More than 80% of Great Parks of Hamilton County’s 17,700 acres protected are set aside as undeveloped green space.

This is more than 21 square miles of land which includes natural habitats like forests, prairies and wetlands.

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  • Forests

    If left unmowed for 50 years or more, your own backyard would grow into a forest through a process called natural succession.

    Each year, new plant species (along with the animals that depend on them) would appear, gradually replacing sun-loving species with more shade tolerant species. A brushland would eventually develop, then slowly turn into a young, medium and old woodland. Each stage is comprised of a unique assemblage of plants and animals.

    While most of Great Parks natural areas are comprised of critically needed mature forests, managing these various other stages of "succession" is also important in maintaining the widest diversity of plants and animals for park visitors to enjoy.

  • Meadows

    Cool season grasslands or meadows are typically made up of non-native grasses and forbs, although many native species do persist in these areas.

    These areas are managed differently than the native grasslands because they are not adapted to fire. These areas are managed by mowing, typically starting in July and continued through the growing season to keep woody trees and shrubs from taking over.

  • Prairies

    Native prairie consists of a wide variety of different forb species (flowers) and several varieties of mostly warm season grasses.

    Most of these areas have been created over many years by the Stewardship Department. The best management practice for this type of grassland is the use of prescribed fire in the late winter to early spring and late fall to early winter.

  • Wetlands

    Wetlands are the most productive ecosystem in North America.

    They provide vital nesting and foraging areas for birds, small mammals and invertebrates, spawning areas for many important fish and shellfish and habitat for unique vegetation. They also serve as storage areas for floodwater, buffers to storms, protection from erosion and filters for sedimentation and other forms of environmental contamination. In fact, wetlands are sometimes referred to as the “kidneys of our landscape."

    Since pioneer times, 95% of Ohio’s wetlands have been lost, making them one of our most endangered ecosystems. As a result, wildlife dependent on wetlands have suffered as well. Approximately 33% of Ohio’s endangered and threatened plants and animals live in wetland habitat. In response to the loss of wetlands, the Great Parks of Hamilton County began an ambitious wetland restoration project in 1991. More than 120 acres of former wetland habitat has been restored in Miami Whitewater Forest. These areas had been drained during the past century for agricultural purposes.

    The newly restored Shaker Trace Wetlands are located west of Oxford Road and both north and south of Baughman Road. Much of the wetlands can be seen from the outer loop of the Shaker Trace Multi-Purpose Trail that also meanders through farmland, restored prairies and wooded stream corridors. The best place to view the wetlands is from the 2-mile marker.

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