Conservation

Stream with small waterfall

Miller Place Property 

Miller Place is a residential development with 1,445 planned housing units on a 271 acre parcel off Rumpke Road.  The property abuts Rowe Woods near the Red Wing Trail.  The tributary that drains most of the property flows into the West Branch of Avey’s Run.

Everyone can do their part to help protect our planet. Below are a few "Random Acts of Conservation" that include simple things we can do in our everyday lives, which collectively can make a huge positive impact on the environment. 

Cincinnati Nature Center values a commitment to sustainability. We strive to make choices that are environmentally responsible, economically viable, and socially equitable for the long-term stability of our organization, our region and the earth.

The Nature Center is making environmentally responsible choices through a variety of projects.

Pond with algae

Home Habitat Enhancement Resource List - CLICK HERE

Conservation Organizations 

The Nature Conservancy | www.nature.org
UCDavis | www.yccs.ucdavis.edu

Gardening/Plant Conservation

Information on resources of native plants to birds | CLICK HERE
American Horticultural Society | www.ahsgardening.org
Center for Plant Conservation | www.centerforplantconservation.org
The Ohio PawPaw Growers Association | www.ohiopawpaw.com 
Nature Works Everywhere | www.natureworkseverywhere.org/#gardens

For Homeowners 

Ohio Backyard Habitat | www.backyardhabitat.info
National Wildlife Federation | www.nwf.org/garden
Monarch Joint Venture | www.monarchjointventure.org
Bringing Nature Home | www.bringingnaturehome.net
All About Birds | www.allaboutbirds.org
Native Plants in Backyard Gardens | www.USAtoday.com
USDA: Backyard Woods | www.fs.usda.gov

For Farmers 

National Resources Conservation Service | www.nrcs.usda.gov

Monitoring and research are essential to accurately assessing the progress or failure of land management and restoration programs. Cincinnati Nature Center currently participates in research projects involving staff, volunteers, “citizen scientists” and local and national initiatives. Some are large scale programs that require participants to send in data to a national database, such as eBird, Frogwatch USA and the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Others are more detailed, stringent monitoring efforts that seek to answer specific questions.  Many of these are conducted by local universities, utilizing the Nature Center’s land as a lab.

Cincinnati Nature Center currently has three volunteer biological monitoring teams made up of over 40 volunteers that study bluebird nesting boxes, butterflies and vernal pool and pond breeding amphibians. An expansion of our facilities will afford countless more opportunities to partner and collaborate on meaningful research projects. Long term monitoring will potentially produce outcomes that will affect land management techniques for the broader world community. 

A field line

With 1,662 acres, Cincinnati Nature Center is the largest private land owner in Clermont County. Despite the high quality of green space we protect, there is still the need to preserve lands adjacent to our property. Urbanization and agricultural land use have decreased native habitat, disconnecting important natural riparian and forested corridors for wildlife. With the new Center for Conservation, the Nature Center can expand its role as a leader for land preservation in the region. Cincinnati Nature Center is a strategic partner for the Cardinal Land Conservancy, created in 2015 from the merger of three small trusts. Cardinal Land Conservancy provides land protection services to un-served and under-served areas of a seven county area of South West Ohio. The Center for Conservation will work closely with the Clermont County Area Council of Cardinal Land Conservancy.  

Small pond with yellow flowers and a small waterfall

Looking for some tips and tricks for creating your own backyard habitat? We've got you covered!

Just click here for PDF full of info on planting native plants and more!

Brood X Cicada Photos from Around the CincyNature Community

It's that time again! Every 17 years, periodical cicadas (this ground is known as Brood X) emerge from underground in the late spring. They climb trees, shed the form they held underground, and begin to "sing" their little insect hearts out as they look for mates. The last time we saw these creatures was 2004—back when Brittney Spears was the Queen of Pop and Facebook was just a little app for college students. 

Below, we've compiled a list of FAQs about these small, but noisy, critters. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to cnc@cincynature.org, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, or stop by to learn more about them. They won't be here long -- by the end of June, their babies will be back underground for the next 17 years. 

Want to help scientists studying periodical cicadas map their emergence and learn more about them? Download the Cicada Safari app and help us map Brood X’s emergence! 

 

Pop Quiz: Cicada Style!

Before you read on, test your cicada knowledge on our Kahoot pop quiz and see where you rank!

Test Your Cicada Knowledge!

Field of yellow and white flowers

Conversations on Conservation

About  | Hosted by the Center for Conservation at Cincinnati Nature Center, this new series promotes science with solutions by sharing information about conservation research and initiatives and by connecting like-minded people who want to help make a difference.

Squirrel on branch with nut

Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) Program (Virtual Course)

SUMMER 2021 SESSION

Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 8th – July 29, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM on Zoom

Hosted by Cincinnati Nature Center in collaboration with OSU Extension in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.  For more information see https://ocvn.osu.edu/

$265 for the full course including all reading materials, certification fee with OSU, and optional field day

This very popular course has been delivered online for over 150 happy customers since last summer to comply with OSU’s Covid guidelines. The mission of the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program is to “promote awareness and citizen stewardship of Ohio's natural resources through science-based education and community service”. The program emphasizes hands-on natural resource and environmental education coupled with volunteer service. Coursework includes training in geology, plants, insects, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, ecology, stewardship, and interpretation. Classes are offered throughout the state, and Cincinnati Nature Center is the largest provider.

All required classes are on Zoom.  Cincinnati Nature Center is sponsoring one OPTIONAL free in-person field day at Rowe Woods in Milford using strict Covid protocols.

Participants of this OCVN course will have 32 hours of live online class time and will be required to do 10 hours of independent outdoor investigations and journaling, plus readings and multiple choice quizzes.  You must have access to a computer and internet to take this course.

