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State Nature Preserves in Ohio

What is a State Nature Preserve?

Today, 137 State Nature Preserves and natural areas have been dedicated in Ohio. These diverse areas of land contain remnants of Ohio’s pre-settlement past, rare and endangered species, and wondrous geologic features. While the majority of preserves are owned and managed by the State, some preserves are leased to local park districts for management. Other preserves are owned by non-governmental agencies. Even private landowners have dedicated their lands as preserves in order to be protected by the State. Some preserves are accessible by permit at no charge from the Division.

What to expect when visiting a preserve:

Most State Nature Preserves contain a trail system and small parking lot. A few contain no facilities except boundary signs and a entrance sign. Restrooms, picnic facilities and areas for active recreation are not available unless connected to a state or local park. Each preserve is managed to allow user access with the least amount of physical impact to the rare habitats and species. Visitors must stay on the trails at all times and pets are not allowed on the trails in state nature preserves. To experience particularly fragile habitats such as bogs and fens, boardwalks are often provided. Interpretive signage explaining the natural and cultural history of the site is present at many preserves.

Prepare for harsh conditions when visiting a preserve. Trails are often unimproved, narrow paths that can become muddy and slippery during harsh weather. Poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes and deer flies can be problematic during the appropriate seasons. Please plan ahead and dress accordingly to enjoy the natural beauty Ohio’s State Nature Preserves offer.


State Nature Preserves are dedicated to the State of Ohio to be held in trust for the people of the state and future generations. A nature preserve is established when articles of dedication have been filed at the direction of the owner of land, or a governmental agency having ownership or control thereof, in the office of the county recorder of the county in which the land is located. Articles of dedication must contain terms restricting the use of the land that adequately provide for its preservation and protection against modification, encroachment or other use that would destroy its natural conditions. Nature preserves must not be taken for any other use except after a finding by the Department of Natural Resources of the existence of an imperative and unavoidable public necessity and with the approval of the Governor. Ohio’s State Nature Preserves are truly the best examples of Ohio’s natural heritage.