~Written by Bob Fitchko
It was mid-October 2016 and a light fog was giving way to a crisp, clear autumn morning at the Sunny 95 Park and Pond in Upper Arlington, Ohio. The daybreak was welcomed by a transient contingent of neighbors, joggers and dog-walkers. A flock of Mallards casually cruised the pond. A frisky canine viewed the waterfowl intruders. The ducks and the furry, four-footer had a vocal exchange on the legal, though non-binding, water rights to the pond. The debate was ruled a draw. No harm, no “fowl”. The avian delegation flew off; the domesticated mammal strutted away with its owner. A representative snapshot of activity surrounding a local pond in the lower Olentangy watershed. All creatures, large and small, human and not, can enjoy and benefit from a healthy aquatic environment.
The Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) has grant funding (designated the Adopt-A-Pond program) thanks to a generous grant from LUSH Cosmetics. This program will help to improve the habitat and aesthetics of local ponds through the planting of native (soil stabilizing) plants. Multiple benefits of planting native vegetation include: increase the health of the Olentangy watershed, increase the variety of plants and birds around the pond, support native pollinators, provide food and habitat for butterflies and moths, provide more color and blooms, and reduce bank erosion and the rate of pond sediment fill.
The Sunny 95 Pond is located in the lower Olentangy watershed and was selected as a site to be included in FLOWs Adopt-A-Pond Grant program. The pond is a one-third acre storm water retention pond centrally located within the 15-acre Sunny 95 Park development. The park is located at the intersection of Windham Road and Carriage Hill Lane in Upper Arlington (UA). The park is a result of a decade-past UA master development plan resulting in the demolition of Langston Park and construction of multiple family-oriented facilities at the site. Completion of the new park area was opened to the public in 2010.
In early fall 2016, Laura Fay, FLOW Science Committee Chairman, and Steve Cothrel, Superintendent of Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department, The City of Upper Arlington, met on-site at Sunny 95 Park to discuss possible water quality enhancements to the Sunny 95 Pond. The pond shoreline currently had a variety of plants and tall ornamental grasses around its banks. However, a central fountain and resulting small wave action causes noticeable scouring and bank erosion. Scouring is especially noted along the eastern edge of the pond, primarily due to the prevailing westerly-southwesterly winds common in central Ohio. In addition, professional services for algae control and periodic dredging is part of planned maintenance for the pond in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
Mutual agreement was made by Laura and Steve to add an additional variety of native aquatic plants to the pond shoreline and to plant several native trees just beyond the pond landscape. Lisa Metcalf, Horticulturist, Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department, The City of Upper Arlington, coordinated the selection and planting of plants and trees.
In mid-October, a trio of FLOW members and two staffers from The City of Upper Arlington, Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department, gathered at the Sunny 95 Pond to plant a variety of indigenous aquatic plants. Twenty-six native flora were selected and delivered on site by Gale Martin, Natives in Harmony, Marango, Ohio. The list of botanicals included:
Asclepias incarnata (red/swamp milkweed), Eupatoriadelphius maculates (spotted joe pye), Hibiscus mosheutos (crimson-eyed rose mallow), Mimulus ringens (monkey flower), and Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush). With shovels in hand, the new vegetation was planted at four different locations around the pond shoreline.
Danielle and Sarah planting pond plants
Bob delivering plants to Lisa for planting
In late-October, FLOW and UA Parks and Recreation Department staff met again. This time the group convened to add several trees to the park landscape just southwest of Sunny 95 Pond. Three native trees were selected from Willoway Nurseries (aka Premier Plant Solutions): Betula nigra (river birch), Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak), and Quercus rubra (northernred oak). The two oaks had a sturdy 3-4 inch caliper trunk thickness. The river birch exhibited multiple 1-2 inch trunks from its base root ball. The trio of trees was 12-15 feet in height. With strong mind and body, holes were dug, tree root balls set in place, and surrounding rings of mulch spread. As the trees flourish and grow, they should provide additional shade to the pond.
Special thanks to FLOW members Laura, Danielle, Bob and UA Parks & Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department personnel Lisa, Sarah, Scott, Veronica, and Jim. All contributed mightily in the joint effort to support FLOWs Adopt-A-Pond project and planting of the aquatics and trees at the Sunny 95 Pond.
