Connecting with the community during the annual Wetland Weekend events

MAD Scientist Associates is always happy to team with the City of Westerville Parks & Recreation Department to connect with the community in sharing about wetlands and the natural wonders held within sites like Highlands Park.  On Friday, May 18, the third of our Frog Friday events was held, and nearly 100 community members of all ages came out to learn about the frogs on site:  American toad (Anaxarus americanus) adults and tadpoles, bullfrog (Ranas catesbeiana), green frog (Ranas clamitans), and gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor). Toad tadpoles were also seen in abundance, and a large mass of gray treefrog eggs were observed.  MAD provided nets that children used to collect frogs for closer observation (then released them).  

On Saturday of the Wetland Weekend, we hosted our annual Wetland Workshop, also at Highlands Park.  Mark Dilley welcomed the 75 attendees and gave them a brief introduction to wetlands and their importance to our drinking water and overall ecosystem.  MAD staff members and interns hosted stations around the wetlands to help visitors learn about its various aspects:  soils, amphibians, invertebrates, and wildlife.  Exploration was also encouraged, allowing participants to wade into the nature play area wetlands to use small nets to discover the life forms below the water.  Some notable wildlife observations include: mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos), and great blue heron (Ardea herodias), and a nesting blue bird pair (Sialia sialis).  The rain caused us to wrap up a bit early, but a lot of fun and learning took place!

A big thanks to Schneider's Bakery for donating a box of doughnuts for our event participants to enjoy.  Watch our events calendar next May to join in the Wetland Weekend fun!

Residents of Kendal at Oberlin enjoy wetland enhancement

We were pleased to get our hands dirty during the final phase of the Kendal at Oberlin wetland enhancement. This was our first major planting event of 2017, with the installation of over 4,000 native wetland and prairie plugs (28 species)! Work on this 2-acre wetland enhancement began in late 2015 with a delineation and permit application. In 2016, the design was completed and put out to bid. Wildlife was relocated to other wetlands within the Kendal property in preparation for earthwork. That October, the wetland basin was shaped and planted with native seed, shrubs, and trees. The basin was completely filled by February of 2017.  Residents of the Kendal community have enjoyed monitoring the wetland's development, and will soon have a beautiful view of a wetland system that includes emergent marsh, scrub-shrub, and open water. In order to ensure project success, we will monitor the wetland for water quality, plant establishment, and to manage invasive species over the next two years.

Highlands Park Wetlands featured in Westerville news program

"Focus Westerville" is an online video series produced by the City of Westerville. The most recent episode highlights the topic of environmental stewardship and how community members can make a difference by understanding and caring for their natural resources.

One of MAD Scientist Associates' favorite projects, the Highlands Park Wetlands, is featured in this production (from 11:25-16:30 in the video).  Mark is interviewed about the project background and purpose of the Highlands Park wetland renovation. Footage was captured during the 2016 Wetland Workshop, which is held annually in May, National Wetlands Month. This wetland intercepts stormwater runoff from the aquatic center, parking lots, and neighboring housing developments before it enters Spring Run, a degraded tributary to Alum Creek. After four years of development, the wetland now supports a complex array of habitat types, which has increased use by migratory and resident wildlife. It has also shown to be effective at removing sediments and nutrients within the water column, which means cleaner water for downstream for Spring Run and Alum Creek. 
If you watch the entire video, you can learn about stormwater management, hazardous waste disposal, water quality, tree care, and energy conservation!  Click the photo above for our segment or click  HERE check out the whole video!

Lost Creek Restoration Underway

MAD is working with Miami County Park District officials in restoring a field to forest. As part of a Clean Ohio grant project, 317 container trees were planted in what was previously a cattle pasture at the Lost Creek Reserve. This area will now connect two wood blocks and include pockets of wetlands.  We are looking forward to witnessing this site transition from a former pasture area to an oak-hickory savanna.  

Work will carry into 2016, when we plan to enhance sections of an existing wetland and prairie system. Approximately one-half acre of invasive species were treated in 2015 and were seeded with a native sedge meadow mix. Over 1,000 rooted plugs will be installed with the help of Miami County Volunteers next spring.