Our Ohio Department of Natural Resources State Nature Preserves (SNP) are jewels that dot the Ohio landscape. Some are prairies, some are wetlands, some are forest, and some are gorges. Many of the preserves are open to the public and many of them contain sensitive habitat that require a permit for visitation. Columbus Audubon has the privilege of becoming uniquely acquainted with quite a variety of our preserves, both the open and permit-only ones.
On a regular basis throughout the school year, Columbus Audubon visits different preserves and assists the Preserve Manager in service projects. In the past, these trips have been called “worktrips”. And yes, the participants do perform some essential maintenance, renovation and construction work, but that is only half of it. No experience is necessary, so many people have learned new skills on these trips. There are also numerous “nature breaks” such as the time they came across a skink at Rock Bridge SNP and the time they watched a black racer race through the leaf litter at Whipple SNP. There’s always the pause to admire the pitcher plant in Cranberry Bog or the unique rock formations at Christmas Rocks. The participants are privileged to see the Nature Preserves from a different perspective and to spend the day with the preserve manager who can interpret what they are seeing. In exchange for a great day out in a beautiful area, they “give back” with a bit of their time and energy.
In past projects, the participants have built new trails in areas that are normally off-limits to visitors, they have removed invasive species that were choking out the native plants, they have built bridges and boardwalks over wet areas along a trail, they have walked the border of the preserve and posted State Nature Preserve signs (that project was mostly a just a pleasant walk in the woods). Twice a year, once in the spring and once in autumn, they have an overnight trip when they go to a preserve farther away, such as up on Lake Erie or down by the Ohio River, and spend time in the preserve on both Saturday and Sunday.
On one such trip, to Halls Creek SNP, they removed the highly invasive bush honeysuckle. They noticed several deer trails that wound their way though the area, with an occasional tree showing the mark of a “deer rub” where a buck had rubbed his antlers to mark his territory. The preserve manager noted that he expected our work to agitate the lead buck in the area. Sure enough, on the following day, they saw multiple fresh and obvious deer rubs, where the buck was reclaiming his territory. He may have been disturbed that night, but now his food trees, oaks, pawpaws, beeches and others, can take back the forest instead of being shaded out by the honeysuckle. Every service project has been a good day outside, with a “nature break” surprise or two waiting for the participants.
Tools and transportation are provided to adults at no cost. Children must ride in transportation provided by a parent or guardian. Participants bring their own lunch and workgloves. There is no requirement to be a member of Columbus Audubon.
Most people meet at DNR at Fountain Square on Morse Road to ride in a van to the Nature Preserve. They meet at 7:45AM and return by 5:00 PM.
Please consider joining us to help preserve Ohio’s natural areas for future generations!
|Click here for a list of upcoming Service projects.|