We’re creating a wetland at Shepherd’s Corner!

 

Dear Shepherd’s Corner Supporter,

I’d like to ask you to partner with us to support a new conservation effort at Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center in Blacklick, OH. We are working to restore nearly three acres of agricultural land to a natural wetlands and prairie space. Please consider a contribution to help us to finish the wetland with plants to prevent erosion, attract wildlife, and provide new ways for visitors to learn about this fascinating ecosystem.

Thanks to a very generous anonymous gift and the amazing work of Mark Dilley, MAD Scientist Associates, LLC, Columbus, OH, we have been able to complete the wetland footprint. The ground has been dug by the construction crew, and God has blessed us with rain and snow to help fill the wetland. The space is already being visited by local wildlife – ducks and geese are stopping by to check everything out. What we need next is natural, native cover – seeds and rooted plants to help preserve the stability of the land and provide habitat for animals and waterfowl.

Before Ohio was settled, wetlands covered nearly one-fifth of the state. As population grew and our agricultural industry expanded, more than 90% of our precious wetland turned into farmland and housing developments. Today, more than 50% of species are listed as threatened or endangered in Ohio. Many need wetlands to live and thrive. As important, wetlands help filter and purify the water we drink.

The good news is that wetlands are a renewable resource. It is a blessing that we can use modern construction equipment to transform three acres of pasture and agricultural land into a large, wetlands space to enrich biodiversity and natural water filtration.

I hope you can join us in renewing the earth with a contribution to help us complete this new wetland area. You may send your donation to Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center or donate here.

Thank you for considering my request.  If you would like more information or to further discuss this opportunity, please call me at 614-866-4302.

Many blessings,
Sister Rose Ann Van Buren, OP
Administrator
Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center

An ecological ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace

987 N. Waggoner Road, Blacklick, Ohio 43004
Phone (614) 866-4302  FAX (614) 866-4331
www.shepherdscorner.org

 

 

 

Drone shot of the process of the wetlands on the initial digging.Overhead shot taken from a drone of the two pools of the new wetland that we are in the process of creating the wetland. Ponds are beginning to fill with water. In the bacground of the picture you can see our barn and the developments that surround Shepherd's Corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ecology#SCwetland2023#wetlands

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Wetland Project 2023

Wetlands are important!

 

February 2nd is World Wetlands Day. Follow along with us as we work to create a new wetland area here at Shepherd’s Corner!

The infographic below shows just a few of the reasons why wetlands are so very important!

Help us in our wetland creation & restoration! You can donate towards our efforts here!

 

 

 

 

Consider supporting our wetland creation project:

#ecology#SCwetland2023#wetlands

Posted in Uncategorized, Wetland Project 2023

Learn about our existing wetlands

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. Rachel Carson Vernal Pool Vernal pools are typically small wetlands that are only flooded in the late winter through early summer. These temporary wetlands provide a safe place for amphibians to breed each spring. Amphibians that may make this newly restored area part of their life cycle include fairy shrimp, wood frogs and mole salamanders. Typical vegetation found in vernal pool areas are sedges, cardinal flower, marsh marigold, common buttonbush, swamp white oak, silver maple to name only a few. Walk across the boardwalk and get a close up view of a vernal pool. Come in the spring and in fall and see the difference in the habitat

 

Shepherd’s Corner: Wetlands and vernal pools

Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center is home to many ecosystems. Among which are woodlands, fields, forests, a riparian corridor, and wetland/vernal pool areas. Through the fields and woods low lying areas vernal pools, a type of wetland generally present in early spring through early summer, can be found. Wetlands are integral to the ecosystems that surround them as they help with flood control, filter water, and provide habitat for many creatures. One of these such areas is highlighted on out meditation trail. A small wetland area, created in a space that was once a vernal pool. Vernal pools are an important type of wetland as they provide space for macroinvertebrates and amphibians to reproduce.

 

Wetland/Vernal pool enhancement: 2012 – 2013

When the meditation trail was created the Resilience station was installed at a vernal pool. A vernal pool is a type of wetland that holds water during the spring. In 2012 Shepherd’s Corner received funding through WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program), which was associated with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This funding allowed Shepherd’s Corner to enhance the seasonal vernal pool. The following images show the transformation process of vernal pool to established wetland. A grant from The Green Fund (part of The Columbus Foundation) allowed for the completion of a boardwalk above the enhanced wetland, allowing visitors to get even closer to the wetland.

 

Grassy green area with a low muddy spot. This low muddy spot is a vernal pool.
Vernal pool as it existed before the wetland was created. (2012)
A bench sits on a platform, facing away from the vernal pool area.
Viewing platform for the vernal pool prior to the installation of the wetland. (2012)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking out from the platform in the previous picture toward soil exposed. This cleared area will be is where the wetland will be.
Vernal pool area as it was beginning to be cleared for the creation of the current wetland. (2012)
Individual on a bob cat, small digging device, digging a drainage trench in the exposed dirt.
Digging the overflow drainage for the wetland being constructed. (2012)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Square concrete opening in the dirt. This was the dirt that the bobcat in the previous picture was moving to crate a drainage path for wetland overflow. Most of picture is soil with the concrete drain as the subject.
Concrete drain that was placed as overflow for the wetland. (2012)
Over 12 4x4 wooden posts inserted into the ground. This is in the same area where the previous pictures are, the space that will be the wetland. These numerous posts will be the base for the walkway over the wetland.
Posts that will be the supports for the boardwalk over the wetland.

