Friday, December 19, 2014

Predator problems plaguing livestock in Ohio

“I have lost a significant numbers of lambs and I have even lost a few ewes to what I think are coyotes. With the really young lambs it is hard to tell. Sometimes you can’t even find them,” said Shawn Ray, who lambs around 140 ewes in Noble County. “Sometimes you never find the lamb, you just know you weighed at tagged this number at birthing time and then a month or so later when you are doing vaccinations you see that there are some missing. The coyotes were pretty consistent this year from lambing in May until we pulled the lambs in to the feedlot. Then they stopped killing lambs, but for another month I was losing ewes. They are the worst when they have the young on. We live in a unique area where the bobcats, the coyotes and the red fox all seem to find a way to co-exist. I think our deer herd and turkey population is being impacted also.”

Read rest of article  HERE

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AG Makes Sunshine Laws Training Available Online, Predicts Increased Participation

Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday announced that training on Ohio's Sunshine Laws will now be available through an online module.  In the past, the three-hour training course required of public officials has been administered only in person and at regional sites, Mr. DeWine said, adding the requirement has proved inconvenient for many.  All Ohio elected officials or their designees are required to attend a session during each term of service. Since 2011, 80 trainings have been held for nearly 5,400 public officials, public employees, citizens, attorneys, and journalists, he said.  "However, as we've conducted these training sessions and answered emails and telephone calls from the public, the media and even representatives from state and local government, we've been reminded that many individuals simply aren't able to carve a day out of their busy schedules to travel and attend a three-hour course on Ohio's Sunshine Laws," Mr. DeWine said at a Columbus press conference.

The free online version of the training is broken down into 13 lessons so that individuals may take the classes at their own pace and in multiple sittings, he said. Upon completion, participants are given a certificate verifying the course completion.  The training is the same that attendees receive at in-person lessons because it is a video recording of one of those sessions. Mr. DeWine said, however, the online version would lack the give and take among the audience when the course is taken live. The website does, however, offer an option to email any questions or report technical issues with the site to the attorney general's office.

"Public access to government is the cornerstone of vital and participatory democracy," AG DeWine said. "Ohio's Sunshine Laws are among the most comprehensive open government laws in the nation. Promoting open and transparent government is a priority for our office, and I'm confident this new online format will increase convenience and accessibility to our Sunshine Laws training."  He said he hopes those who take the course in person continue to do that but the online approach would open it up more widely to the public.  "I think it's important that the public understands Sunshine Laws," the AG said. "We do handle through mediation some cases where we try to resolve them where a member of the public is asking a township clerk or township trustees for certain information.  "It's not just something that public officials need to understand. It is something that anybody who wants to follow their local government unit, whether it's a school board or township trustees, if they understand what their rights are and also what the limitations are.

Mr. DeWine said since June 2012 when the office started offering free public records mediation to resolve disputes between those who request records and the local public offices, it has received 170 requests for mediation. Of those 69 were resolved before going to mediation and 23 were fully or partially resolved through mediation.  "What we've found is that when people understand the law and what it really means, we resolve a good number of disputes because these disputes, I think, arise many times from people who don't really get it," he said.  "Sometimes it's city officials, sometimes it's members of the public, and we think that people will see this, have the opportunity to take the course...and it's going to really promote open government."

Natural Resources Program Sign-up Now Available for Ohio Farmers and Forest Land Owners

COLUMBUS, OH, Dec. 9, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting new applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from Ohio farmers and non-industrial private forest land owners who want to improve the natural resources on their land.  Applications received by Friday, January 16, 2015, will be considered for funding this fiscal year.

A conservation plan created by the NRCS local conservationist and the EQIP applicant provides a foundation for the EQIP application.  The conservation plan includes the natural resource concerns on the land under consideration, the conservation practices that will improve or enhance natural resources on that land, the schedule for carrying out the conservation practices in the plan, and the cost of the conservation practices.

For example, soil erosion caused by water leaving a bare field may negatively impact both soil and water quality.  A conservation plan addressing these natural resource concerns documents the location and extent of this concern and the conservation practice or practices the farmer choses to put in place to improve soil and water quality.  Several conservation practices used together as a management system provide more environmental benefits than a single conservation practice.  In this example, the farmer may elect to use a no-till planting system to minimize soil erosion, plant a cover crop to improve soil quality, and use drainage water management structures to control sub-surface drainage and improve water quality.

Ohio NRCS received reduced funding for EQIP this year which will intensify the competition for application selection. Since EQIP is a voluntary program, an applicant may select to do as much or as little as they chose to address their natural resource issues.  However, applications with multiple conservation practices provide a greater environmental benefit, increasing an application’s chance for selection.  EQIP applications with conservation plans containing multiple conservation practices used in a system will outcompete applications without robust conservation plans.

