KENT, OH – Ohio State Nature Preserves are beautiful natural areas where many of the state’s endangered species are thriving and rare geologic features are protected, thanks to the generosity of Ohioans who have donated a portion of their state tax refunds to the State Nature Preserves Fund.
Donations to this fund protect the best of Ohio’s natural areas, including bogs and fens, prairies, old growth forests and rare geologic formations. The fund supports new land purchases, educational opportunities and scientific research. Tax refund donations are also critical for enabling preserve managers to battle invasive plant species threatening native habitats.
Across the state, 136 state nature preserves, totaling 30,000 acres, are open year-round for the enjoyment and benefit of all Ohioans. In northeast Ohio, donations help preserve Ohio’s remaining bogs and fens, which are rare and unique wetlands. The Cooperrider-Kent Bog State Nature Preserve, located outside of Kent in Portage County, is an excellent example of how tax refund donations can benefit Ohio’s natural areas.
In 1985, Cooperrider-Kent Bog was the first state nature preserve to be purchased with funds donated by the citizens of Ohio through the State Nature Preserves tax refund donation program. Since then, tax refund donations have helped to fund the installation of a half-mile boardwalk trail, parking area, interpretive signage and a new entrance sign for the preserve.
The preserve is a living relict formed during the most recent glacial period ending some 12,000 to 16,000 years ago. During the glacier’s retreat northward, a huge block of ice likely broke free from the main glacier and came to rest at the preserve site. The ice block eventually melted, forming a deep kettle-hole lake about 50 acres in size.
As the climate warmed, plants more common to northern Canada colonized the lake shoreline, encroaching upon the open waters, and a lush carpet of sphagnum moss blanketed the lake, forming a lovely bog meadow.
Cooperrider-Kent Bog supports one of the largest southernmost stands of tamarack (Larix laricina) in the continental United States. This tree was important to Native Americans who used the roots to make both cordage, which was used to sew plates of birch bark to canoes, and medicinal tea. It is also unusual in that, unlike most conifers, it is deciduous; its needles turn bright yellow before dropping in mid-November.
In addition, Cooperrider-Kent Bog protects many other important boreal species, including the state-threatened small cranberry, tawny cotton-grass and few-seeded sedge.
Visiting the Cooperrider-Kent Bog State Nature Preserve is easier to access and enjoy because of Ohioans’ donations to the State Nature Preserve Fund. It’s easy to become a partner in future preservation projects at Ohio’s state nature preserves.
Ohioans can donate all or a part of their state income tax refund by making a contribution on line 26c of the 2015 Universal IT 1040 Income Tax Return. To learn more about becoming a partner in preservation or visiting any of Ohio’s 136 state nature preserves, visit naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov.