Vernal Pools & Trees
It is the vernal (spring) pool habitat which gives Sawmill Wetlands their name. A unique balance of clay soils, rainfall and the surrounding trees have made this natural system sustainable (able to survive year after year).
Vernal pools start to collect water in winter, supporting life which feeds on leaves and other 'debris' on the forest floor. Then as new leaves form, water is drawn up through the tree roots, drying up the pools. In fall, leaves fall from the trees, providing more food for future generations...and so the cycle continues!
The woodland vernal pools at Sawmill Wetlands are temporary bodies of water that are typically wet by late winter and then dry up in early summer. The seasonal nature of this habitat supports many species, such as salamanders and fairy shrimp, which are uniquely adapted to thrive only in areas without permanent water (avoiding predators including fish).
Sadly, Ohio has lost over 90% of its original wetlands, a large number of which were vernal pools, one of the many reasons that protection of this rare urban habitat is so important.
Wetland Shrubs and Plants
Several beautiful native shrubs and plants such as Buttonbush, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Gray's Sedge thrive only in these shaded wetland areas where the soils are rich and permanently moist.
Since they are native to Ohio these unique plants provide important habitat and food for the animals which live here.
Cycles of Life
Observe an oak tree that has fallen to the ground in a wind storm. Nature never lets anything go to waste though (the perfect recycler!); the fallen tree will slowly be broken down by life on the forest floor, including fungi and insects. This natural process returns precious nutrients to the soil, allowing acorns to grow up into new oak trees.
The "Big Woods"
“When I was ten years old my family moved to an old farm house located near here. This was back in the 1940's – where our old house stood is now a parking lot, but one nice thing is that this portion of what my brother and I referred to as the 'Big Woods' is still here. I have fond memories of chasing through the magnificent Beech trees scattered throughout.
The survival of these woods now is about the need for a little bit of green space among the surrounding parking lots, roads, businesses and houses.”
Bob Thompson, local resident (from a letter to ODNR – Feb. 3, 2013)
How Sawmill Wetlands was saved from development
Thanks to the effort of many dedicated advocates, Sawmill Wetlands was saved from being developed in spite of a deed restriction limiting the wetlands to being used and occupied solely for public purposes. Read the full story here.