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North Shore Alvar State Nature Preserve

The North Shore Alvar on Kelleys Island is the finest of the few such sites in Ohio. Alvars are horizontal exposures of nearly barren limestone or dolomite which were exposed by glaciers and are kept open by a variety of environmental factors.

The name "alvar" is derived from a Swedish word for similar landforms near the Baltic Sea.

On Kelleys Island, the alvar is scoured by wind, waves, and ice. Only a few specially adapted plant species can survive in this hostile terrain.

Some of these unusual species on Kelleys Island are northern bog violet (an endangered species), balsam squaw-weed, Kalm's lobelia, and Pringle's aster. The alvar also features shallow glacial striations.

Other Ohio alvars are found on the Marblehead Peninsula. Most of these have been disturbed or destroyed by quarrying and other human activities. Extensive alvars are found only in Michigan, New York, and Ontario, Canada.

Special Features

  • Ohio's most intact alvar community

Managing Agency

The area is owned by the Division of Parks and Recreation and jointly managed by Parks and the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.

Local Directions

Located within Kelleys Island State Park. From Water Street, proceed north 2 miles on Division Street, go past Glacial Grooves State Memorial until the road dead ends at the boaters' parking lot. Enter the preserve via a state park trail to the northwest.

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