Environment

BG’s new arborist has deep rooted love of trees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new arborist is a big believer in diversity. That’s one of the reasons he was attracted to the city – its diversity of trees. Grant Jones, who was working at the botanical Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia, knew of Bowling Green’s reputation as a tree hugging community. “I’ve always heard good things about Bowing Green and its commitment to trees,” he said. Jones shares that commitment – though he could do without the messy mulberry tree he has to park under at his temporary home. Since arriving on the job on June 1, Jones has been getting to know Bowling Green’s people and its trees. “There’s a really nice grove of old oak trees,” he said about the huge trees in City Park. “They look like they are doing pretty well right now.” “I think that’s one of the things I like about trees,” they take time to reach their potential, he said. “They’re not something that’s instant.” Unlike Nebraska, where he grew up, Bowling Green has a wealth of maple, oak, honey locust, crab apples and pear trees. “There’s not a lot of trees in Nebraska, so I got to appreciate the trees we had,” Jones said. And unlike many cities, Bowling Green has a tree inventory that tracks all the city-owned trees in the parks, cemetery and right-of-ways between sidewalks and streets. “That’s important,” Jones said. As tree diseases come and go, an inventory allows the community to track its susceptible trees and replace them with types that can withstand the diseases. A few years ago, it was the emerald ash borer that wiped out ash trees. The latest potential threat seems to be the Asian longhorn beetle. “They like maples, which is unfortunate because maples are good trees,” Jones said. But unlike the ash borer, it appears the longhorn beetle can be stopped by treating trees. “It would be nice to avoid that,” he said. Jones said he’s aware of the controversy last year, when the city lost several mature trees along West Wooster Street to a gas line construction. He understands how people become attached to trees. And his office right now is working to replace street trees and those wiped out by the ash borer. “I’d really like to continue the trend of planting a diverse group of trees,” he said. Later this fall, Jones and…


Solar project faces more questions from county

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners threw some shade on Bowling Green’s plans Thursday to build a solar array to help power the city and other communities. Work was to begin on the largest solar field in Ohio in a couple days. But that is unlikely now since the county has not yet approved the 30-year tax abatement requested for the $43 million project. The commissioners continued to question the rushed timeline of the project, which would build a 20 MW solar array on city acreage northeast of the city. “How necessary is this aggressive timeline?” Commissioner Joel Kuhlman asked. “Critical,” responded Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. “There can be no delay.” If the county does not approve the tax exemption, the solar project will be unaffordable for NextEra Energy and AMP, which are working on the project, according to O’Connell. “It is likely that this project will be canceled due to the increased costs,” he said. “This project is bigger than just a Bowling Green site,” O’Connell said. There are 26 proposed sites in AMP member communities across five states. Six of those sites, including Bowling Green’s, are planned to be completed by the end of 2016. “It is difficult to make solar generation projects cost effective without utilizing all of the tax advantages available,” O’Connell said. So the state is allowing projects like this to be exempt from property taxes as long as they meet criteria. If the city were to own the solar power generating system, it would not pay property taxes, it was noted. But Kuhlman pointed out that the tax breaks will be benefiting a private company – not the city in this case. “This is a private entity that is going to be operating the solar field,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking these questions.” “We are talking about a private entity that is asking for a substantial tax break, that is trying to make money,” Kuhlman said. The city could have constructed its own solar field, but it would not have been nearly as large nor would it have provided as much energy savings, explained Megan Newlove, president of the city’s Board of Public Utilities. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before. But this request is different in its size and duration, granting an exemption of $7.3 million over the…


