Protecting and Preserving Wetlands
From time to time we will add new information to this page so check it out often!
Oxbow, Inc. Acquires 435 Acres of Land
On 9/27/17 Oxbow, Inc. closed on the former I-275 Enterprises property adding nearly 435 acres to Oxbow Inc.'s protected holdings. Our protected lands now connect with Hamilton County Parks tothe east, our conservation easements and combined with all our previously protected properties form a contiguous block of land of over 1,600 acres. Pictured are Ed Gemperle (Oxbow Treasurer), Leigh Allen (Realtor), Mary Burress (I-275 Enterprises), Jon Seymour (Oxbow Inc. President) John Savage (I-275 Enterprises), Andrea Ewan (Dearborn Title Insurance), Meg Poehlmann (Oxbow, Inc. Executive Administrator, Tim Mara (Counsel). Thanks to all our members who have entrusted Oxbow, Inc. with their time and generous contributions over the years to allow us to make this purchase
St Lawrence Elementary Project
(added April 2014)
Every year Oxbow, Inc. offers grants to schools who submit appropriate proposals. This is the garden project at St. Lawrence Elementary that Oxbow, Inc. helped fund 2 years ago. Watch this video on YouTube describing their project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo-rHtpQmj0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EIS4LFSsKY.
by Jon Seymour
(from Wetland Matters, January-February, 2011)
Our 25th Anniversary Year has come to a close and it seems like it had two years worth of activities crowded into one.
We conducted 3 bus tours of the Oxbow, completed the graveling of the Oxbow Lake Road (Shell to Slot) with many more loads of gravel, added 3 new bird species to Oxbow's ever growing list, hosted thousands of visitors, conducted the Cincinnati Area Birdathon, held our anniversary celebration photography contest, conducted dozens of educational programs, and built two roadway stabilization projects to name a few of the accomplishments of our all volunteer organization. Each year when I write this column my mouth drops with amazement at all that the volunteers who love the Oxbow accomplish.
On July 18, 2010 we had our 25th Anniversary Members Picnic (we had only one other previous members picnic for our 201h Anniversary) which was well attended. Displays of Oxbow activities were set up around the air conditioned Agner Hall. A table was set aside for entertainment activities for children. Tours of the Oxbow were provided by Steve Pelikan and John Getzendanner. Our featured speaker was Board Member and Founding Director, David Styer, all the way from his home in California to tell us about the behind the scenes story of the formation of the Save the Oxbow Society and Oxbow, Inc. A summer picnic buffet of brats, metts, and burgers with sides and trimmings completed the occasion. In our 25 years of existence we have acquired title to about 940 acres of land and purchased conservation easements on an additional 230 acres. All the members and supporters of Oxbow, Inc. can be extremely proud of this accomplishment.
As part of the anniversary celebration we sponsored a photo contest open to all local photographers in a variety of nature categories. Cash prizes were provided by Seapine Software, a business software company, and by Kelly Riccitti, cofounder of Seapine Software.
Contest winners were selected by a panel of professional nature photographers, Steve Maslowski, Ron Austing, and Ed Hatch. A great time was had by all the participants in the contest and Oxbow, Inc. greatly appreciated being the recipient of all the excellent submissions. Wining photos in the various categories are being published in Wetland Matters in the last half of 2010 and into 2011.
A highlight of 2010 was the acquisition of another 30 acres for Oxbow, Inc. Well, we did and did not actually gain property. The acquisition was a gift of the 30 acre Corning Property by long term supporter, Barbara Corning, to Oxbow, Inc. Oxbow, Inc. already held the conservation easement on this property so it was already protected, but ownership gives us additional control over the future use of the land. As many of you know, the Corning Property was taken out of agricultural production nearly 20 years ago and planted in White Oak, Ash, and Bald Cypress. Many of the Bald Cypress on the property now stand 20 feet high with 6" diameter trunks. The property came with an extra benefit. It was in the USDA Crop Reduction Program (CRP) and a yearly payment is made to Oxbow, Inc. to keep the land out of production. The Board voted to put this s payment into the education fund established to provide grant money to local educators to conduct nature related education programs.
