Richland Countians have more than one way to interact with the area’s native trees and plants this spring.
Even with the current Stay-at-Home Order, Ohioans are still permitted to walk to exercise or get way in parks and recreation areas, provided that social distancing is maintained.
That includes the walking trails at the Gorman Nature Center, the B&O Bike Trail, Mohican State Park, and other locations. In those locations, the beauty of Ohio’s wildflowers and other native species will be clearly evident.
Spring is a time of renewal across Ohio’s beautiful landscapes, and this April marks the state’s first Native Plant Month, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Although many activities and events planned to celebrate the event have been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 public health situation, ODNR will be highlighting the importance of native plants and their variety throughout the month on the agency website and social media channels.
“The public’s safety is what’s most important, and that’s why we will be celebrating Native Plant Month online,” said Jeff Johnson, chief of the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. “We look forward to sharing about Ohio’s incredibly diverse native plants and hope everyone will follow along and participate digitally.”
Throughout the month, ODNR will highlight a different native tree and flower each day, share special posts for Arbor Day and Earth Day, hold a wildflower photo contest, and host online discussions on how to use native species in different landscapes. In addition to social media posts, ODNR is posting the Wildflower Bloom Report each week with the most up-to-date information on what’s in bloom and where different species can be found. Ohioans can document their finds and post to social media using the hashtag #ohiowildflowers.
“The importance of native plants can’t be overstated,” said Dan Balser, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Native plants support essential ecosystems, provide habitat for wildlife, improve water quality, and so much more — there are so many of these natural treasures in Ohio and we’re excited to celebrate them this month.”
Ohio is one of the first states in the country to dedicate an entire month to the celebration of native plants. This year’s event coincides with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Natural Areas Act in Ohio, which led to the formation of the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.
Anyone interested can follow ODNR’s celebration of Native Plant Month on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (both the ODNR and Division of Forestry accounts), and at ohiodnr.gov.
The Division of Natural Areas and Preserves protects some of the best remaining examples of Ohio’s rich ecological history in state nature preserves, maintains Ohio’s list of Endangered and Threatened Plants, and administers Ohio’s Cave Law. Learn more at naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov.
The ODNR Division of Forestry promotes the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit them at forestry.ohiodnr.gov and follow us on Instagram at @odnrforestry (instagram.com/odnrforestry).