By Shayla Jennings
Amidst the spike in COVID-19 cases, there is no better time than now to experience the natural joys that nature can bring. There are so many beautiful places to visit, just a few miles from your driveway. Luckily, the Western Wildlife Corridor is easily accessible and is here to guide you in the right direction. Sister Joyce Richter, a lifelong nature lover, is on the board of trustees for the WWC. On November 17, 2020, Joyce gave a presentation on “The Natural Wonders of the Bender Mountain Nature Preserve.” Attending her presentation inspired me to share what I learned. Conveniently, this preserve is located just minutes from where she lives. The preserve offers a wide range of fun, ranging from easy trails to more rigorous ones that will provide a workout for every skill level. Not only does this preserve give an opportunity for outdoor physical activity, but it also gives you a chance to repair your mental health, which is greatly needed with the stress that COVID-19 brings. Moreover, Bender Mountain exhibits a variety of educational opportunities as well. From vascular plants to mushrooms, from native species to invasive species, anyone can find an interest that intrigues their mind.
Bender Mountain consists of 130 wooded acres (12.7 acres owned by Western Wildlife Corridor, 42.4 owned by Delhi Township and 74.5 owned by the Sisters of Charity). Throughout the preserve, there are many vascular plants, which includes trees and wildflowers. However, among these wonderful plants, there are also many invasive species like honeysuckle. After the removal of a lot of the invasive honeysuckle, the preserve saw a resurgence of 431 native plants! The preserve also has an abundance of wildlife throughout the trails. Some animals you may come across are deer, turtles, butterflies, insects, and finally snakes. Of the snakes, black rat snakes are commonly seen. While they may seem intimidating, these snakes play an essential role by keeping destructive pests, like mice and rats, to a minimum. Additionally, mushrooms are found all over the preserve. Who doesn’t like a fungus? While some of these mushrooms are edible, it is important not to take anything from the preserve. You can take pics, but don’t pick!
Lastly, the Western Wildlife Corridor serves to protect, restore, and preserve natural habitats by providing education to foster connections with nature. Appropriately, WWC has provided a QR code that is present in multiple areas of Bender Mountain that provides a map. There is also another QR code used for donations, which would be greatly appreciated. Furthermore, a notable source to learn more about the plant and animal kingdoms that are present around Bender Mountain is the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. ODNR gives access to free field guides that will teach you about plants and animals, which is great for kids! To conclude, “Just get out and enjoy nature; it does something for the soul,” a quote from Joyce Richter.
This article was written by Shayla Jennings, a junior at Hanover College. Shayla has a passion for the environment and plans a career in Environmental Law. If you would like more information about the Western Wildlife Corridor please visit our website at www.Westernwildlifecorridor.org and consider becoming member or making a donation.