One extra step while filing your taxes this year could help protect your favorite animal or contribute to improving Ohio’s natural spaces. Ohioans can contribute to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) conservation efforts by donating a portion of their state income tax refund to support the state’s wildlife and state nature preserves.

“The generosity of Ohioans who love lustrous prairies and wonderful wildlife are a key part of helping us to improve the habitats and scenic sanctuaries that make Ohio so beautiful,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “These donations help us to preserve and improve the landscapes we love and appreciate across the state.”

Ohio is home to an amazing assortment of high-quality forest, prairie, wetland, and streamside habitats which support thousands of native plant and wildlife species. The tax donation program is an easy way for Ohioans to give back to nature by supporting either the State Nature Preserves and Scenic Rivers or Wildlife Diversity funds.

In 2023, ODNR’s Division of Wildlife celebrates 150 years of professional fish and wildlife conservation since it was founded as the Ohio Fish Commission in 1873. Without donations to the Wildlife Diversity Fund, Ohioans may not be able to enjoy the more than 800 bald eagle nests noted in 2022. In the past, donations to the Wildlife Diversity Fund have supported the reintroduction of native species including lake sturgeon, freshwater mussels, hellbender, Ohio’s largest waterfowl- the trumpeter swan, and the majestic monarch butterfly. Donations also fund free informational field guides and posters, as well as support the Division of Wildlife’s partnerships with Ohio’s zoos to create educational exhibits on the state’s native animals.

ODNR’s Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (DNAP) protects habitats within Ohio’s 142 state nature preserves and 15 state scenic rivers. The division utilized previous donations to protect an additional 562 acres of natural space. DNAP has established two new state nature preserves: Doty Highbanks (Butler County) and Gladys Riley Golden-star (Scioto County) which protects the endangered Golden-star Lily. Donations are also used to provide a chance for Ohioans to discover the wonders of these special places and to support critical ecological management, including efforts to remove invasive species which pose a growing threat to fragile landscapes.

By making a tax donation to either the Wildlife Diversity Fund or Ohio State Nature Preserves on this year’s tax return, Ohioans are helping to ensure the future of Ohio’s ecosystems, from native habitats and landscapes to endangered plant and wildlife species. Individuals may donate all or part of their state income tax refund by entering a dollar amount for “State Nature Preserves” on line 26a or “Wildlife Species” on line 26d of the 2020 IT 1040 tax form. Contributions made on the 2022 tax return and filed in 2023 are considered deductible donations made in 2023.

For more information on ODNR’s Division of Natural Areas and Preserves or how to donate to Ohio State Nature Preserves, visit this section of For more information on what your donations support and how to donate, click here.

Photos: ODNR

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