There's No Place Like Home: Natural Ohio E-mail
Thursday, 04 August 2011 00:00  |  Written by Jessica Keith | Blog Entry

Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio photo by Tabitha Kaylee HawkFarmers, football, the Great Lakes and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s Ohio to most. And to some degree, it is to me, too. But it’s also the place I was born and raised. A place stripped of much native wildlife and wholeheartedly conquered by people (11 million and counting), the Buckeye State nevertheless has produced more than a few nature-lovers, including myself.

It’s not a very glamorous place to begin a blog about nature travel, but I feel compelled to pay homage to it, because it nurtured my young spirit and provided the kindling from which a burning flame for travel has grown.

But I’ll admit, perhaps it’s Ohio’s shortcomings in the nature department that have lit that fire within me. Although rooted to Ohio’s soil for family, work and nostalgic reasons, it doesn’t take more than a couple of months before I look around, sigh, and begin to plot my next trip.

Yet for as much as I long to escape the flat terrain and gray skies that seem to define Ohio’s landscape, I also yearn to uncover the natural treasures that still exist in the state.

See, Ohio is not Alaska. It’s not Maine. Or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s not a wild place where man’s foot has tread lightly. But the Ohio of years past was an oasis, and remnants of that glory still remain—you just need to know where to find it.

Rich Woodlands
By the early 1900s, nearly 90% of Ohio’s original forest cover was gone. Today, the state’s woodlands are on a path to recovery and now cover about 30% of the state. Here are some of the best forests to visit:

Vibrant Wetlands
Similarly to Ohio’s forests, the vast majority of wetlands in the state were destroyed as Europeans settled the region and drained these “swamps” for agricultural purposes. Today, however, people can still get a glimpse into this ecosystem that was once common in the state. I recommend exploring all of the following:

Flourishing Prairies
Prairies once covered more than 1,700 square miles of Ohio, mostly in the western half of the state. Defined by special, unique grasses these areas are not fallow fields, but rather robust, ecologically diverse habitats. Here are a few good ones that are open to visitors:

They say that home is where the heart is, and the phrase couldn’t ring more true for me. For all its shortcomings, in my eyes Ohio, my home, remains a place of beauty and hope. But only because I took the time to go in search of them.

What places of beauty in your state or country can you recommend? Please use the comments form below to let our readers know about them.

Comments (3)add
Written by James Wilson , August 08, 2011
I am so happy that I had the chance to see a lot of the outdoors (in Ohio, other States and Other Countries). Ohio has some of the Great Natural Resources around. A lake, great rivers, wooded areas, etc. Let's keep it that way.
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Written by Karen Elliott , March 16, 2009
There are some great metro parks in Toledo that I can recommend: http://www.metroparkstoledo.co...asp?id=148
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Written by Karen Elliott , March 16, 2009
I was blessed to grow up down the street from Oak Openings. What an amazing region. I miss my "natural habitat" -- yet am fortunate to now live in Columbus near many ravines!
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