Over the years, the District has been involved in a variety of conservation projects
The Beckett Ridge Water Quality Basin which a concrete channeled detention basin was restored to a storm water wetland
Mill Creek Headwaters Project a large project with several components
Aeriel Imagery Conservation Education Program
This program will utilize drones, also known as small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to educate landowners and farmers on the natural resource concerns found on their property. In addition, it will provide hands-on educational opportunities for children at events to experience technology used for conservation purposes. This unique program will bring a different perspective to land management that we have not seen before. For example, we have the capabilities to capture near infrared (NIR) imagery, which is a range of wavelengths strongly reflected by vegetation. We can use this to detect presence/absence of vegetation or assess vegetation health since healthy and abundant green vegetation has stronger reflectance of NIR. Drones can also provide higher resolution imagery compared to satellite images, seeing that they are flown close to the ground (with a maximum regulated height of 400ft). The adjacent images of the ground can then be ‘stitched’ together to create a high quality map of a property.
Elk Creek Watershed Inventory
Graduate students from Miami's Institute for the Environment and Sustainability have conducted a watershed inventory of Elk Creek for our office. This Professional Service project team spent over 1500 hours researching the landuse, demographics, water quality and much more within this watershed. The work they have accomplished will be important for future projects and grant work conducted by Butler SWCD and partner agencies. It's really amazing the amount of work these students put into this project. Thank you to JJ Crumpler, Michael Doust, Deanna Fyffe, Savannah Pocisk, and Jenna Tiller. Thank you also to Suzi Zazycki and Kate Moran who assisted the students.
Hopewell Elementary Stormwater and Riparian Enhancement Project
The Hopewell Elementary Stormwater and Riparian Enhancement project is designed to address flooding, stormwater, and habitat alteration issues on a section of the East Fork Mill Creek. The natural floodplain in this area has been affected by development and habitat degradation. This has caused eroded banks, loss of habitat, flooding issues, nutrient loading, and degraded water quality.
The overall goal of this project is to filter and detain stormwater through a bio-filtration system from the campus of Hopewell Elementary School and improve habitat along the riparian corridor. The project will redirect stormwater from the school and parking lot through a vegetated bioswale drainage course to a constructed rain garden. Other features of the project include: a 2-acre wetland with native wetland species, planting native riparian plants, stabilizing eroded stream banks with coir matting and rock structures to prevent sedimentation and nutrient loading, and two acres of prairie grasses to create a buffer.
The education and outreach program for this project site is a major asset to the school and the surrounding community. A comprehensive educational program will be provided to the teachers for an outdoor classroom and learning opportunity. Hands-on community outreach will also be a major focus point. These outreach and educational opportunities tie the project to the school’s curriculum and provide a platform to continue discussions of similar improvements in other areas of the district and watershed-wide. Educational signage at the project will provide a continuous educational opportunity for any community member to learn about the project and its benefits.
This project is being funding by a $123,450 Surface Water Improvement Fund Grant by the Ohio EPA – Division of Surface Water. The partners for this project are Butler SWCD, Mill Creek Council of Communities, Butler County Stormwater District, Lakota Local Schools, and West Chester Township.
At the 2017 Ohio Stormwater Association's conference, the project received the non-profit award. Cardno JFNew nominated the Butler Soil and Water Conservation District and the Mill Creek Watershed Council for this award.
2017 Non-Profit Project award winner from the Ohio Stormwater Association
Floating Treatment Wetlands
The District secured funding to assist landownerrs to create floating treatment wetlands in their ponds. In 2014, Butler had deployed 8 floating treatment wetlands for landowners in the county. Future sites for 2015 are still being explored.
The District has been working with Miami University: Hamilton Campus to conduct a study looking at the effects of these wetlands. We hope to have the results to share soon.
FTWs consist of a buoyant structure, or raft, which supports plants in a growing media over the water column. These plants are perennial, non-invasive emergent plants. FTWs mimic the function of natural wetlands, in that they filter and process nutrients, suspended solids, metals and other pollutants. Opposed to a traditional wetland, the plants will not take root in the soil. In a FTW the roots will stay suspended in the water column in order for the plants to adjust to any fluctuations in water level without harming the plants.
Pollinator Rain Garden
The District long with the 2014 graduates of the Butler County Master Gardener Program desinged and built a rain garden just outside of the office.
The rain garden project was broken into different components:
Plants: Study of native plants suitabl for a rain garden and great for pollinators
Site Study: inclduing soil testing and drainage calculations.
