February 2023
Backyard Conversation
Connecting Community + Conservation
Welcome to the Backyard Conversation! Each month we'll be sharing a conservation topic from a more personal viewpoint for our readers. To make this successful, I want to hear feedback from you! I'll include a poll at the bottom regarding our topic and share links to some of our partner organizations with similar messages. So, let's get to it!
Streamside Buffers & Vernal Pools
Important Wetlands for Water Quality
In the dreary days of winter, let's talk about some lovely and functional greenery and wetlands. Streamside buffers, also called riparian buffers, are the vegetated areas directly bordering a stream. They are an important feature that capture water and filter out pollutants before it enters the stream. Buffers are fantastic at preventing erosion - one of the biggest problems for Ohio streams! How? The plant roots help soak in stormwater, helping to keep the soil in place, thereby preventing erosion. Plus, buffers are yet another place to provide habitat and food for wildlife, amphibians, and pollinators. Learn more about how to protect streams here.
Vernal Pools
February and March is a great time to look for vernal pools. A vernal pool is a fishless seasonal depressional wetland. They often appear around this time of year from the snow melt and spring rain, but they can be completely dry the rest of the year. They can range in size from a small puddle to a lake. It might just look like some flooding upon first glance, but they're actually an important wetland for our native flora and fauna. Like any other wetland, vernal pools capture and filter water into the ground.

Why are vernal pools important? They are an important breeding ground and habitat for amphibians and rare plants. Many amphibians travel back to where they were born to reproduce. In fact, it is estimated that up to 85% of amphibians return to breed in the vernal pool where they were born! Birds also use vernal pools for an additional source of food and water. Vernal pools are increasingly threatened due to habitat loss. Plus, they are where you can find some very interesting plants and animals in late winter and early spring.

Some cool animals you might find in a vernal pool: salamanders, newts, frogs, turtles, and macroinvertebrates like crayfish and dragonflies.

Some interesting vernal pool native plants you might find: Skunk Cabbage, Cinnamon Fern, Marsh Marigold, Swamp White Oak, Buttonbush, and native sedges - just to name a few!

Where might you find one? There are several in our local Metro Parks.
  • Blacklick Woods - Buttonbush Trail Boardwalk
  • Glacier Ridge - Marshhawk Trail
  • Highbanks - Overlook Trail (must stay on the trail)
  • Inniswood - Frog Talk Walk Boardwalk (must stay on the trail)
  • Scioto Grove - Overlook Trail
  • Sharon Woods - Edward Thomas Trail (must stay on the trail)
  • Walnut Woods - Sweetgum Trail

Make it a family friendly activity! Check out our Vernal Pool Activity Guide.
Check out this Spotted Salamander found near a vernal pool!
Learn More About Vernal Pools
To learn more about vernal pools, check out the Ohio Vernal Pool Network.
Audubon Native Plant Backyard Challenge
Registration closes on February 28 or sooner if it fills up!
Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Columbus Audubon, and Franklin Soil and Water have teamed up this year for the Native Plant Backyard Challenge. The challenge hopes to encourage homeowners to promote native plants in their own backyard to support our ecosystem in a changing climate. Native plants provide incredibly valuable food and habitat for our native wildlife while capturing and filtering stormwater. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro when it comes to native plants, take the challenge to learn more about native plants and get some goodies and an informational toolkit. Registration closes soon, and only a few spots are left! Learn more and register here.
Question of the Month
Have you explored a vernal pool?
I don't know
Get the Scoop from Nature Scoop

Want to learn more about backyard conservation, pollinators, and more? Read the latest edition of the monthly newsletter Nature Scoop by Toni Stahl, National Wildlife Federation Habitat Ambassador.

Nature Scoop February 2023 - Save Birds from cats; Bumblebees play with balls; Sacred Grounds Habitat & More!

Learn more at www.backyardhabitat.info and on Twitter @NatureScoopOhio.
Mikaela Mohr
Outreach Program Specialist
Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District
1404 Goodale Blvd. Suite 100, Columbus, OH 43212 
p: 614-486-9613 | e: mmohr@franklinswcd.org
Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District | (614) 486-9613 | www.franklinswcd.org