Pearl’s Fen is Dayton’s newest wetland — and it’s waiting to be explored

Pearl's Fen is Dayton's newest wetland, now open to the public.
Pearl's Fen is Dayton's newest wetland, now open to the public.

Credit: Sarah Franks

Credit: Sarah Franks

Greene County Parks and Trails director Jon Dobney said the area’s newest fen is “unique, and simply gorgeous.”

“That thing was his (Dave Nolin’s) baby and I mean, it is beautiful,” said Dobney. “The prairie grasses that are blooming out there — it is just gorgeous.”

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In addition to the aesthetic qualities it offers, Pearl’s Fen, named for the late owner of the land, extends the distance hikers can explore when visiting the nearby Oakes Quarry Park at 1267 E Xenia Drive in Fairborn.

Pearl's Fen is Dayton's newest wetland, now open to the public.
Pearl's Fen is Dayton's newest wetland, now open to the public.

Credit: Sarah Franks

Credit: Sarah Franks

When walking Pearl’s boardwalk, people will find another trail that leads to the back portion of the fen and eventually connects to a trail leading to Oakes Quarry. Visitors can now enter at either Oakes or Pearl’s, and hike the entirety of both parks.

The fen’s land was acquired by the parks department years ago, but a Clean Ohio Grant obtained in 2018 allowed the park system to partner with Beaver Creek Wetlands Association to finally begin restoring the land from riddled with invasive species, to flourishing with native ones. Removing invasive species, while preserving plants that should stay, involves almost all labor to be done by hand and is extremely labor intensive, Dobney said.

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“I cannot give Dave enough credit,” Dobney said. “He basically wrote the plan for redeveloping Pearl’s Fen.”

As the queen-of-the-prairie plant and black-eyed Susan blossom into their late-summer glory, now is a perfect time for people to check-out the new fen.

“Dave’s plan was to keep color out there,” Dobney said. “Even in the off-season, there will be green. His plan was to keep color there from the first time it warms up, well into the fall. They did extensive plantings and it is beautiful.”

Though Pearl’s is not the area’s first wetland, it is a unique one.

“This is a ‘mound fen’ which is unique in the fen world,” Dobney said. “You’ll see the fen bubble up and that’s the headwater of Beaver Creek. It is really cool. ... You’ll see, as you’re walking, the ground actually start to rise where the fen is because the ground is pushing it up. The ground will be level and then you’ll see the hump coming.”

Pearl’s Fen is located at 4535 Byron Road.