In 1995, with Marie Aull’s support, Paul Knoop and other Aullwood staff planted what became the Paul E. Knoop Jr. Prairie on approximately 140 acres of property owned by the City of Dayton at the Dayton International Airport. This property is adjacent to Aullwood Farm at the corner of Frederick Pike and U.S. 40 (National Road). This prairie still thrives and is one of the oldest reconstructed prairies in the State of Ohio.
Most importantly, Knoop Prairie protects the Wiles Creek watershed which is 120 acres and is the headwaters to a critical tributary of the Stillwater River, a designated Scenic River. Wiles Creek runs through the Aullwood Audubon nature sanctuary, providing key habitats throughout our 200 acres and then flows into Marie Aull’s garden where it has been a central landscape element of this National Historic Landmark since Marie and John Aull originally purchased the property. The creek stays 68 degrees year-round, never icing over in the winter and providing cooling relief in the summer. To help visualize these water resources, please see the Wiles Creek map at https://aullwood.audubon.org/WilesCreekMap updated July 2019 and created by David Nolin, Retired Director of Conservation, Five Rivers MetroParks.
The Paul E. Knoop Prairie and watershed attracts hundreds of migratory and resident birds as well as mammals, and thousands of species of insects, butterflies and bees each year.
Wiles Creek is the heart of Aullwood’s nature sanctuary and part of our mission and history. We work to protect this area and any damage to the watershed could also damage the unique wetland habitats that are home to migratory birds and other wildlife.
In 2019, the City of Dayton and the Dayton International Airport re-zoned the Paul E. Knoop Jr. Prairie and began actively seeking the sale and development of the property for commercial and industrial construction. Aullwood Audubon and the greater Dayton community rallied against the proposed development.
In 2024, the City of Dayton has begun a feasibility study to install solar and a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on Dayton International Airport property. The feasibility study could include the Paul E. Knoop Jr. Prairie. Aullwood is closely monitoring the situation, and we appreciate having open channels of communication with all interested parties.
Aullwood Audubon is committed to protecting the Wiles Creek watershed, which begins in Knoop Prairie and runs through our nature sanctuary and the historic home of our founder, Marie S. Aull.