By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show
If only this were offered when I was a teen: the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is looking for highly motivated high school students to serve on the Conservation Teen Advisory Council (ConTAC), a statewide network of student leaders working together to enhance ODNR’s youth outreach and program efforts.
“This is a great opportunity for ambitious young people to jumpstart their future careers with skills that transfer to any profession,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz of the opportunity.
ConTAC members will develop innovative and practical ideas that empower young people to protect and preserve Ohio’s natural resources, provide feedback and make recommendations to enhance outdoor outreach. Council members will also get the chance to explore careers in the natural resources sector and develop valuable networking and leadership skills.
A new class of 30 teens will be selected to serve on ConTAC for the 2020-2021 academic year. Several founding members will also continue serving as the group moves into its second year. Membership will reflect the diverse interests of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the State of Ohio.
A virtual kick-off event will be held this August. The Council is split into five regional teams which will meet monthly, either virtually or in-person as long as it is safe to do so. Students enrolled in high school for the 2020-2021 school year are eligible to apply. ConTAC is a great place for students to meet new peers, virtually or in-person, from across the state with similar interests.
High school students for the 2020-2021 school year interested in ConTAC should go to ohiodnr.gov/teens for information on how to apply. Applications are due by June 5.
Gorgeous gorge inducted
Clear Fork Gorge State Nature Preserve in Ashland County was been inducted into the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN), making it Ohio’s 13th forest to be awarded the distinction, which is more than any other state.
“Clear Fork Gorge is truly remarkable, and it is an honor for this preserve to join the Old-Growth
Forest Network,” said Jeff Johnson, chief of the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. “We have a great partnership with the Network, and this recognition reaffirms how important our
Division’s mission of protecting Ohio’s best examples of native ecology is.”
Old-growth forests are increasingly rare and ecologically important environments for a variety of
native species. The OGFN includes forests with these valuable attributes that also have formal
protection against commercial logging and are publicly accessible. With the inclusion of Clear
Fork Gorge, the OGFN now consists of 106 forests in 23 states.
“Ohio has such an enthusiastic forest community. It has been a pleasure to work with ODNR and
all the other forest owners throughout the state,” said Dr. Joan Maloof, OGFN founder and
executive director. “During this time of physical distancing from other humans, the forests
become more important than ever for our physical and mental health.”
Clear Fork Gorge is a 29-acre preserve nestled on a steep, forested north-facing bluff above the
Clear Fork of the Mohican State Scenic River. Declared a National Natural Landmark in 1967,
the preserve is surrounded by Mohican State Park and within the boundaries is an 8-acre old-
growth white pine-hemlock forest community — one of the best remaining woodlands of its
kind in the state. Huge native white pines and eastern hemlocks grow on the steep sides of the
gorge wall. Other tree species include sycamore, beech, ash, tulip, oak and maple. Clear Fork
Gorge joins Crall Woods at Pine Hill Park as Ashland County’s second forest represented in the
A video commemorating Clear Fork Gorge’s induction into the OGFN and more information about the gorge can be found at naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/clearforkgorge. To learn about Ohio’s other forests included in the OGFN, visit oldgrowthforest.net/ohio. OGFN’s mission is to connect people with nature by creating a national network of protected, mature, and publicly accessible forests. To learn more about the Old-Growth Forest Network, visit oldgrowthforest.net.
Ohio eagle numbers soar
Thanks to thousands of reports from citizen scientists during February and March, 706 bald eagle nests have been confirmed in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
The bald eagle is one of Ohio’s greatest wildlife success stories. The nest census was
the first undertaking to discover all such sites for the first time in eight years. The results
show an increase of 151% from the 2012 census, when 281 nests were recorded in
Ohio. The high number of nests represents the hard work and dedication put forth for
“The bald eagle is a symbol of American strength and resilience,” said Gov. DeWine.
“The eagle’s comeback in Ohio and across the country proves that we can overcome
any challenge when we work together.”
The Division of Wildlife received approximately 2,500 reports from the public for the
2020 census. Wildlife staff, including wildlife officers and biologists, verified nest
locations in 85 counties.
“We are grateful to every Ohioan who contributed to this effort and thank those who
support conservation of high-quality habitat that kept eagles nesting in Ohio,” said Kendra Wecker, Division of Wildlife Chief.
