COLUMBUS – As Ohio residents are gathering receipts and deductions to file their taxes before the April deadline, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is asking Ohioans to consider investing in nature by donating a portion or all of their state income tax refund to support Ohio’s state nature preserves and wildlife.
“When Ohio residents choose to donate some of their Ohio tax refund, it directly benefits some of our most endangered wildlife and our state nature preserves,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We work hard to protect all of Ohio’s precious natural resources, and the generous donations made to assist in those efforts help us move closer to all of our conservation goals.”
The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves oversees a statewide system of 136 unique state nature preserves that are open year-round for people to visit and explore. These beautiful natural areas protect a variety of habitats, such as wetlands, prairies and old growth woods, as well as geologic features and endangered species. Tax refund donations are used to support new trails, land conservation and educational signage.
Some recent projects that were funded by donations to Ohio State Nature Preserves included improving a trail at Kyle Woods State Nature Preserve and redecking 100 feet of boardwalk at Gallagher Fen State Nature Preserve. Using the state income tax donations, ODNR added a 20-foot footbridge at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve. Interpretive displays were upgraded at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve to provide more information on the amazing species diversity found there. ODNR staff also removed hazardous ash trees and worked to control more than 30 species of non-native invasive plants on approximately 4,000 acres of nature preserve property.
When individuals make a tax donation to Ohio’s State Nature Preserves when filing their taxes, they are working to ensure that unique habitats, such as Ohio’s prairies, old growth forests, wetlands and rare geologic formations, are protected. By protecting these natural areas and preserves across the state, visitors can enjoy activities, such as hiking, photography and birdwatching.
Many Ohioans may also want to consider donating to the “Wildlife Diversity Fund.” The ODNR Division of Wildlife was originally created during a time when wildlife populations were vanishing at an alarming rate across Ohio. The mission of the division has always been to manage, protect and restore wildlife populations to improve quality of life for Ohioans. Nearly all wildlife conservation in Ohio is funded by people who hunt, fish and trap. The tax donation program is an important way for all wildlife enthusiasts to help restore and manage endangered and threatened wildlife and other species of special interest.
Donations to the “Wildlife Diversity Fund” benefit wildlife projects across the state, such as introducing peregrine falcons and reintroducing some native Ohio species, such as lake lake sturgeon, trumpeter swans and Karner blue butterflies, as well as increasing numbers of rare species such as bald eagles, Lake Erie watersnakes and hellbenders. At the end of 2018, ODNR purchased the first 1,825 acres out of two parcels of high-quality habitat for the brand-new Eagle Creek Wildlife Area in Brown County, using money from the Wildlife Diversity Fund to purchase the property. The Wildlife Diversity Fund also allows ODNR to form partnerships with Ohio’s zoos to help create exhibits and displays, as well as educational products and publications for students, teachers and wildlife enthusiasts.
By making a tax donation to either Ohio State Nature Preserves or the Wildlife Diversity Fund, Ohioans are helping us ensure the future of Ohio’s many plant and animal species and ecosystems for years to come. Individuals may donate all or part of their state income tax refund by entering a dollar amount for “Wildlife species” on line 26c or “State nature preserves” on line 26f of the 2018 IT 1040 tax form. Contributions made on the 2018 tax return, filed in 2019, are considered deductible charitable donations made in 2019.
For more information on Ohio State Nature Preserves and how to make a tax donation to support them, visit naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/support. For more information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife and the Wildlife Diversity Fund, visit wildohio.gov/support.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.