To receive certification, upon completing the OCVN course participants must document 40 hours of volunteer service at any Ohio organization with a compatible program mission. After certification, 20 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of continuing education are required annually to remain certified. If you choose not to pursue certification, you are still welcome to take this course for your own knowledge and enjoyment.  

This is a great way to meet like-minded new friends and get to know nature center staff while taking your commitment to nature a step further!  For more information contact Connie O’Connor at coconnor@cincynature.org.

Available to adults and mature teens 16 and up.  Application deadline is May 20, 2021, but spots fill fast so don’t delay!

Program Benefits:

  • Learn about the biology, ecology, and natural history of Ohio and how to share the  knowledge with others.
  • Become part of a local and statewide network of dedicated volunteers.
  • Apply your talents and passion to protecting, restoring, and understanding Ohio's natural treasures.
  • Meet experts in a variety of fields.

Attendance is mandatory. Do not register if you will miss more than one class.

All sessions are virtual on Zoom and offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8 pm (except for the choice of an optional field day on July 10.

  • Tuesday, June 8, 2021 - Welcome
  • Thursday, June 10, 2021 - Geology
  • Tuesday June 15, 2021 - Soils
  • Thursday, June 17, 2021 - Watersheds
  • Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - Plants
  • Thursday, June 24,2021 - Forests
  • Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - Ornithology
  • Thursday July 1, 2021 - Aquatic Life
  • Tuesday, July 6, 2021 - Interpretation
  • Thursday July 8, 2021 - Entomology
  • Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - Herpetology
  • Thursday, July 15, 2021 - Mammals/Bats
  • Saturday, July 17, 2021 – OPTIONAL Field Day from 9 am – 3 pm 
  • Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - Pollination
  • Thursday, July 22, 2021 - Ecology
  • Tuesday July 27, 2021 - Stewardship
  • Thursday July 29, 2021 - Wrap /Volunteer

All cancellations are subject to a $50 administrative fee per request. Cancellations made with less than two weeks’ notice will not be refunded.

Education

The new Center for Conservation serves an educational role for many different groups both inside and outside Cincinnati Nature Center.

Our staff shares information on what tools, methods and resources land owners and land managers need to become better stewards of their land. Information is presented through workshops, classes and conferences, both at the Center and off-site. 

Bee on purple flowers

Native Plant Propagation Program

One of the Center for Conservation’s newest projects, the Native Plant Propagation Program, is well underway at the Nature Center. The goal of this initiative is to develop a resource for acquiring native plants, shrubs, and trees for habitat restoration projects on Nature Center lands, in addition to distributing and selling these native plants to the general public.

By using both a greenhouse at Rowe Woods and a nursery at Long Branch Farm & Trails, the Center for Conservation has the tools and resources readily available to grow these native plants. Through upcoming programs and plant sales at the Nature Center, the plants and seeds will be available for purchase and provide homeowners, schools, businesses, churches, and garden clubs with a way to increase native plant diversity in the Greater Cincinnati community.

Products of this initiative will be native perennial forbs, woody shrubs, and trees.  Specific plants will include milkweed, purple coneflower, spicebush, pawpaw trees, and many others.

Our fall Native Plant Sale begins September 20 and runs through October 20. It will include selections from the Native Plant Propagation Program. Be sure to stop by the Rowe Visitor Center and check out what we have in stock!

 

Trail in woods lined with wood fence

Trail Management

Cincinnati Nature Center has nearly 20 miles of award-winning hiking trails, which continue to be one of our most popular attractions. Many of these trails have been in existence for over 40 years, making trail maintenance an ongoing responsibility. But maintaining existing trails and building new ones requires more than simply refilling surface materials or removing fallen branches.

Trail usage, construction and maintenance have an impact on the land, and we must make environmentally responsible choices. Part of the new Center’s focus will be on developing a trail management plan, using detailed assessments on the current condition of all trails and recommended action steps to stabilize trails for current and future use.

And, as a regional leader, the Nature Center will be able to consult with other organizations and communities on creating and maintaining responsible trails.

Invasive Species in Ohio 

In early 2018, a new Ohio law has banned the sale and distribution of 38 destructive, invasive species. These plants may look beautiful, but they cause havoc on our land and effect other species that are native to this area. 

Click here to read more about this new law in an article from The Columbus Dispatch. 

The 38 Invasive Species includes:
(1) Ailanthus altissima, tree-of-heaven;
(2) Alliaria petiolata, garlic mustard;
(3) Berberis vulgaris, common barberry;
(4) Butomus umbellatus, flowering rush;
(5) Celastrus orbiculatus, oriental bittersweet;
(6) Centaurea stoebe ssp. Micranthos, spotted knapweed;
(7) Dipsacus fullonum, common teasel;
(8) Dipsacus laciniatus, cutleaf teasel;
(9) Egeria densa Brazilian, elodea;
(10) Elaeagnus angustifolia, russian olive;
(11) Elaeagnus umbellata, autumn olive;
(12) Epilobium hirsutum; hairy willow herb;
(13) Frangula alnus, glossy buckthorn;
(14) Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed;
(15) Hesperis matronlis, dame’s rocket;
(16) Hydrilla verticillata, hydrilla;
(17) Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, european frog-bit;
(18) Lonicera japonica, japanese honeysuckle;
(19) Lonicera maackii, amur honeysuckle;
(20) Lonicera morrowii, morrow’s honeysuckle;
(21) Lonicera tatarica, tatarian honeysuckle;
(22) Lythrum salicaria, purple loosestrife;
(23) Lythrum virgatum, european wand loosestrife;
(24) Microstegium vimineum, japanese stiltgrass;
(25) Myriophyllum aquaticum, parrotfeather;
(26) Myriophyllum spicatum, eurasian water-milfoil;
(27) Nymphoides peltata, yellow floating heart;
(28) Phragmites australis, common reed;
(29) Potamogeton crispus, curly-leaved pondweed;
(30) Pueraria montana var. lobate, kudzu;
(31) Pyrus calleryana, callery pear;
(32) Ranunculus ficaria, fig buttercup/lesser celandine;
(33) Rhamnus cathartica, european buckthorn;
(34) Rosa multiflora; multiflora rose;
(35) Trapa natans, water chestnut;
(36) Typha angustifolia, narrow-leaved cattail;
(37) Typha x glauca, hybrid cattail; 
(38) Vincetoxicum nigrum, black dog-strangling vine, black swallowwort.

