Monday, July 21, 2014

ODNR Natural Resources Park at State Fair

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio State Fair opens Wednesday, July 23, at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) provides visitors the opportunity to experience the great outdoors only steps from the busy midway at the ODNR Natural Resources Park. The park, located in the southeast corner of the fairgrounds, is free to anyone attending the fair.

“The Ohio State Fair is one of my favorite events of the year because it provides a snapshot of what Ohio has to offer,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “Our Natural Resources Park has something for everyone, and we encourage guests to come experience the variety of outdoor activities for themselves.”

Visitors are welcomed into the park by a 15-foot-tall Smokey Bear who greets each child by name. In celebration of Smokey’s 70th birthday, the All Ohio State Fair Youth Choir will be singing “Happy Birthday.” Additionally, a Smokey Bear hot air balloon will float high above the fairgrounds on the mornings of July 23-24, weather permitting.

New this year, guests will have an opportunity to try their hand at disc golf in our Ohio State Parks camping village. Professionals from various disc golf associations throughout the state will be in the park to educate golfers on skills and equipment.

The 7,000-square-foot kayak pond is open daily to visitors of all ages. Take a float around the pond and learn more about paddling from ODNR Division of Watercraft staff. We will also be demonstrating stand-up paddleboarding, one of the newest and most popular water activities, daily at 3 p.m. in the kayak pond.

The Youth Fishing Pond is open to guests under 14. Kids can go fishing and throw back or keep what they catch. Fish filleting and frying demonstrations will also be featured this year at the Fishing Pond for guests of all ages.

The ODNR Amphitheater provides an opportunity to experience outdoor entertainment with seating available for approximately 500 people. Amphitheater entertainment ranges from music and dancers to lumberjacks and animals from the Columbus Zoo. Shows are offered from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

New this year, the park will host a live performance by the highly acclaimed bluegrass band, The Grascals, on Wednesday, July 30, at 4:20 p.m. The concert will take place in the ODNR Amphitheater and is free for all fairgoers. The Grascals have been previously featured on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the Grand Ole Opry and performed for two of the nation’s presidents.

Visitors can view Ohio native wildlife, such as red squirrels, snapping turtles, a groundhog, great horned owl and bald eagles, up close and personal along the wildlife boardwalk. Park visitors are invited to tour the Butterfly House to watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. Ruthven’s Aviary allows fairgoers to familiarize themselves with an array of birds, including the great blue heron.

Instructors from the ODNR Division of Wildlife will be in the park daily to assist visitors at the Annie Oakley BB Shooting Range. Visitors can also try their hand at archery.

The pioneer cabin at the ODNR Natural Resources Park has been transformed into an Ohio Public House, circa 1800. Volunteers will be in period costumes, and a variety of hands-on activities, games and music will be offered inside and outside of the cabin area.

For any questions or information, visit the ODNR information booth and gift shop for natural resources literature, posters, souvenirs, clothing and toys.

The ODNR Natural Resources Park is open daily during the run of the fair from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and entry is free with state fair admission. Visit to access more detailed information about the ODNR Natural Resources Park or check out the daily amphitheater schedule.

The Ohio State Fair runs from Wednesday, July 23, through Sunday, Aug. 3. For more information about the Ohio State Fair, go to

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Forest Heritage Festival is August 9th

This year the Forest Heritage Festival has been moved to a one day only event on Saturday, August 9th, 2014.  This unique event offers forestry education and an auction that raises money for Akron Children’s Hospital. The auction offers some very high quality furniture and other nice items.  Lumberjack demonstrations, displays, equipment demos, and educational talks round out this fun day.  Plan to check it out. For more info visit:

Save Soil, Clean Water, and Create Wildlife Habitat through CRP

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is an important tool for cleaning water, reducing soil erosion and increasing wildlife habitat nationally and in Ohio.
Ohio lost almost 90 square miles of CRP acres after the previous Farm Bill expired in 2012. The passage of the 2014 Farm Bill opened continuous CRP enrollment on June 9. Ohioans now have the chance to enroll essential habitat in CRP.
• CRP is administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency and provides incentives to farmers who plant natural vegetation to reduce soil erosion, prevent nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from entering streams and lakes, and increase wildlife habitat.
• Land enrolled in CRP provides essential habitat for popular wildlife species like northern bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasants, waterfowl and wild turkeys.
• The CRP program began in 1985. Ohio CRP enrollment includes the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), the Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds (CP-33), the Pollinator Habitat (CP-42) and other practices. Landowners who are interested in learning more can contact an ODNR Division of Wildlife private lands biologist or a local Farm Services Agency office.
• CRP has periodic general enrollment and continuous enrollment plans. The continuous CRP enrollment opened June 9.
• More than 12,000 acres of CRP in Ohio are set to expire in 2014. Counties in western and central Ohio will see the largest decline in CRP if the expiring acres are not re-enrolled. Ross County has the largest amount of acres expiring with 672. Highland (667), Champaign (657), Pickaway (544) and Huron (498) counties could also see big declines in 2014.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor joined ODNR Director James Zehringer on Friday at Mohican State Park to tout $88.5 million worth of capital improvement projects that will take place at state parks.  Mohican State Park will receive about $5 million of those funds to make a handful of improvements that include a new nature center and campground pool shower house, the renovation 25 cottages, the campground pool and restrooms and the addition of a splash pad.