Design: Plant layout and size.
Education: Brochure and sign creation along with a pearltree page
Beckett Ridge Water Quality Basin
In 2004 our office applied for, and received, a National Association of Counties (NACo) Five Star Restoration Challenge Grant. Five Star Restoration projects involve a high degree of cooperation, with local government agencies, elected officials, community groups, businesses, schools, and environmental organizations all working together to improve local water quality and restore important fish and wildlife habitats.
The District was awarded $12,000 to restore 420 linear feet of stream riparian corridor as part of the Upper Mill Creek Riparian Restoration and Stormwater Wetland Enhancement Project. An existing stormwater basin within this suburban watershed was transformed, restored, and monitored to evaluate efficiency. First, the existing barren and concrete-lined stormwater detention facility was replaced with a fully functioning 1.1 acre wetland that will treat stormwater pollutants and provide wildlife habitat. Second, a monitoring program has been enacted by the partners to evaluate the efficiency of the wetland in its ability to remove pollutants from the stream following storm events. The results of the water quality monitoring program will be an invaluable data source used to educate local developers and engineers on this type of alternative best management practice (BMP) to mange stormwater from their sites.
Nutrient Analysis Study- Study completed in 2012 using data gathered from 2007 through 2011 by the Butler County Stream Team. This nutrient analysis was completed for Butler SWCD by Amy Cameron as a part of her M.S. at the University of Illinois.
Stream Bank Restoration
Using Clean Water Act Section 319 funds, a stream bank stabilization project was completed in a tributary of the Mill Creek in Butler County. Butler SWCD worked with Cardno JF New on this project.
Talawanda High School
Talawanda High School has developed an outdoor learning land laboratory. The Mary and Leo Erik Environmental Education Area (MLEEA) consists of an expanded wetland, native grass prairies, oak savannah, quail buffer habitat, and a farm field for agricultural production.
The land lab is available for hands on learning for biology, botany, aquatics, agriculture, hydrology, water quality, sustainability, conservation development and serve as a microcosm to discuss environmental and natural resource issues.
The wetland enhancement, native grass plantings, oak savannah and more are all made possible through Talawanda School District partnerships with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, local Pheasants Forever chapters, Butler Soil & Water Conservation District, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Miami University, and many more.
Jeff Winslow, the Science Instructional Leader for Talawanda School District stated, “This is an amazing opportunity for our students that couldn't have happened without the expertise and resources of our partners, like the Butler SWCD. This will impact a generation of students." The new High School is striving for a Gold LEED certification with the Ohio School Commission, which this outdoor learning laboratory coupled with curriculum correlations will be a major asset to achieving that high of a certification standard.
Edgewood High School
This Project is an innovative collaboration to preserve the quality of the Great Miami River Buried Valley Aquifer by treating storm water infiltrating the ground. Located on the property of the new high school, the project also serves as an awareness and educational model to the school, local community and region.
The District worked with the administration and educators of Edgewood with technical and educational knowlege. They also assisted the School District with partnerships, such as US Fish and Wildlife, and helping with grants.
In 2010, MillerCoors and River Network, a national non-profit organization focused on water quality, announced Butler Soil and Water Conservation District in Hamilton, OH, received $5,000 for their submittal of the Edgewood Storm Water Project. “We are proud to invest and support these organizations that help protect and conserve watersheds on a daily basis,” said Kim Marotta, vice president of corporate social responsibility at MillerCoors. “MillerCoors shares a strong commitment to water stewardship and believes in the power of community. Congratulations to these organizations that are making difference in their communities as well.”
Mill Creek Headwaters Project
OKI received a $498,010 implementation category grant from the U.S. EPA under Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act. A dozen project partners will help OKI implement recommendations in both the Mill Creek Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Report and the Upper Mill Creek Watershed Action Plan.
Goals of the project included:
Reduce nonpoint-source pollution from nutrient loadings, organic enrichment and habitat alteration along the upper Mill Creek and East Fork Mill Creek in West Chester Township
Establish an education and activities program for property owners, homeowners associations and agricultural landowners about ways to reduce water pollution
Establish a monitoring program at five or more sites to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing selected best management practices
Products of the Project included:
At least 4,000 feet of stabilized streambank; at least 2,000 feet of restored riparian corridor; at least 5 acres of restored floodplain with wetland enhancements
Educational brochure (pdf below), CD, videotape, and website/newsletter articles; Educational events: field day tours, and stream cleanups
Quality Assurance Project Plan and a monitoring report