Ohio Prairie Association Conference comes to county

Submitted by Wood County Park District With foci on prairies and savannas, this regional conference will bring expert speakers and field trips to enhance our area knowledge of the value and purpose of the prairies in our Wood County flatlands. Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 13th at Simpson Garden Park. Doors open at 8:00 am and the conference starts at 9:00 am. Lunch is included in the price of admission as well as a choice of three field trips to area locations representing prairie remnant gems, a native plant nursery and greenhouse, as well as several prairie and savanna restorations areas. The conference will end by 4:30 pm and entirely open to the public, but registration is limited, so sign-up today by visiting ohioprairie.org. The OPA Mission Statement: The Ohio Prairie Association is a non-profit volunteer organization that promotes knowledge, appreciation, conservation, restoration, management, and expansion of Ohio prairie communities and their native plant and animal species to individuals, conservation organizations, public agencies educational institutions and others with an interest in native ecosystems. The OPA Vision Statement The Ohio Prairie Association envisions a time when Ohioans will have a strong public understanding and appreciation for Ohio prairies and their native plant and animal species; and these prairies are widely conserved, restored, managed, expanded, and are frequently encountered in the state. A native plant is defined as: a species that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem and/or habitat and was present prior to European settlement. Native plants are beneficial to ecosystems in a myriad of ways such as providing habitats and food for local wildlife & pollinators, filtering the watershed and much more. The organizations who are collaborating to create this day of interactive learning are: Bowling Green Parks and Recreation, Wood County Park District, Black Swamp Conservancy, Bowling Green State University and the Ohio Prairie Association.


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 do that,” he said. The farm currently benefits from help from inmates of the Northwest Community Correction Center, and may soon be offering a place for juvenile offenders to volunteer. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without volunteers,” Gaddie said. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger complimented the progress at the farm site. “I can’t say enough for the work Tim has done,” Munger said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board approved the last of the pay increases that will bring park district employees up to the minimum level as determined by an outside compensation consultant. The raises range from 16 cents to $1.47 per hour. “This takes everyone up to the minimum for their positions,” Munger explained. The board also approved the park district’s…


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 at Hocking College, but that lost its appeal after a few years. He was drawn to the Warrior Hike by his love of outdoors. Even before starting the long hike, he’d spent three months sleeping in his hammock, homeless by choice, he said. “Certainly not destitute.” Gobin interviewed Strange over Skype to see if he was right for the adventure. He and Deck were paired up. They’d never met before starting out. The program provides the participants with all the gear they need, food to start out and a stipend to purchase more along the trail. Some areas are remote, but generally the trail in never more than a few miles from a town. Strange said that a conservative estimate on the cost of the trip would be well over…


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 to its back up reservoir for water. As a result of the 2014 crisis, a goal was set last year to reduce phosphorus in the lake by 40 percent. “There’s growing agreement this will bring blooms to a manageable level,” Bullerjahn said. He said scientists are optimistic the goal can be reached. Certainly there will be some hardship, he said, “but nobody’s going crazy.” It will take time. “Don’t expect this to be reached soon,” McKay said. McKay said a first step is to identify “hot spots” where a large amount of phosphorus is being released. In those areas farmers can apply the fertilizer underneath the surface of the field mitigating the run off. Also, a return to the old practice of planting winter cover crops such as rye would…


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.” The panel discussed “how various citizens are enhancing the nation’s scientific enterprise as well as ensuring that the government maximizes its benefits while avoiding any negative impact on the progress of science.” Since it can be used by ordinary citizens, BGSU’s Smartphone InSpector is a perfect example of how anyone, not only scientists, can contribute to the body of knowledge on the increasingly important question of water quality. Also on the ACS panel were Dr. Darlene Cavalier of Arizona State University, who created SciStarter, a site connecting people to citizen-science projects and other citizen-scientists; Dr. Sophia Liu, an innovation specialist with the United States Geological Survey who facilitates citizen scientists’ participation in such efforts as “Did You Feel It?” earthquake monitoring; and Dr. David Rabkin, vice president for strategic partnership,…


