Environment

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…


Undergrads win awards for research & scholarship

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS There were smiles and pride all around at the awards ceremony May 18 for the winners of this year’s Undergraduate Symposium for Research and Scholarship. The winners were chosen from among the 80 students who gave poster presentations and another 24 who gave oral presentations at the April 23 event. Also honored was Dr. Andrew Gregory of the School of Earth, Environment and Society, who received the Undergraduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. Gregory, a spatial geneticist, has involved students in his research into reproduction among sage grouse and prairie chickens as well as ecology and sustainability issues in Kenya. Students and their faculty mentors and parents gathered for the presentation of original glass pieces created by BGSU School of Art faculty member Joel O’Dorisio. President Mary Ellen Mazey congratulated the winners on their work, telling them they would remember it their entire lives, as she has her own experience. Winners in the poster presentation division were: Andrew Witte, a geology major and student of Dr. Margaret Yacobucci, geology, for his quantitative analysis of the shape and size of trilobite fossils in the Great Lakes region to understand geographic distribution of genetic populations across the Appalachian and Michigan basins Lydia Dempsey, a music composition major and student of Distinguished Artist Professor Marilyn Shrude, for her contemporary music composition “The Wishing Well: A Children’s Ballet,” which was staged in April in a collaboration with BGSU student choreographer Sophia Schmitz and conductor Robert Ragoonanan Gregory Grecco, a neuroscience major, for his study of life-threatening hyperthermia as a side effect of illicit designer phenethylamines, drugs…


Advice offered to farmers interested in harvesting the sun

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When it comes to deciding whether to install solar panels on the farm, it’s more complicated that just letting the sun shine in. Eric Romich, a field specialist in energy development for the Ohio State University Extension Service, had to go deep in the weeds to answer the simple question: What’s the payback? He addressed that question Thursday at the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum. It all depends, he said. It depends on energy needs and regulations, and, yes, politics. Depends certainly on what the solar installer says. It also depends on what the utility representative says, and what the farmer’s accountant and, maybe, the attorney, have to say. “This works,” Romich said. “I’ve known a lot of farmers that have installed (solar panels) and they’re happy with them.” Those who were happy, he said, were those who viewed them as long-term investment, 30 years or so. Those who expected a quick financial return on the investment were not satisfied. In 2008, more than 11,000 farms had solar installations. Just four years later that was up to 34,000. Still despite the increase in solar production, Romich said, “it’s still a drop in the bucket” when it comes to total electricity production. Farmers considering adding solar have a lot to consider. Every farm and installation is unique, Romich said. While farmers should consider multiple proposals, evaluating those can be difficult. The cost should be considered independent of federal incentives, including grants and low-interest loans. Only a third of applications secure that kind of funding. And the grant can be considered taxable income. They need to…


BG citizens gush over their parks, but push for more on ‘park poor’ side of city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents love their parks – so much, they had no trouble rattling off three pages of positive comments gushing about the gardens, trails, playgrounds, pool and more. But when the time came to identify weaknesses, they listed off plenty of problems, or opportunities for improvement, depending on the point of view. Citizens were asked Wednesday evening to list strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department during the fifth and final focus group. The ideas presented will be considered during the formation of the parks department’s five-year plan. The most glaring weakness seemed to be the “park poor” east side of the city. Children from a large chunk of the southeast corner of the city have to cross major streets or the railroad tracks to get to a park some distance away. Resident Tom Kleine suggested that the city look into buying the former South Main School playground property. “Children could use that space,” he said. But instead, “children are left to the streets and the alleys.” The old schoolyard has playground equipment, a basketball court and a place to play kickball, all surrounded by fences. But neighborhood children have not been able to resist the chance to play. “Kids are jumping the fence,” to get into the playground, resident Jon Herald said. Another resident pointed out that while community support has been strong over the years, nearly all the funds raised have gone toward parks on the west side of town. Another “weakness” identified is the city’s rental of more than 60 acres to…


Gardner and Brown talk about marijuana, wind energy and roundabouts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s state legislators fielded questions about marijuana, roundabouts and windfarms Friday morning from local residents. State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Tim Brown, both R-Bowling Green, presented a legislative update to members of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. The talk covered a wide range of topics on health, energy and transportation. Gardner reminded those present that he and Brown value direct contact from their constituents and make an effort to be “very accessible” to citizens. Brown said it’s good for the public to be aware of state legislative efforts. “The more sunshine we have on these deliberations the better it is for all of us,” he said. Following are some of the issues discussed. Windfarms Brown talked about a wind energy bill that currently calls for setback requirements that make wind farms “next to impossible.” Under the current language in the bill, the majority of the wind turbines at Ohio’s largest windfarm would not be allowed. “Their right to have them has been stripped away,” Brown said, adding that he is working to change that. Some businesses are reluctant to locate in Ohio because the state doesn’t do enough to promote clean energy, he added. “We have businesses who want to be in our state and say, ‘No,’” such as Amazon, Brown said. “They demand renewable energy.” Gardner said Ohio needs to look at making use of renewable and natural resource energy. “I think there’s an ‘all of the above’ policy,’” he said. Orange barrels Ohioans should not expect relief from road construction anytime soon, Brown said. “I hear…