Banner of field on fire with "Prescribed Burns" written across it

Prescribed Burns

Spring at Cincinnati Nature Center means lots of great things for our natural areas. It means the usual spring peepers, nesting birds, fawns, and buds on trees and flowers begin to emerge. This year though spring also means fire. Fire is not what most thinks of when they think about spring, but at the nature center it’s actually what we have been looking forward to all winter. The Center for Conservation has been preparing to conduct prescribed burns in our prairie habitats and, as soon as the weather conditions are right, we will be putting fire in them.

Prairie habitats in this region have adapted to fire and actually thrive after a burn. Prescribed burns reduce the number of woody growth in the prairie, control invasive plants, reduce the buildup of dead plant material which allows sunlight to reach the ground and makes it easier for animals to move around, stimulates native seed germination and recycles nutrients. Prescribed burning improves the quality of our prairie habitat. So, if you are out walking trails this spring keep an eye out for one of these fields!

Current Stewardship Projects

Check back soon for more information about our current stewardship projects happening now. 

Nature Center Lands

Cincinnati Nature Center harbors a rich diversity of native habitats including forests, fields, wetlands, ponds, lakes and streams. These habitats are home to thousands of plants and animals. Some animals, such as the barn owl and spotted salamander are rare, while others like white-tail deer can become over-populated and cause damage to these habitats. Some species, like bush honeysuckle and lesser celandine are non-native, invasive species and out-compete native species. These biological invasions can cause a loss in native biodiversity and threaten our high quality habitats.

Baby bird in a nest

Bluebird Monitoring  

Every Friday, April 9 - August 13, 11-11:30 am

Join a naturalist for a hands-on bluebird learning experience. Discover how and why we monitor our bluebird boxes and then head out to the boxes to see which ones are occupied and by who. Members $5; nonmembers $10 (includes daily admission). Please click your preferred date below to register.

Friday, April 9

Friday, April 16

Friday, April 23

Friday, April 30

Friday, May 7

Friday, May 14

Friday, May 21

Friday, May 28

Friday, June 4

Friday, June 11

Friday, June 18

Friday, June 25

Friday, July 2

Friday, July 9

Friday, July 16

Friday, July 23

Friday, July 30

Friday, August 6

Friday, August 13

Community Science at Cincinnati Nature Center

Community science is a great way to get involved in scientific research. In this unique partnership, the general public and scientists work together to collect data on a number of environmental topics. From bird studies, to water quality surveys, to mapping tree populations in a specific region, the work done through community science projects is invaluable in helping shape our understanding of the natural world. The best part? Anyone can get involved! Find a project that speaks to you below:

 

A Cicada Social Story to Share with Young Children

One of our naturalists found a great social story from years back about periodical cicadas. Many thanks to Kim Singleton, MS CCC- SLP & Fran Teller, OTR/L for the original and allowing us to make modifications for this year! Please share with your colleagues and OTs / SLPs you know to help children prepare for the main event.

Miller Place Property Plan Updates

A citizen’s Legislative Committee was formed to submit the Petition for a Ballot Referendum on Union Township’s Resolution on Miller Place.  If you have questions or wish to provide support for The Committee’s cause, contact:

               Committee to Protect Avey’s Way
               4664 Rustic Way
               Cincinnati, OH 45245
               millerplacecommittee@gmail.com  or  wingmedia@fuse.net
            

Timeline:

01/27/2020 – Cincinnati Nature Center submitted a Motion for Final Judgment on January 3rd asking Judge McBride to clarify his December ruling, in particular to resolve the issue of whether a referendum regarding the original Resolution 2018-52 should move forward or not.  Judge McBride heard arguments regarding this on January 15th and provided his final judgment on the 27th.  McBride stated that, “Resolution 2018-52 was never lawfully adopted in compliance with R.C. 519.12, and a vote of the electorate, either to approve or to disapprove Resolution 2018-52, cannot change the fact that the Resolution 2018-52 has already been determined to be unlawful as not having been adopted in compliance with Ohio law.  What is now unlawful cannot be made lawful simply by the result of a referendum election…[Therefore,] the court would agree that the referendum election requirement is moot at this time.”

 

12/6/19 - Judge McBride, in a 57-page decision, agreed with the arguments made by the Cincinnati Nature Center and the other plaintiffs in all but one count.   Judge McBride specifically found:

  • That Union Township’s Resolution 2018-52 effectively rezoned the property from R-1 and ER to R-4, and in so doing violated the Union Township Zoning Resolution.
  • That Union Township improperly changed the zoning designation of the Property by failing to follow the procedures set out under Ohio Revised Code Section 519.12.
  • That the Petition for a Writ of Mandamus was granted, ordering the Union Township Board of Trustees to certify the referendum petitions to the Board of Elections.
  • The Court did not find that there was a Constitutional violation. 

8/21/19 – Angeleke Sansalone voluntarily dismissed the $20M counterclaim against CNC and the other plaintiffs.

8/12/19 - The U.S. District Court for SW District of Ohio was approached by Sansalone to amend the original Consent Decree to effectively allow the multi-family housing development.  Judge Dlott (the judge who issued the original Consent Decree in 2000) denied this motion to amend and further indicated that she would not intervene in this pending case, indicating that this request constituted a significant change outside the bounds of reasonable amendments to the original Consent Decree.

7/31/19 - Judge McBride heard arguments for a Motion for Summary Judgment on the claim pertaining to the Union Township’s revised development plan (Resolution 2018-52) for Miller Place.

