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Pollinators Plus
Museum & Pollinator Habitats
Here begins my short email exchange with Great Parks leadership. It begins with a brief introduction, followed by my detailed proposal, and request to meet.

Hello,

My name is Ken Carman, and I grew up in a home that overlooked Harbor Point in Winton Woods. Recently I discovered, and have since fallen in love with the 120 acre tract of land on the west side of Conrey Road.

Please permit me to submit an unsolicited proposal for the development of the Conrey Road tract into a Bird and Butterfly/Pollinator Sanctuary.

I will keep the contents of this email somewhat brief, since there is a fair amount of information to go through in the attachments.

There are a few things that I am hoping for prior to a decision being made on my proposal.

1. I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to meet with one or more members of the Great Parks staff to discuss my proposal.

2. I would also greatly appreciate an opportunity to walk the property with one or more members of the Great Parks staff. Of course this could be combined with the meeting I am requesting, as we could talk while we walk.

3. Until we have the opportunity to meet, I would like permission to begin lopper cutting some of the Callery Pear, Amur Honeysuckle, and Autumn Olive in select areas along the perimeter trail and/or driveway.

May I also invite you to take a look at some of the wildlife photos I have taken on the property over the past three weeks. Check out this link: Conrey Road Wildlife  

I can make myself available to meet at your earliest convenience, and very much look forward to your timely response to this email.

Thank you,

Ken Carman 513-280-1785

Excellent references from South Carolina, Dayton, and Cincinnati can be provided upon request.

Here is my proposal . . .
Conrey Road Proposal
Outline

Key Points – What are the goals and priorities.

Funding/Support – How will this entire proposal be operated entirely in the black . . . at absolutely ZERO cost to Great Parks.

Funds Allocation – Raised revenue dispersal.

Equipment – What will it take to get the job started, and finished.

Long Term Invasive Plant Control – The plan.

Getting Started – What can be done now, what needs to wait.

Pollinator Museum – Features and purpose.

Summary –Radical Resourcefulness on all levels!


Key Points

The five key points to this proposal are as follows:
1.Without exception, everything existing on the property will be viewed as a valuable resource.
2.All invasive plants will be systematically removed from the property, and prevented from re-establishing.
3.All desired native plants on the property will be protected and enhanced.
4.Everything mowed (fields, paths, etc.) will be harvested (“bagged”) on a regular ongoing basis, and used to suppress unwanted growth, and enhance desired growth.
5.The site will be managed and operated at absolutely zero cost to Great Parks.

Details . . .
Remove all invasive plants from the property, while protecting and enhancing all of the native plant species growing on the property. 
Implement a sustainable plan to keep invasive plants from re-establishing.
Implement a sustainable long term funding program. 
Capitalize on the existing features/attractions already existing on property.
oMature trees – there is an amazing diversity of tree species at Conrey Road.
oGroves of native fruiting shrubs – Elderberry and Sumac
oGroves of native trees – Sassafras, Persimmon, Black Locust, etc.
oNative wildflowers – too many to list, but some valuable treasures.
oNatural spring(s) – several options for how this might be utilized.
oNatural low areas – possible future pond site(s). ?
oHouse – Best/Highest Value use for this structure.
oUtility building – Best/Highest Value use for this structure.
oRot-resistant wood(downed trees) – use for outdoor projects
oFirewood – for use and/or sale as fundraiser.
oInvasive plants . . . yes they are in fact a resource!
Plant additional native plants (species currently not found on property)
Plant non –native plants that are non-invasive and highly supportive of pollinators. {Garden flowers, fruits, vegetables, and butterfly/pollinator host plants}
Provide guided nature walks, wildlife photography walks, and give talks on a variety of subjects.
Host regular weekly events such as Moth/Bug nights in summer, night headlamp nature walks, workshops, and more.
Bird feeding stations will be set up and maintained at several locations throughout the property.
Benches will be placed at numerous locations throughout the property (Fund raiser!)
Funding/Support

All funds raised by and for the project would go directly to Great Parks for allocation. As we all know, donated equipment, volunteer labor, and other donated resources can substantially reduce the need for actual financial support.

