There will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony from 10:00-10:30 a.m. to officially open our extended trail and highlight the completion of one of the largest stream restoration projects in Ohio’s history. Staff will be on hand to showcase the preserve from 10 until 2; please feel free to join us any time.
The event is one of many “TRAILgating” experiences planned as part of the American Hiking Society’s 20th Annual National Trails Day®, a celebration of America’s trail system.
The Gary J. Jainshig Trail, a new foot trail that leads visitors on a 2.5-mile trek through the forests and former farm fields of the preserve, provides a panoramic view of the Conservancy’s recently completed restoration of the Big Darby’s headwaters, one of the largest stream restoration projects ever completed in Ohio.
The trail was made possible by Gary James Jainshig, who taught science in the Jefferson Local Schools for 32 years before retiring in 1986. As a teacher in the Jefferson Local Schools, Mr. Jainshig worked hard to provide his students with hands-on learning opportunities as part of the school day. When school was over, he spent his free time providing outdoor experiences as a Boy Scout leader and ski club adviser.
Mr. Jainshig died in 2009 at the age of 78, and his generous bequest to the Conservancy allowed the organization to expand a short trail opened in 2008, complete the headwaters restoration and create a stewardship endowment for the preserve. In keeping with Jainshig’s commitment to education, the trail includes a series of engaging interpretive signs to help visitors understand the work that has been done to restore and preserve the headwaters of this national scenic river.
“I think Gary would be delighted to know that his bequest has been used to construct a trail where visitors will learn how nature can be nurtured back to health,” said Carol Bichler, a close friend who will attend the ribbon-cutting on Saturday. “He strongly believed that most learning occurs outside the classroom in places like this preserve, where students can touch, smell and see the natural processes that he taught them in class.”
This project takes place on the Joseph Glenn Ebersole Stream Restoration Site at The Nature Conservancy’s 800-acre Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve in Logan County. The project, completed earlier this year, restored more than a mile of stream at the headwaters of the Big Darby Creek – the place where the Big Darby becomes a permanent stream. The stream here had been channelized – meaning that the stream had been straightened and dredged to speed the flow of water off the land. Traditionally, streams were channelized to improve drainage for farmland and roads or other development.
The Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve is a 900-acre preserve encompassing a mixture of wetlands, fields and streamside forests. The Big Darby Creek watershed includes some of Ohio’s richest stream life, including 100 species of fish and 44 species of mussels. A wide variety of plants and animals also call the Big Darby Headwaters home, including trillium, skunk cabbage, jack-in-the-pulpit, eastern screech owls, wild turkeys and great crested fly catchers.
Visitors to the preserve also will have the opportunity to enter The Nature Conservancy’s “Natural Treasures of Ohio” challenge, a treasure hunt-themed promotion that invites Ohioans to explore natural sites in Ohio and the chance to win a 2012 Honda Insight Hybrid. The challenge runs now through August 8 at nature.org/naturaltreasuresohio or Facebook facebook.com/ohionatureconservancy.
Parking space has been donated by the Middleburg United Methodist Church, located at 11824 State Route 287, East Liberty, Ohio 43319. Shuttle service will be provided to and from the preserve entrance and church parking lot until 2:30 p.m.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.