Friday, May 31, 2013

Ohio Sheep Tour Scheduled

Sheep owners are invited to participate in the sheep grazing management tour scheduled for July 12 in Holmes County. The tour will be conducted in the scenic Charm area, with stops at 4 Amish sheep farms. Topics to be discussed at the farms will include information for the beginning sheep farmer using low cost start-up investment, cool season pasture species, warm season annuals, use of minerals, fencing and rotation management, breeding management and marketing. Each farm will have something different to offer as they explain how their sheep operation works for their farm and family. The sharing of ideas is how we all learn.
Resource people for the day will be Bob Hendershot of Green Pasture Services, Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Morrow County, Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Wayne County and Troyce Barnett, NRCS grasslands specialist. They will be on hand to provide information about pasture grasses, grazing management, sheep production and to answer questions.
Pre-registration is required and is limited to the first 100 people. Thanks to financial sponsorship from the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program and the Ohio Forage and Grassland Council, the cost is only $35 per person that includes bus cost, lunch and refreshments. Registrations must be received by July 1, 2013. No refunds after July 1.
Check-in for the tour will begin at 8:30 am in the back parking lot of Keim Lumber located at 4465 SR557 Charm OH, 44617. The bus will leave at 9 a.m. from Keim Lumber. Lunch, included in the registration cost, will be served at the Carpenter’s CafĂ© located inside Keim Lumber.
For more information about the tour, contact Rory Lewandowski at the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ohio Federation of Soil & Water Conservation District's Survey

Ohio Balanced Growth Survey – Please complete!
We want to hear from you - our colleagues in government, private business and conservation - about the Ohio Balanced Growth Program, and how it can be of assistance to you in the coming years. Even if you have not worked with us in the past, your input will be valuable in planning our next steps in supporting local government in achieving their development and conservation goals.

The Ohio Balanced Growth Program provides technical assistance, education, planning support, and a host of online resources to local governments and collaborative partnerships across the state who are working to achieve development and conservation goals. Entirely voluntary and incentive-driven, the Program is co-sponsored by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Water Resources Council. The Program strives to ensure the long-term quality of our valuable water resources - a great asset for our State - enhancing economic prosperity into the future, through Watershed Planning Partnerships, and implementation of Best Local Land Use Practices.

Please take a moment to tell us what we've being doing that is useful to you, what issues are of greatest concern to you, and how we can help, going forward. We are hoping to close the survey by Friday, June 7 - please take a moment as soon as you can! The survey link is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QNBWNZJ.

We will use this information to plan our activities in the coming years.  For more information, go to the Ohio Balanced Growth web site, http://balancedgrowth.ohio.gov

Free Boat Safety Inspections in June

Ohio Department of Natural Resources -- The agency will continue free boat safety inspections during June at public boat launch ramps and during special events statewide. ODNR has also released a new promotional video about safe boating.  The inspections help increase boating safety awareness at a time when many Ohioans are launching their boats for the first time in a new boating and fishing season. Division of Watercraft officers provide written courtesy inspections that allow boat owners to make recommended improvements to their boating safety equipment.   The inspections typically examine the condition of fire extinguishers, navigational lights, horns and distress signals. Officers also check to make sure that the proper type, size and number of life jackets are aboard each boat as required by law to ensure the safety of all boat occupants, according to the agency.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Using Trail Cameras to Monitor Wildlife


NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO – The June 5 meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA) will feature Marne Titchenell, Wildlife Program Specialist with Ohio State University Extension Service.  The 8 PM program will explain the best ways to place trail cameras and attract wildlife within range to take clear pictures.

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ohio EPA announces website for algae bloom notification

Environmental Protection Agency -- Ohioans can now access real-time data on recreational use advisories for harmful algal blooms at state park beaches and drinking water public notices through a new OEPA web-based map application.  According to agency officials the new website boasts interactive geospatial content for users, allowing them to better understand current advisories and HAB sampling data. It includes a color-coded look at the entire state which citizens can use to access additional information.  OEPA worked with the State of Ohio Geographic Information System Office in developing this application and plans to add additional interactive GIS maps on other environmental topics.
http://wwwapp.epa.ohio.gov/gis/mapportal/hab.html

Friday, May 24, 2013

OSU Sustainable Agriculture Team tours begin June 21st

Those interested in learning more about how sustainable agriculture in Ohio works will have several opportunities as Ohio State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Team hosts tours this summer.
Read more about the tour stops here:
http://ocj.com/2013/05/osu-sustainable-agriculture-team-tours/

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Panel Focuses On Lake Erie Algal Blooms; Stakeholders Call For More Research, Monitoring Funds



As summer approaches and thousands of Ohioans are expected to visit Lake Erie for boating and other recreational activities, environmental, conservation, education and other officials briefed senators Wednesday on the current state of algal blooms in the great lake.  Addressing the Senate General Government Finance Subcommittee as part of a panel, representatives from the Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio State University Extension and Sea Grant and Stone Lab discussed the history of the algae problem, efforts currently underway and potential future changes.  They also stressed that stakeholders and the related agencies have reached an unprecedented point of communication, data sharing and collaboration on the issue.
Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Bob Peterson praised the collaboration and said witness recommendations to boost funding for enhanced monitoring efforts is something that needs to be looked at and "has great value."  "What I heard today is that there's a tremendous amount of monitoring already being done. Now there's always stuff more we could and should do if money becomes available and that's the challenge for us in the Finance Committee - balancing that budget," he said in an interview.

