Dayton rezones man-made prairie, development could destroy habitat

Local News

ENGLEWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – A 140 acre property, also known as the Paul Knoop Prairie borders Dayton International Airport and is the center of some controversy.

The prairie was planted in 1995 by the community to support wildlife. Now, the City of Dayton has rezoned the land for development. 

As of this moment, 109.99 acres of this prairie will be developed. Cutting it close to the intersection of Federick Pike and National Rd where several streams meet and connect to the Wiles stream.

Wiles is major tool used by the Aullwood Autobon Center to educate children. 

“It’s not just a feature. We use it as a classroom.  The kids are in the stream all summer long. They build beaver dams in it,” said Laurie Cothran, the Marketing Manager at Aullwood Autobon. 

According to the Aullwood Center, if the vast prairie is destroyed, several hundred species including hundreds of birds will be without a habitat. But the chief concern is what could happen to the watershed. 

“There’s a strong possibility that it would contaminate water. Cause more flooding or cause the creek to dry up. I mean, who knows,” said Cothran. 

The Aullwood Center recently put out a community plea for help. Asking people to email and call city officials and the airport. Their Facebook post has more than a thousand shares. 

Terry Slaybaugh, Dayton’s aviation director released a statement saying he understands the community concern but still plans to go ahead with the development. His statement indicated they will help spread the word about how useful prairie grass is for airports. 

Tall grass keeps larger birds like geese away from landing strips. 

For now, the Aullwood Center is not giving up. Hoping the city or the developers have a change of heart.

“Thank you to everyone who has raised their voice, taken action and written letters,” said Cothran.

If developed, only 27 acres of the Paul Knoop prairie would remain. 

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