House – By occupying the house, we would provide up to 100 hours of free labor each month. Furthermore, by occupying the house, we would provide an effective 24/7 security for the property. {An alternate, more secure, and more conveniently located storage location for Great Parks records could be found, possibly at zero cost}
Utility Building – This building could be used for a paid admission Pollinator Museum. It could also be used as a venue for a variety of talks, seminars, and presentation for which an attendance fee could be charged. This building would also serve as an ideal meeting location for soliciting support from local businesses and nearby residents.
Businesses – It is rather unusual to have such a dense concentration of businesses directly adjacent to a property such as this. I plan to take full advantage of that to the greatest extent possible. Who better to solicit funds from these businesses, for a project like this, than the visionary behind it who also happens to be the one bringing it to fruition? I won’t be a suit in a faraway office, I will be their next door neighbor.
Local residents – Who wouldn’t want to live next door to what this property will become. Simply by adding additional trails, and making all of the property more accessible will be a vast improvement. What this property will become under my leadership is beyond what they could imagine. I will get their buy in and their support.
Guided Tours – There is nothing wrong with charging a nominal fee for leading people on an exceptional nature tour or wildlife photography walk.
Wildlife Prints - I would make any and all of the wildlife images I have taken (and will continue to take) available for sale in support of this project. Perhaps an autograph might make for a slight increase in the value and sales of my photographs.
Plants – Once new plantings are fully established, many of those plants will still need to be divided each year. Those divisions could be sold at a native plant sale, and/or used in pollinator habitat projects throughout the Great Parks district.
Leaf collection – I can see staff from Conrey Road being paid to go out and clean up leaves from local residences. What makes this an exciting possibility is that you get the funds . . . plus all of the shredded leaves! {Cyclone Rake}
Glamping – Five or more enhanced camp sites could be located around the house where people could come to spend a night or a weekend. Folks could pay cash to stay, pay in volunteer hours, or both.

Funds Allocation

Having access to the house would eliminate our housing expense, and be all that we would need to move forward and get this project started. I do have a full time job that pays my remaining living expenses. Currently (by my own choice) I am only working 32 hours per week. I can reduce that to as little as 20 hours per week in the office if needed, and pick up additional hours at home after dark or on rainy days. My job offers that flexibility. My wife currently does not work, and would be available to oversee museum operations, and help greet visitors.

Once fund raising begins, I would be perfectly fine with having 100% of all donations, as well as regular weekly or monthly support going toward equipment and operation costs. The only funds that I would expect a portion of, would be those raised from walks and events that I led.  

We are not looking to get rich. We are simply looking for an opportunity that would bring us both fulfillment, and this project would do that for us and more.

Equipment

Finish Mower – primarily used for mowing grass covered trails, the lawn area around the house, on both sides of the drive, and along Conrey Road.
Cyclone Rake – This could be considered a “power bagger” and would be heavily utilized for harvesting whatever organic material is being mowed.
Brush Cutter – This would be needed for cutting down trees and shrubs that are too large for a finish mower, and too numerous for cutting down with loppers.
Wood chipper – not as critical as the other equipment, but would be very useful for reducing the amount of brush that would be generated from clearing the land of all of the invasive trees and shrubs.
Chain Saw – necessary for cutting down larger invasive trees and shrubs, as well as for cutting up mature trees that fall.
Hand tools – Loppers would be top priority, but the list would also include shovels, mattock, and more.

Alternate
Tractor – If adequate funds were available, the purchase of a tractor with PTO would allow for a variety of attachment options that would eliminate the need for some of the other equipment. A tractor could operate a finish mower, a brush cutter, and a wood chipper. Other useful attachment options could include a front end loader, a back hoe, and a post-hole digger.

Larger purchases such as a those listed above often come with special financing opportunities that would allow for monthly payments that could match monthly donation support.

Long Term Invasive Plant Control

Cutting down all of the invasive plants is one thing, keeping them from occupying space on the property is another. Removing all of the invasive plants, while carefully protecting all of the existing native plants is crucial. Keeping the invasive plants from occupying space on the property WITHOUT THE USE OF CHEMICALS is a radical notion, but totally possible.
Here is how we will deal with the invasive plants on the Conrey Road tract:

Removal – There will be three primary methods used for cutting down the invasive plants on this site.
1.Loppers – Loppers will be used in areas where a few invasive saplings are growing among natives that will not be cut, and for removing scattered invasive plants from areas that can otherwise be mowed after the growing season has ended.
2.Bush Hog – A bush hog will be used to cut down large areas of invasive plants after the growing season has come to an end, and the native plants have died back.
3.Chain Saw – larger invasive trees and shrubs (primarily growing outside the perimeter trail) will be cut down with a chain saw.
Control – Once the invasive plants have been cut down, there will be various methods implemented to keep them from re-establishing themselves on the property.
1.Covering – Areas that are densely covered with Japanese Honeysuckle will be covered with one or two layers of cardboard, and then topped with one to two feet of harvested organic material. Furthermore, all of the organic material harvested from the mowing of paths and dense patches of invasive plants can be utilized to make long wide rows of mulch to smother invasive plants. Pollinator supporting plants will then be planted in these rows of piled organic material.
2.Burn Chamber – Once larger shrubs and trees begin to leaf back out, a super -heated propane burn chamber will be utilized to kill any new growth, and burn down the stump. This process could be repeated as necessary.
3.Regular mowing – some areas will be regularly mowed, either once or twice per year, or more often if needed . . . indefinitely. Perhaps not the most ideal scenario, but far better to mow a field of native flowers one to three times per year, than to allow invasive shrubs and vines to take over completely. 

