Herrick Brown, Rosewood Community
Owens Field Park (OFP) is a 66 acre municipal park situated in southeastern Columbia, SC near Hamilton–Owens Downtown Airport
(Figure 1.). Roughly 38 acres are dedicated to open athletic fields with some additional space allocated for
parking, restroom facilities, a poured concrete skate park, and a community orchard. The remaining 28 acres are divided almost evenly
into two 14–acre wooded lots which flank the north and south portions of the fields.
As indicated in aerial photography from the 1930's (Figure 2.), these stands are no more than 70 years old. While
the Columbia Disc Golf Club maintains an 18–hole course
throughout the wooded areas, other recreational uses include walking, jogging, and mountain biking. The rich floristic diversity of
the wooded areas also provides many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts interested in observing nature.
Recognizing the potential of the woods at OFP as a resource for wildlife and wildflower viewing (in addition to current recreational
use), the Rosewood Community Council (RCC) would like to enhance the
visitor's experience by implementing various trail improvements. Working with the RCC, Richland County has allocated funds to
develop and complete the trail plans. Major issues with the current trail system include lack of definition, erosion and pooling. In
addition there is an open storm water drainage ditch which remains stagnant during periods of little rainfall. Other concerns include
visitor safety, invasive species management and maintaining the natural aesthetics of the trail system.
Restoring the natural landscape of the wooded areas at OFP should include a focus on the rich complement of native plant species
already present. Efforts to correct drainage ditches and trail systems may focus on enhancing the aesthetic through the careful
removal of invasive plant species which reduce wildlife diversity and outcompete native vegetation. Pooling in trails may be remedied
by re-routing pathways around these areas and allowing them to serve as natural wetlands. Creative enhancements such as these will
add to the floristic diversity and provide greater opportunities for wildlife observation. Ultimately, the development of an
interactive smartphone application may provide visitors with a location-specific wildflower observation guide.
Prior to any modification of the woodlands, a baseline biotic inventory is essential to document and characterize existing habitats
and conditions. The Flora Caroliniana portal provides space for a plant species checklist of OFP under its
Neighborhood Floras project. The checklist will include observations and photographs of plants in the wooded areas during different
seasons. This documentation will serve as an ongoing floristic inventory and as a rich resource for park visitors wishing to identify the
plants (leaves, flowers, and fruits) that they observe. Accumulating these data is no easy task. Therefore, in order to share the burden
and encourage community involvement, a series of 'BioBlitzes' will be organized periodically. BioBlitz participants need no prior
knowledge, but must have an interest in plants and a desire to learn about them. Participants will be teamed with a Plant
Identification Expert and teams will divide the tasks associated with recording plant species observations. Teams will collect
information on species locality, associated species, phenology (blooming, fruiting, vegetative, etc.), and other notes.
Initial observations cataloged 19 plant species (one of these was invasive) over several weeks. During the first BioBlitz held on
March 9th, 2013, approximately 30 volunteers added 64 new plant species (13 invasive) to the list in roughly two hours. On October 21st, 2017
the Rosewood Community Council organized a City Serve event that included litter cleanup followed by the second BioBlitz. Thirteen new plant
species were documented (12 native and 1 invasive). It is reasonable to suspect that the rate of new additions to the list of species will
diminish during subsequent BioBlitz events as the inventory approaches completion and every plant species in the park has been cataloged.