Protect Ohio nature preserves through the state Income Tax Checkoff Program

When filling out their taxes this year, Ohioans can make a difference in preserving the state’s wealth of natural resources for generations to come by making a donation through Ohio’s Income Tax Checkoff Program.

Old-growth woods, bogs and fens, endangered species, prairies and other remnants of Ohio’s natural history are all protected by a system of 136 state nature preserves. Ohioans who donate to the Natural Areas State Income Tax Checkoff Program help support this system.

Checkoff donations have enabled the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Natural Areas and Preserves to construct trails and boardwalks, improve parking and signage and allow for greater public access to a treasure trove of nature’s wonders available in Ohio. Additionally, donations support critical ecological management activities, including efforts to remove non-native and invasive species that pose a serious and ever-growing threat to sensitive habitats.

At Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve in Portage County, staff completed an extensive treatment of the highly invasive Japanese knotweed along 2 miles of the preserve’s wooded stream banks. With labor and supplies supported by checkoff donations, and using some creativity, staff used an inflatable raft to transport equipment to the project site. With the removal of non-native invasive vegetation, native plants will flourish at this site.

Battling invasive plants at Sheepskin Hollow State Nature Preserve in Columbiana County involved hiking rugged trails and scaling steep walls. Once staff reached the site’s hemlock gorge, they proceeded to manually remove garlic mustard and bag it so they could ensure the containment of this highly-invasive plant.

Overall, nearly 100 acres of preserve landscape in northeast Ohio were treated or manually managed to reduce non-native invasive plants in 2013, including Kent Bog, Gott Fen, Triangle Lake Bog, Jackson Bog and Tinker’s Creek state nature preserves.

Ohioans can join ODNR in protecting our state nature preserves. Please consider designating all or a portion of your Ohio Income Tax refund to the Natural Areas Fund.

Taxpayers who are not receiving a refund this year may still contribute by sending a check to ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Natural Areas Fund, 2045 Morse Road, Building C-3, Columbus, Ohio 43229.