Counties along or near Lake Erie have the highest number of bald eagle nests. Bald
eagles thrive near Lake Erie because of the abundance of food and nesting habitat. The
12 counties with the highest number of eagle nests include: Ottawa (90), Sandusky
(50), Erie (32), Trumbull (26), Seneca (24), Wyandot (19), Lucas (18), Licking (17),
Ashtabula (16), Knox (16), Mercer (16) and Wood (16).
The bald eagle was once an endangered species, with only four nesting pairs in Ohio in
- However, thanks to partnerships between the Division of Wildlife, Ohio zoos,
wildlife rehabilitation facilities, concerned landowners, and sportsmen and women its
population increased. After much hard work and continued conservation, the bald eagle
was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007 and
from Ohio’s list in 2012.
Excellent viewing opportunities can be found at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area (Lucas and
Ottawa counties), Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area (Sandusky County), Ottawa National
Wildlife Refuge (Lucas and Ottawa counties), Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area (Trumbull
County) and Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area (Wyandot and Marion counties). In southern
Ohio, eagle nests are found near major rivers such as the Muskingum, Hocking, Scioto
and Great Miami.
Bald eagles in Ohio typically lay eggs and incubate in February and March. Young
eagles leave the nest about three months later, usually in June. The birds nest in large
trees such as sycamores, oaks, and cottonwoods near large bodies of water. Fish and
carrion are preferred foods.
Keep in mind that bald eagles are protected under both state law and the federal Bald and
Golden Eagle Protection Act. It is illegal to disturb bald eagles and when viewing them, remember to respect the bird’s space and stay at least 100 yards away
from the bird or nest as disturbing them at the nest site could lead the pair to
abandon the eggs.
As with many of Ohio’s native wildlife species, bald eagles require specific habitat
conditions to thrive. Bald eagle habitat protection and research is funded by the sale of
bald eagle conservation license plates, income tax check-off donations to the
Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund and sales of the Ohio Wildlife Legacy
Stamp. Learn how to support Ohio’s wildlife like the bald eagle at
A county list of all verified active bald eagle nests in 2020 is shown
below. The first number following the county’s name shows the number of nests for
2020, with the 2012 number in parentheses. These numbers are raw data and subject
to change: Adams: 1 (0); Allen: 5 (0); Ashland: 9 (2); Ashtabula: 16 (9); Athens: 1 (0); Auglaize: 4 (0); Belmont: 4 (1); Brown: 4 (1); Butler: 8 (0); Carroll: 1 (0); Champaign: 2 (0); Clark: 5
(0); Clermont: 4 (0); Clinton: 2 (0); Columbiana: 4 (1); Coshocton: 14 (6); Crawford: 6
(3); Cuyahoga: 3 (2); Darke: 1 (0); Defiance: 8 (2); Delaware: 13 (7); Erie: 32 (17);
Fairfield: 2 (0); Fayette: 3 (0); Franklin: 5 (3); Fulton: 3 (0); Gallia: 1 (0); Geauga: 7 (6);
Greene: 4 (0); Guernsey: 2 (1); Hamilton: 3 (1); Hancock: 12 (4); Hardin: 9 (1); Harrison:
1 (1); Henry: 6 (0); Highland: 4 (1); Hocking: 1 (1); Holmes: 5 (1); Huron: 15 (5)
Jackson: 0 (0); Jefferson: 2 (1); Knox: 16 (7); Lake: 7 (4); Lawrence: 0 (0); Licking: 17
(3); Logan: 8 (1); Lorain: 10 (3); Lucas: 18 (8); Madison: 2 (0); Mahoning: 7 (5); Marion:
11 (6); Medina: 5 (1); Meigs: 0 (0); Mercer: 16 (3); Miami: 5 (0); Monroe: 4 (1);
Montgomery: 3 (1); Morgan: 1 (1); Morrow: 5 (2); Muskingum: 6 (2); Noble: 1 (1);
Ottawa: 90 (46); Paulding: 3 (0); Perry: 2 (0); Pickaway: 9 (3); Pike: 4 (2); Portage: 8 (5);
Preble: 3 (0); Putnam: 8 (2); Richland: 14 (5); Ross: 7 (4); Sandusky: 50 (33); Scioto: 2
(2); Seneca: 24 (7); Shelby: 3 (0); Stark: 4 (1); Summit: 5 (2); Trumbull: 26 (9);
Tuscarawas: 9 (6); Union: 8 (4); Van Wert: 2 (0); Vinton: 1 (0); Warren: 4 (2);
Washington: 1 (1); Wayne: 7 (2); Williams: 4 (0); Wood: 16 (7); Wyandot: 19 (12).
2020 total: 707
2012 total: (281)