Stories in Ohio

2019 Highlights

Thank you for making 2019 a year filled with conservation victories!

Our work to protect the lands and waters of Ohio for both people and nature is showing results across the state. Here are just a few of the goals we are most proud to have accomplished.

A silhouette of a man with his arms outstretched as he rejoices in the beauty of a sunset over Lake Erie.
Lake Erie A silhouette of a man with his arms outstretched as he rejoices in the beauty of a sunset over Lake Erie. © Sharon Dominick/istockphoto

New Water Fund Will Address Algal Blooms

The passage of Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio clean water fund earlier this year marks a huge advancement in addressing the water quality issues that plague Ohio. The Nature Conservancy helped develop and advocate for the water fund, which includes tens of millions of dollars for nature-based programs, such as creating wetlands and restoring floodplains to naturally filter out the nutrients and sediments that contribute to harmful algal blooms. Now, TNC is advocating for the creation of the H2Ohio Trust—a permanent trust fund that will ensure a reliable source of funding for clean water. 

Tell your state senator to protect Ohio’s water quality.  

TNC Staff and partners inventory the trees at the Edge of Appalachia.
Working Woodlands Program TNC Staff and partners inventory the trees at the Edge of Appalachia. © David Ike

Forest Management Plan at Edge of Appalachia Preserve to Improve Forest Health

A forest inventory at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve is informing the development of a new management plan. This science is guiding a shift from a passive to an active management approach certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which verifies responsible forest management. Prior to its protection by TNC, many areas of the preserve were logged unsustainably, resulting in degraded forests. Through the use of silviculture, TNC can transform the landscape into one that promotes a diversity of tree species, better supporting native wildlife and increasing resilience against climate change and invasive species.  

Stream restoration project in southern Ohio.
Ohio Mitigation Program Stream restoration project in southern Ohio. © Dana Ohman/TNC

Mitigation Program a Growing Success

The Nature Conservancy broke ground on the first stream restoration project funded by its Ohio Mitigation Program (OMP). Located in the Strait Creek watershed in southern Ohio, the project will restore ecological function to 9,000 linear feet of stream. The program is founded on federal and state laws that require developers to avoid, minimize and offset harm to wetlands and streams. Through the program, TNC is designing the best stream and wetland conservation projects possible, raising the bar for mitigation across the state. So far, OMP funds have been used by TNC to preserve 72 acres of wetlands and 3.4 miles of stream and to restore another 4,960 linear feet of stream and 1.7 acres of wetlands.  

The Buckeye Trail follows the Joan Jones Portman Trail at the Edge of Appalachia for a bit before continuing.
Buckeye Trail The Buckeye Trail follows the Joan Jones Portman Trail at the Edge of Appalachia for a bit before continuing. © Randall L. Schieber

Edge of Appalachia Preserve Now Hosts Buckeye Trail

For nearly 1,444 miles, the Buckeye Trail winds around Ohio, reaching into every corner of the state. Now 16 of these miles are contained within the Edge of Appalachia Preserve, thanks to a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Buckeye Trail Association. This section of the newly developed trail also coincides with the North Country National Scenic Trail, which connects New York to North Dakota. The new trail passes through one of Ohio’s most significant natural areas, providing visitors with a unique, primitive hiking experience. With this addition, the preserve now boasts 24 miles of hiking trails.  

Pond Restoration at Kitty Todd Preserve Creates Wetland Habitat

The majority of northwest Ohio’s Oak Openings Region has been developed. This includes parts of Kitty Todd Nature Preserve, where TNC modified old sand borrow pits to create rare wetland and vernal pool habitat to benefit amphibians and reptiles. Staff transformed these borrow pits—areas where material was excavated for use elsewhere—by regrading steep banks and planting wetland vegetation. The project not only creates high-quality habitat for native wildlife, but also promotes groundwater infiltration and traps sediments and nutrients before they enter streams.  

Unstructured play in nature is important for mental and physical health.
Playing in Nature Unstructured play in nature is important for mental and physical health. © Shutterstock

Nature Play Area Created at Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve

A new nature play area at Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve provides young visitors with an opportunity for the kind of outdoors, make-it-up-as-you-go play that is important for children. Visitors to the preserve will find a space furnished with elements such as various-sized sticks and logs, tree cookies, rocks and boulders, and a rudimentary mud kitchen with old cast iron skillets. Through its simplicity, and by keeping the area as true to nature’s design as possible, the nature play area provides kids with an unstructured experience that many are currently lacking.  

New wetlands at Sauder Village will help to curb and treat runoff water and establish natural habitats.
Sauder Village Wetland. New wetlands at Sauder Village will help to curb and treat runoff water and establish natural habitats. © Sauder Village

Sauder Village Wetland Restoration Reduces Runoff and Creates Habitat

Sauder Village has been a historical resource for northwest Ohio for 42 years. Now it’s also known for showcasing how nature can coexist alongside agriculture production, thanks to support from The Nature Conservancy and other partners. In order to protect their historical assets from flooding and to prevent runoff, Sauder Village redesigned their land use plan to include more natural infrastructure—areas that can capture, store and treat runoff water. The newly constructed wetland habitat will support rare species of birds and pollinating insects in a landscape that was once the Great Black Swamp and help to prevent runoff that contributes to harmful algal blooms. Restoring and protecting wetlands is key to our statewide protection strategy.

Fishermen pull their catch from Lake Erie.
Ohio Lake Erie Fishing Fishermen pull their catch from Lake Erie. © Eric Albrecht

Great Lakes Fisheries Restoration Efforts Launched

Once the foundation of a robust commercial and recreational fishing industry, the fisheries of the Great Lakes have been drastically altered by habitat loss, historical overfishing and the rapid rise of invasive species. The Nature Conservancy has launched an ambitious effort to restore the diversity of Great Lakes fish species in order to improve the stability, resiliency and productivity of our fisheries. In Lake Erie, scientists are focused on lake whitefish, a species once found in abundance but that is now suffering population declines. By studying crucial life stages of whitefish and assessing potential impacts to their populations, TNC will help develop a strategy to reestablish a robust whitefish fishery.  Learn more about our work in the Great Lakes.