“A Bit of Heaven” Preserved with Conservation Easement
Sisson and Paul Schuch
Mrs. Elsie Beekley describes the 18 acres of beautiful forested hillside she owns in Delhi as “A Bit of Heaven”, and we would certainly agree. It is mostly covered with mature hardwood forest and has two streams meandering through it. Last spring during a visit to the property, we saw wild turkeys and many varieties of wild flowers. Truly this is the type of place that Western Wildlife Corridor was founded to protect.
Thus it is with real pleasure that we announce that Western Wildlife Corridor has signed an agreement with Mrs. Beekley that will protect this property in the Western Wildlife Corridor and the Narrows Preserve from development forever.
The land is on the hillside above Bender Road and is adjacent to Storey Woods – the Delhi Township park. It is also directly across Bender Road from the land protected last year through a partnership among Western Wildlife Corridor, the Hamilton County Park District and the Delhi Parks and Recreation Department. Therefore we are making great progress toward our goal of preserving a continuous area of green space in the Bender Road area and through the Narrows Preserve. (Above, see Spring wildflowers on Beekley property. Photo Tim Sisson)
agreement with Mrs. Beekley is in the form of a Conservation Easement. As we said
in the last issue of our newsletter, a Conservation Easement is a signed contract
between a landowner and a suitable organization such as a land trust or government
agency that spells out what activities are permitted and what activities are not
permitted on property in order to preserve conservation values.
The Conservation Easement on this property prohibits additional development of the property and preserves the wooded portion. In addition, WWC has the right to remove invasive alien plant species, especially Euonymus and Amur Honeysuckle that currently are preventing the growth of native plant species over much of the area. The goal is to eventually return the wooded portion of the property to a truly natural state where native plants and wildlife can flourish. (At left see Mrs. Beekley signing Conservation Easement. Photo Tim Sisson)
grand vision is to restore the Bender Road valley, the Narrows Preserve and
ultimately much of the “Western Wildlife Corridor” to a natural state as a wildlife
preserve for the benefit and scenic
enjoyment of the general public.We have planned a volunteer day at the
Beekley property on October 30 to get a start on this. Please contact Western
Wildlife Corridor at 921-9453 for more information.
Join us - we guarantee that you will find it very rewarding to help WWC preserve this property; and you will surely enjoy walking through this property and the adjoining Storey Woods to see the fall colors. (At right see WWC volunteers checking out Beekley property Photo Derek Scudder)
in the Wildlife Corridor
On a mostly cloudy, unseasonably cool, August afternoon, I decide to take a hike on ‘Sister’s Hill’. This wooded area is at the end of Delhi Pike on the other side of the guardrail, where you can hike on the old abandoned Delhi Pike, which once ran down to River Road. Now it serves as a path for easy hiking through this Western Wildlife Corridor forest. The WWC owns a number of plots along the slope on the south side of the pike. These plots scattered about can discourage the purchase of any land holdings large enough to make their development profitable.
The path is flanked on the north side by a steep slope which is held back by a stone wall built during construction of the pike. A battle-scarred gigantic red oak greets me at the entrance. This sentinel still has ample foliage even after losing some major branches during encounters with violent storms. For an August afternoon, our winged inhabitants are active. I quickly spot a robin and its fledging who hasn’t learned yet to flee from the approach of humans.
The path goes directly below the approach of low-flying jumbo jets on their way to land at the airport across the river. Another intrusion, not nearly as noisy, is Amur honeysuckle which is spread throughout the forest such as can be found anywhere in the tri-state. However native plants are present like a jewelweed plant, showing a few late blossoms, sprouting through a crack in the asphalt. A female cardinal darts across the path. Then I hear the metallic click vocalized by this species.
There are quite a few large buckeyes in this forest easily identified because it is the only tree at this time whose leaves are already changing to brown. A grackle lands in one, a species not known as a forest inhabitant. The glare from the surface of the Ohio River can be seen through the dense foliage.
As I turn around to go back, the forest takes on a new appearance as a soft light from the sun is now coming from behind me. The forest now displays uncountable shades of green, maybe even a shade I have never seen before. Curiously the mid-summer lazy drone of the annular cicada is absent, possibly the cool weather is keeping this insect from announcing its presence. As I walk back up the hill I spot the alien but beautiful Asiatic dayflower adding a dash of brilliant blue to the forest floor.
Leaving, I realize how ‘Sister’s Hill’ is an easily accessible green refuge virtually out our backdoor at the end of Delhi Pike allowing virtually anyone to experience the Western Wildlife Corridor.
Welcomes Bridget Kennedy
Bridget started work with the Western Wildlife Corridor in January of 2004, at which time she was responsible for "spreading the word" about the organization through out the community. She was also in charge of researching property information around the corridor. Her contract has now been extended, and she is the volunteer coordinator. This means she is responsible for initiating volunteer opportunities and organizing volunteer efforts for the WWC. She also is the PR person for the WWC. Bridget tells us that she has enjoyed her work immensely. Her passion for the environment combined with her support of grassroots organizations contribute to the joy she has gotten from working for the WWC. She believes that this land trust organization is going to continue to do great things for Cincinnati over time, and she is so very proud to be a part of this effort. Thanks to all of you who support the WWC in their attempt to make Cincinnati a greener place for us all.
Events, Outings and Opportunities
September 24 – New Member Welcome Party. 7-9 pm at Earth Connection
Western Wildlife Corridor has four volunteer outings this fall to improve some of our properties. We will start at 9am and work to about noon on the Saturday dates and start at 6pm (or when you can get there) until dark at Woodside Preserve. If you need information on meeting places, etc, please call Tim Sisson at 513-922-2104.
September 29 - Woodside Preserve (next to Dunham complex off Ashbrook Drive in Western Hills).
October 9 - Delshire Preserve (off Pedretti in Delhi)
October 30 – Beekley Property in Delhi. Hiking there and at adjacent Storey Woods (Off Pontius Road).
November 13 - Addyston Preserve (on Main Street).
do we improve our properties? Sometimes the biggest threat to our preserves
is invasion by alien plant species. Plants such as Amur (or Bush) Honeysuckle,
Euonymus and/or Garlic Mustard can produce such a dense cover of foliage that
native plants cannot survive.
Since our objective as an organization is not simply to limit development of the wooded hillsides in the Ohio River valley and nearby tributaries, but to also establish preserves where native plants and animals can thrive, it is essential that invasive alien plants be controlled. This is the main activity at the outings. We also pickup litter - on some properties that won’t be too hard!
successes in July
We received a $1000 grant from the Land Trust Alliance for efforts to identify and contact owners of property in the western half the Western Wildlife Corridor who may be interested in preserving their property (that is, west of Delhi). In the past, the majority of our activities have been with respect to properties in the eastern half of the WWC.
We also raised $300 by selling tickets to the Backyard Waterfall/Pond Tour. Congratulations to the Fundraising Committee!
Our summer fundraising letter was mailed recently. If you haven’t mailed your donation to WWC, please put this on your to-do list. We very much need additional funds to carry out our mission.