Applications for EQIP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), a process that can take up to three weeks.  Information about CCR requirements, including obtaining a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, is posted on the NRCS website at

For more information about EQIP or other technical or financial assistance programs offered by NRCS, please contact your local service center:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Long-term, on-farm research: Cover crops and yields

A cover crop of cereal rye added to a corn-soybean rotation appears to have little effect on yield. That is according to a 5-year study conducted by Iowa Learning Farms and the Practical Farmers of Iowa. Ten farmers in Iowa have devoted part of their acreage to this research for the past 5 years. When the project began, the farmers were understandably concerned the winter cereal rye would negatively impact their corn or soybean yields. But after harvest each year, the farmers found that was not the case. Read more in this Agri-View story by Jane Fyksen.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Federal Legislation Passed Senate

Legislation penned by Sens. Brown and Portman to require the Environmental Protection Agency to publish a health advisory and submit reports on the level of microcystins in drinking water passed in the Senate. "It's critical that all levels of government work together to determine if our drinking water is safe for human consumption," Sen. Portman said. "As we continue to work to ensure that Ohioans have access to safe and clean drinking water, the passage of this legislation is an important step toward knowing what is safe and what is not."  The bill was introduced in response to the high level of microcystin in the western Lake Erie basin, which disrupted the water supply of about 500,000 people in the area in August. It now goes to the House for consideration.  "This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that will ensure Ohioans are confident in the safety of their drinking water," Sen. Brown said. "Our bill will address a void in our current monitoring efforts to protect our water and address potential public health threats."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brownfield: Cover crops benefit soil health

Soil health is a vital component to sustainable farming. Indiana farmer Mike Shuter has been no-till farming for nearly 30 years. He says cover crops play a significant role in maintaining soil health on his farm. “We’re trying to keep something green and growing on the field all year round,” he says. “It helps build nutrients for the organisms that are in the soil and in turn those organisms will help the crop whether it is corn or soybeans.”Read and listen to the report from Brownfield’s Meghan Grebner.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More than 65,000 Deer Checked during Ohio's Weeklong Gun Hunting Season

COLUMBUS, OH – Hunters checked 65,485 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s 2014 gun hunting season, Dec. 1-7, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Rifles using specific straight-walled cartridges were allowed during Ohio’s deer-gun season. Gun hunters took advantage of the new opportunity and checked 5,360 deer with straight-walled cartridge rifles.

Hunters have checked 148,830 deer so far in all 2014 hunting seasons, compared to 162,720 at the same point last year. Hunters harvested 75,408 deer during the 2013 deer-gun season.

Until recently, the populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were above their target numbers. In the last few years, through increased harvests, dramatic strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer toward their goal, and the effectiveness of these herd management efforts are reflected in the number of deer checked this season. Once a county’s deer population is near goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population.

Counties reporting the highest number of checked deer during the 2014 gun season: Coshocton (2,308), Muskingum (2,084), Tuscarawas (2,074), Guernsey (1,788), Ashtabula (1,730), Knox (1,727), Licking (1,655), Harrison (1,491), Carroll (1,477) and Belmont (1,428).

Hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. During the 2013-2014 hunting season, Ohio hunters checked 191,459 deer. Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists. This ensures that Ohio’s deer herd is maintained at a level that is both acceptable to most, and biologically sound.

Find more information about deer hunting in the Ohio 2014-2015 Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at An updated deer harvest report is posted online each Wednesday. Archery season remains open through Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. The muzzleloader season is Jan. 2-5, 2015.

Ohio’s first modern day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties, and hunters harvested 168 deer. Deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties in 1956, and hunters harvested 3,911 deer during that one-week season.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at

