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Bath uses aerial method to seed Garden Bowl

By Jody Miller
Ohio.com correspondent

Seeding 4
A yellow plane seeds the Garden Bowl of the Bath Nature Preserve. (Photo courtesy of Bath Township)

BATH TWP.: It’s one thing to reseed your lawn, but what do you do if you need to seed a 15-acre wetland and floodplain of the North Fork tributary of Yellow Creek in the Bath Nature Preserve?

You use an airplane.

Earlier this month, neighbors to the Bath Nature Preserve saw and heard a bright yellow plane flying around the area. The plane was dropping the seed of native wetland plants in order to create a functional wetland and floodplain in the Garden Bowl area of the nature preserve. 

The project was undertaken when Bath received a $48,452 grant through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Nonpoint Source Management Program. The township added 40 percent of the funding toward the project, which will improve and protect the quality of the Yellow Creek Watershed by creating a natural retention basin during peak storm events. This will trap water and help to slow downstream flooding, according to Mike Rorar, Bath’s park superintendent.

Site work began in the spring and included eliminating the invasive species, tilling the acreage, removing the underdrains (installed when the site was part of the Raymond Firestone Estate’s Polo Grounds) and building a dike to eventually control the amount of water on the site.

Once all that work was completed, the township bid out the seeding, which is a specialized field, said Rorar, and awarded the contract to Don Beam from Stucker Meadow.

According to Rorar, more than 100 different wetland and wet meadow species were chosen for seeding.

“It's a ‘shot-gun approach,’ meaning that you pepper the site with a little bit of everything and see what works,” Rorar said. “Unlike a lawn, you don't have the time or the resources to be real selective because these plants have a unique set of criteria that has to be met to have success.”

Part of that success is the timing of the seeding, Rorar explained.

“Unlike grass seed, these plants drop their seed now through the winter months. So it is important that they have a chance to go through a winter/spring cycle,” he said.

Plans called for the contractor to seed the 15 acres with an ATV and spreader, along with some hand work; however, Superstorm Sandy left the Garden Bowl too wet to seed by the traditional method. Since the timing of seeding is essential, the contractor changed his plans.

“He said he would have to fly the seed in,” said Rorar. “I thought he was joking until the morning he called and said that he was leaving the airport.”

Thus the little yellow plane doing acrobatics over the Bath Nature Preserve last week.

Most of the seed is now down, said Rorar, adding that the price didn’t change even with the aerial method of seed distribution.

“The contractor still has additional seeding to do, but the rest will be finished on the ground, once it gets a little colder,” Rorar said.

And next spring, everyone will have a chance to see the fruits of their labors and what worked in the township’s efforts to create a functional wetland.