Thursday, May 29, 2014

Woodland Butterflies Program slated

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO –  Marne Titchenell, OSU Extension Wildlife Program Specialist, will present a program about woodland butterflies at 8 PM at the Jun. 4 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.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ag School Days 2014

Every year, Guernsey and Noble county SWCD and extension service work together to host an event for local 3rd graders.  Over 400 kids attend and learn about how agriculture and ag products effect their daily life, and the positive ways that the individual landowners can effect the environment.  One of the favorite things each year is holding baby lambs. 
Another part of the fun is learning to fish.  They usually catch some bluegills and the occasional bass, and see turtles and snakes.  
Here the kids are learning about soil characteristics.  Soil never gets its share of respect!  Imagine our lives without it - everything we eat depends upon it.  
And here is the bottom line of the event. The kids are talking about how the life they find in a stream can give them information on how healthy the water is.  Many organisms - called macroinvertebrates - cannot survive in water that is contaminated with nitrates and other chemicals that can runoff from farm fields.  
Here are the kids, looking for macroinvertebrates.  This stream has been tested and shows good water quality, proving that with proper management, livestock and good drinking water can co-exist.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Geological Survey Completes Comprehensive Study of Minerals in Soil

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a set of maps depicting the distribution of selected chemical elements and minerals in soils across the country.
Understanding the composition of soil is important for a variety of reasons. Specialists in agriculture and food safety find soil data useful because soil is the source of most biologically active trace elements that reach humans through the food chain.
Public health specialists need to understand soil pathways for human exposure to potentially toxic elements. Regulators and resource managers use soil data to identify contamination, assess the risks to ecosystems and human health from contamination, and to set remediation goals.
Read rest of article   HERE

The link to the entire study can be found here:

Geochemical and Mineralogical Data for Soils of the Conterminous United States

Friday, May 23, 2014

Kasich signs water quality legislation

On May 22, Gov. John Kasich signed the much-discussed Ohio water quality legislation, Am. Sub. SB 150, into law.

“The bill itself was introduced on June 25, 2013 by senators Cliff Hite, who is also chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Bob Peterson. The sponsors and agencies willingly worked with Farm Bureau and the other agricultural groups as the bill underwent several drafts during the committee hearing process in the Senate,” said Tony Seegers, director of state policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “SB 150 is meant to be one component of a more comprehensive statewide nutrient reduction strategy. Ohio agriculture has and will continue to do its part to protect our state’s precious water resources.”

SB 150 will require some changes for farms with regard to nutrient management.

Read rest of article   HERE

Cash back for cover crops!

Cover crops are plants seeded into agricultural fields, either within or outside of the regular growing season, with the primary purpose of improving or maintaining ecosystem quality. Cover crops do great things for our environment by enhancing biodiversity. They also increase water infiltration in the soil which leads to less flooding, leaching and runoff.  Cover crops benefit farmers in many ways. Cover crops reduce erosion, increase soil organic matter, retain nutrients that would otherwise be lost, combat weeds and break disease cycles.

The Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District will offer an incentive of $13 per acre for ground put into cover crops during the fall of 2014. This incentive money is part of a grant that the Soil and Water office obtained through the MWCD. This grant will fund up to 200 acres per participant. Application deadline for the program is June 27, 2014.

Farmers who are interested in the program should attend a planning meeting at the Soil and Water office, 9711 East Pike, Cambridge on Tuesday, May 27th at 7PM.   At this meeting, we will discuss the results of last year’s application and have a round table discussion on what types of cover crops/style of application will be used this year. We are excited to continue the relationships with last year’s participants as well as gaining new additions to the number of cooperators this year.  Please call the district office at 740-432-5624 to let us know you plan to attend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Moore Woods Timber Tour next week - DON'T MISS THIS PROGRAM!

