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EcoSummit 2012 E-Newsletter: May 2012

Welcome to Columbus

Columbus is one of America’s rising stars with innovative public and private partners driving forward plans to establish Ohio’s capital city as a national leader in sustainability, design, arts, culture and academic excellence.  EcoSummit 2012 offers a unique opportunity to enjoy and learn in close proximity to some of the planet’s most exciting restoration stories. Productive soil and a plentiful, reliable supply of fresh water tied to mid-latitude, four-season climate and long-growing season means great biological productivity.

Columbus is rich in its array of scientific and ecological assets, its attractiveness to businesses and economic investment, and its quality of life. It is unique among United States locations in its firm commitment to, and practice of, public-private partnerships among colleges and universities, private businesses and industries, non-governmental associations and organizations. The city’s leaders share this commitment to collaboration. It’s made Columbus a leader in research, innovation and commercialization.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman wants the world to see that ecological sustainability must be part of every major urban area. “A great city needs plant and animal life, safe water to drink and clean air to breathe,” Mayor Coleman says. “We must protect our ecosystems to ensure our future.”

Central Ohio is working to build a fully sustainable society and has the capacity to preserve and restore the ecosystems needed to sustain life.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) stands out among the nation’s regional planning agencies in its commitment to sustainability. Its Center for Energy and Environment is among the largest such regional entities in the United States and is engaged in a variety of cutting-edge initiatives in areas such as climate change adaptation, materials management, local food production and regional energy self-sufficiency.

MORPC will incorporate its annual Summit on Sustainability and the Environment convocation of hundreds of local stakeholders into EcoSummit 2012. Developed to aid community leaders, businesses and individuals in moving toward sustainability, this annual gathering will be held Wednesday, October 3, 2012, at the conference location.

Central Ohio Sustainability Assets

Many of the area’s research and restoration facilities and projects will be highlighted during EcoSummit 2012, including those listed here.

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is now home to bison that were brought in to aid ongoing prairie restoration. The bison live in a 30-acre enclosed paddock and can be seen from a knoll along the Darby Creek Greenway Trail. These bison are probably the first to wander in this restored prairie in over 200 years.

Big Darby Creek State and National Scenic River is one of the most biologically diverse aquatic systems in the Midwest. The 900-acre Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve encompasses a mixture of wetlands and streamside forests. Coldwater springs emerge here, forming the capillaries that feed Big Darby Creek’s permanent flow downstream. Flora and fauna surveys here have found such species as southern redbelly dace, marsh marigold, skunk cabbage and trillium.

The Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University is an internationally recognized leader in polar and alpine research. It has ten research groups whose work focuses on the role of cold regions in the Earth's climate system, and encompasses geological sciences, geochemistry, glaciology, paleoclimatology, meteorology, remote sensing, ocean dynamics and the history of polar exploration. The research center maintains the Byrd Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program, which provides research opportunities and supports graduate and undergraduate students, offers seminars and lectures on a frequent basis and maintains a public education outreach program.

Olentangy River Wetland Research Park at The Ohio State University provides teaching, research, and service related to wetland and river science and ecological engineering. It is a long-term, large-scale wetland research facility designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The wetland research park is also a nature park for the residents of Central Ohio, providing habitat for an array of plants, animals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.

The Scioto Greenways Project is a work-in-progress in downtown Columbus. It calls for the removal of a dam that has significantly altered the natural channel of the Scioto River. Removing the dam will restore a more natural channel, and increase the health and water quality of the river. The project will also create an additional 33 acres of green space downtown.

The Scioto Audubon Metro Park, only a 10-minute walk from downtown Columbus, is home to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, a haven for wildlife and birds and the first in Audubon’s history to bring hands-on conservation and nature-based learning this close to the core of a major American city. It is in an internationally designated Important Bird Area (IBA), which nearly 100 species of birds migrating from Central and South America use as a stopover.

The Wilds is North America’s largest conservation facility. The Wilds is located nearby in rural southeastern Ohio. It was developed on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed mine land. The facility combines cutting-edge conservation science with educational programs and unique visitor opportunities. Their experience with conservation medicine, restoration ecology, animal management and conservation science training/education has led to international collaborations focusing on landscape-scale questions and issues surrounding wild populations of threatened and endangered species. Collaborations include Asian Antelope Conservation, Przewalski Horse Reintroduction, Black Rhino Population Translocations and Takin Ecology Study with the Chinese Academy of Science. A two-day, pre-conference Columbus Field Trip will include tours of the facility and current research efforts, and an overnight stay in unique luxury yurts.

For more information on Columbus, please click here.

See other articles in the May 2012 newsletter:

- Ecological Sustainability: Restoring the Planet’s Ecosystem Services
- Nobel Winner to Address EcoSummit 2012
- Connecting a City to its Natural Treasures
- The Role of the Business Community in Restoring our Ecosystems

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