An agreement with the owners of a farm near Fremont has enabled the Black Swamp Conservancy to pass the 9,000-acre milestone in conserved land and the recent addition of 18 acres of wetlands in Oregon and other parcels have left the conservancy with approximately 9,300 acres under its stewardship.
“There are lots of benefits from land conservation, so this is an important milestone for all the citizens of Northwest Ohio,” said Kevin Joyce, executive director of the conservancy. “Parks and nature preserves provide space for healthy outdoor activities. Farmland preservation ensures the future of agriculture, Ohio’s number one industry. Woods and wetlands help keep out water and air clean.”
The conservancy, based in Perrysburg, passed the 9,000-acre mark when it completed a land conservation agreement with the owners of a 235-acre family farm west of Fremont, he said.
Since then, it has added an 18-acre wetland and waterway in Oregon near South Shore Park.
“The Oregon project is a wetland/stream mitigation project,” Joyce said. “The larger part of the Oregon land is a constructed wetland in the city's South Shore Park, which will capture and filter water before it enters Maumee Bay.”
The conservancy has also added 145 acres of farmland near Delta in Fulton County and a 65-acre nature preserve along the Sandusky River north of Fremont.
The total acreage for which the conservancy is responsible, Joyce said, would cover more than 7,000 football fields and would, if laid end to end as football fields, would stretch from the conservancy’s office in Perrysburg to Washington, D.C.
The conservancy preserves land primarily through perpetual land conservation agreements known as conservation. Terms of the agreements require the landowner to forfeit the right to develop the property by constructing buildings, roads, or by subdividing the land, which protects the land’s conservation values.
The Black Swamp Conservancy is then responsible for ensuring that the restrictions are not violated. Conservation agreements are filed with county recorders and the restrictions are binding on current and future owners.
Although the conservancy doesn’t own the properties, it has standing to take legal action if the agreements are broken.
“Our purpose at Black Swamp Conservancy is to preserve the rural heritage, unique natural habitats, and lakes and streams of northwest Ohio,” Joyce said. “Our hope is that, by protecting our valuable land and water resources, we help create healthier communities with strong, sustainable economies.”
There are economic benefits to conserving natural areas, he said, noting there were 50,000 birdwatchers in Ottawa County this past spring for a week and fishermen come to northwest Ohio when the walleye make their run up the rivers.
“Those visitors are spending a lot of money while they’re in our area,” he said.
The conservancy was founded in 1993.