We have a timber tour of Moore Memorial Woods on Wednesday, May 28th. At 5pm will be a hike to see the recent timber harvest, BMPs, TSI work, etc. Then at 6pm, Jeremy Scherf (ODNR Service Forester), Randy and Koral Clum, forestry consultants used for the timber sale, and Jim McKinney, TSI provider at the woods will speak in the pavilion. If you are unable to hike, please feel free to come to the presentations. Please call 740-432-5624 for directions and more information. DON'T MISS THIS PROGRAM!

HB 490: 5th Hearing, Opponent & Interested Party

Statehouse News Agriculture and Natural Resources Commmittee
HB 490:   5th Hearing, Opponent & Interested Party
Tony Seegers of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation testified as an interested party. He said that while the bill would transfer manure management programs from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, there is a recognition that existing manure management programs are working.  He said OFB likes that the bill maintains an affirmative defense for farmers regarding their nutrient management plans, adding that regulatory consistency is important for anyone engaging in business operations.  Mr. Seegers added that the bill should generate quicker and tougher enforcement against bad actors.
"Coupled with SB150's new 'fertilizer applicator certification' to be administered by ODA, HB490 will consolidate the oversight of nutrients under one agency," he said. "This should better serve farmers by giving them a single point of contact regarding the management of nutrients and, with ODA's enforcement powers, HB490 should build on SB150 to also better protect Ohio's water quality."

Rep. Boose raised concerns about the potential for non-permitted farms being subject only to voluntary compliance.  Mr. Seegers said ODA will be able to work with farmers on key issues, but said some operators who might have significant pollution issues in the past won't be eligible for voluntary compliance programs.

Harold Neuenschwander of the Holmes County Soil & Water Conservation District testified as an interested party on behalf of Ohio Federation of Soil & Water Conservation Districts.  His members are heavily involved in nutrient management programs, and questioned why the transfer from ODNR to ODA is necessary, he said. ODNR has conducted the operations since the 1970s, and there haven't been questions about the agency's effectiveness.  Mr. Neuenschwander said if there are concerns about the agency not having certain tools it needs to address those who don't comply, the group feels minor amendments can be added to minimize those issues.  He also noted that a transfer will force local SWCDs to develop a new memorandum of understanding with ODA regarding enforcement issues, and said questions will arise regarding funding streams.  The witness told Rep. Boose the federation could offer a series of suggestions about how it could become more comfortable with the bill.

Chair Hall said it was uncertain whether the panel would consider the proposal next week, but would accept amendments and then develop a substitute at hearings in the future.  "We're almost there on some of these (issues)," he said. "I'm taking my time because there's a lot of stuff in here.

Turkey harvest numbers down

Ohio Department of Natural Resources --Ohio hunters checked 16,556 wild turkeys during the combined wild turkey hunting season and youth wild turkey hunting season that ran April 19-May 18, ODNR reported. It is down from 18,391 last year.  The top 10 counties for the wild turkey harvest were Ashtabula (615), Tuscarawas (493), Coshocton (484), Guernsey (466), Muskingum (453), Belmont (444), Monroe (424), Trumbull (417), Knox (415) and Meigs (397), the agency said.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Don't be the Butt Log of your Timber Harvest!

