AOA is excited to be working with the Utzinger family to conserve the long-time family farm on State Route 104 in Franklin County. A central feature of this property is a relatively unique glacially-formed kettle, a large geographic depression with no natural outlet for water.

Prior to man-made drainage improvements to facilitate farming, the only outlet for water was via infiltration into the groundwater. The long-term retention of water on the site created a bog type wetland habitat. Bogs are very rare habitat types in Ohio, particularly central and southern Ohio.

Much of the resultant peat deposits were mined by the Utzinger family during the mid-twentieth century to supplement farming income. Customers included local farmers and gardeners as well as OSU. As a consequence of the peat mining several open water ponds now occupy a portion of the bog site. Areas of peat accumulation remain in the wetland portion of the site.

AOA has been awarded a Clean Ohio Fund Green Space Conservation Program grant to help purchase the 85-acre property. The Utzinger family is donating a significant portion of the property value to help conserve the site and family heritage. AOA is currently fundraising for site restoration monies.

AOA plans to restore the bog and wetland areas and reestablish native forest and grasslands to much of the site. Invasive species will be removed or controlled, creating a native habitat and nature preserve for the local community. The new and enhanced habitat will support many native species such as wetland and riparian species, waterfowl, migratory and nesting birds, various grassland species, butterflies and other pollinators.

AOA President Al Altfater, Director Steve Fleegal, and Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks visit with the bog site with Jack Utzinger

AOA President Al Altfater, Director Steve Fleegal, and Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks visit with the bog site with Jack Utzinger

Utzinger bog is a high conservation priority for AOA and will be the only conserved bog in Franklin County. It is an important component of AOA’s Scioto River Flyway Corridor Initiative, helping to conserve critical habitat for migratory and nesting birds in Ohio.

AOA is fortunate to be working with a number of compatible conservation partners in the Scioto Flyway Corridor Initiative. We are grateful to organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Columbus Metro Parks, Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation Service, Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Pheasants Forever for their ongoing support and assistance with this project.

We hope to complete this transaction by fall. Please stay tuned for project updates.