Upcoming Events – See our Preserves - Learn how we make them even better!
September 24 - Great Outdoor Weekend at our Delshire Preserve.
This will give everyone a great opportunity to see one of our best nature preserves and to learn about the benefits of native plants. For this activity we will meet at the Delhi Swim Club off Pedretti in Delhi. Activities will include: Restoration of native plant species in the morning; educational presentations, kids activities and hikes in the afternoon. Call Alan Weiner at 941 6307 for more information
October 1 – Restoration of native plant species at the Beekley Property and Storey Woods in Delhi (Off Pontius Road). This will be joint project with the Delhi Parks and Recreation Department. Call Tim Sisson at 922 2104 for more information
November 19 - Restoration of native plant species at our Addyston Preserve (on Main Street). Call Tim Sisson at 922 2104 for more information
do we restore our properties? Sometimes the biggest threat to our preserves
is invasion by alien plant species. Plants such as Amur (or Bush) Honeysuckle,
Euonymus and Garlic Mustard can produce such a dense cover of foliage that native
plants cannot survive. We’ve been told that Amur Honeysuckle even secretes a toxin
that kills native plants!
(picture by Tim Sisson)
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 removed. Once the invasive aliens are removed, the native plants usually reestablish healthy populations. If not, we will replant as necessary to give them a helping hand.
Making bridges for animals
Continued from Winter 2005
"By Sue Wunder. Reproduced with permission from the October 5, 2004 issue of The Christian Science Monitor (www.csmonitor.com). All rights reserved."
Some ambitious proposed wildlife corridors would connect national parks to other big habitats for animals that migrate between summer and winter ranges. Other animals require hundreds of acres in which to roam. In North America, such animals include bears, wolves, lynx, elk, cougars, and panthers. In Asia, tigers and elephants need lots of space. Corridors would let them roam from one place to another safely.
A few years ago, the state of Florida purchased swampland from a lumber company to maintain a green link between the Osceola National Forest and the Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. This wetland corridor contains critical habitat for black bears, sand hill cranes, bobcats, and woodpeckers. The corridor greatly expanded the range for these species.
Out West, the Y2Y (Yellowstone to Yukon) initiative is under way. Conservation groups in the United States and Canada are working to protect links between wildlife habitats along the entire Rocky Mountain range.
"El Paseo Pantera" (The Panther's Path) is the name of another proposed corridor in Central America. The idea is to weave a series of protected reserves into a green chain from Guatemala to Panama - one that a panther would feel at home walking along.
But many critical wildlife corridors are much smaller than these. Just five square miles of wild habitat connects a wildlife sanctuary in India to a reserve in Nepal. It lets tigers, elephants, and rhinos move between the two countries.
Roads often break up animal habitats and make it difficult for some species to breed. A friend of mine who lives in southern Germany often drives along a forested road past signs reading "Froschwanderung! Vorsicht!" (Frog crossing! Watch out!) Every March, parts of the road are covered with frogs trying to reach a small pond. Adult frogs live in the damp forest. But the females instinctively return to where they hatched to lay their eggs. The frogs are especially plentiful - and endangered - at night. Volunteers (kids, too) collect the frogs in buckets and carry them across the road to safety.
Here's how a simple corridor has helped the frogs: When a new road was built over a nearby ridge a few years ago, environmentally concerned citizens got a resolution passed to create "frog underpasses." These culverts serve as frog tunnels. They work perfectly: That stretch of road does not require the services of volunteers with pails and flashlights.
Highway engineering with wildlife in mind also includes culverts for salamanders and overpasses for bear and elk. In southern California's Coal Canyon corridor, animals - including cougars - use an underpass and two culverts to get safely across the busy Riverside Freeway. (A 1995 study found that one cougar used the culvert corridor 22 times!) Montana plans to add more than 70 wildlife crossings to its roads in the next few years. Some will be big enough for grizzly bears to cross.
Are corridors the answer? Yes and no. Large areas of wild habitat are still needed for healthy wildlife populations. Where this isn't possible, many scientists say there is good reason to maintain corridors between habitat "islands." Field research has shown that even small patches of habitat that are interconnected have more species and larger populations of animals than those that are not.
Kids take part in creating paths for animals
Adults may spearhead big wildlife corridor projects, but kids have made important contributions to many of them, too. Two years ago, schoolchildren raised more than $50,000 for the World Wildlife Fund in a 'Pennies for the Planet' drive. Some of this money went to create wildlife corridors in the forests of South America.
Grade-schoolers in Hayden, Ill., are helping to figure out the best places to put culverts and warning signs along US Highway 40. They are doing this by keeping track of where animals are most likely to try to cross the road.