"We are committed to Ohio State Parks and understand that this money is not intended to expand the park system, but to serve as a step toward improving and updating our parks for the enjoyment of every visitor," Mr. Zehringer said during the event.  The project funding that was made available through the biennium budget (HB 59*) has been guided, in part, by residents who have logged onto the ODNR website to submit improvement ideas, the department said in a release. More than 4,600 surveys have been completed.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How to identify poison ivy, oak and sumac

You know the old adage “Leaves of three, let it be.” It’s referring to poison ivy and oak, and it’s true. With summer comes much more time spent outside, thus increasing the risk of coming in contact with these poisonous plants – and poison sumac – if you’re not careful.

Photos and rest of article  HERE

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Farm, Business Conservation Groups Kick Off Water Management Strategy Coalition

A broad coalition convened by statewide agriculture groups announced plans Monday to work together to develop a long-term strategy for managing Ohio's water resources.  Members of Healthy Water Ohio, an initiative the Ohio Farm Bureau started last fall, said they planned to commission a poll to gather input about Ohioans' concerns regarding water quality and quantity.  The polling data will be used to guide development of a 20 to 30-year water management strategy for the state that the coalition expects to issue in the summer of 2015.

Larry Antosch, senior director of environmental policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau, said HWO would review a wide variety of water-related concerns before developing its recommendations.  "We really don't know what the final product's going to look like, but our vision is that there would be key issues identified, goals and opportunities and some strategy items," he told reporters during a conference call.

In addition to the Farm Bureau, the coalition's 16-member steering committee includes representatives of: Anheuser-Busch; the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners; Farm Credit Mid-America; Ohio Cattlemen's Association; Ohio Corn Marketing Program; Lake Erie Shores & Islands; Ohio AgriBusiness Association; Ohio Dairy Producers Association; Ohio Soybean Council; Scotts Miracle-Gro; Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts; Ohio League of Conservation Voters; the Nature Conservancy; Ohio State University; and the Village of Ottawa.

A total of 30 groups have already participated in the initiative and more will be invited to engage with working groups that will focus on specific subjects, the coalition said.

Larry Fletcher, executive director of Lake Erie Shores & Islands, said the coalition's steering committee would review economic concerns stemming from pollution and limited quantities of water.  "Any time people cannot be assured of having plentiful, safe water for drinking, cooking, irrigating, bathing, for shipping, any other purpose, there's bound to be some economic impact. So we'll certainly be focusing on that," he said.

The group will also consider aging water-related infrastructure, he said, pointing to locks on the Ohio River and dams and public water supply systems around the state. In addition, it will investigate the issue of dredging in Lake Erie and the effects that climate change will have on the state as floods, droughts and precipitation events become increasingly extreme, he said.

Ohio Farm Bureau President Steve Hirsch said the outcome of the plan will determine the coalition's next course of action.  "We may have to do some lobbying, we may have to do some public education, there may be lots of things in there that we have to do," he said.  The coalition will also address harmful algae blooms that have plagued Ohio's lakes in recent years, said John Stark, freshwater director for the Nature Conservancy.

Agriculture groups were key stakeholders in legislation (SB 150) passed this spring that is designed to reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer running off into streams and rivers that feed toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Marys and other lakes around the state.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Unique urban farms around the world

Lufa Farms in Montreal, Canada, grows vegetables on two sprawling rooftop
greenhouses today and is expanding to two more. Photograph: /Lufa Farms
Many shoppers like the idea of buying local. After all, it can mean fresher and healthier foods, stronger local economies, direct contact with food producers and in some cases — but not always — lower carbon emissions.

But most of us have only a few options for participating in the local food movement: visiting the farmers market or signing up for a community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription. As the movement continues to grow and evolve, however, social entrepreneurs are experimenting with novel ways to make local agriculture an integral part of urban life.

HERE are 10 of the most intriguing projects currently underway: