In June, the Fernald Natural Resource Trustees issued the 2019 Annual Report, which summarizes progress in protecting lands within the Paddys Run watershed through conservation easements as part of the Paddys Run Conservation Project (PRCP).
The PRCP was established following the 2008 settlement of a $206 million natural resource damage claim by the state of Ohio as partial compensation for damages to the Great Miami Aquifer from a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) former uranium processing facility. The facility was located at what is now the Fernald Preserve, Ohio, Site. A $13.75 million settlement fund was created as part of the settlement, and these funds are being used to implement the PRCP.
The Fernald Natural Resource Trustees include the DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Natural Resource Trustees partner with a local land conservation organization, Three Valley Conservation Trust, to manage the PRCP. Through 2019, 4,687 acres of land had been protected via conservation easements. In addition, more than 125 acres were converted into a public nature preserve. The Salamander Run Preserve is managed by Metroparks of Butler County, Ohio, and provides excellent birding and wildlife viewing within its protected forests, grasslands, and wetlands.
The settlement fund has also been used to conduct reptile and amphibian surveys within PRCP-protected properties. These surveys help provide a baseline characterization of the Paddys Run watershed. Results are noteworthy, with several new populations of the state-endangered cave salamander recorded near the Fernald Preserve site.
Several additional properties are under consideration for inclusion in the PRCP in 2020. Reptile and amphibian surveys will continue on the protected properties.
The 2019 Annual Report also includes coverage of the Fernald Preserve’s receipt of the U.S. EPA’s second annual “National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse” award for the National Priorities List category in July.