Friday, November 28, 2014

Workshop: Pros and Cons of selling timber at auction

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIO - At the December 3 7:30 PM meeting of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA), Jim Elze, consulting forester, and Darryl McGuire, auctioneer, will jointly discuss the pros and cons of selling your timber via a live auction.  An auction provides an interesting variant to the common techniques of sealed bids or individual verbal offers.

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, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of GSWCD

Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.
Enjoy our natural resources!

Administration Wants Tougher Regulations

The state's chief oil and gas regulator asked the Senate Tuesday to restore the Kasich Administration's plan to crack down on the industry after the House revised several provisions in the mid-biennium review bill dealing primarily with environmental issues.  Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer also asked the Senate Agriculture Committee to delete House-added proposals to allow state lands to be forcibly included in drilling units and to further deregulate the telephone industry.  Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler applauded MBR provisions that the House added to address the toxic algae problem in Lake Erie.
Sen. Cliff Hite, chairman of the Agriculture Committee, said he plans to hold a vote Dec. 9 on a substitute version of the bill, which could include some of the administration's requested changes. He asked members to submit potential amendments by Dec. 5.  The chairman told reporters after the hearing that he believed a number of contentious issues could be resolved in time to pass the bill before the end of lame duck session.  For example, the oil and gas industry and the administration reached agreement on a dozen points of contention during a recent stakeholder meeting, he said. The parties are also "very close" to compromising on how much drillers would have to disclose about previous violations, he added.  Sen. Hite said another provision about which Director Zehringer expressed concern - changes to the unitization process - "will be probably contentious before we get done."  A substitute version of the bill adopted in the House would authorize the agency to issue an order for unitization or mandatory pooling for state-owned lands other than parks, according to the Legislative Service Commission's comparison document. The proposal also sets certain deadlines for the state to rule on applications to authorize drilling near unwilling landowners' property.

Director Zehringer said the contentious subject requires more time for deliberation than lame duck session can allow.  As for the administration's proposal to require oil and gas permit applicants to disclose felony convictions, the director said House revisions that limit the look back period to three years are insufficient to make a reasonable assessment of the operator's compliance with the law.  Under the current version, Ben Lupo, who was sentenced to 28 months for dumping fracking waste into a Mahoning River tributary, would only have to wait eight months to register with the agency to avoid disclosing the felony, he said. Other changes that exempt subsidiaries from disclosure would allow such individuals to skirt the law by simply registering under a different company name, he added. "With so many companies who are not in operation in Ohio, for which we have a limited comprehension of their operating history throughout the U.S., we should have the ability to know their specific felony history in other states and take it into consideration before allowing them to do business here," he said.  Director Zehringer also asked senators to revise an amendment requiring oil and gas waste handlers to have a surety bond of $250,000 and liability insurance limited to $4 million, saying the caps "are far too low to be considered effective."  He voiced concern that the bill would allow oil and gas producers and waste handlers to insure themselves at practically any amount. If a company had an accident and went bankrupt, the state "would be left with the bill" to remediate environmental damage, he said.

Director Zehringer also asked the committee to:
·         Scrap changes to the House's changes to civil and criminal penalties for oil and gas operators; Restore a proposal to allow the ODNR director to approve certain property transactions under $1 million that currently require gubernatorial approval;  Remove provisions that reduce funding for the Mine Safety Program and limit related training and inspections;  and, eliminate language that would allow anyone to raise white-tailed deer for personal use.

Director Butler said the administration hopes to address concerns that the current law allowing only the chief of the Division of Oil and Gas to obtain confidential information about fracking chemicals could hamper access to local fire departments and other agencies.  The OEPA director said the administration would also like to ensure that public drinking water systems can obtain confidential information in case of another well pad fire, where toxic chemicals can get washed down into waterways. Early access to the data could allow municipalities to monitor and shut down their systems until the pollution flows past the intakes, he explained.  During his testimony, Mr. Butler touted new algae-related provisions in the bill that would require large publicly owned wastewater plants to monitor phosphorus levels in their discharge and allow the state to restrict the disposal of dredging material in Lake Erie, while using it for other purposes.

Director Daniels touted the House's move to prohibit the application of fertilizer and livestock manure to frozen and saturated farm fields in the Western Lake Erie Basin, which he called "a necessary step in our battle to restore the health of our great lake."

A House-added proposal to define "adverse impacts" under the multi-state agreement on water usage has drawn great attention from environmental groups, but Director Zehringer said he hasn't yet reviewed the provision.  Environmentalists say the language closely resembles a bill that Gov. Kasich previously vetoed (HB231, 129th General Assembly) that would have allowed industrial operations to withdraw huge amounts of water from environmentally sensitive tributaries of Lake Erie in violation of the compact.

However, Mike Bailey, ODNR's chief of the Division of Soil and Water Resources, indicated that the administration had a different interpretation of the provision.  "We do believe it is compliant with the Great Lakes Compact," he told reporters after the hearing.

