This is one of but a half dozen relatively intact riparian corridors feeding into Lake Erie. The Black River-West Branch is the single most intact riparian corridor in Lorain County. This IBA includes three public parks (Carlisle Reservation, French Creek Reservation, and Sandy Ridge) plus two major reservoirs (Wellington and Oberlin) and a major pine stand. These are islands of mature hardwoods with refugia for migrants and nesters.
The corridor supports significant numbers of songbirds, particularly around the reservoirs. These systems likely provide major benefits to spring and fall migrant songbirds for refueling.
The reservoirs provide spring migration stopover for Ruddy Ducks, Greater and Lesser Scaups, American Coots, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, Common Loons, Ring-billed Gulls, and smaller numbers of other ducks; and in fall, Ruddy Ducks, American Coots, Common Loons, small numbers of other ducks and grebes.
Wellington Upland Reservoir is unique among those of north-central Ohio in that it takes far lower temperatures for far longer to completely freeze and drive off waterfowl lingering here from the autumn. The regular staging of Ruddy Ducks, Ring-billed Ducks, and American Coots has grown to involve thousands of each species, with hundreds lingering into December. With the increasingly frequent occurrence of open water into January, the prospect of recording unheard-of mid-winter numbers is possible.
This corridor is experiencing increasing urban pressure. Sandy Ridge is in a rapidly-developing part of Lorain County, very close to City of Elyria. Exotic plants pose perhaps the most serious (but controllable) threat to the site. Exotics, primarily loosestrife and Phragmites, are pulled and/or sprayed annually. Development is proceeding at a rapid rate on lands adjacent to the park.