7/1/19 - Judge McBride heard arguments pertaining to CNC’s Motion to Dismiss the Counterclaim for damages against the plaintiffs.

4/15/19 - Angeleke Sansalone, owner of the Miller Place property, filed a counterclaim against Cincinnati Nature Center, the Committee to Protect Avey’s Way and four individuals (Maria Keri, Mark Lutz, Anne Robinson, and Robb Wing) alleging that the lawsuit filed by the Nature Center and the Committee to Protect Avey’s Way on November 27, 2018 entitles her to up to $20 million in damages.

NEXT STEP:  Attorneys for Cincinnati Nature Center and the Committee to Protect Avey’s Way will be filing a motion to dismiss this counterclaim.  

3/14/19 - Judge McBride issued decisions on the three outstanding motions:

Motion to consolidate both suit into one case (Filed by the Nature Center, Committee to Protect Avey’s Way, Maria Keri and Anne Robinson)

  • Judge’s Ruling:  agreed to consolidate the remaining claims into one case
  • Impact: the suits go to hearing together as one case

Motion to dismiss writ of mandamus suit regarding Ballot Referendum (Filed by Union Township and property owner Sansalone):

  • Judge’s ruling:  denied the motion to dismiss
  • Impact: the case survives and goes to hearing consolidated with other suit

Motion to dismiss Consent Decree suit (Filed by Union Township and property owner Sansalone)

  • Judge’s ruling:
    • dismissed claims in Counts 1 & 2 relating to violation of the Consent Decree
    • dismissed claims in Count 5 regarding the potential illegal use of eminent domain
    • Committee for the Protection of Avey’s Way, Maria Keri and Anne Robinson do not have standing to seek enforcement of the Consent Decree
    • Judge McBride found “the Consent Decree did not change the zoning of the property from R-1 and ER to another zoning designation.”  He later states, “although the property remains zoned as R-1 and ER in name, Union Township has effectively rezoned the Property” with the Resolution it passed 10/25/18.
  • Impact:
    • Both CNC and the Committee remain as plaintiffs in the consolidated case.
    • The case is focused on Union Township’s Resolution relative to zoning, not whether it violated the Consent Decree.
    • The case goes forward.

NEXT STEP: Judge McBride will schedule a case management conference within ten days to proceed with the consolidated case.

2/21/19 - Judge McBride issued a written decision to DENY the Motion to Disqualify. He has set Monday 2/25 at 1:00 pm to hear arguments on Union Township’s two Motions to Dismiss and the Nature Center’s Motion to Consolidate both suits into one case before the Common Pleas court.

2/14/19 - Judge McBride stated that property owner Sansalone’s Motion to Disqualify Strauss-Troy from representing Cincinnati Nature Center must be addressed before the case can proceed.  He indicated he would issue a written decision within a week.

2/7/19 - Judge McBride, stated the motion to disqualify S-T must be dealt with before the case can proceed.  He scheduled a hearing for that purpose next Thursday, February 14 at 12:30 pm.

1/29/19 - Council for Miller Place property owner Sansalone filed a motion to disqualify Strauss & Troy, the nature center’s council, claiming a conflict of interest.  This is based on another S-T attorney many years ago preparing an estate plan for the Sansalones. Prior to taking our case, S-T asked the Bar Association for an opinion (common practice, but not legally binding). The opinion was no conflict.

1/9/19 - Case re-assigned to Judge Jerry McBride

1/4/19 - Nature Center files memo in opposition to motions to dismiss and files a motion to expedite (February 6 is deadline for issues to be placed on May ballot)

12/24/18 - Union Township files a motion to dismiss the Declaratory Judgment

12/18/18 - Cincinnati Nature Center and Committee to Protect Avey’s Way file Motion to Consolidate the cases.

12/14/18 - Committee to Protect Avey’s Way files petition for writ of mandamus in Clermont Common Pleas Court asking court to require petitions to be submitted to Board of Elections.

12/4/18 - Union Township Trustees reject petitions claiming Resolution was not a zoning issue and therefore not subject to Ballot Referendum.

11/27/18 - Cincinnati Nature Center and Committee for Protection of Avey’s Way file declaratory judgement arguing Union Township has violated  State Law regarding Township Zoning.

11/21/18 - 3,879 signatures on 299 petitions submitted to Union Township by Committee to Protect Avey’s Way.

10/25/18 - Union Township Trustee approve Resolution for Miller Place with 1,445 residential units including 850 apartments

 

  

Background

On 10/25/18 the Union Township Trustees passed the Miller Place Revised Development Plan Resolution 2018-52. It provides for 1,445 residential units (875 rental units, 570 single family units) on the undeveloped 271 acre property on Rumpke Road. It represents two major modifications of the federal Consent Decree signed in 2000 by Union Township and the property owner Anthony M. Sansalone, Trustee: 

  • Increase in the number of residential units from 575 to 1,445, and
  • Rezones the property with the inclusion of multi-family apartments.

Cincinnati Nature Center and many neighbors adjacent to Rumpke Road are concerned about this plan.  The township trustees have not followed the law for rezoning in Clermont County. The plan should have been submitted to the Clermont County Planning Commission, the Township Zoning Commission and the Township Trustees, where there would have been an opportunity to obtain traffic studies, storm water & sewage planning and public input prior to making such a drastic zone change. The increase of 870 residential units could have a significant detrimental impact on the Nature Center’s Rowe Woods, the neighborhood and the surrounding region due to:

  • Increased surface run-off during construction and ongoing afterwards harming Avey’s Run and Barg Salt Run streams due to erosion, increased sediment and pollutants
  • Increased traffic on Old Route 74
  • Using eminent domain and public funds to acquire land for the private benefit of the developers to create a second access onto Old 74 through Melody Lane
  • Unplanned financial demands on the township due increased services for police, fire, streets and schools

 


Complaint for Declaratory Judgment

News Stories and Clips

Union Township neighbors fight back against development with petition drive (www.local12.com) November 30, 2018
Miller Place Press Release November 29, 2018
Miller Place opposition in Union Township takes action (www.Cincinnati.com) November 29, 2018 
Some Union Township neighbors oppose 1,445-unit development plan (www.local12.com) October 23, 2018

 

Additional questions?

