Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) was presented the Green Collaborative Achievement Award at the annual Summit on Sustainability held by the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). The Green Collaborative Achievement Award recognizes a group of entities or individuals who have shown effectiveness in producing environmental accomplishments through a collaborative effort. FLOW and their partners have created a foundation of success for several on-going and new initiatives that support the fulfillment of FLOW’s mission – to keep the Olentangy River and its tributaries clean and safe for all to enjoy, through public education, volunteer activities, and coordination with local decision makers.
Programs like the Adopt-A-Pond or FLOW’s Stream Quality Monitoring (SQM) initiative are all aimed at improving water quality, increasing the health of our watersheds, and offering different pathways for citizen watershed stewardship. On-going initiatives for the education and advocacy for installing rain barrels, rain gardens, and restoring the tributaries and river corridors of the lower Olentangy through invasive species removal, litter clean-ups, and native plantings are also entrenched in the spirit of collaboration.”
FLOW has joined Branch Out Columbus, a citywide partnership to plant 300,000 trees by 2020.
Mayor Michael B. Coleman and Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther joined the Weinland Park community, FLOW and more than 20 other non-profit organizations to announce the start of the community wide effort to plant 300,000 trees and a pilot program to develop an urban tree nursery. The newly planted trees will be part of an effort to increase the city’s urban tree canopy.
“The City of Columbus is committed to a 27% tree canopy by 2020, but we cannot do it alone.” said Mayor Coleman. “That is why we are branching out by creating the “Branch Out Columbus” campaign calling for community wide action.” Through the Recreation & Parks Foundation, the City has set up a fund at the Columbus Foundation where businesses and residents can donate money towards the planting of trees in the community. “Trees are an important part of improving the quality of life in Columbus,” said Council President Ginther. “From cleaning the air and water to improving property values and fighting greenhouse gases, trees make Columbus a great place to live and work.”
The urban tree canopy in Columbus is currently estimated to cover 22% of the land (31,171 acres), according to a recent assessment led by the Columbus Recreation & Parks Division of Forestry and prepared by consultant, Plan-It-Geo. These trees provide a multitude of economic, environmental, and social benefits, conservatively valued at more than $12.1 million annually, according to the study.
Mayor Coleman and residents of the Weinland Park neighborhood also announced a pilot program for an urban tree nursery. The vacant land, owned by the City of Columbus’ Land Bank and Campus Partners, on 8th Avenue near 5th Avenue will be the city’s first Urban Tree Nursery. The vision is for the nursery to be a place where trees can grow to be planted in the neighborhood and where residents can learn about the importance of trees and how to properly care for them. The goal is to have at least four urban tree nurseries established in target neighborhoods by the year 2020.
An executive order will be prepared to preserve and restore trees on all city led construction projects. To help residents on private property, the City will pay up to a $50 rebate to plant native trees on their property while supplies last (currently there are enough funds for approximately 400 trees). The program is part of the Columbus GreenSpot Backyard Conservation Program .
For more information about the Branch Out Columbus- 300,000 trees by 2020 campaign, and to see a copy of the Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, please visit www.columbus.gov/branchout .
Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed received a Conservation Stewardship Award from the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District. FLOW was recognized for its enthusiasm and efforts toward promoting and improving water quality and stream life in Franklin County.
Adena Brook in Clintonville is the site of a pilot project by the City of Columbus to investigate “the best method for eliminating the sanitary sewer overflow into Adena Brook in Whetstone Park.” The goal is to determine the best methods to reduce the amount of rain water that makes its way into the sanitary sewer system, causing the overflows. In addition, the city will be investigating green infrastructure options for updating its stormwater system. The goal of these updates is to clean and reduce the stormwater flow and help to protect our ravines and streams.
“Open House Events” are scheduled to provide a general overview about the project. The next open house will be held at Whetstone Shelter House 6 – 8 p.m. on June 29, 2015. Six additional neighborhood meetings will be held in July to provide specific information on the green infrastructure planned for specific streets.
For more information please visit the City of Columbus website for the Clintonville area pilot project, or view a short video about Blueprint Columbus.
On April 2, 2015, the Clintonville Area Commission recognized the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed for “outstanding service, leadership, and contributions to protecting the Olentangy River and surrounding lands.”
The Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed appreciates and is honored by this recognition from the Clintonville Area Commission. In addition, FLOW would like to thank the residents of Clintonville for their incredible support, participation and assistance in protecting our watershed.
FLOW has taken a step to protect its long-term financial security by setting up a $25,000 endowment fund with Columbus Foundation.
FLOW Treasurer Brian Ogle with Lisa Jolley of Columbus Foundation and FLOW Chair Gretchen Farnung met to establish the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed Fund on May 8, 2014.
FLOW’s income and expenses have fluctuated over the past few years, but success with grants and corporate donations and a continued determination to cut expenses helped to build a nest egg to invest in Columbus Foundation Green Funds. When needed, FLOW can draw on this investment. It is hoped that the endowment may encourage interest from larger philanthropic groups. The Fund will let FLOW earn a higher return than typical bank accounts and help achieve the mission of a clean and safe Olentangy River for all to enjoy.