Environment

Park district’s historic farm looking to grow

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Deer and raccoons have long been residents of the Wood County Park District. But chickens and goats? “Welcome to the farm,” Tim Gaddie, historic farm specialist with the park district, said to the park district board members Tuesday as they held their monthly meeting at Carter Historic Farm. The farm, located on Carter Road north of Bowling Green, is unlike any other park site in the district. The site is intended to take visitors back to the 1930s, when area farms were on the verge of big changes. “It was a big transition from hand powered and animal powered farming to machine-based,” Gaddie said. The historic farm programs focus on skills that families of the era relied on for survival – food preservation, vegetable and herb gardening, rug making and woodworking. Family campfire programs are also offered. This week, a group of kids aged 7 and 8 are attending farm camp there. Next week, 9- and 10-year-old kids will be learning at the farm. But Gaddie would like to do more to make Carter Historic Farm a working farm. Last year, chickens were added to the farm, with many of the eggs being used for programming. Soon, he would like to add some goats, then gradually work his way up to sheep, dairy cows, a draft horse and mules. Gaddie can picture a time when the sheep on the farm will be sheared to create yarn that will then be used for weaving. To accomplish these goals, Gaddie is trying to grow farm volunteers. “We’re working on building the volunteer base to…


Veterans hit the trail on Warrior Hike seeking peace

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A Bowling Green native has embarked on a long-haul hike intended to help military veterans walk off the war. Marine veteran Martin Strange, 32, started his Warrior Expedition last week. With hiking partner, Army veteran Sterling Deck, Strange will circumnavigate the state of Ohio, taking about three months to cover the 1,444 miles. Warrior Expeditions was started about four years ago by Sean Gobin. After deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gobin set out to walk the 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Strange said Gobin gained so much from the experience he founded Warrior Expeditions to offer the same experience to other veterans. There are options for hiking, paddling and bicycling. In trekking the Appalachian Trail, he was following the footsteps of a veteran of an older generation. Coming home from World War II, Earl Shaffer became the first person to hike the length of the trail. Strange served four years in the U.S. Marines as a machine gunner. The Bowling Green High graduate enlisted at 21. “I felt life had my back to the wall,” he said. This was his way “to push back and jump off a cliff and see what happens. That’s what the Marine Corps infantry was to me.” Strange was deployed twice to Iraq. When he was discharged in 2009, he went on and served as security for the State Department, working in Kabul, Afghanistan. “I’m a completely different person from when I joined up,” Strange said. “And grown since I got out.” Strange, son of former BG residents Carney and Dorothyann Strange, went on to study wildlife management…


Drought conditions may restrict growth of algae in Lake Erie

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Dry weather is keeping the algae blooms in Lake Erie at bay. The lack of rainfall means little run off into the Maumee River leading into the lake. The runoff is the main source of phosphorus that feeds the algae growth. The phosphorus in the runoff largely comes from the fertilizer that farmers use on their fields. Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a prediction for a less severe algae bloom in the western Lake Erie Basin. On hand at the announcement were Bowling Green State University researchers Michael McKay, director of the BGSU marine program, and George Bullerjahn, professor of biological sciences. That prediction, they said during an interview on Friday, is good as it stands, but is subject to change. If it starts pouring, Bullerjahn said, the algae could be back. “We’re relying on luck and nature,” McKay said. Whether an algae bloom develops into a toxic algae bloom like the one that closed down the Toledo region’s water system in 2014 depends on many factors – wind, heat and the presence of nitrogen, another key ingredient in fertilizer. The extent of that algae bloom, Bullerjahn said, was moderate, but it had high levels of the toxin microcystin. That crisis sent people in the region scrambling for water and scientists, officials and politicians scrambling for solutions. However, “we can’t predict how toxic a bloom will be,” Bullerjahn said. There’s no correlation between how green a bloom is and how toxic it is. Earlier this year a toxic bloom occurred in the Maumee River near Defiance, forcing that city to resort…


BGSU’s Torelli discusses citizen science in Washington D.C.

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS BGSU chemist Dr. Andrew Torelli is part of an international effort to raise awareness of the importance of science to society and to engage the public and legislators with current issues. Torelli recently served on an invited panel of experts as part of an informational briefing for members of Congress, their representatives and the public in Washington, D.C. The panel’s topic was “Citizen Science: Empowering a Robust National Effort.” Torelli shared the exciting example of the Smartphone InSpector, a device developed by an interdisciplinary team of BGSU faculty and students that equips a cell phone to identify and measure contaminants in water and upload the data to an online site. The system is being field tested by a number of area Rotary clubs to monitor regional water quality. The June 7 briefing was part of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Science and the Congress Project and the Consortium for Science Policy Outcomes at Arizona State University. “The purpose of these briefings is to provide members of the public and legislators on Capitol Hill with information on important topics in science that address national challenges,” Torelli said. The panel was moderated by Dr. Jamie Vernon of Sigma Xi and American Scientist magazine, with honorary co-hosts Sens. Steve Daines (Rep. Mont.), and Chris Coons (Dem., Del.). “It was great to see bipartisan support for the briefing,” Torelli said. The importance of citizen science is becoming clearer. According to the ACS, “As professional scientists explore the universe, they find instances and places where more hands, eyes, and voices are needed to collect, analyze, and report data.”…


