The weather cooperated so that on Saturday, May 13, volunteers were able to complete Captina Conservancy's Repair-A-Riparian tree planting project along the South Fork of Captina Creek. The project was funded by a grant from Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Dominion Gas Company funds Western Reserve Land Conservancy's annual support for watershed protection projects around the state. Last year Captina Conservancy applied for and received a Spotlight Grant of $5,000 to plant tree seedlings along sections of the Captina Creek to help prevent stream bank erosion. Volunteers planted 300 saplings and understory shrubs of 10 different species on three different properties along the South Fork as well as the Raven Rocks Conservation Easement. The work included site selection, site preparation to clear invasive plants, planting and placing tree protectors. Because of weather, and volunteer schedules the planting itself stretched over a two-week period.
Captina Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization formed to protect and preserve the Captina Creek watershed in Belmont and Monroe Counties. The Conservancy can own land and hold conservation easements on land owned by others. Conservation easements place legal restrictions on properties in order to protect their conservation values in perpetuity. The Conservancy office is located in the Olney Friends School Stillwater Science Center in Barnesville. Address is: P.O. Box 318, Barnesville 43713. Website: www.captina.org.
On Earth Day, Saturday April 22, Captina Conservancy celebrated its recent Monroe County acquisition by hosting two exploratory walks on the property. Birdwatchers enjoyed a walk at 8:30 that morning returning to compare notes and total their counts. At 10 a.m. that group along with a number of others did a botanical tour along the main trail identifying trees, wildflowers, and shrubs. The day was cool and damp but over 25 attended enjoying lunch together and learning more about the property as well as Captina Conservancy's partnership with former owner Nora Hines. Nora Hines and her sister purchased an 84 acre tract in southwestern Wayne Township 50 years ago while they were still in college as biology students. The ridge top land had been timbered and farmed so heavily that the thin top soils were gone so little could grow.
They set out to restore it by planting young trees to rebuild the soil. Their goal was to restore the forest. Hines' sister passed away years ago, but she persisted and upon her retirement from ODNR plant inspection moved to the site permanently. A 28 acre parcel was added and the 112 acre property is now a remarkably diverse forest. As Hines notes, to the casual observer it may seem like it has always been forested, but it is just beginning to return to its healthy sustainable state. It takes many, many decades to rebuild topsoil and soil health. Mixed hardwood forests in this region reach the climax stage at between 200 and 300 years. A few years ago Hines began looking for ways to protect the property beyond her own lifetime. She sought organizations that would take the property as a donation if they would utilize it for research and protect it long term. She learned about Captina Conservancy, a Belmont County land trust formed in 2006 and contacted them. The Conservancy quickly agreed that not only did the property deserve protection, but also that its unique history meant that it could serve an important role for scientific research. They applied for a Clean Ohio grant to purchase it and completed the purchase earlier this year. Hines retains the right to live there for the rest of her life.
Upcoming activities of the Captina Conservancy include an AmeriCorps volunteer search and the annual board meeting on July 13 at the Stillwater Science Center, Olney Friends School.