A surprising variety of animals can be found in the parks of the Hamilton County Park District. While some populations are low in numbers and in need of special protection, such as the cave salamander or barn owl, others such as the white-tailed deer and Canada goose have done so well in recent years, that management is required to control their numbers. Maintaining this delicate balance can be challenging where natural controls in the form of large predators are absent from the local environment.
Surveys are also routinely conducted to determine population densities and hundreds of artificial nest structures are constructed, installed and maintained mostly by volunteers throughout the Park District.
Shaker Trace Seed Nursery
The Shaker Trace Seed Nursery was created in the spring of 1992 to harvest and
store native prairie and wetland seed (collected from sites within 100 miles of Hamilton County) for a restoration project of several hundred acres at Miami Whitewater Forest. Since then, The Shaker Trace Seed Nursery has grown and now has over 200 different species of native plants that are used for restoration projects throughout the Park District.
Seedlings collected are hand-raised at the nursery, thanks in large part to a group of dedicated Hamilton County Park District volunteers (VIPs). They help to collect, harvest, process and store the seeds, which are propagated when needed for Park District restoration projects.
The species of seed to be planted in restoration projects is determined based on soil type, slope, amount of sun or shade and seed availability. A seed drill is used to plant the seeds just under the surface of the soil. Once planted, it typically takes three to five years, depending on the soil type, to produce plant diversity.
For more information, contact The Shaker Trace Seed Nursery at Miami Whitewater Forest at (513) 738-0345.
Aquatic Plant Management
Aquatic plant management is an important aspect of managing lakes. Aquatic plants are vital as fish habitat, therefore desirable species are planted in appropriate areas of Hamilton County Park District Lakes. When aquatic plants are not feasible, artificial structure is used to supplement fish habitat. Artificial habitat can take many forms, but is usually in the form of pallet structures or rock piles. Sometimes non-native or invasive plants become a nuisance. Resource Quality has the means to remove large areas of invasive plants using an aquatic weed harvesting boat. The aquatic weed harvester allows effective plant management without the widespread use of herbicides and algaecides.
Fisheries Management is an extension of the Biological Monitoring Program. The Park District's Resource Quality Department conducts annual fish population surveys to determine the species and numbers of fish that exist in park lakes. These surveys collect data on population size and fish growth. Angler success is also tracked through summer creel surveys.
The results of these surveys are combined in a detailed Aquatic Resource Assessment and Management Plan for each recreational fishing lake:
This program uses volunteers to check and maintain bluebird boxes throughout the parks. Volunteers visit these nest boxes once every two weeks to check on the progress of the nesting birds. They also document the number of eggs, hatchlings and fledglings produced throughout the season. Having volunteers checking and maintaining these boxes ensures that cavity nesting birds will continue to have a place to nest come spring time. Although bluebirds are the intended target, many other species of cavity nesting birds utilize these boxes, depending on their placement.