Editor’s Note: A list of all white-tailed deer checked by hunters during weeklong 2014 deer-gun hunting season is shown below. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for 2014, and the 2013 numbers are in parentheses.
Adams: 1,134 (1,343); Allen: 348 (380); Ashland: 1,160 (1,162); Ashtabula: 1,730 (2,334); Athens: 1,360 (1,745); Auglaize: 278 (299); Belmont: 1,428 (1,851); Brown: 940 (932); Butler: 308 (312); Carroll: 1,477 (2,019); Champaign: 434 (414); Clark: 195 (198); Clermont: 685 (667); Clinton: 285 (250); Columbiana: 1,245 (1,726); Coshocton: 2,308 (2,658); Crawford: 515 (528); Cuyahoga: 24 (31); Darke: 241 (170); Defiance: 871 (744); Delaware: 422 (393); Erie: 219 (176); Fairfield: 708 (827); Fayette: 142 (103); Franklin: 124 (113); Fulton: 336 (341); Gallia: 1,220 (1,420); Geauga: 470 (509); Greene: 213 (224); Guernsey: 1,788 (2,401); Hamilton: 165 (202); Hancock: 443 (338); Hardin: 487 (544); Harrison: 1,491 (2,133); Henry: 334 (326); Highland: 1,004 (1,041); Hocking: 1,195 (1,456); Holmes: 1,349 (1,494); Huron: 921 (1,029); Jackson: 968 (1,156); Jefferson: 1,120 (1,494); Knox: 1,727 (1,966); Lake: 138 (126); Lawrence: 779 (1,002); Licking: 1,655 (1,887); Logan: 672 (653); Lorain: 646 (678); Lucas: 105 (131); Madison: 154 (127); Mahoning: 555 (750); Marion: 340 (348); Medina: 567 (555); Meigs: 1,270 (1,482); Mercer: 206 (219); Miami: 250 (211); Monroe: 1,056 (1,337); Montgomery: 130 (109); Morgan: 1,207 (1,445); Morrow: 671 (640); Muskingum: 2,084 (2,604); Noble: 1,031 (1,454); Ottawa: 121 (88); Paulding: 509 (499); Perry: 1,160 (1,362); Pickaway: 330 (343); Pike: 701 (818); Portage: 451 (568); Preble: 272 (274); Putnam: 315 (255); Richland: 1,159 (1,182); Ross: 1,106 (1,167); Sandusky: 261 (208); Scioto: 761 (1,099); Seneca: 710 (747); Shelby: 397 (371); Stark: 759 (883); Summit: 122 (140); Trumbull: 983 (1,298); Tuscarawas: 2,074 (2,604); Union: 313 (301); Van Wert: 283 (214); Vinton: 1,032 (1,424); Warren: 321 (285); Washington: 1,409 (1,606); Wayne: 639 (724); Williams: 831 (838); Wood: 389 (213); Wyandot: 749 (690). Total: 65,485 (75,408).

1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543)

Ohio Division of Wildlife, Wildlife News, 12/8/2014.                                                                              Retrieved on 12/9/2014 from                                       announcements/post/more-than-65-000-deer-checked-during-ohio-s-weeklong-gun-huntingseason                                                                                                                                                                           

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ohio’s Country Journal: 'The Science of Soil Health' videos feature OSU Extension experts

Soil researchers across the Midwest, including agronomists and scientists from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, want to help growers unlock the secrets of soil health to improve yields, lower input costs and increase farm income. A new series of YouTube videos, called “The Science of Soil Health,” is designed to provide new insight into how to improve soil health while benefiting the environment and lowering production costs, said Jim Hoorman, an Ohio State University Extension educator and an assistant professor studying cover crops and water quality issues. Read more or view the videos.

Monday, December 8, 2014

U.S. Federal Duck Stamp Headed to $25


Waterfowl hunters in the United States will have to pay a bit more for the privilege next season when the price of the required Federal Duck Stamp will increase by $10.
The U.S. Senate passed the Duck Stamp Act of 2014 on Tuesday, a measure that would boost the price of the federal duck stamp to $25 beginning with the 2015-2016 stamp. The U.S. House of Representatives had passed the bill in November. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The Federal Duck Stamp program, which began in 1934, has raised more than $750 million and protected 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat. Duck stamp money is used to purchase acreage for the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as to lease and conserve other important waterfowl habitat. The program is often touted as one of the most efficient conservation efforts in North America, with 98 cents of every dollar going directly to secure habitat.
Proponents of the price increase point to the fact that the stamp has been $15 since 1991, and land values have risen dramatically since then. The additional revenue — projected to be at least $12 million annually — will boost the purchasing power of the stamp fund.
The 2015-2016 stamp will feature a pair of ruddy ducks painted by Jennifer Miller of Olean, N.Y.
Delta Waterfowl, (2014). U.S. Federal Duck Stamp Headed to $25. Retrieved from

Friday, December 5, 2014

December 5th is World Soil Day!

Soils have been neglected for too long. We fail to connect soil with our food, water, climate, biodiversity and life. We must invert this tendency and take up some preserving and restoring actions. The World Soil Day campaign aims to connect people with soils and raise awareness on their critical importance in our lives.

