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.