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THE GREATER DAYTON CONSERVATION FUND:
Preserving Our Natural Treasures for Future Generations
The Greater Miami Valley region is blessed with many exceptional and celebrated amenities, including a rich and diverse landscape. Abundant waterways, lush vegetation, varied wildlife and extensive farmlands make the region an attractive place to live, add economic value and sustain the lives of millions of residents.
"The Greater Dayton area has tremendous natural assets," said Bob Jurick, executive director of the B-W Greenway Community Land Trust Fund and member of the steering committee of The Greater Dayton Conservation Fund of The Dayton Foundation. "For example, the Greater Miami River aquifer is one of the largest underground sources of fresh water east of the Mississippi and serves as the sole or principal source of drinking water for 1.6 million people in Southwest Ohio."
However, as Mr. Jurick is quick to note, development rapidly is changing the region’s landscape from agricultural to residential and urban, even though the population has experienced only modest growth.
"Without proper land management, we will lose significant agricultural resources and wildlife habitats, while adding to our communities' costs for infrastructures and creating competition for water resources," Mr. Jurick said. "Our challenge is to get people in touch with the land and to educate them about what can and should be done now before our natural treasures are lost."
And that’s exactly what Mr. Jurick and several other community leaders and environmentalists are doing. Through the support of The Dayton Foundation, they established The Greater Dayton Conservation Fund to help support conservation initiatives and programs.
"The Foundation has many funds under management to protect specific natural areas in our community," said Irv Bieser, Conservation Fund steering committee member. "However, this was the first environmental fund with the flexibility to support new and emerging conservation and preservation activities."
Grants will be awarded to support organizations or programs that help protect the region’s natural environment through education, acquisition, restoration and scientific research; encourage collaborations and regional land conservation; and leverage cooperation and support of various efforts of like-minded organizations. The fund’s steering committee recently awarded its first grant to the University of Dayton’s Rivers Institute project. Through this student-led program, university students will work side by side with youth from the Dayton Early College Academy. Together, they will explore the wonders of the region’s waterways and, possibly, develop an interest in natural resourcerelated careers and fields of study.
"The real learning is not in the classroom, but on the river," said Dusty Hall, manager of program development for the Miami Conservancy District and steering committee member for the Conservation Fund. "It doesn't matter if you are 65 years old or 10 years old, examining aquatic life in our rivers captivates everyone. The Rivers Institute experience is something these students will be talking about and sharing for the rest of their lives."
The timing of this fund is critical, according to Marvin Olinsky, former chief executive officer of Five Rivers MetroParks and Conservation Fund steering committee member. "Our natural areas are diminishing rapidly, and once they're gone you seldom can reclaim them. It’s much more expensive to tear down structures and remove concrete than it is to preserve existing natural areas."
Individuals interested in contributing to the cause are invited to join The Greater Dayton Conservation Fund’s Founders Society. Steering committee members also will host a special gathering this fall at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm, where the public will be invited to learn more about the fund.
"This fund represents a unique opportunity to bring together agencies that are working to protect and preserve our natural resources and area residents who want to see these resources preserved for future generations," Irv Bieser said. "Through the fund, we can help enhance and protect our backyard, so to speak. It’s a great vehicle for perpetuating the life of our community."
Learn how you can apply for a grant from the Greater Dayton Conservation Fund. Download the 2017 Grant Application and Guidelines to apply.
Help the Greater Dayton Conservation Fund continue to preserve and improve environmental health throughout the Dayton Region. Donate now to the Greater Dayton Conservation Fund.
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IN HIS WORDS
“The Foundation makes a huge difference by providing knowledge and guidance for more and more people who desire to support their community financially. It sees things from a board perspective and is adept at building collaborations and minimizing duplication of efforts.” – Irv Bieser, Dayton Foundation donors since 1985