Access is by authorized permit only. There are no restrooms or other facilities on-site.
The Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is a 482-acre former fish farm is located along the Mill Creek corridor in Beaver Township, and supports a diverse array of aquatic, wetland, and upland habitats. The original 264-acres were established in 2005 with funds from the NatureWorks and Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant programs. A additional 218-acres of land adjacent to the Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary was acquired in 2021 with a successful grant application from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.
More than half of the Wildlife Sanctuary’s acreage consists of large ponds that were constructed as part of the former fish farm operation. These ponds are located within the floodplain of Mill Creek, which historically consisted of various wetland and riparian habitats prior to being altered by farming and pond construction. Through careful management of water levels within the ponds a unique diversity of wetland habitats is maintained, including open water, marsh, and mudflat environments. This variability in habitats attracts a wide variety of wildlife species, particularly migrating birds. During the spring and fall migration months, numerous bird species use the Wildlife Sanctuary as an important resting point on their journey. Shorebirds and wading birds are especially attracted to the high quality wetland and mudflat habitats, and hundreds of birds can be seen foraging in these areas as they refuel for their long flights. To date, 260 species of birds have been documented at the Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition, 7 dragonfly species, 3 butterfly species, 3 tiger beetle species, and 1 tree species have been sighted and recorded within the Wildlife Sanctuary. These various species had not previously been observed within Mahoning County.
In 2013 an elevated observation platform was constructed to allow visitors to freely view the ponds at the Wildlife Sanctuary without disturbing the birds and other wildlife there. The deck elevation combined with the natural topography of the site puts observers approximately 50 feet above the ponds. No permit is required to use the observation platform; however visitors are not permitted to access any other parts of the property.
Access to the Wildlife Sanctuary property is restricted, however an observation platform next to the parking lot is open, and allows viewing of the habitats and wildlife. Binoculars or spotting scopes are recommended. Fishing is not permitted at this location.
Directions: From Western Reserve Road, head South on New Buffalo, turn East on Calla Road. Parking and observation platform will be on the left.