Greenspace Planning for the Lower Olentangy Watershed

 

Greenspace Plan for the Lower Olentangy Watershed

FLOW and our project partners are working to create detailed maps of the greenspace and openspace in our watershed.  Thanks to a Columbus Foundation grant, FLOW’s greenspace project is underway.  We are creating maps that show current greenspace preservation in the Olentangy watershed. This will include conservation easements, parks, areas preserved by private landowners, and other natural spaces that have been specifically set aside for preservation.

The Olentangy River and valley is well recognized locally and beyond for its significance. While notable efforts have occurred over time in preserving it, development continues to diminish its grandness and vitality. The more comprehensive mapping funded by the Columbus Foundation will acknowledge the notable efforts of many to date, as well as indicate possibilities to further the preservation of the stream and valley. Presently there is no one data source that maps all the known natural green spaces.

FLOW’s partner organizations are Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Delaware County Regional Planning Commission, Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. They will work with the general public, public jurisdictions, and environmental organizations. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) will be used for mapping known preserved green spaces, as well as lack of preservation connectivity, and potential future linkages.

We Did It! The Bridge to Cranbrook Elementary

Together we raised $7800 to build a bridge to Cranbrook Elementary in partnership with The Columbus Foundation. These funds combined with the funds that were already raised will be enough to build the bridge.

Thank you to all of our generous donors for supporting this project. It means so much to the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) and the Cranbrook Community. Now we can get ready to break ground on the pedestrian bridge over Slyh Run, reconnecting the surrounding neighborhood to Cranbrook Elementary School and a 10-acre outdoor classroom of restored woods and prairie. We will be providing more information about the project as the plans start coming together!

We are better together!

Nature’s Gliders: Flying Squirrels

Flying Squirrel in flight to bird feeder.

Flying to bird feeder. Photo courtesy of Gregory Turner, USDA

Nature’s Gliders: Flying Squirrels

Free Public Meeting May 7 at 7 p.m.
Please note new location:
Columbus Metropolitan Library – Northside Branch, 1423 N. High Street, Columbus, OH
Please join us for this free public presentation and discussion.
OSU Extension Wildlife Program Specialist Marne A. Titchenell will introduce us to the life and habitat of the flying squirrel and other Ohio squirrels. Attendees will learn how to attract flying squirrels to their backyards, as well as tips and plans for constructing and mounting flying squirrel nest boxes.

Sponsored by Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed

 

Twenty Years of Progress

Celebration day, FLOW-style: FLOW and Anheuser-Busch folks started the day by planting a pollinator garden.

FLOW has now had twenty years of organizing, planning, planting, measuring and otherwise looking after the quality and safety of the Olentangy River.

You can see the results all around. Some of the important accomplishments:

  • Completing the Watershed Action Plan – only meant to be a five year plan, but still used today as a roadmap for the future. This entailed many meetings that got the community involved and connected with the river.
  • Improving water quality as a result of four dam removals.
  • Getting the Lower Olentangy Water Trail approved, which gives paddlers access points to the river and encourages enjoyment of the river and the natural areas around it.
  • Planting trees and native wildflowers all over the watershed, to provide habitat, reduce polluting runoff, and offer outdoor enjoyment for all.

It started in 1997 when Amanda Davey, just finishing at The Ohio State University, saw an article about watershed coordinators. She contacted the Ohio EPA and thus began the steps that formed Friends of the Lower Olentangy.

Using Amanda’s OSU contacts and Vince Mazika’s EPA contacts, the original email got an enormous response. They formalized the group as a 501c3 non-profit, set up a board of directors, put together a mission, and began monthly meetings with educational and business topics.

The early founders envisioned an organization that would be a clearinghouse for the river, and sustainable over the years. The decision was made to work together with partners rather than serve in an adversarial role.

“I am so impressed with what FLOW has done and how it has maintained itself, Amanda says. “The city uses the river as an asset now. The water quality is maintaining, which is good with all the development pressure up north.”

A grant allowed the group to hire Erin Miller as its first watershed coordinator. She served from 2000-2004, when the organizational foundations were established, membership was built, and the watershed plan was completed.

“Working for FLOW was one of the highlights of my career,” Erin says. “The board members are extremely involved, and always have been. They did GIS mapping, took photos that brought the river to life, helped with financial expertise.”

“It has always been a very reputable group, one that is science based and community focused. FLOW’s vision is for the community to be connected to an appreciative of the Olentangy River,” Erin explains.

Among the core group that started FLOW, and now enjoying the 20th anniversary: George Anderson, Joanne Leussig, Amanda Davey, Jennifer Fish, Russ Fish, Joe Motil.

Site Plan for Pollinators

Rusty Patched Bumblebee by Johanna James-Heinz.

We’ve heard it in the news, on social media, and through word of mouth that pollinator species have taken a hit. The Rusty Patched Bumblebee is on the endangered species list and many other bee populations are also in decline. Milkweed is wanted for monarchs and we can all do a little something to help out our pollinating friends. However, efforts on private property to incorporate pollinating species set off a few red alarms for county code inspectors. They are just doing their job when they chop down your beautifully planted pollinator patch and leave you bee-less and with a bill. This is because some species are seen as a fire hazard or are noted as “noxious weeds.” The city is changing their outlook on this code and is now acknowledging the use of pollinators as a horticultural improvement to your property. They do however, want to see that your garden is carefully planned. A site plan will help convince officers that the patch they see as “weeds” is actually an intentionally planted, cultivated, and cared for pollinator garden.

What Is It: A site plan is a document that details improvement specifications through drawing. It is a graphic representation of the buildings, parking, drives, landscaping, etc. of a development project. In terms of pollinator gardens, it should be detailed with specifications such as species and size. The links below will give you the tools to build your own personal site plan and cater it to your specific garden and its needs. If you receive a complaint that your garden is taller than 12 inches, you should call the Code Enforcement Division at 614-645-2202 and explain that your garden is intentionally cultivated and that you have a site plan.

Site Plan Instructions

Site Plan Building Tool