Museum and Land Conservancy preserve Big Swamp Woods

The Land Conservancy, in partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Natural Areas Program, has preserved 81 acres of a 430-acre wetland complex in Fitchville Township in Huron County.

Big Swamp Woods, located in the headwaters of the Vermilion River watershed, is the largest swamp in Huron County and one of the largest forest blocks in north central Ohio.  It consists of a 60-acre, high-quality wooded buttonbush swamp and swamp forest wetland complex, with water hip- or chest-deep in the spring. Walking in the swamp has the remote feeling of being back in time – it is truly a primeval experience.

According to State Botanist Rick Gardner, Ohio has been interested in protecting Big Swamp Woods since the 1980s because of its 400-plus acres of connected forest, high quality swamp forest, buttonbush swamps, rare plants and significant amphibian communities. The state designated the area a Conservation Site and a Reference Wetland Complex, meaning it is of regional or statewide significance for its biological diversity or ecological integrity.

The Land Conservancy and the history museum submitted a grant and received Clean Ohio funds to purchase the property. Fitchville Township Trustees, as well as the Huron County Commissioners, expressed their support for the project. The museum provided the match dollars needed, and will own and manage the property as a nature preserve and provide public access to the property by permission for educational and recreational pursuits.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Cleveland Museum of Natural History and other naturalists found several rare plants on the property, including the Three-birds Orchid, a plant seldom seen in Ohio and listed by ODNR as a Potentially Threatened Species.

In one survey during the spring migration season of 2009, 45 species of birds were found including several birds of interest including Yellow-bellied sapsucker listed by ODNR as a State Endangered Species, and the Least flycatcher and Bald eagle listed as State Threatened Species. Amphibians documented onsite include the Eastern Tiger salamander, the first ever documented in Huron County.