First section of Greene County’s new Spotted Turtle Trail now open

The Spotted Turtle Trail gives visitors access to 4 miles of trails along Greene County wetlands. CONTRIBUTED
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The Spotted Turtle Trail gives visitors access to 4 miles of trails along Greene County wetlands. CONTRIBUTED

Four miles of trails show off a plethora of local wildlife in Greene County.

BEAVERCREEK — The first section of the Spotted Turtle Trail, a $7.5 million project designed to connect all wetlands in Greene County, is open to the public.

The first section includes four miles of new boardwalks and existing trails along Creekside Trail, Phillips Park, the Beaver Creek Wetlands Reserve, Rotary Park and Dane Mutter Prairie, with bridges over Beaver Creek, observation decks and information stops. The project also creates several new access points and trailheads so more neighborhoods can have easy walking access through the wetlands.

Greene County Parks and Trails and the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association have long been preserving and protecting local fens, prairies, and marshes, and have sought ways to make those ecosystems more accessible to the public.

“We have this jewel right here in our backyards. Wetlands are as unique as rainforests or coral reefs,” said Beaver Creek Wetlands Association Vice President Ken Moran. “What they do for the environment, to protect us against flooding, to filter our water, you can’t find that anywhere else. So when you’re out there, you get to experience and learn about different plants and animals that simply don’t exist anywhere else.”

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The Beaver Creek Wetlands also sit atop the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer, which serves as the sole source of drinking water for the entire Dayton region.

“Wetlands play a unique role with that aquifer because it filters out sediment, contaminants, and farm and urban development runoff,” Moran said. “That all gets filtered through the wetlands, and it purifies the water as it gets back down into that aquifer. So it’s absolutely vital the role wetlands play in that.”

When completed, the Spotted Turtle Trail will connect Zimmerman Prairie State Nature Preserve in Beavercreek with Pearl’s Fen, north of Fairborn, to provide nearly 20 miles of wetland hiking trails. The project will create an extensive system of trails through multiple wetland ecosystems, boardwalks, pedestrian bridges and overlook platforms which will give visitors access to Greene County wildlife that was previously inaccessible.

“When you get out on these trails, you’ll be surprised at the diversity of wildlife you’ll see.

“When people come out, they’ll see meadows, prairies, wetland habitat, and all the diversity of wildlife that those attract. And you can see it all in the first five miles,” said Greene County Parks Director Jon Dobney. “You’ll be surprised at the diversity of wildlife you’ll see. "

Project cost for phase one came in just shy of $500,000, Moran said. Phase two, which will build entirely new boardwalk trails through Dane Mutter Prairie, has an estimated cost of $1.8 million.

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