The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy (LEIC) and Put-in-Bay Township Park District have partnered on a major conservation project on South Bass Island (Put-in-Bay, Ohio). The partnership involves a three-part acquisition program. The total project is over 30 acres.
Part 1: The Duff Woods Preserve has been completed and is open to the public. The Preserve is 13.5 acres of island forest and karst features (wild cave, sinkholes, rock outcrops) with a trail and small parking area.
Part 2: The protection of 6.5 acres of property close to downtown Put-in-Bay. This site includes the historic Duff Homestead, approximately 150 feet of natural bay-front property, a mature forestland, and two acres of meadow that will be used for pollinator habitat. The bay-front is a yellow perch, sunfish, and native minnow nursery area as well as a unique undisturbed submerged plant community supporting remnant populations of bowfin and gar.
The property is an environment for a host of native resident and migratory species, including Monarch butterfly, bats, songbirds. The site is also habitat for rare species such as the Lake Erie watersnake, the Eastern Fox Snake, and melanistic Eastern Garter Snake. White-tailed deer, red fox, and occasional coyote are found here.
The Duff home will be used as a visitor center and park district office. The adjacent woods will be preserved, and the waterfront will be protected.
A Clean Ohio grant of over $1,300,000 has been awarded for the second phase of the project. The Park District has received an additional $500,000 in pledges from the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, Julene M. Market Fund, and others. However, $200,000 is still needed to complete the purchase. The Park District and the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy seek donations to help restore this historic home site.
Part 3: The purchase of 11 acres of pristine vineyards, antique outbuildings, orchard, and garden with adjacent current bald eagles nest would allow the creation of a historic farm park. It is the goal of the Park District to protect the vineyard as a working farm with opportunities for classes, workshops, and special events.
The LEIC is working with Edward Jones Financial in Port Clinton, Ohio. This partnership will provide a smooth process to enable donations of stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments to the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable foundation, for maximum charitable tax deduction. The Edward Jones contact is Bob Candage at (419) 573-6247.
Donations can be sent to the Put-in-Bay Township Park District, P.O. Box 177, Put-in-Bay, Ohio 43456, with “Duff Homestead” on memo line. For electronic donations, the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy has a Donation button on its website.
The mission of the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy is to encourage conservation and protection of natural and agricultural lands in the Lake Erie Islands for the benefit of future generations. The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy and the Put-in-Bay Township Park District have preserved, protected, and provided public access to over 155 acres of natural areas on South and Middle Bass Islands.