9711 East Pike
Cambridge, OH 43725
740-435-0408

Our Mission

Promote through education and technical assistance, the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ECOFA program on woodland shrubs

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO - Although trees get most of the attention, the understory woodland shrubs are an important and interesting component of the total forest.  Dr. Scott Pendleton, area veterinarian and nature enthusiast, will present a program on that topic at the Nov. 5 7:30 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA).

ECOFA is an organization of persons interested in improving their woodlands and in forestry-related topics.   The public is cordially invited to attend the free meetings which are held monthly at McDonald-Marlite Lewis Conference Center, 143 McDonald Drive NW in New Philadelphia.

Bird watchers flock along Lake Erie coast line

I suspect many readers consider bird watchers as mostly little old ladies in tennis shoes marching determinedly along forest trails with binoculars and occasionally shouting "Look, on that limb. It's a fat-bellied beer sipper."

Read rest of article  HERE

Governor on Severance Tax

The Governor vowed Tuesday to continue his years' long battle to increase the severance tax on oil and gas companies drilling in Ohio's shale formations.  The governor blasted the oil and gas industry for opposing what he views as a "reasonable" severance tax rate and suggested the longer the legislature delays action, the higher the rate should be.  "They're paying 20 cents on a $100 barrel of oil. You should all sign up for that kind of a tax situation. This is a total and complete rip off to the people of this state. It's outrageous," he told a crowd at a Metropolitan Club forum in Columbus.  "And then they take our stuff and they go back and they cut their taxes and they have our wealth in their state and they don't pay for it. We need to stop this. And we've tried in that legislature to have a reasonable severance tax," Gov. Kasich said, noting other petroleum-producing states like North Dakota have considerably higher rates.  "We were proposing four (percent). Every day they wait it goes higher," he added.
Earlier this year the House passed a measure that would impose a 2.5% tax on gross receipts from horizontally fractured oil and gas wells (HB 375). The administration has criticized the House's proposed tax rate as too low and says the legislation would allow too many deductions to generate a significant amount of revenue.  The bill has support from one of the two main oil and gas industry groups, who warn that raising the severance tax any higher would drive drillers away to other states. They note that Ohio applies other taxes on drilling that competing states don't charge, such as the Commercial Activities Tax and the ad valorem tax.
Senate President Keith Faber has expressed doubt that the bill could pass his chamber during lame duck session and maintains that the issue ought to be addressed in the context of "overall tax reform."
Gov. Kasich also said he believes "we're going to need more regulations on the wellhead" and acknowledged the presence of a handful of protestors outside the forum who voiced concern about the effect of fracking on the environment.  "This industry is fantastic for this state. I believe in this industry, I support this industry. But you know what? There's a proper way to have them operate in our state - both in what they pay and the way they're regulated, because I'll tell you, if you don't regulate this thing right, you're going to lose people in the communities - they're going to say it's dangerous," he said.  The governor was hopeful that the shale drilling boom in eastern Ohio could revitalize downtrodden parts of the state and spur development in downstream industries to make Ohio "the polymer capital again."  "This could unlock such an incredible thing in this state. But it has to be regulated and they have to pay their fair share as they deplete our resources in this state. And the legislature's going to have to understand this. Or maybe there's another way to get this done," he said, apparently alluding to the possibility of placing a severance tax issue on the ballot.  Quoting Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones, the governor said, "I have not yet begun to fight."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ohio Confirms 1st Case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

 The first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Ohio has been confirmed in a captive deer operation in Holmes County. The positive sample was taken from a single buck as part of the state’s CWD monitoring program.
Read rest of article   HERE

Friday, October 24, 2014

WHY BOTHER WITH BIRDS?

Let's begin with the easy answer:
Birds are pretty, and it's fascinating to see the variety of sizes and shapes they come in. They do interesting things, and make cheerful sounds. In a world that sometimes can be dreary, birds are a delight to behold.

A second good answer is that birds around our homes are in fact a part of nature. Birds are free to roam wherever they wish and to do what is natural for them. Among the birds we can see with our own eyes, right in our own backyards, examples of how wild animals deal with seasonal changes, how they raise families, how they interact with one another and their environment, how they handle mankind's disruptions, how their appearances and behaviors reflect the general laws of nature, and much, much more.

Last but not least, another good answer is that there are wonderful field guides enabling us to identify whatever we see, and innumerable books and other sources informing us about every species. Both birds, and bird information, are accessible, and bird watching is something doable.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Viruses and septic systems

Viruses are in the news. Children around the country are sickened with enterovirus D68, one of a group of very contagious viruses that live in the intestinal track. Therefore, they are in the waste of infected people. People are really alarmed to learn about the spread of ebola virus, that moves through contact with bodily fluids, like human waste. When waste containing viruses are washed or flushed down the drain from an infected person, what happens to them?