Prior to panel testimony, Sen. Randy Gardner said he hopes the subcommittee "will conclude that Ohio is beginning to move in the right direction to protect Lake Erie but that much work remains to be done."  Mr. Gardner stressed that additional funds will be necessary to help, adding that it's not about how much the state spends, but rather how it can effectively use dollars to address this problem. He told lawmakers the issue is not about just about agriculture and will take a lot of effort to bring a lot of people together.   "Let me also assert that we must engage in a multi-faceted strategy that will include the agricultural community, residential and commercial lands, municipal systems, dredging practices and cooperation from our friends from that 'state up north,'" he said in a statement. "In this spirit, clearly we can and must maintain a strong agricultural economy while working to clean up Lake Erie. We can do both."

According to Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab Director Jeff Reutter, Lake Erie's shallow depth and southern location in relation to the other Great Lakes make it an attractive location for the nuisance and dangerous algal blooms.  For decades, he said, the lake has struggled with the issue with things coming to a head in the '60s and '70s before water quality standards and monitoring were put into place. Despite drops in algal blooms in the aftermath of the regulations, its prevalence has gone up particularly over the past decade, Mr. Reutter said.   The source of today's algae can be partially attributed to phosphorus from sewage treatment plants, lawn fertilizer runoff, water treatment plans, agriculture and septic tanks, he offered, as well as climate change and an increased frequency in severe storms.  Mr. Reutter said he expects improvement in the lake because of phosphorus removal from over-the-counter fertilizer, a majority of farmers accepting partial responsibility for the issue and farm bureau support for phosphorus reduction, as well as other factors.

In order to address the current algal bloom problem, Brian Hall of OEPA, told lawmakers that the state "will need to make some significant changes" in terms of agricultural management and nutrient removal technologies.  Mr. Hall pointed to six strategy recommendations that are being finalized in OEPA's Ohio Nutrient Reduction Strategy as potential ways to address the issue. They include: focusing nutrient reduction efforts on specific watersheds; establishing stream load reduction goals; ensuring that point source and nonpoint source reductions are effective; gauging the effectiveness of reductions; reporting activities to the public and creating nutrient water quality criteria.

ODNR's Karl Gebhardt added that his department, along with OEPA and the U.S. Geological Survey, are proposing to install an expanded water quality monitoring program for the Maumee Watershed with the remaining $550,000 Health Lake Erie Fund appropriation.  This installation, combined with research and monitoring efforts Heidelberg University and Ohio State University have undertaken, would allow Ohio to better document and manage the relationship between agricultural nutrient management and the water quality in the Maumee River and Lake Erie, the witness said.  "We can ensure Ohio tax dollars are being spent wisely to improve water quality," he stressed. "That is a benefit for everyone."  Aside from this, Mr. Gebhardt said ODNR and the Department of Agriculture plan to work with lawmakers on a new bill that would put other Agricultural Nutrient and Water Quality Working Group recommendations into place that promote "effective yet non-burdensome initiatives to help address nutrient issues for agriculture."  "Together, we will provide the non-agricultural community with the confidence that water quality in Lake Erie or anywhere in Ohio is being taken seriously by all of us that are entrusted with the stewardship of Ohio's natural resources and viability of Ohio's agriculture," he added.

Meanwhile, Greg LaBarge, of OSU Extension, said he is "confident" that farmers and the agricultural industry understand the issue regarding nutrient losses that occur during agricultural production and the impact it has on water quality.  He continued that Ohio farmers are using best management practices, including soil testing, but that the state needs to provide them "with other solutions that fit the site-specific needs of individual fields at the highest risk of contribution."

Sen. John Eklund asked whether a change in agricultural practices is being considered. Both Mr. Reutter and Mr. Gebhardt acknowledged that it is something they're examining, but added that they're "not entirely sure" as to what the best and proper practices would be.  "The challenge we have is we can't sit around and wait for 15 years for data, so by continuing with research and then implementing the practices we've done in at least five counties already, we feel they're the best available at this point in time."

