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Vernal Pool Restoration and Creation

Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks
1069 West Main Street
Westerville, Ohio 43081

Carrie R. Morrow, Assistant Resource Manager

Glacier Ridge Metro Parks Vernal Pool Creation
In the past couple of years, Metro Parks has explored the restoration of vernal pools, a vital and unique wetland system. Several naturally occur in most of the Metro Parks. One of our newer parks, Glacier Ridge Metro Park, has provided the opportunity to actively manage for this system. Metro Parks began establishing the area known as Glacier Ridge Metro Park in 1998. In cooperation with the City of Dublin, Jerome Township and Union County, Metro Parks to date has acquired approximately 1,049 acres of park land. Glacier Ridge is characterized by having extensive former agricultural land, small-scattered woodlots, successional areas and small old fields. As Metro Parks began acquiring land and developing a master plan for this park, one of the most noted features was the lack of forest cover. With the exception of five small woodlots scattered across the property, most woody vegetation is limited to fencerows.

In conjunction with a Public Advisory Committee, Metro Parks developed a master plan for Glacier Ridge Metro Park. A master plan not only identifies public use facilities and areas, but also identifies natural areas to be managed as well. Metro Parks has also developed a Resource Management Plan for the park. This plan specifically outlines natural habitats and species and the proposed management. The block of land that comprises the middle section of the park was selected for various types of reforestation to create a central large block of contiguous woodlands and successional woodland and old field habitat. The existing small blocks of forest consist of two types: 1.) Formerly grazed mixed woodlands consisting of various oak and maple species not exceeding 40 years in growth, these areas due to past grazing have a limited herbaceous layer at the current time, and 2.) Beech-Maple Forest with pockets of Swamp Forest dominated by Pin Oaks and representative of formerly grazed and agriculture wet forested areas with fairly flat topography.

Within the Swamp Forest fragments lie several naturally occurring vernal pools. Through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) sponsored by the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Metro Parks partnered with the Union County Soil and Water Conservation District to restore 5 vernal pools, reforest over 70 acres and control invasive species. This project is in place through 2006. Based on topography and soil types, 5 locations for vernal pools were determined. All five sites are adjacent to existing woodland and were formerly agricultural fields. The project outlined building the pools and following with several years of tree plantings to help promote reforestation. Other measures were taken to help the pools biologically, including adding leaf material to the substrate and transporting healthy vernal pool “muck” to the newly created sites.

Vernal Pool Restoration
The five pools built at Glacier Ridge were all under an acre in size. The depth of each pool is 12-18” with very gradual slopes. Topsoil was removed and stockpiled. The subsoil was removed to obtain the desired depth of the pool and then up to 6” of topsoil was replaced on the pool. A bulldozer, small pan excavator and track hoe were utilized in construction. In order for these pools to work, extensive tile searching and tile breaking had to be completed to restore the hydrology of the site. For these five sites, this required several attempts and over a year from construction completion to achieve. See Photo Essay (PDF file - 1.9 MB)

Our Partners:

national resources Conservation Services logospacerUnion Soil & Water Conservation District

Battelle-Darby Creek Vernal Pool Restoration
In 2005, Metro Parks completed a project of enhancing existing, poor functioning vernal pools in an upland woodlot. The site has quite an extensive system of vernal pools; most are the remains of logging roads through the wet woods. Over time, it was documented that many of these pools were not remaining full of water for sufficient lengths of time to allow salamanders to completely metamorphose. In an effort to improve the habitat, six pools were selected to be enhanced. Metro Park staff used a back hoe and rotivator to deepen and widen these pools. Steps were taken to replace the topsoil removed by the construction project. Logs and tree limbs were placed in the enhanced pools to create additional habitat. Monitoring in Spring 2006 will hopefully affirm the success of this project. See Photo Essay (PDF file - 1.7 MB)

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