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1404 Goodale Boulevard, Suite 100
Columbus, OH 43212
Phone: (614) 486-9613
Fax: (614) 486-9614

Hellbranch Meadows

Franklin Soil and Water property located on Hellbranch Run in Big Darby Creek watershed

Public Notice-Hellbranch Meadows

Public Notice: Franklin Soil and Water issued LER and FNSI for Hellbranch Meadows WRRSP Project

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has provided a notice of issuance of limited environmental review (LER) and the final finding of no significant impact (FNSI) for the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District’s Hellbranch Meadows Stream and Wetland Restoration project, Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP) Loan Number WR3961667-0001, to be sponsored by the Werk & Westbourne Chemically Enhanced High Rate Treatment Facility project that is being implemented by the Board of County Commissioners of Hamilton County, Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) Loan Number CS391525-0114.

Copies of the LER and FNSI can be found through the following link.

The goal of the project is to restore and preserve Hellbranch Run, its tributaries, adjacent wetland and associated uplands on 135.3 acres of the 198.8-acre property located in the Big Darby Creek watershed. The WRRSP originally allocated $2,919,820 to the project, which was only a portion of the $4 million that was originally requested. An additional $846,318 was made available to the project in July of 2016, resulting in a total project budget of $3,766,138.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Kyle Wilson, Conservation Program Manger, at (614) 486-9613 ext. 128 or by email
Published: January 10th, 2017

Housekeeping at Hellbranch

We recently put in a new vehicle access to a back field at Hellbranch Meadows. The old access is in an area that we have planned for wetland restoration, so when the ruts got too bad even for farm equipment, rather than filling them, we moved the access point.

The new access is located at a higher point and caused only one tree to be lost, a locust, one of many along a wind break between fields. Hawthorn, honeysuckle and poison ivy made up the majority of the vegetation removed. This brush will become a more formal brush pile in the fall to provide wildlife cover in the old field successional area.

Vehicle access is needed as only half of the back field has been seeded in prairie grasses and forbs. Until the entire area is restored, it is being farmed to keep invasives out and to improve soil health.


Published: August 11th, 2014

Bringing Back the Darby Prairie

This is what 30 acres of prairie seed and cover-crop seed look like. On June 16 we planted 30 acres of upland prairie habitat at Hellbranch Meadows. The Darby genome prairie seed was collected by Columbus and Franklin County MetroParks from their own Darby prairies.

The prairie seeds were mixed with an annual cover crop to protect the soil until the prairie plants are established. The prairie seeding is just one step in the long-term management plan that staff and our Board of Supervisors have developed for the property that lies along Hellbranch Run in the Big Darby watershed.


MetroParks was not our only partner in this—Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District lent us their drill. See more photos in the Facebook album.

Published: June 23rd, 2014

Eight-legged hunter at Hellbranch Meadows

Denizens of the tall grass prairie, Argiope aurantia, the common garden spider, finds a home in a tall planted switchgrass at the Hellbranch Meadows’ wetland restoration area. Smartweed ( Polygonum sp.) is blooming in the background

Published: August 30th, 2013

Good Harvest Despite Drought

The yield at Hellbranch Meadows is likely to be better than 2011 despite the droughty year. Technician Bob Sherman estimates 40 to 45 bushels per acre this year as compared to about 30 last year. Remember how wet spring of 2011 was? It was hard to get the equipment in the field so it was planted late. That wetness helped this year though – that and the late summer rain.


Do you know what this photo shows?

And lastly, isn’t this a cool picture, using the “stitch” function on the camera?

Published: October 25th, 2012

Soybeans Need Rain

It’s been about six weeks since the beans were planted and they’re in good shape for it being so dry. The plants are starting to flower and pod (look for the tiny purple flowers in the photo below). This is a crucial stage for yield production in the plants. The rainfall over the next three weeks will make or break the crop.


Published: July 26th, 2012

A New Season Begins

The field that will eventually become native prairie is planted for the second season in soybeans. The volume and hardiness of invasive weeds in this field required yet another application of herbicide before the no-till planting of soybeans. No-till planting preserves soil structure and soil organisms while minimizing soil erosion and the release of CO2 from the oxidation of soil organic material.

With the weather cooperating, the farmer was able to plant earlier this year than last. The photos show what it looks like about a month after planting.


Published: June 13th, 2012

Harvest Time at Hellbranch Meadows

Today, Bob Sherman, Water Quality Field Technician, and I took a trip to Hellbranch Meadows to see how harvesting was going. The beans were smaller than Bob’s own fields because this area tends to be wet and it was a very wet spring, delaying planting.

You can see in the photo at the left where the combine has passed. Even though my grandfather farmed, I didn’t know what a soybean looked like, so here is a photo of a handful of beans.


Combines are amazing machines. They cut the plant and then separate the beans from the pods and the stalks. When you look at the photo below of the combine in the distance, the “dust” trail you see is the unneeded part of the plants being spread back on the field.

Published: November 4th, 2011

Summer Blooms

 David supplies us with the latest update from Hellbranch Meadows: 
 The wildflower planting and windbreak that was planned and planted last year is making itself apparent. Black- eyed Susan, coneflower and swamp milkweed are blooming.
 Planted pines have survived the best, some shrubs also, the hardwoods suffered the most.

Published: July 18th, 2011

Beans in after wet spring

Bob visited Hellbranch Meadows today and brought back photos of the field that is in soybeans now to prepare for the fall planting of native prairie species. Our farmer/ partner will probably have to spray once more because of hard-to-kill invasive weeds that will make prairie establishment difficult.  And for your natural history lesson this week, here is Bob’s photo of a cecropia moth that occurs in fencerows and according to 

David L. Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America, “seems to be declining.”

Published: July 7th, 2011

From beans to prairie

Driving by Hellbranch Meadows you would be excused for feeling confused. What are we doing with this conservation demonstration area – farming it? An innovative way to prepare land for prairie seeding is to first plant soy beans. We are following the example of Metro Parks who is in the forefront of native habitat restoration.

During the growing season, the farmer will apply herbicides to increase his yield and remove the many invasives that would make prairie establishment difficult. Among these is the infamous multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), whose red stems take root wherever they come in contact with the ground, making nearly impenetrable thickets.

Soy beans are also nitrogen-fixers so they are improving the field as they grow. The field will then be seeded this fall or next spring with native grasses and forbs.

Published: April 29th, 2011