Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Forest Mngt for Wildlife seminar

Lee Crocker, Ohio Regional Biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) will be the featured speaker at the Sep. 3 8 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA).  Lee will share techniques that forest landowners can practice to enhance habitat crucial for wild turkeys and other native wildlife.

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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Farm Science Review

The annual Farm Science Review is September 16-18 near London Ohio.  Please plan to attend, and be sure to visit the Gwynne Conservation Area.  There is a full schedule of educational programs at the Gwynne during the review - check their website  HERE   for a complete listing.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Prep Pastures For Winter Grazing

 For livestock producers who are pasture based, management now can determine what, if any, extended season grazing will be done in the late fall to winter months, according to Rory Lewandoski, with OSU Extension. There are two main options that can be used to extend the grazing season; stockpiling perennial forages and/or planting cool season annual forages, he says.

"Stockpiling forage is the most economical option to extend the grazing season," he says. "Stockpiling is simply the process of letting a pasture paddock or hay field grow and accumulate growth that will be grazed at a later date."
Read rest if article  HERE

“Young Forests and Wildlife Habitat” offered on September 12th to Woodland Owners and Enthusiasts at the Vinton Furnace State Forest

“Young Forests and Wildlife Habitat” offered on September 12th to Woodland Owners and Enthusiasts at the Vinton Furnace State Forest

Thanks to Our Guest Sponsor-Wildlife Management Institute
Thanks to Our Guest Sponsor-Wildlife Management Institute
Oh, to be young again… Ohio’s forests are getting older and this has caused a decline in many wildlife species like ruffed grouse, woodcock and several species of songbirds.   “The 2nd Friday Series” program on “Young Forests and Wildlife Habitat” will inform woodland owners and enthusiasts of the loss of Ohio’s young forests and the value of this critical habitat.  Most landowners have some understanding of the value of old forests and wetlands.  This program will help owners to understand the critical wildlife habitat that these young forests provide. Continue reading 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wildflower recipe

Wildflower recipe
Here’s the butterfly/pollinators/songbird mix the Ohio Department of Transportation is planting along a highway median in Ross County:

• Little bluestem 25%

• Nodding wild rye 25%

• Indian grass 12.5%
• Purple coneflower 4.69%
• White wild indigo 4.69%
• Yellow coneflower 4.69%
• Lanceleaf coreopsis 3.13%
• Butterfly weed 2.81%
• Dense blazing star 2.81%
• Round-headed bush clover 2.5%
• New England aster 1.56%
• Tall coreopsis 1.56%
• Showy black-eyed Susan 1.56%
• Prairie dock 1.56%
• Stiff goldenrod 1.56%
• Wild bergamot 1.56%
• Smooth aster 1.56%• Black-eyed Susan 1.25%
The Ohio Department of Transportation planted wildflower seeds in two, 1-acre lots along Rt. 207 in June to start a three-year process to create habitats for bees and other pollinators, said ODOT District 9 spokeswoman Kathleen Fuller.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Toxic Algae Funds

Toxic Algae Funds
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans this week to provide $2 million to help Ohio farmers implement conservation techniques to improve Lake Erie water quality.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also partnering with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to expand capacity in the Lake Erie area and will contribute an additional $1 million in technical assistance.  "Many farmers have consistently stepped up to the plate on efforts to protect our water and we want to provide support and incentives for continued action," Secretary Vilsack said. "Along with these resources, we will be offering technical and financial assistance through our direct relationships with farmers, and by partnering with private and public groups on continuing conservation efforts in the Great Lakes basin."

The Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the USDA, is accepting applications from farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin this week for a portion of the $2 million in Environmental Quality Incentive Program funds to help with the planting of cover crops, which help prevent soil and nutrient erosion in the next season.  The development follows Gov. John Kasich's announcement of a new funding for farmers to reduce agricultural runoff and to help cities protect drinking water supplies from toxic algae blooms that recently prompted Toledo to warn residents not to drink the water.

