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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tower Park Ecological Transformation

If you haven't been to the Tower Park trails lately you are in for a surprise. The NKU Center for Applied Ecology has spent over $1,000,000 restoring the ecosystem of the park. Take a look at the difference:

Notice the massive difference without all the honeysuckle obscuring more than 10 feet ahead. Also, the massive bedrock that is now lining the streams. You can actually see the biking trails now on the hillsides.

I spoke with Scott Fennell with the Center of Applied Ecology (whose signs now mark the perimeter of the forest) and he gave me some background on the project and on the Center.

Funding for the Center comes from fees paid by developers and administered by the Army Corp of Engineers that funds restoration projects in the 9 county Northern Kentucky footprint. The majority of the funding for this project comes from fees collected from the Newport Pavilion development.

The project as a whole restored 4,200 feet of streams and encompassed 18 acres of forest. The Center has worked closely with the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy and will be working together at an event on April 27th where they will offer guided tours of the trails and explain the work that they have completed. The tours start from the basketball courts at 12:30 on the 27th.

The full project will go all the way to Route 8 and should be completed by the end of the summer, although they have already made significant progress.

One of my thoughts as I took my family through a trail earlier this week was how the mountain bikers would have responded to this massive change and if it diminished what were world class mountain biking trails. Scott mentioned that they worked with the Northern Kentucky Mountain Biking Association. In one situation they agreed on relocating one of the trails that were in a delicate part of the restoration project. According to Scott there was cooperation and an opportunity to educate and share perspectives.

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