Environment

Historic farm acreage could be site for wetlands project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Settlers in the Great Black Swamp worked hard to drain the soil to make fields that would grow crops rather than flood. Now, a group dedicated to conservation may work hard to turn one field back into wetlands. Melanie Coulter, of the Black Swamp Conservancy, presented a proposal on Tuesday to the Wood County Park District. The conservancy is a non-profit land trust with a goal of conserving primarily private and some public lands. Coulter’s proposal to the park district board was to set up a demonstration project on acreage at the Carter Historic Farm, located north of Bowling Green on Carter Road. “It’s a working farm that the public comes to,” she said. So the project could become an example of how wetlands can be used to filter out nutrients from farm fields. The preliminary proposal calls for a series of wetlands with a wooded buffer on 20 acres on the far west end of the farm. The acreage involved sits along a ditch that flows into Toussaint Creek. If grant funding is received, a public meeting would then be held to explain the wetlands project, Coulter told the park board. The wetlands would be designed to create wildlife habitat, she added. The acreage being considered for the wetlands project would be on land currently being used as farmland. The existing wooded area near the field would not be touched and the existing drainage would not be changed. Working on the design of the demonstration project is Hull & Associates. The construction of a wetlands and buffer area would be quite expensive. The preliminary estimate is in the $400,000 range, Coulter said. That amount could be trimmed if the acreage was reduced, she said. Wood County Park District Executive Director Neil Munger said if the project proceeds past the design stage, grant funding would be sought for construction. Since the Toussaint Creek is in the Maumee “area of concern” for waterways and contamination of Lake Erie, the wetlands demonstration project may…

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EPA plan to deal with contaminants left at BG plant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Ohio EPA has come up with a plan for dealing with contamination of an industrial site in Bowling Green. Later this month, the public will be asked to weigh in on the proposal. A plan to address contamination at the Cooper Standard Automotive property in Bowling Green will be the subject of an Ohio EPA public meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m., at Ohio EPA’s Northwest District Office, 347 N. Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green. An EPA investigation of the site at 1175 N. Main St. showed that “the contamination poses unacceptable current and future human health and environmental risks based on direct contact with contaminated surface and subsurface soil, inhalation of contaminated soil and/or ground water via vapor intrusion, and direct contact with contaminated ground water.” The contamination is believed to have occurred before Cooper Standard Automotive or Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. operated the site. However, the current owner is responsible for cleaning up the contaminant even if it did not create the problem, according to Dina Pierce, of the Ohio EPA. Cooper Standard Automotive purchased the 25-acre site from Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. in 2004. The property had been used by Cooper Tire to manufacture rubber hoses and seals for the automotive industry. Other businesses used the site for manufacturing before Cooper Tire began operations. Trichloroethylene (TCE), a common industrial solvent, is the primary contaminant being addressed by the plan. According to the EPA report, neither Cooper Tire nor Cooper Standard Automotive used TCE at the site. The Cooper Standard Automotive plant currently employs about 370 people. Those employees are not at risk from the contamination, Pierce said. “The indoor air monitoring results were below risk levels set to protect human life,” Pierce said on Thursday. The site also does not pose a risk for neighboring properties, Pierce said. “No contamination is getting offsite in groundwater or air.” The TCE contamination was discovered in 1986 during the removal of underground storage tanks that held xylene, which…


Rover Pipeline ‘goodwill’ checks follow bad spill record

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Officials from Rover Pipeline – the company with 19 Ohio EPA violations so far and $2.3 million in fines and damages – presented some checks Tuesday to help first responders. The $10,000 checks, “offered in goodwill by the company,” are going to the emergency management agencies in each of the 18 counties in Ohio being traversed by Rover pipeline. Wood County is one of those on the route. The funds are to be used to purchase new equipment or offer additional training . “We hope these funds will go toward emergency first responders,” Bill Barth, senior specialist for emergency response with Rover, said as he passed on the giant checks. “We look forward to working with you.” Wood County EMA Director Brad Gilbert is grateful for the funds, but he would just as soon not have to work on a pipeline incident. He may use the check from Rover to help put a state MARCs radio system in the sheriff’s dispatch center. The $10,000 donation will pay just a portion of the total $40,000 expense. “The pressure’s on them to do the right thing during construction and operations,” Gilbert said of the pipeline. “Hopefully we don’t need it for any issues with them.” However, Rover’s accident record isn’t exactly clean. The check presentations come on the heels of Rover Pipeline being cited for a 19th environmental violation. Most recently, the Ohio EPA cited Rover for spilling contaminants into the Mohican River in Ashland County. When questioned about the level of trust counties should have in Rover, the company’s communications specialist said the 19 citations are based on Ohio EPA’s definition of a violation. “We’re showing different data,” Alexis Daniel said Tuesday as the pipeline firm prepared to hand out the giant checks in the Wood County Courthouse atrium to the EMA directors from Wood, Hancock and Seneca counties. The Rover pipeline is being constructed through southern Wood County on its way from West Virginia to Ontario, Canada. Despite the Ohio EPA’s records,…


