UNION TOWNSHIP — This past weekend a 35-acre field was fully planted with native prairie seed and come next year and the year after, the 4-to-8 feet tall Big Bluestem bunchgrass, wildflowers, and forbs with their showy flowers are expected to really kick in.
The field is part of the 220-acre Todd’s Fork Preserve off North Nelson Road near Wilmington. The nature preserve site has approximately a half mile of frontage on the Todd’s Fork of the Little Miami National Scenic River, a 100-plus acre woods, and a stone house reportedly built in 1820.
Among the wildflower seeds planted on the sunny Saturday were Golden Alexander, compass plant (a flowering plant in the aster family), Blazing Star, and Stiff Golden Rod, said Cardinal Land Conservancy Inc. Executive Director Andy Dickerson.
He quickly added that believe it or not, Stiff Golden Rod “is a good plant, not like regular giant old-field Golden Rod.” Moreover, it’s a state-listed species of plant.
“We plant really light, almost on top of the soil, and all we need is seed/soil contact and when the water comes, magic happens,” said Dickerson.
In the fullness of time, the wildflowers are going to be seed and food for birds and bees all summer long.
There were earlier work projects this year, as well. There have been two tree plantings so far this year and three last year, during which thousands of trees were planted by the private, nonprofit conservation organization Cardinal Land Conservancy and volunteers.
A Cardinal staffer, who also is a member of the American Chestnut Foundation, was able to secure about 45 American Chestnut Trees. They are close to being blight-resistant, said Dickerson, because they are bred one-16th Chinese Chestnut and the Chinese Chestnut is not susceptible to Chestnut blight.
“We are tracking those with a GPS and reporting back annually to the American Chestnut Foundation,” he said.
The American Chestnut Trees, he added, used to be monsters on the landscape in Ohio.
“Not necessarily in Clinton County but close to here; we’re trying to get them back,” said Dickerson.
Saturday’s service day also saw invasive plants getting cleared from an old wooden fence row.
They’re hoping that in the next three to four weeks a gravel parking lot will be created.
Currently, the nature preserve is open by appointment. Eventually they plan to have signage up and the parking straight, and then will open it to the public during daylight hours for people to come out and see.
Todd’s Fork Preserve was acquired by Cardinal Land Conservancy Inc. in 2017 with Clean Ohio Conservation Funds.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.