By Travis Smith, GSWCD Wildlife/Forestry Specialist
What would you say, if I were to tell you I would give you $25,000 dollars to select cut some veneer quality white oak 20 inches and greater DBH out of your woods.  If you are like the average person the mere mention of $25,000 dollars tends to grab your attention.  The things you may ask next might be something like, what is a select cut?  What does veneer quality mean?  What is a white oak, and can somebody please tell me, what on earth a DBH is!  Although $25,000 dollars may seem like a lot of money, a lack of knowledge here could turn that large sum of money into red numbers very quickly.  In an ideal world we could take the time to research and learn all the specialized jargon associated with a timber harvest.    This would give us the knowledge to communicate efficiently and effectively with the proposed timber buyer while avoiding the deer in headlights look when the logger starts throwing around terms like DBH, veneer quality, and select cut.  However, we do not live in a perfect world, and time has become one of our most precious commodities.  So what can we do to insure ourselves we get the maximum dollar value of our harvest and prevent the ecological or financial disaster that can be created by a poorly managed logging operation?
Would you consider performing our own appendectomy, or flying the plane on your next family vacation?  Then why would you consider marking, marketing, and selling your own timber?  There are some things that are best left to the professionals.  So what can you do?   It’s really quite simple, hire a qualified professional.  So where can you turn for help?  The good news is you have options moving forward.  Service Foresters are employed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and several SWCD districts employ a SWCD Forestry Specialist in their respective count.  These individuals are available to provide landowners with advice for the long term management of their woodlands; can provide management plans and recommendations on how to accomplish the plan’s objectives; and provide landowners with technical assistance and information on tree planting projects, invasive species control activities and more importantly in this case, timber marketing assistance.   Their services are free of charge.  However, due to the amount of time required and erratic logging schedules, neither the Service Foresters nor SWCD Forestry Specialist can monitor the final timber sale.  Industry foresters are employed by one of the forest industries (e.g. logging company, paper mill, or sawmill) and are often responsible for procuring wood fiber for their employer.   They may provide forestry services to landowners such as forest resource management recommendations, timber harvest planning, and tree planting advice.  I would caution relying solely on industry foresters simply because they are stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success of either a logging company, paper mill, sawmill, or other forest industry.  I am not saying they are bad resources to take advantage of; however, I would still seek additional consultation to provide a checks and balance to your harvest.  The final type foresters available for assistance are referred to as consulting foresters.   Consulting foresters are self-employed or work for a private consulting company, and they have no interest in a timber purchasing or procurement entity (e.g. logging company, paper mill, or sawmill). They provide many of the same assistance to landowner’s owners as service foresters except they do it for a fee. While some consultants provide assistance with a wide variety of forestry activities, others are quite specialized.  If they mark, sell, advertise, and managing the actual sale from start to finish they will charge a percentage. This is usually 10 percent of the gross sale, but may vary from consultant to consultant.  Some people are reluctant to use a consulting forester to forgo the 10 percent fee and save themselves some money.  I caution you this, you get what you pay for, and free is not always the best choice.  In my experience the 10 percent fee is often greatly augmented by the 20-30 percent increase market value brought by the consultant.  So, if you pay 10 percent gross sale to the consultant, but their ability to market your timber brings 20-30 percent more at the sale, what are you out? 
Whichever route you choose to embark upon when planning your timber harvest, I advise you to proceed with caution.  Get working references for whomever you choose to go with.  If something sounds too good to be true it most likely is.  I implore you please, please, please, do not sign a timber contract until you have gathered as much information that is available about your land and the value of the timber.  If you are completely clueless about a timber contract, seek the help of an attorney.  The fee they charge could save you an enormous headache and potently thousands of dollars in damages.  Take advantage of the free services provided by the state service forester or the SWCD forestry specialist.  We are here to help, not only to get you the maximum value of the timber you are selling, but to ensure an ecologically responsible harvest that will provide a sustainable timber resource for generations to come. 
So, if you are considering a future timber harvest, or have ever considered a timber harvest, here is your chance to see it done first hand.  Join me and Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District for a Timber Harvest and Forest Management Workshop.  The timber tour is being held Wednesday May, 28 from 5-8pm at Moore Memorial Woods located on Wings Lane in Salesville.  Join me on a guided tour of the property and observe an ongoing Crop Tree Release Study (CTR) and discuss its many benefits.  The tour will also highlight the latest in Best Management Practices (BMPs) used to prevent erosion caused by the harvest.  The tour will conclude with presentations on a variety of topics including ODNR Service Forester Jeremy Scherf, presenting on meeting your long term forest goals; Randy and Coral Clum of Clum Consultants, who will speak on protecting your investment from seed to sale, and Jim McKinney, who will explain how timber stand improvements add value to your timber.  Call GSWCD for reservations at 740-432-5624.  The program is free to attend.  Please wear appropriate footwear and be prepared to hike rugged trails for the 5 pm tour.  If you are unable to participate in the hike please join us at 6pm in the pavilion for the presentations from the forestry professionals.    DO NOT MISS THIS EVENT!        


