Shopping Cart
1404 Goodale Boulevard, Suite 100
Columbus, OH 43212
Phone: (614) 486-9613
Fax: (614) 486-9614

Hellbranch Meadows Recent News

Franklin Soil and Water property located on Hellbranch Run in Big Darby Creek watershed. Not familiar with it? Visit our main Hellbranch Meadows page for more details.

HBM Maintenance Update - September 15th

A big part of owning a large property is proper maintenance. We recently had a local farmer and friend of FSWCD come out and mow firebreaks and access paths. The access paths have made it much easier to access all parts of the previously restored parcel, and the firebreaks are an important safety measure when it comes to grasslands. We're also working on inventorying invasive plants that have moved into the WRRSP section of the project, and will have a contractor come out to work on some invasive species management. Target species include bush Honeysuckle, Reed Canary Grass, Carpet Grass, Callery Pear, Autumn Olive, and Narrowleaf Cattail. 

 A field of goldenrod, bordered by a fence line of tall green trees, divided by a mowed path                         A field of golden rod bordering a fence line of green trees, divided by a mowed path, with powerlines in the background
  Looking west down one of the freshly mowed firebreaks                                                                                                  Looking east down one of the freshly mowed firebreaks               

Published: September 15th, 2023                      

HBM Construction Update - September 6th

We came back from a long Labor Day weekend and got right to excavating to find existing field tile. Our contractor has gotten pretty close to final grade on the north half of the site, and is currently working to strip top soil and grade the south half. We were able to locate the existing tile and determine the size, and will begin piping install once grading is complete.

Jared McComas with ERC and Chad Kettlewell with Coldwater Consulting peer into a trench dug by Shane Riffle (ERC) to attempt to find some existing tile                                      Two yellow bulldozers and a red tractor pulling a pan scraper, working to move dirt at Hellbranch
Jerod McComas (Environmental Remediation Contractor)                                   Two dozers and a tractor with a pan scraper work to strip topsoil and rough grade.
and Chad Kettlewell (Coldwater Consulting)
look into a trench dug to attempt to find existing field tiles.

Published: September 6th, 2023

HBM Construction Update - August 11th

This week we began moving dirt in earnest out at Hellbranch. After a couple mechanical issues with equipment and some rain, our contractors got to work stripping topsoil and doing some rough grading in the northernmost section of the project. There’s nothing quite like a summer breeze and the smell of topsoil in the air. We were also able to give some folks from ODNR a tour, as well as flag some Oaks and a Red Cedar that we intend to preserve throughout the project. The plant of note this week is Hibiscus grandifloras or Swamp Rose-mallow, which is now in full bloom!

The light pink flower of Swamp Rose Mallow, with sedges and a locust tree in the background

Swamp Rose-Mallow (Hibiscus grandifloras) in full bloom.

Published: August 11, 2023

Construction has begun!

Construction has begun out at the Hellbranch Meadows West Wetland Restoration! This project was made possible through an H2Ohio Grant and will restore 11 acres of wetlands and 18 acres of wetland buffer, adjacent to 198 acres of previously restored land. Restoring these wetlands will passively treat stormwater and surface flows, resulting in nutrient and pollution reductions, as well as providing habitat for a large variety of flora and fauna.

This week, our contractor mobilized their equipment and materials, completed surveying, mowed down the existing vegetation, and installed sediment and erosion control. Having purchased this property about 15 years ago, we are very excited to see this project finally come to completion and continue making plans for the long-term protection of this stretch of Hellbranch Run.

A large, red Case 550 tractor, with a yellow pan scraper attached to the back                           A view looking down a gravel road, with black silt fence and mowed vegetation on the left hand side
Equipment mobilization                                                                                                              Silt fence installed and mowed vegetation

Published: August 4, 2023

H2Ohio Wetland Construction To Begin August 1 at Hellbranch Meadows!

The "Front 40" acres of Hellbranch Meadows property off of Murnan road will be getting a facelift this fall thanks to the The Ohio River Basin H2Ohio Wetland Grant Program. Staff recently completed surveys at Hellbranch Meadows looking for nesting State Endangered marsh birds like American Bitterns and Sandhill Cranes. Presently, the 40 acre project area off of Murnan Road is drier warm season grassland habitat with a thicket component of primarily Ash and Rough-leaved Dogwood. We didn't find many water-reliant species in our survey, but hopefully that changes after wetland construction.

