The Kokosing Nature Preserve Cemetery Story
Kenyon is the only college or university in the country with a land trust. The idea was born in the late 1980s when a local landowner proposed building a recreational trailer park along the Kokosing River on land directly across from the main entrance to the College. The project never came to pass, but it spurred College administrators to protect the scenic and rural nature of the Gambier campus and its surroundings. The Philander Chase Conservancy land trust was formed in 2000 and now has easements on over 5,300 acres in Knox County, including seven linear miles of the Kokosing's riverbank.
The land trust was instrumental in the creation of Kokosing Nature Preserve. Kenyon, like many colleges, has had a cemetery on campus almost since its founding day, but the preserve project puts Kenyon's cemetery business on the cutting edge of the growing trend to return to simpler methods of burial. In 2013, the Philander Chase Conservancy purchased the 18-hole public Tomahawk Golf Course on Quarry Chapel Road in Gambier in order to protect that area as green space for the local community and also to create a conservation burial ground and provide an option for green burial to the Central Ohio area. Approximately half of the 45 acre property was restored to native prairie, wetlands, and woodlands and was platted with approximately 2,300 burial lots. The remaining 22 acres was planted to native grasses and wildflowers in 2019 and could someday be used for the expansion of the cemetery.
The land trust was instrumental in the creation of Kokosing Nature Preserve.