Ohio State's Wilma H. Schiermier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park has won designation as the 24th Wetland of International Importance in the United States. It's a really big deal for local naturalists and another feather in the Buckeye cap. [More info]

Other stuff that is awesome:

A company is offering zipline tour through the Hocking Hills -- you know, like up in the trees attached to a line with a rope. Sounds awesome. [More info]

Ground broke Tuesday on the Audubon Center set to beautify the Whittier Peninsula. The center will be the first urban education facility of its kind in the area. [More info] Full Audubon info after the jump...

Ohio State’s Wilma H. Schiermier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park has won designation as the 24th Wetland of International Importance in the United States. It's a really big deal for local naturalists and another feather in the Buckeye cap. [More info]

Other stuff that is awesome:

A company is offering zipline tour through the Hocking Hills -- you know, like up in the trees attached to a line with a rope. Sounds awesome. [More info]

Ground broke Tuesday on the Audubon Center set to beautify the Whittier Peninsula. The center will be the first urban education facility of its kind in the area. [More info] Full Audubon info after the jump...

The Grange Insurance Audubon Center went off without a hitch. Here's the release sent over after the ceremony:

Members of the Columbus community celebrated Earth Day with a tree planting to commemorate breaking ground on the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The ceremony marked another chapter in the development of the Center as one of the city’s most significant environmental projects.

Distinguished guests, including Mayor Michael Coleman, County Commissioner Marilyn Brown, and Grange Insurance president and CEO Phil Urban, joined the Center’s director Heather Starck and Livingston Elementary students to plant a commemorative tree at the site of the new nature center. The tree signifies the huge effort to reclaim the area and restore it with indigenous trees and plants to benefit wildlife and the Columbus community.

“There have been so many people and organizations that have labored to make the Center a reality, from volunteering their time to donating their resources for fundraising,” said Starck. “Earth Day is the best day to celebrate a center that will contribute to sustaining our environment and preserving green space in Columbus.”

The Grange Insurance Audubon Center, which will be energy efficient and incorporate recycled-content materials, will be constructed to apply green design standards and aims to achieve a LEED® Certification. The Center will be built within the Scioto Audubon Metro Park which features nature trails, bike paths, boardwalks and boating and fishing areas. The Center is located within the Scioto River-Greenlawn Dam Important Bird Area (IBA), where more than 200 species of birds have been spotted.

The Center has become a reality because of a unique partnership among numerous organizations including the City of Columbus, Franklin County, Audubon Ohio, Metro Parks and Grange Insurance. Public and private donations have contributed about $13 million on the way to the $14.5 million campaign goal.

“I am thrilled that Franklin County has been able to partner with Columbus, Grange, Metro Parks and so many others to turn this area into something beautiful,” said Commission President Marilyn Brown. “When this project is complete, there will be wonderful green space for our residents and employees to enjoy, listen to the birds and relax.”

Other major donors to the campaign include American Electric Power, Limited Brands, The Columbus Foundation, Crane Group and Family, The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, Guy Carpenter & Company, Nationwide, Wolfe Associates, Huntington Foundation, Battelle, Ashland, Abercrombie & Fitch, Jeffrey Company, Estabrook Trust, The Robert Weiler Family, Ann Powell Riley, Harry C. Moores Foundation, Nancy & Tad Jeffrey, Columbia Gas, Columbus Audubon and the All-Life Foundation.

The ceremony also marked the start of the public campaign for those wanting to support the Center. Donations can be made by purchasing a founding membership for $100, a paver for the Center walkway for $250 or a commemorative wall stone for $2,500. Additional significant recognition opportunities are also available at higher levels.

As a part of a network of more than 100 Audubon nature centers and sanctuaries across the country, the Grange Insurance Audubon Center is Ohio’s first urban Audubon Center and is expected to open in late spring 2009. The Center will serve as a resource for the 112 schools within its five-mile radius, including 59 economically disadvantaged schools.

“The Grange Insurance Audubon Center will be a terrific asset to our community and an oasis for this area of our great city,” said Urban. “I look forward to the day when Columbus is distinguished in the state and beyond for this centerpiece of education, conservation and recreation in our community.”