Americans have a deep-rooted tradition of turning to our landscape to sustain and enrich our lives.
Even during times of crisis America’s greatest leaders have committed to conservation as a means of uplifting our people and healing our nation. During the Civil War President Lincoln authorized California to protect Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove “for public use, resort and recreation.” That same year The New York Times called for the establishment of a public park in the Adirondacks. Years later President Franklin Roosevelt would help save our land, as well as a generation of young men, by setting the Civilian Conservation Corps to work in the country’s national forests.
The Nature Conservancy is a staunch supporter of today’s public land protection efforts, backing policy initiatives such as America’s Great Outdoors and urging permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund—our government’s key program for protecting land and water.
Here in Ohio, the Conservancy has a long history of working on the ground with local, state and federal entities to establish and expand some of the state’s finest natural areas. From the shores of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River, more than 35,000 acres—and counting—of the Buckeye State’s most important and well known local parks, state nature preserves and other public lands have been protected with the help of the Conservancy.
While the following sites represent only a fraction of our projects in Ohio, we hope these highlights will inspire you to explore and protect our great outdoors.
After all, this land is your land.
Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve is a 691-acre haven for hundreds of bird species and an important breeding area for native Lake Erie fish. Throughout the 1960s the Conservancy worked to contribute nearly 300 acres to the site. In 1972, Mentor Marsh was officially designated a State Nature Preserve by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
In a state with 90 percent of its original wetlands destroyed, East Sandusky Bay MetroPark is an irreplaceable natural resource, protecting a vital portion of Lake Erie’s remaining freshwater marshland. The Nature Conservancy identified the importance of the region early on, contributing 960 acres to what’s now known as East Sandusky Bay MetroPark.
The 465-acre Wildwood Preserve is enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year who come not only to enjoy the unique tallgrass prairies, but also to explore the hardwood forests and deep ravines that define the park. The Nature Conservancy recognized the importance of the site in the early ‘70s and quickly protected and transferred the acreage to the Toledo Metroparks, which continues to manage the preserve.
Located in southeastern Franklin & northwestern Fairfield counties, Pickerington Ponds Metro Park is one of central Ohio’s most important birding areas. The 1,650-acre park is defined by seasonal ponds, bordered by woodlands, making it a hotspot for migrating waterfowl, shore birds and land birds. Since the mid-70s The Nature Conservancy has contributed more than 400 acres to this unique central Ohio site.
The 7,000-acre Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park protects more than 20 miles of the Big and Little Darby Creeks. Designated state and national scenic rivers, Big and Little Darby Creek are home to 98 species of fish and 44 species of freshwater mussels, many of which are endangered. The Nature Conservancy has protected thousands of acres in the region, including 600 acres that are now a part of the Metro Parks system.
Ohio’s largest public forest, Wayne National Forest provides habitat for a host of wildlife, including imperiled songbirds, rare bats and black bears. Spanning 250,000 acres, the forest offers the public various recreational opportunities, including 300 miles worth of trails. The Nature Conservancy has for years encouraged the protection of large landscapes like those found within the Wayne, transferring nearly 5,500 acres to the forest.
With more than 16,000 acres, Hamilton County Park District offers residents of the greater Cincinnati area ample opportunity to explore 21 nearby natural areas. The Nature Conservancy helped to protect many of these sites, including 140 acres of the Park District’s Withrow Nature Preserve—noted for its mature hardwood forest and variety of native wildflowers. All told, the Conservancy has contributed more than 450 acres to the district.