 

 

 

 

 

Wooden plank board walk, with handrails. This board walk is atop the area that will be the wetland that is covered in straw.
Completed wooden boardwalk over the wetland area.
Completed wooden boardwalk over the wetland that is now filled with water.
Boardwalk over the wetland area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wetland Renovation: Fall 2020 – Spring of 2021

Bradley Teynor, of Boy Scout troop 826, completed his Eagle Scout project at Shepherd’s Corner this spring. This project centered around our small on-site wetland/vernal pool area. It included the removal of non-native plants and the addition of some that are native. Plants removed included amur honeysuckle and autumn olive. Buttonbush, red Osier dogwood, arrowwood viburnum, tussock sedge, soft rush, cardinal flower, and great blue lobelia were among the native plants that were added to enhance the wetland area. Bradley and his volunteers also built four benches. These benches can be found on our meditation trail as resting spots. In addition to the benches Bradley’s project included the construction and installation of two bat houses. These bat houses can be seen at the Web of Life meditation trail station where one of the benches made by Bradley and his volunteers has also been placed.

Here is the wetland guide that Bradley created related to his project.

 

Rendering of the placement of plants in wetland renewal by the eagle award project.
Rendering of location of plants added by the Eagle Award project.

 

Two boy scouts working to bag invasive plants removed from the wetland area. They are working to fill a brown yard waste bag.
Invasive plants that were removed were bagged up.
Three bout scout troop members working to fill brown yard waste paper bags. One is opening a new bag while another individual stuffs invasive plants into a nearly full bag.
Bagging up the invasive honeysuckle & autumn olive plants as they were removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A hand saw, small clippers, and a hatchet that were used as implements to remove invasives.
Some of the tools used to remove honeysuckle & autumn olive.
Three boy scout troop members sitting on four new benches made for our meditation trail.
Benches made by Bradley & troop 826 for the meditation trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three boy scout troop members placing the benches they have made on the meditation trail.
Bench, made as a part of Bradley’s Eagle Award Project, being placed at one of the stations on our meditation trail.

 

 

 

Four individuals, one in foreground holding a shovel. They are getting ready to plant native plants in the wetland area.
Native plants being added to the wetland area near the observation platform.
Three individuals standing in a field in foreground. In background, two tall, slim bat houses on posts.
Two bat houses were also placed in an open field near the wetland area.
Bradley, sitting on one of the four benches that were made as part of his Eagle Award project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Wetland Project 2023

Seeing the Divine Within the Diversity

I fell in love with a wetland last summer.

I had a hankering to explore, so I strapped on my TEVA sandals, grabbed my journal and watercolor set, and headed down the road to catch the morning sun at the nearby wetland. The midsummer heat was already rising as I walked through the tall grasses to stumble upon the edge of an ephemeral pond still wet with the morning dew and bursting with life and activity. Birds of all shapes and sounds were calling, feeding, flying. Insects were zipping about and frogs, startled by my presence, yelped, and leapt underwater. I was drunk with the vibrancy and beauty of this place and taken with knowledge that God’s presence was glimmering all around me. I guess more accurately, I did not fall in love with the wetland, but deeper in love with God, who just can’t help but to brim and spill over with creative life.

Picture of a wetland from the level of the low lying green grass & reeds. The sky is sunny, and blue.

Through moments like this I have come to understand more clearly the relationship we are invited into with God and the earth, not just as a steward (as if God was absent) but as a responsible part of Earth community. I’ve heard the role likened to a custodian who works with God and our animate and inanimate neighbors to collaborate and sustain diversity and balance. We are to embody this peaceful, non-violent, regenerative, existence in every aspect of our lives, in an integral way, like Pope Francis encourages us to do in Laudato Si’.

As a candidate, I get to see with new eyes the Dominican Sisters of Peace’s commitment to integral ecology lived out concretely. One way is through our current wetland construction project at Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center here in Blacklick, Ohio.

I was surprised to learn that prior to the 1800s, over 1/5th of the lands that make up the state of Ohio were wetlands. White colonial settlers perpetuated a disordered understanding of our relationship to the creator and the created, and thus these wetlands were considered unproductive, smelly, unnavigable, and useful only when eliminated. Today, over 90 percent of all of Ohio’s wetlands have been drained and developed. This makes me wonder, where else in our society do we adopt the “throwaway culture,” Pope Francis alludes to, failing to see the beauty in diversity, in the things that take a bit more work to love?

Since the 1980s we are slowly realizing what amazing and critical ecosystems wetlands are. Wetlands help us correct our mistakes: they naturally filter water, sequester carbon, refill groundwater stores, and create buffers for flooding events that are becoming more frequent. They also allow us to be good neighbors: wetlands are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, creating a home for flora and fauna throughout all stages of life. And ironically, they have the highest productivity, turning sunlight into living matter faster and more efficiently, than any other ecosystem on Earth. The wetland at Shepherd’s Corner will also be space for education and contemplation, inviting others to see the divine within the diversity.

I’m proud of the congregation’s long history and invigorated commitment to listening to the voice of the voiceless and honoring the land’s inherent value, not for the usefulness of her ability to provide for humans, but for all of earth community. May we continue on this journey towards integral ecology which, according to Pope Francis, includes: “taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence ‘must not be contrived but found, uncovered’.”

By: Terri Schell

References

Pope Francis. 2015. Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home [Encyclical]. About Us. Ohio Wetlands Association. 2022. https://www.ohwetlands.org/about-us.html

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Wetland Project 2023