Last week, NRCS met with more than 100 farmers, agricultural groups and fertilizer dealers in Ohio to talk about the expertise USDA can offer and to publicize best conservation practices for the watershed.  "Farmers understand how recent events may impact them and are motivated to work with us to reduce phosphorus run-off, starting now with the planting of additional cover crops," NRCS Chief Jason Weller said. "We created this opportunity for farmers who want to get cover on their fields quickly, and we will continue to create complete nutrient management plans for long-term water quality and sustainability practices."  USDA has spent $46 million since 2009 on conservation efforts in the Lake Erie watershed. In May, Secretary Vilsack designated the Great Lakes Basin as a critical conservation area in the 2014 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which will provide $1.2 billion for partnerships with non-federal entities, who are expected to match the federal investment.

Suzy Friedman, director of agricultural sustainability for the Environmental Defense Fund, applauded the new conservation funding.  "I hope that the additional funds can help farmers increase adoption of highly effective practices such as nutrient use efficiency, cover crops, reduced tillage, and strategic filtering practices that can capture nutrients before they reach Lake Erie," she said.  However, Ms. Friedman said preventing further toxic algae blooms, like the one that threatened Toledo's drinking water supply, will require longer term solutions and a strategically coordinated approach.  "In addition to helping address challenges in Lake Erie, USDA investment in highly effective conservation practices will help position farmers to meet the growing demand from food companies and retailers for sustainable products," she said. "By combining federal investment with the supply chain demand, we can reach a scale of adoption that will make crises like the one in Toledo a thing of the past."

Supreme Court Digs Into Mineral Rights Disputes In Utica Shale Region

Ohio Supreme Court justices delved into the complex issue of mineral rights Wednesday with two cases that are likely the first of many to flood the courts as oil and gas drilling activity ramps up in the Utica Shale.  Both cases argued before the court originated from property rights disputes in Harrison County and both address application of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA), which governs conflicting ownership claims to minerals beneath real property.
According to the Supreme Court's summary, a federal court says the ODMA is designed to restore mineral rights that have been severed from the property owner and are dormant back to the surface property owner after 20 years if there are "savings events." A 2006 amendment to the law requires the property owner to first give notice to the mineral rights holders, who then have 60 days to file a claim to preserve their rights or an affidavit identifying a savings event.
Dodd v. Croskey deals with the question of what actions someone needs to take under the DMA in order to preserve mineral interests during the 20-year time period before another party takes steps to acquire the mineral rights.
When Phillip Dodd and Julie Bologna bought 128 acres of land in Harrison County in 2009, the deed excluded the minerals rights to the property, which had been transferred decades earlier by Samuel and Blanche Porter, who are now deceased.  The next year an oil and gas company contacted the property owners seeking to buy the mineral rights beneath their land and the couple placed a notice in a local newspaper stating that the oil and gas interests had been abandoned. Shortly after John Croskey filed an affidavit stating he was an heir of the Porters and wanted to preserve the rights to the oil and gas on the property.  Mr. Dodd and Ms. Bologna filed a lawsuit in February 2011 to establish their claim on the property's mineral rights, but the trial court ruled that some of the Porter heirs retained their oil and gas rights. The Seventh District Court of Appeals agreed that Mr. Croskey's filing met the requirements of DMA and preserved the heirs' rights.
Attorney Paul Hervey, who represented Mr. Dodd and Ms. Bologna, told justices that the heirs did not take any required actions, or "savings events," in the 20 years prior to the public notice that are necessary to retain their mineral rights.  "To accept the appellee's position would leave mineral rights all over this state undevelopable and leave titles in a state of confusion," he said. "No oil and gas company is going to risk trespassing on someone's land without a clear issue of title."  Filing the affidavit alone is not sufficient for the heirs to retain ownership of their mineral rights, Mr. Hervey said. "To let some family members wait 70 years without developing mineral rights, without having them go through probate court, and simply filing a claim and nothing more after notice has been filed, completely subverts the meaning of the intent of the statute."
Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor noted that the heirs could still bring their claims to probate court that could unravel ownership rights.  "That's not the toughest thing in the world to do - to go back to 1947 and just figure it out - who gets probated. I mean it's a lot of work, but it's not rocket science. No disrespect to probate lawyers," she said.
Jeff Pollock, the attorney representing the heirs, said the validity of Mr. Croskey's affidavit was not an issue before the court and argued that it satisfies the requirements of the DMA and is sufficient to block the property owners' claim to the mineral rights.  The DMA was not designed to clear property owners' title, but to establish a procedure for clarifying who owns the mineral rights, he said.
Justice Paul Pfeifer said the case is the first of many disputes over mineral ownership rights that will result from the oil and gas boom in eastern Ohio. "This is our first look at a freight train that's coming down the track at us," he said.  InChesapeake Exploration v. Buell, the federal district court in Ohio asked the Ohio Supreme Court to resolve two questions surrounding the DMA: is a recorded lease of the mineral rights beneath a property a title transaction and is the expiration of the recorded lease and the reversion of the mineral rights under the lease a title transaction that restarts the 20-year clock for calculating forfeiture of the mineral rights?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Study Indicates Gypsum Reduces Phosphate Runoff

