Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Backyard Woods - Making a plan

Compare your objectives and inventory, and make adjustments if needed. For example, the objectives of a landowner and his family were to keep the property natural, watch wildlife, and enjoy the view from their home. After they talked with their neighbors, attended a university extension service workshop on living on a few acres, and surveyed their property, they changed their goals.
After you inventory your backyard woods you can draw your own map on graph paper. Use your inventory to plan activities that will accomplish your objectives. The order and year in which you list the activities will depend on your objectives, time, and money. Don’t try to do everything at once. Think long term and develop a 10-year plan. Your plan is flexible. Review it periodically to be sure it still meets your objectives and that you have the time and money to implement it.

Can I get help with my plan?
A county soil survey contains the soil map along with information on soil use and management for trees, wildlife, and trail building. You can obtain a soil survey from the District. Average annual precipitation amounts and plant hardiness zone maps are also available.
You will need information on what to do and how to do it. Personal education is available. Soil and Water Conservation District and Cooperative Extension Service offices are good sources of local information.

There are opportunities to get personalized assistance. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry has a Service Forester who is a wealth of information in planning your woodland. You may be able to hire a consulting forester, landscape architect, or arborist on an hourly basis to do a short "walk through" with you to give you ideas on what you might do to reach your objectives. Try to find someone who can tell you about the soil, historical land use, the health and economic value of your trees, the resident wildlife, and what the woods will look like in 20 years if you leave it alone or if you choose to apply practices to improve it. Consider talking with your neighbors about having a natural resource professional look over all of your properties.

If you don’t have the equipment, time, or skill for a project, seek local sources of help. The farm and garden supply store, weekly swap and sell guide, and local newspaper contain information on locally available services.
Whatever you do, have fun doing it. Include your family, and your neighbors if possible. A large task can be made easier with partners.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Schedule

The district office will close Friday, December 23rd at noon. We will be closed on Monday, December 26th.
We will be open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
We will close on Friday, December 30th at noon. We will be closed on Monday, January 2nd.
We will resume our normal schedule on Tuesday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Backyard Woods - Taking an inventory

What do I have on my property?
The trees you have or can grow on your property are determined by climate, soils and the previous landowner’s activities. You may not be able to develop specific objectives and activities to reach your objectives until you know more about your property.
Temperature and precipitation are the main climate factors affecting the types of trees and their growth on your property. Each type of tree has a minimum and maximum temperature that limits its growth, and an optimum temperature for growth. Trees need at least 15 inches of annual precipitation to grow, but they can use much more.

Depth and texture are soil factors that control the amount of moisture and nutrients available to trees and other plants. Deep soils are generally better than shallow soils because they have the potential for greater nutrient supply and water-holding capacity.
Soil texture refers to the size and shape of the sand, silt, and clay particles in your soil. Sand particles are relatively large and irregularly shaped. Silt particles are very small sand particles. Clay particles are extremely small and flat. Soils are named based on the percentage of sand, silt, and clay they contain. Loam is the name for soils with various mixtures of sand, silt, and clay particles. Sandy soils have large spaces between the particles enabling water to move through it quickly, so less water and nutrients are available to plants. Clay soils hold a large amount of water and nutrients but the spaces between particles are so small that roots have a difficult time reaching it. Silt soils are similar to clay soils. Loams are the most productive soils because they have the best qualities of sand and clay without their undesirable characteristics.
Talk with your neighbors and visit the SWCD District to find out the previous uses of your property.

Climate, soils, and previous uses are beyond your control. The best way to work within these conditions is to maintain and plant native trees and plants. They have adapted to the climate and soils in your backyard woods, and need the least amount of your time and work for them to grow.
Refining your objectives and activities requires you to find out what is on your property. Walking your property and sketching a map is a good way to inventory your woods. A topographical map would make a good place to start your sketch. These can be found online, or you may get one from the District.

As you walk through your property sketch tree-covered areas, treeless areas, unique features like rock outcrops, streams, ponds, swamps, wet spots, stone fences, and colorful foliage, roads, trails, house, other structures, and yard. Be sure to walk your boundary lines, and if they are not evident, locate them and mark them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Your Backyard Woods - How do I get started?

The first step requires a pencil and paper, and some time to think. You may want to sit down with your family and talk about your backyard woods.
Answers to questions such as these will help you to develop a vision for your backyard woods:
• Why do we have this land?
• What do we like about it?
• What words describe the feelings we have for this land?
• What do we want it to produce?
• What do we want it to look like in 5, 10, and 20 years from now?

What are my objectives for my woods?
The most common objectives for backyard woods are to improve wildlife habitat, aesthetics, and recreation. Other objectives include tree value and special forest products. You can have more than one objective. Maintaining a healthy woods and a safe environment should always be included among your objectives.
To reach your vision for your backyard woods, develop specific objectives that will help you identify the actions you need to take. Here are a couple of examples:
• It is not enough to say you want more wildlife. You need to decide which animals are most desirable, and whether improved bird watching, hunting, or just a greater variety of animals is your objective.
• Perhaps natural beauty is what you want. Your objectives may be to improve the view from your house or possibly to add some color or different shapes to your backyard woods by planting a variety of trees.
With backyard woods management, achieving several objectives at once is usually easy. For example, when you are cutting firewood, which of these would you say you are doing: producing fuel, providing space for your favorite trees to grow, making brush piles for rabbits, or enjoying yourself? Many backyard woods owners would answer, "All of these!"
Talk with your neighbors and ask them about their plans for their woods. Working together on similar objectives can make the task easier and greatly increase the impact on wildlife and other values you share.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Make a Master Plan In Your Backyard Woods

Why should I plan?

Your backyard woods is like a garden that needs to be tended to get the best results. By weeding, adding new trees and shrubs, managing insects and diseases, and harvesting products, you’ll help nature create the backyard woods that meets your needs and wants.
Even if you are contented with your backyard woods today, it will change over time. As trees and the associated plants sprout, grow, and die, other plants and wildlife will replace some of the trees and wildlife you currently enjoy. Brush will fill in the trails. Trees will invade your favorite berry-picking spots or obscure your favorite view. Your trees may become overcrowded, lose their vigor, and become susceptible to insects and diseases.
Caring for your backyard woods can take a lot of time and money. A master plan will help you focus on what is important to you and your family. It will help you organize the work so that it is manageable and fits your budget and available time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ducks & Geese: habitat basics

Most people know ducks and geese need water and wetland habitats to survive. That need was well illustrated in the 1980s, when a prolonged drought in the prairie pothole region cut duck populations by half. Fewer people think about the undisturbed grassland habitats ducks and geese need for nesting. Nevertheless, those upland grasslands in close proximity to wetlands are critical for waterfowl as well.
Much of the wetland habitat was destroyed in the last century with the draining of most of America’s wetlands. In the past 15 years, though, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other programs, landowners have restored thousands
of acres of wetlands and waterfowl populations have responded. Individual species have specific food and cover preferences, but included here is some general guidance on their habitat needs.