The site unfortunately contains several invasive species like Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana), honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) and Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora). Removal of these problem plants will take place along with wetland construction, and much of the area replanted with native species. We're looking forward to sharing more about this project as it unfolds!


Staff spread out in a line across a wide area to search for ground-nesting birds.                                           Rough-leaved Dogwood thickets are good habitat for nesting songbirds.

Published: July 7, 2023

Hellbranch Meadows Stream and Wetland Restoration Progress Update

Restoration activities are in full swing at our Hellbranch Meadows property. Made possible through funding by the Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP), the project will result in therestoration of more than 2,500 linear feet of Hellbranch Run, the creation of upland and floodplain wetlands, the “day-lighting” of a previously tiled tributary stream, and extensive plantings of native trees, shrubs and prairie plants.

To date, the main focus of the work has been on the mass excavation for both the upland wetlands and the new floodplain for the main stem of Hellbranch Run. A portion of the steam channel has also been completed at the southern end of the property, but work has been slowed by frequent storms and an unseasonably high water table Work will continue through the fall months and is expected to be completed sometime in Late Spring/ Early Summer 2019 .

Check out the video below to get a bird’s eye view of the construction progress click here. High resolution drone footage will be captured several times during the restoration process. For more project information or questions contact Kyle Wilson, Conservation Program Manager, at 614-486-9613 ext 128 or by email

Published: September 20th, 2018

Instant Tree

Check out this time lapse video recently recorded at our Hellbranch Meadows property.

The video shows a high-speed recap of a shingle oak being relocated from an area that will soon be excavated during floodplain and channel creation.  The relocated trees, 17 in total, will provide shade to a soon to be day-lighted tributary  and jump start the restoration of  oak savannah habitat on the property.

 The work is part of our large scale stream and restoration project taking place through funding proved by the EPA’s WRRSP program.

 To  learn more about the project , and keep track of it’s progress, visit our HBM page at

Published: June 12th, 2018

Construction begins today (3/19/18) on Hellbranch Meadow's Stream and Wetland Restoration Project!

If you drive past Hellbranch Meadows in the coming weeks, you might be alarmed to see trees coming down and earth being moved, but fear not, the restoration is part of a plan to increase the available wildlife habitat and water quality of Hellbranch Run. Currently, our stretch of Hellbranch Run is a straight, deep channel. The current channel was developed long ago to help move water quickly off of the property to prevent flooding of cropland. While deep straight channels do a great job of swiftly moving water from place to place, they can cause downstream flooding when the water finally does slow down, they don't provide good habitat for aquatic life and they don't allow for natural water filtration to occur. That's where this restoration project comes in.

An overhead of the current deep, relatively straight channel of Hellbranch Run through our property

Our main goal is to slow the water down. Slower water supports more beneficial aquatic flora and fauna, reduces downstream flooding and allows natural filtration of the water by soil and plants to occur. How do we slow water down? We’ve designed this project using what’s known as Natural Channel Design. This type of design involves creating a curvy, winding channel, with a wide floodplain and nearby wetlands to absorb excess floodwaters and provide filtration. This project also gives us the chance to remove all of the invasive plants from the property and build a strong ecosystem with the addition of several thousand native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Keep checking back for updates on this project as it gets underway!

    A picture of the construction plan with the current straight channel in red and the new winding channel in green. 

Published: March, 19th, 2018

Housekeeping at Hellbranch

We recently put in a new vehicle access to a back field at Hellbranch Meadows. The old access is in an area that we have planned for wetland restoration, so when the ruts got too bad even for farm equipment, rather than filling them, we moved the access point.

The new access is located at a higher point and caused only one tree to be lost, a locust, one of many along a wind break between fields. Hawthorn, honeysuckle and poison ivy made up the majority of the vegetation removed. This brush will become a more formal brush pile in the fall to provide wildlife cover in the old field successional area.

Vehicle access is needed as only half of the back field has been seeded in prairie grasses and forbs. Until the entire area is restored, it is being farmed to keep invasives out and to improve soil health.


