Hiking and helping go hand-in-hand on the trail for the Dayton Hikers.
“The Dayton Hikers group is getting involved to ‘pay our trail dues,’” founder Andy Niekamp said. “We want to help build the new Spotted Turtle Trail and help the wetlands flourish by removing invasive plant species.”
The Dayton Hikers are paying it forward by helping remove honeysuckle, autumn olive & Callery pear from the Spotted Turtle Trail on Nov. 5. Removing these invasive species helps native wetland plants grow and thrive.
The Spotted Turtle Trail project – a five-year community project spearheaded by the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association – will create a continuous 15-mile trail along the wetland corridor. The Beaver Creek Wetlands Association strives to preserve and restore endangered wetland habitat through conservation, stewardship, education, and public access. The trail, when completed, will create recreational access and educational opportunities and connect several parks throughout Greene County.
“Part of our mission is to restore the wetlands and get people into the wetlands to enjoy them,” said Beth Edsall, Beaver Creek Wetlands Association outreach director. “And we want people walking along the trails to see Ohio like it was hundreds of years ago.”
Invasive species impact
In a recently published article in Ecological Restoration, University of Cincinnati biologists addressed how invasive species introduced to the United States over the past century are crowding out many of Southwest Ohio’s native plants.
This is something Edsall unfortunately sees firsthand.
“In order for the wetlands to thrive, we need native plants to be there,” she said.
Invasive species, like honeysuckle, threaten the native plants as well as the native wildlife making efforts like that of the Dayton Hikers critically important.
“It’s so valuable to have partnerships with them and others in the community, especially because getting rid of invasive species is an ongoing project,” Edsall said.
Making a difference
“We have a lot of people who regularly use our local trails without ever giving back,” Niekamp said. “This is a great opportunity for them to give back to our trails.”
While most parks have paid work crews, a significant amount of trail work is done by volunteers – a win-win for all involved.
“Volunteers are surprised to learn how rewarding trail work can be,” Niekamp said. “I enjoy organizing and leading trail crews. There is an amazing feeling of accomplishment volunteers get when they see their completed project.”
The Dayton Hikers are not only providing volunteers but also collecting donations to pay for a chipper rental for easier disposal. For more information on the Dayton Hikers upcoming honeysuckle removal effort, visit www.meetup.com/daytonhikers/events.
Spotted Turtle Trail at a Glance
For more information, visit https://beavercreekwetlands.org/trail-project/
· Spotted Turtle Trail Project is a seven-phase project, currently in phase two.
- Completed trail will be 15 miles long with loops and spurs totaling more than 40 miles of trails.
- Will connect 19 parks and reserves owned by the City of Fairborn, City of Beavercreek, Beavercreek Township, Greene County Parks & Trails, ODNR Division of Wildlife, ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves and Beaver Creek Wetlands Association.
- Each phase will consist of some aspect of restoration.
- Parking and new access points will be added including direct access from surrounding neighborhoods.