Looking at the overlap of water sources to Lake Erie among various states, Sen. Tim Schaffer, meanwhile, asked panel members what role other states, like Indiana, have played in water quality assurance efforts.  According to Mr. Gebhardt, Ohio has been collaborating with Indiana and Michigan on the issue, as well as working with regional partners, on collecting information on nutrient loads entering the lake.

In response to Sen. Eklund's question regarding global efforts to address this issue, Mr. Reutter added that his lab has been looking at research being done in the US, primarily, as it leads the world on this front.  "The most important point here is that our problem in Ohio, we're the poster child for this problem in the U.S.," he said. "You don't find other watershed the size of the Great Lakes having the same problems."

Mr. Hall, responding to Sen. Jon Schiavoni, added that OEPA is responsible for developing water quality standards and reporting them to federal officials. He said, however, that the relationship between the agency and ODNR has never "been better."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kasich Signs Bill Making Adena Pipe Official State Artifact


Gov. John Kasich signed a student-backed bill into law to designate the more than 2,000-year-old Adena Pipe as Ohio's official state artifact.  Joined at the bill signing by fourth, fifth and seventh grade students from the Columbus School for Girls who worked on the legislation, Gov. Kasich praised the girls' tenacious efforts.
"The lesson here is that your classmates were persistent in getting this done. Then you came here and were so knowledgeable and you so impressed the members of the legislature that there was no way they could resist making this the state artifact," the governor said. "Now I want to see if I can include you in helping me pass Ohio's severance tax and my Medicaid expansion."   According to the students, other lessons to take away from the legislative process include: the need to be "very, very, very patient," sometimes things happen at the "last second" and that "some people speak longer than they're supposed to."

Columbus School for Girls teachers Tracy Kessler and Charlotte Stiverson, who spearheaded the effort, said students have been working on a state artifact project over the course of three years and chose the Adena Effigy Pipe to honor Ohio's Native American history.   Found on the Chillicothe estate of former governor Thomas Worthington, the pipe is "one of a kind" for its representation of an entire human form, they said.  According to Ms. Kessler and Ms. Stiverson, the project was originally placed on the "backburner," as the legislature was bogged-down in budget debate when the students first sought to introduce the proposal, before it was brought back and introduced by Reps. Duffey and John Carney (D-Columbus) in legislation in April 2012.  The teachers praised Rep. Carney, whose daughter is a student at the Columbus School for Girls, as well as the parents of other students who are lobbyists for bringing the issue to the attention of the legislature.

According to the Ohio Historical Society, which worked with the students on the project, the Adena Pipe represents one of the state's most famous artifacts and "has become a hallmark of the Adena culture."  More on the story at the Ohio Historical Society website here:
http://www.ohiohistory.org/collections--archives/archaeology/adena-pipe

Monday, May 13, 2013

Healthy Foods Legislation Introduced

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge introduced a bill to support sustainable agriculture activities in American cities while improving access to healthy food for underserved communities.   "This bill encourages Americans to live healthier lives by focusing on locally grown, fresh foods," she said. "It provides incentives for non-traditional farming, which are especially important in urban areas including Cleveland, and gives agricultural entrepreneurs the support they need to grow and build successful enterprises.  "We must do more to improve nutrition for a generation of children, many of whom are estimated to have shorter life expectancies than their parents due to poor health. This comprehensive legislation will allow low-income families and seniors access to healthier foods and improve their diets, relieving some of the stress on our current health care system. With thousands of acres of vacant property due to the foreclosure crisis as well as a recession that hit middle class families hard, this measure also strengthens the ability of cities to convert abandoned properties for agricultural uses and enhance economic recovery in distressed areas."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ohio EPA Issues Draft Rule for Wetland Mitigation - public comment requested


FOR RELEASE: May 3, 2013
CONTACT: Mary McCarron, (614) 644-2160
Ohio EPA Issues Draft Rule for Wetland Mitigation
Ohio EPA is seeking public comments on a draft rule affecting water quality standards for
wetlands. Public comments on the draft rule are sought through May 17, 2013.
Water quality standards protect Ohio’s lakes, rivers, streams and other surface waters from
pollution. This rulemaking addresses protections put in place for wetlands, setting up water quality
criteria for the Director of Ohio EPA to consider when determining whether a lowering of water
quality in wetlands would be allowed and what mitigations would be appropriate for water quality
impacts.
The changes being considered would implement statutory requirements from Senate Bill 294.
This bill allows a fee to be levied in lieu of requiring traditional permittee wetland mitigation or
purchasing wetland mitigation bank credits for Section 401 water quality certifications and isolated
wetland permits. The rule would set up a defined hierarchy of mitigation preferences when
compensatory mitigation is required. The draft rule would require an applicant to use wetland
mitigation banks first when available, but also would allow the permittee to pay a fee in lieu of
constructing a wetlands mitigation project where wetland mitigation bank credits are not available.
Copies of the draft rules are available from Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water by contacting
Melinda Harris at (614) 728-1357. Written comments can be mailed by May 17, to Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water Rules Coordinator, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, or
emailed to dsw_rulecomments@epa.state.oh.us. Questions regarding the rule can be emailed to
Ric Queen or call (614) 644-2872.
Ohio EPA will consider all comments before it formally proposes rule changes. When the rule
is formally proposed, Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing and offer another public comment period
before any changes are adopted.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ohio Farmers Asked To Help Count Lady Beetles

Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz is large scale survey to determine how many of the beneficial native beetles still remain in Ohio.
Entomologist Mary Gardiner is recruiting farmers and gardeners to help see how native species of lady beetles are standing up to invasion of exotic lady beetles.
Read rest of article here:

http://farmprogress.com/story-oh-farmers-asked-help-count-lady-beetles-9-97961

Friday, May 3, 2013

Meadowbrook FFA I places 8th in Area III Envirothon Competition

Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District congratulates Meadowbrook HS FFA for its teams’ participation in the Area III competition, held at Hook Lake in Morgan county this year. Since this was District Technician Jason Tyrell’s first at the Envirothon, he helped out by guiding students to the various testing sites. 
MEADOWBROOK FFA I team members: Kaila Czigans, Morgan Echols, Connor Frame, Levi Lynch, and Erica Showalter.  Congratulations on placing in the top ten!


The Envirothon tests students' knowledge of soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatic ecology and current environmental issues and is designed to encourage interest in the environment and natural resources among high school students. In addition, the Envirothon encourages cooperative decision-making and team building. While each student on an Envirothon team is challenged to contribute his or her personal best, the score that counts at the end of an Envirothon is the team score.

A team consists of five students, all from the same high school. An adult advisor (or advisors) must accompany the team, but is not permitted to assist the team during the competition.

Five area envirothons are conducted around Ohio late each spring. This year, the top four teams from each of these area competitions will progress to the Ohio State Envirothon June 10 & 11 at Deer Creek State Park. The state level Ohio Envirothon is held in a different part of Ohio each year. The top-scoring team in the Ohio Envirothon is eligible to compete in the North American Envirothon, hosted by a different state or Canadian province every year.

In Ohio, the Envirothon Program is sponsored by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD) in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The Ohio Envirothon is financed by grants, donations from businesses and through contributions to the Don Rehl Memorial Envirothon Fund. Many local businesses also provide services and products in support of Area and Ohio Envirothons.

MEADOWBROOK FFA 2 team members: Olivia Anderson, Breanna Czigans, Annie Kackley, Peter Novak, and Amber Sills.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Autumn Olive: Good Intentions Gone Bad



Autumn olive is an introduced species that was and still is widely planted with good intentions without the foresight of the consequent problems. This mistake has resulted in an invasive species to the eastern United States that is very hard to control. Autumn olive has become invasive from Maine south to South Carolina west to Oklahoma, and north to southwest Minnesota. Autumn olive is native to China, Japan, and Korea and was originally introduced to North America in 1830.

Autumn olive, Elaeagnus umbellate, is a medium to large deciduous shrub. Its leaves alternate along the stem, are oval to lanceolate with smooth edges, and grow to 1-3 inches in length. The upper surface of the leaves is dark green to grayish-green in color, while the lower surface is silvery white. The small, round, juicy, editable fruits are reddish to pink and produced in great quantity.

It exhibits prolific fruiting and aggressive growth which helps it to out-compete and displace native plant species. It is widely disseminated by birds though its seeds do not provide them with the proper nutrition. Autumn olive, like soybeans, can improve soil by adding nitrogen, although it is not in the legume family. This can adversely affect the nitrogen cycle of native communities that may depend on low nitrogen soils. It is drought-tolerable and will tolerate low pH soils often found in southern Ohio. These characteristics help it survive on reclaimed strip mine land or even bare mineral substrates.

Autumn olive invades grasslands and pastures, open areas, and disturbed areas. It does not grow well in wet areas or under the shade of an established forest. It can germinate in thickly matted grasslands and thrive even though it has severe competition.

Autumn olive is dispersed mainly by birds and mammals dropping the seeds. Each plant produces 20,000 to 54,000 seeds per year. It can also reproduce through the roots by root clones. Due to this it can regenerate after a fire or cutting; even coming back thicker than before.

Due to the large available seed bank Autumn olive is becoming a problem in pasture fields. It is one of several invasive species that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is assisting landowners in controlling. Contact your local NRCS office for further information about this program.

Visit the Appalachian Ohio Weed Control Partnership blog, at www.appalachianohioweeds.org, to learn more about Southeastern Ohio’s non-native invasive species. You can also contact Eric Boyda of the Appalachian Ohio Weed Control Partnership by phone at 740-534-6578 or email at appalachianohioweeds@gmail.com
Photo Credit: Leslie Mehrhoff. Author: Alan Rees