Sunny 95 Adopt-a-Pond Success!

~Written by Bob Fitchko

img_4780It was mid-October 2016 and a light fog was giving way to a crisp, clear autumn morning at the Sunny 95 Park and Pond in Upper Arlington, Ohio.   The daybreak was welcomed by a transient contingent of neighbors, joggers and dog-walkers.   A flock of Mallards casually cruised the pond.  A frisky canine viewed the waterfowl intruders.   The ducks and the furry, four-footer had a vocal exchange on the legal, though non-binding, water rights to the pond.  The debate was ruled a draw.  No harm, no “fowl”.   The avian delegation flew off; the domesticated mammal strutted away with its owner.  A representative snapshot of activity surrounding a local pond in the lower Olentangy watershed.    All creatures, large and small, human and not, can enjoy and benefit from a healthy aquatic environment.

The Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) has grant funding (designated the Adopt-A-Pond program) thanks to a generous grant from LUSH Cosmetics. This program will help to improve the habitat and aesthetics of local ponds through the planting of native (soil stabilizing) plants.   Multiple benefits of planting native vegetation include:  increase the health of the Olentangy watershed, increase the variety of plants and birds around the pond, support native pollinators, provide food and habitat for butterflies and moths, provide more color and blooms, and reduce bank erosion and the rate of pond sediment fill.

img_3061 The Sunny 95 Pond is located in the lower Olentangy watershed and was selected as a site to be included in FLOWs Adopt-A-Pond Grant program.  The pond is a one-third acre storm water retention pond centrally located within the 15-acre Sunny 95 Park development.  The park is located at the intersection of Windham Road and Carriage Hill Lane in Upper Arlington (UA).   The park is a result of a decade-past UA master development plan resulting in the demolition of Langston Park and construction of multiple family-oriented facilities at the site.  Completion of the new park area was opened to the public in 2010.

In early fall 2016, Laura Fay, FLOW Science Committee Chairman, and Steve Cothrel, Superintendent of Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department, The City of Upper Arlington, met on-site at Sunny 95 Park to discuss possible water quality enhancements to the Sunny 95 Pond.  The pond shoreline currently had a variety of plants and tall ornamental grasses around its banks.    However, a central fountain and resulting small wave action causes noticeable scouring and bank erosion.   Scouring is especially noted along the eastern edge of the pond, primarily due to the prevailing westerly-southwesterly winds common in central Ohio.  In addition, professional services for algae control and periodic dredging is part of planned maintenance for the pond in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

img_2492Mutual agreement was made by Laura and Steve to add an additional variety of native aquatic plants to the pond shoreline and to plant several native trees just beyond the pond landscape.  Lisa Metcalf, Horticulturist, Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department, The City of Upper Arlington, coordinated the selection and planting of plants and trees.

img_5521In mid-October, a trio of FLOW members and two staffers from The City of Upper Arlington, Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department, gathered at the Sunny 95 Pond to plant a variety of indigenous aquatic plants. Twenty-six native flora were selected and delivered on site by Gale Martin, Natives in Harmony, Marango, Ohio.  The list of botanicals included:

Asclepias incarnata (red/swamp milkweed), Eupatoriadelphius maculates (spotted joe pye), Hibiscus mosheutos (crimson-eyed rose mallow), Mimulus ringens (monkey flower), and Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush).   With shovels in hand, the new vegetation was planted at four different locations around the pond shoreline.

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Danielle and Sarah planting pond plants

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Bob delivering plants to Lisa for planting

img_2596In late-October, FLOW and UA Parks and Recreation Department staff met again.  This time the group convened to add several trees to the park landscape just southwest of Sunny 95 Pond.   Three native trees were selected from Willoway Nurseries (aka Premier Plant Solutions):   Betula nigra (river birch), Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak), and Quercus rubra (northernred oak).  The two oaks had a sturdy 3-4 inch caliper trunk thickness.   The river birch exhibited multiple 1-2 inch trunks from its base root ball.   The trio of trees was 12-15 feet in height.   With strong mind and body, holes were dug, tree root balls set in place, and surrounding rings of mulch spread.  As the trees flourish and grow, they should provide additional shade to the pond.

img_2616                Special thanks to FLOW members Laura, Danielle, Bob and UA Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department personnel Lisa, Sarah, Scott, Veronica, and Jim.   All contributed mightily in the joint effort to support FLOWs Adopt-A-Pond project and planting of the aquatics and trees at the Sunny 95 Pond.

To date, the FLOW Adopt-A-Pond grant program has enhanced water quality and public awareness for multiple ponds in the lower Olentangy watershed.  The Sunny 95 Pond project is one of the latest.  FLOW has limited additional funding for this program and has recently reached out to local pond owners.  The non-profit is seeking several additional participants interested in partnering with FLOW to add nature’s beauty and its benefits to their aquatic ecosystems.

