Voice Of America Park

One of my fondest memories as a beginning bird watcher was my first visit to Voice of America Park,
affectionately called VOA Park. Driving over from Maineville, not quite sure how to find the correct
entrance, but determined to get inside for my first chance to view Bobolinks (a life bird for me at the
time) in their breeding habitat. I remember like it was yesterday driving north along Butler-Warren
Road and seeing Bobolinks flying across the road, or perched atop the chain link fence which borders
the eastern edge of the park. I drove slowly as I saw several dead Bobolinks lying in the road, no doubt
struck by cars.
Reality came as a cold slap in the face this morning as the local news had a reporter on hand to
announce the improvements, and expansions of multiple sports fields to VOA. I’m not sure of the exact
number of additional sports fields that are to be added, however the smiles on the reporters face as she
gleamed with this exciting news that more land within the park will be used to quench the thirst of the
ever swelling needs of youth sports in both West Chester and neighboring Mason. I read the “Voice of
America Park Enhancement Plan” on the Butler County Metroparks web site and was overwhelmed by
all the graphs and numbers involving the economic impact this improvement will bring. I wonder what
the ecological impact this “improvement” will bring to VOA?
I’ve walked many a time along the mowed paths as chest high grasslands spread out on both sides
of you as Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, several Sparrow species, especially Henslow’s were
everywhere. One particular Spring evening as dusk settled in, myself and a friend (who got his lifer
Henslow Sparrow this evening) counted 8 Henslow’s singing as we made our way back to my truck to
leave. Will this be the end to such days? I don’t have the answers, only memories. I bird Butler County
all the time and with Gilmore Ponds, Ellis Lake, and VOA all within short driving distance from each
other, it made for an enjoyable day of birding. However as more and more of the open grassy areas of
VOA are bulldozed over are we to see the end of certain species that we’re used to seeing? Will I bypass
VOA and just continue to drive home, or to another park?
So what will be the impact from the improvements at VOA Park? It depends on who you ask. If you’ve
ever been to VOA before I’m sure you’ve seen the “Important Birding Area” sign. This makes me think
how easy it was to place it there, and as bird watchers what this sign means to us. But now it’s equally
as easy to dig it up and throw it on the crumbling concrete remains of the radio tower foundations that
still dot the fields. Am I angry? Not really, just sad at what used to be.

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One response to “Voice Of America Park

  1. It’s sad how we’re losing grasslands and open field habitat on both sides of the border. One of the best birding spots in Ottawa is the large, open field south of the airport where you can find Clay-colored and Grasshopper Sparrows, bluebirds, bobolinks, cuckoos, meadowlarks and more. However, development is making inroads, and the Short-eared Owls that used to hunt there have become scarce. I’m not sure if the area is slated for development, but subdivisions are creeping closer.

    It’s sad, too, how designations of “Important Birding Area” and “endangered” or “threatened” don’t mean anything when it comes to satisfying our desire for more roads, beaches, or playing fields.

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