Read Rest of Article  HERE

Monday, October 20, 2014

OEPA Director Outlines Targeted Algae Strategy

Environmentalists and Democrats want the Kasich administration to impose tighter regulations on fertilizer in northwest Ohio, but the state's chief environmental regulator recently said Lake Erie's algae problem requires a nuanced approach.  Toledo's algae-spawned drinking water crisis last summer prompted many environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and even some farmers to urge the administration to declare the Maumee River Watershed "distressed," which would trigger tougher fertilizer regulations in the area. Three years ago the administration responded to toxic algal blooms in Grand Lake St. Marys by designating it a distressed watershed. Local farmers had to comply with certain restrictions on handling and storage of manure and fertilizer.

However, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler said the toxic algae situation in the Western Lake Erie Basin is more complicated.  "If you look at the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed, you can see that it truly was a distressed watershed," he said in an interview.  "If you look at the western basin of the Maumee - there's no denying there's an issue there, but if you get more granular by trying to identify in the sub-watershed what those problems are - is it all agricultural? Is it wastewater treatment overflows? Is it failing septic systems? We've been looking at that," he said.  Director Butler said the administration is trying to pinpoint specific problems that contribute to nutrient loading in each watershed that flows into the lake.  "You can come up with a prescription there that is tailored to a smaller watershed rather than paint it with a big, broad brush and say the whole thing is distressed, which is only focused on agriculture," he said. "We're trying to come up with a much more targeted strategy that will get us to the same goal than just automatically tagging the western basin as a distressed watershed."

House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Dave Hall recently outlined a similar approach. He said a mid-biennium review measure still pending in his committee (HB 490*) could pick up some algae-related amendments during lame duck session, but a broader solution will likely have to wait until the next biennial budget.

Democrats have accused Republicans of delaying action on the algae issue so as not to incur the wrath of the agricultural lobby.  Rep. Michael Sheehy and Rep. John Patterson this week pressured OEPA to set standards for safe levels of the algae-produced toxin microcystin in drinking water. The Democrats criticized Director Butler's decision to wait for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set a national limit next year.  "The Ohio EPA should settle on a standard so testing practices can be fine-tuned and deemed adequate before microcystin becomes a problem again next summer," Rep. Sheehy said in a statement. "It's disappointing and downright unacceptable that our state officials are sitting on their hands and unwilling to do more to prevent the next water crisis."  Reps. Sheehy and Patterson, who cosponsored legislation to require OEPA to set microcystin standards (HB 625*), said the administration's opposition to other federal environmental regulations, like pending climate change rules, argue for the agency developing its own drinking water standards.  "This is about developing an Ohio solution for an Ohio problem," Rep. Patterson said. "This is our opportunity to make a difference at the state and local levels, but the Ohio EPA seems to be punting to the same federal government it consistently attacks for overreaching. Ohio can immediately address the toxins that are polluting our drinking water. We are only missing the will."

Meanwhile, the Ohio Farmers' Union recently announced its intention to seek amendments to the MBR that would require greater information sharing about how farms are handling livestock manure.  One proposal would require confined animal feeding operations or third party contractors to report information about manure shipped offsite to address what OFU calls the "manure loophole" on regulated CAFOs.  The group also plans to ask lawmakers to allow local soil and water conservation districts and other agencies to share data included in nutrient management plans to develop regional pollution abatement strategies, while preventing disclosure of proprietary information.  "The information we have to work with today tells us that the there is a problem in the Lake Erie watershed, but not the specific sources or locations. There's a hole in the data; we need to fill that hole," OFU President Joe Logan stated.  OFU cited research by Ohio State University professor Jeffrey Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant, that shows a 40% reduction in phosphorous entering Lake Erie will be necessary to address the annual hazardous algal blooms.  Mr. Reutter told the group's recent forum that agriculture is responsible for about two-thirds of the algae problem in the Western Lake Erie Watershed. Municipal wastewater treatment systems, aging home septic systems and residential lawn care are other significant sources of phosphorous.

In other algal news, OSU's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences said the new fertilizer applicator certification training program created in legislation passed earlier this year (SB 150*) has already trained 777 Ohio farmers since it was launched last month.  Greg LaBarge, an OSU Extension field specialist, said the training covers water quality and crop production best management practices.  "By advocating the continued improvement in nutrient use and efficiencies, the training can help growers boost farm profits by using just enough nutrients to maximize yield, which reduces the potential for water quality impact offsite," he said. "The training benefits farmers and Ohioans by reducing the water quality issues that we have in the state."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Statehouse News: Ebola Containment

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff headed to Ohio Thursday to assist with state and local Ebola response efforts following reports that a Dallas nurse who tested positive for the virus visited the state prior to her diagnosis.  At the request of Gov. John Kasich, the liaisons will coordinate efforts between Ohio and the CDC, as well as assist in contact tracing efforts to determine who may have come in contact with Ebola patient Amber Vinson during her recent four-day trip to Summit County.  The Department of Health also stepped up its Ebola containment strategies on Thursday by issuing new guidelines to health departments and providers stating that anyone who has come into direct contact with the Ebola patient should be quarantined for 21 days and monitored by doctors. ODH defines direct contact to include shaking hands.

