Spring Field Day at Sawmill Wetlands is April 15


April 15, 2023, 10am-noon

Come and join us to observe life awakening in early spring!

As the seasonal wetland fills with spring rain, many small creatures emerge in the temporary water. Their life cycle depends on the coming and going of water. We will find small insect larvae and tiny crustaceans including bright red daphnia, copepods and ostracods. We hope to see the beautiful but elusive fairy shrimp. Many larger animals such as amphibians and birds depend on these small creatures for food.
As it warms up, the forest floor also abounds with spring wildflowers: bloodroot, cut-leaved toothwort, violets, wild ginger, mayapple, trout lilies, Jacob’s ladder and wild geranium are all seen at Sawmill Wetlands. Sawmill Wetlands is also home to many birds, and several species nest here.
This is an event for the whole family. We will have tables with microscopes so you can get a close-up view of the small animals and guides to show you the different wildflowers. We also have several permanent displays. Organized by: Friends of Sawmill Wetlands (Facebook)
ODNR: Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area, 2650 Sawmill Place Blvd, Columbus

March 22 is World Water Day!

Happy World Water Day 💦
This day was adopted by the UN in December 1992. It’s a day to talk about the importance of fresh water. That’s really important to us as well! Here are five ways you can help your local watershed!

Help the watershed by reducing your lawn! 40% of the Olentangy Watershed is made up of lawns. If everyone reduced their lawn to plant native trees & plants there would be less mowing, an increase in wildlife habitat and diversity, reduced water usage, and reduced flooding. It also looks beautiful! It’s a win-win situation.

Help the watershed by making sure Only Rain Down the Drain! 💦

Reduce your use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. These chemicals are often washed from your grass and plants into the nearest storm drain, where they will eventually end up in the river and harm wildlife, pollute drinking water and cause algae blooms.

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio contracts with a local company to safely dispose of household hazardous waste (HHW) such as chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, batteries, and more. Visit @swaco_green for information on what items are accepted and HHW drop off locations. Never dump chemicals or fertilizers down the storm drain.

Another way to make sure “Only Rain Down the Drain” is by adopting a storm drain. Find a nearby storm drain and keep it free of trash, leaves, and sticks. This prevents clogs at the storm drain, which reduces the chance of street flooding, basement back-ups and damage to property. 

One way to help the watershed is to pick up litter. The litter you see while out on a walk or driving around is very likely to end up in our rivers and streams. When taking a walk, take along a bag and pick up the trash you see. If everyone did this we’d find a lot less in our waterways.

We often find plastic water bottles, takeout containers, straws, aluminum cans, cups, cigarette butts, snack bags and masks at our cleanups

Bradford Pear, Winter Creeper and Amur Honeysuckle. What do these three have in common? They’re all invasive non-native species of plants that you can see all over Ohio. These species were introduced to the area and quickly took over. Why is it important to remove them? We remove invasive plants because they don’t offer good food or habitat for local wildlife. They also crowd out the native plants, shrubs and flowers that are greatly beneficial to the wildlife.

If you have a hedge of non-native honeysuckle in your backyard or a Bradford pear we ask that you’d consider cutting it down and planting a native tree or shrub.

If you have winter creeper taking over a tree please cut the winter creeper at the base of the tree. Winter Creeper can cause your tree to lose limbs and die over time.

FLOW will have two opportunities coming up later this year to purchase native plants for your yard. Franklin Soil & Water Conservation District also has a sale going on through the March 26th on Spring native plants and trees. (https://www.franklinswcd.org/tree-and-plant-sale


Help the watershed by planting native plants and trees. Native plants and trees not only provide food and habitat for our wildlife friends, but their extensive roots also absorb rainwater that otherwise might cause flooding.

FLOW has many upcoming opportunities to volunteer to plant trees and help at one of our tree nurseries. 


A year-end message from the president

As the year is ending we have been reflecting on what an amazing year 2022 has been. Together we have done so much to help the Lower Olentangy watershed. Over 3,384 volunteer hours have been spent cleaning up trash, planting trees, maintaining pollinator gardens, monitoring the tributaries of the Olentangy River, removing honeysuckle and other invasive plants and so much more. We couldn’t do this work without your time and financial support. Thank you!!!

Thank you for reading this special letter from FLOW Board President, Kelly Thiel:

This fall, on a beautiful afternoon, I took a walk along the Olentangy trail just south of Henderson Road. What used to be open grassy fields next to Whetstone High School is now planted with a row of native trees, ready to provide years of shade to trail users and an improved ecosystem for the area. This successful project is just one of many that FLOW made possible this year. Our grant writers are always on the lookout for opportunities to bring dollars to our communities and improve the watershed for all of its inhabitants. These trees were obtained through a grant FLOW received and planted by FLOW volunteers. Our hope is that everyone who passes by these trees benefits from their proven ability to clean the air, improve the soil, increase wildlife habitat, filter storm water and regulate the surrounding temperature.

