Special to 1808Delaware

Great news for lovers of Ohio and Delaware County’s natural and scenic areas arrived this week from Columbus.

A newly acquired stretch of land along the Olentangy State Scenic River will now be protected by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. The purchase will provide for the conservation of important habitat and provide recreational space along a highly developed section of Delaware County.

“Our designated state scenic rivers are among the best in the state,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “Preservation of stream-side land is critical to protecting scenic rivers’ excellent water quality and diverse wildlife for Ohioans to enjoy.”

Forests next to rivers, known as riparian areas, are vital to protecting river health. This 18.9-acre property includes nearly 1,600 linear feet of wooded stream bank. Tall trees shade the water, keeping it cool and higher in oxygen for sensitive fish species. Tree roots help prevent bank erosion and extend into the water to provide habitat for fish. These lines of trees also filter potential pollutants before they can flow downstream.

This site also contains several acres of upland meadow that will be managed to remove invasive plant species and further promote the establishment of native woodlands.

The acquisition was funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation. The $489,000 will help repair negative impacts to the Olentangy River caused by previous road projects. Additional funds are available for site improvement and long-term management activities at the site.

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. Like most scenic river properties, this one will be open to the public for fishing and hiking.

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