Welcome sign to Columbus’ hidden gem!
Last Saturday, the Ohio Sierra Club, FACT (Friends of the Alum Creek Tributaries), and Mad Scientist (local wetland consulting firm), with help from Westerville Parks and Rec., hosted a service event at Boyer Nature Preserve in Westerville for Make a Difference Day! The event consisted of removing invasive species and planting native trees and shrubs to help maintain the ecological health of the area. Boyer Nature Preserve is a small area tucked away in a suburban neighborhood where one would never guess that they might find a beautiful and serene wetland just beyond the white washed homes and mini-vans.
Young children helping with honeysuckle removal.
The cold air took a bit of time to adjust to in the early morning, but as soon as the sun rose the day turned into a beautiful, sunny fall day. The group of volunteers grew bigger and bigger as each minute passed, and soon we were all gathered and ready to get to work. After a short safety presentation and a much needed cup of coffee, the troop of volunteers tackled the honeysuckle bushes with full force. The forest became alive as adults, college students, and young children began attacking the invasive honeysuckle with hand saws and various other tools.
Volunteers working hard removing honeysuckle.
Some volunteers, those not removing honeysuckle, helped move it out of the forest and to a nearby wood chipper so it could be mulched instead of disposed of as trash. What is more, the chipper was a substantial distance from the removal location, so these individuals were some of the hardest working out there.
After removing the invasive honeysuckle, volunteers got to work planting trees in the newly vacant spots where the honeysuckle once stood. These beautiful native trees will grow and become part of the Boyer Nature Preserve and will discourage the harmful honeysuckle from growing in those areas.
Young girl scouts ready to begin tree planting!
With the hard work of our volunteers, we were able to improve the health of Boyer Preserve and ensure that this area is functioning the way it should be. Protecting areas like Boyer Preserve benefits communities, as these areas provide critical ecosystem functions and services. Seeing all these volunteers from differing backgrounds and different age groups coming together to preserve one of Columbus’s natural areas is heartening.
The scenic view at Boyer Nature Preserve.
Urban wetlands like Boyer Preserve serve an important purpose to the Columbus community. Wetlands act as a filter, removing pollutants and helping keep the water we drink clean and pure. The vegetation that is found around wetlands helps remove phosphates and plant nutrients from the soil which discourages algae from growing on the waterway and stealing oxygen from the plants and animals trying to survive. They also help absorb excess water, reduce flooding, and provide habitat for a myriad of species.
This beautiful nature preserve is one of Columbus’s hidden gems, and it’s wonderful that the public has access to such an area. But it hasn’t always been that way. Only a few years ago, Boyer Preserve was not open to the public. Providing open access, though, has been a success. The community is now more-connected with the area, and not only has the ecological integrity not been sacrificed, but the public is helping ensure it remains healthy. Thank you to all of the hard working volunteers who donated their time to help make a difference! Hope to see you all again at the next event!
Written by Clean Water Fellow Natasha Ghica