Sen. Hite said he believed the Great Lakes Compact proposal was problematic.  "When we did the Great Lakes Compact, we went through that whole process. And there was a veto and then we corrected the language to avoid a veto. Now the language is partly what was vetoed. Well, then we have to have that discussion," he said.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Survey

Photo from:

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is looking for your help on collecting information and input about the fall wild turkey season. If you hunt turkeys in the fall, please take a minute to let your voice be heard by filling out this survey.

Thanks, tell your friends!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pheasant Hunting Survey

photo from:

   For those of you throughout Guernsey County or the state for that matter, who enjoy the annual pheasant releases at wildlife area's in Ohio. I encourage each and everyone of you to fill out this survey to give the Ohio Division of Wildlife information that could affect the future pheasant hunting opportunities at wildlife areas. Let your voice be heard! You can fill a survey out each time you participate in a stocked pheasant hunt on a public area in Ohio. For more information contact your local wildlife area office, the local district office, or the main office in Columbus.

Click here for the survey:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Progress on the new office

The county commissioners are having a new office built for the district at the Guernsey County Fairgrounds.  It is being erected on the site of the old schoolhouse that was destroyed by a windstorm 2 summers ago.  We will be located next door to the OSU Extension.  We hope to be moved in the spring.

CAUV Discussion from Dept of Taxation

The method for determining farm land tax values under the Current Agricultural Use Value program could see a revamp by the end of the year, the Department of Taxation said Friday.  Any adjustments will largely respond to farmers' concerns that the values are expected to spike to unmanageable levels for taxes that are to be paid in 2015, ODT's Executive Administrator of Tax Equalization Shelley Wilson said in an interview.

The CAUV program ensures that farmland is taxed on its agricultural productivity rather than development value, which gives farmers a prime deal. But in the last few years, the equation has been thrown off by volatile crop prices, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation said this week in outlining recommendations issued to ODT and the General Assembly.
Ohio Farmers' Union members have also brought attention to the issue through their service on a panel that advises the department on the CAUV program.  "There are a lot of farmers and landowners facing huge increases in their tax bills at the same time their incomes have fallen drastically," OFBF Executive Vice President Jack Fisher said in submitting the plan, which suggests the department consider more closely tying the valuations to current economic conditions. 

Ms. Wilson said 41 of 88 counties are due to receive new valuations for tax year 2014, which will likely result in significant increases on those tax values calculated under the CAUV program.  There will be a case of "sticker shock," she said, noting that the average value of agricultural real estate was $123 per acre in 2005 and the current average is $1,668 per acre.  However, Ms. Wilson said the CAUV program "is still providing a substantial tax savings to famers" because Ohio's farm land is valued well below the U.S. Department of Agriculture's $5,700 per acre valuation.  An option for softening a new valuation hit could be to delay the release of values by a few months in order to use the immediate past year's crop prices as opposed to crop prices from two years prior, Ms. Wilson said. Doing so would give the department a better picture of the economic situation Ohio farmers are facing.  While the department has yet to decide which of the OFBF recommendations it will move forward with, she said it "is very interested in making sure that our formula is accurate and uses the best sources of data to produce the most accurate values that reflect current trends in Ohio's agricultural economy."  Any modifications to the department's appraisal methodology could be made by January or sooner, Ms. Wilson added.  The farm bureau's recommendations, which can be implemented without legislative action or a rules process, would affect taxes paid in 2016 and beyond.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Utilizing cover crops in our fields

Cover crops have been around for many years in some areas; however it is rather new to others.

Importance of cover crops

Cover crops protect against topsoil loss from erosion, provide organic matter and utilize the unused nutrients in the soil while creating and generating more available forms of nutrients. Cover crops are very versatile and can be used not only as a soil protector and enhancer, but can be used also for livestock grazing and stored forage purposes. Without cover crops, soil health and soil structure would suffer and more applied nutrients would have to take place to add what was lost by not having cover crops on your fields.

Species Selection (Just to name a few):


Rye is one of the best cool-season covers for absorbing unused Nitrogen in the soil. It is very quick growing, which provides cover to avoid erosion due to rain and wind, while suppressing weeds. It also helps add organic matter as it supplies a great source of residue.
Rye does a lot to improve the soil where it is planted and has a very good root system to help hold the soil together; however, it does not do much for addressing compaction issues as it has no taproot.  One large benefit of rye is that it is able to be seeded later in the fall than most all other cover crops, while still performing at a high level for all of the positive notes listed above.  Since rye is such a large nitrogen scavenger, mixing it with a winter annual legume would retain some nitrogen for the spring. It will survive throughout the winter and regrow robustly in the spring. Ways to kill rye in the spring would be by cutting, spraying herbicides or tillage.

Winter wheat

Winter Wheat, typically grown as a cash crop, has the ability to serve a dual purpose as a cover crop, then as a grazing option in the spring. Wheat is slower growing, so problems such as overgrowth that you may have with rye in the spring, you shouldn't have with wheat. Wheat, as a cover crop, is good for erosion control, catching the nutrients currently in the soil and is good as a weed suppressor.