County cool to solar field request for tax break – commissioners want more information

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The prospect of Bowling Green having the largest solar field in Ohio appeals to county officials – but they don’t like to be kept in the dark about tax abatement details. So on Tuesday, company officials involved in building and operating the solar field northeast of the city were asked to explain their request for a 30-year tax break for the $43 million project. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw noted the confusion on the part of NextEra Energy officials about needing to outline their request. But she explained that the commissioners have a policy of meeting in person with any company that wants tax breaks. “We certainly feel it’s something we need to know as much as we can about,” Herringshaw explained to representatives of NextEra Energy and AMP Ohio. The tax abatement request for the solar field is unlike those that normally come before the commissioners. First, the amount is massive, giving a tax break of $10 million over just the first 15 years. Second, the duration is proposed at 30 years, compared to the customary 10 to 15 years. Third, there is no ongoing employment, which is the basis for most tax breaks. Construction of the solar field will employ about 85 people from July 18 to Dec. 31. And 80 percent of those people are required to be Ohio residents – but there is no requirement that they come from Wood County. Fourth, regular tax abatements require that school districts be “made whole” by the business getting the tax break, but this agreement does not. The company will pay…


County park district plans programs in July

Following is a list of programs planned by the Wood County Park District  this month: Perrysburg Bicentennial Celebration Nature Hikes, Saturday, July 2, 2 – 4:30 p.m. WW Knight Nature Preserve and Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg and 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg Celebrate the Bicentennial by hiking two Wood County parks in Perrysburg. Walk woods, wetlands, and prairie then carpool to our newest park for nature and an exceptional quarry view. Leader: Jim Witter   Stargazing, Saturday, July 2, 9:30 p.m. Beaver Creek Preserve 23028 Long Judson Road, Grand Rapids See nebula, planets and stars with the Toledo Astronomical Association and the Wood County Park District.   Slippery Elm Slow Roll, Thursdays, July 7 and July 21, and Aug. 11, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Black Swamp Preserve 1014 South Maple Street, BG Get into action with Wood County Parks and Wood County District Public Library on this family-friendly ride down the Slippery Elm Trail. Freshen up on bike safety before the trip, learn about the trail and the unique surroundings during the trip, and connect with your community, parks, and library. Leader: Ranger Department   Evening Bat Hike, Friday, July 8, 8:30 – 10 p.m. William Henry Harrison Park 644 Bierley Avenue, Pemberville Discover facts, myths, local species, and conservation challenges of bats. Hike with bat-detecting sonar to search for our only truly flying mammals! Leader: Jim Witter   Focus on Water: Storm Water Management and Effects on Water Quality, Wednesday, July 13, 7 – 8 p.m. Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer Road, BG How is storm water managed and why is it necessary? The County…


Water & sewer district wants to know how it’s doing

From NORTHWESTERN WATER & SEWER DISTRICT The Northwestern Water & Sewer District recently launched a digital survey to its customers, contractors, vendors, and other organizations it deals with to gauge satisfaction levels and the quality of the work the District does. According to Jerry Greiner, President of Northwestern Water Sewer District, “We need feedback so we can see how we are doing, and just as importantly, find out what we could do better.” Greiner continues “Primarily we are focusing on our customers, but we also want feedback from organizations we do business with such as our contractors, other government agencies, and even media organizations.” The survey strives to create a baseline or current snapshot of satisfaction and quality, and then will proceed with a comprehensive analysis of the data and information. According to Gavin Smith, Director of GIS and IT at the District “We are going to intently study the results and communicate the results in a way that illustrates our current position across many measured factors, but then we will use this as a starting point to help us keep our strengths impactful while identifying and correcting weaknesses.” Additionally, the District plans follow up surveys, and maybe even focus groups, on a consistent long term schedule to create a constant feedback loop. Freelance marketer and public relations guru Tom Konecny, who helps the District with these types of tasks adds “Evaluation and continuous improvement is critical. For example, a laborer in a factory, a teller at a bank, or even a nurse at a hospital are continually evaluated so that current performance is measured and future performance is enhanced-…


