Places We Protect

Kitty Todd Nature Preserve Sandhill Crane Wetlands

Ohio

Landscape view of large wetland at Sandhill Crane Wetlands, with a body of water in the foreground and a forest of trees surrounding the wetland in the distance.
Sandhill Crane Wetlands This 280-acre addition to Kitty Todd Nature Preserve restored 280 acres of marginal farmland to native wet prairie habitat . © Alexis Sakas/TNC

The restoration of Sandhill Crane Wetlands adds 280 acres of native wet prairie habitat to our Kitty Todd Nature Preserve in the Oak Openings Region.

Overview

Description

In early 2022, TNC completed restoration work at Sandhill Crane Wetlands, an addition to the Kitty Todd Nature Preserve that restored 280 acres of marginal farmland to native wet prairie habitat. To date, it is the largest effort in the region to return this type of rare wetland habitat to the landscape—one characterized by relatively flat land that seasonally holds water and supports diverse sedges, grasses and shrubs. The restoration site is situated between land protected by TNC and Metroparks Toledo, filling a critical gap and strengthening a 13,000-acre corridor of protected land throughout the Oak Openings Region.

Wetlands once dominated northwest Ohio but have been reduced in size due to the installation of drainage infrastructure, agriculture and land development. Today, less than 5%-10% of Ohio’s original wetlands remain. Wetlands act as nature’s kidneys, and their loss has resulted in increased fertilizers and contaminants reaching Lake Erie, a vital source of drinking water for 11 million people. At the same time, climate change has led to rising temperatures and more severe rainfall events, a perilous combination as evidenced by recurring harmful algal blooms, which are toxic to people and wildlife.

In addition to offering important water-quality protection, the restoration of Sandhill Crane Wetlands also benefits native wildlife. The site offers critical habitat for songbirds, waterfowl, reptiles and amphibians, and staff hope to soon see the return of state-threatened nesting sandhill cranes to the area.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Hours

The preserve is open year-round from dawn to dusk.

Wheelchair Accessible

The Sandhill Crane Wetlands viewing area trail at Kitty Todd Nature Preserve is wheelchair accessible.

Highlights

Look for state-threatened sandhill cranes flying over the wetlands. Year-round activities include hiking, birding, wildlife-watching, nature photography and observing native plants.

Size

The Sandhill Crane Wetlands is part of the 1,400-acre Kitty Todd Nature Preserve.

Explore our work in this region

Photos from Sandhill Crane Wetlands

The wetlands attract a diversity of wildlife including state-threatened sandhill cranes, bald eagles, great blue herons and so much more!

Two sandhill cranes prepare to land in wetland.
TNC staff plant native plants in the wetland habitat at Sandhill Crane Wetlands.
Landscape view of large wetland at Sandhill Crane Wetlands, with a body of water in the foreground and a forest of trees surrounding the wetland in the distance.
Aerial view of Sandhill Crane Wetlands before restoration completion, showing swampy farmland.
Hudsonian godwit stands in water and hunts for food at the Sandhill Crane Wetlands.
An overlook with benches and signage at Sandhill Crane Wetlands.
Toad hiding in the grasses at Sandhill Crane Wetlands.
Wetland habitat showing pooled water and short green plants at Sandhill Crane Wetlands.
Closeup of a sandhill crane flying over the wetlands at Sandhill Crane Wetlands.
TNC staff and visitors look through viewing scopes at Sandhill Crane Wetlands.

Visit

  • What To See

    Visitors may see the following when visiting Kitty Todd Nature Preserve and surrounding habitats:

    Plants: Big bluestem, black oak, colic root, fringed gentian, grass pink orchid, lowbush blueberry, pin oak, prickly pear cactus, rough blazing star, wild lupine

    Mammals: American badger, coyote, Southern flying squirrel

    Birds: Sandhill cranes, bald eagles, American woodcock, dickcissel, Eastern bluebird, field sparrow, lark sparrow, red-headed woodpecker, vesper sparrow

    Insects/Butterflies: Ant lion, black swallowtail, Karner blue butterfly

    Reptiles and Amphibians: Blue racer, blue-spotted salamander, Eastern hognose snake, spotted turtle

  • Activities

    Recreational activities at Kitty Todd Nature Preserve Sandhill Crane Wetlands include the following:

    • The preserve is open to the public for hiking, wildlife-watching and volunteering.
    • This trail is a short, 300-foot path to a wetland viewing area that provides an expansive view of the 280-acre addition to the Kitty Todd Nature Preserve. This site is part of the historic Irwin Prairie, a large wet-prairie complex that once covered 5,000 acres. Trail maps can be found in the Resources section of the Overview tab.
    • Find out how to become a volunteer.
    • Kitty Todd is a stop along the Lake Erie Birding Trail. See what other sites are on the route.
  • Preserve Guidelines

    Our vision is of a world where people and nature thrive together. The Nature Conservancy encourages people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, gender expressions and abilities to visit our preserves and has a zero-tolerance policy for racism and discrimination.

    The following activities are prohibited at Kitty Todd Nature Preserve Sandhill Crane Wetlands:

    • Pets of any kind (service animals are permitted)
    • Biking and mountain biking
    • Camping
    • Driving an ATV or off-road vehicle
    • Cooking or campfires
    • Horseback riding
    • Hunting
    • Picking flowers, berries, nuts or mushrooms
    • Removing any part of the natural landscape
    • Snowmobiling

    Use of other power-driven mobility devices (OPDMDs) is permitted only when the preserve is open to the public and only on the gravel trail and overlook at the Sandhill Crane Wetlands Viewing Area. OPDMDs cannot exceed 36 inches wide and may travel at no more than 4 miles per hour. For more information about using OPDMDs at our open preserves, visit our OPDMD guidelines.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

See the Complete Map

We need your help protecting Ohio's wetlands.