Getting Started

There are many important jobs that can be done now with only the use of a lopper. Adding a push mower would expand what could be done now. Adding a riding mower would really get things going. A bush hog or brush cutter would not be needed until after the growing season has ended. A chain saw could be used anytime, and there are advantages to using it during growing season, and other advantages to using it during the dormant season.

We can immediately lopper cut down Callery Pear and Amur Honeysuckle where it is scattered and sparse. This would permit mowing these areas with a conventional finish mower, rather than requiring a bush hog.
We can immediately begin creating borders around the many naturally occurring groves of native shrubs and trees that are growing in the fields. {This list includes, but is not limited to Elderberry, Sumac, Blackberry, Sassafras, Sweetgum, Black Locust, and Persimmon(?). We can also lopper cut any invasive plants growing up within these groves.
We can immediately begin clearing underneath large trees located in the field. Long term plan would be to keep the areas underneath all of the large trees inside the perimeter trail mulched with wood chips.
We can immediately begin cutting down Amur Honeysuckle anywhere that it is growing outside of the perimeter trail. It is best to cut AH down now, while all of the energy storage is above ground in the leaves and stems. Anything cut down in winter holds less sap, which has its own advantages.
We can immediately cut down any Callery Pear growing outside of the perimeter trail. Callery Pear makes an excellent firewood, and could begin seasoning now.
We can immediately begin mowing down any and all large areas of invasive (or unwanted) plants where no desirable plants are growing. Once mowed, these areas would be ideal locations to stage harvested materials to prevent re-growth.
We can immediately cut down Callery Pear trees from the field (inside the perimeter trail) from any location(s) where we may not want to mow or bush hog for one reason or another.


We would not want to mow over any native perennials or annuals until after they have completely died off (some time in December).

Future Possibilities

Swales could be created along some or all of the sloping ground on the property. Properly constructed swales dramatically increase the lands ability to retain precipitation that would otherwise run off.
There is a low area immediately south of the middle of the driveway that continues to slope downward to the southwest toward the southern boundary of the property. This location might be an ideal place to dig a pond at some point in the future. There are several other areas where small to medium sized ponds could be constructed.
A small wildlife pond could be built below the natural spring that exists on the property. 
A large vegetable garden and/or fruit orchard could be established in support of pollinators.
Bee hives might be in order for a large property covered with native wildflowers. These could be hives owned and managed by Great Parks, or a “Community Hive’ could be established that operates much like a community garden.

Pollinator Museum
A Pollinator Museum would be a great way to help raise awareness about everything pollinators . . . a great way to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of invasive plants . . . and a great way to help financially support this proposal.

Pollinators – Much of the information about pollinators will be in the form of large “posters” and large photo prints.
Invasive Plants – Information will include a comprehensive list of the most devastating local invasive plants. This will include detailed information about the harm invasive plants do. Additional information will encourage visitors to get involved and help wage the war.
Displays – All displays will be constructed utilizing free available wood and glass materials to the greatest extent possible. I have access to everything necessary to build all of the displays in first class fashion.
Fossils – I have an impressive collection of local fossils, as well as an awesome collection of fossils collected in South Carolina. The S.C. fossil collection includes several 5 inch Megalodon shark teeth.
Rock Collection – I have accumulated a rather substantial collection of rocks found locally that arrived here via past glaciers. Southwest Ohio provides a unique opportunity to observe a wide variety of rock types, all collected from this one area.
The purpose of the fossil and rock collections would be to draw more visitors, improve the visitor’s experience, and thereby generate more revenue in support of the Conrey Road site.

Summary

Resource – without exception, absolutely everything that is currently on the property will be seen as a valuable resource, and utilized as such. The most important implication of this philosophy, as far as I am concerned, is that even the invasive plants are to be seen as a resource. Yes, we totally want to see them all gone as fast as possible, but the process for that is to harvest them as they are removed. Invasive plants that are cut down can be utilized for compost, mulch, firewood, brush piles for wildlife, and even for making specialty furniture. Furthermore, every plant, every rock, every bit of soil, every source of water, every structure . . . everything located on the property has purpose and value. Everything needs to be utilized for its greatest potential, first and foremost in support of wildlife diversity, and a distant second in support of increasing the visitor’s experience.