The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

February 3, 2014

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Stay safe on the ice

(Continued)

Help to protect

Ohioans who are passionate about wildlife and the state’s natural areas and preserves have a great opportunity to support those programs through the Wildlife Diversity Fund and the Natural Areas and Preserves Tax Checkoff this year.

“The state income tax checkoff program is an ideal opportunity for all of Ohio’s outdoor enthusiasts to support their natural resources,” Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer said. “All of the donations are utilized for preservation efforts of natural areas in the state and protecting endangered wildlife species.”

With the checkoff money in 2013, the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves was able to hire seasonal staff to help control more than 35 different invasive species on more than 500 acres in 38 state nature preserves. Additionally, populations of wildlife species such as the Lake Erie watersnake, mountain madtom and osprey, as well as the endangered Rocky Mountain bulrush, all benefitted thanks to the checkoff funding from Ohioans in 2013.

State nature preserves are sanctuaries for rare plants and animals — 40 percent of Ohio’s endangered species and nearly 60 percent of Ohio’s threatened species are protected within Ohio’s system of 136 state nature preserves. Managed by the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, these facilities benefit directly from Ohioans generously donating to the Natural Areas Tax Checkoff Program.

The Natural Areas Tax Checkoff Program is an excellent way for Ohioans to support nature conservation. The majority of the funding from boots on the ground conservation action comes from the Natural Areas Fund. Additionally, ODNR partnered with a local conservation organization to protect 95 acres of the original Pickaway Plains region in central Ohio, home to the endangered Rocky Mountain bulrush and other rare species. Donations also support facility improvements, ecological research and educational programming.

The Division of Wildlife does not receive taxpayer dollars to conserve, restore or manage Ohio’s wildlife and habitat. The tax checkoff program is an important way to help the division benefit endangered and threatened wildlife and other species of interest.

Donations made through the Wildlife Diversity Fund tax checkoff help support critical ecological management activities in Ohio, including efforts to remove non-native and invasive species that pose a serious and ever-growing threat to sensitive habitats. Information programs such as field guides are provided free to the public from wildlife checkoff funds.

Ohio taxpayers who are not receiving a refund this year may still contribute by sending a check to: ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves' Natural Areas Fund or the ODNR Division of Wildlife's Wildlife Diversity Fund, 2045 Morse Road, Columbus, 43229.

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