Conservation efforts planned for Hellbranch Run

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

At the first Prairie Township meeting of the year, Franklin Soil and Water Conservation Program Manager Kyle Wilson attended to discuss the Hellbranch Run Conservation Corridor project.

“About 10 years ago during the economic crisis, we were able to purchase 200 acres of agriculture land and permanently protect it,” Wilson said. “We were able to purchase this because, when the market crashed in 2008, land developers who previously were going to put a housing development there wanted to sell the property.”

According to Wilson, the land has been farmed for many years, which has altered the original state of the property. The goal of Franklin Soil and Water is to restore the land to its natural habitat.

“Recently, we received a grant that will now allow us to restore it to its natural wetland and stream,” he said. “This will be a large-scale restoration project that will take 12 to 18 months to complete.”

Among the goals of the project is to restore the stream that lays on this property to its natural state, including ensuring the stream has ripples and natural habituates like fish can reside in it, as well as plant thousands of trees, plant prairie grass and create a natural wetland. Once complete, the property will be used for educational programming, as well as public recreation.

“It won’t be a metro park, but it will be able to be used for recreation by appointment,” Wilson said.

Some township leaders and local residents noted their concerns that the project could cause additional flooding in the region. However, according to Wilson a strict requirement of this project is that they cannot make any flooding issue worse.

“We are looking at centralizing and consolidating the flood plain,” Wilson said. “We will not be adding to the problem. I can’t promise we will make the problem better, but we won’t make it worse.”

Wilson did say that within two to five years residents may see an improvement in flooding issues, but nothing is guaranteed.

“Time really will tell,” he said. “Any residents who wants to come to the site and go over it in more detail is more than welcomed.”

Trustee Steve Kennedy shared his concern that the project would attract more mosquitos to the region because of the retention ponds being added to the property.

“These will not be the same as what you see in subdivisions where it is just sitting water,” Wilson said. “These will be wetlands, so you don’t get the same mosquito problems you see with manmade ponds that hold static water. Also, there will be bugs and other animals that eat mosquitos.”

For more information on Hellbranch Run Conservation Corridor project, visit www.prairietownship.org.

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