Food preferences. Ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl eat plants--mostly aquatic--and seeds and insects. Crop fields can draw thousands of waterfowl in the fall, to eat corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, barley and other cereal grains. A wide variety of aquatic plants and seeds eaten includes pondweed, smartweed, sedges, bulrushes, and wild millet.
Ducks can be grouped into two feeding types: dabbling and diving ducks. Dabbling ducks, including mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged teal, usually feed in shallow water by tipping up on the surface. Divers, including redheads and canvasbacks, feed by diving to the bottom of ponds and lakes to get submerged plants.
In early spring, hens eat insects for protein needed to produce eggs; their young also eat mostly insects and other small animals in their first three weeks of life.

Cover needs. Wetland types include prairie potholes, tundra wetlands, river backwaters, bays in large lakes, coastal wetlands, mountain wetlands and forest wetlands. Wetlands with about half their surface area covered by wetland plants are ideal for waterfowl broods. Idle grasslands, deferred pastures and haylands not mowed until after nesting, in July, are the upland habitat many waterfowl use to nest. Many species migrate southward, but some stay in winter if food and open water are available.

Did you
ducks normally fly at high
altitudes; some have been
spotted at 20,000 feet. Most
fly at night, at speeds of 40
to 60 miles an hour. Most people
think of migration as a
north-south phenomenon, but
there is nearly as much eastwest

Thursday, November 24, 2011

President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving – more 200 years after the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, in 1621. However, holiday wasn’t declared an official national holiday until 1941.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eastern Wild Turkeys: habitat basics

The wild turkey has made an amazing comeback in the United States. This wary game bird is a favorite of many hunters and wildlife watchers alike, and it’s doing well. Five wild turkey subspecies are found in the U.S. They include the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s, Florida and Gould’s wild turkey. Their habitats change with available plants in their region of the country, but are similar. Here’s what the Eastern wild turkey likes.

Food preferences. The diet is more than 80 percent plant food, with 10 to 20 percent primarily insects. Young poults eat insects, berries and seeds, while adults will eat anything from acorns and berries to insects, salamanders, snails and small reptiles. Fruits of wild grape, dogwood and wild cherry are favorites. Turkeys also eat numerous seeds, including those of native grasses, sedges, trees and ferns.
Water. A source of open water is necessary to support a wild turkey population. They drink from spring seeps, streams, ponds, lakes and livestock watering facilities. It’s critical to have water as well as foraging, nesting, brood rearing and roosting cover all available near each other to support populations.
Nesting cover. Eastern wild turkeys nest on the ground in hardwood or mixed forest, usually at the base of sizable trees in dense understory cover. They may also nest under a brush pile, in thickets or under downed trees and branches. Preferred nest sites are near openings or on forest edges where newly hatched poults have access to insects after hatching.
Roosting cover. Wild turkeys roost overnight in trees to avoid predators. The exception is for hens with up to one-month old poults-- they roost on the ground in habitat similar to nesting habitat. Ideal roosting trees are mature, open-crowned trees with branches spaced 18 inches apart that run parallel to the ground, with trunk diameters at least 14 inches, locating within a half mile of a food source.
Brood rearing cover. Wild turkeys like open areas of grass, forb and legume mixtures for feeding. A forest opening of a half to three acres is a good siz, where poults can eat insects but also see and hide from predators.

Did you
In the early
1930s the wildturkey was on
the verge of extinction. But
today, thanks to wildlife
restoration programs and
willing landowners, the wild
turkey is abundant and thriving.
It’s found in every state
except Alaska.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Anphibian Guests

Our wildlife specialist, Joe Lehman, has a permit for educational purposes. He has brought in two very interesting amphibians for us to display. Above is a Tiger Salamander. He is about 10 inches long. Below is a tree frog. He is comparable in size to a toad.

Stop by the office to see these creatures in person, and talk to Joe about their life histories and habitat requirements. Maybe you'll get to see them eat a cricket.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's That Bug?

Are you finding little black bugs with red lines, about ½ inch long, inside your house or outside on the foundations on sunny walls? Do you have an invasion of these insects nearly every spring and again in fall? If so, chances are you have a female box elder tree in your yard or nearby. Box elder bugs, as they are called, feed on the seeds and foliage of female trees, and to a lesser extent, on ash and maple. In fall, the bugs move to protected sites where they can overwinter, such as inside or under you house. Box elder bugs you find in spring are those which survived the winter, perhaps in your house, and will soon die of “old age”. In fall, you can probably expect another invasion of the next generation of box elder bugs.

Adult box elder bugs are elongate, 1/2 inch long insects with sucking mouthparts. They are mostly black with some red markings. There are three narrow red lines on the segment behind the head, one down the center and one on either side and a thin red inverted "V" about the middle of the back. The wingless immature or nymphal stage has a black head, antennae, and legs. The red abdomen has an orange-yellow stripe and spot down the center of the back.

The good news, is that they cause little or no damage to the trees, so tree protection is not needed. You already know the bad news, that the bugs are a nuisance. However, they will not reproduce in the house, nor will they feed on plants or furnishings indoors. They will soon die of old age. Inside the house, you can vacuum them up periodically, and those that escape will soon die off. Reduce the numbers that will enter your house in fall by caulking cracks, mending screens, and attaching "sweep strips" to the bottom of doors. These efforts will keep other insects out as well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

History of the Guernsey SWCD - After the Dust Bowl

Fall 1939:
Rain comes, finally bringing an end to the drought. During the next few years, with the coming of World War II, the country is pulled out of the Depression and the Plains once again become golden with wheat.
Ohio's attempt to secure enactment of the soil conservation district law in 1939 failed because of reluctant support of agricultural leadership in the state.

World conflicts were bringing our nation closer to war each passing month and intense pressures were developing on farmers to increase food production on the land they managed. The 94th General Assembly retained soil conservation on its agenda.

May 16: House Bill 646, which became the Ohio Soil Conservation District Enabling Act when it was signed by Governor John W. Bricker on June 5, 1941.

October 22: Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District was organized and was the 8th district to form in the state of Ohio.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Whitetail Deer: habitat basics

Whitetail deer are so plentiful these days in most parts of the country, it’s surprising to some people that they were decimated to the point of near-extinction by unrestricted hunting at the turn of the century.
Whitetails are found all over the North American continent, with populations in the millions. They survive in the big woods of northern Maine to the deep saw grass and hammock swamps of Florida. They thrive in mixed farmlands, brushy areas and timber, and can survive the desolate cactus and thornbrush deserts of southern Texas and Mexico.
Most people love to spot whitetail deer, but overpopulations, especially near urbanizing areas, can cause problems. Whitetail deer can be destructive to crops, fruit trees, ornamental plants and gardens. They can also cause serious damage to forest vegetation from overbrowsing, and are a danger to motorists as they are commonly hit by autos.

Food preferences
. Deer eat a variety of plants, but in farmland areas, cultivated crops, including corn and soybeans, top the list. A major portion of the diet in the fall is waste grain after harvest. The most critical food need to deer is the fall and winter food supply, because they determine the reproductive success of the doe. In summer months, woody browse such as buckbrush, sumac, and oak is part of the diet. Various forbs and grasses are also part of the diet in the spring and summer. Fawns slowly shift from their mother’s milk to forbs and grasses as the summer continues.