Camping out close to home in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While some people want to be pampered on vacations, others prefer sleeping bags to luxury accommodations and lightning bugs to chandeliers. They want little more than a body of water where they can cast a line, and a fire pit where they can roast marshmallows. For these folks, Wood County does have a few spots where people can pitch their tents or park their campers. True, there are no geysers, great mountain peaks or grand herds of bison, but the local campgrounds give people a taste of a nature without the travel time. The three campgrounds are at Mary Jane Thurston State Park on the edge of Grand Rapids; Fire Lake just south of Bowling Green; and Buttonwood in Perrysburg Township. “People in Wood County don’t even know this park is here,” Al Alvord, campground host, said about Mary Jane Thurston that sits on the banks of the Maumee River. But Alvord is hoping that recent work at the campground will put it on the map for local residents. “We’ve just made vast improvements,” he said, including adding showers at the marina and putting in electricity to 22 of the 37 campsites. “It has finally happened.” In addition to beautiful views along the river and plenty of fishing spots, the site also features concessions and a day use lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The campground is a stopping point for people traveling through on bicycles, and for local people looking for a mini-vacation from home. “We have people who come here from Weston,” Alvord said. “They come out and enjoy…


Wood County Landfill running out of room

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Landfill is running out of room even faster than predicted. When 2016 rolled around, it looked as if the existing permitted space at the landfill would last another 11 years. By Tuesday, that remaining lifespan had shortened to eight to 10 years. The news was presented to the county commissioners on Tuesday by landfill staff and consultants. The reason for the faster filling is three-fold. First, the Henry County landfill closed, resulting in much of the garbage from that neighboring county coming to Wood County. Second, as the economy rebounds, the increase in new construction creates more debris, and people tend to buy new items and throw out the old, rather than stretching out their usefulness. And third, improvements at Wood County Landfill are making it more attractive to waste haulers, said Ken Vollmar, landfill manager. The Wood County Landfill received 38,000 tons of trash in 2014, which jumped to 49,000 tons last year. At the current rate, this year’s tonnage may top off over 60,000 tons. The landfill area covers more than 100 acres, with 43 of those in the current footprint approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for dumping. The site has about 60 more usable acres – and depending on the tonnage, the landfill has between 50 and 75 more good years, according to Shawn McGee, of Hull and Associates, consultants to the county. But McGee warned that while the lifespan of the current permitted area is eight to 10 years, the county needs to get working on the expansion now. It takes three to…


Hard work comes naturally to BG teenager

BY JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While other high school students are still snug in their beds on most summer mornings, Nick Breen has been out working in the woods for hours. “He’s full of energy and we put that energy to good use,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “He’ll just show up some times and say, ‘I think the trails need trimmed.’” Breen, a junior at Bowling Green High School, has been volunteering with the parks since sixth grade. “Ever since his mom started dropping him off,” Stutzman said. Breen now pedals his bicycle to Wintergarden Park in the mornings to see what work needs to be done. “I wake up too early for my own good,” he said, adding that he does take time to have fun like other teens in the summer. “I do mope around, but I’ve got too much time. I’m here whenever I don’t have other things to do.” As Breen ages, the projects he takes on get bigger. A couple weeks ago, he was given the job of clearing the way for a flagstone walkway in front of the Rotary Nature Center. He dug out the path, and placed the pieces of stone, which had been salvaged from old sidewalks in the city. The project took him three days. Breen spends quite a bit of time ridding Wintergarden Park of invasive plant species. Earlier this month, he also dug 100 holes in the hard clay soil so milkweed could be planted. He even built a fence around the observation platform in the…


Pratt farm defies development, donated to park district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For nearly two centuries, the farm settled by William Pratt in Perrysburg Township has stayed in the family’s care. Descendants Doug and Mary Ellen Pratt could not bear to have their beloved farm split up and turned into housing developments, so on Tuesday they did something their community-minded ancestors might have appreciated. They gave their land to the people of Wood County for generations to come. “We express our gratitude to the park district,” Doug Pratt said as he and his wife handed their homestead over to the Wood County Park District. “Our only regret is we won’t be here to see it.” The Pratts asked that the park district dedicate about 40 acres for sports fields, then use the remaining 120 acres for trails, trees, a pond, cross country skiing and picnic areas. “What you did is very generous,” said Denny Parish, of the park district board. “I find it ironic that you would thank us.” “The citizens of Wood County thank you,” said Bob Dorn, of the park district board. The 160 acres of fields and farm homestead are split by Hull Prairie Road, just north of Roachton Road. The farmland is almost completely surrounded by housing developments, and will soon be neighbor to the newest Perrysburg school. “We don’t want it in housing,” Doug Pratt said of his farm. Neil Munger, director of the park district, assured the Pratts that the farm would be in good hands. “What a wonderful, wonderful thought on their part to preserve their property,” Munger said. “It will be a natural space for future…


