Preservation Parks of Delaware County is reforesting 112 acres of recently acquired property south of the Alum Creek Damn along Bale Kenyon Road for a future park.
“We are closing on an additional 26 acres this spring,” said Sue Hagan, marketing and communication manager for Preservation Parks. “Ultimately, the park will be about 230 acres, pending acquisition of all the parcels.”
Hagan said the land cost $3.8 million, but the cost was offset by a grant of $2.8 million from the Clean Ohio Fund.
According to Hagan, the reforesting will speed up the restoration of habitat to what it would have been before the settlement of the area. She said it will improve the wildlife habitat, prevent erosion, and improve the quality of Alum Creek as it flows through the property.
Hagan added the park district will create a “concept plan and master plan to determine all the features” of the new park. She said the plans include trails that connect to Orange Township and Westerville trails, access to Alum Creek for fishing, canoeing and kayaking, and picnic areas with shelters and restrooms.
According to Chris Roshon, natural resources manager for Preservation Parks, his crew will plant 550 burlap-wrapped balled trees, 17,000 seedlings, and shrubs in the field east of Bale Kenyon Road to begin the reforestation. He said the labor will be provided by park district employees, volunteers, Olentangy Orange students, and in part as an Eagle Scout project.
“This is the largest tree planting the park district has ever done,” he said.
Roshon added the burlap-wrapped trees being planted are about 6 years old and the seedlings are a couple of years old. He said the trees are a variety of oaks, hackberry, sycamore, buckeye, hop hornbeam, black cherry and sumac. All are native to Ohio.
Roshon said last fall, the park district removed about 8,000 feet of drainage tile to restore the “natural hydrology” of the fields. He said this past fall, the former owner of the property was harvesting a crop of soybeans from the fields.
Over the winter, Roshon added, the fields were seeded by hand with a prairie mix of pollinator-friendly flowers and warm season grasses “to help fill in the gaps and add structure to the habitat” as the trees took root.
Roshon said the project is visible from I-71 on the east side of the interstate with a couple of billboards just north of the project.
“It’s a beautiful little floodplain,” he said.
Roshon added during the time the park crew has been out planting trees, they had seen deer, wild turkeys, and a bald eagle that quickly swooped by low to the ground.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.