Today and Tomorrow: The Age of Restoration Dawns

The following consists of notes on the project for the Autumn Semester 2015.

October 10: Cleaning sections 1-4 of callery pear and honeysuckle. Decide to focus on these two species for the rest of the semester. Met Linda Hart of Green Club CAS.

October 25: Cleaning sectiona 5-8.

November 1: Cleaning out piles of brush with thorny vegetation. Complete sectioning of the site into 26 sections to pace work. Contracted out ENR Scholar Chas Parise to identify some of the trees on the site [a species list is soon to come].

November 18: Fawcett Center Floodplain Event. ENR Scholars freshmen came out en masse to clear honeysuckle from sections 1-9. Many larger plants come out, and many brush piles grow exponentially. Collaborate with Laura Fay of Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed to secure FLOW’s planting sheets and a bat box application. Discuss further collaboration for tools and plants in the spring.

November 15: Site survey for suitable bat, bee, and bird house locations. Inspecting possible pathways through the site. Begin the grant application process. Undergraduate Student Government Grant submitted in early December.

December: Contact with University about the placement of bird, bee, and bat houses. Laura Fay sends a map and planning begins for proposed sites.

This post summarizes the site’s records.

ENR Fawcett Ecological Restoration: Summaries of Purpose

The Fawcett Center riverside site serves an array of purposes for the university and the Olentangy watershed. For example, on Saturday home games proud alumni set up large tailgating parties on the edge of the site to cheer on the Bucks. Throughout the year, plants, animals, and microbes exchange chemicals and energy to live and reproduce. These anthropological and biological interactions make the area great for man and microbe. However, like much of the modern landscape, the Fawcett site demonstrates the hallmark symptoms of an ecosystem out of equilibrium. Invasive plants dominate the understory and floor of the riverside forest. Litter comes from the river and the occasional trash bag. Wildlife must decide whether to travel through the thick brush of the Fawcett site or the bustling bike trail across the river.

The University handed the site over to the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed to steward for a time. After some tree planting and some invasive removal, the dry Columbus summer and water access hindered much of this first ecological restoration. Many invasive plants took over the site and competed successfully against the native plantings. The Environment and Natural Resources Scholars came to take on the site from FLOW and the University in 2015. Passionate college students could maintain the site and access it readily. This second restoration project would and will succeed.

When Shane Jones, Luke Feist, and myself sought to take on this restoration, our coordinators sought a semester-long involvement project. Seeing the potential of the site and the role ENR Scholars could play, we took up a decade-long view into the future of the site and opportunities for our successors. We hope to remove invasive plant species and replace them with native species to create a layered deciduous forest. We hope to bring more birds and mammals to the area with housing and food sources. We hope to beautify the area for birdwatchers, casual walkers, and the general college student. Our official goals are listed below:

• Remove the thick stands of honeysuckle and callery pear
• Document and remove less conspicuous invasive species
• Plant native species to replace removed plants and rebuild ecosystem
• Install nut and berry trees for wildlife nutrition
• Install flowering native species for pollinators
• Recruit Scholars labor to complete the above aims in a timely manner

In addition to these listed goals, I personally wish to share the visual progression of the site as we continue along.

A later post will cover work up to this point, but future posts should match up with actual field work.

As always, I hope to be a resource and a pupil to anyone interested in environmentalism and the natural world. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or connections.

Fawcett Center jonathan kubesch