Fernald Preserve

7400 Willey Road
Hamilton, Ohio 45013

513-648-3330   |  fernald@lm.doe.gov; www.lm.doe.gov
Preserve: 7 a.m.-dusk, Monday-Sunday; Visitor Center: 9a.m.-5p.m.,Wednesday-Saturday

Fernald Preserve: From Nuclear to Nature

North of Cincinnati is one of the most unusual nature preserves in Ohio. Fernald Preserve occupies a site once central to the nuclear arms race.

Built by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, from 1952 until 1989, the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center processed the high-grade uranium needed for nuclear weapons. When the facility closed in 1989, the U.S. Department of Energy embarked on a 20-year project to restore the site. Environmental clean-up included sampling for contaminants, demolition of industrial buildings, debris removal, and disposal of hazardous chemicals. In consultation with area residents, in addition to environmental remediation, DOE committed to restore the ecology, planting native grasses and trees. Today, Fernald Preserve encompasses 1,050 acres of upland forest, grassland, and wetlands. The diversity of wildlife inhabiting the preserve attests to the success of the reclamation activities.

Although Fernald Preserve is an “undeveloped” park, visitors can enjoy seven miles of trails in the preserve. These trails range from short, gravel paths near the visitor center to longer, more rugged trails that travel through the various habitats in found in Fernald. A viewing blind and overlooks provide opportunities to observe native flora and fauna. Over 240 species of birds have been recorded at Fernald Preserve, along with butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

Fernald Preserve includes a visitor center with exhibits designed by faculty and students at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning (DAAP). The outstanding exhibits illustrate the history of the Fernald site including the Native Americans who first lived there, its role in the Cold War, and its environmental cleanup. The visitor center was the first building in Ohio to achieve platinum LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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Notes for Travelers

Fernald Preserve is a delight in many ways – from the story of reclaiming the land to the wildlife found along its trails. The interactive museum exhibits are well-designed to illustrate the history of the site. Every trail provides exceptional opportunities for bird and butterfly sightings. The Hickory Trail is a bit tough in places, so be sure to wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes and carry water (vending machines are available in the visitor center). Remember that this was once a uranium processing site -- heed all the signs and stay on the trails!


Pat Williamsen