The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has announced the addition of 14 acres to the Kitty Todd Nature Preserve, continuing efforts to expand protection of the globally-significant Oak Openings 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. Historically, this region played an important role in slowing down and naturally removing pollutants from waters carried to Lake Erie. 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.
“Restoring this 14-acre property will assist in protecting the hydrology of the globally rare wetlands that occur here and expand the highest quality wet prairie habitat remaining in the Oak Openings Region,” says Dr. Pete Blank, northwest Ohio restoration manager for The Nature Conservancy.
The purchased land is located on Garden Road, south of Old State Line Road.
The property comprises various native habitat types, including Great Lakes flatwood forest and wet prairie that have been impacted by drainage ditches, fire suppression and the spread of non-native species such as glossy and common buckthorn. With H2Ohio funds, TNC will restore wetland habitat and establish a connection between the ditches, wetlands and floodplain that occur on-site.
“The Oak Openings provides drinking water and recreational opportunities for people, and also supports an incredible range of plants and wildlife,” says Blank.
The project will enhance the native plant diversity already found on the property, including winged lythrum, pale spiked lobelia, grooved yellow flax and various sedges. Additionally, state-threatened tuberous grasspink, state-endangered blue spotted salamander and state-threatened Blanding’s turtle have been documented moving into similar restoration sites, indicating promise for the long-term health of the region’s biodiversity.
The restoration project, aptly supported by H2Ohio, will also increase water storage and remove pollutants such as phosphorus, nitrogen and sediments before flowing downstream. “TNC played an essential role in getting H2Ohio off the ground and is now bringing it to life through targeted wetland restoration projects like this one,” says Blank.
The Kitty Todd Nature Preserve is a 1,400-acre dedicated state nature preserve, located in western Lucas county, and is stewarded by The Nature Conservancy. The preserve protects more rare species for its size than any other site in Ohio. It is open daily to the public from dawn to dusk.