Clark County makes good after disturbing stream

Road project work led to project with invasive plant along bike path.

The Clark County Engineer’s Office spent more than $11,600 this year clearing about 1.3 acres of Japanese honeysuckle along Buck Creek.

The effort to eradicate the invasive species along the bike path near Mitchell Road came after the engineer’s office disturbed a stream during the $2.3 million relocation of a portion of Ohio 794.

When the county department disturbed a stream, officials were required by environmental regulations “to mitigate what we disturbed” or improve a stream in another area, said Clark County Engineer John Burr.

Japanese honeysuckle is an invasive species that retains its leaves longer than most plants, and its aggressive growth “crowds out everything else and shades whatever is beneath it,” said John Ritter, Wittenberg University geology professor.

Ritter said the engineer’s office’s efforts to clear 1,600 feet of the invasive honeysuckle returned a portion of the bike path back to its natural state.

“It does create a visual that’s very striking, but now you can see clear to the stream,” Ritter said.

Ritter said the largest invasive honeysuckle removal in Ohio occurred in 2006 at the Estel Wenrick Wetlands.

About 160 volunteers remove massive amounts of the invasive species to make room for native plants.

Ritter said in the 1990s the area along stream banks were completely clear of the invasive species.

“Now it’s entirely obscured by honeysuckle,” Ritter said.

Ritter said as part of Ohio environmental regulations, the engineer’s office must maintain the area for five years. He said officials plan to return to the area in the spring.

“Any of the natural vegetation that was prohibited from growing would have been able to regenerate,” Ritter said.

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