Ohio River Foundation partners with Deerfield Township on Kingswood Park restoration
PRESS RELEASE - CINCINNATI, OHIO (July 27, 2020) – Ohio River Foundation (ORF) partnered with Deerfield Township to help bring new life to Kingswood Park (4188 Irwin Simpson Road) through an extensive environmental restoration project.
ORF spent more than two weeks in June and July removing harmful non-native invasive plants, including Amur honeysuckle, Callery pear and Autumn olive trees, from more than 3 heavily wooded acres on the north side of Kingswood Park.
These invasive species, which spread rapidly and shade out native trees and wildflowers, were taking over wooded areas of the park. ORF staff found honeysuckle bushes that they estimated to be 20 years old and pear trees as tall as 50 feet.
“If not controlled, these invasive plants will cause environmental and economic harm to the local ecosystem and also serve as a seed bank, spreading to other areas in the region,” said Jessica Tegge, ORF restoration program projects manager. “When an ecosystem is dominated with invasive species rather than natives, the pollinators that help our food supply, as well as other native creatures, disappear.”
With the help of 46 volunteers who donated a collective 160 hours of their time, ORF removed honeysuckle, pear and olive on each work day, eliminating approximately 9,000 invasive trees and shrubs.
“By removing these invasives, the Kingswood ecosystem will begin to function as it once did,” Tegge said. “There will be room once again for local wildflowers, grasses and trees.”
Tegge saw many native trees – oak, cedar, maple and walnut, to name a few – in the understory. Without the invasive plants blocking the sunlight, she expects to see these desirable tree species begin to flourish.
That is on Deerfield Township’s wish list for the park, which is located on a former golf course. The township bought the 100-acre parcel in 2008 and established it as a park in 2017. Although it’s currently more of a passive park, township officials hope to activate the space.
“It is a popular park for the community,” said Jim Flick, director of economic development/public information officer for the township. “It has been home to cyclocross races and used by high school sports teams for cross country, and it now features a community pavilion that is home to the Farmer’s Market.”
“The community has expressed the desire to remove the invasive species so that native plants can thrive on the land,” said Deerfield Township Board of Trustees President Kristin Malhotra. “Removing the invasive species is a commitment to the future use and preservation of the park.
“I’d love to see more people using it now that it doesn’t look so overgrown,” she added. “The Ohio River Foundation said we would see an increase in the variety of bird species in the park, which is super exciting. I think this reinforces the idea of the park as a respite – a respite for the birds and other animals, as well as a respite for our residents who want to take a moment to be in a natural setting.”
The project was funded in part by a grant ORF received from the Duke Energy Foundation. ORF has other ongoing local restoration projects at Summit Park in Blue Ash and Alms Park in Cincinnati. The nonprofit is also spearheading the Ohio River Valley Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA), a coalition of organizations working to fight invasive species in 22 counties in the Ohio River Valley. Warren County, where Kingswood Park is located, is among them.
“A goal of the CISMA is to reduce the invasive plant populations and seed bank in Greater Cincinnati,” said ORF Executive Director Rich Cogen. “Projects such as restoring Kingswood Park help get us closer to that goal.”
About Ohio River Foundation
Ohio River Foundation (ORF) is dedicated to protecting and improving the water quality and ecology of the Ohio River and all waters in its 11-state watershed. ORF works towards these goals through environmental education, conservation and advocacy activities that serve to inspire environmental stewardship for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future citizens.
In 2020, ORF celebrates its 20th anniversary of Ohio River watershed work. During its history, the nonprofit has reached 50,000 students with its freshwater education programs; restored and reconnected more than 200 miles of rivers; removed four dams; planted 6,000 trees; and removed more than 300,000 invasive plants.
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