Nearly 19 acres of land along the Olentangy River in Delaware Township will now be protected by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR)’s Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. The land is located along the eastern bank of the river, north of Olentangy Avenue in the city of Delaware between Cherry Street and Armstrong Road.
The acquisition, which was funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation, cost $489,000 and will help repair negative impacts to the Olentangy River caused by previous road projects.
“Our designated state scenic rivers are among the best in the state,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said in a press release. “Preservation of stream-side land is critical to protecting scenic rivers’ excellent water quality and diverse wildlife for Ohioans to enjoy.”
The purchase will provide for the conservation of important habitats and provide recreational space along a highly developed section of Delaware County.
“Protecting natural areas is especially important in this part of the state because of the rapid rate of growth in Delaware County and the greater Columbus metropolitan area,” the release states. “Like most scenic river properties, this one will be open to the public for fishing and hiking.”
Known as riparian areas, forests next to rivers are vital to protecting the health of the river, ODNR said. This stretch, in particular, includes nearly 1,600 linear feet of wooded stream bank. The trees shade the water, keeping it cool and higher in oxygen for sensitive fish species.
According to the release, additional funds are available for site improvements and long-term management activities at the site.
“A lot of it will more than likely be used for invasive species management, trying to get rid of some of the non-native stuff, and improving the habitat. That’ll be primarily what we used the extra funds for,” Jeff Johnson, chief of the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, told The Gazette.
Johnson added, “Any time we can protect a riparian corridor, it helps with the health of that river. This is just a really nice acquisition to really help protect the river for the future as well, not just what you see going on with the stream health of the river. We’re trying to prevent those future impacts that we can now control, at least on one more little section here.”