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 a variety of our preserves, both the open and permit-only ones.

Approximately monthly throughout the school year, Columbus Audubon visits different preserves and assists the Preserve Manager in service projects. These trips sometimes are called “work trips”, and yes, the participants do perform some essential maintenance, renovation and construction work. But that is only half of it.

Triangle Lake Oct 2020
Triangle Lake Oct 2020

We also have numerous “nature breaks” — such as the time we came across a skink at Rockbridge SNP, or the time we watched a Black Racer zip 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 done things like

  • built new trails in areas that are normally off-limits to visitors
  • removed invasive species that were choking out the native plants
  • built bridges and boardwalks over wet areas along a trail
  • walked the border of the preserve and posted State Nature Preserve signs (that project was mostly a just a pleasant walk in the woods).

On one overnight trip, to Halls Creek Woods SNP, we removed the highly invasive bush honeysuckle. We 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 said that our work would agitate the lead buck in the area. Sure enough, the following day we 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 honeysuckle. Every service project has been a good day outside, usually with one or two of nature’s little surprises waiting for the participants.

Please consider joining us to help preserve Ohio’s natural areas for future generations!

Clifton Gorge Sept 2019i
Clifton Gorge Sept 2019