MetroParks Conservation Objectives:
- Protect drinking water sources
- Preserve and protect watersheds
- Preserve wildlife habitat
- Protect important birding areas
- Protect plant and animal diversity
- Conservation education
About MetroParks Conservation
No less than 80% of MetroParks’ properties are to be managed in a mostly natural undeveloped state. Conservation management of specific areas to preserve diverse natural habitats within Butler County requires constant work. MetroParks has comprehensive conservation management goals, which are reflected in MetroParks master plans. Additional management objectives include planting native grasses, wildflowers and trees that will support and nurture the areas by maintaining the growth of plant life at an optimal height for indigenous wildlife. In 2010 the MetroParks employed its first Environmental Projects Coordinator who leads a team of seasonal employees and volunteers to tackle invasive species control in the MetroParks. Other staff resources are employed in this endeavor on an as needed basis.
Throughout MetroParks, you will often see traveling "Conservation underway" signage, such as this example which indicates that conservation work is being undertaken in a particular area. The seemingly barren area in this photo will return to a beautiful natural habitat as a result of this effort.
Common threats to MetroParks natural resources and some common MetroParks management techniques are listed below.
Invasive Plant Threats
Invasive plants are non-native species that have spread into native or minimally managed plant systems. These plants cause harm by developing self-sustaining populations that dominate and/or disrupt native ecosystems. They threaten wildlife habitats, important birding areas, and overall plant and animal diversity.
There are various categories of Invasive Plants.
Ongoing Efforts to Control the Invasive Plant Threat
- Invasive (a non-indigenous plant with the biologic potential for rapid and widespread dispersion and establishment in minimally managed habitats)
- Likely Invasive (a non-native species that is naturalized in Ohio but not yet widespread)
- Potentially Invasive (a non-native species not currently known to exist in Ohio, but ex-pected to become invasive in the future).
The best method of control is prevention. Preventing intentional spread through horticulture, and removing or killing invasive plants when they are first spotted, can avoid significant problems later. Control methods include:
Ohio was once covered by about 10% grasslands which provided much needed nesting, foraging and escape cover for many species.
Habitat management and conservation ensures that these natural areas provide food, water and shelter for all wildlife. One habitat management practice is the use of prescribed fires to help maintain these grasslands by burning off woody growth, invasive species and old thatch. Also, many of the grasses and forbs require heat in order for the seeds to germinate and this ensures the high quality of this ecosystem.
A Certified Prescribed Fire Manager oversees the prescribed fires for MetroParks and is assisted by trained park staff, volunteers and often the local Fire Department.
Mechanical equipment, such as a skidsteer with Forestry attachment, is used to grind the above ground species. (Please Note: This equipment is often mistaken for excavation and building equipment and may leave the landscape temporarily looking barren, until the new wanted growth has time to re-appear.) When you see an area like this appear with "Conservation Work Underway" sign you will know that this is an active conservation project and not construction efforts.
Examples of Areas Cleared of Invasive Plant Species by Mechanical Equipment
Water Contamination and Waste Threat
Water resources are one of any area’s greatest assets. The water supply-both groundwater and surface water- provide abundant resources to each community. Clean, safe drinking water is essen-tial to human, wildlife, plant and aquatic life.
Ongoing Efforts to Address Water Contamination and Waste Threat
Great Miami River Planting
Great Miami Cleansweep
After securing funding of $70,000 in grants and donations from individuals and foundations, the Friends of Chrisholm funded the construction on a prototype "green" composting public restroom at the Chrisholm Historic Farmstead located just south of Trenton.
This "off the grid" restroom was the first of its kind in Butler County and is designed to reduce waste and save water. Additionally, new interpretive signage installed in 2012 enhances the ability to use this environmentally friendly restroom as a teaching tool for visitors about living sustainably.
Funding for this project was made possible by donations from the Middletown Community Foundation, The Fitton Family Foundation, Duke Energy, the Butler Rural Electric Community Connection, SHP Architects and the members and supporters of the Friends of Chrisholm. The Friends of Chrisholm permanently donated the facility to MetroParks as a positive enhancement to the property.
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