Island Green Week @ Erie Islands Is Packed With History, Nature, Eco & Fun Activities

Sat 8/3-Wed 8/14

One of this region’s greatest natural assets is its lake. We’ve just finished celebrating the restoration of the Cuyahoga River watershed over the last 50 years, with the Xtinguish and Cleveland 50 celebrations in June marking the 50th anniversary of the last Cuyahoga River fire, which helped launch the environmental movement. But we get constant reminders that there’s work to be done — reminders such as the algal blooms that return many summers to taint Lake Erie (Some may remember five years ago when toxic algae made Toledo’s water undrinkable for several days).

Given how essential Lake Erie is to their existence — economic as well as environment — the Erie Islands are a natural place to celebrate a Green Week.

Island Green Week, which encompasses activities on South Bay Island’s Put-in-Bay, Middle Bass Island, Kelleys Island and Gibraltar Island, is actually nearly two weeks long. It introduces visitors to the area’s history — including its geological history, its environment, and its recreational assets with organizations including the Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center, Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, OSU’s Stone Laboratory, the Put-in-Bay Township Park District and the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society working together to offer activities and educational opportunities.

On Put-in-Bay, you can learn about Lake Erie’s ecosystem at the Aquatic Visitors Center and about animals from all over North America at the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center. On Thu 8/8 there’s a tour of Gibraltar Island, just off Put-in-Bay (take a water taxi from the Boardwalk) where The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory is located and you can learn about the work being done there, as well as check out the historical Cooke’s Castle.

On Mon 8/5 and Tue 8/6, start your island week with a self-guided eco-tour. Pick up a packet at Put-in-Bay Town Hall any time during these two days to get maps, coupons and freebies for $20, then head out to look at caves, woods, vineyards and historic buildings. Proceeds benefit the maintenance of the island’s natural spaces.

There will be plenty of other activities during this Island Green Week — a poker kayak day, winery tours an artisan fair, a lantern tour of the grounds of the Historic Hotel Victory, a pig roast, South Bass Island lighthouse tours, a “pitch black kayak” nighttime kayak trip and a stargazing cruise on the Miller Ferry Mon 8/5, which travels around the islands after dark with an astronomer sharing information about what’s up there. Tickets are $20; $10 for kids. Go here to reserve your spot.

It closes on Wed 8/14 @ noon-6pm with “Rekindling Victory: A Historic Celebration” marking the 100th anniversary of the Hotel Victory fire which destroyed this one-time island landmark. The celebration includes a picnic at South Bass Island State Park (light food and drink will be available for purchase). There’ll be games, tours and local artists. Guests are encouraged to come dressed in 1919 attire. It’s free.

Find a complete schedule of events here.

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