Glenwood Middle School (June, 2019) – The Toledo Zoo has entered into a unique partnership with public and private organizations throughout NW Ohio to help the environment and beautify abandoned or otherwise underutilized plots of land. This year, The Toledo Zoo is partnering with Glenwood Middle School to install a prairie on a turf grass area that will provide the environmental benefits listed below as well as serve as a living lab for students to study. In the fall of 2014, Toledo Zoo’s Wild Toledo program began converting previously mowed lawn as well as abandoned lots to environmentally beneficial urban prairies. These plantings can take several years to fully mature but begin providing the benefits detailed below immediately;
- Save resources (labor and fuel) through significant reduction of
- Improved management of rain water. Native plants have very deep roots that soak up rain rather than allowing it to runoff. This, in turn, reduces the amount of contaminants entering watersheds.
- Provide aesthetically pleasing habitat for important native species like birds and pollinators. In the first year, monarch butterfly caterpillars occupy the newly created habitat. The diversity of flowers also provides nectar for adult butterflies and bumblebees.
- Over a three year period of time, native butterfly diversity increases over 25x and native bee diversity over 5x when compared to a mowed grass or unkempt site.
Toledo Zoo Conservation staff will be managing these prairies over the next three years.
Management will include the removal of unwanted species and an occasional mow. Toledo Zoo Education staff will be working with educators and students, utilizing the prairies as outdoor classrooms.
Continue to watch this area as it transitions from their first-year weedy appearance to a diverse beneficial urban ecosystem.