About the Division
The Division of Natural Areas & Preserves protects natural areas with ecological and/or geological significance under provisions of the Natural Areas Act of 1970. Many of these areas include some of the finest remnants of Ohio's natural heritage. Some areas are so fragile that the division requires a permit for access.
This site highlights state nature preserves that are open to the public without a permit. Research and off-trail activities require a special permit at all preserves.
State nature preserves are not parks. Instead, they are sanctuaries for rare plants and animals. For this reason, preserves are suited for minimum impact activities such as birdwatching, hiking, nature study and photography but not picnicking or camping. Preserves are open daily from dawn to dusk. Some sites have gated parking lots designed for special group use with adjacent limited parking for normal use.
Each year a variety of programs are presented regularly at the preserves. Scheduled events and preserve regulations are posted on area bulletin boards. Special arrangements for a guided program and additional parking for groups can be made with the preserve manager.
Additional information on state nature preserves, including brochures and program schedules, can be obtained from:
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Division of Natural Areas & Preserves
2045 Morse Road, Building C-1
Columbus, OH 43229-6693
Natural Areas Act
The Natural Areas Preservation Act became law in 1970, authorizing the Department of Natural Resources to acquire, dedicate and accept donations of public and privately owned lands as nature preserves.
This act was amended in 1976 to create ODNR's Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, which established and administers a statewide system of nature preserves .
The division has the legal authority to manage and protect such lands for education, scientific use and public visitation.
Ohio Natural Heritage Program
State law requires the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves to prepare and maintain surveys and inventories of both natural areas and rare species. The state endangered plant law further requires the division to adopt criteria for listing and to compile an official list of plants that are threatened and endangered in Ohio.
This ongoing natural features inventory is a major component of Ohio's Heritage Database Program. The database comprises the most comprehensive source of information on rare and endangered plants and animals, outstanding natural communities and special geological features in the state. This information is easily accessible in manual, map and computer files that are cross-referenced to provide a flexible information system. Data is available from these files in a variety of formats tailored to the needs of planners, developers, researchers and governmental officials.
How You Can Help
Citizens may assist in protection efforts in a variety of ways.
A volunteer program enables individuals to take an active part in preserving Ohio's natural heritage. volunteers can play an important role in the division's work of protecting, managing and interpreting our natural areas and scenic rivers. Activities which use volunteers include preserve activities and stream quality monitoring.
Citizens may help Ohio's natural heritage financially. Legislation enacted in 1983 gives taxpayers the opportunity to donate any portion of their Ohio state income tax refund to the preservation of natural areas, scenic rivers and endangered species. A donation on the Natural Areas, Scenic Rivers and Endangered Species Checkoff line of the state income tax form supports natural areas acquisition, education programs, scientific research, technical, technical assistance and protection of threatened and endangered plants and animals.
Ohioans who wish to help Ohio's natural areas but are not eligible to receive a state income tax refund may make a direct contribution to the Natural Areas Checkoff Program in the care of the division of Natural Areas and Preserves at 2045 Morse Road, Bldg. C-3, Columbus, OH 43229.