MetroParks recently celebrated Earth Day, an annual event which amplifies environmental conservation and protection initiatives globally. MetroParks helps make every day Earth Day in Butler County, primarily through our Natural Resources & Conservation division. We recently had the opportunity to interview Senior Natural Resources & Conservation Manager Joe Dumyahn to understand more about the importance of this work and the role it plays at MetroParks of Butler County.
What exactly does Natural Resources & Conservation entail? What should the public know about it?
“I think it’s safe to say that most of us have heard lots about conservation, but might not be familiar with what it involves. In short, our work is focused on restoration projects that improve the current state of lands and natural areas within the MetroParks of Butler County park system. This entails a lot of invasive plant control and land management practices to maintain healthy, stable environments.”
What are Natural Resources important?
“MetroParks’ mission statement is to provide an exceptional park system that maximizes our community’s quality of life, and a key component of this goal comes through conservation. Community green spaces improve air quality, provide places to exercise, increase biodiversity, and give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Without conservation efforts to protect and sustain these lands, the MetroParks we know and love wouldn’t be what they are today.”
What are some of the projects you have worked on or are currently working on?
“Working for MetroParks for the past several years has allowed me to see the development of several projects which have been extremely rewarding. Recently, we worked at Angst Nature Preserve MetroPark to transform it from farmland into a natural habitat for wildlife, and a beautiful green space for us to enjoy. We also have also started prairie developments at several of our parks. For example, Forest Run MetroPark once contained over 100 acres of agricultural land that now has been turned into a prairie filled with a native mix of plants. Natural Resources & Conservation staff sustain this prairie though prescribed fires every 5 to 7 years to keep out woody plants and reinstate native species. Throughout all the parks, invasive species removal remains a consistent project that we are always working on. We also partake in wildlife management, to keep populations in control. For example, our bow hunting project helps manage deer populations in several of our closed park areas. All of this said, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Natural Resources & Conservation. Anyone interested in learning more about the work we do can visit the Conservation page on the MetroParks website.”
What does a typical day in the life look like in Natural Resources & Conservation?
“Our work is extremely weather and season-dependent, which makes each day different. We are constantly adapting our project work to the given conditions, accomplishing whatever we can in the best manner possible. For this reason, a lot of patience and flexibility is required in this field as projects don’t always unfold according to schedule.”
What are some of the challenges you face in Natural Resources & Conservation?
“The biggest challenge by far is that conservation is not a one and done situation. We have to continually come back to conservation areas in order to maintain and further the progress we have made there. Invasive species control work requires continued management because invasive species are relentless and can spread rapidly. However, with consistent work, we can see positive impacts start to unfold slowly. It can be difficult to remember at times that in this field, success is usually achieved at a slower rate. This doesn’t diminish the importance of the work we do. It’s not possible to perfect the natural state of our lands, but we can surely make them better.”
Anything else you would like the public to know about Natural Resources & Conservation at MetroParks?
“I think that it’s important to know that a lot of different people play a role in our work, not just our immediate department. We have a lot of seasonal staff, part-time workers, and volunteers who contribute to our success. Conservation is bigger than we think and sometimes it can be easy to overlook the work that went into making natural areas what they are today.”
Favorite MetroPark and why?
“I think one of the most underrated MetroParks is Salamander Run. In reality, it has undergone one of the most impressive transformations in Butler County, as it began as an old, run-down farm and now is filled with prairie and forests. It also boasts a diversity of plants, birds, and wildlife, which serve as a testament to the work Natural Resources has done to conserve that green space.”
We are extremely grateful for the positive impacts our Natural Resources & Conservation department has left on the green spaces in Butler County, and hope this leaves you with a renewed sense of appreciation for our MetroParks. Here’s to sustaining the environments we know and love for generations to come.