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Challenges facing Ohio's Natural Areas & Preserves
Serious Challenges Facing the Future of theOhio Natural Areas & Preserves Program
The major private thrust statewide for natural area preservation began in 1958 when the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy was founded.By the mid-1960s, it became obvious that Lynx Prairie, the OhioBeginning in 1959, with the acquisition of private efforts alonecould not stop natural areas remarkable destroyed saving naturalChapter of TNC compiled a from being record for by agricultural,residential, and Dysart Woods, Mentor Marsh, Brown’s Lake Bogareas including commercial development. Only the State withits resourcesand Buzzardroost Rock.Frame Bog, and power of eminent domain, could protect thebest remaining natural areas in the state.
At its annual meeting in 1966, the Ohio Chapter of TNC calledfor the creation of a state nature preserve system and acommittee was formed to work toward that goal.In August of 1967, the Ohio House adopted a resolutionsponsored by State Representative Robert A. Holmesexpressing concern over losses of wilderness and threatsto the last remnants of Ohio’s natural heritage.Two years passed before the Ohio Legislative ServiceCommission approved a study of the “means of identifying,locating, and preserving areas of unusual natural significancefor the beneficial use of generations to come.”
We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us and worked so hard over so many years to forge a natural areas program for the citizens of Ohio, both present and future. Those in Whose Footsteps We Attempt to Follow:Dr. E Lucy Braun, Professor Emeritus Plant Ecology, University of CincinnatiDr. David Blyth, Columbus Audubon SocietyDr. Charles Dambach, Ohio Biological Survey & OSU Natural ResourcesDr. Oliver D. Diller, Head Dept of Forestry, Ohio Agr. Exp. Station, WoosterDr. Richard H. Durrell, Geology Professor, University of CincinnatiDr. J. Arthur Herrick, Professor of Botany, Kent State UniversityHon. Robert E. Holmes, Speaker, Ohio House of RepresentativesDr. Kenneth Hunt, Director Glen Helen, Antioch CollegeDr. Charles C. King, Executive Director, Ohio Biological SurveyDr. E. J. Koestner, Director, Dayton Museum of Natural HistoryWilliam Scheele, Director, Cleveland Museum of Natural HistoryDr. Edward S. Thomas, Curator of Natural History, Ohio Historical SocietyWalter A. Tucker, Director, Columbus Metropolitan ParksDr. Warren Wistendahl, Dept of Botany, Ohio UniversityHarold J. Zimmerman, Burroughs Nature Club, Willoughby
As a result of this study, State Senator Clara Weisenborn ofDayton sponsored S.B. 113 calling for the creation of the state’sNatural Areas Program. Senator Weisenborn also had $400,000appropriated for land acquisition in ODNR’s Capital Budget.The Natural Areas Bill, Amended S.B. 113 which later became anational model, was given final approval by the Ohio GeneralAssembly and was signed into law by Governor James A. RhodesIn 1970.The Natural Areas Act of 1970 allowed the Ohio Department ofNatural Resources to purchase and administer state naturepreserves and to protect, through dedication, natural areas inboth public and private ownership.
On May 20, 1970, ODNR Director Fred E. Morr handpickedRichard E. Moseley Jr. to put together this new program. ODNR established a Natural Areas & Scenic Rivers Planning Section in the Office of Program & Planning to administer the new natural areas and scenic rivers programs and to provide technical assistance to the Ohio Natural Areas Council. Richard E. Moseley, Jr.
With the initial appropriation of $400,000, the Departmentacquired 14 properties totaling 632 acres on six natural areas. In 1971, William B. Nye became the fourth Director of of ODNR under the Gilligan Administration. By 1973, “Division of Forestry and Preserves” the Natural Areas Program had grown to the extent that Director Nye, by Executive Order approved by theForestry was reassigned Division of Forestrystate nature Governor, renamed the management of all to the -preserves not contiguous to other state lands managed byeither the Division of Parks & Recreation or the Division ofWildlife. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.
In 1975 when James A. Rhodes wasonce again elected governor for whatbecame his second 8 year term inin office, he appointed Dr. Robert W. Teateras the fifth Director of ODNR.By 1975, the Natural Areas Program hadpurchased 18 areas encompassing 3,398acres and dedicated 8 additional natural Director Robert W. Teaterareas.It had become apparent that in order to consistently andproperly manage the state nature preserves, a new managementstrategy had to be adopted. To that end, Director Teatercreated, by Executive Order with approval of the Governor, a newDivision of Natural Areas & Preserves in February of 1975. Thisnew division was given “permanency” with passage of H.B. 972 inJune of 1976.
