Friday, March 29, 2013

Radioactive Drilling Waste Proposal In Budget Could Be Dumped Into Broader Landfill Overhaul

The Kasich administration's plan to regulate radioactive drilling waste will likely be stripped from the budget and handled as part of a more comprehensive revision of the state's landfill laws due this fall, a key House Republican said Thursday.  Both environmentalists and the oil and gas industry have opposed a proposal in the executive budget (HB 59) that would require horizontal well operators to test drilling waste for radioactivity and create new requirements for how it could be handled and disposed.

Rep. Dave Hall, ( http://www.ohiohouse.gov/david-hall ) chairman of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and a member of the House Finance: Agriculture & Development Subcommittee, said that the technically complex issue should be handled in separate legislation.  "It looked like it just needed a little more work and I expect that will probably end up being a bill itself," he said in an interview. Rep. Hall said the drilling waste issue will likely become more pressing in the future as producers start to recycle more fracking fluid because it picks up more radiation each time it comes into contact with naturally occurring radium beneath the surface.  Chairman Hall said the issue of radioactive drilling waste would more appropriately addressed in the context of a much broader review of landfills that he is anticipating will come before the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee after summer recess.

While many Finance Committee members studying the issue believe the radioactivity issue should be separated from the budget bill, no final decision has yet been made, he said. "It's up to what leadership wants to do on that, but I think it does need some work."  The administration has said radioactive drilling waste is already being dumped in solid waste landfills and the proposal would ensure it was handled appropriately. In addition, the budget would allow the industry to reuse the material by diluting it with inert substances that could then be used for other purposes, like covering landfills.

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association ( http://ooga.org/ )  has said the administration's proposal for dealing with naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM) is unnecessary.  Testifying before the Agriculture & Development Subcommittee earlier this month, OOGA Treasurer Jim Aslanides cited the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' own testimony that well sites in the Utica Shale formation "indicate very low levels of NORM and TENORM."  "There is no problem. This is the classic regulatory solution looking for a problem to solve," he said.  Mr. Aslanides, a former lawmaker, also expressed concern that the proposal, which would grant the Ohio Department of Health new rulemaking authority, would muddy the current regulatory structure where ODNR has "sole and exclusive" jurisdiction over oil and gas operations. "That concept should not be compromised without a significant showing of compelling need. There is none here."

The Ohio Environmental Council ( http://www.theoec.org/ ) takes the opposite view and has criticized the proposed regulations as too lax to adequately prevent dangerous radiation from entering the water supply as large-scale drilling of Ohio's shale formations ramps up. OEC Director of Legal Affairs Trent Dougherty said the amount of TENORM that would be allowed to be dumped in landfills was too dangerous to public health and the environment.  "If the legislature allows the provisions to remain, Ohio will be opening the floodgates for massive volumes of radioactive material to legally enter into Ohio's landfills," he said. "Ohio's waste water treatment plants will very likely begin treating radioactive waste water produced from radioactive leachate at landfills, putting an untold number of Ohioans at risk."  Ohio's solid waste landfills were not designed to safely contain TENORM, he said, noting that some other states, like Washington and Utah, require special facilities to handle low-level radioactive waste.

Water Quality Rules Proposed

Experts have been talking for years now about impending and increasing regulation on agricultural nutrients in an effort to address the notorious toxic algal blooms plaguing the state’s water. As of March 7, those regulations have been proposed for Ohio.  Read rest of article here:


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What is a Conservation District?


Conservation districts were born out of the 1930s Dust Bowl to address America’s devastating soil erosion. At that time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared soil and water conservation a national policy priority, leading to the creation of conservation districts.
Conservation districts are local units of government established under state law to carry out natural resource stewardship programs at the local level. Conservation districts have been involved in delivering voluntary, locally‐led conservation across America for more than 70 years. They exist in nearly every county and community in the nation, where they work with landowners, farmers, ranchers and non-industrial private forestland owners to help them manage and protect natural resources on private land.

