Greenspace Planning for the Lower Olentangy Watershed

 

Greenspace Plan for the Lower Olentangy Watershed

FLOW and our project partners are working to create detailed maps of the greenspace and openspace in our watershed.  Thanks to a Columbus Foundation grant, FLOW’s greenspace project is underway.  We are creating maps that show current greenspace preservation in the Olentangy watershed. This will include conservation easements, parks, areas preserved by private landowners, and other natural spaces that have been specifically set aside for preservation.

The Olentangy River and valley is well recognized locally and beyond for its significance. While notable efforts have occurred over time in preserving it, development continues to diminish its grandness and vitality. The more comprehensive mapping funded by the Columbus Foundation will acknowledge the notable efforts of many to date, as well as indicate possibilities to further the preservation of the stream and valley. Presently there is no one data source that maps all the known natural green spaces.

FLOW’s partner organizations are Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Delaware County Regional Planning Commission, Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. They will work with the general public, public jurisdictions, and environmental organizations. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) will be used for mapping known preserved green spaces, as well as lack of preservation connectivity, and potential future linkages.

We Did It! The Bridge to Cranbrook Elementary

Together we raised $7800 to build a bridge to Cranbrook Elementary in partnership with The Columbus Foundation. These funds combined with the funds that were already raised will be enough to build the bridge.

Thank you to all of our generous donors for supporting this project. It means so much to the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) and the Cranbrook Community. Now we can get ready to break ground on the pedestrian bridge over Slyh Run, reconnecting the surrounding neighborhood to Cranbrook Elementary School and a 10-acre outdoor classroom of restored woods and prairie. We will be providing more information about the project as the plans start coming together!

We are better together!

Nature’s Gliders: Flying Squirrels

Flying Squirrel in flight to bird feeder.

Flying to bird feeder. Photo courtesy of Gregory Turner, USDA

Nature’s Gliders: Flying Squirrels

Free Public Meeting May 7 at 7 p.m.
Please note new location:
Columbus Metropolitan Library – Northside Branch, 1423 N. High Street, Columbus, OH
Please join us for this free public presentation and discussion.
OSU Extension Wildlife Program Specialist Marne A. Titchenell will introduce us to the life and habitat of the flying squirrel and other Ohio squirrels. Attendees will learn how to attract flying squirrels to their backyards, as well as tips and plans for constructing and mounting flying squirrel nest boxes.

Sponsored by Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed

 

Attracting Wildlife to Your Property

Attracting Wildlife

Emilee R. Hardesty, Private Lands Biologist with Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife, discussed changes you can make to attract pollinators to your yard spoke at the March 2017 FLOW public meeting. Many pollinators are in decline, but there are simple things you can do at home to make your yard a friendly place for pollinators. Slides from her presentation are at the link above.

Where and How to Fish the Olentangy River

Fishing the Olentangy Slides

Central Ohio native Michael Merz has been fishing since he was 8 years old. His mantra is “Think globally, fish locally!” A former officer of Ohio Smallmouth Alliance, Michael is a Wastewater Pretreatment Specialist for Columbus, where he performs Ohio EPA Stormwater and Wastewater compliance inspections within the city.
On April 2 Michael discussed where, how and why everyone in Columbus should fish the lower Olentangy River. The link above shows the slides Michael used. The topics include locating fish, “gradient controls”, dam removal projects and habitat improvement efforts, available species and distribution, inexpensive tackle setups and fishing from canoes/kayaks.

Better Together: A Bridge to Cranbrook Elementary

                                        

We’re Almost There! 

In the next 4 weeks we are hoping to fund this year long project to connect a community! Your gift will install a 52-foot-long fiberglass pedestrian bridge over Slyh Run, reconnecting the surrounding neighborhood to Cranbrook Elementary School and a 10-acre outdoor classroom of restored woods and prairie. Teachers, students, and families are ready to utilize the woods, stream, and prairie for their outdoor education laboratory and as a safe route to school. Gifts and grants to this project have already raised $35,000 toward a $43,000 goal! Help us close the gap and build a bridge to Cranbrook Elementary! Click here to donate now or text B11442 to 614-230-0347 to link directly to Columbus Foundation’s giving platform!

 

 

Webster Park History

Jeff Caswell of Friends of Webster Park

by Lucy Caswell

The area now known as the Webster Park subdivision was sold to Amason Webster (not “Amazon,” despite the street name) by the Rathbone heirs on May 29, 1846.  Webster’s daughter Orell inherited the land upon his death in 1900.  In 1909 she and her husband Lewis Legg subdivided the land, and the initial plat shows “Webster Park” at the 1.8 acre site now bounded by North Delta Drive, East Delta Drive, Webster Park Avenue and Olentangy Boulevard (the entire subdivision runs from High Street to Olentangy Boulevard, and from Erie Road to the edge of Whetstone Park).  

The City Bulletin of May 8, 1926 records the transfer of this park plot to the city: ”Whereas, the tract…has been preserved in its natural state and protected as a wild bird asylum and wild flower preserve and it is well suited and adapted for such purposes…the same is hereby set aside…as a wild bird asylum and wild flower preserve.   …The superintendent of parks…is hereby directed to maintain and protect the same as nearly as possible in its native state…”  Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is the city’s administrative unit responsible for Webster Park today.

The provision that the park must be maintained in its “native state” means that, insofar as possible, it should be left alone to allow the native species to follow their natural progression.  For example, naturally fallen trees in Webster Park remain where they land, to decay and provide shelter for small animals.  The city must provide special permission before any plants can be removed from or added to the park.  

For many years, neighbors kept the park litter-free by picking up refuse when they saw it and by organizing occasional clean-up days within the park.  In recent years, growth of invasive plants such as euonymus (wintercreeper), English ivy, Asian honeysuckles, and garlic mustard changed the ecosystem of the park significantly.   As a result, the volunteer group Friends of Webster Park was organized in 2005 to remove invasive plants under the supervision of the Recreation and Parks Department, and generally to protect and care for this natural area.  In 2014 the city’s Nature Preserve Advisory Council voted to name Webster Park as a Nature Preserve.

In the years since the Friends began work, the park has seen a resurgence of wildflowers that had been smothered by the groundcovers, many trees have been saved from damage by removing invasive vines, and the native bushes are thriving with less competition from honeysuckle.  One of the park’s outstanding features is the wetland on its west end, unique because it hosts one of Ohio’s very few stands of skunk cabbage.