The Olentangy Greenspace Plan: First Data Insights

Central Ohio is growing and showing no signs slowing down. Updated projections are for another 600,000 more residents by 2050, increasing our region’s population to 3 million strong. In fact, Delaware County has been the fastest growing county in the state since the turn of the century. Such a prolonged population boom can fuel economic opportunity and optimism, but it also comes with challenges. They makes FLOW’s work on the Lower Olentangy Greenspace Plan all the more pressing.

A recent milestone in the project was the completion of a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) database of the Lower Olentangy watershed. GIS technology allows us to organize layers of information into a unique visualization of the watershed. This can reveal deeper insights, patterns, and relationships that help us make more informed decisions. In a recent presentation to our partners, Ryan Pilewski, Watershed Resource Specialist with the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, revealed some first insights from the recently compiled baseline data.

The initial analysis reveals about 20% of the Lower Olentangy watershed is covered by tree canopy, with substantially lower canopy cover in the highly urbanized areas. Research has shown at least 45% stream side forest cover is required for streams to have a healthy rating of “good”, so it’s something to examine if we want to adequately buffer our streams and rivers to ameliorate the impacts of future development.

Meanwhile the entire watershed is 17% covered by impervious surfaces. This represents the sum of roads, parking lots, sidewalks and rooftops that prevent water from infiltrating the surface and thereby increasing storm water runoff. Resulting problems include increased flooding, higher temperatures, sanitary sewer overflows and decreased stream health. With global climate change increasing the frequency of heavy rainfall events in Columbus and an intensifying urban heat island, it could be time to accelerate greener infrastructure options or even consider removing pavement from sensitive areas.

Only about 9% of the lands in the Lower Olentangy watershed have protected status. These lands include parks, trails, open and green spaces, and conservation easements. Ensuring we have adequate green space is of increasing concern amid the backdrop of strong population growth and development pressures. A growing body of scientific evidence confirms measurable human health benefits from green space. And it goes well beyond the need for healthy rivers and clean water. Natural spaces such as parks, urban forests, streams, and trails improve health, reduce stress, and can move the needle on disease prevention. So investing in green space makes us – and our communities – more resilient.

What can we take from these first data insights? The Lower Olentangy Greenspace Plan project was designed as a proactive planning effort to ensure that we have high quality natural space to protect the Olentangy watershed, as well as enough recreational space for healthy human needs. The metrics can illuminate the value of accurately inventorying our existing natural resources, provide a framework to educate our citizens, and be used as a tool for prioritizing future preservation efforts.

Water Conservation and Sustainability

Water Conservation and Sustainability

Public Meeting
Monday, February 11, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Whetstone Public Library
3909 N. High St. Columbus OH 43214

Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed will host Kent Halloran, from The Ohio State University College of Engineering, to speak on the importance of water conservation. He will provide a variety of strategies and techniques to save water without spending a dime! Topics will include: gardens and xeriscaping, grey water and green roofs.

Kent Halloran serves as a water compliance engineer for OSU, where he researches water, environmental issues, and regulations. He is an instructor and lecturer with OSU’s Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering Department, speaking on topics of water use, sustainability, and pollution prevention. Kent has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from OSU and a Master’s of Engineering in Environmental Systems Engineering from Clemson University.

Kent is also a licensed professional engineer in the states of Ohio & Idaho, and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer with the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. He has over 30 years’ experience in the design, construction, and rehabilitation of potable water, wastewater, and stormwater facilities.

Please join us for this free public presentation hosted by the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW).

Any questions? Please feel free to contact Matt Wolf at info@olentangywatershed.org. Thank you!

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!