Source: US State of Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio – With tax season upon us, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is asking Ohioans to consider donating a portion of their state income tax refund to support Ohio’s wildlife and state nature preserves.
“Donations directly benefit natural resource conservation projects,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “These funds protect Ohio’s endangered wildlife and plants, preserve unique native habitats, improve visitor access, and support ecomanagement.”
Nearly all wildlife conservation in the state is funded by Ohioans who hunt, fish, and trap. The tax donation program is an important way for wildlife enthusiasts to help restore and manage endangered and threatened wildlife and other species of interest.
In the past, donations to the Wildlife Diversity Fund have supported statewide wildlife projects such as reintroducing native Ohio species including lake sturgeon, mussels, hellbenders, cerulean warblers, and the monarch butterfly. Donations also fund the development of new education field guides, such as Raptors of Ohio and Trees of Ohio, and posters which are free to the public. Funding also supports the Division of Wildlife’s partnerships with Ohio’s zoos to create educational exhibits on the state’s native animals.
The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves oversees a statewide system of 136 unique state nature preserves open to visitors for exploration and research. Ohio’s natural areas protect a variety of endangered habits, critical landscape and geologic features. Tax refund donations are used to support land conservation, new trails and visitor facilities, and important research and monitoring.
Providing access to Ohio’s natural areas is one of the division’s primary goals. Donated funds are used to support facilities, such as bridges, stairs and boardwalks, which improve access for visitors. These structures allow visitors to experience up close the natural beauty found in state nature preserves without negatively impacting the ecological integrity of these protected sites.
Ecomanagement is another important project supported by Ohioans’ donations. All the state’s natural areas are challenged by the threat of non-native invasive species. Staff work year-round to protect threatened habitats and endangered species from the negative impacts of invasives.
By making a tax donation to either the Wildlife Diversity Fund or Ohio State Nature Preserves on this year’s tax return, Ohioans are helping to ensure the future of Ohio’s ecosystems, from native habitats and landscapes to endangered plant and wildlife species. Individuals may donate all or part of their state income tax refund by entering a dollar amount for “State Nature Preserves” on line 26a or “Wildlife Species” on line 26d of the 2019 IT 1040 tax form. Contributions made on the 2019 tax return and filed in 2020 are considered deductible donations made in 2020.
For more information on ODNR’s Division of Wildlife and the Wildlife Diversity Fund, visit wildohio.gov/support. For more information on the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves or how to donate to Ohio State Nature Preserves, visit naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/support.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.