Contact Jeff Corney, JCorney@CincyNature.org or 513-965-4246

 

Media Contacts

Marian Perkowski, MPerkowski@CincyNature.org or 513-965-4249
Jeff Sperry, JSperry@CincyNature.org or 513-965-4895    

Center for Conservation banner

The Center for Conservation was created as a response to the growing need for collaborative conservation across the Midwest region. Our vision is to engage in conservation-focused activities that have direct positive impacts on the natural areas and human lives in the Tri-State region. The Center is invested in the preservation and restoration of native habitats in and around the Cincinnati-TriState region. Our approach is holistic, and our view of the natural areas across SW Ohio is one of integrated landscapes; that is, people and wildlife living together. Thus, in addition to land management practices, we place equal stewardship value on educational programming, recreation, public engagement in conservation & sustainability, and cultural & formal events.

To ensure that we align our efforts with these philosophies, the Center houses both the Department of Stewardship as well as the Department of Education. As the education and stewardship arm of a nature center and 1650 acre wildlife preserve, our approach to conservation includes nature-centric public educational programming and data-centric land stewardship that includes post-management monitoring. In practice, this often includes a blending of education and stewardship into practical workshops and volunteer land steward & monitoring programs.

Purple and yellow flowers along with a tree surrounding a pond

Funding programs such as the Clean Ohio Fund has equipped us with the opportunity to expand land preservation. Recently, nearly 50 acres of forested land along O’Bannon Creek was preserved adjacent to Long Branch Farm & Trails. This property was at risk for development and has increased our protection of vital riparian habitat along nearly three miles of O’Bannon Creek. We have an opportunity to not only increase land preservation to provide a safe natural environment for visitor benefit, but also gives us the opportunity to consider being a leader for land preservation in the region. With an ever growing need for land preservation in the region, such as along riparian corridors and forested areas, the Nature Center will utilize the development of the Center for Conservation to increase our role in land preservation in the region. 

Algaewheels

Algaewheel Sanitary Treatment System

The Algaewheel Sanitary Treatment System is an innovative wastewater system that provides a diverse ecological environment for effective wastewater treatment using the symbiotic relationship between algae and bacteria. The algae serve to supply the oxygen required by the bacteria and likewise the bacteria supply the carbon dioxide required by the algae. Learn more about the Algaewheel!

Flower pot  with "Plant Native brochures inside and an artificial orange butterfly

Plant NATIVE!

Why should you plant native flowers, shrubs and trees in your yard?

  • Native plants are more likely to survive and thrive.
  • Once established, native plants are easy to maintain, use less water and look gorgeous.
  • Native plants provide food and shelter for butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife.
  • Your yard can become a much needed natural space for urban wildlife—and a safe resting spot for migrating animals like birds and Monarch butterflies.
  • Your native garden will become an important part of saving our local, natural beauty by stopping invasive plants from taking over our lands.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the importance of planting native!

 

Common Native Plants 

We’re often asked what to plant in yards and the answer is always .... it depends. It depends on what your yard is like, how much sun there is, if it stays wet or dry, what kind of soil you have, etc. But, here is a list of a few of the common plants we love to recommend (and you’ll often find in our semi-annual plant sales).

We facilitate research on our lands to:

  • Increase knowledge about ecosystem ecology and natural history of this region’s indigenous habitats
  • Inform the Nature Center and the surrounding region about effective ecological restoration techniques
  • Inform the Nature Center about effective management of native and non-native habitats for biodiversity
  • Inform the Nature Center about the impact and management of native and non-native invasive species
  • Engage high school and college students in field study and/or research
  • Encourage “citizen science” efforts to foster stewardship
  • Help citizens better understand their impact on the natural world
Cicada on a tree

Cicada FAQ 

Conversations on Conservation: Fostering Empathy for Wildlife (Online)

Sunday, November 7, 2-4 pm

What role does empathy play in conservation? Jim Wharton is the Director of Conservation Engagement and Learning at the Seattle Aquarium. He will be discussing what it means to have empathy for wildlife, why we empathize with some animals more easily than others, dive into the swampy domain of anthropomorphism, and discuss how institutions like the Seattle Aquarium are using empathy to save species. Free for all!

Father and Son feeding fish from the dock

The conservation message looks very different for young children than it does for adults.  It's important not to scare children with problems beyond their control.  Learn more about developmentally appropriate messaging in this blog.

"Fear Not" by Connie O'Connor

Map of burn sites

Map of Burn Sites

The fields highlighted above are scheduled to be burned periodically throughout the spring months in 2018. On burn dates, trail closures will occur for a short amount of time. 

Fields at Rowe Woods that are scheduled to be burned this spring include:

  1. Lookout Fields
  2. Whitetail Trace Prairie
  3. Redwing Field

Land Steward Volunteer Program

Since 2008, land stewardship staff and volunteers have treated over 500 acres of invasive species such as Amur “bush” honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, multi-flora rose, autumn olive and garlic mustard. Other species, such as tree-of-heaven and lesser celandine have been a focus of stewardship staff members. In total, over 700 acres of land have been treated and/or retreated for invasive species.

Pond in the woods

Stream and Pond Monitoring at Rowe Woods and Long Branch Farm & Trails

Looking for an excellent reason to play in the water? Cincinnati stream and pond monitoring volunteers assess water quality by collecting and identifying macroinvertebrates. Depending on what species are found, and how many, we can estimate the water quality of our area. If you would like to learn more about how macroinvertebrates can be used to study water ecosystem health, please explore this resource from the US EPA.