Legumes add a great source of nitrogen into the soil.  Depending on the type of legume that you choose, some are more tolerant of heat and cold and moisture and some grow more rapidly than others. I suggest you research which type would be the best for your area. Some examples of legumes are alfalfa, alsike clover, birdsfoot trefoil, crownvetch, red clover, white clover and sweet clover.


Oats are a cool season annual that grow swiftly and provide great cover, which reduces soil erosion. If you do not want to deal with having to cut in the spring, oats are a great option, as they should winter kill, which actually helps the survival of legumes if they are in the cover crop mix. They have a very fibrous root system that holds the soil structure intact. Oats gather up the excess nitrogen and suppresses weeds as it out competes them.

Tillage radish

Tillage radish is a fantastic way to address a compaction issue. Radish provides good cover and prevents soil erosion while alive. Radish should winter kill and leave holes in the ground allowing for water and air to reach further down into the soil layers than they normally would. These holes also provide an easy pathway for future crops root systems to travel. Another positive of the radish is that they help drive away slugs. Tillage radishes have a very bad potent smell when they die. This could be a disadvantage for close neighbors.

Application method:

There are several types of applications styles that can be used for cover cropping. Some ways to get the seed down before the harvest of your current crop would be Air Seeding and Aerial Seeding. Air seeding is done with a “highboy” tractor and the seed is blown through dangling tubes into the ground. Aerial seeding is done via airplane.


If you plan to harvest your crop first, then a No-till application is a great option as it reduces the number of times you need to be out on the field, which reduces compaction and soil erosion. It is also a great way to assure solid seed to soil contact. Another way would be with a seeder used after the ground is run over with a tiller. This is a good way to incorporate good seed to soil contact while reducing the top soil compaction thanks to the tiller however it does allow soil erosion to become a problem before the cover crop germinates and grows.

Benefits to your soil health:

Top growth

With cover crops, it would absolutely be great to have solid top growth along with a solid root system, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes we don’t get the top growth that we wanted or were hoping for. One thing to remember is that just because the growth of the plant above the soil may not be good, the root system may still be flourishing.

Preventing erosion

Yes, it would be better to have that plant cover to prevent soil erosion from rain and wind, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. What matters just as much, if not more is what is happening underground. Having a solid root foundation allows for better soil structure and a higher nutrient content. Earthworms are a great sign of good soil health. Soil is highly complex, so I won’t go into all the science of it today, but I will say that good soil health is absolutely essential to the growth and production of your crops.
All in all, cover crops are a great conservation practice that improves soil health and reduces erosion and compaction problems. Cover crops should not be over looked and landowners who have used them for years can tell you that they really are a great option for all types of farmers.
(Jason Tyrell is a district technician for the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District. He’s a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in agricultural business management.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Brief Look at The Wood Duck

Photo by: Michael Dossett

    The Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) pictured above. One of Ohio's most recognizable waterfowl species. The drake (male) on the left is often referred to as one of the most beautiful ducks we have with it's iridescent crest with white outlining streaks, red eye, chestnut colored chest, black, blue, and purple back. The hen (female) on the right, you'll notice is much duller in color. This is to ensure she is concealed during the nesting season to help protect herself and her ducklings. Wood Ducks are also easily recognizable by their voice too, here is a video that both shows the Wood Duck then you'll hear the hen's famous " shriek" along with a hen Mallard in the background. Ducks are very gregarious (friendly) birds and you'll often find them with other puddle ducks like Mallards, Black Ducks, and Teal species.
    The diet of a Wood Duck can vary depending on where it's at. Wood Ducks are omnivores which means they'll eat both plants and animals. They are also puddle ducks which means they will "bob" for food and skim the water collecting food in their bill. They like aquatic insects and macro-invertebrates that live in the wetlands and streams they inhabit. Wood Ducks will also eat a variety of plants like duckweed, water meal, smartweed, acorns, and agricultural crops such as corn.
    Where can I find Wood Ducks you may ask. A variety of similar habitats, Wood Ducks like wetlands, swamps, marshes, shallow ponds, and a variety of streams. Especially if there's a food source in or near by. You typically won't see them out in the middle of a big pond like some diving duck species. Wood Ducks like water that's shallower with cover, whether that's american lotus, spatterdock, button bush, or fallen trees in the water they like to have some sort of cover.
    Wood Ducks are cavity nesting birds, you'll often see them up on tree limbs near wetlands, marshes, and streams in the spring time probably because they've got a clutch of eggs in a hole somewhere in a tree. Nest heights can vary anywhere from 2-50 feet above the ground. The Wood Duck is the only duck in North America that can hatch two broods of young in one year. A typical clutch size is 6-16 whitish tan eggs. incubation of the eggs takes 28-37 days and the nesting period for these ducks is 56-70 days. After the nesting period is over the ducklings will fledge the nest by jumping from the nest and landing on the ground or in the water. Something you can do to encourage nesting on your property is by placing nesting boxes near optimum Wood Duck habitat here's a link to nest box plans for Wood Ducks and many other wildlife species These nest box plans make for a great family activity.
For more information on Wood Ducks or any other species of concern, feel free to contact me here at the office at 740-435-0408 ext. 6892 or by e-mail at

Thanks for reading!