Day 4.2: Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve

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My second stop today was Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve. A boardwalk cuts through the preserve and takes you across a mixed oak community, pin oak community, grass meadow, shrub swamp, and sedge meadow. These areas house rare plants which don’t occur in many other places in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves say the land was dedicated as a preserve in 1974. The preserve is 233 acres within the Oak Openings region, but today only 50 acres of the original Irwin Prairie remain.

Native Americans documented canoeing through the flooded openings in the area searching for waterfowl. Still in the early 1900s, the roads were impassable. Stakes were placed on the side of Irwin and Bancroft Roads to show water depth and help determine if the road was passable.

In 1859, The Lucas County Commissioners started an extensive network of drainage ditches throughout the county. This drainage process, although extremely slow, changed the habitat of the wet prairie. As the water levels dropped, trees were able to invade the area and made the landscape as it is today.

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