An ancient post-glacial beach ridge stretches through Oak Openings Preserve. There are many rare plants (and plant communities) and animals found on this unique geological feature. Oak Openings Preserve consists of many diverse habitats: dunes, wetltallgrass prairie, old fields, scrub-shrub, floodplain, pine woods, oak savanna/woodland, and it is part of the Oak Openings region of northwest Ohio, considered a globally rare ecosystem. Includes Kitty Todd Preserve. The preserve is a mosaic of prairie, oak savanna, oak woodland and wet pralfle.
The Oak Openings contains five globally rare natural communities; Black Oak/Lupine Barrens, Midwest Sand Barrens, Mesic Sand Tallgrass Prairie, Twig-rush Wet Prairie and Pin Oak-Swamp White Oak Sand Flatwoods. The preserve protects 532 species of plants, 100 species of rare plants and animals, including one federally endangered species, the Karner blue butterfly.
There are also areas where sand mining once occurred, in which other rare species can be found. These "sand pits" contain watery areas where shorebirds and ducks have been spotted. Pine plantations can be found throughout the preserve. Most were planted in the 1940s and 1950s, and lowered biodiversity in these sites. The Wabash Cannonball railway forms a unique corridor with at least 176 rare plants found along its course. The wet areas on either side have spotted turtles.
Kitty Todd Preserve consists of globally rare oak savanna and wet prairie habitats and supports breeding populations of four high conservation priority species. The Oak Openings Preserve's large size assures it can host many birds, with a diverse array of habitats sustaining certain important bird populations. Oak Openings preserve has more nesting species of songbirds than any other preserve in Ohio. It protects one of the easternmost breeding populations of Lark Sparrows in Ohio, a very isolated population.
Oak Openings supports 18 warbler species and includes disjunct populations of Kentucky Warblers, Prairie Warblers, and Pine Warblers. It is one of only six locations in the state for breeding Blue-headed Vireos and is one of Ohio's few historical locations for nesting Bell's Vireos (1980-82).
Throughout the Oak Openings, the primary issue is habitat degradation and fragmentation due to the lack of fire and changes in water tables. Much prescribed burning has occurred to remedy this. Management also includes pruninglcutting out invasives and other unwanted species. Herbicides are used as well. Much of the Kitty Todd Preserve is overgrown due to fire suppression. Preserve staff are aggressively restoring oak savanna and wet prairie habitats through burning, tree-thinning, brush-mowing and native plant re-establishment. Additional acreage is continually being purchased to increase preserve size and protect additional habitat.
Owner: Toledo MetroParks, 5100 W. Central Avenue, Toledo, OH, 43615