For more information on signing up for this project, contact volunteer@cincynature.org or (513) 831-1711.

Areas of Focus: 

  • STEWARDSHIP: To maintain and enhance the Nature Center's lands as a “living laboratory” of biologically diverse native habitats

    • Native habitat enhancement and restoration
    • Invasive species management
    • Sustainable Trail maintenance

  • EDUCATION: To educate the community about the benefits and methods of conservation
    • Through programs, workshops, seminars
    • Variety of subjects – variety of formats
    • Focus programming on conservation initiatives (e.g. Milkweed to Monarchs)
    • Use the Nature Center's lands to demonstrate techniques
    • Provide student research experiences/opportunities
    • Through volunteer opportunities

  • COLLABORATION: To lead initiatives which improve land and water quality in the region and beyond

    • Support conservation practitioners through collaboration to address ecological challenges in this region
  • LAND PROTECTION: To protect greenspace in the region   
    • Acquiring adjacent lands to enhance and protect Cincinnati Nature Center's ecosystem
    • Increase greenspace protected through partnership with Cardinal Land Conservancy

  • RESEARCH: To carry out scientific research which informs our practices
    • Utilize research findings to guide land management decisions/practices
    • To contribute to body of local natural history ecology
    • To inform land management decisions on the Nature Center's lands
    • To support conservation initiatives
    • To provide educational opportunities for students
    • To engage people through Citizen Science programs
The Groesbeck Estate

A Home for the Center for Conservation

In 2017, the Nature Center renovated the historic Groesbeck Lodge, a 1920s English revival country house at Rowe Woods,  that now provides offices for the Center for Conservation staff and volunteers, as well as space for research labs and group meetings.

Stream in the woods

Avey’s Run Stream Restoration Project

The Avey’s Run Stream Restoration Project located along the Redwing Trail is an example of Cincinnati Nature Center's commitment to restoring and protecting stream habitat. Nearly 2,000 linear feet of stream in the East Branch of Avey’s Run was impacted by excess stormwater runoff and became unstable and uninhabitable by a large variety of native species. Natural channel design was used to restore and enhance stream habitat to increase native biodiversity.

Today native fish, macro invertebrates, and salamanders can be found along the restored section of stream.

What are cicadas?

Cicadas are insects that belong to the order “Hemiptera.” Hemiptera are unique insects because both their nymph and adult forms contain piercing mouthparts, known as beaks, which they use to suck fluids out of plants. This order of insects also includes aphids, leafhoppers, and shield bugs.  

The challenge of combating non-native invasive plants can seem overwhelming, but this blog explains why it's so important to never, ever, ever give up.

Check out a blog post about nature's land. Click here

Prescribed Burns FAQs

Habitat Enhancement & Restoration Project

In 2012, the nature center began converting some old field habitats to native prairies. This included removing non-native, including some invasive species, and replanting with native, warm-season grasses and forbs. These fields included the Lookout (across Tealtown Road) and Redwing Fields at Rowe Woods. Additionally, four fields at Long Branch Farm & Trails are currently in the process of being converted to prairie habitat. Be sure to check out the field adjacent to the maintenance access road next to the Woodpecker Trail in the summer of 2018.

Two bluebirds sitting on a birdhouse

Bluebird Monitoring at Rowe Woods and Long Branch Farm & Trails

Each summer, we actively monitor more than 100 Eastern Bluebird nest boxes! Nest boxes provide safe nesting habitat for local songbirds. Many songbirds rely on nest boxes because of declining natural nesting habitat. The Eastern Bluebird is one species that has been impacted by this loss.

To help the population rebound, volunteers strategically place nesting boxes to attract Eastern Bluebirds. Our volunteers track Bluebird nesting activity and add new nest boxes in areas that have successful nests. Additionally, we send our monitoring data to the Ohio Bluebird Society to contribute to their mission. 

For more information on signing up for this project, contact volunteer@cincynature.org or (513) 831-1711. You can also CLICK HERE to register to join us for one of our Friday Bluebird monitoring programs in April-August. 

Taking Root Logo

Taking Root Campaign

Taking Root is a collaborative initiative in the Greater Cincinnati tri-state region to address the loss of tree canopy due to invasive species such as the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. Trees provide many benefits to the region, including moderating temperatures, reducing stormwater runoff, stabilizing slopes and streambanks, sustaining wildlife and increasing property values. The goal: plant two million trees by 2020 in the Greater Cincinnati Region.

Cincinnati Nature Center is proud to partner with Ammon Nursery, Boone County Arboretum, The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Davey Resource Group, Great Parks of Hamilton County, The Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati, Green Umbrella, Hamilton County Planning and Development Department, Natorp’s, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council, Ohio DNR Division of Forestry, The Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Oxbow, Inc. and more!

 

Are cicadas dangerous to humans? 

No. Cicadas cannot sting or bite and pose no threat to humans or other animals. 

Conservation is a human behavior.  It is by understanding how and why people make decisions that we can help motivate change. Learn more in this blog. 

Check out the entire article here: "Conservation Action"

What is a prescribed burn? 

Prescribed burning is the thoughtful and skillful application of fire to a specific site under selected weather conditions to accomplish specific land management objectives. The principle of prescribed burning is that fire is a natural component of ecosystems. 

Within the adaptive management cycle, ongoing monitoring is necessary to ensure the intended results are met. Several volunteer monitoring programs have continued or been implemented to measure these results. These programs include vernal pool, bluebird, butterfly, water quality and bird surveys. These surveys help our stewardship staff determine the success or failure of management practices as well as identify potential issues before it is too late.

