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March 2022

Dear Friends of FLOW,

I want to take the time to reach out to our members, both new and longstanding, to thank you for your support of FLOW.  The past couple of years have been like no other, where we were faced with unprecedented challenges and found new ways to operate.  I am so impressed with how our community has rallied and continued to show up to events and participate in watershed activities.  I think a lot of us shared the belief that getting outdoors, into the watershed, was good for our mental state.  It confirmed that our outdoor spaces are important community assets and improving that environment is always a worthwhile endeavor.  

Despite the challenges we faced, we have had an amazingly productive year as we had more total events than ever before!  For the first time in our history we hosted an AmeriCorps volunteer group last spring, and built a bridge over Slyh Run at Cranbrook Elementary School.  New experiences where FLOW brought together diverse groups and partners to improve the watershed and fulfill our commitments. 

This year, FLOW will again offer tree planting events, invasive removals, trash pickups, educational opportunities, and some social functions including our Annual Meeting.  If you are a new member, I encourage you to get out and get involved.  Our events are fun and rewarding and a great way to meet like-minded individuals.  We are fortunate to have a Board that is very involved with FLOW events and our community.  I am excited for what this next year holds and continuing to find opportunities to meet our mission.

Photos courtesy of Ellie Nowels



Our mission is 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.


In 2022 FLOW is looking forward to continued implementation of our Greenspace Plan. We will be working with our partners and volunteers to increase the tree canopy as well as planting native pollinator areas to replace turf grass. We will be participating in educational and service events with community groups throughout the area, including trash cleanups, river celebrations, science day events and meeting with groups who want to get involved with protecting their watershed.


Volunteer Stream Quality Monitors from the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) sampled 12 Olentangy tributaries in 17 locations in 2021. The Cumulative Index Value (CIV) is a score assigned based on the number of different organisms called macroinvertebrates found in these streams. The streams are rated based on the diversity of organisms found that can only live in clean water. The higher the score, the more diverse species were found. Low scores indicate poor water quality and FLOW uses that information to target areas that need improvement.




Thanks to all of FLOW’s watershed partners!

  • Accenture provided generous funding and volunteers for planting trees at the Sawmill Wetlands.
  • The Alliance for Community Trees donated 3,000 individually wrapped redbud seedlings
  • The Methodist Theological School in Ohio hosted our AmeriCorps team. Their generous offer of housing made the AmeriCorps team dream possible.
  • The AmeriCorps Maple 3 NCCC team helped us with numerous greenspace projects in the spring. Thanks to partners Preservation Parks, Stratford Ecological Center, ODNR Scenic Rivers, and DEL-CO for their assistance.
  • AquaDoc employees helped us remove invasive bush honeysuckle from multiple areas in the watershed including a special session that was filmed for the 2021 FLOW video.
  • Altar’d State generously donated money from their Mission Mondays programming!
  • The Columbus Foundation Green Fund provided us a generous grant to support our Greenspace Implementation project!!
  • Thanks to all the donors to The Columbus Foundation Better Together Olentangy River Sweep campaign.
  • Thanks and congratulations to Fred Milan, Ethan Simmons and James Arden Rensel who received the FSWCD Blue Heron Award.
  • DelCo Water generously allowed us access to their land for greenspace improvements.
  • Thanks to Shawn Dougherty and Worthington Parks and Recreation for their partnership.
  • Franklin County Environment Court Clerk and court volunteers provided continued help with invasive removal and other projects.
  • Green Columbus provided hundreds of native seedling trees and shrubs and pollinator seed to restore portions of our watershed during Earth Month and throughout the year!
  • Thanks to Patagonia, Public Lands and Keen for their generous grants.
  • Students from Ohio State University’s Capstone studies provided valuable information in their detailed projects focused on a number of FLOW requested issues. A special thanks to our Rush Run Capstone team from Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering for their comprehensive study of erosion issues in Rush Run.
  • Students from The Ohio State University donated time to help clean up campus, plant trees, and remove invasive species! FLOW worked with these and other OSU groups throughout the year:

    • Society for Ecological Restoration
    • Global Water Institute
    • Engineers without Borders
    • Mount Leadership Society Scholars
    • Spring into Service
    • OSU Seeds of Service
    • Fisher Cares
    • Sustainability Institute
    • Mountaineering Club
  • Paul Miller volunteered his time and chainsaw expertise for multiple FLOW projects.
  • Plantation Products generously donated 12 boxes of seed to FLOW to help green up the watershed!
  • REI provided generous funding for planting trees at the Ohio School for the Deaf.
  • Seventh Son Brewing hosted our annual meeting in July.
  • Thanks to the Columbus Foundation Jeffrey Fund for our final piece of funding for the Slyh run bridge at Cranbrook Elementary!
  • Thanks to those who donate to FLOW through Kroger’s Community Rewards and Amazon Smile programs. These give FLOW a percentage of eligible purchases at no cost to the shopper.

Special thanks to our large-hearted volunteers who have continued to help us in COVID-safe ways! We could not have accomplished what we did during this crazy year without you. Small groups accomplished a lot in picking up litter, planting trees, planting prairie plants, weeding and communicating with our partners!


FLOW was the recipient of $86,500 in grants from our partners during the calendar year 2021, to be used for tree planting, soil restoration, invasives removal, storm drain art, marketing services, and more.


Kelly Thiel (Chair)
Danelle Johnson (Vice Chair)
George Williams (Treasurer)  
Amy Hill (Secretary)
Bob Campbell
Deirdre Donaldson
Matthew Dowiatt
Jim Palus
Ellie Nowels

Sara Gallaugher (Volunteer events coordinator)

3528 N. High Street, Ste. F
Columbus, OH 43214-4090

Voice: 614-267-3386

FB: Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW)
Instagram: flowcolumbus