Not bogged down

Activity abounds at Cedar Bog

by CC Hutten

Photo: Walk back a mile through time on the Cedar Bog Nature Preserve boardwalk and spot some of Ohio’s most diverse plant species

“Diversity” is a buzzword most of us probably hear or read every day, but Cedar Bog Nature Preserve has the rank to prove it is diverse.  Rated the highest on the Ohio Floristic Diversity Index for its variety of plantlife Cedar Bog is a 450-acre preserve in Urbana where wildlife thrives.

“We’re a crown jewel for Ohio because of the geological features; we are actually a fen, which is more rare than a bog. Cedar Bog is an outlet for community to enjoy boardwalk loop,” says Tracy Bleim, Cedar Bog Nature Preserve site manager. “Cedar bog offers outdoor community involvement, and is an outdoor environmental educational collaborative.”

“We provide a nice outlet for local citizens to go to in nature, where they will find a unique habitat with rare and endangered species,” she says.

Bleim does a little bit of everything and a lot of maintaining the fen, from developing programs to working on the Cedar Bog website to giving tours. She also physically takes care of the fen – clearing the boardwalk herself at times – so she knows firsthand what Cedar Bog means for the community.

Unlike bogs, fens are fed by underground water springs and are less acidic and richer in nutrients than bogs, accounting for its diversity.

Maintaining Ohio’s crown jewel does not come without its obstacles.

“We struggle with the development around the area. Water usage can impact Cedar Bog because we use ground water,” she says. “If there is a large trough, it can reduce our water availability.”

As an important part of the community and beautiful nook of nature, the fen needs more than the care and dedication of Bleim and her team to enhance and improve Cedar Bog. Nature has taken its toll on the fen’s beloved boardwalk.

“Without the boardwalk, there’s no Cedar Bog,” Bleim says. “You can’t access it without the boardwalk.”

The boardwalk exists in a wet, damp area that people walk on. But in addition to traffic, it has stubbornly survived storm and tree damage in its 25-year lifespan. Bleim says that in the past, it has only been repaired, never replaced – so she submitted a grant request to Ohio Department of Natural Resources with Ohio History Connection for a total replacement.

“There won’t be any add-ons. We talked about adding a section, but we aren’t going to do that because it would have gone through a critical area,” Bleim says. “Usually, a boardwalk is like a highway system, and we didn’t want to introduce non-native plants to the area that would harm that section.”

However, a major change was a revised design that meets current standards for accessibility for handicapped individuals.

For example, “The boards used to be vertical, but the new ones will be horizontal so wheels don’t get caught in them,” she says, adding, “They will be wider, too.”

While Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) owns the land and Ohio History Connection the buildings, the nonprofit Cedar Bog Association oversees the everyday operation and relies on patrons to continue supporting them and the fen’s resident flora and fauna. One such supporter of the bog’s efforts was Urbana’s Michael Farms, who recently donated a maintenance building to
the preserve.

While waiting on the grant request to be processed, the association is working to provide programs to help raise additional funds to improve other areas of the reserve that need attention and to cover the transportation costs so local can experience and learn about the preserve firsthand.

Families can purchase a $35 Cedar Bog Association membership fee and receive discounts on programs and events throughout the year.

Coming up on the bog’s program this fall season is  “Insect Talk” featuring Jim Lemon, a retired entomologist and avid certified volunteer naturalist, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. For the Halloween season, Boo in the Bog hits the preserve Oct. 14 and 15, with learning stations, a caricature artist, storytelling, face painting, and food. The final program, before winter freezes over the bog is The Owl Prowl, a nighttime search for the graceful owls of the fen.

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is located at 980 Woodburn Rd. in Urbana.  “Boo in the Bog” takes place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14 and 15, 6:30 – 9 p.m. Cost is $6 for adults;  $5 for children 6 and older. Children under 5 are free. Cedar Bog and Ohio History Connection members receive a $1 discount. To make reservations, please call 937.484.3744 or email CedarBog@CTCN.net. For more information, please visit CedarBogNP.org, or find Cedar Bog Nature Preserve on Facebook.

 Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com

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