Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter Bird Feeding Tips

Backyard bird watching is a fun and interesting hobby for the entire family - and it can be enjoyed throughout all seasons! It's true that a lot of backyard birds have flown south for the winter, but don't forget that many other bird species stay through the long, cold months to stick it out with us. To help ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your efforts and provide for the birds to keep them coming back, here are some winter feeding tips

Keep feeders well stocked
Keeping feeders filled, especially at sunrise and sunset, are crucial to help birds survive cold winter nights.

Provide high-energy foods
Black-oil sunflower and suet are high-energy foods and great choices to make available in the winter.

Prevent ice and snow from accumulating on a bird feeder
It won't matter how much seed is in the feeder if the birds can't get to it. After a snowfall, sweep or shovel snow out from under your bird feeder so the birds can get at food that is on the ground.
Offer clean, ice-free water
Fresh, unfrozen water is crucial for birds and other wildlife during the cold of winter. When other sources of water are iced over, birds will flock to an open birdbath. To keep the water from freezing quickly, some folks fill their birdbath several times a day with hot water. But the simplest and most carefree method to supply ice-free water is to invest in an electric birdbath heater available where wild bird feeding supplies are sold. Some birdbaths are made with built-in heating elements for use in the winter. Whatever methods you choose though, do not use antifreeze in a birdbath - it is poisonous!

Friday, November 19, 2010

From our Wildlife Specialist, Joe Lehman

Can some animals predict our future weather patterns?
For centuries people have looked at animal behavior to forecast the weather. Sailors watched the movements of dolphins and sea birds, if they were heading toward a bay then a storm was approaching. Native Americans would check spider webs for spiders, if no spiders were found this would tell them ran was coming. Then again, it may be that animals do this all the time and people only took note or remembered this when bad weather came. But even today I hear of local residents who are convinced that many animals can forecast the weather. Some animals in southeastern Ohio come to mind.
One popularly believed predictor of the winter has turned out to be fiction rather than fact. Until recently, it was thought that the caterpillar known as the woolybear would be different colors in reaction to the coming winter; being darker in color the colder the winter would be. This has proven false. Instead, the different color bands are due to the developmental stage the caterpillar is in, and the black woolybears are actually a different species of caterpillar.
Squirrels are one. Squirrels spend a period of time from August to December hunting and hiding nuts for the coming winter. The level of activity is said to predict its severity. If they are always busy gather and storing then it is said we will have a harsh winter. Squirrels are also said to build their nests higher in the treetops if they expect a lot of snow.
Another animal is the Asian beetle, which is a recent immigrant to this country. This beetle is sometimes confused with our native “Lady Bug”, but is orange rather than red, and has fewer spots. Over summer the Asian beetle spends its time foraging, but in October and November, it begins looking for a place to hibernate for the winter. In mild winters, a crevice in tree bark or crack in an outbuilding will suffice. But for extremely cold winters the beetles need a warmer place to call home. The beetle seems to know if needs to find a hiding spot in homes and other heated buildings.
Hornets also come to mind. They seem to be able to predict severe weather patterns up to 6 months in advance. With that knowledge, they build their nests at different heights. If they sense a mild winter, the nest will be closer to the ground, but in cold, snowy winters, the nest will be built higher up in the trees.
Although not yet common in Ohio, the bear can also be observed to predict the coming winter. It is said that in milder winters they will sleep closer to the entrance of their den and their fur is not as thick, as apposed to a in severe winter they hibernate deep in their den and wear a thick coat.
Keep your eye on the activities of different species this fall and winter. They may be able to give us a “heads up” on the coming winter weather. And even if not, you’ll learn some interesting things about these animals and learn to enjoy and appreciate them more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Kennedy Family; Ed and Sandra, along with sons, Joshua and Dustin, with district technician Van Slack.
During the annual meeting, the Conservationist of the Year award was presented to Ed Kennedy of Kennedy Farms. The Guernsey SWCD partners with Farm Credit Services to recognize producers who have shown a commitment to conservation of natural resources on their operations. Mr. Kennedy was presented with a sign, provided by Farm Credit Services, to display on his farm to show his accomplishment.
Ed Kennedy raises corn and soybeans in a rotation along with oats, wheat and some hay. In 2006 he diversified by adding a swine finishing facility. The manure generated from the finishing facility is utilized on crop fields where oats and wheat are grown. Kennedy follows a comprehensive nutrient management plan which is beneficial both economically and environmentally. Over the years an agrichemical handling facility and roof runoff management has also been added. Ed has also worked with the district on plans for installing systematic tile drainage and grassed waterways to protect and conserve soil and enhance crop production.
Please join us in congratulating the Kennedy family for their efforts in conserving our precious natural resources.

