My perception of nature and wilderness has been pretty much turned on its head during this semester. As excited as I was by the idea of adding to wildlife shelters on campus, I lost steam on that front as I considered the reasons behind my attraction for that sort of project. In reality, attracting birds and critters to the Jay probably isn’t the best for the animals or the most likely area for those energies to be successful considering how disturbing human foot traffic can be. Instead, Dr. Krygier pointed me toward the retention pond outside of the Meek Aquatic Center. This area, although designed to be aesthetically pleasing and to function as a catch for runoff, has a lot of unrealized potential as a wildlife habitat.
This area is worth evaluating (or reevaluating, as some attention was paid to the pond in a previous project) since relatively recently dams were removed from the Olentangy River, removing some standing pool/wetland habitat for native species. Additionally, because a nearby YMCA recently built an intentionally ecologically friendly retention pond, we have a successful local model pond which could be worthwhile to compare to. The main goals of this project will be to 1. assess the quality and abundance of life currently occupying the pond and 2. determine (and implement, if possible) potential improvements for the area as a habitat without compromising aesthetics. This task will benefit OWU’s campus and Delaware wildlife, but may also serve as a model for other area retention ponds that may benefit from an “ecological retrofit.”
I’ll be reading the details of any previous project materials available about this pond, researching retention pond ecology, and contacting professors or community members that may be able to add insight to the direction of this project. Ideally, next week’s update will include a project proposal!