Celebrating Nature’s Gift: 20th Anniversary of Kent Bog

TaLeiza Calloway

More than 50 people gathered last night to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Kent Bog State Nature Preserve sponsored by the Friends of the Kent Bog. The theme for the evening was “Preserving Nature’s Gift.”

The event opened with the presentation of a Proclamation to the Preserve by Portage County commissioners Christopher Smeiles and Maureen Frederick.

“We’re here to show our heartiest appreciation for the Kent Bog,” Smeiles said.

Facilitator Gordon Vars listed six reasons for celebration: to celebrate a precious gift of nature, to express gratitude to bog owners, to express appreciation to citizens for buying the bog, to thank Dr. Tom S. Cooperrider – who recognized this special place – to thank citizens for their labor of volunteering to help preserve and to recognize Guy Denny for interpreting the value of the bog and preserving the bog.

The audience was sprinkled with Kent residents and officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, along with visitors from Brimfield, Westlake and Norwalk.

Trish McLoughlin of Brady Lake said she has visited the nature preserve six or seven times and it is best to visit it at different times of the year because each season is different.

“You go in there and really feel like you’re somewhere up north,” McLoughlin said.

The highlight of the evening was hearing from the family of the original owners of the bog when it was a farm. Harry and Olive Stark were the first ones to work to preserve the wetland. Their granddaughter, Pamela Groomes shared stories from life on the farm.

Groomes described her grandparents as true “organic farmers” because they grew everything and preserved it. She explained how her grandmother would have to travel through “the swamp” to get huckleberries. They referred to the bog as the swamp because they did not know the ecologically correct term, she said.

Groomes was not the only speaker. A representative from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources made a presentation along with Denny, executive director of the Ohio Biological Survey and former chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.

Denny explained that the value of preserving nature is often overlooked. Many people may not know that the Kent Bog was the first purchase in the state of Ohio made from tax check money, he said.

“It’s an incredible gift. It’s a part of the cultural heritage of Kent,” Denny said.

Contact public affairs reporter TaLeiza Calloway at [email protected].