NORTH KINGSVILLE, Ohio — A 29-acre property next to Kingsville Swamp Preserve in Ashtabula County has been acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, turning it into a protected wildlife habitat.
Located in North Kingsville, the 29-acre property’s forested scrub-shrub wetlands and important upland forest will provide a critical forest buffer for the existing 92-acre Kingsville Swamp Preserve, which is a pristine natural habitat that boasts wildlife and plants unique to the region.
At least two rare species have been documented on the newly acquired property. Ohio’s threatened Walters’ St. Johnswort, a flowering plant that grows in abundance on this plot, and the globally vulnerable West Virginia white butterfly, a small white butterfly found mostly in wooded habits have been seen on this property.
The acquisition of this 29-acre property has been a couple of years in the making, starting in September 2019 when museum staff members approached the land conservancy regarding the museum’s interest in acquiring the property, which was included in a real-estate auction later that month.
The land conservancy held the property for two years until the museum could secure sufficient funding from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund through the Ohio Public Works Commission to acquire it from the conservancy.
“Any time that we can conserve wetlands, it’s a win for conservation,” said senior vice president for conservation transactions Alex Czayka. “In this situation, the wetlands just so happened to be part of a larger conservation corridor where the Museum already owned significant land, so this was a property that we knew would have tremendous conservation value.”
According to the museum’s manager of preserve operations, the partnership between the museum and the land conservancy allows the museum to quickly respond to the news of properties for sale.
“The museum tried to acquire this property about 18 years ago through the previous landowner, but we could not seal the deal back then,” said Garrett Ormiston, the Natural History Museum’s manager of preserve operations, in a news release. “When the property was listed for sale again in 2019, with only seven days’ notice, the Land Conservancy was able to mobilize quickly, go to the auction, secure the financing necessary to buy the property if they were the successful bidder, and bid on the property. If they hadn’t, the property would probably now be owned by a sand-and-gravel company or a commercial developer.”
The goal for the newly acquired plot of land is to preserve its existing habitat while controlling any invasive species. The museum may allow limited access, providing permits to visitors or organizing small museum-sponsored trips for groups of 12 or 15 people.
The museum believes the acquisition will be beneficial to the swamp preserve, home to a diverse array of native plants and animals including eight other species that are listed as rare in Ohio or globally.
The state endangered, threatened and “species of interest” species include:
- Striped maple
- Inland Serviceberry
- American black bear
- Big brown bat
- Black-throated blue warbler
Globally imperiled or vulnerable species include:
- Little brown bat
- Gold-spotted ghost moth
- Northern long-eared bat
RELATED: Kingsville Swamp, 90 acres of pristine natural habitat boasting rare plants and lush ferns, expands in Ashtabula Co.
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