FAIRBORN — Conservation easements put in place by the B-W Greenway Community Land Trust have protected approximately 570 acres of local land, guaranteeing that the way the property currently appears will be how it will look for generations to come.
“The land trusts, or easements, ensure that the development rights have been purchased,” B-W Greenway Founding Member Alan Donaldson said. “The land, if it’s agricultural, it remains agriculture land and it will never be developed. If it’s a wooded area, it will not have anything changed other than removing the invasive species. It’s trying to give it back to a more natural state.”
The B-W Greenway was born 20 years ago after the Wenrick Wetlands were donated to the Clark County Park District. Chairman and Founding Member Bob Jurick had read a National Geographic article that said wetlands would die if they were not connected to each other. He saw a need to connect with Wenrick Wetland in Medway with the Beaver Creek Wetlands in Beavercreek, which is where the “B-W” in B-W Greenway stems from.
“Likewise, at that time we were involved with the Sierra Club,” Jurick said. “[An individual had] a concept of [having] a green belt around Dayton … The greater-Dayton green belt — we were the first link in that green belt and emerald necklace. It’s based on Arthur Morgan’s emerald necklace.”
He initially approached the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association about protecting the properties with no success. However, when he approached the Tecumseh Land Trust with the same proposition, he was offered a spot on the board — a position he held for five years. There, he was able to receive mentor-ship until eventually he found that it was time to go out on his own.
Since, the B-W Greenway has protected approximately 570 acres, or 17 properties. Six are located in the City of Fairborn and Bath Township, making up 200 acres. They do it with the help of Clean Ohio grants.
“The Clean Ohio funds were voted for in all 88 counties in Ohio,” Donaldson said. “I think the sale was if you work in a different town than you live in, then driving back and forth you’re not going to see all development. There will be some agricultural land and meadows that will never be developed. People have bought into that and have enjoyed knowing that their dollars are going to preserve [land] for their lifetime and their children’s lifetime.”
A conservation easement initially asks about the property’s conservation value — is it worth preserving? As an easement is coming to fruition, it includes restricted uses for the area, such as building facilities on the property, putting up signage or fencing, fracking, ect. It also includes information concerning what is allowed on the property, such as trails and farming operations. Finally, the easement includes information regarding adminstrative use, such as accessing the property annually to ensure there are no violations of the easement and what happens in the case of a violation or a property transfer.
Each conservation easement is individualized for each property it protects.
Both Jurick and Donaldson said having conservation easements in place by the B-W Greenway benefits Fairborn by enhancing the livability of the area, protecting the water supply, prime soil, air quality and pollinators. Ensuring that natural land is available also provides exercise opportunities and hope for generations to come, Jurick and Donaldson said.
However, Jurick emphasized that an important mission of the B-W Greenway is providing a sense of community.
“People who are lonely are dying. They say it’s the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day,” Jurick said. “… People aren’t connecting as much.”
The B-W Greenway Community Land Trust is seeking volunteers for a variety of positions such as newsletter and grant writing, removing invasive species, participating in adopt-a-highway, office work, event staffing, monitoring conservation easements, database development and entry, project management, presentations, participating on its board of trustees, specie inventorying, among others.
It will also host its 20 annual meeting beginning 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15 at the Fairborn Senior Center, 325 N. Third St. Executive Director of the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions Susan Jennings will serve as the guest speaker, where she is slated to talk about the importance of community. The meeting is open to the public.
For more information visit bwgreenway.org.
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.