January 18, 2023
By POL Editor Rachel Scofield
Pickerington has a new wildlife preserve. The 64-acre Daugherty Farm on Hill Road is now the Hague Nature Preserve – the first preserve located entirely within the city of Pickerington.
Although practically surrounded by Coyote Run, the two are completely independent. Coyote Run is owned and operated by a private individual, the Hague Preserve is owned and operated by the Bill and Joyce Hague Foundation, which is a 501c3 nonprofit agency. The distinction is important because as a 501c3 organization, donations to the foundation can be deducted on your taxes.
“There is much work to be done restoring this 64-acre farm, so volunteers and donations are gratefully accepted,” said foundation board member David Hague.
Volunteers are needed to help remove invasive plants in the spring and to plant native trees in the fall. The preserve does not have a website yet, but the foundation has a new Facebook page where volunteering opportunities will be announced.
“This new preserve is bisected by Sycamore Creek so protecting this waterway and the watershed is very important,” Hague said. “Like many other places along Sycamore Creek, invasive honeysuckle has taken over much of the banks. Removing the invasive and planting native plants is a priority.”
The creek, like all streams in Ohio, has been compromised by run off from city streets and farmland, Hague said. The foundation aims to restore the quality and biodiversity of the stream to how it would have been before the arrival of settlers.
Tommy Springer, a wildlife and education specialist with Fairfield County Soil and Water, said that “access to clean drinking water is a fundamental requirement for humans to survive.”
While most people get their drinking water from groundwater sources, surface water is still a valuable resource for plants and animals. Additionally, people enjoy playing in the creek.
“I think that ability to go wading, fishing, skipping rocks, or any other activity that puts you in contact with the water without worrying about exposure to toxic chemicals or disease-causing pathogens is another benefit to Sycamore Creek maintaining its quality,” Springer said.
The new preserve will have a significant impact on the creek.
“From a purely water quality perspective, having such a substantial amount of acreage being protected in a natural setting is paramount in offsetting the threat posed by ever-increasing impervious surfaces,” Springer said.
The Hague Nature Preserve will provide habitat for native wildlife as the land will no longer be farmed.
“This property provides an opportunity for restoration on a fairly large scale,” Hague said. “A return to forest and meadows along a stream corridor should be a welcome addition to Pickerington.”
With any farm, there are areas that cannot be tilled. The native plants that grow along these hedges and fence rows provide a glimpse of how the land may have appeared before it was cleared for crops. Hague views the property as a blank slate upon which forests and meadows can be regrown.
To make access easier for volunteers who may not wish to wade through the creek, the foundation hopes to raise enough funds to build a pedestrian bridge.
The new preserve is only the Hague Foundation’s latest achievement. Earlier this month, the Fairfield County Park District announced that the foundation had enabled the district to acquire a strip of land that separated the two halves of Two Glaciers Park. Now, the park is whole, and plans are underway for new walking paths.
To donate to the foundation, please make checks out to the “Bill and Joyce Hague Foundation” and mail them to P.O. Box 224, Pickerington, OH 43147.
The Hague Nature Preserve will be one of the work sites for the Second Annual Pickerington Earth Day Clean-up.
“Sycamore Creek could really use some love and those folks that want to can help by picking up trash along the water,” Hague said. “Rubber boots would be needed. Otherwise, there is trash elsewhere that could be picked up.”