Cover needs. Ideal whitetail habitat contains dense thickets for cover, and edges of timber and grass or crop for food. Areas with the largest amount of timber have the highest deer populations. Cold and heavy snow in northern regions cause deer to concentrate in protected areas such as heavy timber, conifer stands, brush, and shrub swamps. During the summer, deer can be found wherever food, water cover and solitude exist. In May and June, does seek seclusion for fawning in brushy fields, heavily vegetated stream bottomlands, forest edges, pastures, and grasslands. Green browse food plots of clovers and alfalfa, and diverse native grass and forb\ mixtures offer good fawning habitat.

Did you
A female
deer usually has one fawn as
her first born, but in subsequent
years usually has
twins. Whitetail deer are
good swimmers and often
enter rivers and lakes to
escape predators.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fun at the Night Hike

Bill Mays, retired from ODNR-Division of Wildlife, talks to the kids about the life history of the turkey. The kids also got to make a turkey call from a piece of slate, a dowel rod, and corn cob to take home with them. (notice the guy in the white hat? That's Myron, our volunteer of the year)
Here some of the kids are making pumpkins into turkeys to decorate their home for the coming holidays.
A close-up of the turkeys. They sure had a lot of fun coloring and cutting them out. Thanks to Cambridge Trading Post for donating the perfect pumpkins!

Then wildlife specialist Joe Lehman lead a hike through the woods in the gathering dusk to talk about what wildlife that inhabits the woods is doing at this time of year to prepare for winter. The kids had a chance to see and touch real animal pelts and skulls to get a close look at some of the physical features that make these animals perfectly suited for their life in the wild.

The evening ended with a weenie roast and toasted marshmallows over a fire, and lots of good conversation.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ring-necked Pheasants: habitat basics

Want to see more pheasants on your land? Give them better habitat! Consider their food, cover and space needs.

Food preferences. Ring-necked pheasants rely most heavily on waste grain from crop fields, wild and cultivated grass and forb seeds, fruits, and leaves. Crop field seeds include corn, wheat, grain sorghum, barley, oats, and sunflowers. Non-grain seeds include legumes, ragweed, smartweed, and burdock. Hard and soft mast in the summer and fall diet include acorns, pine
seeds and wild berries. In their first five weeks after hatching, chicks eat insects almost exclusively.
Adults also eat insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and caterpillars through the spring and summer months. The foods pheasants eat supplies them with the water they need.
Nesting cover. Dense ground cover with good overhead growth is the key. Alfalfa, wheat stubble, cool season grasses, and
native and tame pastures work well. Grassy field corners and odd areas, shelterbelts, field borders and fencerows are also used.
Brood rearing cover. Pheasants want vegetation that is somewhat open near the ground for easy chick travel, with overhead concealment. Native bunch grasses like big and little bluestem, switchgrass, sideoats grama, wheat grasses and Indiangrass
offer this structure. Mixed cool season grasses with forbs and other vegetation that supports insects are also used.
Roosting, escape cover. Ringnecks roost in small trees and tall shrubs, or on the ground in weedy ditches, cattail swales,
brush heaps, and briar patches.
Winter cover. Weedy field borders and fencerows, dense, upright grasslands, abandoned farmsteads, cattail marshes, and
evergreen and hardwood windbreaks are good protection in winter.
Interspersion. A good mixture of differing habitat types, located next to one another, is part of the habitat package pheasants need. To attract pheasants and maintain their populations, offer foraging, nesting, brood-rearing, roosting, winter and escape cover in close proximity. A complex of corn, sorghum and small grain crop fields, unmowed haylands, native prairie grasses, unmowed field borders, windbreaks, and cattail marshes should do well.

Did you
The ringnecked
pheasant, native to
Manchuria, Korea, Japan,
and other Asian countries,
has one of the widest introduced
distributions among
birds on earth. People have
attempted to introduce it in
nearly 50 countries, on every
continent except Antarctica.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What's your fish and wildlife IQ ?

Do you have a good basic understanding of what fish and wildlife need to survive? You
probably do if you can answer the questions below correctly.
Choose only one answer for each.

1. Everything you do on your land affects wildlife.
a. True
b. False

2. What are the basic needs of wildlife? (choose best answer)
a. Food, water, cover and space
b. Food, water, and shelter
c. Food, water, and a place to raise young
d. Food, water, and winter cover

3. Which habitat statement below is most nearly correct?
a. What is good for one species of wildlife is good for all others as well.
b. Individual species have specific habitat needs.
c. Habitat you create for one species will be wrong for all others.

4. A soft, gradual transition from crop field to other habitat is better for more species than an abrupt change.
a. True
b. False

5. Rotational grazing helps birds as well as livestock.
a. True
b. False

6. The best conservation practices for fish and wildlife habitat include:
a. restored wetlands, streamside buffers and ponds
b. windbreaks, diverse grass plantings, and clean water
c. connecting corridors, and managed timber and grassland
d. All of the above

7. Which is not a good general rule for habitat plantings?
a. Prefer natives over exotics
b. Use a variety of plants
c. Create habitat away from water
d. Use plants that offer food and cover for wildlife

8. You may benefit grassland birds by discing old grass.
a. True
b. False

Did you

The original
name for the butterfly was
“flutterby”... ..many spiders
have eight eyes...pigeons
eyes are located laterally on
their heads, so they can view
340 degrees...a falcon can
see a 4” object from nearly a
mile away.

Answers: 1.a; 2.a; 3.b; 4.a; 5.a; 6.d; 7.c; 8.a

Friday, October 28, 2011

New License and Game Check System

Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Wildlife has enacted new rules for checking of game this hunting season. Please be sure to visit their website and familiarize yourself with the new procedures at their website HERE

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Night Hike

Hey, don't forget the Night Hike at Moore Memorial Woods in a week. Its Thursday, November 3rd from 5:30 to 8. The hike is geared toward kids 6-16, who must be accompanied by an adult.
Check the educational page for a flyer, and be sure to call the office to make reservations.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Annual Election Results

John Enos, Ken Ford, and Krista Shriver were candidates for the 2 board seats up for election. in a very close race, John Enos and Ken Ford were elected to serve 3 year terms beginning January of 2012.

Annual Meeting news

Sandy and Ed Kennedy socialize with board member Carol Wheeler (rt) and her husband, Howard. The Kennedy's were recipients of the 2010 Co-operator of the Year award.
County Engineer Del George and his wife, Barbara attended the meeting.
Congratulations to Myron Dellinger, who was awarded Co-operator of the year by the district.
Farm Credit partners with districts in Ohio to provide these nice signs each year. Myron is a master gardener, naturalist, and has worked with the district on many of our educational programs including Ag School Days, Conservation Day Camp, the Spring Wildflower walk, and Hooked on Fishing. Myron is the kind of guy who, when asked to help, answers with "tell me when and where and I'll be there".

Commissioner Steve Douglass talks to Dee and Richard Carter after the meeting. Dee, a retired science teacher, has volunteered for the district at our Conservation Daycamp for many years. The kids LOVE her!