Solar field ‘sanctuary’ to attract butterflies, bees, birds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials learned Monday evening how its solar field could be turned into a “solar sanctuary” for butterflies, bees and birds. The board of public utilities heard how the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service hopes to develop a wildlife and pollinator habitat around the 165-acre solar field near the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of Bowling Green. “You are producing good clean energy, and you’re helping wildlife at the same time,” said Marci Lininger, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “This is a really cool project for us,” Lininger said. One goal of the wildlife habitat area is to bring back pollinators to the region. “Pollinators are in decline right now,” she said. Adult Monarch butterflies have seen a 50 percent drop in the last 10 years due to disappearing milkweed plants  – which are the only plants used by Monarchs for laying eggs. Some wildflower habitats target specific species. The one at Bowling Green’s solar site will be aimed at attracting several species of bees, birds and butterflies. The plan calls for three seasons of blooming plants. The 12-acre wild habitat area is intended to benefit various pollinators, crops, soil quality, water quality, foraging birds and Monarchs. Ohio is a priority location for Monarchs on their annual trek to Mexico. “We have a huge responsibility here in Ohio,” Lininger said. This region also has many crops that are suffering from inadequate pollination, she said. Crops relying on pollination include tomatoes, blueberries, melons, soybeans, peppers, peaches, cucumbers, squash and apples. Honey bees account for more than $15 billion in agricultural production of fruits, vegetables and nuts, Lininger said. Water and soil quality are also helped by the wildflower habitats because the native plants have deeper root systems and add nitrogen to the soil. The plants also attract insects, which are a food staple for many birds, and provide bird nesting areas in tall grasses. The wildlife habitat will be a team project of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife…


BG arborist branches out with tree health advice

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s tree doctor uses mushrooms, spotted maple leaves and rubber mallets as clues to tree health. As trees lose their leaves, their bared branches may reveal some health issues that are concealed during the warmer months of the year. So autumn is a good time to give a close look at trees, according to Bowling Green City Arborist Grant Jones. Jones recently held a tree clinic for local residents in Carter Park, using many of the trees there as examples. “We talked about the signs of problems now, and down the road,” Jones said. For example, mushrooms growing close to a tree or even on the branches themselves can be a tell-tale sign of problems, he warned. “If you see mushrooms around a tree, you want to get that checked out,” he said. “It’s saying there’s some sort of decay in the tree or the roots. It can be a sign of bigger problems.” It’s not uncommon for trees in the Bowling Green area to lean to the east – as a result of strong west winds in the region. A little lean is survivable, Jones said. “Leans are OK as long as you don’t start to see the soil heaving,” he said. The best way to prevent slanting trees is to stake them while they are young. “As long as you see it try to correct itself,” the tree is probably OK, Jones said. Just as exposed roots can be a problem, so can roots that are buried too deep. A healthy tree should have roots flaring off where the trunk enters the ground. But trees planted too deep resemble a telephone pole, Jones said. The risk to the tree is “girdling roots,” where the roots wrap around the trunk of the tree and strangle it, he said. Some homeowners start to fret if their trees lose their leaves early. But Jones advised that some trees just naturally shed earlier than others – like the Catalpa and Hawthorne. Other trees,…


BGSU professor says key to biodiversity may be in our own backyards

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Fostering biodiversity doesn’t require only setting aside large tracks of natural lands. Fostering wild areas amidst farmland and suburbs could very well help maintain the habitat native species need.  That’s especially true in an area like the Great Black Swamp where agriculture and suburbs encroach on the habitat of turtles, butterflies, bats, and the rest of the natural community. Conservation biologist Karen Root discussed her studies the natural habitat of the Oak Openings region. The professor at Bowling Green State University was the opening act in this week’s sustainability activities on campus. The maps she projected showed the threat to the area’s oak savannah and prairies. While forest has increased in some parts, the white areas representing suburbs moved noticeably south in the last decade. To the south of Oak Openings were large swatches of agricultural land, which with their expanse of single crop planting are in many ways the worst habitat for wildlife. Root has been studying the impact that those changes in land use have had. Those studies, she made clear, require getting your boots muddy. Collecting the data takes a host of students and community volunteers. For students that mean keeping track of road kill on certain stretches of road. They found 292 dead animals, 255 of them mammals. “We think that’s unusually high,” she said. Mammals, Root said, are the prime victims of vehicles, and the area where the Oak Opening Preserve and Maumee State meet is the worst spot. Looking at roads, and the state of vegetation along the edges, though, offers clues on how the death toll could be reduced. Areas with more cover along the side of the road tend to protect animals better. Having areas where animals can travel from one natural area to another is key, since often one area may not have everything a species requires. Root tracked the movements of other species, such as box turtles to see how far they roam, which can be surprisingly far. This is done by applying fluorescent…


Daniel Eisinger: Energy Star program should be maintained

As a business owner, I do not use the term “invest” lightly. As anyone with a mind for business knows, a favorable return on investment (ROI) signifies a prudential investment. Some simple math will illustrate the point. Imagine a program that has saved Americans $430 billion since 1992 at a cost of roughly $50 million per year; the programmatic profit (herein meaning America’s saved capital expenses), is $428 billion. By dividing this profit by the total invest of $1.25 billion, we find that the ROI of said program is 343%, or roughly 13.72% per year. But this ROI is very real, since the above example is actually of the Energy Star Program. Energy efficiency is the driver behind Energy Star’s ROI. Individuals and businesses pay lower utility bills because they are using (or losing) less electricity, water, heat, etc., and my business provides the analyses that illustrate where money can be recouped through greater energy efficiency. To discontinue the Energy Star program would be senseless. The program beautifully models the interplay of efficient free-market economics and effective public policy. Washington must act prudently; continue investing in America by investing in Energy Star. Dan Eisinger Toledo