While habitat corridors are designed to keep animals away from human disturbances, humans often seek contact with wild creatures. This kind of contact can benefit both human and animal. For example, anyone with a backyard bird feeder can help migrating birds. Now is the time to begin feeding, as many migratory birds are on their way south.
Birds fly over many barriers that other wildlife cannot cross, but they still need places to rest along the way. Biologists have found that migrating birds use more energy seeking food and shelter along their routes than they do in flight. Homeowners who live along bird-migration 'corridors' can help by offering seeds (or nectar water, for hummingbirds) as well as a yard with fall-blooming and springtime flowers. Birds also appreciate patches of brush and undergrowth in which to rest. Backyards with unmown areas along the edges and native plantings of differing heights can also provide 'steppingstones' for wildlife moving along the ground from place to place.
If you're more ambitious, you may be able to spark interest in preserving or designing a habitat corridor between parks in your area. Look at a local map: Can you see potential links between green spaces? If a river or stream connects them, protecting the waterway and its banks would be a good first step. A local nature organization may have a plan under way.
Wild 'hallways' help animals survive and thrive Chipmunks and other rodents use unofficial wildlife corridors – such as the grassy habitat provided by farm fences and the banks of streams - to dash from one stand of woods to another. But larger wild animals need much more space to live, migrate, and avoid the impact of human development.
Elk and wolves (below) are just two of the many species that would benefit from the Goliath of all wildlife corridor projects: the Yellowstone-to-Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y). The idea for Y2Y was thought up in 1993 by a group of scientists and conservationists near Calgary, in Canada's Alberta province.
Canada's Rocky Mountain Trench is part of Y2Y's protection plan and provides crucial winter habitat for elk and a passageway for wolves. Up to 12 miles wide, the trench's long line of valleys stretches between the Columbia Mountains and the Rocky Mountains.
WWC Flower-a-thon recap
Tim Sisson and Rebecca Sisson
The purpose of the Flower-a-thon was for teams to spend the day (April 30) exploring the Western Wildlife Corridor to see how many different species of flowering plants they could find that were blooming or fruiting. This could include wild flowers, shrubs, trees and vines (sorry no mushrooms). We defined the Western wildlife Corridor as the beautiful Ohio River valley from Millcreek (near downtown Cincy) to the Indiana state line – on both sides of the river, Kentucky and Ohio. (picture by Tim Sisson)
The Flower-a-thon began with a breakfast sponsored by the Hamilton County Park District at Embshoff Woods. To our surprise, most of the teams had arrived for breakfast by 7:30AM. Almost all the teams took advantage of the great bagels and drinks provided here to start their day.
After breakfast, the teams spread out thru Embshoff to get a listing of the many species there, then headed out thru the rest of the Western Wildlife Corridor. All were delighted to see what a beautiful river valley it is with groves of hardwoods (some Old Growth), large areas covered with wildflowers; and beautiful tributary creek valleys. (picture by Stephen Sehlhorst)
were thirteen teams that took up this challenge, represented the following organizations
· Audubon Society of Ohio
· Ft. Wright Nature Center
· Miami Group Sierra Club
· Sally Anderson
· Hamilton County Park District
· Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society
· George Humphreys
· Natural History Museum
· Green Umbrella
· Ohio River Way
· Sisters of Charity
· Western Wildlife Corridor
Thanks very much to all of them for their help- without them we wouldn’t have had a Flower-a-thon!
Some of the highlights we heard included:
· A very beautiful ravine in Embshoff Park that offered a real treasure trove of flowers; it was a real gem tucked away on the northeast side of the park;
· A railroad track along US Rt. 50 that yielded a great variety of not-so-usual plants;
· An area in Western Wildlife Corridor’s Addyston Preserve that had a high concentration of Jack-in-the-pulpit;
· A park on Rt. 8 in Kentucky that also yielded some unusual plants;
· An area in Western Wildlife Corridor’s Delshire Preserve with a concentration of Virginia Blue Bells and Wild Hyancith so robust that a Hamilton County Park District employee opined that it would be a good source for seed for their seed nursery.
After a great day exploring the Western Wildlife Corridor, it was time for the teams to head for EarthConnection for the banquet and award presentation. Here they were joined by other guests to enjoy a great meal sponsored by Lanxess Corporation. Right after the meal a spirited drawing for raffle prizes left almost everyone happy (several had multiple winning tickets!)
The suspense built and built until the big moment was finally at hand – the winner of the award for the most species identified, the Golden Trillium award, was announced. It was…. Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society, with 112 species. The Imago team was a close second with 105 species.
