The Vermilion River corridor is mature, extensive, and intact; second to the Grand River, it is the best-looking river corridor flowing into Lake Erie. The river is 59 miles long and flows northward to Lake Erie. Portions of the corridor are very scenic with steep cliffs of reddish clay, and the old beach ridge may hold flora of note.
Included in this IBA is Edison Woods Reserve of Erie MetroParks. It is a contiguous tract of mixed mature and successional wet and mesic woodlands, old fields, and agricultural fields with some residences. It contains the western edge of Berea sandstone escarpment, an old quarry, and adjacent Lake Plain. Its northern edge is only 2-3 miles away from Lake Erie and the size of this tract is unusually large for the area. 300-500 acres of Category 3 wetlands exist on site with increasingly rare oak/ash wetland, and extensive vernal pools in woodlands supporting significant salamander populations.
The Bacon Woods area of the Vermilion River Reservation is a riparian corridor, with meadow and wooded slopes. A tornado in the metropark in the late 1990s opened up part of the valley floor, leading to ongoing changes in bird populations. The park is in the valley of the Vermilion River and is the westernmost deep-cut river valley emptying into Lake Erie.

Ornithological Summary

The Vermilion River is one of the premier forested river corridors flowing into Lake Erie. It supports a high diversity of breeding rare songbirds. The Vermilion corridor provides habitat for 15 confirmed or probable warbler species, as well as two additional possible breeding species. The river's mouth marks the approximate point along the lakeshore dividing eastern- and western-bound birds (e.g. warblers and some raptors) that tend to avoid crossing the lake.
Edison Woods Reserve provides a large undeveloped tract containing both oak/ash and beech/maple forest, which supports breeding populations of numerous woodland-specific species. With its proximity to Lake Erie, it also provides an important stopover area for migratory songbirds.
The Vermilion River Reservation (Bacon Woods) supports some bird and plant communities otherwise found only to the east. It has the highest concentration of Cerulean Warbler in this drainage on the lake plain.

Conservation Issues

Relatively little of the Vermilion River corridor is protected in any way. There is a widespread population, abundant in some areas, of multiflora rose in Edison Woods. Garlic mustard continues to compete with the spring wildflowers. Phragmites is found in a few pockets of the wet area and is expanding. Bacon Woods experiences heavy recreational use with noise and bicyclists spilling over from the developed area.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.