Being recognized for doing good work is always a welcome boon in the environmental field. At a recent Earth Day river clean up at the Ohio State Wetlands Research Park, the Ohio Chapter was presented a gracious honor for our hard work to save the Ohio State Wetlands. Over the course of 2011, Columbia Gas was accelerating plans to locate a high-pressure natural gas pipeline under the OSU Wetlands, which are highly valuable not only because of the species they support and their environmental benefits, but also because the research they foster.
We quickly mobilized and outlined a campaign, with the goal of diverting the pipeline away from the wetlands. After reaching out to the OSU administration and helping to sway them to deny Columbia Gas’s request for an easement, we intervened in the case in front of the Ohio Power Siting Board, which is the body that oversees, among other things, natural gas pipelines. Our intrepid attorney, Rick Sahli, secured a settlement that utilized an alternative route that did not directly impact the Wetlands.
The Earth Day clean up was the perfect venue to celebrate this victory and remind ourselves of just how special the Wetlands are. Dr. Bill Mitsch, world-renowned wetlands expert and founder of the OSU Wetlands Research Park, gave a wonderful address on the Wetland’s importance and discussed how much the Sierra Club’s work protecting them meant to everyone involved with the Wetlands. The OSU Wetland Research Park inducted us as a lifetime honorary in the Friends of Buckeye Swamp, presenting us with a certificate and putting the Sierra Club’s name on a permanent plaque within the Wetlands. Furthermore, Dr. Mitsch announced that they would provide funding to send Ohio Chapter members and staff to the upcoming Ecosummit conference.
This recognition was unexpected but incredibly thoughtful and gracious. Wins are difficult to come by these days, so we must savor them when we achieve them. This victory would not have occurred without the support of local members and residents, who unabashedly voiced their disapproval of the pipeline’s planned location. Hopefully the Wetlands will not be jeopardized again in the future, or viewed as the path of least resistance for future projects – I think we proved this is not the case. Please give yourself a pat on the back for this victory, as it reminds one of exactly why many of us became involved with Sierra Club in the first place. And if you have the opportunity to visit the OSU Wetlands, please take advantage of it.