Published: August 11th, 2014

Bringing Back the Darby Prairie

This is what 30 acres of prairie seed and cover-crop seed look like. On June 16 we planted 30 acres of upland prairie habitat at Hellbranch Meadows. The Darby genome prairie seed was collected by Columbus and Franklin County MetroParks from their own Darby prairies.

The prairie seeds were mixed with an annual cover crop to protect the soil until the prairie plants are established. The prairie seeding is just one step in the long-term management plan that staff and our Board of Supervisors have developed for the property that lies along Hellbranch Run in the Big Darby watershed.


MetroParks was not our only partner in this—Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District lent us their drill. See more photos in the Facebook album.

Published: June 23rd, 2014

Eight-legged hunter at Hellbranch Meadows

Denizens of the tall grass prairie, Argiope aurantia, the common garden spider, finds a home in a tall planted switchgrass at the Hellbranch Meadows’ wetland restoration area. Smartweed ( Polygonum sp.) is blooming in the background

Published: August 30th, 2013

Good Harvest Despite Drought

The yield at Hellbranch Meadows is likely to be better than 2011 despite the droughty year. Technician Bob Sherman estimates 40 to 45 bushels per acre this year as compared to about 30 last year. Remember how wet spring of 2011 was? It was hard to get the equipment in the field so it was planted late. That wetness helped this year though – that and the late summer rain.


Do you know what this photo shows?

And lastly, isn’t this a cool picture, using the “stitch” function on the camera?

Published: October 25th, 2012

Soybeans Need Rain

It’s been about six weeks since the beans were planted and they’re in good shape for it being so dry. The plants are starting to flower and pod (look for the tiny purple flowers in the photo below). This is a crucial stage for yield production in the plants. The rainfall over the next three weeks will make or break the crop.


Published: July 26th, 2012

A New Season Begins

The field that will eventually become native prairie is planted for the second season in soybeans. The volume and hardiness of invasive weeds in this field required yet another application of herbicide before the no-till planting of soybeans. No-till planting preserves soil structure and soil organisms while minimizing soil erosion and the release of CO2 from the oxidation of soil organic material.

With the weather cooperating, the farmer was able to plant earlier this year than last. The photos show what it looks like about a month after planting.


Published: June 13th, 2012

Harvest Time at Hellbranch Meadows

Today, Bob Sherman, Water Quality Field Technician, and I took a trip to Hellbranch Meadows to see how harvesting was going. The beans were smaller than Bob’s own fields because this area tends to be wet and it was a very wet spring, delaying planting.

You can see in the photo at the left where the combine has passed. Even though my grandfather farmed, I didn’t know what a soybean looked like, so here is a photo of a handful of beans.


Combines are amazing machines. They cut the plant and then separate the beans from the pods and the stalks. When you look at the photo below of the combine in the distance, the “dust” trail you see is the unneeded part of the plants being spread back on the field.

Published: November 4th, 2011

Summer Blooms

 David supplies us with the latest update from Hellbranch Meadows: 
 The wildflower planting and windbreak that was planned and planted last year is making itself apparent. Black- eyed Susan, coneflower and swamp milkweed are blooming.
 Planted pines have survived the best, some shrubs also, the hardwoods suffered the most.

Published: July 18th, 2011

Beans in after wet spring

Bob visited Hellbranch Meadows today and brought back photos of the field that is in soybeans now to prepare for the fall planting of native prairie species. Our farmer/ partner will probably have to spray once more because of hard-to-kill invasive weeds that will make prairie establishment difficult.  And for your natural history lesson this week, here is Bob’s photo of a cecropia moth that occurs in fencerows and according to 

David L. Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America, “seems to be declining.”

Published: July 7th, 2011

From beans to prairie

Driving by Hellbranch Meadows you would be excused for feeling confused. What are we doing with this conservation demonstration area – farming it? An innovative way to prepare land for prairie seeding is to first plant soy beans. We are following the example of Metro Parks who is in the forefront of native habitat restoration.

During the growing season, the farmer will apply herbicides to increase his yield and remove the many invasives that would make prairie establishment difficult. Among these is the infamous multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), whose red stems take root wherever they come in contact with the ground, making nearly impenetrable thickets.

Soy beans are also nitrogen-fixers so they are improving the field as they grow. The field will then be seeded this fall or next spring with native grasses and forbs.

Published: April 29th, 2011