Election Results

Blaine Neilley was re-elected to the SWCD board of supervisors during the annual meeting on November 4th. His term will begin on January 1st, and runs for 3 years.
Our sincere thanks to all who voted, whether by absentee ballot, or by coming to the election site.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The annual meeting and election of supervisors is set for November 4th at the Secrest SR Center on High St in Senecaville. The election runs from 6PM to 7:30PM. The banquet and meeting begin at 7PM.
If you would like to attend the banquet, tickets are $10 and can be purchased from any board member or at the office. Deadline to purchase is October 29th.
If you would like to vote, but cannot come to the Secrest Center on Thursday evening, you may vote by absentee ballot. Ballots can be requested by phone, mail, or by coming to the office during business hours.
There is one board position open this year. The candidates on the ballot are:
Russ Ables
Blaine Neilley
Daniel Speedy
For more information about the candidates, you may call the office.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Planning a Successful Timber Harvest

OSU Extention and Guernsey and Noble SWCDs are hosting a timber harvest tour on Saturday, October 23rd. Click to enlarge and print this flyer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Paul Bunyan Show next weekend

Come see us at the Paul Bunyan Show, October 1st,2nd & 3rd. Friday and Saturday from 8-5PM, and Sunday from 8-3PM. The PBS is held at the Guernsey County Fairgrounds

Thursday, September 23, 2010


at Moore Memorial Woods on Thursday, October 21 from 5:30 to 8PM. We're hosting a night hike for children six to sixteen.

There will be pumpkin painting, a weenie roast, and wildlife specialist Joe Lehman will lead a hike to call owls, and discuss the exciting things that happen in the woods while the kids are usually doing homework, watching TV, and sleeping. Space is limited to the first 30 kids. Bring an adult with you, since supervision is required, and besides, they will have as much fun as you will!

Call the district to get registered before October 15th, and get directions to the woods.

There is no charge, but you do need to register to attend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guernsey County Fair Educational Display

Here is the display board showing some of the agricultural activities 400 thirdgraders from Guernsey & Noble county learn about each year during our program, Ag School Days.
Note the picture in the center with all the names of sponsors and supporters of this very important program.

All the "buzz" locally about Spotted Knapweed prompted this display showing some of the common invasives species in Ohio.

The macroinvertebrate display shows some of the species of insects that can be found in ponds and streams. The presence of these species can indicate the relative health of the water supply, as some species are more sensitive to polutants and to the oxygen level in the water.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What is an invasion plant species?

An invasive species is one that spreads and establishes over large areas and persists. Invasiveness may be characterized and enhanced by robust vegetative growth, high reproductive rate, abundant seed production, high seed germination rate, and longevity. They may crowd out and replace native species to the detriment of plant diversity.
Below is purple loosestrife, a plant that has escaped from cultivation in gardens. It now invades northern Ohio's wetlands, marshes, ditches, riverbanks and wet meadows, forming nearly pure stands. It spreads aggressively by underground rhizomes, and can produce up to a million seeds per plant.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plan to attend the Paul Bunyan Show!

Don't forget - mark your calendar for the Official Paul Bunyan Show held at the Guernsey County fairgrounds on October 1,2,& 3, 2010.
The district will be there and have its building open for you to visit and get information on forestry and woodland management in the county.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Guernsey County Fair approaches

Don't forget to stop by the Backyards for Conservation display at the Guernsey county fair during the week of September 13th. The district will have its outdoor display of plants to attract wildlife to your own backyard. We also have a small pond and waterfall.
Inside the garden building you'll find a display of macroinvertebrates, the "bugs" that live in our streams and ponds. By recognizing the types of "bugs" you can get a good idea of the quality of the water.
We will also have a display of different invasive plant species that plague Ohio and Guernsey county.
Stop by and talk to our staff and enjoy the displays!

Look who met us at the front door this morning

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Brook

(Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809-1892)
I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Identifying Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven)

The Ailanthus is an invasive species of tree in Ohio.  It is common in this area, and is spreading rapidly.  It is often mistaken for Black Walnut and allowed to grow, producing massive amounts of seed and reproducing.
It forms thickets, crowding out more desireable species of trees.  It is a fast growing, short lived tree, and the wood is not useful for timber or for firewood.  Once established, it becomes difficult and costly to eradicate, so keeping an eye out for young trees and removing them immediately is prefered. 

