This year brought us the opportunity to reach a diverse audience seeking environmental and ecological knowledge. We had the pleasure of working with local elementary-middle schools, City of Columbus High Schools, college students, as well as individuals and organizations that participated in several community projects. Activities included team-building games, wetland exploration, planting and invasive species control, science fair displays, and wetland illustration assistance. Wetlands can be fun learning environments for people of all ages!
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!
On Sunday, October 29 [NOTE DATE & TIME CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER], MAD Scientist Associates will be working with the City of Westerville Parks & Recreation Dept. and FACT to host the annual Make a Difference Day event at Boyer Nature Preserve in Westerville, Ohio. We'll be continuing the battle against invasive species in the Preserve, targeting bush honeysuckle and non-native plant removal will be our focus.
This is a family-friendly and group-friendly event, so bring yourselves and everyone you know! There's lots to do.
The event will run from 12:00 noon-3:00.
Boyer Nature Preserve is located at: 452 E Park St., Westerville, OH 43081
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!
"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!