The addition of a vernal pool for the backyard may help reverse a trend of their disappearance from Ohio.
This type of wetland is a depression located in a forested landscape with precipitation or underground as it water sources. Vernal pools are inhabited by become a home for a variety of organisms such as spotted salamanders and wood frogs. But they are often dry for much of the year and become a target for development because they’re usually not recognized as wetlands.
“Vernal pools are really disappearing from all of the urban areas,” said Mick Micacchion, a wetlands ecologist at Midwest Biodiversity Institute, a Hillard-based nonprofit that studies aquatic resources.
Vernal pools, he said, are valuable because they provide a lot of biodiversity and aid in flood control.
Ohio has lost 90 percent of its wetland area over the last 200 years from 5 million acres to about 500,000, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Micacchion said the chance to find a high-quality vernal pool is nonexistent.
He hopes to inspire advocates of wetlands, especially vernal pools, during a presentation organized by Wild Ones Columbus at McKay Lodge of Shale Hollow Park, 6320 Artesian Run, in Lewis Center, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
The ecologist has studied wetlands for 25 years and has worked for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Micacchion will discuss characteristics comprising of vernal pools, other wetlands, and pond habitats, focusing on how to develop the aquatic resource with natural habitat features. He said the cost to build a vernal pool varies depends on a lot of variables such as size, location and amount of resources put into the project.
The presentation is free and open to the public, but some members of Wild Ones plan to attend to learn as much about vernal pools. The Wisconsin-based nonprofit is an environmental education and advocacy organization with more 50 chapters nationwide.
“Wild Ones members want to better understand all aspects of habitats in order to do what is necessary to protect and maintain the health of existing native habitats as well as to replace non-native habitats with habitats such as vernal pools, wetlands and ponds,” said Cecelia Jokerst, president of the Columbus chapter, in an email.
“We strive to do this on our own property even if we’re only able to maintain foundation garden beds around our house with some native plants, shrubs and trees; or pots of plants for pollinators on an apartment patio.”
Additionally, the space for the presentation at Shale Hollow Preserve was provided by Preservation Parks of Delaware County. Saundra McBrearty, an outreach specialist for Preservation, said the wetlands event was nice way to partner with Wild Ones Columbus.
For information go to www.columbus.wildones.org.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.