Did you know?
Soil is the basis for food, feed, fuel and fibre production and for services to ecosystems and human well-being.
It is the reservoir for at least a quarter of global biodiversity, and therefore requires the same attention as above-ground biodiversity. Soils play a key role in the supply of clean water and resilience to floods and droughts. The largest store of terrestrial carbon is in the soil so that its preservation may contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Soils also serve as a platform and source for construction and raw materials. The maintenance or enhancement of global soil resources is essential if humanity’s need for food, water, and energy security is to be met

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Planting Prairies at Airports Could Make Flying Safer

Those landing at Dayton International Airport next year will descend from the spacious skies into the fruited plains. Thanks to aviation director Terrence Slaybaugh’s groundbreaking prairie grass program, they’ll be greeted by songbirds, wildflowers, and shoulder-high grass instead of the typical turf.

Dayton International isn’t doing it for the views. In an effort to make the airport greener, less expensive to maintain, and safer from bird strikes, the airport is turning nearly 300 acres of airport land into native prairie grasses. If a three-year trial proves environmentally and economically effective, 800 more acres may follow.

Read rest of article  HERE

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The roots shall set you free: Scientists discover the “liberating” power of cover crops

When Dr. Joel Gruver and his research team at Western Illinois University precision-planted cover crops, they discovered something remarkable. Not only did the radish cover crops scavenge nutrients from the soil, they “liberated” a surprising amount, as well.

Learn more about the nutrient-scavenging AND liberating power of these cover crops in the latest episode of NRCS’ The Science of Soil HealthClick here to watch the three-minute video. It’s science you can really dig!

State Says Federal Climate Change Rules Flawed, Unachievable

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler said Monday that the Obama administration's proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants are technically erroneous and "not legal."  Director Butler's conclusion contrasts sharply with that of environmental groups, which believe the president's plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants presents an opportunity for Ohio to grow its green energy economy and benefit from lower electricity rates.
This summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its "Clean Power Plan" calling on states to reduce CO2 emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. The agency says the proposed rules would benefit public health while reducing electricity bills an estimated 8% through energy efficiency gains and reduced electricity demand.  The U.S. EPA also recently issued separate rules calling for reductions in ground-level ozone, or smog.
Director Butler called the proposal a "massive and unprecedented overhaul of the power generation, transmission and distribution system" that would threaten reliability of the grid, reduce employment in the manufacturing and coal mining sectors and increase electricity rates.  "Ohio EPA believes the entire proposal should be reconsidered," he said in a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that OEPA submitted along with its public comments on the rules.  "Ohio EPA has an obligation to be good stewards of the environment, and we support having a robust energy policy that is protective of public health and air quality. However, U.S. EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan is technically flawed, not legal and unworkable in its current form," he said.  OEPA said the proposal was on questionable legal ground since the 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission delegated PJM Interconnection to dispatch power using the least expensive resource first to meet energy demand.  "Nowhere is U.S. EPA delegated authority for states to usurp the Federal Power Act and mandate generation dispatch based on CO2 emissions rather than cost," the agency said.  Moreover, OEPA said Section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act prohibits the federal agency from limiting CO2 emissions since it already promulgated rules for the same power plants under a different section of the law.  Director Butler said a provision in the rules that would require electric generating units achieve a 4-6% heat rate improvement, a measure of how efficiently facilities operate, is "technically infeasible."  Meanwhile, CO2 reductions derived from a 13.8 million megawatt increase in renewable electricity sources "were derived from erroneous assumptions on current state law," he said. Other reductions based on a required 16.3 million MW increase in energy efficiency measures by 2029 "are not realistic over the long term." 
OEPA said the state's alternative energy law shows that Ohio supports renewable energy and energy efficiency.  "However, this new proposal and the associated federalization measures will dis-incentivize renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives that states like Ohio have had success implementing at the state level," the agency said. "No entity we had discussions with during our review of this proposal, public or private, communicated their desire for this state-specific activity to be afforded to U.S.EPA."  The proposed federal rules emerged just as the legislature was finishing work on a bill that eased compliance with Ohio's renewable and energy efficiency standards (SB 310). 
The Energy Mandates Study Committee, which is considering additional green energy restrictions during a two-year delay of the annual benchmarks, will likely review how the proposed climate change rules interact with the law. Ohio has already reduced CO2 emissions from 138 million tons in 2005 to 107 million tons in 2013, OEPA said in the agency's comments. Further reductions due to power plant shut downs resulting from the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standard could further reduce carbon pollution an additional 33.8 million tons between 2015 and 2016.  "As a result of U.S. EPA's recent MATS, Ohio will lose roughly 30% of 2012's coal-fired generating capacity. As generating units install control equipment to comply with MATS, this CO2 proposal layers an even greater degree of uncertainty on the industry."  OEPA also criticized U.S. EPA's cost analysis, saying it "radically underestimates the projected cost" of electricity under the changes. The agency cited a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio analysis that indicates compliance with one provision of the rules calling for a shift to natural gas generation would cost Ohioans about $2.5 billion more for electricity in 2025.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Workshop: Pros and Cons of selling timber at auction

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO - At the December 3 7:30 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA), Jim Elze, consulting forester, and Darryl McGuire, auctioneer, will jointly discuss the pros and cons of selling your timber via a live auction.  An auction provides an interesting variant to the common techniques of sealed bids or individual verbal offers.

