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Wayne County Parks: Wildlife Themed
Bird watchers, hunters, fishermen and naturalists, can take a trip to Wayne County for some of the most amazing wildlife preserves in Ohio. From beautiful migrant birds to trees that seem to go on forever, visitors can experience nature’s finest attributes in these picturesque settings. Each of these wildlife preserves were founded to protect and conserve natural habitats for animals and vegetation. So take the family or round up a group of friends to enjoy everything that Mother Nature has given us.
From dawn to dusk explore 76 acres of plush greenery and magnificent wildlife at the Barnes Preserve located in Wooster, a fourth of a mile south of the Secrest and Sylvan intersection. Home to a wide variety of wildlife, visitors can walk along the trail and feast their eyes on some of Wayne County’s most interesting species, including deer, muskrats and bats. It’s a birdwatcher’s dream, featuring migrant and year-round birds of all kinds. You can find the Barnes Preserve at 3396 Sylvan Road in Wooster, across the street from the Wayne County Care Center.
Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area
Sitting on moist soil meadows and bottomland hardwoods, this 1,498-acre wildlife area is seasonally flooded. Founded in 1991, Funk Bottoms is a place where licensed hunters can flourish. With 23 species of waterfowl, 28 species of shorebirds, mallard, wild duck, muskrat, raccoon, Canada goose and more, there should be no problem finding game. For those who just want to view the wildlife at a safe distance or during the flood season, Funk Bottoms also has an observation deck. This wildlife area can be reached off of State Route 95.
Brown’s Lake Bog Preserve
One of the few remaining kettle hole peat lands in Ohio, Brown’s Lake Bog was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1966 and was declared a National Natural Landmark in 1968. It features a floating sphagnum moss mat, a glacially formed hill called kames and a 7-acre kettle hole lake. Located in the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau region of Northeast Ohio, the bog is 100 acres wide, with 80 acres of surrounding lowland forest. While walking along the boardwalk or trails of Brown’s Lake, enjoy some of the rarest plants in Ohio like the large cranberry, the marsh five finger and more. Also, set your sights on the four-toed salamander. Brown’s Lake is located two miles west of Shreve on Brown Road.
Shreve Lake is a natural preserve for everyone. Fishermen can hook and catch largemouth bass, bluegill, and more, while hunters have tons of game with cotton tail rabbits and pheasants. Muskrats, mink and skunk are also common, and you may see the occasional deer. A boating ramp is available for electric motor boats only, and there is an accessible fishing pier for people with disabilities. Shreve Lake is perfect for bird lovers with the springtime migration of waterfowls and songbirds. This destination is located approximately 1.2 miles west of Shreve, north of State Route 226.
Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area
With 5,671 acres of marshland and swamp, Killbuck Marsh is Ohio’s largest remaining marshland outside of Lake Erie. Killbuck Creek is filled with a great population of fish, such as northern pike, carp, panfish and more. Hunters specializing in waterfowl can also enjoy Killbuck, as well as those interested in trapping muskrats. There is a four-mile trail in the middle of the Marsh, for those that aren’t hunting or trapping, to view the year-round wildlife and migrant birds. Killbuck Marsh is located at 1691 Centerville Road in Shreve, Ohio.
Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve
As one of Ohio’s oldest and largest remaining old-growth forests, the Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve is home to some of the oldest trees, spanning from 400 to 500 years old. Since many of the trees are nearing the end of their lifespan, they are being replaced by trees that can grow in shade, such as sugar maples and the American beech. This preserve is a sight to see all year round, with a beautiful display of wildflowers in the spring, a massive canopy of leaves in the summer – those same leaves change to beautiful colors in autumn – and the winter emphasizes the massiveness of the trees. In the Preserve's 206 acres of land, birds of all kinds are found nesting in these majestic trees, making it a perfect place for nature lovers to enjoy their stay. Johnson Woods is located at 13240 Fox Lake Road in Marshallville, Ohio.