Roads and access have been an issue in the Oxbow probably since before the arrival of the Europeans to the area. This year we spread more gravel on the Oxbow Lake Rd. (the Shell to Slot road) making it passable even after a hard rain. Oops, we did not get any of those after the 4th of July! But it was passable, as demonstrated this fall when the rains finally returned. In the past two winters there have been washouts on the Oxbow Lake Road that in spite of our best efforts, actually caused accidents when the road was driven too fast to see the approaching washout. The washouts were caused by high floods flowing over the road between Oxbow Lake and the recently created Osprey Lake . A new culvert and a new spillway to take pressure off the soft areas of the road have been created and hopefully will eliminate this concern and again keep the road open more days out of the year. Remember if you are driving in the Oxbow that no matter how good the road is you should not try to drive it if it is UNDER water.
Bus tours have returned to the Oxbow, made possible by the improved roads. Buses from Evergreen, Maple Knoll, and the Cincinnati Museum Center all made successful visits to the Oxbow. Buses are a wonderful way for persons with limited mobility to get around the Oxbow and see some of the wildlife and plants. The Museum Center Tour was actually part of the 2010 Heritage Tour Program. This was an all day emersion into all things Oxbow, from the geology, to the archaeology, to the natural history and wildlife. Lectures were given by a college professor, a Museum Center staff researcher, and by Oxbow volunteer naturalists. Throw in lunch at the River Watch on the Ohio River and a perfect day was had by all.
Oxbow, Inc. commissioned Dr. Denis Conover, an Oxbow Board Member, to do a plant survey as a follow-up to the one he did in 2000. In 2000 he found 422 species of them considered rare in Ohio or Indiana . The four plants are Deam's our Mercury (Acalypha deamii), Erect Primrose-willow (Ludwigia decurrens), Virginia Buttonweed (Diodia virginiana), and Smooth Buttonweed (Spermacoce glabra). Denis predicts that River Broomrape (Orobanche riparia) will be the next rare plant. Specimens were found just up river in 2010. River Broomrape is parasite on giant ragweed and the lower Oxbow area has tons of Giant Ragweed to serve as host. In a paper co-authored with Dr. Steve Pelikan, Oxbow, Inc. Board member, Dr. Conover reported that his survey findings for Miami Whitewater (2005-2008) and the Oxbow (2010) showed that many plants were blooming earlier than they were in a similar surveys conducted 10 years earlier. This important paper is being widely quoted as it is one of the first to demonstrate early blooming correlating to increased average temperatures during the surveys in native plants in a native (non garden/cultivated) habitat. We are very proud of Denis and Steve for producing this important scientific work and even more proud of the role that the Oxbow played in producing the data.
In 2010 alone we presented a wide variety of programs and tours over the course of the year. Besides the speakers at the I1 members meetings and the 11 guided nature walks we advertise in the Wetland Matters we made presentations for the following:
Our sponsorship of the Cincinnati Area Birdathon once again raised nearly $6000 to improve access and habitat in the Oxbow. More birders participated this year than we have seen for several years past. Even more importantly 13 of the 55 participants were under the age of 19. Not only is the Birdathon bringing area birders together for a great time and an opportunity to raise some money for a good cause, but it is bringing young birders out for an introduction to the fun of being out in nature and learning a few of the never ending stories that nature can teach us.
I keep thinking of more things like the prairie we tried to burn but it would not ignite, the trash pick-ups, the invasive plant control, the Miami University study of point pollution sources (still underway) that would take up even more space in this essay. Did I mention at the start of this that we are an all volunteer organization? I am in awe of our volunteers. Thank you all, nearly 100 individuals, who played some role in these accomplishments.
by Jon Seymour
(from Wetland Matters, September-October, 2010)
Oxbow is about nature, and saving habitat, and enhancing biodiversity, but it is also about education. The Oxbow area serves as a large classroom for many learners of all ages. Many of you are familiar with our monthly educational meetings with a wide variety of speakers and with our monthly hikes for birding, plants, and nature (yes, these are educational and not just for exercise). Less familiar are the other activities we do for education. Elsewhere in this newsletter, Velda Miller, head of our educational grant committee, is announcing our grant application process to fund local educational projects that have to do with nature, biodiversity, and sustainability. Also you will find an article by Jill Russell one of the early recipients of our educational grants. I think you will find these interesting and we look forward to having a significant and positive local impact on nature education in the Tristate area. This has been made possible by the generous gift of Ginny (Wiseman) Witte and the wise stewardship of the Board of Directors of Oxbow, Inc. We are always happy to accept other donations to the education fund to advance the nature education of local young people.
But that is not all. Groups of local photographers have gathered to learn nature photography, students from Ivy Tech have come to enjoy a biology 101 lesson, students from The College of Mount St. Joseph learn bird identification and natural history of birds, boy and girl scout groups have learned basic ecology, organized groups of home school children have had elementary biology lessons, the Master’s class from the Environmental Institute of Miami University learns about success of grass roots environmental groups. That is only the beginning with garden clubs, retirement centers, business groups, volunteer groups from other nature centers and more coming to the Oxbow to learn about the unique ecology, geology and hydrology of the area. Throw in a few more “-ologys” such as geology, archaeology, and limnology and you still have not covered all the areas of learning and education that the Oxbow makes available to the residents of the Tristate area.
This role of the Oxbow as an educator is one of the roles we are most proud of. This role continues to expand as we look for more ways to bring the message of conservation of nature to the residents of the Tristate.
Audubon as in John James At the Oxbow
by Mike Busam
Cincinnati can be proud that it helped John James Audubon begin his quest to create life-sized paintings of all of North America's birds. If he hadn't been so miserable in Cincinnati, if his job at the Western Museum (now the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History) hadn't turned out to be a dud, if his wife hadn't found their living conditions in the city deplorable, if the family Audubon felt hadn't reached the end of their collective rope, which was made worse by the loss of two young daughters within two years of each other, Audubon might never have been driven to take the desperate measure of leaving his family for a lengthy and risky journey of discovery to New Orleans, and we might not have Audubon's masterpiece, The Birds of America.
To be fair, Audubon also received some of his first public acclaim for an exhibit of his bird drawings in Cincinnati, and this must have given him encouragement to begin the work necessary for his ambitious project. With nothing to lose and a string of personal and financial failures behind him, including a stint in debtor's prison, Audubon left Cincinnati for New Orleans via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers with his teenage assistant Joseph Mason on October 12, 1820. In Audubon's Mississippi River Journal, which covers Audubon's experiences from October 1820 through December 1821, Audubon spends a considerable amount of time recording the birdlife he saw and studied -- as well as shot and often ate--during his journey to New Orleans and the time he spent in Louisiana, where he tried to make a living as a teacher.
On October 14, 1820, on the third day of his journey, Audubon records a visit he made to an area near and dear to Oxbow members and supporters:
"After an early Breakfast We took to the Woods I say We because Joseph Mason, Capt Cummings & Myself I believe Are always together.
"I Shot a Fish Hawk Falco Alitus [osprey] at the Mouth of the Big Miami River a handsome Male in good Plumage. he was wingd only and in attempting to Seize Joseph's hand, he ran One of his Claws through the Lower Mandible of his Bill and exhibited a very Ludicrous object-these Birds Walk with great dificulty and Like all of The Falco and Strix Genus throw themselves on their backs to defend themselves.
"We returnd to our Boat with a Wild Turkey 7 Partriges [northern bobwhite quail] a Tall Tale Godwit [greater yellowlegs] and a Hermit Thrush which was too much torn to make a drawing of it this Was the first time I had Met with the Bird and felt particularly Mortified at its Situation.
"We passd the Small Town of Laurenceburgh in Indiana, Petersburgh in K.y, We Walked in the afternoon to Bellevue. . . . We killed 4 Small Grebes [horned grebes] at one Shot from a Flock of about 30. We approached them with ease to within about 40 Yards, they were chassing each other and quite Mery.
"When the Destructive fire through the whole in consternation, the Many Wounded escaped by Diving, the rest flew off-this is the second time I have seen this kind, and they must be extremely rare, in this part of America-. . . We walked this day about 40 Miles saw one Deer Crossing the River".
This might be the first record of what we would call a field trip to the Oxbow area. And it's interesting to read that Audubon collected an osprey, as well as a life bird, a hermit thrush, on his visit to the Oxbow area. A few days later and further down the river, he managed to collect a hermit thrush that was in good enough shape to use as a drawing model.
The quotations from Audubon's Mississippi River Journal are taken from John James Audubon: Writings & Drawings, published by The Library of America in 1999. The composition, capitalization, spellings and punctuation are as they are in Audubon's journal and the bracketed contemporary names of the birds Audubon mentions in his journal are as listed in the notes by Christoph Irmscher, Editor of the Library of America Audubon Collection. (2/21/04)