State Representative Andy Thompson and GSWCD Chairman Blaine Neilley discuss natural resource concerns in Guernsey County. Rep Thompson was the guest speaker for the meeting. He spoke on current issues in Ohio, and took questions from the audience.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fish survival dependent on landowners

Fish survival is tied to habitat- to their water. And, like most species of wildlife, their habitat condition is often dependent on actions taken by private
Simply put, fish need food, water, shelter, and favorable conditions to breed and raise their young. A more complex story emerges when you manage habitats for many different fish species, with very different life cycles and needs. Some fish need
cold water, others need warm. Some use sandy bottoms, others like to hide under rocks and wood, and on and on.
Overall, it’s watershed management, particularly the management of the land nearest the stream, that’s most important to fish. Healthy plant life along a stream, and a steady flow of clean water are critical.
Land development or poor forestry or agricultural practices can cause erosion that results in sediment that can cement stream gravels and smother fish eggs.
Streambank erosion can also mean less overhanging vegetation that contributes leaves and twigs that host some of the insects fish eat. While coldwater fish such as trout have different habitat needs than warm water fish like bass, there are some
general management tips that fit all streams to improve habitat:

1) Control upland erosion on fields, pastures, and forests.
2) Maintain vegetation on streambanks, protected from trampling and erosion.
3) Plant riparian (streamside) buffers of trees, shrubs and grasses, preferably native.
4) Install grass filter strips and waterways to trap sediments.
5) Keep farm chemicals, manure and other harmful ag products
out of the water.

In-stream practices.
Meandering streams with riffles and pools, undercut banks with overhanging vegetation, and submerged wood are ideal for trout and other fishes.
Keeping streams free of barriers to fish movement up and downstream, and maintaining
wetlands and backwaters in floodplains are also important management techniques.

Did you
That slime you feel when you
handle a fish is a type of
mucus secreted from the skin
that’s very important to a fish.
It’s a coating that provides protection
against parasites and
diseases, covers wounds to prevent
infection and helps fish
move through the water faster.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frogs, snakes & turtles need our help

Before you say you’re not disappointed that frogs, turtles, snakes and other herps, as they’re called, are in trouble, read on.
They may be among the most misunderstood of species; most are not nearly as dangerous as people fear them to be. In fact, they are beneficial in the chain of
life, eating insects, rodents and other pests. But they are in
decline in the United States and worldwide, largely because of the loss or degradation of habitat.
Amphibians have been dubbed the aquatic “canary of the coal mine” because they reveal the subtle declines in environmental health.
There are specific habitat needs of different species of amphibians and reptiles, and you could help those species with specific habitats. But generally, you can
help herp habitat by improving habitat for wildlife in general.
Some of the steps that help most wildlife species, including herps, are:

1) Keep or establish natural vegetation along ponds, streams, wetlands, crop fields and wherever else possible to protect the land and provide food and cover for wildlife.
2) Large habitat areas are more valuable to herps than a series of small areas. Try to keep from “fragmenting” large areas.
3) Establish well-vegetated corridors to connect patches of habitat, so herps can travel from one to another with protection.
4) Protect and restore wetlands, including seasonal wetlands, some of the most important habitat to amphibians.
5) Establish buffer zones with native vegetation around wetlands.
6) Leave logs, snags, and other woody debris.
7) Leave protective vegetation 50-75 feet wide along streams, to guard against
streambank erosion and to provide cover for many herps.
8) Keep cattle out of streams.
9) Manage forestland for a diversity of plant habitat with understory.
10) Use selective spot spraying or wick application if herbicides are applied near waterways. Avoid them if you can.

Did you
Snakes can go for months
without eating. Many turtles
live for more than 50
years. And, some frogs can
survive being frozen for
long periods of time. The
world of herptiles--
amphibians and reptiles-- is
a fascinating one.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tree ID Hike

It was a beautiful breezy fall day, and those attending Sunday enjoyed the hike and learned quite a bit on how to identify trees using bark, twigs, and leaves. After the hike, everyone had cider and cookies and chatted about what they had learned. Thank you to all who came!

The Why and the How of Conservation

by Van Slack, district technician

Have you ever had the experience of knowing why you should do something but not knowing how? Or conversely, knowing how to do something but not knowing why you should. Conservation Districts are where the why and how of conservation come together. 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. Education and technical assistance are the backbone of most soil and water conservation districts. Education is the why and technical assistance is the how.

It seems like as a small child develops, the first word they learn after mamma and dada is WHY! And I think maybe the very next word might be HOW. Why daddy, or how did you do that mama, are a couple of phrases you might be familiar with. Conservation can be a lot like that. As a land owner or land user you might ask similar questions. Why should I install that access road? How do you install a spring development for livestock water? Why should I use no-till? How do I put a siphon system into a pond so I can water my livestock?

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are where the why and the how meet. Conservation districts are a valuable resource within your local communities. Every county in the State of Ohio has one. And there are over 3,000 conservation districts nationwide. They provide educational opportunities for school age children, youth, and adults. They work one on one with landowners and with land users to solve natural resource issues by providing technical assistance. They work with local governmental agencies to solve resource concerns on a larger scale. Conservation districts partner with other agencies such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the OSU Extension to meet the natural resource needs of local communities and individuals.

Each soil and water conservation district is governed by a locally elected five member board of supervisors. This local leadership allows programs to be customized to fit the needs and concerns of each individual county. Some districts have equipment rental programs that include no-till drills, planters, and brillion seeders. A few have lime spreaders, mulching equipment and sprayers. Other services offered by conservation districts are tree seedling sales, fish sales, and wildlife related seed and plant sales. Just contact your local district to see what it has to offer.

If you own land or know of somebody who does and they have a question related to natural resources and conservation, contact your local soil and water conservation district. A list of district contacts can be found on the web HERE

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bring birds to your backyard

Wherever you live, you can bring comfort to wildlife and joy to your own life by offering a bit of habitat to nature’s creatures.
With the right plants for food and shelter, you can attract spring and fall migrating birds as well as those that might stay year round.
Add water and, if you happen to live on an acreage where you have ample space, you can do wonders for birds, butterflies and your own disposition.

Natural Food or Feeders.
Fruits, nuts, and seeds from trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses will attract a variety of birds. Look to plant those that offer the food the bird species likes that
you want in your yard. The same is true for feeding stations; the location, feeder style and food type will determine the birds that visit.
To attract the greatest variety of birds, use a station with a variety of feeder types, such as gravity-fed cylinder tubes, hopper boxes, platforms and suet feeders. Position them at different levels. Offer millet for ground feeders; black oil sunflower and thistle for finches, and peanut and suet for woodpeckers.
Locate the station feeders next to natural cover such as evergreen shrubs or trees. The feeders should be clean with fresh food or seed.

Open Water, Birdbaths.
Most birds need open water for bathing, drinking and controlling their temperatures. A small backyard pond or a birdbath will do the job. The sound of flowing water attracts birds, so a fountain or small waterfall will increase your chances to bring birds to your back yard.\

Cover, natural and manmade.
The same trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses that offer food to your backyard birds can offer them cover. The birds use that cover for escape, roosting, nesting and rearing their young.
Another option is to build or purchase birdhouses designed for
specific species of birds, with the opening size critical.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Cares...and why should we?

Creepy. Slimy. Ugly. Dangerous.

