Monica Backs is our volunteer of the month for February!
Monica got involved with FLOW during a FLOW sponsored capstone project at OSU! She is the lead for our Carmack Woods restoration. Carmack Woods is a forested wetland located between Carmack Lots 5 and 6 on Ohio State’s west campus. This area was considered for a parking lot expansion and with Monica’s lead it is a thriving green space!
Monica is an OSU graduate and works full-time as a water resources engineer (FE) at MS Consultants. Outside of work she loves to watch true crime, go running, and volunteer with FLOW. Monica’s favorite FLOW events are tree plantings because she loves playing in the dirt.
Thank you Monica for your passion and dedication to The Olentangy watershed. FLOW couldn’t accomplish what we do without volunteers like you!
Alex Roller-Knapp is our January Volunteer of the month! Alex is an avid volunteer with FLOW, spearheading our Macrofest and Earth Day River clean ups. He volunteers with FLOW because he finds it “very rewarding to see water quality improvements made as a result of volunteering his time, particularly how much plastic we remove from the river banks at the Confluence (referring to the junction of the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers) every spring during Earth Day.” He credits other “great volunteers” who play a critical role in making these events successful.
Alex loves extreme sports like whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, and snowboarding. Anything outdoors is always an adventure for him.
Alex has a degree in Environmental Health and Safety and is an EPA Level 3 Qualified Data Collector (QDC) for benthic macroinvertebrates. He has worked for 11 years at Midwest Biodiversity Institute sampling macroinvertebrates throughout the Midwest.
Here is a short video of his work in 2018 on the Olentangy https://youtu.be/eUc1n_m317w
Thank you Alex for all your time, dedication, and expertise you lend to FLOW. We couldn’t accomplish anything without our fantastic volunteers!
Please join FLOW for this presentation by Ohio State University Professor of Ecological Engineering, Dr. Jay Martin, on Thursday September 26th from 6 – 7 pm. This presentation will take place in the Whetstone Library Conference Room. After Dr. Martin’s presentation, there will be time for questions and answers. All are welcome.
A major goal of FLOW’s Lower Olentangy Greenspace Plan project was to inventory and map existing green and open spaces within the Lower Olentangy Watershed. This not only includes the obvious suspects such as parks, but also more obscure parcels such as conservation easements. Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between landowners and a qualified organization in which the landowner places restriction on the use of the property to protect the natural value of the land. Donation of a conservation easement typically protects land permanently while keeping it in private ownership.
Locating conservation easements proved harder than one might imagine. It might seem that one could go down to the local court house and simply request a list? Or perhaps one could go on-line to the county recorder’s database and do a simple search for easements? As a FLOW researcher recently discovered, it’s not quite so simple.
Some easements are old and discovery requires examining the ownership history of the land parcel and plat. A plat is a map of a land area, usually on the scale of a neighborhood and a parcel is a piece of land used for a single purpose (such as a park or a home). Essentially a plat map shows the collection of parcels that make up a neighborhood. While old plat maps may be photographed and stored electronically, original public land survey plats were hand drawn and the artistry and penmanship of each plat is unique. Some were drawn with color, others in shades of gray, and others in black and white. The level of detail captured in each plat map was dependent on the diligence and accuracy of the individual surveyors. Some surveyors created maps of remarkable detail, while other surveyors were less meticulous
Figure 1. 1803 Plat Map Figure 2. 2004 Plat Map and Conservation Easement (Worthington, OH) (Kempton Run Drive, Columbus,OH)
Another challenge is that multiple organizations currently hold conservation easements. And no single clearinghouse exists. The Lower Olentangy watershed spans two counties and multiple government jurisdictions. Each has its own record keeping, its own type of database, and its own policies and procedures. To complicate matters, the costs of surveying land is sometimes prohibitive and electronic files are not even available or accurate.
So what role will conservation easements play in the future preservation efforts? As central Ohio strives to accommodate population growth and ensure enough green space – both for healthy humans and healthy functioning ecosystems, the conservation easement may need to evolve as well. Climate change and other potential landscape changes raise questions about the effectiveness and adaptability of permanent instruments.
Emilee R. Hardesty, Private Lands Biologist with Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife, discussed changes you can make to attract pollinators to your yard spoke at the March 2017 FLOW public meeting. Many pollinators are in decline, but there are simple things you can do at home to make your yard a friendly place for pollinators. Slides from her presentation are at the link above.