A news release last week from Dan Peerless at Greenleaf Advisors, LLC, reports early studies are showing a "significant' reduction in soluable relative phosphorous runoff from farm fields that have been treated with gypsum.

Read rest of article  HERE 

Cover Crop selection tool

Here is a link to the Midwest Cover Crop Council's cover crop decision tool for field crops.  You can enter your crop, planting and harvest date, soil conditions, and goals for your cover crop use.  It will give you a list of suggested seed mixes to meet these goals within the planting date constraints.

They have the same thing for vegetable gardeners

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Toledo Water Crisis Precipitates Hearings, Calls For More Farm Regulations

Toledo's drinking water advisory was lifted Monday, but the weekend-long warning against drinking the city's tainted water refocused attention on the persistent toxic algae problem blossoming in Lake Erie and other Ohio lakes.

Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler applauded Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins' decision to lift the drinking water advisory which the city issued early Saturday morning after finding levels of algae-produced toxins above the World Health Organization's recommended limits.  "The people of Toledo came together unselfishly to support one another over the past two days and are great examples of the Ohio spirit. My compliments also go to Mayor Collins and his team. They served their city well and we will continue to work with them closely and support them going forward," Gov. Kasich said in a statement.  "My hat is also off to all who worked around the clock to distribute water and other essentials. They made a big difference. Over the past two days we've been reminded of the importance of our crown jewel - Lake Erie - to our everyday lives. We must remain vigilant in our ongoing efforts to protect it," he said.

Director Butler said he agreed with the city's decision after "exhaustive testing, analysis and discussions" between Toledo water officials, OEPA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  "Throughout the difficulty of the past few days everyone involved has demonstrated the utmost professionalism and commitment to solving this problem. The mayor and his team, U.S. EPA and the other scientific and academic leaders who lent us their expertise worked in a constructive way to turn the water back on for the people of Toledo," he said.  "In the days ahead, we will continue to work closely with Toledo and others to better understand what happened and support their effort to supply safe drinking water to its customers," he said.

Toledo's drinking water scare comes a few months after the General Assembly passed legislation intended to help fight harmful algal blooms by reducing agricultural runoff that feeds the algae. The measure (SB 150) requires farmers to take classes on best management practices and obtain certification from the Department of Agriculture in order to apply chemical fertilizer on larger farms.

Rep. Dave Hall, chairman of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, said it would take time for the legislation to have a beneficial effect.  In the meantime, the chairman is planning to hold hearings algae the issue in late August or early September, he said. The committee will hear from experts and try to better pinpoint the source of Toledo's problem, whether it was overburdened waste water treatment plants, agricultural runoff exacerbated by heavy rain, or other factors.  "You have a lot of things to look at and my job as chairman is to bring in the experts and the different groups to figure out what was the cause. We know we've had algae blooms in the past but this one took hold and caused a problem," he said.  The hearings could potentially lead to an amendment in the mid-biennium review measure dealing with environmental and agricultural issues (HB 490), he said. The bill is still pending in his committee.  Chairman Hall anticipated some members might propose using revenue from a potential severance tax increase to help cities upgrade sewage treatment systems and others will likely want to increase restrictions on manure.