Only a few of the words that describe many people’s negative feeling towards snakes, lizards, toads and other reptiles and amphibians.
They just have a tough time getting people to think of them in a positive light. Even their collective name--herps-- comes
from a Greek term meaning “creeping things”.
But they have their good points. While all snakes are predators, most are harmless.
They’re beneficial to humans because they prey on rodents. As a matter of fact, snakes are the world's most effective natural control on rodent population.
These animals called herps-- salamanders, frogs, lizards, snakes and toads-- are part of the balance of nature you learned about in grade school. Their health is an indicator of the health of the environment.
Don't think of the lowly toad as an unwanted guest. If you invite a toad to dinner, it will eat the things you most want to get rid of- slugs and mosquitoes are
among its favorite meals. Toads eat insects and invertebrates.
Lizards are probably the most familiar of all reptiles. There are over 3500 different
types of lizards throughout the world, existing in all climates.
Lizards are as diverse as their dwellings. They are often misunderstood and feared because of a lack of knowledge and exposure.
The truth is, lizards, like so many other reptiles and amphibians, are beneficial to humans. In many countries, lizards are welcome houseguests, catching and eating many annoying insects. They walk the walls and ceilings and live their lives unharmed by understanding humans.
Some lizards could become non-existent because of a lack of understanding. Beaded lizards and Gila Monsters, the only two poisonous species, are often killed out of fear. They are unlikely to bite pets or people. When they do, it’s likely to be in self defense. Left alone, both lizards are docile creatures.
Many countries use the lizard in ceremonies. Some Indian tribes of North America used
lizard tails in a recipe for love potions. They are also eaten and their skin used for leather. In the tropics, the Green Iguana is killed for its flesh and eggs.

Did you
Most snakes can swallow prey
that is 3 times or more their
own body diameter-- and,
the defensive skin secretions of
toads do not cause warts. In
fact toads are completely harmless
to human skin-- but a
predator that gets a mouthful
can become extremely ill.

Focus on Fish with a farm pond

The water a farm pond offers to wildlife makes it an ideal centerpiece for a high quality fish and wildlife habitat area.
The pond’s location, design, surrounding plantings, and management all contribute to how successful it can be in meeting your expectations.
Get technical help. While you make the decisions, you don’t have to know everything about a farm pond and wildlife plantings yourself. The district holds a pond clinic each year in partnership with the OSU Extension and Noble SWCD. Check
with us for ideas, technical help, and possibly sources of financial help to build your pond.
Location, location, location.
Before you build, you’ll want to make sure the pond will hold water, that there’s enough runoff or springwater to fill it, that it will be deep enough, won’t fill
prematurely with sediment, etc.
The district can help with planning for a successful pond. Rules of thumb are to have about 20 acres of land that drain to the pond for each surface acre of
pond water. That land will produce cleaner pond water, longer pond life and higher fish populations if it’s forest, grassland or pasture rather than cropland.
Surround with plantings for erosion control and habitat.
Seeding grass or legumes around the pond is good for both erosion control and wildlife habitat.
Native grasses with forbs, or grass/legume mixes both work well for wildlife nesting and cover. Trees and shrubs can also be planted for escape and winter
cover and food. This surrounding buffer area is especially important
for wildlife habitat and pond life if the pond is built within crop fields. However, do not plant trees on or near the dam, as their roots can cause leaks in the pond.
If the pond is built in a pasture, it should be fenced. Livestock can trample and ruin pond banks, muddy the water and destroy fish spawning nests.
Run a pipe from the pond to a tank below for their water.

Stocking fish.
The pond could be stocked with fish you might want to catch. Consider bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish.

Did you

Bass tend to
school in groups of similar
size fish. If you catch one
bass, you're likely to catch
more nearby. Bass lie in wait
behind cover and ambush
their intended prey; find
them near rocks, wood,
weeds, submerged cover,
deep water, etc.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The Tree ID walk which was cancelled due to rain has been rescheduled for Sunday, October 16th from 12-2PM. We'll have hot drinks and donuts afterwards in the pavillion.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Nematodes

Acrobeles ciliatus

Vital Statistics:Length: 0.3-1.5 mm (a line of 20 would stretch across a postage stamp). Lifespan: Unknown.
Total Nematode Population: up to 30 million per square meter (5,000 in one teaspoon of soil).

Natural History:Go anywhere in the soil and you're likely to bump into a roundworm, or nematode at work. They're the most common multi-cellular animals in soil. And they live all over the world. Roundworms also live as parasites in animals, including people. They aren't related to earthworms at all. Roundworms belong to a very exclusive group of animals—they're the only members!
Don't be fooled by their plain looks. Nematodes feed at every level of the soil food chain. This species hunts for bacteria. It swallows them whole and digests them in its gut. Other kinds of soil roundworms eat dead organic matter. Some prey on protozoa and other nematodes. Still others eat fungus. Roundworms that eat and live in plant roots can badly damage farm crops and flowers.
Nematodes wriggle their way through the thin film of water between soil particles. Some kinds of fungus actually trap nematodes in little nooses. Once the nematode is stuck, the fungus digests it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Root Fungus


Vital Statistics:
Size:Hyphae (threads) less than 0.01 mm in diameter, extend for many meters (would reach across your bedroom).
Total Fungus Population:up to 20,000 km of hyphae (threads) per square meter (enough to stretch from Seattle to Miami five times).

Natural History:
Unlike plants, fungi have no chloroplasts. They can't make their own food like plants do. Many soil fungi are decomposers. They get energy from the organic matter they eat. But this food supply isn't always reliable.

A very special group of soil fungi have found a guaranteed food supply. They actually grow into the cells of plant roots. There they use sugars that the plant makes. This sounds like it would harm the plant. But the plant also benefits. The fungus extends its hyphae out into the soil beyond the plant's roots. This brings plants extra water and nutrient minerals. The fungus also protects the root from grazing nematodes and other, harmful fungi. In return, plants feed the fungi. This give and take is a true symbiosis. It helps both partners. It's so important to plants that just about every plant in the world has some of these little fungi growing in or around its roots.

In grasslands, the hyphae even connect different kinds of plants. This allows plants to trade the minerals they need to grow. Above ground, a meadow may look like separate plants. Underground, they all belong to a single web of living things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Paul Bunyan Show is coming up

Paul Bunyan Show
When: October 7, 2011 - October 9, 2011
Where: Guernsey County Fairgroungs - Cambridge Ohio

Forestry equipment sales and demonstrations, educational sessions geared towards trade and general public. Lumberjack competitions and entertainment, log loader competition, Great Portable Sawmill Shootout. Great food and a good time for all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Landowner Assistance Program planned for October 13th.

Rural landowners are often not aware of the many agencies in place to assist them with the various aspects of rural land ownership. On the evening of Thursday, October 13, several local agency offices will combine their knowledge and resources to present a workshop on Landowner Assistance. The meeting will be held at the Guernsey SWCD conference room at 9711 East Pike, Cambridge. It will begin at 6PM, and will last approximately 2 hours.

Debbie Redman, USDA/Farm Service Agency County Exec. Director will explain how hay and vegetable crop insurance works, and how it enables producers to be eligible for disaster programs offered. She will also talk about farm storage facility loans which are available for hay and grains, and cover various conservation programs which are offered in Guernsey county.

Kim Ray, USDA/Natural Resources District Conservationist, will cover the different types of EQIP contracts available, including those for pastureland and forestry. She will explain some of the practices available within these programs that can address the natural resource concerns on your property. She will also cover the WHIP program, which can assist in enhancing wildlife habitat.

