There’s a hidden wonderland in Paulding County, Ohio where pheasants nest, chorus frogs sing and river otters splash.
Little Auglaize Wildlife Reserve features 226 acres of diverse natural habitats – including more than a mile of the Little Auglaize River and 25 acres of riverside oak-hickory woods – that are a veritable Shangri-la for more than 70 different documented species of birds, rare dragonflies and damselflies, painted turtles, and the federally endangered Indiana bat.
Over the last 25 years, this natural playground has expanded with the restoration and enhancement of 57 acres of wetlands, as well as planting seedlings and direct seeding with acorns to establish 143 acres of grassland and early successional hardwood forest.
Black Swamp Conservancy purchased the property in 2019 with an ultimate goal of transitioning the grassland and early successional forest into mature forested habitat, which will provide critical habitat for numerous migratory bird species and bats whose populations are in decline.
Managing invasive plant species is an important first step toward that goal. Removing invasive teasel and autumn olive allows the young trees room to propagate and grow, but there are 226 football fields of vegetation to contend with, which requires constant intervention and maintenance.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes program is considering a grant proposal that, if funded, will allow us to scale up our invasive species control efforts and supplementary seeding activities on this property. The H2Ohio program has committed to matching that grant for invasive species control and restoring a drainage ditch on the property back to more natural stream conditions.
Today, the preserve is open to limited public access for hiking and wildlife observation. Future plans will open this special place to wider public use for outdoor recreation, including birding, fishing and other activities.