Trees and Pond Plants making a difference at Sunny 95 Pond in Upper Arlington

Trees and Pond Plants making a difference at Sunny 95 Pond in Upper Arlington

 

 

Ackerman Ponds Transformation

ackermanpondThe Ackerman Ponds show how quickly a goose-infested area can be turned into a destination for butterflies and honey bees. Constructed in 2010-2011, the two grass and stone ponds were part of the storm water facilities for the Ohio State University’s Woody Hayes Athletic Complex. The stone slows the storm water flow, prevents erosion, and encourages particles to settle out of the water.

Though designed to be dry between rains, the Ackerman Ponds were often full of water due to a persistent leak from an adjacent water main. This submerged and distressed the lawn grasses and became a nesting area for Canada geese. In addition to being a nuisance, Canada geese droppings degraded the retained water. Once the water main was fixed, the water receded and the geese left, but the distressed vegetation had to be addressed.

In 2014, volunteers from Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) and WOSU planted native forbs, grasses, two hackberry trees and one burr oak tree. Ohio State Facilities Operations and Development – Landscape Services planted an additional dozen native trees from the School of Forestry’s greenhouse. These trees included oak, locust, cherry and hickory, among others.

After one year, the native foliage has grown at an impressive rate. In addition, the native perennial flowers have already begun to attract butterflies and honey bees. These ponds continue to provide stormwater retention, and the plants help filter the stormwater and provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.

Thanks to Lush Cosmetics for funding for this exciting project.

What is a Watershed? How can we Monitor its Health?

Public Meeting
Location: Veritas Community Church
345 E. 2nd Ave., Columbus
When: 7:15-8:30pm, April 4, 2016
RSVP: info@olentangywatershed.org

During this meeting, you will learn what a watershed is, how they function and how we, the people, can affect the health of a watershed. We will also introduce FLOW’s Water Steward Program, which we are carrying out with the support of partners at Ohio Water Resources Center and the Sierra Club. We will learn about the different components of the program including the water chemistry testing and macroinvertebtrate sampling that our volunteers will perform.

If you are participating in the Water Steward Training Program, this course is optional. If you are not interested in macroinvertebrate sampling, this meeting and training is not required. This meeting will provide insight into the kind of time commitment that will be required of you and your team (1-2 hours, 3 times per year), an overview of the sampling and identification process, and how all the data will be compiled and used at FLOW.

If you wish to do Macroinvertebrate Sampling and are unable to attend this meeting, please let us know and we will send you information regarding the in-field training.

March and April Events

tree-planting-1

FLOW has seven great events planned in March and April.

If you want to lend a hand to programs that are ready for you to participate, here’s a great list to choose from!

March 26th: Slyh Run Restoration at Cranbrook Elementary
Details: 10am -12:30 pm, 908 Bricker Blvd, Columbus OH, 43221
We will be removing invasive bush honeysuckle from the south side of Slyh Run on the school grounds. You can either help cut the honeysuckle or drag it to the brush pile. We need lots of help in getting almost 940 feet of stream corridor cleared of invasives. We will supply the tools and the gloves.
(No additional volunteers needed.)

March 31st: FLOW day at Lucky’s Market
Details: All Day! Lucky’s Market, 2770 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43202
When you shop at Lucky’s Market on March 31st, FLOW will receive 10% of the sales. FLOW will use these funds to plant trees, clean up rivers, plant gardens, and continue to educate our community about our environment. Our goal is to raise $7,000 so please start your shopping list!

April 2nd: Slyh Run Restoration at Cranbrook Elementary
Details: 10am -12:30 pm, 908 Bricker Blvd, Columbus OH, 43221
We will be removing invasive bush honeysuckle from the south side of Slyh Run on the school grounds. You can either help cut the honeysuckle or drag it to the brush pile. We need lots of help in getting almost 940 feet of stream corridor cleared of invasives. We will supply the tools and the gloves.

April 10th: Drake Union at The Ohio State University
Details: This is an OSU student event co-sponsored with the Undergraduate Student Government. The students will be conducting a river clean-up and planting trees on-site.
Community volunteers are not required for this event

April 16th: Earth Day Tree Planting (Fawcett Center for Tomorrow at OSU)
Details: Hosted by FLOW and the Natural Resources Scholars
Location: 9am – 12 pm, 2400 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, OH 43210
Please bring a shovel (or two) if you have them, otherwise, we will provide them. We will be planting 2,000 seedlings along the floodplain of the Olentangy River.
More info and sign ups here:

April 22: Earth Day Glen Echo Ravine Cleanup
Co-sponsored by Earthday Columbus and Lucky’s Market. Be prepared to pick up litter big and small! Dress comfy and in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty as you clean the ravine behind Lucky’s!
Details: 11-2:00 pm Glen Echo Ravine behind Lucky’s Market, 2770 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43202
More info and sign ups here:

April 23rd: Tree Planting with the Battelle River and Stream Team
Details: 9am – 12 pm, River Bluff Park at 8350 Olentangy River Rd, Columbus, OH
Please bring a shovel if you have it. We will provide the gloves and everything else you need. No worries if you don’t have a shovel. We will be planting 2,500 seedling trees in the newest parcel of Highbanks Park (west of the Olentangy River).
More info and sign ups here:

Please email FLOW if you plan to attend or if you need any additional information: info@olentangywatershed.org

FLOW’s Water Steward Program

FLOW’s Water Steward Program kicks off March 22.

