Making sure that Imago’s nature preserve remains a haven for people and wildlife takes a great amount of effort. Unlike city and county parks or other nature centers, Imago does not charge an entry fee to its preserve nor does it receive government support. For that reason, Imago relies heavily on volunteers to provide the time, energy and wisdom needed to create a beautiful wild urban space that people can explore and that animals and plants can call home.

This spring alone, our volunteers have given 1,150 hours to improvements on Imago’s nature preserve. That’s equivalent to a contribution of $27,761!

This past spring, Imago has partnered with numerous organizations for volunteer support. Some of these organizations are “old friends” and have been a part of the Imago volunteer community for several years. These old friends joined several new organizations to make for a record spring of volunteer support. We want to thank St. Xavier High School, REI Cincinnati, Dragonfly, Northern Kentucky University, Rhinegeist, Crossroads Church, the University of Cincinnati, and Mount Saint Joseph University who were all instrumental in helping us recruit and support volunteers from their organizations. These organizations provided the bulk of the people power for our spring improvements.

One of the most unique and exciting of these partnerships has been our regular hosting of an interfaith group of teenagers from three different faiths that come to Imago for a day of service, community, and dialogue. This spring over 60 Jewish, Muslim and Christian teenagers came to Imago to work on trail improvements and habitat restoration.

Volunteer crews have been working on two key habitat restoration projects. These projects will improve the health of the forest by removing plant species that are invasive (such as Amur Honeysuckle and Wintercreeper Euonymus), and replacing them with plants that are native to the area. These native plants create a healthy foundation that provide energy for the entire forest. Native plants are a source of for native herbivores and in turn those herbivores pass their energy up the food chain to native carnivores. This native plant foundation is the key to a healthy forest, and having one that is only 3 miles from downtown Cincinnati and is free to the public is a unique and exciting development.

If you come to Imago you’ll see the bulk of our habitat restoration work starting along our Terry trail as volunteers have removed scores of honeysuckle bushes and created a giant honeysuckle pile. In the place of honeysuckle, volunteers have planted several native trees and shrubs including, oaks, wild plums, dogwoods, spicebushes and more. These native flora will be the foundation for a healthy and diverse forest.

Our other restoration project is taking place along our entrance trail. As you come in from the street you’ll notice that volunteers have removed honesuckle bushes and have planted several different kinds of native shrubs. These native shrubs such as Ninebark, Staghorn Sumac, Wild Plum, Redbud, Spicebush, Elderberry and many more are wonderful native replacements for the invasive honeysuckle. They not only provide food for wildlife, they also have beautiful flowers, and their fruits are edible for people too! When completed this garden will be a demonstration for anyone who wants to remove honeysuckle from their homes or land and replace them with natives.

The other major project completed this spring has been a restoration of Imago’s Ravine Trail. The Ravine trail is a spur of Imago’s loop trail that takes a hiker to the lower part of Imago’s preserve along an old waterway. Along the Ravine you are immersed under a canopy of older trees and in a part of the forest that can flood in heavy rains. Imago’s volunteers worked on widening the trail, rerouting it around obstacles, and adding gravel to the walking surface in sections.

Intrigued? Want to join in the fun? We’d love to have you. Volunteers came be a part of a group or individuals. You can work on our regular workdays or you can come at times that fit your schedule. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering contact us or check out the volunteer page of our website.

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