June 2021
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!
Land Stewardship and Stream Habitat
You may have heard the term "land stewardship" before often used in the realm of conservation. Well, what does it mean? In the world of conservation, land stewardship is about making land use decisions with natural resources in mind, including water quality and stream habitat.

What does land stewardship have to do with stream habitat?
What is going on in the habitat surrounding a stream directly affects the quality of that stream. That habitat is often referred to as the riparian corridor - the buffer area of vegetation along a stream. Many aquatic organisms are very sensitive to stream habitat, and the species found in a stream can give us a good idea of the water quality and the overall health of the stream. You can learn more about riparian corridors and their benefits through this toolkit from local watershed group Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed.

Soil sediment is a stormwater pollutant and is the most common pollutant in our streams. Soil sediment is made up of loose sand, clay, silt and other soil particles. Sedimentation is when small soil particles are deposited into streams and creeks, which occurs often during high flow events following a heavy rain storm. As the flow decreases, the soil particles fall to the bottom of the stream, reducing the vegetation that provides food and habitat to aquatic organisms. Erosion contributes to sedimentation. Preventing erosion in turn protects our streams and aquatic habitat.

Check out this animation video below to see how the process of sedimentation happens.
Excess Nutrients are a Problem Too
Excess nutrients can enter a stream from fertilizer, animal and pet waste carried in stormwater runoff. The excess nutrients, chemicals, and bacteria wash directly into local creeks and rivers. This can lead to eutrophication and harmful algal blooms (HABs) which can be detrimental to many organisms that call our watershed home.

Eventually, everything goes downstream. However, we can all take action to protect our local streams and be good land stewards.
What can I do to be a good land steward?

You can take action today! There's a few options to prevent sedimentation and protect local stream habitat. Here's just a few:
  • Replace turf grass with native plants and trees. Native plants and trees have much deeper root systems than turfgrass that can better filter stormwater runoff. This will help prevent erosion.
  • Want to keep your lawn? Mow high and let it lie! Longer grass means longer root systems and therefore better stormwater runoff filtration. This can also help prevent erosion. You can check out more lawn care tips and take the Get Grassy pledge.
  • Install a rain garden or pollinator garden, preferably with native plants. This can slow the stormwater runoff and provide habitat to pollinators.
  • PUP - Pick Up Poop! Pet waste is high in nitrogen and phosphorus, and those nutrients get picked up in stormwater runoff. This contributes to algal growth which reduces oxygen available to fish and other aquatic organisms in our streams. Take the PUP pledge.
  • See someone dumping something they shouldn't be dumping? You can report littering, illegal dumping, and other environmental crimes to the Environmental Crimes Task Force of Central Ohio at ItsACrime.org (previously Nail-A-Dumper).
  • Are you a Franklin County resident experiencing sediment or erosion issues on your property? Contact Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District for free technical assistance and guidance via phone at (614) 486-9613 or via our contact form. Not a Franklin County resident? Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District for assistance. Find your local Soil and Water Conservation District here.
Happy Pollinator Week!
Pollinator Week is underway. To celebrate, check out the offerings from the Pollinator Partnership and post to social media using their hashtag #PollinatorWeek.

Check out their toolkit to explore the various ways to celebrate this year's Pollinator Week for kids and adults alike.

Interested in plant suggestions and guides? You can find a pollinator friendly plant guide based on your zip code here.
What will you do to protect local stream habitat?
Replace turfgrass with native plants
Keep the turfgrass and mow high!
Install a rain garden
PUP (Pick Up Poop)
Report illegal dumping
None of the above
Here were the full results from last month's poll about the last time readers visited a wetland:

Within the last month

Within the last 6 months

I don't know

Within the last year

Within the last 5 years

Mikaela Mohr
Administrative and Program Assistant
Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District
1404 Goodale Blvd. Suite 100, Columbus, OH 43212 
p: 614-486-9613, ext. 131 | e: mmohr@franklinswcd.org
Connect with us online!
Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District | (614) 486-9613 | www.franklinswcd.org