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey & Noble Counties will give an overview of the educational programming, teaching opportunities, and the many research programs his office offers the community. Many landowners are not aware of the wealth of scientifically based information available for their use which the university provides.

Joe Lehman & Jim Mizik, Soil & Water Conservation District Technicians will explain what their respective districts do to address issues that face rural landowners. Besides assisting the USDA-NRCS staff in putting their programs “on the land”, SWCDs also provide technical advice and educational opportunities on a variety of topics, including drainage, wildlife habitat, wildlife damage control, forestry management, and water supply development.

James Cline, Farm Credit Services Loan Officer will speak on the programs and services that his organization can offer landowners. He will explain some of the lending opportunities that are offered, such as farm and rural real estate loans, as well as operating, equipment, and construction loans.

There is no cost for this program, but please pre-register by calling 740-489-5300 or 740-432-5624 so that adequate materials are prepared.

Night Hike scheduled for November 3rd

(Click on photo to enlarge and print.)Come to a NIGHT HIKE at Moore Memorial Woods on Thursday, November 3rd from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. The Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District will be hosting a night of fun and learning for children from six to sixteen. There will be pumpkin decorating, making turkey calls, and wildlife specialist Joe Lehman will lead a hike through the gathering dusk, explaining to the kids what is happening in the woods as the animals prepare for the long winter ahead. The evening will conclude with a weenie roast, marshmallows, and hot chocolate.

Space is limited to the first 30 kids. Please bring an adult with you, as supervision is required, and they will have just as much fun as you will! There is no charge for this event, but you do need to register by October 31st to attend. Stop by the office at 9711 East Pike during business hours M-F, or call the district at 432-5624. You will be provided with directions to the woods (east of Old Washington) when you register, or click on the page above to find the woods.

Soil Inhabitants: Beetle Mites

Oppia sp.

Vital Statistics:Length: 0.2 - 0.3 mm (could stand on the tip of your ball-point pen).
Lifespan: 6-12 months
Total Mite Population: up to 600,000 per square meter (6 in one teaspoon of soil).

Natural History:
In spite of their name, the round little beetle mites aren't insects at all. They are actually cousins of the spiders and ticks. Beetle mites are just one group of thousands of kinds of mites that live in the soil. Like most soil organisms living in a world of darkness, beetle mites have no eyes.
Mites are one of the first links in the chain of decomposers that break down organic matter into humus. Armies of mites swarm through leaf litter and the air spaces between soil grains. Each kind looks for its favorite food. Beetle mites eat nothing but fungus. They turn the fungus into pellets. Bacterial colonies coat the pellets and feed on them. The bacteria make plant nutrients from the pellets. The leftovers become part of the soil.
Beetle mites also carry fungi and bacteria with them, helping to spread these organisms through the soil. When the die, their bodies join the chain, adding minerals back to the soil.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Many thanks to our victims, er....volunteers!

Cambridge city mayor Tom Orr
Meadowbrook teacher Matt Wentworth
Meadowbrook teacher Laura Kackley
Buckeye Trail teacher Ginny Barker
Guernsey county commissioner Steve Douglass

Thank you to all the volunteers that made the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District's "Pie in the Eye" for conservation a success! Our thanks to all of you who bought a chance to throw a cream pie at your favorites!
Thank you to Riesbecks, Cochran's Market, T&J Market, and Food Distributors for donations of whipped topping!
The money raised goes to support our summer Conservation Daycamp, which is in its 26th year. Still only $5 for 2 days of fun and learning!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't forget the Pie throwing tomorrow at the Fair!

On Wednesday, September 14th at 5PM, you will have a chance to throw a cream pie at your favorite target! Be sure to stop by the SWCD booth behind the grandstand - only $1 per throw, with the proceeds to benefit our Concervation Day Camp. "Con Camp" has been held every year since 1985, teaching hundreds of Guernsey county youth over the years.

Soil Inhabitants: Amoebas

Amoeba proteus

Vital Statistics:Length:0.3 mm (40 would fit between the lines on your notebook paper).
Lifespan: Can survive long inactive periods in dry, sealed capsule.
Total Protozoa Population: up to 10 billion per square meter (5 million in one teaspoon of soil).

Natural History:Soil amoebas belong to a diverse group of one-celled animals called protozoa. They roam the film of water coating each soil particle. This water layer is so thin that an amoeba can still survive in even very dry soils.
An amoeba uses its blobby tentacles both to move and to feed. It doesn't waste any time chewing its food. Its tentacles surround a food item and bring it inside its body. A single amoeba can eat thousands of bacteria each day. Amoebas eat so many bacteria that they compete with nematodes for food. Soils with lots of protozoa have fewer nematodes.
Amoebas belong to the soil recycling crew. They can't use all of the nutrients in the bacteria they eat. So a lot of the nutrients go back into the soil. Plants use these nutrients to grow.
Amoebas and other protozoa must breath oxygen. They mostly live in the top layer of soils that mix well with the air.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Bacteria

Vital Statistics:Length: 0.001 - 0.005 mm (over 1,000 could fit across the head of a pin).
Lifespan: Divides into two new bacteria as often as every 20 minutes.
Total Bacterial Population: Up to 1,000 trillion per square meter (5 billion in one teaspoon of soil).

Description & Natural History:All life in the soil depends on its smallest residents. Single-celled bacteria are the oldest living things. And they power the entire ecosystem. They may have boring shapes, but they do ore different biochemical jobs than any other kind of organism.
Thousands of species of bacteria fill the soil. Most are decomposers. They recycle the energy stored in dead organic matter back into plant food. Other bacteria make nutrients with the help of host plants. For example, bacteria living in the roots of plants like peas and clover turn nitrogen from the air into fertilizer. A few bacteria can get energy from minerals instead of organic matter. Some of these can even feed on chemical pollution.
Bacterial colonies make slime that helps them stick to soil particles. The slime also sticks soil particles to each other. These goopy clumps help hold water in the soil. Plant roots can easily grow through the spaces between these clumps.
The familiar, earthy odor of rich, damp soil is the smell of bacteria at work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Night crawler

Lumbricus terrestris

Vital Statistics:
Length: 9-30 cm (would fit in your hand).
Lifespan: 3-6 years
Total Earthworm Population: up to 300 per square meter (several in each shovel of soil).

Natural History:Our largest and most common species of earthworm is not native to North America. Night crawlers stowed away with European settlers bringing their favorite plants. Since then they've spread everywhere people have gone.
Earthworms have no teeth. That doesn't stop them from eating just about any dead organic matter they come across. They also swallow soil as they burrow. The microscopic animals in each bite of soil become worm food, too. An earthworm's gut is a great place for bacteria to grow. Earthworm castings add more bacteria back to the soil than the worm eats. More bacteria mean healthier soil. Together, all the worms in an area the size of a football field can eat about four tons of earth a year! All this adds to the humus in the soil.
It's a myth that earthworms come to the surface when it rains because they are drowning. Some scientists think that this behavior helps worms migrate to new territory or to find a mate. But no one knows for sure why they do it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Eastern mole

Scalopus aquaticus

Vital Statistics:Size: 13-20 cm long, including tail (would fit inside a can of peas).
Lifespan: 3 years
Population: Several per acre.