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Farm management Series - Planning for Success!

Believe it or not, summertime is just around the corner. Are you prepared? Do you know what crops you plan to plant, what grazing patterns are you going to choose, what pollution precautions you need to take, or what upgrades to your farm you would like to pursue? We would like to help you understand, decide and succeed on those questions and more.

Earlier this month, Guernsey SWCD teamed up with NRCS, ODNR and OSU Extension to present to you a Summer Farm Management Seminar. Jason Tyrell (GSWCD) started the evening off with a talk on how success takes planning. Bob Mulligan (ODNR) led off with a presentation on how to manage nutrients used on and produced by the farm to avoid contaminating water supplies, as well as wasting valuable fertilizers.
Troyce Barnett (NRCS) spoke on the topic of multi-species grazing, a hot topic these days, making it both interesting and entertaining.
Clif Little (OSU Extension) finished off with a discussion on how to manage pastures in summertime. Having enough grass for summer and beyond takes planning and management right now during the spring flush!

This Farm Management Seminar was targeted towards summertime management of your farm. It was part one of two seminars; the second of which will be held in August, covering wintertime management.
Don't miss the August seminar - plan now to attend!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Stream Ecology Day

Recently, the district held a Stream Ecology day, hosted by Rocky Fork Ranch Resorts on Broadhead Road, Kimbolton. A BIG "Thank You!" to activity director Denise Lind and camp naturalist Brianna for their help with this project.  Rocky Fork Creek is one of the few streams in Guernsey county that is rated good for darters, a small fish that indicates good water quality.  Besides the type of stream needed, the campground also has a big pavilion with restrooms, hot water, and electricity, making it ideal for a school outdoor event.

Devon Nichols, science teacher at Cambridge Middle School, brought 50 of his 6th graders to the event. They broke up into three groups and went to work.  One group collected water from the stream and ran several chemical tests to find the dissolved oxygen level, and look for the presence of nitrates or ammonia in the water.  Muskingum SWCD technician Van Slack instructed the students on the technique and helped them interpret their test results.
A second group hopped right into the stream and began looking for "bugs", referred to as macro-invertebrates.  By finding, identifying, and tracking the numbers of different "bugs", water quality can be evaluated.  Some of these macro-invertebrates are only found in high quality streams.  Susan Jividen from Deerasic Park helped the students identify their specimens and determine their significance to water quality indices.  
The third group found a nice riffle where dissolved oxygen levels would be high, and began seining for darters, fish that while small, are colorful this time of year due to wearing their breeding colors.  Travis Smith, GSWCD Wildlife/Forestry Specialist, and Jason Tyrell, GSWCD Technician donned chest waders and helped the students learn to operate the kick seine and identify the fish they found.

Greensided Darter

Ohio EPA Grants

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency awarded a slew of grants this week to support litter cleanup and recycling projects.  OEPA awarded nearly $500,000 to 40 communities to fund litter collection events, community awareness programming and the creation of free opportunities for residents to get rid of scrap tires. Grants ranged from $1,800 to nearly $50,000  The grant program requires a 10% match from the local governments, park or health districts, state colleges or universities, solid waste authorities and eligible Keep America Beautiful communities.  The agency also awarded $1.7 million in recycling market development grants to 11 projects that include organics composting, electronic waste processing and plastics manufacturing and processing.  The projects are expected to create 44 permanent jobs, the agency said.

An additional 25 communities received $1.5 million in grant funding that was awarded with the aim of strengthening local recycling and litter prevention efforts.  With the grants, communities will: develop five curbside programs and two commercial recycling programs; provide more efficient equipment to four material recovery facilities; and offer financial resources to numerous litter education and special venue projects, the agency said. Communities must commit 50% local matching funds.  In an effort to improve scrap tire processing and market development, the agency also awarded $600,000 to fund two market development projects. An estimated 57,000 Ohio scrap tires are expected to be recycled over the next two years as a result of the projects.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Meadowbrook FFA teams compete in Area 3 Envirothon in Coshocton county

TEAM #1  Jessica Oven, Emily Hull, Levi Lynch, & Conner Frame
Recently, 2 teams of Meadowbrook HS FFA students competed in the Area 3 Envirothon, held in Coshocton county this year.   50 teams from 16 eastern Ohio counties competed, answering questions on forestry, water quality, soils, wildlife, and this year's theme - sustainable agriculture.  Both teams did well, placing in the top half of the competition, with team #1 doing especially well at 9th place.