In order to continue to make a difference we rely on the support of generous individuals and businesses in our community. If you have been to a FLOW event in the last couple of years then you are likely familiar with our fabulous event coordinator. With your support we can keep this position filled, keep our tools stored, and the lights on in our small office. We depend on our community recognizing the value of a healthy watershed to continue to fund the work we do.

In these days of increasing costs for everything from groceries to goods and services my family has been using the outdoors as free entertainment and a benefit to our mental health. It can be easy to take our green spaces for granted and ignore that Columbus is one of the fastest growing heat islands; increased development will put a strain on our streams and tributaries. FLOW remains focused on our mission to maintain the value of one of the community’s most precious assets–The Olentangy River. We need your help to continue this mission and meet the environmental challenges ahead.

If you have donated to FLOW in the past, THANK YOU! Our donors and volunteers make FLOW the great organization it is today. We hope that you’ll consider becoming a member of FLOW. You can give a one time gift or we hope you’ll consider giving as a monthly supporter. Your tax-deductible donation will help keep the Olentangy River safe, clean, and healthy for generations to enjoy in the decades to come. Visit the support page on this website for ways to donate.







DEADLINE EXTENDED! FLOW is seeking Central Ohio artists to turn storm drains into public art! 

FLOW is excited to use public art as a tool for storm drain education. We hope to connect the local businesses, residents and general public to more education on storm drains. We want the art to help explain that what goes down the storm drains exits directly into the Olentangy River.

Artists need to be 18 years old or have parental permission. Artists must demonstrate in their application that they have the ability to complete the project.

Round One: Artists submit an application and photos showing 5 different example(s) of current artwork. Deadline: midnight, October 30, 2022.

Thirty (30) artists will be selected and asked to submit artwork specifically for the storm drain.

Round Two: Artists chosen in Round One submit their storm drain design. Deadline for submission: TBD. Artists are paid $50 for their design.

Round Three – final artists’ selection: Twenty (20) artists will be selected and will receive $250 for painting their storm drain mural on a designated storm drain. 

Artists will paint their final design in the spring of 2023, date(s) to be determined.

A panel of community members from FLOW, the University District Organization and the Short North Alliance will select the finalists at each stage.

All artists will be assigned a specific storm drain. Photo, location and storm drain dimensions will be given to artists. Storm drains are in high traffic areas along High Street between the Short North and North Campus area. Each storm drain will be marked so artists do not exceed the storm drain art boundaries. FLOW will have an art storm drain tour on their website as well as create publicity so residents can experience the different artwork and get more information about individual artists.

FLOW volunteers will be available to answer questions and provide support during the whole process. All artists will need to sign a waiver for the painting event. Traffic cones and safety vests will be provided. Artists are allowed to bring an assistant on the day of painting.

By participating, artists are giving FLOW permission to use pictures of the chosen artist’s artwork on social media, FLOW’s website, the project report and any other outlets.

The storm drain areas will be power washed before painting day. Pain and mixing containers will be provided. Artists will need to bring their own paint brushes and any additional supplies they want. Once done the art will be sealed and an anti-graffiti coat applied.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
FLOW is committed to creating and promoting an equitable, diverse and inclusive culture across in their selection process.


Our theme this year is:
The Olentangy River starts here! Only rain down the drain!

Artwork should connect the public to the Olentangy River. You may be surprised to know that the storm drain empties directly into the Olentangy River and we are trying to bring attention to the fact that what goes down the drain goes to the river.


  • The physical storm drain must be incorporated into the painting.
  • The artwork must contain no business logos, brands, trademarks or illegal activities depicted.
  • All artwork must be public friendly.


  • Download and fill out this application and submit it with 5 different examples of current work to
    info@olentangywatershed.org by midnight, October 30, 2022. FLOW will notify the 30 selected artists of their acceptance to Round 2 by October 21


Want some inspiration? Check out the map and samples of storm drain art created in Goshen, Indiana!

Photo of storm drain with fish art: City of Dayton Department of Water / Art: Laura and Michael Huff.

FLOW Fall Forb Fundraiser!

We’re excited to be partnering with Riverside Native Perennials on a Fall Forb Fundraiser. This will be a great way to get some native plants for pollinators and migrating insects that are looking for fall flowers! Riverside Native Perennials is opening up their whole inventory to FLOW supporters with 40% of the proceeds coming back to FLOW.
To order go to riversidenativeperennials.com/ffff and use promo code FLOW.
All plants will need to be picked up on Saturday, September 24th from 12pm-3pm at the Sawmill Wetlands Education Area (2650 Sawmill Place Blvd., Columbus OH 43235)
Thank you for your support!

FSWCD Backyard Conservation Class – June 28 at Whetstone Library

Help be part of the solution to stormwater pollution! By taking the online course or attending an in-person (free) 90 minute workshop on June 28th at 6:30 – 8:00 PM at Whetstone Library, you can get a rebate for purchasing a rain barrel, compost bin or native plants. Learn more about how what we do in our yards affects clean water and participate in the rebate program at CommunityBackyards.org. The class is a program of Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District.

Location: Columbus Metropolitan Library, Whetstone Branch, 3909 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

The class will also be held Wed., June 22 at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W Whittier St, Columbus, OH 43215

Video to learn more: