Project Proposal

The Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum is funded by the Columbus Foundation and its Jeffrey Fund. The proposal by the United Crestview Area Neighbors (UCAN) provides an overview of the project.

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” – Aldo Leopold


a) Requesting organization – United Crestview Area Neighbors (UCAN) was started as a neighborhood civic association in 1998, with the purpose of improving the safety, environment, appearance, and overall well-being of the neighborhood. Annually, the UCAN prints and delivers quarterly newsletters, . Members include:

  • Michael McLaughlin — Clintonville Area Commission representative for District 1
  • Peter Kovarik, PhD — Columbus State Community College Professor of Biology
  • Dan Struve, PhD — Ohio State University Professor of Horticulture
  • Chris O’leary — member, Friends of the Ravine
  • John Krygier, PhD — Ohio Wesleyan University Professor of Geography

b) Project to be funded — The project aims to restore native tree populations to levels requisite for preserving beneficial wildlife populations and an acceptable quality of residential life. The project was dived into two area-dependent phases. UCAN is cooperating with Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) on the urban arboretum project. Flow will be requesting funding for phase 1. UCAN is also collaborating with the City of Columbus in an existing plan under the city’s tree maintenance schedule. Our contribution to the plan will be the purchase of native tree species that are not available through the city’s procurement process. UCAN bases its proposal on systematic needs assessments involving a literature search plus primary research including ravine wildlife studies and a walking inventory of tree density and varieties in the project area. By these means the group identified the immediate potential, consistent with city plans, for planting 30,0000 trees (see point (d) below).

c) Dollar amount requested — $6,080.00

d) Proposed use of the funds — The Coordinating Group requests funding to purchase trees of historically indigenous species that will improve shade, comfort, property values, soil retention, and the stability of the natural environment. As noted in the Details section below, our assessment found native tree restoration to be necessary for the ecological, social, and economic health of the project area. The area to be planted will comprise the curb lawn sections of public right-of-way along Hibbert, Dayton, and Demming between Arcadia and Cliffside; Glen Echo, Summit, Glenmawr, and North 4th between Hudson and Glen Echo Ravine; Weber, Tibet, Tulane, Crestview, Kelso, and Olentangy Streets, between Calumet and Indianola [this represents a supplement to flows intended tree contribution to phase one of the urban arboretum]. Specific purchases will comprise:

  • Purchase of native species trees of appropriate height: 325 trees x $15/tree = $4875.00
  • Printing of brochure: $300 (Ohio Wesleyan University Copy Services, partially subsidized): trifold, color, 2 sided, with map; description, tour of important trees, for promotion
  • Student intern stipend: $500: natural science college student to assist with database development and mapping
  • Markers/signs for significant trees: 30 markers x $13.50/marker = $405.00

Planting will be done by City of Columbus personnel as part of a project that is already planned and budgeted. Our grant project will allow the use of native tree species that are not included in the municipal procurement inventory.

e) Other funders (and amounts) supporting the project — The city of Columbus has a total of 92 native trees that are suitable for this project which they will be donating. Their in kind contribution amounts to $13,800 based on the average cost of tree planting which is $150.00 per tree.

f) The evaluation mechanism to be used — The geographic information system (GIS) database and maps developed will provide us with a base measure of tree density and species in the arboretum. This system should allow us to determine appropriate tree species for different locations, and to attempt to create connections (via adjacent trees) between Walhalla and Glen Echo Ravines. As new trees are planted, they will be added to the map and database. An array of forestry modeling methods will be explored as part of this project. Such models can estimate changes in estimated run-off, shade, and ecological diversity. The use of GIS will allow us to assess and evaluate the current state of trees in the Arboretum, plan its development, and assess and evaluate its impact.


Statement of Need

A mature forest once covered the old Clinton Township Area, now comprising Clintonville and the Glen Echo neighborhood. The flat spaces surrounding the local ravines were cleared in the mid 1800s. They are now occupied by houses, and are comparatively treeless, with much of the surface being impermeable to water. This condition has caused increased runoff during heavy rains, which in turn accelerates erosion within the ravines. The consequent degradation of slopes in Glen Echo Park prompted an extensive restoration project ending in 2008, which improved conditions but did not reverse the runoff process itself.

This situation is exacerbated by climate change. Central Ohio is experiencing a long-term increase in frequency of storms dropping heavy rain in short periods, and this trend is predicted to continue. An added stress factor is the routing of storm water from several neighborhoods into the Glen Echo Ravine. This has increased erosion as well as pollution from periodic chemical spills. The runoff has been found to contain contaminants such as oil, grease, lead, and other toxic chemicals associated with automobiles, as well as pesticides, road salts, bacteria, and viruses.

Ferns — the “canary in the mine” for ecological disturbance – were until recently totally absent from the Glen Echo Ravine. A single hardy species has been subsequently reintroduced into Glen Echo Park. Ravines in Highbanks Metro Park are geologically similar to Glen Echo but, being surrounded by forest, are inhabited by 15 species of fern.

Proposed Solution

A simple way to reduce urban runoff is to plant tree canopies that overlap streets and sidewalks, along with under-growth trees that supplement and stabilize the sylvan biome. Tree trunks and roots help to move water deep into the soil. Leaves transpire or evaporate water into the atmosphere, helping to prevent surface flooding. In the long urn, this process also helps to moderate and “regularize” rainfall patterns.

Much of Clintonville has relatively wide curb lawns suitable for large shade trees. Unfortunately, the tree of choice for many early housing developers was the non-native, soft-wooded silver maple that is easily damaged by wind and ice storms. Many of these and other initial plantings have been removed by choice and by natural forces such as storms and disease, thus leaving a paucity of trees along right-of-ways.

The City of Columbus has agreed to reforest the Clintonville area, and the Coordinating Group wishes to assist this work in a way that maximizes ecological integrity. Our goal is to restore some of the historically native oak/ hickory forest. We were able to extrapolate the original species composition by surveying existing mature trees in the project area and in Brevoort Park, which represents a small fragment of the original local forest.

Unfortunately, the city’s stock of planting trees includes few specimens of these kinds. We therefore request grant funding to purchase trees from OSU’s Horticulture & Crop Science Dept. Tree Nursery, virtually all of whose stock is native to Central Ohio. The city has agreed to plant the trees we purchase.

Indigenous trees are best adapted to local conditions and have developed natural defenses to insects and diseases. They will also strengthen beneficial local varieties of songbirds and butterflies that depend on them for food and habitat. Trees that are indigenous to other areas can have the opposite effect. There is virtually no public land available for tree planting in the area, other than the tree lawns. It is important to use the city’s planting activity here to obtain the benefits described above, benefits that will be observable for hundreds of years. The project will also complement the city’s existing rain-barrel project and will help protect the Olentangy watershed. Moreover, we plan to use the visibility of this project to educate and encourage residents about planting native trees on their private property.


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