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Restoring Riparian Natives at Wright Patt
Midwest Region, August 26, 2016
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Jenny Finfera, Columbus Ohio Field Office, is ready to get to work planting these native tree seedlings at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
Jenny Finfera, Columbus Ohio Field Office, is ready to get to work planting these native tree seedlings at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Deborah Millsap, Columbus Ohio Field Office, gets down and dirty planting native hydrophytes in the Wright Patterson Air Force Base wetland.
Deborah Millsap, Columbus Ohio Field Office, gets down and dirty planting native hydrophytes in the Wright Patterson Air Force Base wetland. - Photo Credit: USFWS
A young bur oak, planted as a bare root seedling in early spring, reaches for the sun in early summer.
A young bur oak, planted as a bare root seedling in early spring, reaches for the sun in early summer. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Bergamot and black-eyed susans thrive after spring plantings in a Wright Patterson Air Force Base stream riparian zone.
Bergamot and black-eyed susans thrive after spring plantings in a Wright Patterson Air Force Base stream riparian zone. - Photo Credit: USFW

In the spring of 2016, staff from the Columbus, Ohio Ecological Services Field Office planted more than 2,000 native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers along streams and wetlands at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Wright Patt is famous as home to the Wright Brothers’ famous flying field. Less well known, however, is the history of wetland draining and stream channelization in the area, as land was converted first to agriculture, and then to a major Air Force Base. In 2010, Wright Patt restored several channelized streams and degraded wetlands to compensate for stream and wetland impacts required during expansion of base infrastructure. 

The Columbus, Ohio Field Office has been monitoring ecological performance of the restored streams and wetlands since 2014. Monitoring results indicated that wildlife habitat and aesthetics of the stream and wetland riparian zones could be significantly improved by planting and preserving a diverse assemblage of native wildflowers, grasses, trees and shrubs. So, in April of this year, Service staff and Wright Patt planted plugs, pots and bare root seedlings of more than 40 species of native plants around the four restored streams and two restored wetlands. Service personnel also installed signage at the edge of riparian zones to ensure that the newly planted areas are protected from regular mowing and spraying.

Benefits from the riparian plantings will be three-fold: 1) dense vegetation will improve water quality by slowing water runoff and settling out sediment, as well as providing uptake of excess nutrients by riparian plants; 2) native plants will provide habitat for pollinators, migratory birds, and the federally listed Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat; and 3) riparian plantings in “high-traffic” parts of the base will provide “naturescapes” and improve aesthetics for base personnel. Interpretive signage in high-traffic areas is planned for FY 17, and will help base personnel appreciate the value of riparian zones to water quality, wildlife habitat and aesthetics. The Ohio Field Office looks forward to continuing our partnership with Wright Patt in the coming years as we work together to integrate wildlife conservation, water quality improvements and the aesthetics of native plants into the ongoing base mission.


Contact Info: Jeromy Applegate, 614-469-6923, ext. 21, jeromy_applegate@fws.gov
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