Design-Build Project Restores Pothole Wetland and Prairie Landscape on Bartley Preserve
Pickaway County, OH (October 4, 2018) — EnviroScience has teamed with Ohio Prairie Nursery (OPN) on an exciting opportunity to design and implement the Bartley Preserve Pothole Wetland and Prairie Restoration project on approximately 116 acres of property owned by the Appalachia Ohio Alliance (AOA) in Circleville, Ohio. EnviroScience designed this project to recreate and restore the site to its original Pickaway Plains ecology, one of Ohio’s rarest. The Pickaway Plains ecology was typified by upland prairie and oak savannahs interspersed with pothole wetlands. These pothole wetland systems contained a rich and diverse wetland plant assemblage, and they were largely absent of woody species due to the consistent churning of soils by buffalo and other grazing animals.
Restoration Aspects and Approach
Pothole wetlands are a relic of the glacial age in Ohio and today most have been eliminated or heavily degraded by agricultural, industrial, or residential development activities. The Bartley Preserve provides an unparalleled opportunity to revive this habitat type on a significant scale, as it contains two pothole wetland areas estimated between 10 to 15 acres in size. EnviroScience is completing a hydrology study that will be the basis for the wetland restoration with a focus on improving wetland hydrology. Plant records indicate that when hydrated, these wetland systems can sustain a habitat of rare and endangered herbaceous plants.
A three-pronged prairie restoration is also being implemented. OPN developed seed mixtures specific to the existing site conditions and desired ecosystem outcomes and long-term viability. These included over-seeding the grass/forb prairie with a mix of native wildflowers; using a mix that includes native species specifically selected for an approximately 10-acre oak savanna area; and a native grass and wildflower mix planted on 20 acres of previous farmland that is heavily over-seeded with flower species. EnviroScience also performed invasive species treatments throughout the site, along with the removal of woody vegetation, particularly within the pothole wetlands.
Enhancement of Site Features
Once restoration is complete, the Bartley Preserve will serve as a living laboratory, where botanists can study the native seed bank and plant regeneration within the re-hydrated pothole wetlands, and where biologists can study the birds and insects that will use the restored prairie. Already the site is attracting a plethora of grassland bird and butterfly species. In addition, the restored Bartley Preserve will act as a biological museum where rare plants found to exist in the site’s pothole wetlands, such as Engelmann’s spikerush, Hall’s bulrush, and Rocky Mountain bulrush, will have the opportunity to grow and flourish.
The Bartley Preserve also serves as a historical and deeply spiritual site, containing the third largest Native American burial mound in Pickaway County. The site restoration activities first and foremost have been protective of the mound, conducted in a manner that accentuates both the biological and historical context of the site. As part of our activities, EnviroScience will also be assisting with the development of a small parking area, signage and the layout of a natural surface trail for visitor enjoyment.