This year, the state envirothon is being hosted by Salt Fork State Park.  The top scoring teams across the state will convene here in Guernsey county June 9-10th, where they will undergo 2 days of rigorous field testing and an oral presentation before a panel of judges.  The top scoring team then moved on to the North American Envirothon to compete with teams from states and provinces across the US and Canada.  

The Envirothon program helps to develop a group of youth who will go on to pursue careers in agriculture, environmental studies, natural sciences, and natural resource management.  Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District is proud to help train these students in the environmental sciences, and to support the Envirothon program with both staff time and funds.  We encourage like minded citizens and businesses to do the same.  If you would like to volunteer to help, call the district for more information.  740-432-5624.
TEAM #2   Olivia Anderson, Zoe Zuress, & Dakota Sayre

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bill governing timber sales contracts moving through Ohio House

TIMBER HARVESTING (McGregor, R.) To establish requirements governing contracts for the harvesting of timber and enforcement procedures regarding and penalties for the theft of timber. (CONTINUED; 1st Hearing-Sponsor)
Rep. McGregor said in sponsor testimony that the bill gives the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and prosecutors "the necessary tools to move forward prosecuting timber theft and allows victims to seek adequate remediation."  Despite being a state with significant amounts of forested areas, Ohio has no comprehensive laws relating to timber theft, he said. "The sole statute relating to timber theft provides for a very minimal criminal penalty and is essentially ineffective."  Rep. McGregor said the bill would: require a written agreement between a landowner and a timber harvester; require a written record of timber removed from a property; create a new criminal offense that is easier to prove than theft, but carries stiffer penalties; create a "consistent and workable method of valuing wrongfully harvested timber;" recognize the incidental damage to property and other costs should be recoverable from the wrongdoer; clarify that county prosecutors are the primary enforcer of violations; and involve the Division of Forestry more directly in timber theft by having forest officers assist in investigations when requested.  The sponsor said the bill "does not place an unreasonable burden on the forestry industry."  "The current bill is significantly less burdensome to the industry than statutes and regulations in other states, where, despite such more onerous requirements, timber harvesting continues to take place, presumably in a manner which timber buyers and harvesters find profitable and competitive," Rep. McGregor said.  The bill, he added, "is the product of multiple drafts and incorporates input from interested parties over the course of the past two years. The greater likelihood of prosecution, stricter criminal penalties, and the transparency and clarity which will result from the requirement of a written agreement will go a long way in deterring timber theft. In the event that timber theft occurs, it will facilitate bringing the wrongdoer to justice."
Rep. Pelanda welcomed the legislation, saying, "It's high time Ohio addresses this very serious issue." Citing the severity of property damage that occurs with timber theft, she suggested the bill be strengthened with "bonding, registration and licensing" requirements. 
The sponsor agreed the crime is "unlike any other theft.... When someone steals your timber, that is never going to be replaced. You can never be fully compensated."  Nevertheless, Rep. McGregor said he wanted to craft the measure so as not to be "overly burdensome" to an industry that mostly operates above board.
Rep. Thompson, who said the timber industry is important to his district, opined that the bill appeared to be opening up another avenue for litigation. He expressed concerns that the measure amounted to a "regulatory overreach."
"At the end of the day we're talking about theft and individual property rights," Rep. McGregor said. "We do not feel this is overly burdensome" and definitely no more than the tightened regulations recently approved for the towing industry.  He said the new requirements in the bill were "really just good business practices" that will provide affirmative defenses for property owners.
Ohio Forestry Association Executive Director John Dorka submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill, which he said would not curb thefts and instead "creates a new regulatory program relating to the buying and selling of timber on private lands by private individuals and enforces violations of this excessively regulatory program exclusively through criminal sanctions."  "Because there is no exclusion for the private owner who desires to sell timber as part of occasional land clearing activity prior to the use of his property, the private landowner will be required to comply with all aspects of the bill," Mr. Dorka wrote.

