Working to preserve Walnut Creek


By Rick Palsgrove

Southeast Editor

Creeks are my favorite bodies of water.

I like how the water in a creek is always in motion – sometimes slow and languid on a hot August day; sometimes in a mad rush  after a   spring rain storm; sometimes trickling under a cap of ice in winter.

Creeks wind their way through a community with tree lined banks that keep us in touch with nature even as an area develops commercially or agriculturally. I find it reassuring to look across a bean field or past some buildings and see the green tree line marking where a creek is flowing by. Creeks bring us water, wildlife, trees, flowers, life, and peace.

These waterways take care of us so it’s equally important we take care of them.

On Oct. 1 from 8-11 a.m., the city of Canal Winchester Storm Water Department will hold its ninth annual tire sweep along Walnut Creek. City staff will work with volunteers to remove tires in the Walnut Creek basin from Winchester Trail Elementary to Richardson Road, including  Walnut Woods Metro Park.

The event is coordinated through the city’s Storm Water Department and Metro Parks. Metro Parks will dispose of the tires collected by volunteers by taking them to a shredder facility in Columbus. Volunteers can meet at the Metro Parks office, 6723 Lithopolis Road, at 8 a.m.  Others may park at Winchester Trail Elementary on Gender Road or Walnut Creek Park at the end of Parkview Drive and walk along the creek toward the Metro Park. Small watercraft are welcome and handy to move tires downstream to the Metro Park.

Debris in Walnut Creek is a long time problem. Canal Winchester Urban Forester Dick Miller said when the annual Walnut Creek tire sweep started 10 years ago,  volunteers found a Ford Bronco, a Pontiac Bonneville and another vehicle 90 percent buried, except for the roof, along the creek upstream of Gender Road.

Walnut Woods Metro Park Manager Mindi McConnell said other items found in the creek over the years have included washing machines, roller skates from the 1960s,  bottles, and cans.

“One half mile south there is a massive buried tire dump along the creek right where it turns to the north,” said Miller. “This area pukes out a continuous supply of dumped tires.”

Miller said some of the tires have the old wide white sidewalls and are beginning to degrade.

“Dumping in the creek has been going on for a long time,” said Miller. “I think that  is just the way tire removal was done and to some extent still is. You find the lowest area in the landscape and in the cover of a night, dump your tires.”

Miller said volunteers have removed more than 500 tires from the creek in the last 10 years.

“Considering the history of dumping from Waterloo Road to Richardson Road in the Walnut creek watershed, I could easily let pessimism rule,” said Miller. “Now with Zika on the horizon, tires in tributaries such as the Tussing Ditch and dumping along fields, will become serious business. Tires supply breeding areas for exotic mosquitoes that are vectors for disease. For the most part mosquitoes from wetlands are just nuisance pests and hopefully won’t be the main problem for us.”

Miller said streams are an indicator of an area’s overall environmental health and that it’s important to keep creeks clean.

“I also think it is a matter of respect for a land ethic as Aldo Leopold wrote about just a generation ago in ‘A Sand County Almanac,’” said Miller.  “Catch and release fishing for smallmouth bass on small streams may be my number one recreational pastime. A close second would be the avian life, quietude and plant life found in riparian areas of small streams. If you can kayak or canoe, a small clean stream in Ohio on a fall day, well I just can’t top that! Let’s not forget the aesthetic four season qualities of a riparian scene as you cross a bridge over the Walnut Creek. If you momentarily take a glance up or down stream at your 50 mph crossing, you are my kind of people.”

McConnell added that keeping the creek clean helps to preserve natural aquatic life/habitat, such as Hellbenders, which are almost extinct from area waters, and to keep wildlife safe from harm from ingesting dangerous items or getting tangled.

Miller said anyone who appreciates nature knows there is a connection between man and the other organisms on the planet.

“I’m looking forward to the possibility of an all-purpose trail that would connect Canal Winchester to Groveport with the stream as the connecting parallel link to this pathway,” said Miller. “The pathway would of course connect to most of the other parks and riparian ways in the area.”

McConnell said Walnut Creek depends on people to keep the land clean by eliminating litter and trash from entering the creek and to practice resource management efforts by maintaining riparian areas to reduce erosion and encourage wildlife.

“This will have great effects on the quality of Walnut Creek,” said McConnell. “If we do not take care of it now, who knows what the future will hold. After all, our park was named after this great creek!”

For information about the Walnut Creek tire clean up, contact Mindi McConnell, Metro Parks  park manager at (614) 836-2683; or Canal Winchester Urban Forester Dick Miller at (614) 834-5110 or


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