Natural History:Moles use their webbed feet and strong shoulder muscles to literally swim through the soil. Unlike their cousins the shrews, moles are almost blind. They use their sense of smell and the ability to feel vibrations to find food and navigate.
Gardeners blame moles for ruining plants. But they don't actually eat plant roots or bulbs. Instead, they're hungry for earthworms and insect larvae. Moles help control populations of harmful insects. Digging is hard work. So an active mole must eat about half its entire body weight each day.
Moles dig their tunnels in open pastures, meadows, and woodlands. They like moist, sandy loam soil the best. A mole looking for food will tunnel just under the surface. Its digging helps loosen the soil and allows air in. Moles also dig deeper permanent tunnels and burrows. They use these for sleeping, raising young, and traveling to food sources.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Take a pie in the eye for conservation

Cambridge Mayor Tom Orr

Guernsey County Commissioner Steve Douglass

Meadowbrook teacher Laura Kackley

Meadowbrook FFA teacher Matt Wenworth

Buckeye Trail FFA teacher Ginny Barker

This year at the Guernsey county fair an old fashioned pie throwing contest will take place. The Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District is sponsoring the contest, with proceeds slated for conservation education. People from around the community have volunteered to "take a pie in the eye." Now is your chance to help too. Whether it’s a vendetta you have for them or just for fun, come wing a pie at our contestants. The contest will be held on Wednesday evening during the fair at the Guernsey Soil and Water booth, located behind the grandstand. One chance to throw is only a dollar. Where else can you get this type of satisfaction for a buck?!? The event runs from 5:00 to 6:30 with different targets every 15 minutes, so check the above line up to select your victim.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What is your soil IQ?

1. Name some organisms that live in the soil?
2. Guess: How many tons of organic matter can an earthworm digest in one year?
3. What is organic matter?
4. How many years does it take to form one inch of topsoil?
5. What is the most productive soil layer?
6. What are the two causes of soil erosion?
7. Each distinctive layer in soil is called what
8. True or False: Soil texture is the percentage of sand, silt, and clay.
9. True or False: No-till is a farming practice that leaves the soil
undisturbed prior to planting.
10. What is soil called that is deposited by wind or water?

Click to enlarge answer key

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has collected and studied soil samples, minerals, and other Earth material for criminal investigations since 1935 and thousands of cases involving Earth materials are studied in the United States each year. Throughout the world soil is usually collected at crime scenes, is routinely studied at crime labs, and is often used as physical evidence during crime trials.
Following are some real-life stories of crimes that were solved using Earth materials, thorough investigative work, and dedicated, professional scientists who studied soils and geology to become knowledgeable in their field. So you see, there really is more to soil than what's under foot!

A crime had been committed in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near Denver, Colorado. One month later a burning vehicle was found at a dump in New Jersey (on the East Coast of the United States). Soil samples were taken from the fender of the burning car and were studied by Forensic Geologists. Analyses of the soil samples showed there were four layers of soil that had built up under the burning car's fender. The outer, most recently deposited layer of soil was from the New Jersey dumpsite. The three inner layers of soil contained minerals from the Rocky Mountain Front area near Denver, Colorado

Forensic geologists obtained 360 soil samples from the Rocky Mountain Front area to compare them with those found under the fender of the burning car in New Jersey. Soil samples were also taken from the victims ranch. One of the three inner layers of soil under the suspect's car's fender matched the soil sample Forensic Geologists obtained at the crime scene. The second inner layer of soil under the suspect's car fender matched the soil sample Forensic Geologists obtained at the victim's ranch. The first inner layer of soil did not match any of the 360 soil samples taken by the Forensic Geologists but was determined to have originated from the Denver area. The suspect was convicted and jailed based upon the results using soil sample comparisons.

In the case of stolen potatoes on the east coast of the United States, a suspect who possessed the questionable potatoes was convicted of stealing them once analysis of the soil on the potatoes determined that the superphosphate in the soil that was clinging to the potatoes matched the soil from the farm where the potatoes were grown. The farm's soil contained a significant build up of phosphate because the farm was heavily fertilized with nitrogen, potash, and phosphate (phosphate doesn't leach out of the soil as readily as potash and nitrogen).

In another case, tobacco was reported stolen from a farm. Soil samples were taken from the farm where the tobacco had been stolen, and samples were also taken from the leaves of the stolen tobacco and from the suspect's farm. Soil comparison studies indicated that the soil on the stolen tobacco leaves did not match the soil samples taken from the suspect's farm, but matched soil samples taken from the farm where the tobacco was reported stolen. The suspect was arrested based upon the resulting soil sample comparisons.

Microscopic fossils called diatoms were once very prominent on Earth, and collectively deposited to form a sedimentary rock called diatomaceous earth. Some manufaturers use diatomaceous earth for insulating safes, that are used to store valuables. Burglary crimes have been solved by examining white specks from suspects' hair and clothing to determine that the specks were actually diatoms that came from broken safes at crime scenes, and not dandruff as the suspects had claimed.

If you would like to learn more about the interesting and exciting world of soil, check with your local library or on the World Wide Web. You just might learn something you'd never thought about before!

Information contained in"Secrets Hidden in Soil" was derived from "Forensic Geology" by R. Murray and J. Tedrow, Rutgers University Press, 1975. ISBN 0-8135-0794-4. Also, special thanks to Dr. Richard Arnold, USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service/Soil Survey Division, Washington, D.C.

Monday, August 15, 2011

History of SWCD formation

Fall 1939:
Rain comes, finally bringing an end to the drought that spawned the Dust Bowl. During the next few years, with the coming of World War II, the country is pulled out of the Depression and the Plains once again become golden with wheat.

Ohio's attempt to secure enactment of the soil conservation district law in 1939 failed because of reluctant support of agricultural leadership in the state.

World conflicts were bringing our nation closer to war each passing month and intense pressures were developing on farmers to increase food production on the land they managed. The 94th General Assembly retained soil conservation on its agenda.

May 16: House Bill 646, which became the Ohio Soil Conservation District Enabling Act when it was signed by Governor John W. Bricker on June 5, 1941.

October 22: Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District was organized and was the 8th district to form in the state of Ohio.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Check trees for insect invaders

It's perfectly normal for trees to have a few insects munching on their leaves or burrowing into their bark. Usually they coexist naturally as part of the same ecosystem. Unfortunately, when insects are introduced into new areas, they don't always have natural predators or environmental conditions to keep populations balanced. That's why it's important to avoid bringing non-native tree pests into Ohio and to act quickly to control them if they're found.

To protect your woodlands and ornamental trees, watch for unusual insect infestations. Over the last few years, Ohio has seen increasing damage from non-native pests, including the following:

Gypsy Moth The gypsy moth caterpillar eats leaves of many species of trees and shrubs, but its favorite is oak. After a couple years of defoliation, even a healthy tree can be killed. Populations are already established in 43 Ohio counties.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture uses aerial spraying to suppress the pest in some wooded areas and also treats isolated populations in areas where the pest isn't yet established.