Here is an easy way to discern between the compound leaves of young Ailanthus vs Black Walnuts. 
Ailanthus has less than ten pairs of veins in each leaflet, and has a notch at the base of each leaflet.
Black Walnut has more than 10 pairs of veins in each leaflet, and does not have a notch. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The latest buzz - invasive species "Spotted Knapweed"

Spotted Knapweed has been "spotted" in Guernsey County.  Its been reported to our office in the Quaker City area, and also in the Cumberland area.
It is a short-lived perennial or biennial that grows 2-3 feet tall.  Seedlings develop the first year into lowgrowing rosettes.  From July to September it produces pink to purple flowers that look similar to thistles.  These flowers die down to brown seeds with with a plume of soft greyish bristles.   It infests hayfields, pastures and roadsides.  It is native to Europe and Asia.  It has a long taproot, and the plant exudes a toxin that kills neighboring plants' roots.   Since this toxin can irritate some people's skin, care should be taken when working with it. 
Sheep and goats will readily graze this weed when it is in the young growth stage.  As it matures, it becomes less palatable as bitter compounds called cnicin build up in the plant.  A diet of more than 70% knapweed can cause health issues. 
Over time, grazing will weaken the plant.  This means of control is most effective when used in combination with chemical controls.  It is very effective in reducing seed production when grazed twice, once at the rosette to bolt stage, and again at the bud stage. 
(this info from the American Sheep Industry)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Call for candidates for Board of Supervisors

If you would like to run for the Guernsey SWCD board of supervisors, please contact the committee chairperson, Bill Bertram at 740-658-3150 by September 3rd, or call our office for a petition.  The petition should be signed by 10 Guernsey county residents, and be turned into the office by close of business on September 15th. 
The annual meeting and election will be held on October 21st at the Secrest Center in Senecaville. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Farmer's Market Display

Here is summer intern Seth Woodford helping man the display on pollinators at the Camrbidge Farmers Market this past Friday morning. 

More Conservation Camp Photos

This is Dee Carter, a retired science teacher.  Dee has been volunteering for many years.  Her class learned about the effects of pollution and litter on wildlife.  One of the experiments was straight from the day's headlines as the kids did experiments on the effects of oiling on feathers and eggs.
In the foreground below is youth volunteer Katie Hodges.  Katie attended camp for several years, and is now donating her time to help.  On the left are staff member Joe Lehman and summer intern, Seth Woodford.
The kids are playing a game of tag that helps them understand how habitat changes - namely shelter and food - effect the populations of both predator and prey.
Volunteer teacher Gina Anderson helped the kids design and dye their T-shirts they got to take home as a souvenir of the camp.Seth Woodford taught the class on building birdhouses.  The first picture shows volunteer Bob Luddington assisting some of the campers to assemble the birdhouse.  The second picture shows Seth passing out all the parts of the houses.  The kids got to take home their completed birdhouse to provide habitat in their own backyard.

Friday, August 13, 2010

2010 Conservation Campers

What a GREAT group of kids!   This is the whole gang at Seneca Lake.   Besides the kids, in the back row are Elias Vaughn, Bob Luddington, Myron Dellinger, and Seth Woodford who volunteered to help this year.  We could not have done it without them!
More photos next week after I recover from two long, HOT, but very funfilled days at camp.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pollinator display at the Cambridge Farmer's Market

Look for us at the farm market in downtown Cambridge on Friday morning!  We'll have a display on pollinators, and have buckeye bracelets for the kids.

Pollinator-Friendly Activities

Here are some simple steps you can take in your yard to create habitat and help pollinators survive and thrive.
  1. Plant a pollinator garden.  Pollinator gardening is fun.  Check out:    This website offers gardening instructions along with educational and curriculum resources.
  2. Reduce chemical misuse.  Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce damage to your plants and to protect pollinators by using less chemicals.  You could intersperse food plants, like tomatoes, with inedible plants like marigolds.  Marigolds are known to attract pest insects away from food plants.  
  3. Reduce your area of lawn grass.  Grass lawns offer little food or shelter for most wildlife, including pollinators.  You can replace grass with a wild meadow or prairie plants.  For a neater look, make a perennial border with native plants.  Plants native to our area are adapted to your soil type, climate, precipitation, and local pollinators.  You can get a list of plants native to our area at:
  4. Provide water.  All wildlife, including pollinators, need water.  Some butterfly species sip water from muddy puddles to quench their thirst and get important minerals.  You can provide water in a birdbath or even a shallow dish place on the ground.  Be sure to change the water frequently to prevent mosquitoes. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This office is closed on Monday, July 5th, in observance of the Independence Day celebration. 
Let Freedom Ring!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Conservation Day Camp

Sign-up has begun for our annual 2 day camp for 8-11 year olds.  The dates are Wednesday, August 11th, and Thursday, August 12th.   It runs from 9am-2pm, and we provide bussing from 2 different convenient sites in the county.  The cost remains $5 total for 2 days of fun including lunch.
The theme this year is Healthy Habitats.  The kids will play games, do science experiments, crafts, and other fun ways to learn about their natural world.   On the second day, we'll take a field trip to the Senecaville Fish Hatchery, and then spend the afternoon at the lake, fishing and canoeing. 
Please call the office for a brochure and to sign up.  The camp is limited to 40 kids, so don't delay!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Build your own: Nests for wood ducks, mallards, bluebirds, and bats

Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District reminds you; “Build it, and they will come.” That’s not true of nests you could build for many species of wildlife, but there are a few species that have proven they will take up temporary occupancy if you follow their rules of habitat.
Those species include bluebirds, bats, wood ducks, mallards, and Canada geese.
There are very specific rules to follow in both building and placing artificial nests, if you want to be successful over time in attracting specific birds. We have plans in our office free of charge. Ohio Department of Natural Resources offers free plans on the Internet, as well, and there are books with detailed plans and instruction on location of specific nests. Of course, these nesting boxes can also be purchased from our office.
The world wide web has a wealth of helpful information on nesting structures: you can quickly get very good information from an Internet search with key words such as “bluebird boxes”, “mallard nests”, or “bat houses”.

Some thoughts to get you started:
1. Know where you’ll put the nest. Read about other biological needs of your intended species, such as food and cover needs of young. For instance, the mallard hen and ducklings leave the nest together within 12 hours of hatching to look for nearby wetlands with emergent plants for cover and aquatic insects to eat.
2. Follow specific construction plans. Size of box, materials, size of the opening and other details are critical. For instance, if the precise opening sized for Bluebird boxes isn’t used, competitor birds will likely be more of a problem.
3. Think about aesthetics.  Curved shapes and earth tones blend into the outdoors better than sharp angles and glossy paint.
4. Plan now for maintenance.  Lack of maintenance is the number one cause of failure for most nest structures. For instance, waterfowl don’t carry nest material to their sites, so you have to do that for them. Be sure to clean out Bluebird boxes after each use.
5. Have some patience. Don’t get discouraged if your nest isn’t used immediately. Where birds aren’t used to nest structures, it could be several years before they try them. Once they do, they and their offspring are likely to return year after year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thank yous from Ag School Days

Each year, we get thank you notes from all the kids who attend the Ag School Days field trip put on by our office, the Noble SWCD, the OSU extension service, and the EARS staff at Belle Valley research station.
We love getting them and reading each one!

Monday, June 14, 2010

In Support of our Local Farmer's Markets!

Why have a farmer's market?   Because farmers' markets benefit:
  • They cut out the middleman allowing increased financial returns through direct selling, price control, and a regular cash flow.
  • They provide the producer with direct customer feedback on produce and prices.  
  • Transport and packaging requirements are less thus reducing the producers' costs.
  • They provide a secure and regular market outlet. This is especially valuable for; new producers, producers in organic conversion, and small scale producers who are unable to produce the quantity required by supermarkets
  • With the increase in market numbers it is possible for individual producers to attend a substantial number of different markets. A number of farmers have indicated that this form of marketing has prevented their businesses from bankruptcy.


  •  They provide direct contact and feedback between customers and producers, so you can be sure how your vegetables are grown and meat produced.
  • They help to improve diet and nutrition by providing access to fresh food.
  • They play an important role in educating the consumer as to the production and origin of their food.  
  • They can be a source of information and inspiration on how to cook and prepare fresh ingredients.

 The Environment

  •  They help reduce food miles, thus vehicle pollution, noise, and fossil fuel use.
  • They help to reduce packaging.
  • They encourage more environmental production practices, such as organic or pesticide free.
  • They encourage farm diversification and hence bio-diversity.
The Community & Local Economy
  • They help bring life into towns and cities aiding regeneration.  
  • They encourage social interaction particularly between rural and urban communities.  
  • They stimulate local economic development by increasing employment, encouraging consumers to support local business, and thus keeping the money within the local community.  
........And they are fun!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Golden rules for great food plots for wildlife

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

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Five tips to Better Forest Habitat for Wildlife

National forests cover only 19% of forested land in the United States. Non-industrial private landowners own 59% of the forested land; their actions are critically important to birds, deer, turkeys, and other wildlife that depend on forestland habitat.
Just as croplands can produce crops yet yield habitat for wildlife, forestlands can be managed to produce wood products and at the same time benefit wildlife.

Managing a forest with wildlife in mind is like shooting at a moving target. As the trees and other plants in a forest grow and change, the structure, size and species of trees and other plants changes. That shift in habitat also means there will be a shift in wildlife species that live in the forest at the time. For example, the seeds and fruits of shrubs, grasses and forbs in the early successional stage, after a harvest or other major disturbance, are just what songbirds and small mammals want. On the other hand, woodpeckers, wood ducks, bats and other cavity nesters want the dead snags and den trees of a mature forest.

