Black Swamp Conservancy Adds Acreage to Nature Preserve
Perrysburg, OH – Black Swamp Conservancy recently expanded its Forrest Woods Nature Preserve by acquiring an additional 40 acres adjacent to the existing property. Dedicated as a state nature preserve in 2008, the property is located near Antwerp in Paulding County, Ohio.
Situated along Marie DeLarme Creek, a tributary of the Maumee River, Forrest Woods Nature Preserve is one of the few sites that retain the characteristics of the historic Great Black Swamp, which once stretched from Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline to where Fort Wayne, Indiana is located. Classified as one of the highest quality forested wetlands in the state of Ohio by the Ohio EPA’s wetland ecology group, the preserve is home to a vast array of native plant, animal, and bird species. The 292-acre preserve is owned by the Conservancy.
“We are truly pleased to be able to protect one of the last remaining remnants of our namesake, the Great Black Swamp,” said Kevin Joyce, executive director of the Black Swamp Conservancy. “Our time on this earth is limited and we’re working hard to leave it a better place to live for future generations.”
Black Swamp Conservancy, founded in 1993, is a non-profit land trust whose mission is to protect and preserve natural areas and agricultural land in northwest Ohio for the benefit of future generations. With the addition to Forrest Woods, the Conservancy has protected over 11,400 acres of land in northwest Ohio from development, forever.
“Because of its rich soils, maturing forest and floodplain, Forrest Woods supports many diverse plants, birds and other wildlife unique to the entire region,” stated John Jaeger, retired director of natural resources of the Metropark District of the Toledo Area. “The acquisition of this additional acreage will help to enhance and maintain the diversity of this important part of northwest Ohio’s natural heritage.”
The Conservancy purchased the original 80 acres from the Clair and Martha Forrest family in 2003. More acreage was added in 2004, 2005 and 2007 by way of generous bargain sales by the Forrest, Harper and Shaffer families. A bargain sale is a sale of real estate for an amount less than the property’s market value. The purchase of these properties was made possible by Clean Ohio Greenspace funding and contributions from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources wildlife and natural areas and preserves divisions. The most recent addition, also purchased from the Forrest family, was funded through the Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program. The city of Toledo served as the project sponsor. With the recent expansion, the Conservancy will continue to preserve, in perpetuity, the high quality stream and wetland resources within this significant ecological area.
Terri Gorney, president of the Paulding County chapter of the Ohio Genealogy Society, has spent much of her life exploring the region that was once the Great Black Swamp. “Last summer, I saw a royal river cruiser dragonfly by the Marie DeLarme Creek,” says Ms. Gorney. “This rare species was reported to have been present here in the 1940s and 1950s. It is very gratifying to know that some species have survived and should continue to thrive because of the work being done by the Black Swamp Conservancy.”
Forrest Woods Nature Preserve is quickly becoming known as a birding hotspot. The site which is designated as an important bird area by the National Audubon Society, boasts more than 150 bird species documented on the property. “The preserve is truly an ecological gem,” notes Micki Dunakin, a founding board member of the Ohio Ornithological Society and 20-year member of the Black Swamp Audubon Society. “This area provides habitat for a diversity of bird species, most notably over 33 species of warblers. These local rarities include golden-winged, prothonotary, worm-eating, Louisiana waterthrush, Kentucky, Connecticut and hooded varieties of warbler.”
The Conservancy’s primary objective at the preserve is to protect the exceptionally high-quality floodplain forest along Marie DeLarme Creek. The Conservancy also has worked to expand and enhance the surrounding habitat. “We are establishing grasslands and shrublands in areas that were formerly farmed along the peripheries of the preserve,” reports Rob Krain, conservation director of the Conservancy. “In doing so, we're not only protecting the stream and lowland swamp from siltation and agrichemical runoff, we are also diversifying the wildlife habitat. In the past few years we've had increased numbers of grassland birds, butterflies and dragonflies taking up residence at Forrest Woods. It has been gratifying to see the ecological response.”
Forrest Woods Nature Preserve is open to the public by permit only. A permit may be obtained by calling the Conservancy office at (419) 872-5263.