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 some money to local taxing authorities “in lieu of” the tax breaks, but not the entire amount. One other concern is that the solar array will be built using panels from Hanwha – not Wood County’s First Solar company.  Jared Haines, of NextEra Energy, said his company has an ongoing relationship with Hanwha, which produces solar panels that have a “less toxic influence” when they are removed at the end of their usefulness. But Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote said he believes First Solar handles the disposal of its products. LaHote asked the NextEra Energy representatives what would happen if the commissioners don’t approve the tax abatement. Janet Ward replied that the cost of the project would go up for Bowling Green. Haines said a rejection could potentially cause the…


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 Engineer’s Office presents, answers questions, and identifies ways that Wood County citizens can help maintain this valuable resource. Leader: Jim Witter   Fire by the River, Friday, July 15, 6 – 9 p.m. Otsego Park 20000 West River Road, BG Enjoy a night around the fire with yard games, dutch oven cooking, good company and a great view of the mighty Maumee River. Bring a chair and come and go anytime from 6 to 9. Leader: Stewardship Department    


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- certainly organizations should do this as well!” The District asks that its customers and all the other organizations associated with them take a brief five minutes to complete this survey. The survey is readily available on the District website. www.nwwwsd.org. The survey is also available on the NWWSD Facebook Page and Twitter feed.


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 the peace and quiet and solitude.” Some hike trails, some walk the towpath to Grand Rapids, some launch their boats from the marina, and some dip a line in the river. Just the other day, a camper caught a 48-inch flathead catfish, Alvord said. Some campers make the short drive from Bowling Green. “They get away from it all. I’d much rather be in the park.” According to Alvord, who has been host at Mary Jane Thurston for 15 years and who operates Weenie Dog Concessions there, the campground is a “great place to wake up.” “It’s Wood County’s best kept secret,” he said of the only state park in the county. “People are missing out on a great time out here.” On the southern edge of Bowling Green sits…


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 four years for the EPA to review an expansion plan, plus time to do more borings and install new monitoring wells. “We’re getting to a crunch time,” Vollmar said. After the permit is granted, a lot of preparation work needs to be done at the landfill, he said. Vollmar reminded the commissioners of the landfill coming close to running out of permitted space in the early 1990s. The first phase of the proposed expansion would “piggyback” on top of a section already being used. The landfill is allowed to reach a height just over 100 feet. The commissioners were also presented with some costly equipment requests at the landfill adding up to more than $1 million. One of two compactors needs to be replaced, as well as a small loader….


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 prairie area of Wintergarden Park. Breen has a soft spot for nature, planted by his parents, Dave Breen and Cindy Marso. “I’ve been hiking for a long time. My parents got me hiking since before I can remember.” The teen prefers working in the less developed city parks. “I’ve always like the more natural parks.” Breen hopes to turn that love for nature into a profession, possibly studying for a career in biology or conservation. “I’m not going to decide that yet,” he said. The teen may not enjoy every job he is given, but that doesn’t mean he refuses to do the work. “There are lots of things I hate doing,” especially if it involves walking through thorny areas, he said. “But I do them anyway. I do whatever…


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 generations.” Mary Ellen Pratt shared the story of the farm’s beginning nearly 200 years ago. William Pratt, of the New York Militia, was charged with delivering supplies to Fort Meigs during the War of 1812. Something about the region – with its heavy woods, swampy land, and Native Americans – convinced him to settle in the Perrysburg area. In 1819, William Pratt brought his family to the area. He died in 1824, but his family carried on. The oldest farm documentation the Pratts have found is a land patent sent from Washington, D.C., signed by John Quincy Adams. William Pratt served as the first treasurer of Wood County and as a common pleas judge. Fred Pratt (Doug’s father) served as a commissioner and township trustee. Doug Pratt has farmed the…


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 process, the water is repeatedly tested. “We, like every other plant, are doing the required sampling on the raw water side,” he explained. Then the testing is conducted again on the treatment side. The city’s plant has not yet experienced a level of algal blooms that it can’t effectively treat, he said. “The harmful algae has never got through the system,” O’Connell said.