For the greatest diversity in wildlife, you want a diversity in the size, age and structure of the forest. That can be achieved with selective harvesting of single trees, to always leave a canopy, or by clearcutting small areas of a forest (15 acres or less) at different times, resulting in several successional stages of even-aged stands of trees within the forest. The flush of plant growth in clearcut areas lasts for several years.

Techniques to improve fish and wildlife habitat include:

1) Regenerate new growth in open spaces. This may be done by mowing, using herbicides, or planting seedlings.

2) Thin stands; remove weak trees.

3) Maintain forested riparian zones along streams, to allow stream shading and for wood to fall into streams. The leaves, limbs, fruit and insects that fall from streamside forests into the stream build the food supply for fish.

4) Leave snags and den trees.

5) Follow a plan. A variety of federal, state, and private organizations give both technical and financial help in managing forests for profit and wildlife.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Going Batty!

Bats can’t seem to catch a break. Just as soon as more people find out how helpful they are, another vampire movie comes out and terrifies a whole new audience.

The truth is, only three of more than 900 species of bats feed on the blood of other animals.

Many others feed on crop pests. Bats are important worldwide for their role in plant pollination, insect control, and dispersal of seeds. They are especially helpful in controlling crop pests; some bats eat 600 mosquito sized insects in an hour.

But 40 percent of American bat species are in severe decline because of habitat loss. Reasons include loss of roosting habitat because of cave and mine closings, intentional habitat destruction, development and deforestation, and loss of trees, snags and hedgerows from farmlands. Here are the basic bat habitat needs.

Food preferences. Insect-eating bats feed primarily on night-flying insects such as moths, beetles, fruit flies, mosquitoes, and mayflies. They can consume half their body weight each night in insects-- some species eat grasshoppers and cicadas. Fruit-eating bats eat fruit, pollen or nectar from plants and flowers as they pollinate such plants as bananas, mangoes, dates, figs, peaches, cashews and avocados.

Roosting cover. Being nocturnal, bats roost during the day in tree branches and leaves, under tree bark, in caves and mines, under bridges, in cliff crevices and natural tree cavities, and in attics and roofs of barns. Roosts may be for nursery colonies of females and their young; lower temperature bachelor roosts; and migratory stopover roosts.

Foraging needs. Most common foraging habitat is woodlot canopies and understory, over streams and other open water, open fields and croplands, and in lighted residential areas with large insect populations.
Bats skim water to drink from the surface while in flight.

Hibernation. Caves and abandoned mines are the largest hibernating habitat. That’s why totally sealed mine closings can hurt bat populations. Some bats hibernate in tree cavities, tree bark crevices, and buildings.

All the habitat components-- roosting, food, water, foraging and hibernation habitat, are needed in relative proximity to each other. For some bat species, humans can help with roosting facilities. Brown bats will use bat boxes constructed for them, but they need to be constructed and sited properly.

Attach the bat box at least ten feet high to a building or pole. Orient box to southeast to catch the morning sun if possible. If not possible, orient between the southeast and southwest to get at least seven hours of direct sun. When evicting bats from a building, place box near existing entrances, preferably a year prior to eviction. Do not evict bats between May and end of July when flightless young may be trapped inside. If more capacity is needed, additional boxes can be placed side by side.

If wasps become a problem, use a long thin stick to scrape old nests out in the winter. New nests can be knocked out in May or early June, during cold mornings or evenings, when wasps are less aggressive. If bats are present, don't disturb. Bats and wasps can coexist in boxes. Bats provide travel lanes for wasps to reach their nests. Wasps, in turn, provide some protection against box disturbance.

Here are plans from the WI DNR,  or the district also has attractive, properly designed boxes made from long-lasting cedar available for purchase.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Coyote - Friend or Foe?

There were no coyotes in Ohio when the land was first settled. Today they live everywhere in the state. A hundred years ago, coyotes were only found west of the Mississippi River. After the first sightings of coyotes in 1919, the coyote moved in and has become a part of Ohio’s wildlife