Then the day was over and it was time to head home - but, plans were already being made for a repeat Flower-a-thon II in 2006. This will be held on April 29, 2006. Mark your calendars now so you can be sure to take part in what is bound to be another really enjoyable day exploring the Western Wildlife Corridor. (picture by Tom Morin)
this year, I had a couple of wildlife encounters that I thought were very exciting
to the mission of WWC. The first
one was in May when my kids and I were working in the woods in the Bender Road
area, pulling Garlic Mustard plants. We
each had our bags to collect the seeded or flower portion of the plants so we
could remove them from the area to help stop the spread of this invasive species.
My daughter Katie exclaimed, "I found a turtle!", so we all
hastened over to see. Some of us
may remember that when we were kids, it was not uncommon to find a box turtle
in the woods while playing. But
it's not very often that my kids are able to find one, so this was especially
exciting because of how rare it is anymore to encounter a box turtle, except
possibly under unfortunate circumstances along the road.
We all examined it (of course we mostly had to look at the shell, as
the turtle was understandably shy). My
son Derek had his camera and took pictures.
Then we set the turtle down in a direction we thought he or she ought
to head towards (interesting how we humans seem to feel that the turtle needs
to be pointed in a specific direction).
We went on to our primary objective, which was to get rid of Garlic Mustard,
and when we came back, it was of course, gone.
time, I read about how to tell if it is a boy or girl box turtle.
The males tend to have redder eyes and flatter heads and the shell is a
little more angular and the tail may be wider and longer.
The females have more pale red eyes or even brown and the top of the head
is a little more curved and the shell has a gently arched curve to it, more symmetrical
front to back and the tail may be smaller.
This information would have been helpful when I encountered a box turtle
again in June, while again waging war on the Garlic Mustard.
I like to think that this was a different turtle.
I think it was smaller than the other one, possibly only about 4"
long, which may make it less than 7 years old.
I was surprised to read that box turtles commonly reach 25-30 years of
age, and are documented to have reached even 40-50 years old.
So then why don't we see box turtles all over the woods?
Apparently, they don't produce many young each year (only a few of the
eggs hatch) and don't reach sexual maturity until about 7-10 years of age.
And who has ever seen a baby box turtle?
Little is known about the life of baby box turtles.
It is thought that they stay hidden and feed on insects for several years.
Box turtles with their yellow markings, are, by the way, surprisingly hard
to see in the dappled sunlight of the forest floor littered with leaf debris.
I wonder how many times I have walked right by one.
One big enemy of box turtles is destruction and fragmentation of their habitat. They are very territorial and live in the same area for years. This is something to remember when we are tempted to move the turtle to a "better" place. If they are removed from their birthplace, they will try to return to it, which would be nearly impossible with all the roads in our area. This is why I was so excited to find possibly two box turtles in the vicinity of Western Wildlife Corridor protected land. Preserving a "corridor" of greenspace is so important. If the box turtle's habitat continues to shrink and fragment, it will be harder to find food and mates, and they may disappear from an area that is no longer able to sustain them. Anyway, I'm hoping that maybe our turtle encounters indicate that something good is going on in the Western Wildlife Corridor.
Trails of Delhi
What do a BP pipeline and a park
have in common? Well, I have found
that it makes for a very interesting trail along the south side of Embshoff
Woods. Leave your car in the parking
lot by the playground and walk down the hill to the tree line behind the play
area. Turn to the left and follow
the pipeline signs and what is left of a deer trail. Walk along the soccer and baseball fields as you go east.
Soon you will come to a granddaddy of an old oak tree.
The years have taken their toll on this massive giant and he looks as
if he can’t make it much longer. A
bit further on the right you will find a small water hole.
Originally this was a stone foundation, the remains of a farmer’s original
home site. The park department
cleared the site a couple of years ago.
Some of the “treasures” removed included a mobile home, an old car and
various pieces of broken farm equipment.
Up ahead is a small
ravine, guaranteed to get the old heart beating.
The edge of the hillside meets the trail in this area.
It turns flat again and you can enjoy the walk at your own pace.
We are above Riverside and can see the hills on the Kentucky side of the
river. The trees in the area seem
to be young, second growth filled with honeysuckle.
For the adventurous, the remains of grape terraces are on the hillside
below the trail, but it takes some exploring to find them (best done in the winter!).
Finally, you come to
the crest of the hill overlooking Sedamsville and a wonderful view of the Ohio
River and downtown Cincinnati off in the distance.
The pipeline continues down the hill and under River Road.
At this point, I’m not ready to give up the beauty of the woods so I turn
around, head back at a casual pace, and enjoy the surroundings.
Side note: Approximate length – one mile. If you want to explore more of the woods, there are several trails that go north from this one and end up at the Embshoff picnic area.
Enjoy your Delhi hiking experience.