WILMINGTON — If a regional land trust succeeds in its application for a state grant, there will be a new nature preserve in Clinton County.
Clinton County commissioners gave their official show of support for the project this week, passing a formal resolution that authorizes participation in the 2021 Clean Ohio Conservation Fund program. The Chester Township location in question covers 94 acres that are adjacent to Caesar Creek State Park.
Cardinal Land Conservancy Inc. Executive Director Andy Dickerson told commissioners the site is one the nonprofit land preservation organization has been looking at for a long time.
The property features an old-growth woods and has a creek in the back which is a tributary to Caesar Creek Lake, said Dickerson. If the bid for the grant wins approval, there will be a hiking trail on-site.
About 40 acres of the land can be restored to a pollinators habitat utilizing native grasses and native wildflowers, he said. When birds pass through the area migrating north or coming back south, these areas are great for the birds to get the protein sources they need to make the migration, said Dickerson.
It would be a great spot to go birding, he said, noting there are bald eagles at the state park. Moreover, there are a lot of neo-tropical migratory birds and different warblers looking for stopover sites. And quite a variety of sparrows, too, he added.
Dickerson also said the federally endangered Indiana Bats are all around Caesar Creek Lake.
“It’s a maternity colony, where they raise their young. They’ll do that in these old-growth trees that have flaky bark; they’ll raise their young under that bark for some reason. This area is great for those,” said the restoration biologist.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources does not have the capacity to purchase new land around the state park, Dickerson said. When the Cardinal Land Conservancy can purchase land to buffer a state park, it tries to do that, he said.
The property, south of Center Road, is near a mountain bike path on the Caesar Creek State Park grounds.
The site is adjacent to state land immediately west of it, and to federal land a little bit south.
“We like to think this project will be competitive for the grant because of where it is and the environmental sensitivity of it,” Dickerson said.
They will hear by the end of March whether the grant application is successful.
The nature preserve would be open to the public during daylight hours.
Dickerson said Cardinal Land Conservancy is a membership organization that’s always looking for people to join as members. If the nature preserve is realized, he said he would love to involve Wilmington College students and professors with the nature site.
Cardinal Land Conservancy Inc., an accredited land trust, already holds the titles to two other nature preserves in Clinton County: Todd’s Fork Nature Preserve (a 225-acre woods at the corner of North Nelson Avenue and Center Road) and Hunter Glen (a 2.4-acre natural area located between Bernice and Randolph Streets in Wilmington).
Other nature preserves in Clinton County, these under the auspices of the Clinton County Parks District, include the Collett Woods Nature Preserve on State Route 73 west, the Anliot-Davidson Nature Preserve on Pyle Road, the Terrel-Hanagan Nature Preserve (aka Dr. Nathan Hale Memorial Woods) on Clarksville Road, the East Fork Riparian Nature Preserve on Webertown Road, and the Lytle Creek Prairie by the 4C Bike Trail, Wilmington.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.