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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of GSWCD

Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.
Enjoy our natural resources!

Administration Wants Tougher Regulations

The state's chief oil and gas regulator asked the Senate Tuesday to restore the Kasich Administration's plan to crack down on the industry after the House revised several provisions in the mid-biennium review bill dealing primarily with environmental issues.  Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer also asked the Senate Agriculture Committee to delete House-added proposals to allow state lands to be forcibly included in drilling units and to further deregulate the telephone industry.  Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler applauded MBR provisions that the House added to address the toxic algae problem in Lake Erie.
Sen. Cliff Hite, chairman of the Agriculture Committee, said he plans to hold a vote Dec. 9 on a substitute version of the bill, which could include some of the administration's requested changes. He asked members to submit potential amendments by Dec. 5.  The chairman told reporters after the hearing that he believed a number of contentious issues could be resolved in time to pass the bill before the end of lame duck session.  For example, the oil and gas industry and the administration reached agreement on a dozen points of contention during a recent stakeholder meeting, he said. The parties are also "very close" to compromising on how much drillers would have to disclose about previous violations, he added.  Sen. Hite said another provision about which Director Zehringer expressed concern - changes to the unitization process - "will be probably contentious before we get done."  A substitute version of the bill adopted in the House would authorize the agency to issue an order for unitization or mandatory pooling for state-owned lands other than parks, according to the Legislative Service Commission's comparison document. The proposal also sets certain deadlines for the state to rule on applications to authorize drilling near unwilling landowners' property.

Director Zehringer said the contentious subject requires more time for deliberation than lame duck session can allow.  As for the administration's proposal to require oil and gas permit applicants to disclose felony convictions, the director said House revisions that limit the look back period to three years are insufficient to make a reasonable assessment of the operator's compliance with the law.  Under the current version, Ben Lupo, who was sentenced to 28 months for dumping fracking waste into a Mahoning River tributary, would only have to wait eight months to register with the agency to avoid disclosing the felony, he said. Other changes that exempt subsidiaries from disclosure would allow such individuals to skirt the law by simply registering under a different company name, he added. "With so many companies who are not in operation in Ohio, for which we have a limited comprehension of their operating history throughout the U.S., we should have the ability to know their specific felony history in other states and take it into consideration before allowing them to do business here," he said.  Director Zehringer also asked senators to revise an amendment requiring oil and gas waste handlers to have a surety bond of $250,000 and liability insurance limited to $4 million, saying the caps "are far too low to be considered effective."  He voiced concern that the bill would allow oil and gas producers and waste handlers to insure themselves at practically any amount. If a company had an accident and went bankrupt, the state "would be left with the bill" to remediate environmental damage, he said.

Director Zehringer also asked the committee to:
·         Scrap changes to the House's changes to civil and criminal penalties for oil and gas operators; Restore a proposal to allow the ODNR director to approve certain property transactions under $1 million that currently require gubernatorial approval;  Remove provisions that reduce funding for the Mine Safety Program and limit related training and inspections;  and, eliminate language that would allow anyone to raise white-tailed deer for personal use.

Director Butler said the administration hopes to address concerns that the current law allowing only the chief of the Division of Oil and Gas to obtain confidential information about fracking chemicals could hamper access to local fire departments and other agencies.  The OEPA director said the administration would also like to ensure that public drinking water systems can obtain confidential information in case of another well pad fire, where toxic chemicals can get washed down into waterways. Early access to the data could allow municipalities to monitor and shut down their systems until the pollution flows past the intakes, he explained.  During his testimony, Mr. Butler touted new algae-related provisions in the bill that would require large publicly owned wastewater plants to monitor phosphorus levels in their discharge and allow the state to restrict the disposal of dredging material in Lake Erie, while using it for other purposes.

Director Daniels touted the House's move to prohibit the application of fertilizer and livestock manure to frozen and saturated farm fields in the Western Lake Erie Basin, which he called "a necessary step in our battle to restore the health of our great lake."