Chief: Richard E. MoseleyAsst. Chief: Guy L. DennyExecutive Secretary:Kathy SmithField Operations Mgr:James McGregor(William Loebick)Scenic Rivers Administrator:W. Stu LewisReal Estate Administrator:Steve GoodwinOhio Natural HeritageProgram Administrator:Robert McCance
By 1999, DNAP had grown to 124 natural areas, had a fulltime staff of 48, including 13 preserve managers, an annualoperating budget of about $3.6 million, and was nationallyrecognized as one of the best natural areas programs inthe nation.
By the year 2000, management within DNAP had changeddramatically. Unlike in its early years, the Division was nolonger being administered by experienced field naturalist.In 2004, a decision was made within DNAP to transfer OldWoman Creek National Estuarine Sanctuary to the Divisionof Wildlife.In 2004, a decision was made within DNAP to disband theOhio Natural Areas Council.As the original preserve managers retired, they were replacedby non-naturalists.The. Monitoring & Research Programwas downgraded
In 2009, ODNR Director Sean Logan, faced with sever budget cuts to ODNR’s operating budget, made the decission to dismantle DNAP as a cost saving measure.The Scenic Rivers Program was transferred to theDivision of Watercraft.The Natural Heritage Program with its botanists andecologists was transferred to the Division of Wildlife. The nine preserve managers were transferred to the Division of Parks & Recreation.
Even under the new Kasich Administration, the StricklandAdministration’s ODNR Director Sean Logan’s plan fordismantling DNAP continues in motion. Language contained in the Department’s FY 12-13 budget bill (Sub. H.B. 153) would have officially abolished the Division of Natural Areas & Preserves as of July 1, 2011, and would have made the DNAP income tax check-off a State Parks and Natural Areas check-off administered by the Chief of the Division of Parks & Recreation.
Ohio House District 70Home Town: Millersburg, inHolmes CountyMore than 15 years working in theprivate sector as a pipe inspectorHolmes County Park DistrictDirector in 1995Holmes County Commissioner1999 - 2008 Chair of the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
The Ohio General Assembly adding an additional $2.4million for FY 12-13 apparently in Joint ConferenceCommittee so that the State Nature Preserves would beproperly managed.This would have been adequate funding if it were usedexclusively to manage state nature preserves and notadditionally used to shore up a financially ailing StateParks System.Efforts continue to make the Natural Areas Program asub-program in the Division of Parks & Recreationsupervised by local district park managers rather thanby trained ecologists/field biologists who understand andare experienced in the challenges and complexities ofnatural areas management.
What are the most serious threats to adedicated State Nature Preserve? 1. Invasive species from both non-native as well as native species of plants and animals 2. Unchecked natural succession
OhioNatural Areas & Preserves Association (ONAPA) The purpose of ONAPA is to protect Ohio’s Natural Heritage by bringing together organizations and individuals to help maintain, monitor, restore, and support Ohio’s important natural areas. To learn more about ONAPA visit us at www.onapa.org
OhioNatural Areas & Preserves Association (ONAPA) Recruit and organize volunteers to participate in habitat management and preserve maintenance projects. Help establish preserve “Friends Groups.” Promote the DNAP income tax check-off. Promote the DNAP auto license plate. Monitor the preserves for vandalism, maintenance and other problems. Send emails and write letters of support when necessary.
Serious Challenges Facing the Future of theOhio Natural Areas & Preserves Program
ODNR Director Zehringer Deputy Director (K. Gebhardt) DNAP Chief Central Office Volunteer Advisors Natural Areas Advisory CouncilChief Botanist Monitoring & Research Special Projects Volunteer Coordinator R. Gardner R. McCance J. Kasai SeasonalsSeasonal Botanists Columbus Audubon Individual Special Projects Preserve Statewide Work Group Friends Groups Natural Heritage Data Base Misc. Volunteers G. Schneider – D. Woischke Preserve Mgr. Preserve Mgr. Preserve Mgr. Preserve Mgr. S.W. Ohio S.E. Ohio N.E. Ohio N.W. Ohio M. Comer Boch Hollow M. Grote