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Front Page News

Protecting Cooper’s Woods saves not only the forest but rare animals, plants and topography. The woods contain at least two wild caves. One of them is Cedar Woods Cave III, pictured top center. Continuing clockwise is a Great Horned Owl, Cut-leaf Toothwort, Dutchman’s Breeches, Lead Morph of the Eastern Red-Backed Salamander, “Shady Path” through Cooper’s woods, Large-flowered Trillium and Hermit Thrush. The Bass Islands, including Cooper’s Woods, are also a major flyway for migratory songbirds like the Hermit Thrush. - Owl photo courtesy of Sandy Funtal, salamander photo courtesy of Maggie Hantak and Kyle Brooks, songbird photo courtesy of Tom Bartlett, other photos courtesy of Susan Byrnes.

Protecting Cooper’s Woods saves not only the forest but rare animals, plants and topography. The woods contain at least two wild caves. One of them is Cedar Woods Cave III, pictured top center. Continuing clockwise is a Great Horned Owl, Cut-leaf Toothwort, Dutchman’s Breeches, Lead Morph of the Eastern Red-Backed Salamander, “Shady Path” through Cooper’s woods, Large-flowered Trillium and Hermit Thrush. The Bass Islands, including Cooper’s Woods, are also a major flyway for migratory songbirds like the Hermit Thrush. - Owl photo courtesy of Sandy Funtal, salamander photo courtesy of Maggie Hantak and Kyle Brooks, songbird photo courtesy of Tom Bartlett, other photos courtesy of Susan Byrnes.

Cooper's Woods Purchased

The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable organization, is pleased to announce the purchase on March 31, 2020, of 18.46 acres of wooded property on South Bass Island. The area, commonly referred to as Cooper’s Woods, was purchased from the DeRivera Park Trust.

The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy (LEIC) is a 250-member organization “dedicated to the conservation and protection of natural and agricultural lands in the Lake Erie Islands for the benefit of future generations.”

Now celebrating 20 years of island habitat protection, the Conservancy began in 2000 as a chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy. The LEIC was granted separate nonprofit status in 2015.

Lisa Brohl, Chair of the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, stated, “These lands are being conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available by TC Energy and its subsidiary Columbia Gas Transmission’s Leach XPress Pipeline Project in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ohio and The Conservation Fund; Additional funding was provided by the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund; the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy; and private donor Judy Prinz in memory of George, Grace, and John ‘Bullet’ Borman.”

Ms. Brohl further stated, “We appreciate the support of the South Bass Island community.”
She added, “Many thanks to Judy Twarek-Bickley of the Hartung Title Agency, to conservation realtor Neal Hess for his funding research for the purchase, to legal advisor Marsha Collett, and to the Put-in-Bay High School Environmental Club for standing up for Cooper’s Woods. We were glad to have the cooperation of the DeRivera Park Trust with the sale. We are grateful to the Friends of Cooper’s Woods who under the leadership of Roger Parker, have campaigned relentlessly since 1997 to keep Cooper’s Woods a protected preserve.”

Cooper’s Woods History and Ecology

Cooper’s Woods is named after the Cooper Family who built Cooper’s Restaurant and Winery after World War II, now the Goat Soup & Whiskey. Over the years, the restaurant changed hands, but the family retained the woods until 1997 when it was sold to the DeRivera Park Trust, the group that owns and takes care of most of the park in downtown Put-in-Bay. The Trust also owns the public dock between the Village’s public docks. The DeRivera Park Trustees managed the woods up until recently when they had the chance to sell it to the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy.

Cooper’s Woods is a living laboratory for the local Put-in-Bay High School science classes and Environmental Club with some of the students mapping the caves and putting organisms on I-Naturalist. It has also been extensively studied over the years by the Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory with publications (Forest Communities of South Bass Island, Ohio. Ohio Journal of Science, 724):184-210 by E. S. Hamilton and J. L. Forsyth, 1972, and on the Forest Composition of the Lake Erie Islands by Boerner, The American Midland Naturalist, 111 (1), 1984) and used by their Ecology and Local Flora classes.

Upland forest composition is unique to the Lake region, more closely resembling forests found on morainal ridges farther north than those on the nearby mainland till plain.
Wittenberg University and the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves have mapped and inventoried at least two wild caves (Cedar Cave III and IV) within Cooper’s Woods. Cooper’s Woods also has a diversity of wildflowers and it is the best spot on the island for large-flowered trilliums, a wildflower that in other areas has been decimated by white-tailed deer.

Protecting this land will preserve the natural habitat for a variety of animals. In particular, this wooded acreage provides habitat for the important population of the lead morph of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander. The existing all-lead morph population in Cooper’s Woods is extremely rare, an anomaly from the normal range of this species. In addition, this land is a likely hibernation site for the state threatened Lake Erie Watersnake. Lastly, uncommon melanistic morphs of the Eastern Garter Snake and the Eastern Fox Snake, a species of concern, also inhabit Cooper’s Woods. The Bass Islands are a major flyway for migratory songbirds as documented by the bird-banding efforts of Tom Bartlett.

For further information: Lisa Brohl, Chair, Lake Erie Islands Conservancy. (419) 285-5811 or 419-366-2087, leiconservancy@gmail.com.

In the News...

Island residents need to respond to 2020 Census

Island residents have been slow to respond to the 2020 Census count. According to Kurt D. Wesolek, who is in charge of twelve tracts in Ottawa County, the Put-in-Bay tract has the lowest response rate with just over 10%. Ottawa County is the lowest in the state at just under 40% and the state of Ohio as a whole is at 55%.

Kurt understands that there are a lot of summer homes and cottages on Put-in-Bay, but says those have been taken into consideration and the 10% response rate actually is taken from their actual figure of 188 permanent households on the islands.
Based on the latest census estimates (for 2014-2018), 355 people live in 188 households in the Put-in-Bay tract, and 24 people live in group quarters with a total population of 379.

It is important that residents on the island fill out the Census form and return it as soon as possible so that government funding is distributed appropriately in the next few years and your tract has a better chance at receiving its fair share of services and political representation.

If someone doesn’t complete and send in their Census report, the Census Bureau will have to send out a real live census taker to interview you and get the information they need. Normally this is done in May since Census responses were due in April, but because of Covid-19, the census takers won’t be around until mid-summer. The Census Bureau does not really want to send out census takers unless absolutely necessary.

You can self-respond to Census 2020 by one of three ways: online at 2020census.gov, by phoning 844-330-2020, or (if you’ve received a paper questionnaire) returning the census form by mail.

If you have questions about the Census for our area, you can contact Kurt directly by emailing kurt.d.wesolek@2020census.gov. He will be glad to help in any way.

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