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.

Grow with the FLOW

 

One of the many ways we are aiming to enhance the health of the Olentangy Watershed is through campaigning for the planting of trees. Our goal is to partner with the Olentangy Watershed community and have everyone planting and caring for trees. We will do this by providing education, ensuring you live in the Olentangy Watershed, and offering free native trees and shrubs. Please go to the registration page by clicking here or by clicking “Grow with the FLOW” above. Registration is open through October 20th.

      

An great option for Columbus Residents living in Columbus is Branch Out’s Tree Give away on September 30th! Check out the link below!

Sunny 95 Adopt-a-Pond Success!

~Written by Bob Fitchko

img_4780It 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.

img_3061 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.

img_2492Mutual 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.

img_5521In 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.

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Danielle and Sarah planting pond plants

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Bob delivering plants to Lisa for planting

img_2596In 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.

img_2616                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

Trees and Pond Plants making a difference at Sunny 95 Pond in Upper Arlington

 

 

Ackerman Ponds Transformation

ackermanpondThe 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.