FLOW is working with the Ohio Water Resources Center and the Sierra Club to create an active group of Water Stewards in the Lower Olentangy Watershed. These stewards are dedicated to a sustained hands-on effort to quantify the health of our stream waters through the monitoring and reporting of chemical and macroinvertebrate indicators in several of its tributaries.

In order to be a part of the FLOW Water Steward Program you must be trained in WARN (Water Alert Report Training) and either the Water Sentinel (water chemistry) or the macroinvertebrate sampling methods (or in all three areas). After completing the required trainings, the Water Stewards will be grouped with one or more persons and assigned a sampling site close to their chosen geographical area (when possible) which the team will then sample in the spring, summer and fall. If this kind of stewardship is something that you would be interested in participating in please join us for the following training sessions.

Warn Training
Where: OSU Wetlands
The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park
352 Dodridge St., Columbus
When: March 22, 7:00
RSVP: info@olentangywatershed.org

Details: WARN Training is required to be a water steward. However, it is likely that we will hold another training session sometime in late spring. Please let us know if you are interested but unable to attend.

Water Sentinel Training
Where: OSU Wetlands
The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park
352 Dodridge St., Columbus
When: March 29, 7:00
RSVP: info@olentangywatershed.org

Details: Water Sentinel Training will enable you to test the chemical components in the water. This training is optional and if you choose not to do this training, we will try to pair you with someone that has had this training. You may try to take this training at a later date. Data collected from this training will be used by both FLOW and the Sierra Club to track stream health. Supplies will be provided for each team.

Program Overview Meeting and Introduction to Macroinvertebrate Sampling Methods
Where: Veritas Community Church
345 E. 2nd Ave., Columbus
When: 7:15-8:30pm, April 4, 2016
RSVP: info@olentangywatershed.org

Details:
This course is optional. If you are not interested in macroinvertebrate sampling, this meeting and training is not required.

This meeting will provide insight into the kind of time commitment that will be required of you and your team (1-2 hours, 3 times per year), an overview of the sampling and identification process, and how all the data will be compiled and used at FLOW. If you wish to do Macroinvertebrate Sampling and are unable to attend this meeting, please let us know and we will send you information regarding the in-field training.

Hands on Field Training for Macroinvertebrate Sampling, Equipment Dispersal and Site Assignments
Where: Adena Brook, Whetstone Park, Clintonville
When: 1:30-3:30pm, May 1, 2016

During this event, FLOW Water Steward Trainers will walk you through an actual macro invertebrate sampling process and work with you to identify the various critters that you might find at your own site. You must have attended WARN training prior to attending this event unless other arrangements have been made with FLOW for future training events.

First Sampling with a FLOW Water Steward Trainer
You will each have an assigned site that you will visit with your team three times every year. This first visit you will be accompanied by a FLOW Water Steward Trainer. The trainer will show you your access points and walk you through the process so that you have the confidence you will need to go out on your own in the summer and fall.
Locations and dates to be determined based on team and trainer location and availability.
As a Water Steward
Once you have done your chemical and macroinvertebrate sampling, you will provide your results to FLOW so that they can be compiled into both an overall annual report as well as be used to track your specific location over time. You and your team will visit your site two more times this year. We will track the results of the sampling and share these with you on our website and hold a year end meeting so you and your fellow stewards get a chance to meet and share stories of success and fun in the streams!
If you are interested in becoming a FLOW Water Steward and we look forward to seeing you and guiding you through this opportunity to work first-hand to improve the quality of our streams.

Experiencing the Olentangy by Boat

Postcard of the Lake House at Olentangy Park, 1911.

Postcard of the Lake House at Olentangy Park, 1911.

Do you drive over the bridges of the Olentangy day after day and admire its beauty? Do you see kayakers and canoers? Have you ever wondered, “how can I do that?”

Lisa Daris, an urban environmental optimist and owner of Olentangy Paddle will be the guest lecturer at the next FLOW public meeting, Monday, February 1 at 7 pm (address below). Lisa will talk about experiencing the river in a boat! She will give pointers about where to put-in, where to take-out, and share insights about the wildlife and changing health of the Olentangy.

We will have a RAFFLE for FLOW shirts and a few other prizes, and we would love for you to participate!

Refreshments and snacks will be provided. Please let us know if you intend to make it out!

When and Where:
Monday, February 1
7:15 PM – 8:30 PM

Veritas Community Church
345 E 2nd Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43201