From suits to nuts, BGSU project puts students’ refuse to good use (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Harshman Community Room has everything needed to equip a college student, lots of everything needed. Books, planners, printer paper are here. Cardboard crates overflow with boxes of mac and cheese, ramen noodles and Pop Tarts of all varieties. Clothes, from coats to undies, suitable for all occasions from a session in a gym to a special date or a job interview, are piled and hung around the room. Falcon spirit wear gets its own stack. Want to see how you look? There’s about 30 mirrors. Mini-fridges and microwaves are stacked on a table, and a few computers, albeit of questionable operating status, are nearby. Off in one corner is the furniture, and shoes take up an entire room size space. Welcome to the sorting operation for Bowling Green State University’s Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out project. Now in its 15th year, the drive encourages students to donate whatever they don’t want that may be usable to the drive. Boxes are located throughout campus, in dorms, at convenience stores, in the student union. It’s a form of “passive community service,” Hennessy said. The organizers will try to find new homes for their castoff goods. “Somebody’s future treasures,” said Torrance Vaughn, a student volunteer sorting through a bag of clothing. “Somebody will have a use for it.” The idea is to promote reuse and waste reduction, said Nick Hennessy, director of the BGSU Office of Campus Sustainability. On Monday with the students gone, he and Carina Weed, the intern who organized the event, and a group of student volunteers, were sorting through what was…


St. John’s Woods was hog heaven

By CHRIS GAJEWICZ BG Naturalist   Stephen W. St. John came to Bowling Green in the 1840s. He was an attorney from New York State and came to BG with the hope of developing a successful law firm in Wood County and of becoming what we would call today, a “Gentleman Farmer”. St. John owned much of what is currently Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve although its appearance in the 1800s was very different from what it is today. We know from land records, all of the meadow area was utilized for the planting of row crops and the St. John’s Woods woodlot was used as a pasture for hogs. We also know someone lived in the general area of the west side of St. John’s Woods, although no foundations or structures have been found to date. We have located a dump site within St. John’s Woods and it looks as if it was active for quite a long time leading us to believe that human habitation was not far away. From the plant record, (meaning plants that are currently growing in the general vicinity of the west side of St. John’s Woods), someone who had knowledge of medicinal plant use had a loose garden of healing plants. Perhaps the people responsible for these plants were share croppers of some sort and their dwellings were not built on foundations making it difficult for us to now determine where they actually lived. The St. John house still stands on Sand Ridge Road and is occupied. St. John’s Woods is a leftover from a time when farmers actively managed woodlots on their farms….


Community ride promotes need for improvements for bicyclists

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Thursday’s community bike ride is more than a pedal to the park. The organizers have some serious points to make about the need to make Bowling Green a better place for bicycling.               The second Community Ride will begin Thursday at 5 p.m. at the fountain in front of the Administration Building on the Bowling Green State University campus.  The riders will head west toward downtown, traveling eventually to Main Street, before reaching their destination, the green space at the corner of Church and West Wooster streets. The first ride came after Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Club, was talking to Rick Busselle, a BGSU faculty member and bicyclist. Busselle was upset by a couple incidents. A student was struck while bicycling near the CVS on East Wooster Street, and then was ticketed for riding on the sidewalk. Busselle himself took a spill while trying to navigate past that spot. His accident occurred in part because he was unsure at what point cyclists were allowed to ride on sidewalks. The city lacks both clarity in the rules governing bicyclists and the bike lanes needed to make riding in the city safer, he said. Yet, the city officials didn’t really seem to think it was a problem. He and Murnen discussed a mass bike riding event. These can involve a large group of bicyclists taking over the streets and, at times, violating traffic laws. Instead they decided that it would be best to have the bicyclists adhere to the rules of the road, which in some…


BG Council approves plan for largest solar field in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future is looking pretty bright for Bowling Green’s solar field project, with city council voting unanimously Monday evening to approve plans to install the largest solar field in Ohio. Concerns were expressed by a neighbor of the site about the loss of prime farmland. But her concerns were not enough to throw shade on the project. “This looks like a really good addition to the Bowling Green energy portfolio,” said council member Bob McOmber. “I don’t see any minuses with this.” The solar project had been stalled since last summer. Now, if all goes as planned, an estimated 2,900 homes in the city will be powered by sunlight starting next year. “I appreciate the project moving forward. Environmentally, it’s a good thing,” council member Bruce Jeffers said. “I’m really happy to see this happen.” The solar field is expected to produce more power than originally planned. The initial plan called for 110 acres to be used on the city’s 317 acres located at the southeast corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of the city limits. The city was in line to get 10.5 megawatts from the solar field, according to Brian O’Connell, director of utilities for BG. However, instead of fixed mounted panels, the new plan calls for single axis tracker panels, which will rotate and follow the path of the sun as it moves through the sky. The rotating panels will take up 35 more acres and cost more to install, but they will increase power production, he said. The solar field will generate 20 megawatts, with Bowling Green…