Monday, May 12, 2014

ODNR-Oil & Gas plans mine safety training center in eastern Ohio

ODNR will also build a new mine safety training center in eastern Ohio, the agency announced  The capital budget included $2 million to build the new center, the agency said. When completed, it will include a simulated underground coal mine, training rooms and space to hold federally required mine safety competitions.  "It is our duty at ODNR to ensure that Ohio's dedicated miners have the training necessary to return home to their families at the end of each shift," Director Zehringer said. "We are committed to the safety of Ohio miners, and this new mine safety training center will ensure our miners have a safe facility in which to train."  ODNR requests proposals for potential locations for the new center be submitted to the department by July 15. The agency is looking for about 10-15 acres with enough space for a building to house classrooms, the new mine simulator and ample outdoor space to hold mine safety competitions. Proposals can include acreage with already constructed buildings or land suitable to build.

Updates planned for Salt Fork State Park

Ohio Department of Natural Resources -- Director James Zehringer this week announced capital improvements at Salt Fork State Park, where campsites will be upgraded and the Sugartree Marina will be renovated.  "Salt Fork is the largest of Ohio's state parks and offers so many different opportunities for anyone that enjoys the outdoors," said Director Zehringer. "The feedback we are receiving has been exceptional, and I was eager to get to Salt Fork this morning to share the great news with some of our most enthusiastic visitors."  The projects will be funded from the $88.5 million in capital funds that was recently awarded to Ohio's state parks in the most recent capital budget, the agency said.  The department will re-deck the marina's dock and renovate the concession building, ODNR said. In addition, 20 of the park's campsites were recently upgraded with full service water and sewer.  ODNR said the capital improvement funding will be used to improve state park facilities and lodges across the state. Bathrooms and campsites will be updated or replaced through much of the system.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ohio improves ranking among bikers

ODOT -- In a ranking of the most bike friendly states from the League of American Bicyclists, Ohio comes in at Number 16 for the year, ODOT announced.  The ranking is a major jump from last year when the state was listed at Number 32 in the nation, ODOT said.  The report card credited the jump to the state's commitment to programs such as Safe Routes to School, Share the Road and partnerships with communities, agencies, businesses and bike advocate groups to encourage bicycle-friendly education, investment and policy across the state.

Active transportation investments include $2.8 million on State Route 32 in Clark County, $3 million on U.S. Route 62 and $1 million on Summit and Fourth streets in Franklin County, according to ODOT. There are also 24 Safe Routes to School projects worth $8.6 million that will begin construction this summer in an effort to provide safer access for students to walk or bike to school.

Guernsey county has a bike trail, the Great Guernsey, which follows the Leatherwood Creek Valley east of Cambridge, off US 40.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wild Edible Seminar standing room only!

Scenes from the Wild Edibles seminar held by the district on Monday. 90+ people attended the meeting, hosted by Deerasic Park, and were treated to several delicious dishes made from wild plants, courtesy of the Guernsey Master Gardeners.
A 5 mushroom soup, Garlic mustard potato salad, elderberry jam, wild blueberry cobbler, scalloped potatoes with ramps, and a pasta and mushroom saute were available to sample.
Our Wildlife/Forestry Specialist, Travis Smith, presented the where, when and hows of wild mushroom hunting and gathering. Jeff Wilkinson, a forester from Richland county demonstrated how some wild mushrooms can be raised successfully in one's backyard.
Drilling oak log in preparation to insert
Shitaki mushroom spore plugs.  In one
year, this log will begin to produce mushrooms.
Over the course of 5 years, it should produce
25-30# of the delicacies.