Ohio's Land Protection Efforts Prioritize Biodiversity
Climate change and loss of biodiversity threaten the future of people and nature worldwide. The Nature Conservancy is addressing these interconnected issues by conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. As part of our 2030 goals, we are working to protect 30% of land and water to help stop irreversible biodiversity loss this decade. This includes conserving 1.6 billion acres of land, 620,000 miles of river and 74 million acres of lakes and wetlands globally.
Here in Ohio, we’re doing our part by conserving valuable habitats that will help us achieve our climate and biodiversity goals. By protecting and restoring habitats like wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes and forests, TNC is helping to reconnect fragmented habitats for plants and wildlife while ensuring the resiliency of these systems to support people and nature in a changing climate.
Here Are Some of the Natural Areas We've Recently Protected
In spring 2023, TNC acquired two properties that protect Ohio Brush Creek, one of the most resilient watersheds in the eastern U.S. The 35-acre Wayne Moore tract protects a quarter mile of Ohio Brush Creek frontage, which includes part of a great blue heron rookery. The land is wooded with small ephemeral tributaries and an occasional slump block of Peebles dolomite. Protecting the Moore tract also helps to safeguard a population of uncommon snow trillium (Trillium nivale) population on an adjacent tract of protected land while preserving the quality of Ohio Brush Creek.
Generously donated by Jan and Wym Portman, the 154-acre Portman tract at Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County protects a quarter mile of Ohio Brush Creek and one-third of a mile of Beasley Fork. The property also boasts extensive wooded slopes of the Ohio Brush Creek valley wall. The land has small cliffs of Peebles dolomite and a few small sinkholes. Protection of this land helps preserve a portion of the incredible view visitors see when they look out on the Ohio Brush Creek valley from the top of Buzzardroost Rock.
Acquired January 2023
Nearly adjacent to Lynx Prairie, the 98-acre Frame tract is part of the larger Lynx Prairie landscape. The property is marked by rolling hills, dolomite cliffs and rocky streams that encompass one of the most extensive landscapes in Ohio of very rare, dry limestone prairie. The area supports three state-listed species, including Uhler’s sundragon (Helocordulia uhleri), jelly lichen (Enchylium coccophorum) and a state-threatened soil lichen (Placidium squamulosum). The forests and prairies of the Edge of Appalachia protect one of Ohio’s most valuable resources—fresh water. The Frame tract helps protect nearly one-third of a mile of Middle Branch Run and three-fourths of a mile of spring-fed tributaries, all feeding into Scioto Brush Creek, one of Ohio’s highest-quality streams.
Located in Ashtabula County, the Rich tract adds 100 acres to the Morgan Swamp Preserve, which now protects 2,154 acres. The Rich tract is a crown-jewel-type addition to the core area of the preserve. It protects the remainder of the largest New England bog on the preserve, the largest population of Virginia chain fern in Ohio as well as the only population on the preserve of state potentially threatened Woodland horsetail (Equisitum sylvaticum). Protection of this massive wetland area helps ensure that the Grand River remains one of the most biodiverse tributaries in the entire Lake Erie watershed.
Acquired November 2022
Located within the globally significant Oak Openings Region, the Colgan tract adds 14 acres to the Kitty Todd Nature Preserve and helps further efforts to expand protection of the region. Kitty Todd lies within a matrix of wetland, forest and oak savanna habitats and includes a portion of the historic Irwin Prairie landscape, an area that once covered an estimated 5,000 acres in the Oak Openings Region of Ohio. The property was purchased using funds from the Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, which funds the protection and restoration of high-quality streams and wetlands. It will be restored with support from the H2Ohio Program.
Acquired October 2022
The Maynard property is a 14-acre addition to the Sunshine Corridor in southern Ohio, which helps connect the Edge of Appalachia Preserve with the Shawnee State Forest. The acquisition helps protect part of the headwaters of Demazie Hollow, much of which is protected in Shawnee State Forest. The waters of Demazie enter another creek, which then eventually drains into the Ohio River.
Acquired October 2022
Located in the Sunshine Corridor and adjacent to Shawnee State Forest, the Bilyeu property is a 164-acre addition to the Edge of Appalachia Preserve. The property is extremely steep and heavily wooded. It protects more than 3,600 feet of the headwaters of Long Lick Run, an exceptional warm-water habitat tributary of the Ohio River.
Restored in 2022
TNC finished restoration work at Mackenzie Run in summer 2022. The property was purchased in 2021, thanks to support from local county commissioners and township trustees and funding from the Clean Ohio Fund and ODNR-Division of Wildlife. Portions of the southern Ohio property were once home to a bar, dirt racetrack and campground. TNC worked alongside many partners and volunteers, including Rural Action members and students from West Union High School Agriculture and Science classes, to restore the 37-acre area to natural habitat while providing public access through the enhancement of a boat and canoe launch. The purchase of the Mackenzie Run property also allowed TNC to conserve the last unprotected piece of the Mackenzie Run watershed, a rare cold-water creek habitat that supports an array of wildlife.
In March 2022, TNC acquired the 128-acre Ladd tract in southern Ohio at our Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve. The property protects the lower half of Pine Fork Hollow, one of the deep narrow valleys that cut into the south slope of Sunshine ridge. This ridge is the prominent topographic feature of TNC’s Sunshine Corridor Project, an effort to link the 20,000-acre preserve and the 65,000-acre Shawnee State Forest.
The primary habitat of the Ladd tract is Appalachian hardwood forest with slopes comprised of white, red, scarlet oaks, various hickory species, beech, sugar maple and tulip tree. High, dry ridges support acid-loving species such as chestnut oak, pitch and Virginia pine, sourwood and occasional mountain laurel. The land sustains numerous species of wildlife from rare black bear and bobcat to turkey and whitetail deer and more diminutive species like cerulean and worm-eating warblers and spotted salamanders. This acquisition was funded by generous donations from private donors.
In early February, TNC closed on the 94-acre Jenkins tract, an important addition to the Edge of Appalachia Preserve. The acquisition was funded by the Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP). WRRSP targets the protection and restoration of Ohio’s high-quality streams and wetlands. The Jenkins tract has an abundance of important aquatic habitats including many spring-fed tributaries and a long section of Mill Creek, a tributary of Scioto Brush Creek. The property also protects deciduous forest and red cedar thickets as well as rare dry limestone prairie that bursts with color in midsummer. A number of state-listed species are found in this habitat, including crested coralroot orchid (Hexalectris spicata), scaly blazing star (Liatris squarrosa) and the green-star sedge (Carex viridistellata).
Acquired in Summer 2021
The Gray tract is a 20-acre addition to the Edge of Appalachia Preserve. Sitting at the junction of Blue Creek Road and Sunshine Ridge Road, the tract serves as a gateway to the Sunshine Corridor, an effort to link the 20,000-acre Edge of Appalachia preserve to the 65,000-acre Shawnee State Forest. Protecting the Gray Tract helps safeguard the gateway while minimizing habitat fragmentation in the corridor, which serves as a link in the chain of connected deciduous forest habitat along the corridor. It also protects the headwaters of Blue Creek, a tributary to the very high-quality Scioto Brush Creek.