Greenspace Planning for the Lower Olentangy Watershed

Greenspace Public Meeting –  Thursday August, 9 (1:00pm – 2:30pm)

Del-Co Water Co Inc, 6658 Olentangy River Rd, Delaware, OH 43015

We have been working with our project partners to create more detailed maps of the greenspace and openspace in our watershed. Come and take a look at the first round of maps, learn more about the greenspace project, and answer a brief survey to help us understand the importance of greenspace to our members 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.

Area property owners will be invited to public meetings to receive information and give input. “The ripple effect of engaging people in the public process of preservation is huge,” notes Tom Ryther, FLOW member and project volunteer. “What is greenspace and why and how do we acquire it, where is it and how is it used? This includes little pockets of natural greenspace that are part of subdivisions’ homeowners’ associations, which will be included with those participating in the mapping and planning process”.

The expected further population growth here in Central Ohio and the Olentangy watershed gives FLOW this incentive to strengthen the preservation of this recognized and cherished landscape, now a historical remnant of that landscape that existed prior to contemporary growth.

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


FLOW Over – Take Over

What better way to spend a spring Saturday than enjoying nature and then downing a great local brew?  Explore the many faces of Columbus’s Clinton-Como Park, followed by some quality local brews, from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, April 28.  Walk along the Olentangy Trail by Weber Rd. in Columbus, and learn about urban parks and the Olentangy River from several representatives of Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed {FLOW). At stations along the bike trail, you can join discussions about bats, wetlands, ecological meadows, and other topics related to the Olentangy River. Learn how a neighborhood came together to transform an empty field into a magnet for people and creatures.

Bike or walk unguided at your own pace and stop by any time between 3 and 5.
Then walk, bike, or drive to Lineage Brewery and Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Company to enjoy great local beer made from great water, with proceeds going to Friends of the lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW).

  • Lineage Brewing – 2971 N. High St. Columbus, OH 43202
  • Wolf’s Ridge Brewing – 215 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215

This event is sponsored by FLOW, which is celebrating 20 years of cleaning up the Olentangy River.  Participants in the Riverwalk are encouraged to share their experience using #FLOWOver on social media.
Contact: Lisa Daris, Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) Secretary, 614.421.8187

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.