Sen. Edna Brown echoed environmentalists' concerns that the fertilizer application bill didn't do anything to regulate manure on large-scale livestock farms.  "This is a good first step in addressing runoff from farms and feedlots. But, there are two major shortcomings to this law. First, SB150 fails to include animal manure under the newly established guidelines for the application of fertilizer to fields. Second, fertilizer applicators are not required to comply with the law until 2017," she said.  Sen. Brown said she planned to introduce legislation to add animal manure to the list of fertilizers that are regulated under state law and to require farmers to comply with the new law sooner.  "Toxic algae does not distinguish between the source of a nutrient; phosphorus is phosphorus, regardless of whether it originates from commercial fertilizer or animal manure," she said.

Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornely cautioned against over-reacting to the toxic algae bloom problem.  "It's probably not the best idea to consider water quality without also considering food production. It's a complex issue and they go hand in hand, so it's important to recognize that we don't want to create unintended consequences," he said.  Large-scale livestock farms are already regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and smaller operations are monitored by local soil and water conservation districts, he said. "Manure is already regulated under current law, so there's no need to duplicate it."  Nonetheless, the agriculture industry has known all along that the new regulations on chemical fertilizer might not be enough to stop harmful algae blooms, Mr. Cornely said.  "This is a first step in what will probably be a lengthy process," he said. "Just as we're saying that 150 was a first step, we also recognize that there might be other considerations down the road."

Kristy Meyer, managing director of agricultural, health and clean water programs for the Ohio Environmental Council, said regulating manure from livestock would do a lot more to prevent future algae blooms.  "Sewage is regulated. How can manure not be?" she said.  While there are some regulations preventing farmers from spreading manure on frozen ground where it easily runs off into streams and rivers, the state allows third parties to purchase the waste and spread it virtually no oversight, she said.  By comparison, Ms. Meyer noted that many Ohio cities' wastewater treatment systems are being required by the federal government to reduce combined sewer overflows that spill into waterways during heavy rains. "They need to be doing their part too, but largely they're more regulated."

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman touted anti-algae legislation he sponsored that President Barack Obama signed last month.  The measure is designed to ensure that federal agencies prioritize monitoring, research and mitigation efforts on harmful algal blooms in fresh bodies of water such as Lake Erie, according to his office.  "Now that the residents of the Toledo region have access to safe and clean drinking water, we must quickly pin-point how these elevated toxin levels occurred and work to ensure this does not happen again," Sen. Portman said.  "I will continue to work with all parties to address this problem and to promote legislation - like my bill that combats harmful algae - that protects the health of Lake Erie," he said. "I remain committed to finding long-term solutions to prevent further compromises to our drinking water."

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced that Ohio's joint application with Michigan and Indiana to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin has advanced to the next round for funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  "While the ban has been lifted, our work to ensure safe drinking water has only begun," Sen. Brown said. "I'm pleased to announce that Ohio's joint application for Farm Bill funds to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin has advanced to the next round. We must incorporate regional, cutting-edge practices to prevent algal blooms and ensure safe drinking water."  The 2014 federal farm bill created the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which provides $1.2 billion over the next five years to promote conservation partnerships to ensure clean soil and water, according to Sen. Brown's office. The Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative would help implement conservation practices to reduce the flow of nutrients into the lake.

Attorney General Mike DeWine responded to Toledo's water crisis by sending his representatives to monitor complaints about price gouging for bottled water.  "We have seen the best of many Ohioans who have generously helped those needing water in the Toledo area, but we also have heard allegations of possible price gouging in the area," he said, and told consumers who think they overpaid for bottled water to contact his office.  Ohio does not have a statute that deals directly with price gouging, but state law bans unconscionable sales practices, according to the attorney general's office.