Conservation Districts at a Glance 
  • Promote voluntary, incentive-based and locally-led solutions to natural resource concerns 
  • Provide technical assistance to landowners to address natural resource concerns 
  • Help farmers, ranchers and non-industrial, private forestland owners implement best management practices to protect soil health, water quality and quantity, air quality and wildlife habitat 
  • Assist landowners in their efforts to secure financial assistance to implement conservation practices 
  • Support a strong agriculture base and believe conservation practices should be economically-viable in order to encourage maximum participation by agriculture operations 
  • Facilitate wetlands conservation and restoration to purify water and provide habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife 
  • Provide support to farmers and ranchers in complying with federal and state regulatory requirements 
  • Assist local communities in managing stormwater, reducing runoff and keeping sediment out of streams and lakes 
  • Work with communities and homeowners to plant trees and other vegetation to hold soil in place, clean the air, provide cover for wildlife and beautify neighborhoods 
  • Educate communities and schools about the value of natural resources and encourage conservation efforts
Conservation districts’ work results in clean air, clean water, healthy habitat and productive soils across the nation.



Monday, March 25, 2013

New Pest Found in Hocking Hills State Park

The discovery of hemlock woolly adelgids in about 50 trees within 1 acre of Hocking Hills State Park is the start of a big problem for state and local tourism officials, who say they knew the pest’s arrival there was merely a matter of time.   Read rest of story here:
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/03/21/new-pest-found-in-Hocking-Hills.html

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chronic Wasting Disease Not Detected In Ohio Deer


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced today that testing of Ohio’s deer herd found no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD).
CWD is a degenerative brain disease that affects elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer.

According to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, state and federal agriculture and wildlife officials collected 519 samples in 2012. For the 11th consecutive year, all samples were negative for CWD.
Since CWD was first discovered in the late 1960s in the western United States, there has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.

Since 2002, the ODNR Division of Wildlife, in conjunction with the ODA Division of Animal Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife and Veterinary Services, has conducted surveillance throughout the state for CWD.

While CWD has never been found in Ohio’s deer herd, it had been diagnosed in wild and captive deer, moose, or elk in 22 states and two Canadian provinces. Since CWD was discovered in the western United States in the late 1960s, there has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife continues to carefully monitor the health of Ohio’s wild deer herd throughout the year. Visit ohioagriculture.gov or wildohio.com for the latest information on CWD or the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance at cwd-info.org. All CWD testing is performed at the ODA Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ODNR Seeks Nominations of Farm Families who Excel in Conservation


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will acknowledge Ohio farm families who are
leaders in the areas of conservation for the 2013 Conservation Farm Family Awards. The awards
program is sponsored by the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources, Ohio Farmer Magazine
and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

The Conservation Farm Family Award program has recognized Ohio farm families since 1984 for
their efforts in managing natural and human resources while meeting both production and
conservation goals. Individual farmers, partnerships or family farm corporations are eligible for
nomination, provided a substantial portion of their income is derived from farming. The judging is
based on the nominee's use of new and traditional conservation techniques, comprehensive
management, individual initiative in applying conservation measures and the nominee’s willingness to
share conservation information, experiences and philosophy with others.

Five area finalists will be selected from across the state, and these finalists will be recognized at the
annual Farm Science Review in September. They will also receive a $400 award, courtesy of the
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and be featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer Magazine.
Nomination forms can be obtained from local county soil and water conservation districts or by visiting
the division’s website. The forms must be returned by May 1 to Ohio Farmer Magazine, 117 W. Main St., Suite 202, Lancaster, Ohio 43130.

Food and agriculture are Ohio’s largest industries and the largest land use in the state. More than 60
percent of Ohio's land is used for crop production and pasture. Farming has a large impact on the
state's land, water, woodland and wildlife resources. It is important to maintain a balance between
agriculture’s important contribution to Ohio’s economy and the environment through conservation and
wise resource management.

For more information, contact:
Blaine Gerdes, ODNR Soil and Water Resources  614-265-6938
Matt Eiselstein, ODNR Office of Communications  614-265-6860

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How tall is that tree going to grow?


As spring planting begins to enter your mind, new trees may be part of your landscape plan.  Winter ice and summer thunderstorms show the effect trees can have on the flow of your electric service, which is why it’s important to think about more than just the tree.  So while you make plans for what threes will enhance the look of your property, make sure you LOOK UP to see how those trees will affect the overhead utility lines.

Decorative trees generally don’t grow extremely tall, such as a Dogwood that reaches a mature height of about 20 feet.  But those big hardwood favorites that bathe a yard in shade during the hot summer months can get much bigger.  Maple trees will grow to between 60 and 80 feet tall when mature; oak trees can reach 75 to 80 feet; and the might sycamore can reach upwards of 115 feet when fully grown.

Don't let this happen to your shade trees - think before you plant!
A good rule of thumb to consider is to plant trees at least as far away from utility lines as the tree is expected to grow. When it comes to trees your power company needs your help in maintaining a constant flow of power for you and your neighbors.  Please plant responsibly.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Salamander Adventure!