Coyotes are about as big as a medium-sized dog. Males range from 20 to 50 pounds, and stand between 41 and 53 inches in length. They have a bushy tail with a black tip, carries at a 45 degree angle. Most coyotes are gray; a few can be reddish brown or pale tan. Coyotes are nocturnal, being active at night. They often hunt together, in search of small mammals like mice, shrews, voles and rabbits. The coyote will also eat fruits, grasses, vegetables, or carrion; it is an omnivore and adapts its diet to the available food source. Sheep predation normally occurs in the summer when additional food is needed by the adults feeding pups. The coyote is notorious for killing sheep and other domestic livestock; studies show that livestock make up 14% of the coyote population’s diet.
Today the coyote lives almost everywhere, even in our cities. They survive in towns by living off of the food found in dumpsters or garbage cans. They also catch and eat the more common animals found in cities such as squirrels and rabbits, as well as domestic cats and small dogs. Coyotes sometimes find shelter in drainpipes and old buildings. And since many cities are built around big rivers and lakes, water is usually easy to find. By being nocturnal, coyotes avoid their biggest threat, people.
Coyote pairs mate in late winter and anywhere from 1 to 12 pups are born in April or May. For the first few weeks of their lives they are blind and helpless, depending on their parents for food and shelter. The male hunts for food to support both his mate and the pups for the first few weeks. The female nurses the pups and they grow quickly. As the pups get older, both parents will hunt for food and feed the young. At 8 weeks, the parents begin teaching the pups hunting skills. The family stays together until fall, when the pups begin to leave to establish their own territories.
Because they live near people, coyotes can become a problem for farmers and ranchers. Biologists study Ohio’s coyotes to learn more about the their behavior and movements in the state. Help is provided to farmers and landowners so they can learn how to control individual coyotes that keep causing problems.
The coyote has the remarkable ability to adapt to different habitats and to share space with people, but it remains an almost invisible neighbor. We can admire them for their cunning, or dislike them for the problems they sometimes cause, however, the coyote is here to stay.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weather for the Pond Clinic was perfect

What a beautiful night to sit on straw bales beside the pond and listen to several speakers on the subject of your dream pond.  This is the site of the clinic - the EARS facility just outside Belle Valley on St Rt 215.  This 3 acre pond was installed about 50 years ago by the Ohio State university to supply all the water needs for the research station.  By pumping water from the pond to a tank at the high point of the farm, they are able to supply water to the buildings and to the livestock that are raised and studied at the farm. 

Thirty people attended the clinic.  The first speaker was Clif Little, OSU extension ag and natural resource agent for Guernsey and Noble counties.   He spoke on the subject of controlling weeds in the pond, and on how to stock the pond with fish.   The pond in the background is stocked with bluegills and bass, and has white amur to help control weeds in the pond.  Because the pond was designed correctly and has been well maintained, there are few cattails, duckweed, or other pond pests.

Here are Jim Mizik, technician for the Noble SWCD, and Dave Sayre from our office, talking about the process of planning and building a pond.  If you missed this clinic, you missed the chance to take advantage of Dave's 25 years in the trenches; from evaluating the site of a proposed pond all the way through designing the dam, emergency overflow, and working along with the contractor as the pond is being built. 
Two important pieces of advice from these 2 men are to look above and below the site of the pond before you decide to build.  Below the dam to see what could be damaged should it fail, and above the pond, to see what is in the watershed.  If you do not control the watershed to the pond, you may have problems with runoff from septic systems, lawn chemicals, silt and leaves, and animal waste. 

The final speaker of the evening was Joe Lehman, our wildlife specialist.  He started his presentation by asking who was in favor of wildlife, and who was against it.  Although it was a joke that brought chuckles from the crowd, it served the purpose of introducing his topic.  Not only do ponds attract wildlife that we enjoy watching and appreciate for its beauty, but the wildlife can also cause problems in the maintainance of a pond.  Beaver, Muskrats, and geese are the most destructive; beavers block overflows and cause the pond to overflow the dam, weakening it; muskrats dig holes in the dam, causing it to leak; and geese contaminate the water and banks of the pond with their feces.   So Joe talked about ways to manage these pests, and also ways to attract desireable wildlife to ponds by providing feed and cover (habitat). 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pre-Harvest Planning on Logging Operations

Remember: The Best BMP is the one you don’t need to install. Proper planning will help you avoid needless installation of costly erosion control devices.

 Property boundaries marked out on a topo map.

 Topo map identifying streams and drainages

 Topo marking out critical areas such as rock out croppings, wet areas such as springs, (SMZ’s) Stream Management Zones or Buffers along streams.

 Stream and drainage crossings.

 Decking or staging areas.

 Haul Road locations. Make sure these roads are constructed to a higher standard.

 Skid trail locations. These roads may not require the high standards a haul road requires.

Other Considerations

 Types of harvest equipment that will be used.

 Specifications on Haul roads and Skid Trails.

 Time of year when harvest should take place.

