Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum

Development richer than expected


Getting organized, seeking funding, establishing some recognition and planting some trees were quite enough, thank you very much, for the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum's steering committee members in 2011.

This year provided an opportunity for residents of Clintonville and the rest of central Ohio to take advantage of all of last year's frantic activity -- and to learn a little bit at the same time.

"I think in 2012 what really came to the forefront was the educational aspect of the arboretum," arboretum President Mike McLaughlin said.

A Chase 200Columbus Neighborhood Grant for just under $2,000 the arboretum received in April, along with some private fundraising, helped pay for an information kiosk to be erected just across the street from Indianola K-8 Informal School. This led to a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May to inaugurate walks of two different lengths through the preserved area, McLaughlin said.

The result has been that the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum is not just a source of pride for those who got behind the idea when it originated in 2010, but also a destination for visitors.

"We find that more people are using it," McLaughlin said. "We actually see people in the neighborhood taking the arboretum walks.

"In 2011, we weren't even thinking that. We were just thinking canopy trees and reduce runoff into the river."

Steering committee members keep track of how often people go on the walks, based on how often the stock of maps at the kiosk has to be refilled.

On the education front, four classes at Indianola K-8 Informal have incorporated the short-er of the two walks into their curriculum, McLaughlin said.

In July, with the assistance of funding from the Tuttle Park Recreation Center, the arboretum joined Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Friends of the Ravines and ALTernative, a nonprofit neighborhood arts promotion organization, to sponsor a centennial celebration for Glen Echo Park, which is on the edge of the arboretum. Activities included planting a commemorative tree and dedicating a mural depicting native bird species in the Indianola Avenue overpass in the park.

The arboretum gained 15 new members at that event, McLaughlin said.

The Glen Echo Bird Club became an arboretum partner in 2011. Members give tours through the area's ravines during migratory bird season.

"We want to give people reasons to constantly come back and visit the arboretum," McLaughlin said.

This fall, arboretum members and volunteers planted 110 smaller trees along some of the narrower treelawns within the arboretum's current boundaries, he said. These were planted along Weber and Tibet roads as well as Indianola Avenue.

The arboretum's current boundaries are Weber Road to the north, North High Street to the west, the railroad tracks to the east and Arcadia Street from North High to Indianola Avenue, then Hudson from Indianola to the railroad tracks to the south.

"We've accomplished so much this year, and next year is going to be just as exciting," McLaughlin said.