Belmont SWCD Wildlife/Forstry specialist Liza Butler, landowner Rosemary
Campbell, and Joe Lehman, Guernsey SWCD Wildlife/Forestry specialist.
On Monday evening during a warm early spring rain, Joe and Liza led a group of adventurers to Rosemary's farm, where they found spotted salamanders, newts, wood frogs, and spring peepers (frogs), all moving from the place of winter hibernation to vernal pools in the woods of Rosemary's property.  In the vernal pools, they will mate, lay egg masses, and in so doing, reproduce the next generation of amphibians. 
Spotted salamanders are an indicator of good water quality, so finding them on your property is a welcome sign that water quality is good in your little corner of the Wills Creek watershed! 
2 spring peepers and a wood frog
More spotted salamanders

Some suggestions for Groundwater Awareness Week - March 10th-16th

  • Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well, and maintain a "clean" zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels and livestock operations.

  • Maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.

  • Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.

  • Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, and annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.

  • Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Celebrate Agriculture Week!


    This week, celebrating agriculture in our county, state, and country; helps remind us of our personal responsibility to be good stewards of the soil that produces the food we eat.  Assuring food for the future is one of the most basic issues any society faces, and is quite complex. In today's world, and for tomorrow's needs, an ample supply of food requires productive soils and ample water supplies, maintained in a clean and healthy condition by people who practice effective stewardship.

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    Garlic-mustard, not a deli condiment


    April will soon be here, bringing the colors and fragrance of spring flowers, but also the unwelcome annual bloom of garlic mustard.  While its name may sound like a spicy condiment, garlic mustard is actually one of Ohio's worst invasive weeds.
    Native to Europe and Asia, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was introduced into New York in the 1860s and spread rapidly.  It is now abundant in the northeastern and central U.S., including Ohio.  It tends to move in initially along rivers, roads and trails and then spread out from there.  The seeds may be carried in bits of mud on people's shoes, as well as by floodwaters and roadway mowing equipment.
    Garlic mustard grows in a wide range of habitats but especially thrives in moist, shady woodlands, where it crowds out native wildflowers.  Producing up to 800 seeds per plant, yielding as many as 1800 seedlings per square foot of ground, it quickly forms dense patches.  Once it arrives, a diverse forest understory can quickly become a solid stand of garlic mustard.  It has few natural enemies in North America; even the deer won't eat it.   Garlic mustard also contains chemicals that suppress the fungal partners (called mycorrhizae) that most plants—but not garlic mustard—depend on to help them absorb water and minerals from the soil.  These chemicals even suppress everyone’s favorite spring mushroom, Morels.
    Garlic mustard is a biennial.  It spends its first year as a low-growing rosette of yellowish-green, wrinkly-veiny leaves.  The following spring, the stems rapidly lengthen and produce clusters of small, white, cross-shaped flowers.  The flower clusters are initially flat-topped but become elongate as the shoot continues to grow.  The flowers develop into narrowly cylindrical green fruits, which eventually turn brown and release their seeds, after which the plant dies.  Garlic mustard is easily distinguished by its kidney-shaped to triangular, prominently veiny leaves with a garlicky odor when crushed.
    It is important to watch for garlic mustard and remove it as soon as it colonizes a site.  Small patches can easily be pulled up by hand, and a weed-whip is helpful with larger infestations.  However, this treatment must be repeated annually because the seeds may remain viable in the soil for five to ten years.  Plants should ideally be pulled up or cut at ground level before or shortly after they start flowering.  If the fruits have already started to form, then either the pulled plants should be bagged and removed or the fruits should be removed from each plant as it is pulled up.  Fruits that are left attached to the plant sometimes continue development and release seeds even though the root is no longer in the ground.  Larger populations may require the assistance of chemical herbicides.
    More information about the control of garlic mustard and other species can be found at www.appalachianohioweeds.org  Additional questions can be answered by contacting Eric Boyda at appalachianohioweeds@gmail.com or 740-534-6578. Photo Credit: Chris Evans.  

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    Earth Team Volunteers

    Ohio Earth Team volunteer Mallory McDevitt

    “Celebrating Earth Team Volunteers in Action National Volunteer Week” is April 14-20, 2013.  Earth Team volunteers are a valued member of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) team in Ohio! Earth Team volunteers are an integral part of the conservation partnership and each member takes pride in the fact that they maintain and improve our natural resources and environment on private lands. Last year, 270 volunteers contributed 4,702 hours of service throughout Ohio. Their volunteer contributions saved the government approximately $98,036.