Rememember: The Best BMP is the one you don’t need to install. Proper planning will help you avoid needless installation of costly erosion control devices.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Planning Saves Soil During Timber Harvest

If you sold some timber and the logging company’s poor management practices led to soil erosion and stream sedimentation, you’d probably have some choice words for the person responsible. However, you’d be talking to yourself. When woodland owners sell timber, their legal responsibility for preventing water pollution doesn’t pass to the logger harvesting the trees. Under Ohio’s Agriculture Pollution Abatement law, which addresses impacts to the “waters of the State” resulting from timber harvests, responsibility rests with the landowner.
Sometimes, erosion or sedimentation problems aren’t obvious to the landowner until after the timber harvest is finished. By then it can be difficult to get the logging company to correct problems, especially if the company has gone to another job – often in another county! That’s why it is so important to choose a logger carefully, to insist on a written contract that requires the use of best management practices (BMPs), and to file an Timber Harvest Notice of Intent (NOI) plan with the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) before starting the harvest.
NOI plans are not mandatory for timber harvests, but they can help landowners and loggers head off problems. Filing a plan signals to the logger that the landowner takes erosion control seriously and lets the SWCD know a timber harvest is planned. If the SWCD sees a problem with the plan, the plan can be revised before the harvest starts and problems occur. A plan approved by the local SWCD can also help protect a landowner from nuisance lawsuits as long as the best management practices in the plan are being followed.
Of course, just putting a plan on paper won’t ensure that best management practices are followed during a timber harvest. Unless the landowner has expertise in managing a timber harvest, it’s best to seek out professional help. Your local Guernsey County Soil and Water Conservation District can advise landowners on woodland management, including best management practices (BMPs) for timber harvest and filing NOI plans. Some landowners also rely on private consulting foresters, who can manage a timber sale and oversee the harvest.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Conservation Day Camp scheduled for August 11th & 12th

Mark your calendars, all you 8-11 year olds!
The camp theme is  "Healthy Habitats".  
We are working on the program now, and will be mailing out flyers soon. 
Call to be put on the mailing list. 
Watch this blog for upcoming information.
See the slide show at right to see all the fun we had last year.
Don't miss out!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pond Clinic scheduled for May 20th

Don't forget to call to make reservations to attend the pond clinic at the Belle Valley research station next Thursday evening, May 20th.  
Click on the education link at the top of the page for a copy of the flyer with all the details.
Call our office at 432-5624 to get on the list to attend.  There is no charge for this event.

Ag School Days May 11 & 12th at research station near Belle Valley

This is a 2 day event, organized by the Noble SWCD office along with the EARS staff, OSU extension, and our office.  Our sincere thanks to all the donors that support this program, pictured above on the T-shirt that all 400 kids who attended took home with them.
Third graders from Shenandoah and Caldwell schools in Noble, and East Guernsey, Secrest, Byesville, and Brook schools in Guernsey attended this event.  The teachers are excited to come back each year, and say
its the best field trip ever!   Here are some of the topics covered during the day. 
Joe Lehman, wildlife specialist for the Guernsey SWCD doing stream monitoring with the kids.  This is always one of the favorite learning stations.
Dave Sayre, Guernsey SWCD technician, helped the kids get "Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs"
ODNR Noble Wildlife Officer Brad StClair talked to the kids about the diversity of wildlife in Ohio.  Here he is talking about the beaver.  The kids got to wear a beaver costume. 

OSU Extension's Kaye Clay(in grey) and Clif Little(red), explaining embryo development in chickens.  They also brought along some newly hatched chicks for the kids to see and touch.

Chris Clark from Eastern Agricultural Research Station did a presentation on sheep production.  The kids really love to hold the lambs.

Tim Fisher from Guernsey/Muskingum Electric showed how to be safe around electricity.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Healthy Habitat in your backyard - part 5

Garden in an Environmentally Friendly Way

How you maintain your garden or landscape can have important positive or negative effects on the health of the soil, air, water and vegetation that we all use! Here are some sustainable gardening techniques that you will help you conserve and protect our natural resources.
How to Maintain a Chemical-Free Lawn
Mulch helps keep water in the soil and available to the plant, rather than evaporating into the air. This can help reduce water consumption. As mulch breaks down, it provides nutrients to the soil, which can help reduce or eliminate the need for additional fertilizers. Be sure to use mulches that are free from pests and diseases.
Reducing Lawn Areas
Grass lawns often require chemicals and frequent maintenance. Gas-powered lawnmowers produce high amounts of greenhouse gases, which contribute to air pollution. Since lawns are often made of only a few types of plants that most animals do not consume, they do not provide a lot of value for wildlife. Replacing grass lawn with native wildflowers, bushes, and trees provides the food, shelter, and cover that help to maintain healthy, natural ecosystems and reduces your time and labor working on the lawn!
Xeriscaping is an approach to landscaping that minimizes outdoor water use while maintaining soil integrity through the use of native, drought-tolerant plants. This is a common practice in drier areas, such as the West and Southwest, where water supplies and water quality are in very short supply.
Removing Invasives and Restoring Native Plant Communities
Native plants are better for the environment than exotic plants, generally requiring less fertilizer and other additives, less water, and less effort in pest control. They are especially important to native wildlife, such as pollinators, that may have coevolved with a particular species. Pollinators often rely on a certain type of flower as a source of food, while the flower depends on the pollinator to transport its pollen to other flowers for reproduction.
When non-native plants are used, they often times upset the delicate balance of a local ecosystem and sometimes even out-compete native species to the point of extinction. Wildlife benefit more when native plant communities remain intact, or are restored to their natural habitats, providing the best source of food for wildlife.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Healthy Habitat in your backyard - part 4