BG ready for algae season in river water

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s that time of year, when the recipe for algal blooms starts cooking in the Maumee River. Spring rains run nutrients from soil into waterways and the sun’s rays warm up the water to create algal blooms. “All those ingredients in the water that promote algae growth start to happen,” said Brian O’Connell, utilities director for the city of Bowling Green. Last week, an algal bloom in the Maumee River near Defiance’s water treatment plant prompted a “no contact” advisory. Defiance is located upriver from Bowling Green’s water intake which sits between Grand Rapids and Waterville. “Swimming and wading in the Maumee River is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with certain medical conditions and pets,” a Defiance news release stated, according to the city’s newspaper. But Defiance officials said the drinking water supply was safe. The water is currently being drawn out of the city’s reservoir, not the river, they reported. And water from the reservoir had been tested, showing safe levels. Bowling Green’s drinking water is also safe despite algal blooms in the river, according O’Connell. Bowling Green draws its water from the Maumee River near its West River Road plant, and pumps it into a reservoir where it is treated for any algal blooms. That is just the first step, O’Connell explained earlier this week. “To top that off, there’s a small UV light system,” he said, and then chlorine treatment just in case anything slips past the processes. “Our finished water samples have always shown a ‘no-detect,’” level of algae, O’Connell said. Throughout the treatment…


NextGen enlists young voters to go to polls to fight climate change

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With the primary season all but over and the Democrats and Republicans settled on their presumptive nominees, a national effort is under way to turn out young, environmentally aware voters in November. NextGen Climate has been reaching out to college-aged voters since early this year urging them to pledge to vote for candidates who will take action to address climate change. The effort started on campuses in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus and expanded to a dozen more campuses throughout the state, including Bowling Green State University. By fall the effort hopes to be on 60 campuses in Ohio. “Our goal is to help young voters turn their passion for climate action into votes for climate champions,” said Joanne Pickrell, state director. “We want to harness the energy brought out by the primary and harness it to this important issue. “ Ohio is one of seven states NextGen Climate is focusing on. The others are Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Illinois, and Colorado. The states were chosen, she said, because they are important to the presidential contest and because they have contested senatorial races. “The response on college campuses has been great,” Pickrell said. “We believe that young voters want to vote on important issues in their lives like climate changes. Young voters want to see action on climate change. … We think this a huge issue for a large voting bloc.” Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two largest voting blocks. A poll by USA Today/Rock the Vote found that the percentage of 18 to 34 year olds who say they are likely to…


Conservation district seeks nominees for annual awards

From THE WOOD SOIL & CONSERVATION DISTRICT The Wood Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is accepting nominations for the Harold and Ida Lou Bordner Farm Beautification Award and the Backyard Conservationist Award. Sponsored in part by The Andersons, Inc. and in memory of Harold and Ida Lou Bordner, the Wood Soil and Water Conservation District recognizes Wood County rural landowners and famers for utilizing conservation practices and maintaining the appearance and structures of the original farmstead. As you drive through the countryside, take note of the home sites which catch your attention. Is there a rain barrel or composter? Is there a windbreak or prairie grasses? Are original buildings maintained? Submit your nominations to the Wood SWCD office (1616 E. Wooster St. Suite 32 Bowling Green, OH 43402 or julielause@woodswcd.com) no later than July 18. The winning home sites will be awarded at the Wood SWCD Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet held on September 10, 2016 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) Northwest Agricultural Research Station, 4240 Range Line Road Custar, OH 43511.


Overgrown courtyard becomes oasis in middle of BGHS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The courtyard at Bowling Green High School is being transformed into a peaceful oasis in the middle of the classrooms and chaotic lives of students. There in the courtyard is the soothing sound of a waterfall, where koi fish glide back and forth, beautiful flowers and smooth stonework. But it hasn’t always been this way. A couple years ago, biology teacher Josh Iler looked at the courtyard and realized it could be so much more. “The bushes were overgrown, covering the windows,” Iler said. One bush was blocking the door into the courtyard, making it difficult for students and staff to use the area. “They would not come out here,” Iler said of the students. But on Thursday, the courtyard was full of students sitting at the patio tables, taking a breather before their last couple classes of the year. “Now you’ve got to get out here early to get a seat,” Iler said. A couple years ago, Iler decided to use the courtyard as a classroom tool, and turn it into the oasis at the same time. He asked North Branch Nursery to come up with a landscape design for the space. “Get me started and I’ll let the kids figure out the rest,” he said. From there it grew … and grew. The work started on the edges of the courtyard, with the old overgrown bushes being pulled out and replaced with neatly sculpted flower beds. Then recently, the work moved into the center, where the school’s victory bell used to sit before it was moved out to the football…