MIAMI VALLEY — A new local conservation fund will mean some big love for the Great Miami River and its tributaries. The Miami Conservancy District (MCD), United States Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners for Wildlife (PFW) program and Ohio River Foundation (ORF) are partnering on a conservation fund specifically dedicated to restoration projects for an Ohio River sub-watershed in Ohio. Together, MCD and PFW are providing approximately $250,000 in seed money for the first five years. ORF is administering the fund and co-managing the projects.
“By sharing ideas and pooling resources, we can implement projects that achieve multiple ecologic benefits,” said Janet Bly, MCD general manager.
Projects will include removing invasive plant species from the Great Miami River corridor and its tributaries as well as planting native trees along river banks. The first project is already underway. Just downstream of the Lockington Dam, the organizations are planting 11 acres of native wildflowers and shrubs to help filter runoff to Loramie Creek, provide needed pollinator habitat and reduce MCD maintenance.
“The habitat restored in this partnership will provide critical habitat for many of our federal trust resources,” said Donnie Knight, private lands biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife 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.”
Currently, habitat for such species in many areas of the 160-mile-long Great Miami River corridor is limited. These projects enable existing populations, and perhaps new ones, to populate river floodplains and riparian areas. Corridor spaces play an integral function in protecting and recovering river health.
“This is a wonderful example of agency and nonprofit collaboration,” said Rich Cogen, executive director of Ohio River Foundation. “We hope it is a catalyst for individuals and corporations to contribute toward these small-scale projects.”
Cogen pointed out that many organizations often focus on large-scale projects, but those are becoming more difficult in the Ohio River Watershed because funding is scarce. But taken together, small-scale projects can have big impacts.
“We are also looking to replicate this model in other Ohio River sub-watersheds,” Cogen said. “We have already started discussions with other parties interested in improving their local waterways.”