Despite the rise of a post-industrial society, the need for the preservation of land and natural habitats remains ever important. Without preservation efforts, there’s a risk of permanently losing wildlife and our connection to the natural world around us.
For 25 years, The Black Swamp Conservancy has maintained and preserved areas of Northwest Ohio. “We keep the woods a woods, the wetlands a wetlands, and the farm a farm,” says executive director Rob Krain. “Our mission is to protect and preserve natural habitats and family farms, including streams and wetlands, for future generations.”
According to Krain, the conservancy and its large service area has “permanently protected over 1,700 acres of land across 16 Northwest Ohio counties.”
The conservancy’s signature fundraising event, Bluegrass and Green Acres, will be held at the Toledo Zoo’s Malawi Event Center at 6:30pm Friday, March 16.
Previous events had 300-350 supporters attend, but due to increasing interest, Krain expects a larger crowd this year. “The last three years we (held the event) at the Carranor Club in Perrysburg and before that we were at BGSU,” explains Krain. “Part of the reason we switched (the location) this year is to accommodate a larger crowd.”
Up for auction
During the event, the conservancy will hold both a silent and live auction, with restaurant gift cards and works of art among the items up for bid. “Metroparks is opening up camping on Granger Island this spring. They’ve built a couple of platforms and a rustic cabin out there. One of our auction items will be the first official camping trip to the island,” Krain explains.
“They’ve been working on it for about a year and they’re getting close to completion. The experience we’ll be auctioning will be the opportunity to do a guided short paddle or long paddle that will end at the island, and we’ll have a catered dinner, and we’ll come back in the morning to take them back to shore.”
One of the event’s main attractions will be a live performance by the Mark Lavengood Band.
“We’ve used this event to bring some really talented musicians to the area,” says Krain. “People from out of town that are on the cutting edge of ‘Newgrass’ music— which takes bluegrass and combines elements of rock, jazz and blues. And Mark is very talented in that area.”
As part of the Earthwork Music Collective, an independent label out of Southeast Michigan, “I hold environmental and social justice initiatives in the highest regard,” says Lavengood. According to its website, the label “believes in the intrinsic and historical power of music to raise community and self-awareness.”
Since the release of his 2014 album No Part of Nothin’, Lavengood has been touring. Having spent the last eight years playing with Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, he broke out on his own this past year and is currently working on new projects with a local/regional focus
“I’ve been in the studio for about the last two and a half months,” says Lavengood. “I’m hoping to release the first single by April, and then have a new ep out this summer.”
The first ever Bluegrass & Green Acres took place in 2011, and Lavengood, along with Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, played their debut show that night. “The first gig on their first tour was our first Bluegrass & Green Acres seven years ago. And they’ve done really well touring internationally since then,” says Krain.