Habitat Restoration

Restoring land to its natural state has many benefits that go beyond helping wildilfe flourish. Important ecosystems like prairies and wetlands provide many other environemental and economic benefits to land owners by lowering maintenance costs and naturally filtering pollution. 

Floodplain Preservation

Since our inception, MCD has worked to protect the floodplains of rivers and streams in the Great Miami River Watershed. MCD manages more than 4,500 acres of protected floodplain land.

Natural riparian buffers have been lost in many places over the years. Restoring them in appropriate areas is an easy way to protect water quality, riverbank stability, wildlife and aesthetics in the Great Miami River Watershed. Landowners, communities and conservation organizations can all help restore and protect the riparian buffers.

 

Benefits

  • Store floodwaters
  • Reduce flood flows and velocities
  • Filter pollutants, such as sediment and nutrients, being carried by runoff from land
  • Promote groundwater recharge
  • Provide habitat for many types of wildlife including fish and stream insects
  • Promote rich soils suitable for agriculture
  • Provide recreation opportunities

 

Tree Planting Program

From 1927 to 1944, the Miami Conservancy District planted over 405,000 trees in the dam storage basins to help restore the land from the construction of the flood protection system. The program was discontinued in 1944 due to labor shortages.

 


 

 

Prairies

For many of us, enjoying prairies has been limited to what we saw on (or see in reruns of) TV shows like “Little House on the Prairie.” That’s because by the middle of the 20th century, nearly all of the North American prairie grasslands had been destroyed by extensive farming. The result was miles and miles of soil with no strong prairie grass to hold it in place, and few trees to block the wind.

In the late 1700s, it was documented that over 1,500 square miles (or 1 million acres) of tall grass prairies existed in Ohio. Today, there are less than 100 acres of original, unturned prairies remaining throughout Ohio.

But these unique and complex ecosystems are making a comeback.

We have developed prairies with native plantings in Hamilton, Lockington, and Sidney. The plantings are not only contributing to total prairie acreage but help wildlife, filter runoff, and lower MCD's maintenance costs by removing turf areas that require more frequent mowing. In addition, meadow areas are places where rain can infiltrate into the aquifer and replenish groundwater reserves. 

These projects enable existing populations of birds and bees, and perhaps new ones, to populate river floodplains and riparian areas. Prairie areas also act as a water filtration system, filtering water as it passes underground and potentially improving groundwater, the source of our region’s drinking water. And the roots act as pathways for water to enter the soil to recharge the aquifer.

Plantings on MCD land include:

  • Two areas downstream of Lockington Dam with native flowers, shrubs, and grasses. One area is near the east end of the dam, and the other is between Loramie Creek and Kader Road.
  • The Hamilton Ponds area off Neilan Boulevard.

MCD also helped sponsor plantings at three locations on the City of Sidney’s park properties along the Great Miami River.

 

Creating prairies 

Among the MCD plantings are tall grasses with deep roots systems such as big bluestem, Indiangrass and switchgrass. Coneflower, blazingstar, sawtooth sunflower, prairie dock, wild bergamot and spiderwort are some of the native flowering prairie plants.

The prairies’ growth and development can be maintained in future years by burning or mowing on a regular basis. MCD is primarily using a mowing regimen to control most weed problems and produce a healthy prairie habitat.

You can also grow your own prairie – thanks to the advice from our friends at the National Trail Parks and Recreation District

 

Other local prairies you can visit

July and August are great months to visit prairies because the colorful flowering plants are in full bloom. But please only take photos home with you. Visitors should not pick flowers or plants because habitat loss leads to species decline.

  • Huffman Prairie State Natural Landmark – This very special 112-acre prairie is one of the largest prairie remnants in Ohio and home to flowering plants, birds and insects, many of them rare. The prairie became a state natural landmark in 1986. Today Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base care for the site.
  • Stillwater Prairie Preserve, Miami County Park District
  • Germantown MetroPark, Five Rivers Metroparks
  • Brother Don Geiger Prairie, Mount Saint John

 

Recommended reading
Nolin, D. 2018. Discover and Renewal on Huffman Prairie – Where Aviation Took Wing. Kent State University Press.

 


 

Wetlands

Indian Creek -- Hoffman Wetland and Stream Restoration
MCD is supporting a wetlands restoration project on Indian Creek in Butler County near Reily Township, Ohio. MCD provides measurements of flow into the project area through installation of a stream gage on Indian Creek Road about 1,300 feet upstream of the project area.