A House-added proposal to define "adverse impacts" under the multi-state agreement on water usage has drawn great attention from environmental groups, but Director Zehringer said he hasn't yet reviewed the provision.  Environmentalists say the language closely resembles a bill that Gov. Kasich previously vetoed (HB231, 129th General Assembly) that would have allowed industrial operations to withdraw huge amounts of water from environmentally sensitive tributaries of Lake Erie in violation of the compact.

However, Mike Bailey, ODNR's chief of the Division of Soil and Water Resources, indicated that the administration had a different interpretation of the provision.  "We do believe it is compliant with the Great Lakes Compact," he told reporters after the hearing.

Sen. Hite said he believed the Great Lakes Compact proposal was problematic.  "When we did the Great Lakes Compact, we went through that whole process. And there was a veto and then we corrected the language to avoid a veto. Now the language is partly what was vetoed. Well, then we have to have that discussion," he said.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Survey

Photo from:

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is looking for your help on collecting information and input about the fall wild turkey season. If you hunt turkeys in the fall, please take a minute to let your voice be heard by filling out this survey.

Thanks, tell your friends!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pheasant Hunting Survey

photo from:

   For those of you throughout Guernsey County or the state for that matter, who enjoy the annual pheasant releases at wildlife area's in Ohio. I encourage each and everyone of you to fill out this survey to give the Ohio Division of Wildlife information that could affect the future pheasant hunting opportunities at wildlife areas. Let your voice be heard! You can fill a survey out each time you participate in a stocked pheasant hunt on a public area in Ohio. For more information contact your local wildlife area office, the local district office, or the main office in Columbus.

Click here for the survey:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Progress on the new office

The county commissioners are having a new office built for the district at the Guernsey County Fairgrounds.  It is being erected on the site of the old schoolhouse that was destroyed by a windstorm 2 summers ago.  We will be located next door to the OSU Extension.  We hope to be moved in the spring.

CAUV Discussion from Dept of Taxation

The method for determining farm land tax values under the Current Agricultural Use Value program could see a revamp by the end of the year, the Department of Taxation said Friday.  Any adjustments will largely respond to farmers' concerns that the values are expected to spike to unmanageable levels for taxes that are to be paid in 2015, ODT's Executive Administrator of Tax Equalization Shelley Wilson said in an interview.

The CAUV program ensures that farmland is taxed on its agricultural productivity rather than development value, which gives farmers a prime deal. But in the last few years, the equation has been thrown off by volatile crop prices, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation said this week in outlining recommendations issued to ODT and the General Assembly.
Ohio Farmers' Union members have also brought attention to the issue through their service on a panel that advises the department on the CAUV program.  "There are a lot of farmers and landowners facing huge increases in their tax bills at the same time their incomes have fallen drastically," OFBF Executive Vice President Jack Fisher said in submitting the plan, which suggests the department consider more closely tying the valuations to current economic conditions. 

Ms. Wilson said 41 of 88 counties are due to receive new valuations for tax year 2014, which will likely result in significant increases on those tax values calculated under the CAUV program.  There will be a case of "sticker shock," she said, noting that the average value of agricultural real estate was $123 per acre in 2005 and the current average is $1,668 per acre.  However, Ms. Wilson said the CAUV program "is still providing a substantial tax savings to famers" because Ohio's farm land is valued well below the U.S. Department of Agriculture's $5,700 per acre valuation.  An option for softening a new valuation hit could be to delay the release of values by a few months in order to use the immediate past year's crop prices as opposed to crop prices from two years prior, Ms. Wilson said. Doing so would give the department a better picture of the economic situation Ohio farmers are facing.  While the department has yet to decide which of the OFBF recommendations it will move forward with, she said it "is very interested in making sure that our formula is accurate and uses the best sources of data to produce the most accurate values that reflect current trends in Ohio's agricultural economy."  Any modifications to the department's appraisal methodology could be made by January or sooner, Ms. Wilson added.  The farm bureau's recommendations, which can be implemented without legislative action or a rules process, would affect taxes paid in 2016 and beyond.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Utilizing cover crops in our fields

Cover crops have been around for many years in some areas; however it is rather new to others.

Importance of cover crops

Cover crops protect against topsoil loss from erosion, provide organic matter and utilize the unused nutrients in the soil while creating and generating more available forms of nutrients. Cover crops are very versatile and can be used not only as a soil protector and enhancer, but can be used also for livestock grazing and stored forage purposes. Without cover crops, soil health and soil structure would suffer and more applied nutrients would have to take place to add what was lost by not having cover crops on your fields.