Yellow butterfly sitting on a purple shrub

Butterfly Monitoring at Rowe Woods

Contribute to one of the Nature Center's oldest community science programs by searching for butterflies! From April through October, a group of dedicated volunteers search for resident and migrant butterflies. Volunteers have been recording butterfly populations at the Nature Center for more than 20 years, building one of the few long-term butterfly datasets in the countryEach year, the data collected at Rowe Woods is sent to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for their records and to be managed by the Ohio Lepidopterists organization.

Click here to learn more about the Ohio Lepidopterists survey protocol. 

For more information on signing up for this project, contact volunteer@cincynature.org or (513) 831-1711.

Why are they so noisy? 

Male cicadas have a drum-like organ in their abdomen called a “tymbal.” Small muscles rapidly pull the tymbal in and out of shape. The cicada’s mostly hollow abdomen helps to amplify this sound. Male cicadas make noise to establish territory and attract females. Females and some male cicadas will also flick their wings to make a sound, but this is less common.  

Unlike most other insects, cicadas typically sing during the day. Their singing can reach 90 decibels, which is about the same as a lawnmower! 

These articles from past newsletters provide helpful information about pollinators and their natural history.

Bees in Your Garden Article

 

Bizarre Caterpillars

 

Butterfly Bistro

Why are prescribed burns utilized as a management tool?

The Center for Conservation’s goal is to “encourage native plant and animal diversity by improving the quality of our prairie habitat.” Utilizing prescribed burns to reach this goal is a safe and cost effective tool when properly planned and implemented.

Cardinal in snow

National Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Hit the trails this winter for the Annual Christmas Bird Count!  This is the nation's longest running community science bird project. Small groups will hike assigned routes to count every bird they see and hear to gather data to help determine bird populations across North America.   

For more information on signing up for this project, contact volunteer@cincynature.org or (513) 831-1711.

What are “periodical” cicadas? 

Periodical cicadas spend their lives underground and emerge either every 13 years or every 17 years. This is different from annual cicadas, which emerge every year. Annual cicadas can be found around the world. Periodical cicadas, however, are unique to North America.  

Periodical cicadas are known for their black bodies, clear wings, and big red eyes, whereas annual cicadas are green and black. 

Prescribed burns:

  • Reduce the amount of woody growth in prairie habitat.
  • Control invasive plants. Invasive plants have shallower root systems; they are less adapted to fire.
  • Reduce thatch layer accumulation. Thatch, a buildup of dead plant material, prevents sunlight from penetrating to the ground and inhibits animal mobility. After burning, plants vigorously sprout.
  • Stimulate native seed germination. Black earth warms up faster in early spring, giving seedlings a jump start on the growing season.
  • Recycle nutrients. Char is great fertilizer for plants.
Woodpecker hanging onto a bird feeder

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch at Rowe Woods

As part of Project FeederWatch, dedicated group of volunteers gather twice weekly during the winter months to count all birds that gather at the feeding stations outside the Visitor Center viewing windows. Data compiled is submitted to Cornell Labs for use in long term bird studies.

Sign up to join our Project FeederWatch sessions here!

Why are there so many of them? 

Cicadas are eaten by just about everything. For periodical cicadas, having a population size that numbers in the billions, possibly even trillions (as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre in some areas!), makes them much less impacted by predation. This helps ensure reproduction and continuation of the species.  

When is prescribed burning done and how often?

The Nature Center will conduct prescribed burns in the early spring and late fall. These two “burn seasons” occur during the months of February through April, November and December respectively. Burns must be conducted only when weather and field conditions allow. Often times, the decision to burn or not burn is made in a matter of hours or minutes based on these conditions. How often we burn a particular field depends on our land management objectives. Most of our prairies will be burned on a 3-year rotation.

Forest covered in snow with several tree with maple buckets

Sugar Maple Monitoring at Rowe Woods

Help us support our Maple Syrup Program!  Since 2003, we’ve tapped more than 100 of our Sugar Maple Trees to collect sap for our very own maple syrupOver the years, our staff and volunteers have crafted this into a hands-on educational experience for our members and visitorsIn 2019, we started officially identifying, tagging, and gathering specific information on the trees we tap. This data will allow us to track changes in sap flow and tree health over time.  

For more information on signing up for this project, contact volunteer@cincynature.org or (513) 831-1711.

What do cicadas eat? 

Cicadas eat xylem, the fluids contained within plants. This makes up both their food and water source. They use their beaks to suck these fluids out of the plants.  

What sort of training does a “burn manager” undergo?

A burn manager must complete the Ohio Certified Prescribed Fire Manager course offered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Forestry. One of the prerequisites to apply for the course is to have direct experience on a minimum of ten prescribed burns. After completing the course you will receive your certification. For more information visit the Ohio DNR website.

Yellow and black caterpillar on an orange flower

Monarch Larvae Monitoring

Each summer, volunteers at Cincinnati Nature Center survey patches of milkweed to monitor monarch eggs and larvae. The volunteers have surveyed a total of 28 different milkweed patches; 24 have been surveyed every year (excluding 2020) since 2015. Monitoring includes counting all eggs and larvae on each milkweed plant. At the end of the season, the data is sent to the Monarch Join Venture as part of the Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project.

For more information on signing up for this project, contact volunteer@cincynature.org or (513) 831-1711.

Where are periodical cicadas in between their emergences? 

Periodical cicadas spend their time underground feeding on the fluids in tree roots between their emergences. Contrary to popular belief, they do not hibernate during this time.  

 

How do fire crews stay safe during prescribed burns?

Our fire crews attend a training workshop that prepares them for what to expect on the day of a prescribed burn. For the actual burn our crews wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as a Nomex suit, leather boots, a helmet with face shield and gloves. They need to wear natural materials under the suit, goggles, and a respirator as well. A pre-burn safety briefing occurs before we put fire on the ground and weather conditions are checked regularly.

