New livestream camera creates window to Cedar Point Refuge

Jan 16, 2024 | Featured, Ottawa Outdoors | 0 comments

The Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge staff, who are based at the Visitor Center, shown here, are working to increase accessibility at all the refuges under their management.

BY SHERI TRUSTY

A newly-installed livestream camera at the limited-access Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge is the latest attempt to increase accessibility to land managed by Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) staff. The camera gives a real-time view of Cedar Point refuge, which includes the largest undeveloped stretch of shoreline along Lake Erie.

The livestream can be viewed here: www.friendsofottawanwr.org/#cedarpointcamera.

Increasing accessibility at local national refuge land was integrated into the strategic plan, said Aimee Arent, Executive Director of Friends of the ONWR.

“In 2022, as we talked with members and visitors, we kept hearing people say they can’t come to the refuge anymore because of age or disability. The refuge manager, Jason Lewis, and I started talking about ways to increase accessibility without harming habitats,” Arent said.

Other accessibility projects include an ADA compliant fishing platform at the ONWR Visitor Center, ADA compliant kayak access at Nehls Memorial Nature Preserve on Catawba Island, a boardwalk and crushed gravel loop at Fox Nature Preserve in Oak Harbor, and the addition of shuttle tours at ONWR. The shuttles run through the winter, weather permitting.

The livestream camera at Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge allows nature lovers to watch the eagles, pelicans, beaver, otter and other wildlife who live at the refuge, most of which is not publicly accessible. A small section is open for fishing, birding, photography and non-motorized boating at Yondota Rd.

“The camera was another way to increase accessibility to the refuge,” Arent said. “You can sit in your pajamas, drink coffee, and see what is happening there.”

Arent recently tuned in to the livestream during her lunchbreak and saw a Bald Eagle flying near a group of ducks.

Volunteer Greg Sanderson, left, and Friends of the ONWR Executive Director, Aimee Arent, were instrumental in the installation of a livestream camera at Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge.

“I thought, ‘I see what you’re doing here. You’re having lunch, too,’” she said. “The camera is focused on an eagle nest, and viewers have the best chance of seeing beaver at sunrise and sunset.”

The livestream video was publicly launched on New Year’s Day, when it drew 420 viewers.

“We have 80 to 100 people watching every day,” Arent said. “That’s fun. That’s telling us it’s working.”

The camera was installed thanks to the efforts of volunteer Greg Sanderson, whom Arent calls the refuge’s “power man” for his consistent maintenance of lighting needs, marsh pumps and mowing duties.

“I met the electricians at the refuge when it was time to install the camera. They did a great job,” Sanderson said. “I went out there so the busy refuge staff didn’t have to.”

Refuge volunteer Doug Vogus travels to ONWR from his Akron home once a month to assist with the monthly bird census. He said the camera allows him to see the weather before he makes the two-hour trek, and it gives him the opportunity to enjoy the refuge when he’s at home.

“It’s a window into the refuge, to see what’s going on there. I’ve seen eagles flying, whitetail deer passing by, and the occasional mink,” he said.

Arent is looking for more Cam Keepers – people who financially support the livestream cameras – to help increase accessibility.

“We’ll happily put up cameras in more locations, if the support is strong,” she said.

Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge is at 14000 West State Route 2 in Oak Harbor. Information about visiting the refuge or to view a list of species, visit: www.fws.gov/refuge/cedar-point/visit-us and www.fws.gov/refuge/cedar-point/species.

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