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.
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.
Habitat Enhancement & Restoration Project
Beginning in 2012, the Nature Center began converting old agricultural fields and other fallow, open areas into native prairies. By planting a mixture of wildflowers and warm-season grasses, we strive to create critical habitat for native pollinators and nesting sites for birds, turtles, and small mammals. Additionally, by creating stable prairie habitat, we are reducing the likelihood that our fields can be colonized by invasive species.
Not only do these prairies provide visitors with an incredibly rich backdrop for hikes, but the management of our prairies can be an exciting experience if you’re lucky enough to catch us in the act.
Plants that inhabit prairies are adapted to wildfires. In fact, periodic burning of prairies stimulates plant growth and reproduction, and eliminates invasive species that are not adapted to being burned. To manage these prairies in a more natural and effective way, we use prescribed fires to help remove the dead plant material and ensure our prairies remain diverse.
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.