Meanwhile, anyone who came within a three-foot radius of the patient for an extended period of time, such as those passengers who rode on the airplane from Cleveland to Dallas alongside Ms. Vinson, should check body temperature twice daily for 21 days. At least one symptom check should be completed by a doctor, according to the revised protocols.  Others who were in the vicinity of Ms. Vinson are also being asked to monitor their health at home and contact doctors if they experience Ebola symptoms, which include fever, unexplained bruising and bleeding, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea.

"The ODH guidelines are being recommended out of an abundance of caution to take strong measures to protect Ohio residents," Dr. Mary DiOrio, state epidemiologist and interim chief of the ODH Bureau of Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a statement. "It has become clear that we cannot be too careful in efforts to contain the spread of this deadly disease."  The day before reports that Ms. Vinson had been in Akron from Oct. 10-13 and had an elevated temperature prior to boarding a plane at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Ms. DiOrio and other state health officials said it was highly unlikely that Ohio would be at risk for an Ebola outbreak.

In an effort to respond to questions regarding the virus and the state's response to it, ODH has opened a 24-hour call center that can be reached at 866-800-1404.  The call center, which is housed at ODH and staffed by public health nurses and other public health professionals, officially began operations Wednesday night, the department said.  Also taking strict precautions to contain the virus were two Cleveland-area schools that closed Thursday to be disinfected after district leaders learned that a teacher may have flown on the same plane, but not the same flight, as Ms. Vinson.  According to emails sent from Solon Middle School and Parkside Elementary School, the CDC and local health department did not order the schools to be closed and have said that the staff member is not at risk for contracting Ebola.  "We made the decision to close Solon Middle and Parkside for tomorrow out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our students and staff," the email stated.  A Cleveland Municipal School District building was open to students Thursday after being disinfected overnight. The precautions were taken after it was determined that a teacher may have come in contact with Ms. Vinson.  The Cranwood School teacher will not return to work until cleared to do so by health professionals, district spokeswoman Roseann Canfora said in an email.

FirstEnergy also sent two workers home Thursday, with pay, to be isolated for the incubation period of up to 21 days. The company said in a statement that one worker was identified by the CDC as having had contact with Ms. Vinson during her visit and a second worker self-identified as possibly having had contact.  ODH recommended that Ohio hospitals conduct training and practice drills within the next two days to ensure that they're prepared to safely test and treat potential Ebola patients.  The training of frontline staff should include instruction on how to properly receive, isolate and implement proper infection control practices for a potential Ebola patient as well as how to properly put on and remove personal protective equipment, the department said.

Director Rick Hodges said in ODH efforts to connect with health care providers, it has learned that a "recurring theme" among nurses is that more training is needed on the use of personal protective equipment.  ODH also said Thursday that agency leaders will continue to consult with infectious disease experts until it's determined that the virus has been contained.

In the meantime, Senate President Keith Faber said the upper chamber will not move forward with joint legislative hearings on the state's Ebola response. Democrats called for the meetings immediately following reports that Ms. Vinson was in Ohio.  "You don't ask the firefighters to jump off the truck on their way to the fire and explain how they plan to put it out," he said in a statement. "I think it's best right now for us to step back and let the experts do their jobs. Unlike the federal government, the governor's administration has taken a proactive and transparent approach to the threat. We need to give them room and that isn't helped at this point by a legislative hearing process.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District Election

On Wednesday October 29th, the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District will be holding their 72th annual meeting and banquet.  Every year the GSWCD holds an annual meeting for the purpose of electing members to the five member board that comprises the board of supervisors for the district.  This year there will be two members elected to a three-year term.

The mission of the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District is to promote through education and technical assistance the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.  The traditional perception of the Soil and Water Conservation District has been one of working primarily with the agricultural community.  The district does work on natural resource issues with local agriculture but in addition to that it is a considerable resource to all landowners and land users in Guernsey County.

This year's slate of candidates for election to the district board of supervisors include; John Enos, Ken Ford, and Rich Ripley.  The two candidates with the most votes will be elected to a three-year term.  The official election will begin at 6:00 pm Wednesday, October 29th at the Mr Lee’s Restaurant, 2000 E Wheeling Ave, Cambridge, Ohio.  Voting may be done from 6:00pm to 7:30pm.

The buffet will be served at 7:00pm, with a brief program following the meal.  Tickets for the banquet are $10, and can be purchased from any current board member, or from the SWCD office.  If you are unable to attend the day of the election, absentee ballots are available at the district office located at 9711 East Pike, Cambridge, Ohio until 4:00pm October 29th.  Eligible voters are all individuals who are at least 18 years of age and a resident of Guernsey County or at least 18 years of age and own real estate in Guernsey County.  Consider participating in this important process.  For additional information you may contact the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District office at (740) 435-0408.


NEW PHONE NUMBER

Our new phone system should be installed and working sometime Wednesday, October 15th.
Our address remains the same.
New phone numbers for the district:

740-435-0408
Fax  435-0414

The numbers for FSA and NRCS remain the same, although they have moved to a new office location.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bottle deposit petition approved by Ohio attorney general

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday certified the petition for a proposed "Bottle Bill for Ohio" amendment to the Ohio Constitution. A previous attempt for approval was denied in March because supporters failed to properly collect the required number of signatures.

Read more HERE