Habitat restoration initiative is designed to restore, protect, and create natural areas in Deerfield Township; efforts are now underway for 2022
As part of a multi-year effort, Deerfield Township is partnering with Ohio River Foundation (ORF) to encourage native plant growth and protect existing native plants populations in the township’s popular Kingswood Park. In 2021 ORF and community volunteers teamed up to remove a total of 32K invasive plants from the park—and the team plans to continue to build on that momentum this year.
In 2021 ORF protected a total of ten acres from harmful invasives by removing 32K invasive plants and trees. More than 100 native trees, grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers were protected from soil degradation and overcrowding. Additionally, ORF and Deerfield Township held 12 community volunteer events attended by 75 volunteers who logged more than 275 hours of service.
“Our goal with this project is to create healthy and sustainable natural areas to encourage native wildlife and engage community volunteers in the restoration process,” said Deerfield Township trustee Kristin Malhotra. “The volunteer support has been tremendous. Community members can get outdoors, learn first-hand how detrimental invasive species like Callery Pear and Amur Honeysuckle are to an ecosystem, and see the immediate positive impact of their work.”
Invasives can cause serious harm not only to our environment but also to our economy and health. Along with interfering with park aesthetics and public enjoyment, non-native invasive plants compete with and often crowd out native ones, leading to decreased biodiversity, poorer habitats for wildlife (including the pollinators that help our food supply), and lower water quality, among many other issues. When invasives are removed, the resulting increased biodiversity helps ecosystems become more resilient to a changing climate.
This year ORF and Deerfield Township will continue to focus their efforts on the removal of Honeysuckle and Callery Pear, two invasive plant species that are extremely pervasive in the area.
“We made excellent progress last year – and we find new native plants every single day. The community support has been wonderful. We’ve been able to build relationships with community members as many people come back again and again to volunteer. People love this park,” said ORF habitat restoration program manager Jessica Tegge. “With the conservation and restoration advancements taking place, Kingswood Park is quickly becoming an ecological hub that will benefit not only Deerfield Township’s local community but the ecology of the entire Tri-State area.”
To learn more about Ohio River Foundation’s work in Kingswood Park or to volunteer, visit https://ohioriverfdn.org/support-us/volunteer/.