    The NRCS theme for this year is “Celebrating Earth Team Volunteers in Action” and we have a lot to celebrate because there has been a lot of action. We have made good progress this past year improving our land and water resources. Earth Team volunteers are very involved in our conservation projects and are a vital member of our conservation team! The work of Earth Team volunteers allows us to stretch available resources and helps put additional conservation practices on the ground. Their assistance improves our customer service and the environment for all of us.   This program also aids SWCD activities and opportunities, and is a great way of drawing in new individuals to volunteer in help in the office or out in the field year around.  Anyone older than 14 can be an Earth Team Volunteer and as a result of programs such as this – more conservation efforts can be achieved.  Individuals interested in the Earth Team should contact their local NRCS office at 740-432-5621, and visit http://www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov/about/volunteers.html for more information.

    Invasive Species Week - March 3-8


    Start a Garden: Replace your invasive landscape plants with native alternatives. Unlike many
    non-native plants, native plants are hardy, less susceptible to pests and diseases and unlikely to
    escape and become invasive. The great variety of plants native to any region give gardeners
    options that work well in any type of garden design. Because maintaining native plants requires
    less work, they provide excellent choices for large commercial landscapes as well as residential
    gardens. Of course, native plants have other benefits. They help conserve water, reduce mowing
    costs, provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, protect the soil and save money on fertilizer and pesticides.

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    Small Farm Conference to be held in Zanesville


    Small farm owners who want to learn more about how to make their farms work better for them or expand their operations, or those new to agriculture who are looking for ways to utilize acreage, can attend workshops and presentations on these and more issues during a small farm conference March 23 in Zanesville, Ohio.
    The "Living Your Small Farm Dream" conference and trade show is designed to help participants learn more tips, techniques and methods for diversifying their opportunities into successful new enterprises and new markets as a way to improve economic growth and development on their farms, said Mark Mechling, an Ohio State University Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources.
    "It may be a person who is new to agriculture, or someone that may have acreage that they aren't using to the fullest, or even someone who has newly acquired land and may not know what to do with it," he said. "What we try to do with this conference is to give participants a smorgasbord of ideas that may interest them by offering a wide variety of sessions in which they can learn more in-depth about an issue, gain resources and learn how to finance a new venture."
    The conference, which will be held at the Muskingum County Convention and Welcome Center, 205 N. Fifth St. in Zanesville, kicks off with a keynote address on "Planning and Goal Setting," presented by Mike Hogan, an OSU Extension educator.
    OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
    Following Hogan's address, participants can choose from over 20 sessions from Ohio State and industry experts on issues related to small farms and a trade show for small farmers that will offer information that can benefit a variety of growers, Mechling said.
    The overall goal of the event and the mission of the OSU Small Farms Program is to provide a greater understanding of production practices, economics of land-use choices, assessment of personal and natural resources, marketing alternatives, and the identification of sources of assistance, he said.
    "Participants will gain awareness and knowledge of different enterprises that they can venture into and how to begin the process of becoming an entrepreneur by exploring some of the different ideas that are out there," Mechling said. "Participants will learn some of the basic information needed to get started and leave the conference with the knowledge of some of the resources of how to start a new venture and what other help or sources are available."
    Some of the topics to be addressed include:
    Maple syrup
    Sheep production
    Goat health and production
    Forages
    Livestock nutrition
    Direct marketing of meat
    Social media
    Christmas trees
    Legal issues for small farms
    Soil basics
    Brambles
    High tunnels
    Beekeeping
    Vegetables
    Financing/loans
    Tax issues
    The conference is an outgrowth of the Ohio New and Small Farm College, an eight-week program created by OSU Extension that offers an introduction to the business of small farming for those who are new to the industry. The program offers information on budgeting, business planning and how to develop a farm structure, among other issues.
    The conference is co-sponsored by OSU Extension's Small Farm Program, Farm Credit Mid-America, USDA's Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service and Rural Development.
    The conference starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 4:15 p.m. Registration is $50. The deadline to register is March 18. For more information or to register, go to http://muskingum.osu.edu or contact Mechling at 740-454-0144 or mechling.1@osu.edu.

    Invasive Species Week - March 3-8


    Visit a Garden, Park or Nature Center: Spend an afternoon at a botanic garden, park or natural
    area and familiarize yourself with the native flora and fauna in your area. See if a guided tour is
    offered.

