Showcasing Nature’s Heritage
Kitty Todd was a woman of conviction. Before her death in 1980, she helped lead the charge to preserve and protect one of the highest concentrations of rare species of any nature preserve in Ohio.
A dedicated conservationist, Kitty, who lived in Perrysburg, saw the need to save one of the finest examples of northwest Ohio’s Oak Openings Region. It is home to the globally endangered black oak savannah community and over 170 other rare species.
To honor her tireless efforts, The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Chapter renamed 627 acres in Oak Openings near Swanton the Kitty Todd Nature Preserve upon her death.
Since that time, The Nature Conservancy has made strides in restoring the land and preserving life. The Greater Toledo Community Foundation has awarded numerous grants to the preserve to continue transforming the unique habitat.
“Kitty Todd is the only project that we have so close to an urban area and is the best example of how Oak Openings looked in the past,” says Rich Shank, State Director for The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Chapter.
“The preserve is open to the public from May through October to enjoy and for me it’s not unlike visiting an art museum. At the museum, you observe great works of art. At the preserve, you observe some of the rarest examples of nature.”
With the Foundation’s grants, restoration work has been done and the land modified for the return of the Karner blue butterfly, which is on the federal endangered species list. Working in conjunction with The Toledo Zoo, the Conservancy has reintroduced the tiny butterfly to the preserve, and where it has thousands of wild lupine plants to enjoy. The butterfly can only live where lupine thrives.
In addition, the Foundation supports the preserve’s land stewards. “The stewards are nature’s gardeners. They make sure the natural species live in the preserve and remove species that invade this northwest Ohio treasure,” adds Rich.
Every spring the preserve hosts a celebration called Blue Weekend. “It’s the time when the blue lupines are blooming and Oak Openings is at its finest. Volunteers help visitors enjoy the hiking paths and give presentations on what to look for in the preserve.”
Throughout the season, volunteers offer programs to provide educational opportunities and hands-on restoration activities to inspire preservation efforts for future generations. For nearly five years, Maumee Valley Country Day School students in Toledo have collected seeds at the preserve in the fall, planted them in the school’s greenhouse, and in the spring take the seedlings back to the preserve for continued growth.
“Kitty Todd is resource intensive and we could not accomplish what has been done so far without the Foundation’s generous support. The Foundation is restoring the natural heritage of northwest Ohio and we are grateful for the investment,” concludes Rich.