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.

 

 

 

 

 

STORM DRAIN ART CONTEST DEADLINE EXTENDED

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

ABOUT THE PROJECT:
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.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
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.

TIMELINE:
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.

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

WHERE WILL THE ART GO?
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.

WHAT SUPPORT WILL BE GIVEN TO THE 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.


DESIGNING YOUR ARTWORK:

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.

STORM DRAIN DESIGNS MUST ALSO ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:

  • 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.

ROUND 1 CHECKLIST:

  • 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

DOWNLOAD APPLICATION FOR ROUND 1 HERE

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.

Be a FLOW citizen scientist!

You can be a FLOW citizen scientist with just your smart phone and an iNaturalist account!

iNaturalist observations allow anyone to identify and share their observations of living things – animals, plants, fungi, and more.

We have added the Lower Olentangy Watershed as a “place” in iNaturalist, so any of your observations with coordinates within the watershed will automatically appear under that listing, helping us better determine the diversity of species in the watershed. It doesn’t have to be an unusual or rare species to be of interest.

You can search for Lower Olentangy Watershed or even Olentangy and see what wonders your watershed holds!

Upload your nature photo(s) to your iNaturalist account (it’s free!) and the site will offer suggestions to help you identify what you are looking at, and other users actively reach out and help confirm many of your identifications. The more detailed the photo the better, and you can add multiple photos of the same plant or animal.

Garlic Mustard: A Destructive Yet Delectable Invasive

What is it?

Garlic mustard photo

Young garlic mustard. Photo from nps.gov.

You probably know garlic mustard even if you don’t know you know it. Odds are, it has invaded forest areas near you as it has much of the midwest. Garlic mustard, Jack-In-the-Bush, or Alliaria petiolata is a non-native understory invasive plant in North America. Garlic mustard was brought to the Americas nearly two hundred years ago from Europe as a medicinal and culinary herb. Today, it can be found in nearly every county of Ohio.

Crushed garlic mustard leaves have a distinct garlic-y smell, giving the plant one of its names. Its scent is one way to identify the plant. Otherwise, garlic mustard is a biennial (it has a two-year life cycle) and looks different based on its life stage. First-year garlic mustard grows in rosettes close to the ground. Young leaves are round or have kidney shapes and often have purple stems. In its second year, garlic mustard is easier to identify and grows up to three or four feet. It has triangular, heart-shaped leaves with toothed edges. Garlic mustard’s flower is white and four-petaled. To learn more, check out this online resource from the Ohio Invasive Plants Council.

Why is it a problem?

Non-natives follow the “Tens Rule,” meaning that one in ten non-native species will become established in their new environment, but only one in ten of those established species will become invasive. Those few invasive species pack a big punch. Like all non-native invasives, garlic mustard wreaks havoc by out-competing native plants in foreign locations with no natural controls. For instance, our growing deer population does not eat garlic mustard because deer did not evolve and adapt to eat it. This means native understory plants are eaten by deer when garlic mustard continues to spread. Native food-webs and ecosystems are thrown out of balance by invasives like garlic mustard.

Garlic mustard flower

Mature garlic mustard. Photo from nps.gov.

One garlic mustard plant can release thousands of seeds that will remain viable in the environment for up to seven years. This makes it easier for garlic mustard to spread and overwhelm an area, decreasing its biodiversity and health. Most commonly, the plant thrives in forest and edge habitats. Garlic mustard sprouts earlier in the spring than most native species. When native species eventually emerge, garlic mustard blocks sunlight making it more difficult for natives like our beautiful wildflowers to grow. Garlic mustard is particularly damaging because it secretes a compound called sinigrin into the soil that destroys fungal networks that support native species. This makes it even more difficult for resident native plants to thwart the invasive and lessens native plant’s biotic resistance.

Garlic mustard has transformed our natural ecosystems. It can out-compete tree seedlings which halts the recovery of forests. Garlic mustard alters the habitat of mollusks and salamanders, threatening their survival. The West Virginia White Butterfly is particularly endangered by garlic mustard. The butterfly lays its eggs on the plant because it secretes chemicals similar to the butterfly’s host plants. In reality, this is just a disguise as garlic mustard is toxic to the butterfly.

What to do about it?

Removing garlic mustard requires time and vigilance. Because garlic mustard seeds last in the environment, it can take nearly seven years to exhaust the seed bank. Nonetheless, we can all try to fight back against this invasive plant. Garlic mustard can be mechanically removed via pulling and cutting in your yard and local areas. Some chemical solutions exist and even biological controls are being explored. Here, we will focus on mechanical controls. To pull garlic mustard, pull from the base of the stem to remove the entire root system. Try to pull the weed before it seeds. In large infestations, it may be more manageable to cut garlic mustard close to the ground. Either way, be sure to bag and throw out your pulled or cut plants rather than composting them or leaving them at the site, as this will only continue to spread the seeds.

garlic mustard pesto

Garlic Mustard Pesto. Photo by Yossy Arefi. https://food52.com/recipes/28281-garlic-mustard-pesto

Or, rather than sending the weeds to a landfill, you can eat them as the Europeans intended! Garlic mustard is a tasty and nutritious plant that is an excellent source of vitamin C. Garlic mustard can be added to salads, made into pesto, and much more. You can find a collection of various recipes here. Garlic mustard should be harvested when young because older plants are more bitter and contain cyanide so therefore must be cooked thoroughly. Garlic mustard shoots are similar to garlic scapes and snap peas while the plant’s roots taste like horseradish. To quote the USDA, let’s eat it to beat it!

This spring, an Americorps team joining FLOW will be removing garlic mustard from the Sawmill Wetlands, the Stratford Ecological Preserve, and the Methodist Theological School of Ohio to combat the spread of the invasive non-native species in the Olentangy watershed. To learn about other invasive species in Ohio and what is being done to control them, check out FLOW’s website or the Ohio Invasive Plants Council’s website.

Cover photo: FLOW volunteer pulling garlic mustard at Sawmill Wetlands (pre-COVID). 

FLOW Autumn 2020 Volunteer: Lindalee Brownstein

Lindalee has been a FLOW volunteer since 2011. She has served on the board, has volunteered for several projects and has been the newsletter editor for the past 5 years. Linda Lee is also the Arbor Chairman for Old Beechwold, which has a ravine, creek, and woodlands and is a master gardener with a special interest in native plants and woodlands.
Lindalee has a lifelong interest in nature, something learned from her father. As a child, her best toy was the creek behind her house.
Lindalee also volunteers for Gethsemane Lutheran Church helping the elderly and families in need.
We so appreciate all the work Lindalee has done with FLOW and the watershed.

May Volunteer of the Month: Joe Bevan

Our volunteer for the month of May is Joe Bevan!

Joe started volunteering with FLOW senior year of high school in the Water Quality Monitoring Program.  He has continued to volunteer with FLOW on many different projects throughout the years. Joe was critical in assisting FLOW with creating the Lower Olentangy Greenspace Plan.

Joe says he volunteers with FLOW for the trees and for the bugs and especially for the people.  If you have had the honor of volunteering with Joe, you know his drive to complete a task, as well as his sense of humor, keeps one motivated when planting hundreds of trees in one morning!

Joe has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from The Ohio State University and works at AEP as a GIS Specialist.  

FLOW could not accomplish all we do without great volunteers like Joe!