Restoration projects along Great Miami River and tributaries

A new project to help restore important pollinator habitat and contribute to the health of the Great Miami River and its tributaries is underway. The Ohio River Foundation (ORF), Miami Conservancy District (MCD), and United States Fish and Wildlife Services Partners for Wildlife (PFW) program have partnered to provide matching funds of approximately $250,000 in seed money for the first five years of the project.

The efforts, which began in 2017, include removing invasive plant species and planting native scrubs, trees, and wildflowers along the 160-mile long Great Miami River corridor.

“The habitat restored in this partnership will provide critical habitat for many of our federal trust resources,” says Donnie Knight, private lands biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service PFW program.

“Pollinator habitat like we are restoring on this project will provide habitat for monarch butterflies, native bees, and migratory birds, all of which have been in decline due to loss of pollinator and grassland habitats,” he says.

PFW facilitates restoration efforts on private land by providing technical and financial assistance to land owners.

Rich Cogen, ORF executive director said that they were contacted by MCD about the project. “They knew about our habitat restoration projects in the region, and about our success working well with large scale property owners and the community,” he says.

ORF works to protect and improve the water and ecology of the Ohio River and all waters in its 11-state watershed, and will distribute funds and co-manage this project.

“By sharing ideas and pooling resources, we can implement projects that achieve multiple ecologic benefits,” says Janet Bly, MCD general manager.

MCD manages and maintains levees and dams in efforts related to flood protection, water stewardship, and riverfront recreation.

So far efforts have included improving 16 acres of pollinator habitat in Lockington properties in the Dayton area with plans to install 1,000 more plants in the spring.

Cogen explains that habitat restoration has proved to be an accessible and effective route for restoration. Funding in the past has been scarce but small-scale projects can make a big impact.

They are currently looking into other partners and are encouraging local businesses to get involved.

“This is a wonderful example of agency and nonprofit collaboration,” says Cogen. “We hope it is a catalyst for individuals and corporations to contribute toward these small-scale projects.”

“We are also looking to replicate this model in other Ohio River sub-watersheds,” Cogen continues. “We have already started discussions with other parties interested in improving their local waterways.”

The next phase is the Piqua project, which includes restoring 20 acres of pollinator habit and planting trees and shrubs.

Restoration efforts are generally done be local volunteers. Cogen suggests following the three partnered organizations on social media for the latest in volunteer opportunities.

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Read more articles by Emily Dillingham.

Emily Dillingham is a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati graduate with degrees in English and Geology. She writes full-time for a local material science company and lives in Brighton with her husband and pack of dogs. Follow her on Instagram @keeperoftheplants