Coopers Woods Put-in-Bay Saved!

Coopers Woods has been saved announced 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 Coopers 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 Coopers Woods Purchased 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;

Coopers Woods Funding

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 Coopers Woods.

We were glad to have the cooperation of the DeRivera Park Trust with the sale. We are grateful to the Friends of Coopers Woods who under the leadership of Roger Parker, have campaigned relentlessly since 1997 to keep Coopers Woods a protected preserve.” Coopers Woods History and Ecology Coopers 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.

DeRivera Park Trust Plays A Vital Role

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. Coopers 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. Coopers 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

Protecting Coopers Woods preserves Natural Habitat

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 Coopers 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 Coopers 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,