We held our Sunday Creek Spring Wildflower Hike in Wildcat Hollow on Saturday, April 11th, 2015. Over thirty-five people came out to hike and learn about the diversity and abundance of native Ohio ephemeral spring wildflowers with a botanist and ecologist. The Wildcat Hollow Trail runs through a tract of the Wayne National Forest, and this trail is renowned for its beauty, wildflowers, and wildlife, and also one of the most popular backpack trails in the state among hiking enthusiasts (e.g. it is the site of the Buckeye Trail Association’s E.G.G. S. hike in June). Three hikes were offered, they were 3.5, 7 and 15 mile hikes. Fourteen hikers came down with the Central Ohio Hikers & Backpackers (COHB http://www.meetup.com/Hike-COHB/) to do the 15 miler. It was a gorgeous day !
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a spring-blooming member of the Poppy family, and if you sever the tubers, they indeed drip with a red sap that resembles blood. We saw this flower on our April 11th hike.
Wild-Sweet-William (Phlox divaricata) is a characteristic native wildflower that we’ often encounter hiking in the Sunday Creek Watershed. Wildflower photos were taken locally by Sunday Creek’s Homer Elliott.
The Sunday Creek Owl Prowl, led by the ODNR naturalist Pat Quackenbush, was a hit the evening of February 25th at Burr Oak State Park. Pat brought Ivan, the 21 year old Great Horned Owl, to interact with a diverse group of about 30 owl aficionados. Kids tore apart owl pellets looking for bones and had fun with crafts and other activities. After the inside activities we had a real hoot outside, and several Barred Owls joined us, excitedly responding to Pat’s calls. The evening was a huge success.
The Buckeye Trail Association’s infamous Brrrrr Oak Winter Hike happened on February 7th, 2015 at Burr Oak State Park with 1, 5 and 8 mile loop hike options. Good music and food were included in this free event. Cool winter hats and shirts featuring Ohio’s Grassman in winter garb were available to support the BTA. All three hikes left from Burr Oak Lodge around 10 am and were hugely successful with great views of the park’s lake, caves, rock outcroppings accompanied by beautiful hiking weather, sunny and in the upper 40°’s.
We celebrated National Bat Week in true Halloween spirit on October 29th, 2014 at our Go Batty Workshop at the Rural Action Community and Education Center in Trimble, Ohio. We were joined by the wildlife biologist Sayre Flannigan from Hocking College’s Department of Natural Resources for this environmental educational event. Sunday Creek Watershed Group’s Michelle Shively gave the introduction to the presentation that Ms. Flannigan and Homer Elliott gave. The presentation was followed by an excursion to find Big Brown Bats near bat gated mines and bat houses as well as foraging habitat in the Trimble Community Forest.
Bats make up over one fifth of the world’s mammal species yet much about their lives remains unknown. This diversity which has taken around 60 million years to develop is amazing and reflected in the diversity of feeding biology that has evolved within this lineage of the order Chiroptera. The roles played in our worlds ecosystems in the consumption of insects, pollination, and dispersal of seeds by insectivorous, nectar-eating, and fructivorous bats is vital to their ecological integrity. During our workshop 27 participants (ages 5 to 60+) learned that the future of cave dwelling bats in Ohio and much of the eastern United States is now uncertain with the specter of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that spreads quickly among hibernating bat populations.
Many cave hibernating bat populations have plummeted in Ohio since winter 2010-2011 and nationally some are now under consideration for federal endangered status. Historically, the Sunday Creek watershed has included populations of Big Brown, Red, Hoary, Silver-haired, Little Brown, Tricolor, and Evening bats. Eastern Small-footed bats may have also spent time in the area when migrating through the region in spring and fall. With up to a 98% mortality rate among cave dwelling species, it is unclear how many bats in the watershed have been affected, although we believe most populations have suffered losses. New research is beginning to show that after several years of decline, some populations are improving. Awareness of the ecological roles and current plights of bats is an important step in helping to ensure that bats are able to continue to contribute to the environmental health of our towns and surrounding natural areas. Our role in environmental awareness through education in the Sunday Creek Watershed is important in enriching the local community fabric and provides a notable resource for the community. If you are interested in helping to encourage healthy bat populations in your area you can learn how to build a bat house here.
On Thursday, July 17th, 2014, the Sunday Creek Watershed Group partnered with the Buckeye Trail Association and Ohio University’s Physics and Astronomy Department to provide a Summer Stargazing Night at Burr Oak State Park. Over 20 community members and kids came out to enjoy the night sky as George Eberts and Tom O’Grady pointed out constellations, asterisms, and the planet Saturn (SO beautiful). Special thanks to the Rangers at Burr Oak State Park for their help in preparing for the event and offering free camping to participants, and to Insomnia Cookies for donating some delicious, gourmet cookies! We plan to make this an annual event, so keep your starry eyes focused on our FACEBOOK PAGE for upcoming events!
In the month of June, SCWG and Rural Action Environmental Education partnered to provide this year’s Sunday Creek Watershed Day Camp to 31 kids! We learned about AMD, local fish and aquatic bugs, environmental resotration, and tons more! We hiked, flew kites, swam, and even canoed and fished! Keep an eye out for next year’s camp, and go to our FaceBook photos page to see day camp snapshots.
On Sunday, May 4th, 2014, Rural Action held our very first Passport to the Outdoors workshop at the Burr Oak State Park Beach. We provided 63 youth with free fishing poles and fisherman’s training and sent about 150 folks hiking, fishing, birding, bug-catching, and canoeing. Keep an eye out for next year’s event, which will be even more outdoor adventure-packed!
On Saturday, April 12th, 2014, SCWG held our 4th Annual Dash for the Darter 5K Trail Run and Nature Hike! We watched 45 runners zip by and raised almost $1,000 for watershed restoration. Check out event photos HERE. We hope to see you there next April!
In November, SCWG and Glouster Boy Scout Troop 72 teamed up to re-tree the Glouster Memorial Park. We planted several native riparian trees that will do well in the often saturated park ground. Check them out when you drive by–they’re the smallest ones!
SCWG recently partnered with the Appalachian Ohio Zero Waste Initiative on a roadside litter clean-up. Among our found and removed items: bottles and cans, an old vacuum cleaner, a surprisingly clean toilet seat, tires galore, and a ton of VERY full disposable diapers. Don’t worry–we had good, thick rubber gloves! Thanks to all the OU students who helped out!
Here is Sunday Creek’s Michelle on the Hocking River in the banner from the 2014 Hocking River Canoe Float.
Sunday Creek Watershed Group hosts an annual Hocking River Canoe Float past the Hocking River’s confluence with Sunday Creek.
Give us a ring or shoot us an email if you’re interested in participating in any activities like these!