To date, the FLOW Adopt-A-Pond grant program has enhanced water quality and public awareness for multiple ponds in the lower Olentangy watershed. The Sunny 95 Pond project is one of the latest. FLOW has limited additional funding for this program and has recently reached out to local pond owners. The non-profit is seeking several additional participants interested in partnering with FLOW to add nature’s beauty and its benefits to their aquatic ecosystems.
Trees and Pond Plants making a difference at Sunny 95 Pond in Upper Arlington
This summer, Ohio residents will be living among the types of mosquitos that spread Zika and West Nile viruses.
Zika has been linked to serious birth defects. It is not known whether Zika will arrive in Ohio this year, although the mosquitos that spread it are expected to be here.
West Nile often has mild or no symptoms, but it can cause neurological damage in some individuals.
You can conduct your war against these unwelcome attackers by denying them the standing water they need to reproduce. This is by far the most effective way to reduce the number of mosquitos.
If you live in the City of Columbus and got a rain barrel through Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District’s GreenSpot program, you can get free rain barrel water treatment through Columbus. You should be contacted within a few weeks and offered 180-day treatment for your rain barrel. If you are not contacted, you can check your eligibility by calling 614-645-6153 or emailing email@example.com.
You can also buy Mosquito Dunks, Mosquito Bits, or similar products that will interrupt the mosquito life cycle. These are harmless naturally-occurring bacteria.
In the absence of these controls, use up the water in your rain barrel at least once a week. It takes 7-10 days for the eggs to become mature mosquitos.
You have a couple of options for your pond:
• Koi are too large to eat mosquito larvae, but goldfish and guppies will do the job and will get along well with your other fish.
• Mosquitos require shallow or still water, so consider adding a waterfall or fountain.
• Use Mosquito Dunks, Mosquito Bits, or similar products.
Empty the following at least once a week:
• pet water bowls
• flowerpot saucers
• discarded tires
• pool covers
• trash cans
The Ackerman Ponds show how quickly a goose-infested area can be turned into a destination for butterflies and honey bees. Constructed in 2010-2011, the two grass and stone ponds were part of the storm water facilities for the Ohio State University’s Woody Hayes Athletic Complex. The stone slows the storm water flow, prevents erosion, and encourages particles to settle out of the water.
Though designed to be dry between rains, the Ackerman Ponds were often full of water due to a persistent leak from an adjacent water main. This submerged and distressed the lawn grasses and became a nesting area for Canada geese. In addition to being a nuisance, Canada geese droppings degraded the retained water. Once the water main was fixed, the water receded and the geese left, but the distressed vegetation had to be addressed.
In 2014, volunteers from Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) and WOSU planted native forbs, grasses, two hackberry trees and one burr oak tree. Ohio State Facilities Operations and Development – Landscape Services planted an additional dozen native trees from the School of Forestry’s greenhouse. These trees included oak, locust, cherry and hickory, among others.
After one year, the native foliage has grown at an impressive rate. In addition, the native perennial flowers have already begun to attract butterflies and honey bees. These ponds continue to provide stormwater retention, and the plants help filter the stormwater and provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.
Thanks to Lush Cosmetics for funding for this exciting project.
FLOW Day at Lucky’s is this Thursday (March 31)!
Make your shopping list and don’t forget to add the trees!
Lucky’s Market has chosen to support the health of the Olentangy Watershed and all its inhabitants and so can you!
All that you have to do to help is go grocery shopping this week at Lucky’s on Thursday, March 31.
Lucky’s will donate 10% to FLOW and we will use those funds to buy trees to plant right here in your watershed. This has got to be the easiest way for you and your family to plant a tree this spring season!
See you at Lucky’s on Thursday!
Long time FLOW member and professional photographer George Anderson has been canoeing and photographing the Olentangy River for some time now. Come join FLOW as he shares his unique view of our river and some of the amazing wildlife that call it home. Be ready to enjoy some wonderful “eye candy” and surprising perspectives of a river most people never see.
We will have a RAFFLE for FLOW t-shirts, a COMPOSTER, and a few other prizes, and we would love for you to participate!
Refreshments and snacks will be provided.
When and Where:
Monday, March 7
7:15 PM – 8:30 PM
Veritas Community Church
345 E 2nd Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43201