BATH TOWNSHIP — Two chartered members of the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association (BCWA) payed a visit to the Bath Township Board of Trustees meeting April 18 to share their vision to develop a plan for the next phase of the wetland protection effort.
Dave Nolin and Dr. Jim Amon are currently meeting with numerous partners of the BCWA and asking them to help draft a plan for the protected corridor and the various public entities that own it. Nolin currently serves as vice president of the BCWA and is a member of the board of trustees. Amon is the BCWA’s technical advisor and sits on the board of trustees as well.
Nolin first shared a brief history of the local wetlands and noted that in the early 1800s, fens covered 17 percent of Bath Township. He pointed out that Pearl Fen, which is located adjacent to Oaks Quarry Park, is one of those fens that still exists today. In 1986, local naturalists discovered a nearly unbroken corridor of wetlands existing along both Big Beaver Creek and Little Beaver Creek that virtually went all the way to the Little Miami River.
“This corridor contained a rich diversity of habitats and plant and animal life that had been there for thousands of years. Yet, very little of the wetlands were protected,” said Nolin.
A group of concerned citizens became involved with preserving and restoring the wetlands and founded the nonprofit land trust, the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association in 1988. Since then, 2,064 acres of new open space has been protected along the Big Beaver Creek and Little Beaver Creek corridors, which Nolin said was made possible by three grants, eight agency partners, four land trust partners and thousands of concerned citizens.
“Currently, our short trail systems allow public access to the wetlands from eleven access points. Our vision includes improving public access and developing one linear trail by connecting existing trail systems along the 15-mile wetlands corridor,” Nolin said. “Our dream also involves a coordinated effort to protect the wetlands from invasive species and pollution.”
Amon, a retired Wright State University biology professor, said the BCWA also wants to increase the signage in the wetlands for educational purposes.
“We want to provide signage that will tell people what they are looking at, why it is important, and how it is also important to the community,” said Amon. “We are getting price estimates, and we have a grant from the Dayton Foundation.”
Amon noted that the BCWA has put together a fundraiser that will help raise money for the signage and other projects. The association also receives money from memberships and continues to apply for grant funding. However, Amon said volunteers do the majority of the work at the wetlands.
“We are quite dependent on the help from volunteers. We have people out at the wetlands every Saturday and Sunday during the warmer months, as well as during the week,” Amon said. “It is amazing to me how much we have accomplished in 30 years. A plan like this will not happen overnight, but I think with dedicated volunteers and the cooperation of all our partners, we can do a lot. I think this will be a really cool thing.”
The association is currently exploring potential linkage areas and the costs to implement a connected trail system. Nolin asked the township trustees if they would be interested in endorsing the BCWA’s effort to achieve these goals. Bath Township Trustee Steve Ross asked Nolin to draft a proposed resolution for the trustees.
“There has been a lot of enthusiasm, and the proposal has been well received by all the partners to date,” said Nolin. “We are hoping to have some detail plan for people to review by the end of the year.”
Nolin also told the township trustees that the BCWA would be celebrating 30 years of conservation at a special annual meeting in May.
For more information about the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association and its 30th anniversary celebration, visit: www.beavercreekwetlands.org.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.