Conservation Hall of Fame enshrines three Ohioans

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COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded its highest honor on three individuals who have made outstanding, lifelong contributions to the conservation and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources.

Ronald Reed and Deborah Rex Reed of Mansfield and the late Jim Fofrich Sr. of Toledo were inducted into the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame.

The department also presented its annual Cardinal Awards for conservation achievement to Mona Rutger of Castalia, Kathryn Loxley of Jackson and the Ohio Trails Partnership.

About the enshrinees. Ronald Reed and Deborah Rex Reed have taught nearly 200,000 elementary school children environmental ethics through their Mohican Outdoor School in Ashland County.

The couple has also worked to permanently protect Hemlock Fall, one of north-central Ohio’s most notable natural features.

Jim Fofrich Sr. dedicated his career as a charter boat captain on Lake Erie as a strong advocate for fisheries management and the preservation of Lake Erie. Fofrich actively participated in fisheries research and promoted a catch-and-release ethic amongst Lake Erie anglers.

Cardinal awards. Mona Rutger, of Erie County’s Back to the Wild, is an ODNR-licensed wildlife rehabilitator who has spent countless hours tending to thousands of sick wild animals each year, including assisting more than 100 ill birds of prey this fall.

She also provides dozens of wildlife tours and presentations for school children.

Kathryn Loxley of Jackson County, has devoted her time, energy and her farm to helping ODNR’s divisions of Forestry, Wildlife, Natural Areas & Preserves and Soil & Water Conservation to teach sound environmental education and farming practices.

Loxley is a former supervisor for the Jackson County Soil & Water Conservation District and continues to work with the county in promoting conservation practices.

The Ohio Trails Partnership combines a diverse group of hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders who joined efforts to improve trails throughout ODNR’s parks and forests. The Ohio Trails Partnership is made up of members of the Ohio Horsemens Council, the Ohio Mountain Bike Association and the Buckeye Trail Association.

In the past year, the Ohio Trails Partnership has donated more than 21,000 hours to improving state-owned trails. Combined with cash donations, their effort this past year represents more than $215,000 in contributions to state trails projects.

Previous winners. The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame was created by ODNR in 1966. To date, 131 individuals have been accorded the honor, which recognizes a lifetime devoted to the preservation, protection and wise management of Ohio’s natural resources.

Previous Hall of Fame honorees include the legendary Johnny Appleseed, Ohio-born explorer John Wesley Powell, botanist Lucy Braun and conservationist/novelist Louis Bromfield.

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