February 21, 2014
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.
Last year, staff intensified efforts to treat and control non-native invasive species impacting eight southeastern state nature preserves including Lake Katharine, Boch Hollow, Shallenberger and Stage’s Pond. A combination of staff labor, supplies and equipment supported by checkoff donations and volunteer labor resulted in nearly 400 acres being treated to stop the spread of 15 non-natives, such as Japanese barberry, Japanese honeysuckle, tree-of-heaven, bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, autumn olive and purple loosestrife.
In addition to eco-management activities, donations support new facility improvements. At Blackhand Gorge, located in Licking County, the preserve’s trail system now includes new fencing and better signage to improve public safety. Work on a new parking area to allow more people to enjoy this unique state nature preserve is also planned with the assistance of these critical donation dollars.
In the Hocking Hills region, one of Ohio’s most visited areas for hiking and nature appreciation, the trail system at Conkle’s Hollow is now safer due to new fencing, which protects both the visitors and the endangered plants growing along the trails.
Farther south, facilities improvements at Lake Katharine in Jackson County include new boardwalks, staircases and signage. Often these kinds of improvements, which benefit visitors directly, are only possible because costly materials are purchased using checkoff funding.
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. Learn more by visiting ohiodnr.gov.
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.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.