A New Nature Park Takes Shape in Lebanon
Dave Woehr, SWRL Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist
Something new and exciting is happening in Lebanon. The city is overseeing the development of an entirely new park unlike any of its other parks that focus heavily on athletic playfields for soccer and baseball. The Will and Harriet Miller Ecological Park has sprung to life on the site of a historic family farm dating back to the mid-1800’s. The park, named for the last of the Millers to farm the acreage, is no longer a place where livestock and crops are raised. Instead, and in accordance with family and community wishes, the land has been converted into a park that is entirely nature oriented.
City officials, community members, organizations committed to an ecological park, and Miller family descendants have joined together to form a unique partnership. Together their vision has resulted in the installation of hiking trails, butterfly gardens, picnic shelters, prairie grass and wildflower plantings, as well as the addition of native hardwood trees. Elevated foot bridges, bird viewing stations, rain gardens and a porous parking lot have been constructed with many additional features yet to be added. Removal of invasive bush honeysuckle was accomplished along the natural drainages leading to Turtle Creek, a tributary of the Little Miami River, a State and National Scenic River. Eagle Scouts have completed several service projects at the park.
Dozens of species of birds and mammals in addition to more than a hundred wildflowers and other plants have already been documented in the park. Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists, Master Gardeners, and other experts are continuing to document and add to the growing list of inhabitants of this beautiful new nature park. Moreover, these teams are available to assist park visitors by leading hikes, giving educational lectures, and emphasizing conservation of water, soil, habitats, and wildlife.
The official dedication of the park occurred May 11, 2013. Since then, the size of the park has doubled from its original 49 acres to roughly 100 acres through the acquisition of additional adjoining agricultural land made possible by a grant written by the City of Lebanon. The park offers ample viewing and learning opportunities for bird watchers, nature photographers, hikers, and other visitors. The manner in which Miller Ecological Park has evolved is a tremendous example of how local citizens, city government, volunteer organizations (such as Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists), and a family committed to make the park a reality can work together to improve the quality of life in a community. Too often available space in or near a city is turned into residential or commercial developments. In Lebanon, however, a little bit of solitude has been preserved through the creation of Miller Ecological Park.
Learn More about the park at http://www.millerecopark.org/
The Miller Family and the Land