BUCYRUS - Ohio Department of Natural Resources is planning a dedication ceremony and grand opening at 10 a.m. Monday at the 33-acre Daughmer Prairie Savannah, 786 Marion-Melmore Road, Bucyrus.
ODNR Director James Zehringer and Glenn Cobb, deputy director and chief of parks, are to preside.
The savannah is one mile north of SR 294 on Marion-Melmore Road.
A view of the Daughmer Prairie Savannah.
According to information from the Crawford Park District, the savannah is the largest and best preserved remnant of unplowed, deep soil prairies and savannahs that were present at the easternmost extension of America's prairie heartland. Once covering 192,000 acres in Crawford, Wyandot and Marion counties, the Sandusky Plains have been reduced to fewer than 75 acres.
Daughmer contains the largest and best preserved remnant, a Bur Oak Savannah.
When French explorers came upon our grasslands, they called them prairies, the French word for "meadows." After explorers, hunters, trappers and soldiers traveled through dense forests of beech, maple, ash and elm, they found open sky and a vast grassland dotted with scattered oaks and hickories.
The land was purchased by ODNR in January 2011 using funds donated by conservation-minded taxpayers. It was formerly in the White family for more than 160 years. The Daughmer name honors Hazel White Daughmer, who built her home on a corner of the savannah and prized the environment she owned.
Factors that contributed to the prairie's preservation included its agricultural use. It was most often used to graze sheep. Although some of the native plants were eliminated by the grazing, the overall effect was positive. Another factor that assisted prairie habitat preservation was fire. Whether sparked by lightning strikes or set by Native Americans to corral game, fires helped prairie plants regenerate and killed tree saplings.
In addition to the bur oak savannah, the preserve contains other plant communities.
This habitat includes mesic prairie, wet prairie, sedge meadow, bluejoint swales and prairie pothole marshes. Stands of big bluestem and little bluestem grasses occupy the dry prairie. Species such as prairie cord grass can be found in the wet areas. Daughmer is home to state threatened species including Bicknell's sedge, wheat sedge and flat-stemmed spike-rush.
The preserve is to be managed by the Crawford Park District, which was heavily involved in the preservation.