Anti- Geese Efforts underway

Three miles of fence and a month long molt gave the grass a start against the Canada geese. But Jeff Pelc has no delusions that the battle on the banks of the Olentangy River is over.
The birds love to eat the newly sprouted green grass that Columbus is trying to grow along the river near Ohio State University. Back in March, the city hired Pelc, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, to scare the birds away from the project to restore the riverbank’s natural habitat.
And it seems to have worked. Through mid-June, Pelc shot fireworks called Bird Bangers and Whistler Screamers to frighten the geese away, and he chased them off with laser beams. Then, fences blocked many of the geese from coming back during their summer molt, when they couldn’t fly.
When the pyrotechnics started, there were nearly 100 geese. Recently, there have been about 40 in the area, Pelc said.
“They’re very imprinted on that specific area of the river,” he said of a 11/2-mile stretch of bank between W. 5th and Lane avenues.
The birds are flying again now, allowing them to hop the city’s orange snow fence and graze on the new grass. Pelc and his team have resumed the fireworks, he said. They patrol the banks in golf carts.
So far, the number of loud shots fired each day has been much lower than expected, Pelc said. Initially, he thought he’d have to fire 100 rounds each day. Many days, it has been as few as 10.
Grass and other vegetation have grown up along the river over the past four months, covering the brown dirt the geese pecked for newly planted seeds in March and April.
The geese will be allowed to nest on the banks eventually, but not until grass has reached reasonable levels alongside the newly planted willow trees and other vegetation. “The goal for us is to keep the geese off long enough that that grass gets established enough that the consumption doesn’t impact the growth substantially,” Pelc said.
Through June, repelling the geese has cost the city $29,845.65, with up to $150,000 allocated through the fall, if necessary, said George Zonders, a spokesman for Columbus’ public utilities.
The revitalization effort near Ohio State is about a year ahead of the city’s Scioto Greenways project, which will create 33 acres of parkland between COSI Columbus and Downtown along the banks of a narrowed Scioto River. That project’s budget is $35.5 million and it is scheduled to be completed by fall 2015.
The city’s plans for natural vegetation along the Downtown riverbank and stretches of grass and bike trail could require more anti-geese efforts next year, said Amy Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Downtown Development Corp., which is overseeing that project.
“We’re definitely looking at what worked and lessons learned for geese mitigation (along the Olentangy),” she said. “There will be a plan to mitigate the geese and ensure what we plant stays planted.”

Celebrating 100 years of Ohio State cooperative extension service

In 1914, Ohio State University Extension agents went farm to farm, quelling concerns about cattle and crops.
These days, the wide-ranging agency is just as likely to coach landowners about landscape plantings or what to look for in the fine print of a shale-drilling lease as it is to talk about cows.
Read rest of article HERE

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lake Erie’s algae woes began building a decade ago

TOLEDO (AP) — The toxins that contaminated the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in northwest Ohio didn’t just suddenly appear.

Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup color in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.

Read rest of article HERE

Friday, August 1, 2014

ECOFA meeting August 6th

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO - Ron Carlton will be the featured speaker at the Aug. 6 for the 8 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA).  Ron has been involved in multiple phases of landowner group leasing and will present his experiences and insights on the trends in the Utica shale development.

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.

Insect Spotlight: Covering the soil to reduce pest insects

Cover crops are all the rage these days, and may be a part of the solution for problems confronting the long-term sustainability of agricultural production in the U.S. Simply defined, cover crops are plant "place-holders," designed to cover bare soil during fallow periods and in between growing seasons. Their benefits are myriad, from reducing soil erosion, to replenishing soil nutrients, to suppressing weeds, to growing soil microbial communities. I would argue that another benefit of cover crops that is too often overlooked (arguably the most important benefit) is in reducing pest insects and growing beneficial insect communities.

Read rest of article   HERE