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Invest in the Best of Northwest Ohio’s State Nature Preserves

Posted on 3/2/2015 by State Nature Preserves

Diverse landscapes offer a variety of habitats for unique plants and animals in northwest Ohio. A number of rare species are protected in the region’s 24 state nature preserves because of the generosity of Ohioans who donated a portion of their tax refunds to the State Nature Preserves Fund.

Irwin Prairie SNP

Donations to the State Nature Preserves Fund help protect the best of Ohio’s natural landscapes: from bogs and fens to prairies and old-growth forest, as well as the native plant and animal communities found in these biologically diverse landscapes. In northwest Ohio, donations support land acquisition, critical eco-management, research, facility improvements and public education. Every donation helps protect Ohio’s threatened and endangered species and important habitats.

Haven’t visited a state nature preserve lately? Consider a visit to Irwin Prairie, located 10 miles west of Toledo in Lucas County. Its predominant habitat is a globally rare twig rush-wiregrass wet prairie. The preserve is an excellent example of how tax refund donations can benefit local landscapes.

Irwin Prairie SNP

The 210-acre Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve protects more two dozen rare plants and a number of rare animals. The large wetlands complex is home to several state-listed species of birds—sora, Virginia rail and Wilson’s snipe. The rare blooms protected here include fringed gentian, red baneberry, Great Lakes goldenrod and Bicknell’s geranium.

Irwin Prairie SNP

The preserve’s main 1.25-mile handicapped accessible boardwalk trail was originally built using tax donations in 1985. Most recently, donations to the State Nature Preserves Fund supported critical eco-management activities that resulted in the removal of non-native plant species from more than 50 acres of wetland habitat.

Lovely in any season, Irwin Prairie is especially beautiful in late summer. The preserve harbors more than 24 species of rare plants, including a number of brightly colored prairie species. From July through September, the preserve is dotted with vibrant flowers, such as prairie thimbleweed, prairie rattlesnake-root, dense blazing star, Riddell’s goldenrod and Kalm’s St. John’s-wort.

Irwin Prairie SNP

Flowers aren’t the only attraction at this northwestern Ohio wetland gem. Birding enthusiasts may spy a variety of spring migrants, including sandhill cranes, blue-winged warblers and swamp sparrow. Other lovely winged creatures found in the preserve include more than 30 species of dragonflies, such as the endangered frosted whiteface.

There are many excellent reasons to visit Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve, and accessibility has been greatly improved because of donations to the State Nature Preserves Fund. Becoming a partner in future preservation projects is easy.

Ohioans can donate all or part of their state income tax refund by making a contribution on line 27d of the 2014 Individual Income Tax Return (line 20d of the 1040 EZ form).