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    DISTRICT LEADERS CELEBRATE 70 YEARS OF CONSERVATION


    The impact of grassroots (locally-led) conservation efforts was felt in Columbus last week as representatives from Guernsey SWCD and others across the state participated in the 70th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  

    The meeting, “70 Years of Conservation:  Events that Shaped Our Lives,” took place at the Columbus Renaissance Hotel and included more than 400 conservation leaders representing Ohio’s 88 SWCDs, state and federal agency partners, education and business leaders, and many more.  The event provided networking, training opportunities, and informational briefings covering a diverse array of conservation issues, programs and required training for the locally elected officials.  Awards were also provided to a diverse array of individuals including the State’s Conservation Cooperator of the Year, two Educator Awards, a SWCD Supervisor and Staff Member of the Year, and two individuals were inducted into the OFSWCD Supervisors Hall of Fame.  Participants also met with lawmakers during a legislative reception to share local conservation successes and challenges, as well as to discuss the state budget.

    Leaders heard Purdue University Department of History’s Dr. R. Douglas Hurt who shared the history of the Dust Bowl; Author Trudy E. Bell, who discussed the history of the Great 1913 flood and the potential for flooding issues in the future; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Regional Conservationist Richard Sims, who discussed federal issues including the Farm Bill and Sequestration issues;  and a panel discussion on state issues and challenges highlighted by state agency directors:   ODNR Director Jim Zehringer, ODA Director David Daniels, and OEPA Director Scott Nally.
    Chairman Bill Bertram, Vice-chair Ken Ford, and board members Myron Dellinger and Steve Douglass represented the Guernsey SWCD at the event. “Our time in Columbus was well-spent,” Bertram said. “This is an event to further prepare and equip Ohio’s 88 county soil and water conservation districts to deliver effective and efficient conservation programs and practices to Ohio’s citizens.”  All three district employees; Lisa Rodenfels, Program Administrator, Joe Lehman, Wildlife/Forestry Specialist, and Jason Tyrell, Technician attended the event as well.

    The conference provided district board members and employees an opportunity to interact with key decision-makers and to share or learn more about new programs that could strengthen and help shape conservation policy for private, working lands.
    “Our winter meeting is critical for supervisors, staff and partners,” said OFSWCD President Joe Glassmeyer. “Our conference engages Ohio’s conservation leaders and trains these individuals to get the job done right – delivering critical conservation programs and sharing practices that promote healthy soils, water quality, food development, energy production, and so much more.  We were pleased with the turnout and with the enthusiastic participation from our Districts.”

    Invasive Species Week -March 3-8


    Join in an Eradication Effort: Many parks and nature reserves manually remove invasive plants
    (and sometimes animals) with the help of local volunteers. These outings are a great way to get
    some exercise, enjoy time outdoors, meet new friends, and gain the satisfaction of knowing that
    you're helping to protect your natural heritage.

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Invasive Species Week - March 3-8


    Do Some Research: You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home. Get on the
    Internet and find out what’s invasive in your area, region or state. Identify which species might
    be growing in your backyard or neighborhood. Learn to recognize common invaders and keep an
    eye out for signs of new ones. Check trees, gardens, vacant lots, roadsides, yards, agricultural
    areas, wetlands, ponds, and lakes. Early detection is crucial to stopping the spread of invasive
    species! Visit www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/unitedstates to get started.

    Sunday, March 3, 2013

    Invasive Species week is March 3-8 - Take the Invasive Species Challenge


    One of the most effective ways to manage invasive species is for recreationalists such as boaters, fishermen, pet owners, and gardeners to not be unknowing vehicles of dispersion. Here are some easy everyday things you can do to meet the Invasive Species Challenge:

    • BOATERS – Clean, drain and dry your boat trailer and gear every time you leave a body of water.
    • PET OWNERS - If you have acquired an undesirable pet or fish species for your aquarium
    or water garden, it is important not to release these plants or animals into the environment. Follow these tips from Habitattitude (http://www.habitattitude.net/) for  aquarium hobbyists and backyard pond owners.
    • TRAVELERS, HIKERS, BIKERS, BIRDERS, AND CAMPERS - If you engage in terrestrial
    recreational activities like camping, hiking, biking or birding, take care not to be an unwitting vehicle of dispersion.
    • GARDENERS - Not all non-native species are bad, but some plants that look lovely in your garden might be harmful invaders that will make their way into natural areas.The US Forest Service  http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/nativegardening/avoid.shtml  has easy tips on how to manage your garden to preserve the unique qualities of neighboring wildlands.