Corporate Volunteer Habitat Restoration Opportunities to Grow in Greater Cincinnati

Under its Save Our Parks program and its work as coordinator for the 22-county Ohio River Valley Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (ORV CISMA), Ohio River Foundation (ORF) is poised to expand its existing relationships with local communities by providing volunteer coordinator services to better address habitat restoration challenges concerning invasive species and native fauna reintroduction in public parks.

A program of ORF’s habitat restoration work, Save Our Parks combats invasive species and works to support native species populations on public lands in the 22-county area around Greater Cincinnati. ORV CISMA is a coalition of public and private entities working to control and reduce the threat of invasive species and promote the growth of native species populations.

Invasive species have ecological, economic and human health impacts. Locally, invasive plant species including Amur Honeysuckle,Callery Pear, and Autumn Olive are displacing our native flora. These invasive species are not native to the Ohio River watershed’s ecosystem. Often transported through human activities, they spread rapidly and crowd out native plants. This creates an inferior habitat for native wildlife, including pollinators, and leads to a lack of biodiversity.

The overall result is an unhealthy forest that can be more susceptible to diseases, invasive species, and the negative impacts of climate change. It also serves as a seed bank, spreading invasive plants to other areas in the region. What’s more, invasive plants often don’t provide a good source of food for local wildlife, the way native plants do. Left unchecked, the spread of invasive species can impact pollinator populations and food supplies for all species, including humans.

“Our parks are being overrun by invasive species and native species are having a hard time establishing and maintaining populations. We and our partners have removed more than one million invasive plants from hundreds of acres of park lands, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and park owners don’t have the manpower to perform it. Companies are looking for hands-on meaningful volunteer opportunities that have a visible and long-lasting impact. This habitat restoration work is exactly what they are looking for and what our parks need. Their effort will help restore native habitats and reestablish biodiversity to strengthen climate change resiliency,” said Rich Cogen, Ohio River Foundation’s executive director.

“After we remove the invasive species, we see the native plants quickly bounce back,” Cogen said. “With native trees and wildflowers in place, native fauna returns, and the ecosystem begins to heal and function as it should.”

This expanded community engagement in native species protection in public parks is being financially assisted by the H.B., E.W. and F.R. Luther Charitable Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, N.A., Trustee. Funding for ORF’s regional invasive species removal work is also provided by The L.L. Nippert Foundation, The Duke Energy Foundation, and several city and corporate partners including Blue Ash, Deerfield Township, Accenture, and Catch-A-Fire Pizza.

To participate in this program, interested company representatives and park owners should contact Ohio River Foundation at or 513-460-3365.

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