Wayne National Forest Partners with Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves to Inventory for Rare Plants

By Cheryl Coon,
March 3, 2010

Large sedge
Large sedge, Carex gigantea (photo by R. Gardner).

Spatterdock Darner
Spatterdock Darner (photo by R. Gardner).

Partnership results in new rare plant find in Ohio along with additional new rare species population records and new rare plant community records.

The Wayne National Forest has an ongoing agreement for the use of data from the Ohio Natural Heritage Database. This database began in 1976, and contains over 17,000 records for rare plants, animals, and high quality natural plant communities in Ohio. The Wayne National Forest relies on heritage staff expertise in rare plant and natural community inventory and management.

In 2009, the Wayne National Forest and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources signed a Challenge Cost Share Agreement to have Heritage Program Botanist Rick Gardner conduct surveys of Special Interest Areas on the Ironton Ranger District. Gardner discovered a new plant species for Ohio, the large sedge (Carex gigantea). Large sedge is a wetland species found mostly in the southeastern United States, but it also occurs in Indiana and Illinois where it is listed as endangered by both states.

The 2009 inventory by Gardener overall resulted in: 10 new rare plant species for the Forest, 136 new rare plant records, 36 updated records and 14 new plant community records. The written report for the surveys contained locations of rare plants, animals, and communities along with locations of non-native invasive plant species, land acquisition suggestions to extend the protection of high quality plant communities, and land management suggestions (e.g. burning of barren communities degraded by woody succession).

A continuation of the agreement in 2010 allows for Gardener to survey the Special Interest Areas of the Athens Ranger District. Stay tuned for more exciting Ohio plant finds!