Falcons hatch in courthouse clock tower

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green welcomed its newest falcons to town early Sunday morning at a time when most students are preparing to leave campus after final exams. Three of four peregrine falcon eggs hatched Sunday, with the first view of a hatched egg around 3 a.m. on the Falcon Cam, www.bgsu.edu/falconcam, provided by a partnership between the Wood County Commissioners and Bowling Green State University. “The falcons continue to be a source of wonder for people in the courthouse, whether they’re employees or citizens visiting the courthouse,” said Andrew Kalmar, Wood County administrator. “Because the falcons chose us we get to enjoy them, and that’s been really nice over the past six years.” Of course the peregrine falcon is BGSU’s official mascot. A pair of the raptors took refuge in the clock tower — just two blocks west of campus —six years ago. “We’re happy they’ve made a habit of calling Bowling Green home,” said Dave Kielmeyer, chief marketing and communications officer of BGSU. “It’s fitting that the falcons have bonded with the town and University.” The first egg was laid March 22, and there’s typically a 33-day gestation period. The last egg is expected to hatch soon. For more information about the peregrine falcons in the courthouse clock tower, go to bgsu.edu/falconcam.html.


Plant exchange helps gardeners blossom

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The tables lined with plants were like a smorgasbord for people hungry to start their spring planting. The fifth annual Wood County Plant Exchange this morning at the county fairgrounds offered gardeners a chance to trade plantings that may have overgrown in their yards, and pick up new plants to try. There were trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, berries, seeds, bulbs, ground covers, grass, daylilies, hostas and vines. There were plants that are fast spreading, and those that thrive in shade and sun. “I’m very excited. This is really cool,” said Pat Snyder, of Grand Rapids, who was stocking up on canna lilies and a spider plant. “And my daughter is dragging something around.” Some of the plants weren’t much to look at. But people with green thumbs were able to look beyond the scraggly appearance to see the potential of the plants. “I had no idea it was this big of a deal, and it had this many kinds of plants,” said Jan Lyon, of Bowling Green.  She brought hostas that she traded for myrtle. “I’ve been giving them away to everyone I can think of,” she said of the hostas. Lyon said she would definitely return next spring for more. “I’ll build up my muscles for next year.” With her arms, bags and boxes full of plants, Yvonne Martinez, of Bowling Green, had her day cut out for her. “My husband’s getting started already. He’s digging holes,” Martinez said as she finished rounding up the blackeyed susans, lilies, cactus, marigold seeds and much more. She traded in several cannus plants, which…


Ridding Wintergarden of non-native invasive species

(This is the second in a series of columns about nature by Bowling Green’s Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz) When I first became the Natural Resources Coordinator for the City of Bowling Green in 2000, I was interviewed and asked what I planned to do to make Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve a better place.  It was a daunting question.  Wintergarden Park had been left to its own devices as a public space. People used it, but very few as compared to today.  There were years of accumulated trash, trails weren’t maintained, trees fell across trails and were removed as time and resources permitted, and some visitors used the park in ways that suited their own needs.  Public usage, and maintenance aside, the park also had a huge problem environmentally.  Wintergarden/St. John’s Woods was the poster child for non-native invasive plant species. To the casual nature lover and user of natural areas, green is green.  Most people look out into a forested landscape and they see a sea of green plants and what appears to be lush forest.  As a naturalist and manager, I saw nothing but sickness and decay.  Wintergarden was nothing but Bush Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, Privet, Burning Bush, Garlic Mustard, Black Locust, and Asian Bittersweet.  That’s just the short list.  I’m pretty sure we had just about every invasive species a nature park manager loses sleep over.  Removal and control of these species was a daunting task and one that needed to take a high priority. Our first task for the management of Wintergarden was to decide exactly what it was we wanted to accomplish.  Removal of ALL…


Carbon-based energy sector is collapsing, geophysicist tells BGSU audience

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The tide has turned against carbon-based fuels. That could help assuage the worst effects of global warming that could flood major cities as ocean levels rise and fresh water becomes scarce in the more arid interior. Dr. Henry Pollack, an emeritus professor of geophysics at the University of Michigan, said that the story of alternative energy competing with oil and coal was once perceived as a David vs. Goliath scenario. “The test in front of us,” he told an audience last week at Bowling Green State University, “is to reduce Goliath to David’s level.” That now seems to be happening. In 2010, he said, for the first time investment in alternative fuels, including wind, biofuels, hydrogen fuel cells, fusion and nuclear, outpaced investment in the oil, gas and coal industries. That year $187 billion was invested in alternative fuels compared to $157 billion in fossil fuels. Five years later, he said, investment in alternative fuels had grown by almost $100 billion, while investment in carbon-based technologies had dropped to $130 billion. “I’m telling you we’re at the tipping point,” Pollack said. “Carbon fuels are on the way down and out.” He urged the audience “to follow the money,” and then told the tale through international headlines. The nation’s two largest coal companies have declared bankruptcy. The last deep-pit coal mine in the United Kingdom has closed. The stock price of coal companies is dropping. Saudi Arabia is considering selling its state-owned oil company Aramco. The United States has lifted its 40-year ban on exporting oil. The reasoning being, he said, “let’s let them sell…