 152-acre Blanche Katherine Novak Sanctuary in memory of his wife. Most recently, in 2000, the 113 acre Michael and Lenore Molnar Sanctuary was donated, raising the Society’s acreage in Aurora to 430 and its total owned acreage to 511.
Three of the four Audubon sanctuaries are also protected as dedicated State Nature Preserves by the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Audubon retains ownership and full responsibility for their maintenance and management. The Hach-Otis Sanctuary was dedicated by the Division in 1977, and the Novak and Aurora Sanctuaries were dedicated in 1999. All Sanctuaries are open to responsible visitors and hours are restricted.
In 1994 the Society’s Board of Trustees voted that the organization should function as a land trust and begin to accept conservation easements to protect further lands with value for wildlife habitat. To date, Audubon is the trustee of four easements, all in the Chagrin River Watershed, protecting a total of approximately 32 additional acres of habitat.
In addition to the Society’s ownership and maintenance of its four sanctuaries, we are committed to an educational mission that is annually expressed in our sponsorship of a lecture series currently held at revolving locations, and our granting of several annual scholarships for nature educators. We are also the primary sponsor of the Spring Migration Bird Walks which have been ongoing since 1933 in the greater Cleveland area.
“The mission of the Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, is to promote the conservation and appreciation of birds and other wildlife through habitat preservation and educational activities, focusing on the Greater Cleveland community.”