Emerald Ash Borer Most infestations have been traced to ash firewood or trees brought to Ohio from Michigan. Since Emerald Ash Borer infestations are fatal, infested trees must be destroyed to keep the pest from spreading. Although the EAB has not yet been found in Guernsey County, the ODA has recently quarantined the entire state of Ohio. We recommend that residents avoid movement of firewood and other wood products into and from the county to help slow the spread of this insect pest.

Beech Bark Disease This disease is caused by both beech scale insects and fungi that infect wounds left by the feeding insects. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry is watching beech trees in northeast Ohio closely for this problem because the scale insects have been found in a few counties and the disease is killing many trees in Michigan. Individual trees can be saved with insecticide, but widespread treatment of wooded areas isn't financially feasible.

For more information on these and other pests causing concern in Ohio, contact and
or our local OSU extension office.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Golden rules for great food plots for wildlife

If you want to help wildlife through harsh winters, food plots can help. But there are a few key rules you should follow in planning and planting the plots to attract and aid your favorite wildlife species.
Food plots near escape cover.Food plots will tend to concentrate wildlife--both the species you want and the species you don’t. If you’re planting the plot so you can find a covey of quail or pheasants, you can bet that fox and other predators will also be looking in the prime feeding area for them. So escape cover needs to be close so that the food plot isn’t a cruel trap for your favorite species.
Several small food plots are better than one larger one.You’ll get more diversity of species with more locations, and the escape cover will be closer to feeding wildlife. But larger food plots may be needed if you have
heavy deer populations that wipe out the food supply before the winter is over. You want your food supply to be available to your favorite species all winter.
Guard against soil erosion.Steeply sloping soils plowed or disced for planting are exposed to water and wind, and will erode if precautions aren’t taken. See the Guernsey SWCD to be sure the land is protected against erosion. The District has a no till drill for rent that can be used to establish these food plots without plowing under existing sod.
Plant food to attract and support the wildlife species you want.Along with other recommendations, the SWCD office has information on the best foods to offer various wildlife species. The three common types of food plots are annual grain plots; green browse plots, and fallow
areas. Corn, grain sorghum and forage sorghum are favorite grain plots for pheasants and quail. Green browse plots with pure stands of high-protein legumes and grasses are used by quail, pheasants, turkeys, songbirds and
others. Winter wheat, rye, millets and buckwheat are favorites of migrating waterfowl. Fallow plots are disced or otherwise disturbed croplands that are tilled
but not planted, that encourage new annuals and weeds to grow that are essential to young quail, turkey and many songbirds.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome wildlife with enhanced habitat

All species of wildlife have the same basic need for food, water, and shelter, but it's impossible to create a habitat that will provide all those things for all species. That's why it's helpful to assess your resources and focus on a few species when you're trying to attract wildlife to your property.

Also consider the land uses surrounding your planned habitat area so you can choose compatible wildlife species. That way you'll have a better chance of attracting wildlife and less chance that the wildlife you attract will become a nuisance to you or neighboring landowners.

Something as simple as putting out a bird feeder or building a brush pile along the edge of a field can help attract wildlife, but you can make your property even more inviting by considering all the needs of a species throughout its life cycle. In the long term, providing food will only attract wildlife if the need for shelter is also being met. On the other hand, if food supplies are unreliable, wildlife won't thrive even if they have plenty of cover.

While it might be possible to create a prairie grassland habitat on land that was originally wetland or vise versa, the habitat is likely to be easier to create and maintain if you restore the site's historic vegetation. In some cases, however, the land uses over the years might have significantly changed a site's terrain and drainage patterns. Keep those changes in mind as you plan a habitat area.

Also consider how much time you can commit to the project. Besides the initial time required for installing nesting structures, building brush piles, or planting food plots or cover plants, the site may need ongoing maintenance in coming years. In general, native plant species require less ongoing maintenance than non-native plants do, but nonnative plants often work well for small sites such as backyard habitats that will be maintained as part of the yard.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trees that work

Picking the right trees for a windbreak is a little like hiring the right person for a specific job: you'll get the best performance by matching qualifications with the job requirements. First, look for tree species that can handle the growing conditions where you plan to plant them. Soil type is really key.

For instance, if you're planting in heavy clay soils, Baldcypress would grow better than White Pine. However, the White Pine would do better on sandy soils because it is more tolerant of droughty conditions.

Also consider whether you want the windbreak to just control wind erosion or provide wildlife habitat as well. Trees with narrow crowns such as the Arborvitae and Northern White Cedar can make a good single row windbreak if wind protection is the main objective and space is tight. Adding a second row with staggered spacing will make the windbreak more effective. And if you use a variety of species, you'll have a planting that's more resistant against insects and diseases.

To provide year-around wind protection, windbreaks need at least one row of evergreens. Many landowners also choose to include rows of small trees and shrubs in their windbreaks to add visual appeal or provide wildlife habitat. For instance, American Plum has showy white flowers in the spring and also produces fruit eaten by many different birds and animals. Red Osier Dogwood is another popular choice because of its distinctive red stems. It also provides food and cover for birds.

For the best wind protection, shorter trees and shrubs should be planted upwind of the taller evergreens so the wind will stair-step up over the windbreak rather than hitting a wall of trees. However, some people choose to put shrubs on the inside of their windbreaks so they can see them and the wildlife they attract.

For more information on choosing trees and designing a windbreak, refer to the Ohio Windbreak Guide, available online at

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tree ID Walk scheduled for September 23rd in AM

If you enjoyed the Wildflower Hike this spring, the tree ID walk is for you! We'll show you the easy ways to identify common woodland trees by using leaves, bark, and twigs.
If you are unsure of where Moore Woods is located, click on the page above for directions.
Come dressed for hiking in the woods - some of the trails are fairly steep. We guarantee you'll be hungry for lunch!

Monday, August 1, 2011

2011 Conservation Daycamp a Success!

40 students attended, along with 4 teenaged counselors. The kids broke up into groups of 10 each and were escorted through a series of classes throughout the day. Couselors were Katie Hodges, Emily Barnhouse, Elias Vaughn, and Hannah Vaughn. Our camp nurse was Sandy Mahaffy.

Below, naturalist Myron Dellinger talks to the students about some of the more unusual pollinators they may have never thought of; like bats, mammals, hummingbirds, and flies.

Tie-dyed T-shirts dry in the warm air. Cambridge Art Guild member Anna Hodges and her daughter Karen taught this class.

SWCD technician Van Slack taught a class on native bees and their major role in pollination.
Wildlife specialist Joe Lehman led the kids on a hike to discuss habitat issues.

Retired Meadowbrook science teacher Dee Carter gives hands on instruction on how plants reproduce. Here, the students are disecting flowers from her garden to see how pollen and eggs get together to form the seeds. In this way, they learn first hand how important insects are in the process of reproduction.

Here, Dee and the kids are playing a game "Fruit or Not" to help the students understand how much of their food comes from plants and their seeds.

On the second day of the camp, all the kids, counselors, and volunteers got a bus tour of 'The Wilds". After the tour and lunch, we all came back to the district conference room and naturalist Judy Levicoff "the Butterfly Lady" told the kids all about the Monarch butterfly - the only butterfly that migrates. She had caterpillars and chrysalis for the kids to hold and examine, along with lots of pictures to show the process of metamorphosis.