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Protecting Northwest Ohio's Unique Wetlands

Posted on 2/8/2016 by State Nature Preserves

Tax donations at work in Louis W. Campbell State Nature Preserve

Ohio State Nature Preserves are beautiful natural areas where many of the state’s endangered species are thriving and rare geologic features are protected, thanks to the generosity of Ohioans who have donated a portion of their state tax refunds to the State Nature Preserves Fund.

Donations to this fund protect the best of Ohio’s natural areas, including bogs and fens, prairies, old growth forests and rare geologic formations. The fund supports new land purchases, educational opportunities and scientific research. Tax refund donations are also critical for enabling preserve managers to battle invasive plant species threatening native habitats.

Across the state, 136 state nature preserves, totaling 30,000 acres, are open year-round for the enjoyment and benefit of all Ohioans. In northwest Ohio, donations help preserve one of the rarest and most significant natural areas in the Midwest—the Oak Openings Region, which is a 130-square-mile region featuring a landscape of wet prairies, oak savannas and sand barrens that developed on sand and clay deposited by glacial Lake Warren, the ancient predecessor of present day Lake Erie.

Louis W. Campbell State Nature Preserve, a rare and beautiful example of this region, preserves a variety of rare habitats including wet prairie and sedge meadows, swamp forest, sand barrens and oak savannas. The site protects more than 40 state-listed rare species. Located 10 miles west of Toledo in Lucas County, it is an excellent example of how tax refund donations can benefit Ohio’s natural areas.

A newly constructed observation deck overlooking the marsh offers visitors a chance to glimpse native waterfowl and the vibrant wetland sedge meadow. This and other amenities including the parking area, interpretive signage and 2.3 miles of trail were made possible by donations to the State Nature Preserves Fund.

In recent years, donations have also supported ongoing restoration and invasive species management at the preserve. Removing non-native plants and using prescribed burns allow the native plant community to thrive, while re-establishing the globally rare habitats. This, in turn, benefits endangered wildlife, including the frosted elfin and silver-bordered fritillary butterflies, which thrive at Louis W. Campbell State Nature Preserve.

Lovely in any season, the preserve is especially beautiful in late-spring. Rare plant communities thrive, providing a parade of colors for visitors, including the blaze of purples from wild lupine as well as the pinks, purples and yellows from plains puccoon, grass-pink orchid, spathulate-leaved sundew, Canada frostweed, blue flag iris and lance-leaved violet.

Visiting the Louis W. Campbell State Nature Preserve is easier to access and enjoy because of Ohioans’ donations to the State Nature Preserve Fund. It’s easy to become a partner in future preservation projects at Ohio’s state nature preserves.

Ohioans can donate all or a part of their state income tax refund by making a contribution on line 26c of the 2015 Universal IT 1040 Income Tax Return. Learn more about becoming a partner in preservation or visiting any of Ohio’s 136 state nature preserves.