Firefly on grass

Mass Audubon Firefly Watch

Explore the flash and flair of fireflies in this unique, observational program. Volunteers learn to observe and record different fireflies' species and the date is used to monitor overall insect health in different areas. Data is reported to the Mass Audubon Firefly Watch Community Science Project

For more information on signing up for this project, contact volunteer@cincynature.org or (513) 831-1711.

Why do they stay underground for 17 years? 

Scientists still have a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to periodical cicadas, but it is believed that this timed emergence helps with predation. Most insectivores do not live for 17 years, so waiting this long to emerge from hiding means that no predators have evolved to feed specifically on cicadas. 

How do plants and animals cope with fire?

Our native plants and animals have adapted with fire as part of the ecosystem.

Animals in these habitats often flee from the area or burrow into the ground as fire passes through it. Our native prairie plants have deep root systems that allow them to regenerate after a fire.

Cincinnati Nature Center volunteers will also be walking each field right before a prescribed burn to flush out wildlife.

What is “Brood X”? 

“Brood X” (pronounced “brood ten”) is also known as the “Great Eastern Brood.” It is a brood of periodical cicadas that emerges every 17 years. Their last emergence was in 2004, and their next emergence will be this spring and summer (2021). 

What happens if you don’t burn fields? 

If we do not burn, trees and shrubs, as well as, invasive species move into prairie habitats and crowd out native wildflowers and grasses. Utilizing fire is the most ecologically appropriate and cost effective management technique to improve the quality of the habitat and control such invaders.

Where will Brood X emerge? 

Brood X’s emergence will span up to 15 states, including Ohio, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. 

While each brood has their own distinct range, periodical cicadas as a whole are exclusively found in the eastern and midwestern United States.  

Why are some areas burned, while others are not?

As part of our management plan some of our fields are left unburned so that wildlife can move from a burned field to an unburned field for food and shelter. Certain animal species prefer fields of different ages or stages. Burning in a rotation allows for multiple stages to occur at the Nature Center at any one time. This follows nationally recognized best management practices regarding prescribed prairie burns.

When will Brood X emerge? 

Brood X will emerge when the soil temperature 8 inches below ground reaches 64 degrees. This is typically sometime in mid-May, but can be earlier or later depending on the weather. They will likely be around until late June or early July. 

Will you be performing prescribed burns at Rowe Woods and Long Branch Farm & Trails?

We have prairies planted at both Rowe Woods and Long Branch Farm and Trails; therefore we will be burning at both locations. Over the next several years we will continue to plant prairie habitat and manage them with prescribed fire.

Will cicadas harm my plants? 

Generally speaking, no. Many people confuse cicadas with locusts, which actually can cause significant harm to crops, trees, and shrubs alike. However, mature trees and shrubs typically withstand no harm from cicadas. 

The only exception to this can be young, immature trees. Their branches can be damaged by female cicadas laying their eggs in them. If this is a concern for you, wrapping your young trees in mesh netting with holes under ¼” wide until the cicada emergence has ended can provide protection.  If you are hoping to plant trees, it is a good idea to wait until July when the emergence has ended, so as not to risk harming a young tree.  

Flowers, crops, and other garden plants are not typically affected by cicadas, as their stems are not sturdy enough to support their eggs. Click here for more information. 

 

 Will you be seeding the fields after a prescribed burn?

The prairies we are burning have previously been seeded with native wildflowers and grasses. Burning these areas will continue to stimulate the germination of these native seeds. In some cases, Nature Center staff may choose to overseed and/or transplant certain species into the fields after a burn to reach specific management objectives.

What are cicadas good for? 

Cicadas are a valuable part of our ecosystem. They provide a food source for just about anything that eats insects. Additionally, they prune mature trees, help aerate the soil, and return nitrogen back to the soil when they die and decompose. 

Should I burn on my own property?

Prescribed burns must be performed by an Ohio Certified Prescribed Burn Manager. During burn ban months (March, April, May, October and November) only with the permission of the Chief of the Division of Forestry are prescribed fires to be conducted. Depending on what your objective for your own property is will depend if you should burn your land.

Can you eat cicadas? 

While there are a number of weird and wonderful cicada recipes out there, it is not recommended that you eat cicadas. Their populations are fragile and eating them only contributes to declining numbers.  

How can I get involved?

Staff and volunteers must attend a formal training in order to be invited to an actual burn. Formal trainings will occur once a year or as needed. For more information or if you have further questions contact Olivia Espinoza, Natural Areas Coordinator, at (513) 831-1711 ext. 304 or oespinoza@cincynature.org.

What are the different stages in a cicada’s life cycle? 

Adult female cicadas use their ovipositor (a tube-like organ used for laying eggs) to cut a slit in a tree limb. They lay their tiny, rice-shaped eggs in this slit. Upon hatching from their eggs, young cicadas feed on the surrounding tree fluids. When they are ready, they climb out of their tree branch and dig a hole underground. Here, they begin to feed on the fluids in tree roots. They will spend many years being active underground. A few days prior to their emergence, the cicadas’ eyes will change from white to their signature orange or red. 

After 17 long years, the cicadas will create tunnels which allow them to emerge from the ground. Once they crawl from their tunnels in their nymph form, they will seek out a nearby vertical service, like a plant or a fence, and begin to shed their exoskeleton. Their adult skin will harden and their wings will inflate with fluid. In no time at all, they are a fully formed adult cicada. For all of this effort, adult cicadas live an extremely brief life. Their sole purpose during their adult life is to reproduce.   

What can we do to help conserve cicada populations? 

As cicadas spend many years just below the surface of the ground, they are extremely susceptible to sprays and pesticides that are applied to lawns. Foregoing the use of these things, or using less of them, can be hugely beneficial to cicadas.  

Habitat loss is another threat to cicadas. As trees are cut down, cicadas not only lose their food source, but also the eggs that may have been laid in that trees’ branches. Planting new trees and shrubs, and leaving existing trees and shrubs intact, is one of the most effective ways to help cicadas thrive.