Give Wildlife a Place to Raise Their Young

Wildlife need places to reproduce, bear and raise their young, and for their young to survive to adulthood; all safe from predators, bad weather and human intervention.
Creating a wildlife habitat is about creating a place for the entire life-cycle of a species to occur, from tadpole to frog; from caterpillar to butterfly.
Many habitat features that serve as cover can double as locations where wildlife can raise their young;  from wildflower patches where butterflies and moths lay their eggs and small mammals burrow into the undergrowth; to constructed birdhouses, ponds for amphibians and fish; or caves where bats roost and form colonies.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Healthy Habitat in your backyard - part 3

Create Cover for Wildlife
Wildlife require places to hide in order to feel safe from people, predators and inclement weather. Use things like native vegetation, shrubs, thickets and brush piles or even dead trees.
Even dead trees work, as they are home to lots of different animals, including some that use tree cavities and branches for nesting and perching.
If natural options aren't available for you, consider constructing a birdhouse specifically for the types of birds you would like to attract to your habitat.
Providing these places of cover not only helps wildlife, it can also help your overall garden if you "branch out" to attract other helpful pollinators, such as bats or bees.
Ponds provide cover for aquatic wildlife, such as fish and amphibians. A "toad abode" can be constructed to provide shelter for amphibians on land.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Healthy Habitat in your backyard - part 2

Supply Water for Wildlife

Wildlife need clean water sources for many purposes, including drinking, bathing and reproduction. Water sources may include natural features such as ponds, lakes, rivers, springs, and wetlands; or human-made features such as bird baths, puddling areas for butterflies, installed ponds or rain gardens.
The easiest water source to install in your garden is a bird bath. Be sure to change the water 2-3 times per week during warm weather when mosquitoes are breeding, so that any eggs laid in the water don't have time to hatch. If you live in a climate with cold winters, consider buying a small heater available at wild bird feeding stores to keep the water from freezing.
Bat facts
•Bats have been around for 50 million years.
•There are over 1000 known species of Bats
•There are 11 species in Ohio.
•All Ohio bats eat insects.
•Bats use echolocation to navigate through the sky.
•Bats are not blind.
•Bats life span is 25 to 30 years.

Photo:  Endangered Indiana Bat

Attracting Bats
Bats have to find new roosts on their own. Existing evidence strongly suggests that lures or attractants (including bat guano) will NOT attract bats to a bat house.
Bats investigate new roosting opportunities while foraging at night, and they are expert at detecting crevices, cracks, nooks and crannies that offer shelter from the elements and predators. Bat houses installed on buildings or poles are easier for bats to locate, have greater occupancy rates and are occupied two and a half times faster than those mounted on trees.

Healthy Habitat in your backyard - part 1

Provide Food for Wildlife
Everyone needs to eat! Planting native forbs, shrubs and trees is the easiest way to provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to survive and thrive. You can also incorporate supplemental feeders and food sources.
Native forbs, shrubs and trees provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to survive and thrive.

Natives are well adapted to survive in a particular geographic area according to the climate, soils, rainfall and availability of pollinators and seed dispersers. And because they are indigenous to a specific region, native plants usually require little maintenance and are welcomed by wildlife, serving an important role in the local ecosystem.
In times when natural food sources are not as available, it is important to also provide bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, squirrel feeders and butterfly feeders to add to the native food sources for resident and migrating wildlife.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Celebrating 55th annual National Stewardship Week!

Pollinators are an important part of a healthy habitat. When hummingbirds visit flowers, they feed on the nectar and pollinate the flowers, which allows plants to produce fruits and seeds. To maintain its calorie intake, a hummingbird can visit between 1,000 to 3,000 flowers a day.

Most of the flowering plants we need and enjoy are pollinated by insects. When the populations of pollinating creatures start to shrink, many plants either produce fewer seeds or no seeds at all. When pollinating creatures start disappearing, plants start disappearing. Pollinators aren’t just annoying insects; they are an important part of the web of life that we all depend upon for survival. Over 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants wouldn’t survive if it weren’t for pollinators. Providing habitat areas will help increase the pollinator population.

Through collaboration with service organizations, schools and others, new habitat areas can be developed or maintained. A variety of programs are available in your community, such as master naturalist, master gardener and others, to assist citizens on how to best design and develop natural areas.