Species Selection (Just to name a few):


Rye is one of the best cool-season covers for absorbing unused Nitrogen in the soil. It is very quick growing, which provides cover to avoid erosion due to rain and wind, while suppressing weeds. It also helps add organic matter as it supplies a great source of residue.
Rye does a lot to improve the soil where it is planted and has a very good root system to help hold the soil together; however, it does not do much for addressing compaction issues as it has no taproot.  One large benefit of rye is that it is able to be seeded later in the fall than most all other cover crops, while still performing at a high level for all of the positive notes listed above.  Since rye is such a large nitrogen scavenger, mixing it with a winter annual legume would retain some nitrogen for the spring. It will survive throughout the winter and regrow robustly in the spring. Ways to kill rye in the spring would be by cutting, spraying herbicides or tillage.

Winter wheat

Winter Wheat, typically grown as a cash crop, has the ability to serve a dual purpose as a cover crop, then as a grazing option in the spring. Wheat is slower growing, so problems such as overgrowth that you may have with rye in the spring, you shouldn't have with wheat. Wheat, as a cover crop, is good for erosion control, catching the nutrients currently in the soil and is good as a weed suppressor.


Legumes add a great source of nitrogen into the soil.  Depending on the type of legume that you choose, some are more tolerant of heat and cold and moisture and some grow more rapidly than others. I suggest you research which type would be the best for your area. Some examples of legumes are alfalfa, alsike clover, birdsfoot trefoil, crownvetch, red clover, white clover and sweet clover.


Oats are a cool season annual that grow swiftly and provide great cover, which reduces soil erosion. If you do not want to deal with having to cut in the spring, oats are a great option, as they should winter kill, which actually helps the survival of legumes if they are in the cover crop mix. They have a very fibrous root system that holds the soil structure intact. Oats gather up the excess nitrogen and suppresses weeds as it out competes them.

Tillage radish

Tillage radish is a fantastic way to address a compaction issue. Radish provides good cover and prevents soil erosion while alive. Radish should winter kill and leave holes in the ground allowing for water and air to reach further down into the soil layers than they normally would. These holes also provide an easy pathway for future crops root systems to travel. Another positive of the radish is that they help drive away slugs. Tillage radishes have a very bad potent smell when they die. This could be a disadvantage for close neighbors.

Application method:

There are several types of applications styles that can be used for cover cropping. Some ways to get the seed down before the harvest of your current crop would be Air Seeding and Aerial Seeding. Air seeding is done with a “highboy” tractor and the seed is blown through dangling tubes into the ground. Aerial seeding is done via airplane.


If you plan to harvest your crop first, then a No-till application is a great option as it reduces the number of times you need to be out on the field, which reduces compaction and soil erosion. It is also a great way to assure solid seed to soil contact. Another way would be with a seeder used after the ground is run over with a tiller. This is a good way to incorporate good seed to soil contact while reducing the top soil compaction thanks to the tiller however it does allow soil erosion to become a problem before the cover crop germinates and grows.

Benefits to your soil health:

Top growth

With cover crops, it would absolutely be great to have solid top growth along with a solid root system, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes we don’t get the top growth that we wanted or were hoping for. One thing to remember is that just because the growth of the plant above the soil may not be good, the root system may still be flourishing.

Preventing erosion

Yes, it would be better to have that plant cover to prevent soil erosion from rain and wind, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. What matters just as much, if not more is what is happening underground. Having a solid root foundation allows for better soil structure and a higher nutrient content. Earthworms are a great sign of good soil health. Soil is highly complex, so I won’t go into all the science of it today, but I will say that good soil health is absolutely essential to the growth and production of your crops.
All in all, cover crops are a great conservation practice that improves soil health and reduces erosion and compaction problems. Cover crops should not be over looked and landowners who have used them for years can tell you that they really are a great option for all types of farmers.
(Jason Tyrell is a district technician for the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District. He’s a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in agricultural business management.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Brief Look at The Wood Duck

Photo by: Michael Dossett

    The Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) pictured above. One of Ohio's most recognizable waterfowl species. The drake (male) on the left is often referred to as one of the most beautiful ducks we have with it's iridescent crest with white outlining streaks, red eye, chestnut colored chest, black, blue, and purple back. The hen (female) on the right, you'll notice is much duller in color. This is to ensure she is concealed during the nesting season to help protect herself and her ducklings. Wood Ducks are also easily recognizable by their voice too, here is a video that both shows the Wood Duck then you'll hear the hen's famous " shriek" along with a hen Mallard in the background. Ducks are very gregarious (friendly) birds and you'll often find them with other puddle ducks like Mallards, Black Ducks, and Teal species.
    The diet of a Wood Duck can vary depending on where it's at. Wood Ducks are omnivores which means they'll eat both plants and animals. They are also puddle ducks which means they will "bob" for food and skim the water collecting food in their bill. They like aquatic insects and macro-invertebrates that live in the wetlands and streams they inhabit. Wood Ducks will also eat a variety of plants like duckweed, water meal, smartweed, acorns, and agricultural crops such as corn.
    Where can I find Wood Ducks you may ask. A variety of similar habitats, Wood Ducks like wetlands, swamps, marshes, shallow ponds, and a variety of streams. Especially if there's a food source in or near by. You typically won't see them out in the middle of a big pond like some diving duck species. Wood Ducks like water that's shallower with cover, whether that's american lotus, spatterdock, button bush, or fallen trees in the water they like to have some sort of cover.
    Wood Ducks are cavity nesting birds, you'll often see them up on tree limbs near wetlands, marshes, and streams in the spring time probably because they've got a clutch of eggs in a hole somewhere in a tree. Nest heights can vary anywhere from 2-50 feet above the ground. The Wood Duck is the only duck in North America that can hatch two broods of young in one year. A typical clutch size is 6-16 whitish tan eggs. incubation of the eggs takes 28-37 days and the nesting period for these ducks is 56-70 days. After the nesting period is over the ducklings will fledge the nest by jumping from the nest and landing on the ground or in the water. Something you can do to encourage nesting on your property is by placing nesting boxes near optimum Wood Duck habitat here's a link to nest box plans for Wood Ducks and many other wildlife species These nest box plans make for a great family activity.
For more information on Wood Ducks or any other species of concern, feel free to contact me here at the office at 740-435-0408 ext. 6892 or by e-mail at

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Guernsey SWCD Annual Meeting

 On Wednesday, October 29th the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District held its 72nd annual meeting banquet and election.  The meeting was held at Mr Lee’s Restaurant .  John Enos and Ken Ford were re-elected to the board, and will serve a three-year term beginning January 2014 on the board which provides direction, oversight, and fiscal accountability to the Soil and Water Conservation District.  Board members serve on a volunteer basis.  Current board members include Bill Bertram, Ken Ford, John Enos, Myron Dellinger and Steve Douglass.

During the annual meeting, the Conservationist of the Year award was presented to Ed Bay.  The Guernsey SWCD partners with Farm Credit, and USDA-NRCS to recognize co-operators who have shown a commitment to conservation of natural resources.  Mr. Bay was presented with a sign, provided by Farm Credit Services.    

The Bay family has a long history of conservation, beginning with Ed’s father, David, who served on the SWCD board for 27 years, from 1958 to 1984. In 1985, Dave Bay won the Goodyear Award, the forerunner of the current Conservationist of the Year award.  Working with the SWCD, the Bays had installed a pond to supply water to the barn for livestock, build an animal waste storage facility, and developed springs for livestock water sources. The Bays were the first in the area to use no till to plant corn. 

Following in his father’s footsteps, Ed has done a great deal to assist in the district’s work; hosting soil judging contests for regional FFA classes twice in the past 10 years, demonstrating non-lethal wildlife damage control by using propane cannons to protect his crops, and offering his alfalfa fields to test the effectiveness of different types of repellants to deter deer from damaging his hayfields by over browsing.  Most recently, he has been involved in our cover crop program, and was instrumental this year in encouraging 2 more new landowners to plant cover crops to protect and enrich the soils in their crop fields. 

The Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District is a political sub-division of the State of Ohio and covers the entire county.  Soil and water conservation districts were first formed in the 1940's when concerns of soil erosion and the loss of our most productive soils became apparent after the Great Dust Bowl.  Local citizens gathered together to form the conservation districts to educate and provide assistance to landowners in order to reduce soil erosion to tolerable limits.  Conservation Practices such as contour strips, no-till crops, and grassed waterways have had a great impact on reducing soil erosion.

Over the years conservation districts have evolved to include issues around land use, water quality, forestry and wildlife.  They work with landowners, land users, other governmental agencies, and elected officials to solve natural resource concerns.  Your conservation district can be a wealth of information.  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. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ECOFA program on woodland shrubs

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

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

Bird watchers flock along Lake Erie coast line

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

Read rest of article  HERE

Governor on Severance Tax

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ohio Confirms 1st Case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

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

Friday, October 24, 2014


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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Viruses and septic systems

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

Read Rest of Article  HERE

Monday, October 20, 2014

OEPA Director Outlines Targeted Algae Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Statehouse News: Ebola Containment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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