Sunday, October 7, 2012

Woodman Fen–Conservation Project

Ice-Age Fen Gets New Life

Eco-system Revival


Finally took the opportunity to visit this unique property.  The Woodman Fen is a wetland where the area is watered by underground sources and is rich in an alkaline peat. The Woodman Fen is 40 acres wedged into a residential community in eastern Montgomery County. There is nothing else like it in Montgomery County.
woodman fenArea of Fen

The Fen was misused for years.  The water was diverted and farming was attempted.  However the land still remained too wet for farming and the area was used for illegal dumping. 
The salvaging of this property has taken over seven years. And in that time the water flow was restored and loads of debris was removed. When the moisture was restored, the fen started to come back to life.

 100_1288 Sign at Entrance-Restoring Water Supply

This portion of south west Ohio is on a limestone base. The water flowing over this base is alkaline, (over pH 7), containing calcium carbonate. The alkaline environment supports rare and unusual plants such as sedges, reeds, and grasses.
                                                          Water ponding at Woodman Fen

The Woodman Fen is covered by up to six feet of black of muck and peat.  The squishy soil is not suitable for foot traffic.  The Walmart  Foundation provided a $50,000 grant for MetroParks to construct a 1200 foot boardwalk for visitors.

100_1267 100_1250
                                       Boardwalk and Observation Areas at Fen

This walkway was constructed with durable, recycled plastic material. The boardwalk meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, so everyone can experience this rare ecosystem.
In 2009, 10,000 plants were introduced and planted.   These plants were carefully harvested from active, area fens.  This increased the diversity of the fen from 30 different species of plants to about 100 different plants.  Fens are populated by sedges, rushes, grasses, and wildflowers.

            Sedge                                                      Native wildflowers

                                      Plants at Woodman Fen


                                                   Woodland surrounding Woodman Fen

Fens, along with 90% of wetlands that existed before Europeans settled Ohio, have been destroyed.  They were drained for farming, and development of our towns and roads.  The fen is critical in absorbing water runoff, cleaning water, and preventing flooding.  The unique plant communities are found nowhere else.  And birds and animals need the habitat to breed and feed.
       Goldenrod and Asters

                                                         Cattails in Woodman Fen Soil

At the Woodman Fen, a border area was restored as a prairie.  Over 6000 native plants were started in a three acre portion on the property on the west side adjacent to neighboring homes.

                                       Native wildflowers in Prairie

                                                    Woodman Fen with Plants in Wet Environment

The restoration of the Woodman Fen is still evolving.  The plants are re-establishing this unique ecosystem.  And I appreciate the efforts of Five Rivers MetroParks, and the many volunteers that contributed to the project.

Do you have a conservation area near you?  Share it with us. 
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