Collaboration can accomplish great things. Debra Knapke, of Columbus State Community College, headed this wetland creation project at Sharon Meadows Park, owned by the City of Columbus. The Park (site) previously housed the Sharon School building. The 10-acre park features open space, ballfields, a playground, and a paved walking path. Several low-lying areas near the playground were periodically flooded, making them unusable and unattractive. Mark and Daniel completed a soil assessment and topographic survey and determined that a wetland creation project would be possible. Planning and design work was completed in part by BrightView, Columbus State, Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW), and MAD. Columbus State students and faculty, members of the Sharon Heights Community Association, and MAD staff helped plant the newly constructed wetland, which include sedge meadow, emergent marsh, and scrub-shrub zones. The Clintonville Fire Department arrived after the planting to literally hose down the wetland. It was quite the spectacle! Park guests are encouraged to explore the new wetland using the mulched walking path and enjoy unique vantage points from rock slabs. The project was largely funded by U.S. and Ohio EPA grants.
Click HERE to see a video about the project!
MAD has been working with the Greenacres Foundation, a non-profit environmental education and sustainable farming organization in Cincinnati, Ohio, on two exciting wetland projects. Earlier this year, MAD designed and oversaw the construction of a treatment wetland to reduce nutrients in runoff from within and around their cattle weight house. A multi-cell wetland system was created to encourage sedimentation, colloid removal, nutrient sequestration (in plants and soils), and infiltration, before this facility runoff enters a tributary feeding Sycamore Creek.
We are also pleased to report that Greenacres has broken ground on another wetland project near their education building. This one, a failed farm pond, turned emergent marsh, will be restored and expanded for Greenacres to use as an outdoor education site. Our team is working closely with Greenacres' staff to build and plant a wetland that is accessible for student use, and will provide improved water quality and wildlife habitat functions. A bioretention basin at the upstream end of the wetland drainage will receive pasture runoff before entering the marsh. This basin will feature an exposed concrete wall with a glass window that will allow students to get a unique view of the soil profile. As part of their sustainable practices, much of the plant material for this wetland will be grown in-house, or locally sourced.
Click the video GO button below to see how fast our team works!
Etna Elementary School (grades 4-5) hired MAD to enhance their existing outdoor classroom through the addition of created wetlands and additional native habitats. The original area included mowed paths and a meeting area surrounded by unmowed turf grass. The Etna teachers were specifically interested in improving the existing low-quality emergent wetland, and add native habitat areas, such as hardwood forest, tall-grass prairie, and scrub-shrub wetland. MAD completed a wetland delineation and obtained approval for the project with the Ohio EPA. Thanks to a motivated team and a helpful Etna parent, earthwork began in late April and was finished in August. The team is hard at work applying for grants to complete the project. The Southwest Licking Local School District is eager to have this one-of-a-kind outdoor classroom ready for school use!
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.
In 2016, Frog Fridays began as a fun way to get the community involved in wetland exploration when amphibian activity is at its peak, and Mark had a free Friday evening. Since then, they have evolved into regular events hosted by the City of Westerville Parks and Rec. department with attendance records exceeding 100!
Events were held periodically on Friday evenings from 7:45 to 9:00 pm. MAD provided amphibians and macroinvertebrates for viewing, as well as sampling equipment for participants to use while exploring the wetland. Frequently observed wildlife include American toads, green frogs, bullfrogs, and gray treefrogs. Oftentimes participants saw the silhouettes of mallards and great blue herons flying in to roost for the night, as well as bats and swallows who emerge in the evening to eat flying insects.
We had a few unfortunate weather events that caused events to end early or be postponed, but we were amazed that diehard amphibian fans were undeterred by cold, rain, and on one occasion, lightning!
The City of Westerville City Council proclaimed May 2017 as National Wetlands Month and called upon all citizens of Westerville to aid in the continuing efforts to preserve our valuable wetland resources. In celebration of wetlands, Westerville Parks & Recreations Dept. and MAD Scientist Associates held its 17th annual Wetland Workshop on Sat., May 20, preceded by a Frog Friday on May 19, the night before. Both events were well-attended, with over 70 participants in Saturday's Wetland Workshop. In addition to the City, we would like to thank Schneider's Bakery for their doughnuts and Starbucks on Polaris Parkway for the coffee donations! As you can see in the photos below, great fun was had by all!
On April 25th, Mark was invited to speak on behalf of MAD and as President of the Ohio Wetlands Association, on WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher, regarding the recent Rover Pipeline spills in northeastern Ohio. Other guests included Craig Butler, the Director of the Ohio EPA, and Jennifer Miller, the Director of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter.
January 2017 - Mark was recently elected President of the Ohio Wetlands Association, having spent two years on the board and serving as the organization's Education Chair. The OWA is a state-wide, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting wetlands throughout Ohio. Mark looks forward to his new leadership role in furthering the important work of OWA, particularly as it pertains to raising awareness of these very crucial ecosystems and encouraging wetland restoration efforts across Ohio. As President, one of Mark's main goals is to grow this important conservation organization and garner a broader base of support. He'll be encouraging our clients and colleagues to consider becoming members. If you're interested in becoming a member or wish to learn more about OWA, check out their website.