Little girl makes waves saving rare dolphins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Standing on a step stool to reach the podium, the 9-year-old told how she has taken on a nation’s prime minister and a local corporation to try to save dolphins on the other side of the globe. Calista Wilkins, a fourth grader at Otsego, has been working two years to preserve Maui dolphins, the smallest of its species, that live off the coast of New Zealand. On Thursday, Calista shared her story with the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. The serious little girl with long blond hair is not intimidated by leaders whose words praise the preservation of the dolphins, but whose actions do the opposite. Her efforts have earned her a grant from Jane Goodall’s organization to continue her dolphin-saving work. Calista was also at ease speaking to the group of Kiwanians, trying to engage them in the presentation. She showed slides of New Zealand, where the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was filmed, and asked if anyone was familiar with the small statured characters called hobbits. “The Maui dolphins are sort of like that,” she said. Though Calista has never been to New Zealand, and has never seen the Maui dolphins, she confidently explained their plight. The rare dolphins number only about 50, and risk becoming extinct by 2030 if nothing changes to reverse their fate. The black, white and gray dolphins have rounded noses, dorsal fins shaped like Mickey Mouse ears, and like to swim in groups close to the shores of the northern portion of New Zealand. Calista showed photographs of the small dolphins, including one called “Scratchy,” named so because of the scars left on his body by fishing nets. Scratchy was lucky, since the fishing nets are responsible for killing many of the Maui dolphins. Since the dolphins live close to the shore, the New Zealand government has declared a safe green zone lining the coast. However, many continue to fish in the protected areas, and the government does nothing to stop them, Calista said. The Maui dolphins aren’t the intended catch, but they often get swept up in the same nets as the fish. And since the dolphins can only remain underwater for 2 ½ minutes without breathing, they perish. “Fishermen gut dolphins so they sink to the bottom, so they don’t get in trouble,” Calista said. From her step stool, the 9-year-old criticized the New Zealand government for adopting a slogan of “100% Pure New Zealand,” but failing to live up to the name. “They are not enforcing the fishing laws,” she said. The Maui dolphins do not repopulate quickly, having just one calf every two to four years. The slow breeding leads to slow recovery. “It will be the first dolphin to go extinct because of humans,” Calista said. “The government doesn’t care and they aren’t doing enough to protect them.” So it’s up to Calista, who quoted Jane Goodall – one of her many role models. “The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Recently Calista entered an essay contest with each student asked to write about who they would like to be. “I wanted to be the prime minister of New Zealand so I could save the Maui dolphins.” “I didn’t win the contest, but…

Students to clean up reputations and neighborhoods at same time

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU students often get trashed for not being good neighbors to full-time city residents. In an effort to clean up their reputations and their neighborhoods at the same time, an Adopt a Block program is being started with the help of the City-University Relations Commission. Danielle Parker, vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government at Bowling Green State University, said the program will help students connect with the community. “This is a new and exciting way for students to give back, besides dropping off some canned goods and walking away,” Parker said. The program will work somewhat like the larger scale “Adopt a Highway” effort. Ten “blocks” have been established by the City-University Relations Commission. Student groups will be asked to adopt an area then head out once a month and pick up trash in the medians. The trash will then be disposed of in the dumpsters behind the city fire station and electric division on Thurstin and Court streets. The 10 “blocks” up for adoption are: North Enterprise from East Wooster to Frazee Avenue. North Summit from East Wooster to Frazee Avenue. North Prospect from East Wooster to Frazee Avenue. East Court Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Pike Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Ridge Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Merry Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Reed Street from North Prospect to Thurstin Avenue. Area bordered by Wooster, Biddle, Clough and South College. Area bordered by Wooster, South Enterprise, Clough and South Prospect. “Students will go out and take care of that block,” Parker explained to the City-University Relations Commission Tuesday evening. Each student group will have a community member contact, according to Julie Broadwell, a member of the commission. A “soft launch” of the program is planned for April, with the official start to be this fall when students arrive back to campus. If the program proves successful, with students showing commitment, the city could create signage recognizing the work of the cleanup organizations, according to Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator. “It’s important that citizens see student organizations are picking up trash. You get beat up all the time for trash,” said Rev. Tom Mellott, a member of the commission.

BGSU plans to get down with Earth Month activities

By BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS BGSU is mobilizing the community to get involved with sustainability efforts and issues during April. A full slate of Earth Month events and activities has been planned to raise awareness about and combat the effects of global climate change. Organized by the Office of Campus Sustainability, all the events are free and open to the public. Visit the website for full details. http://www.bgsu.edu/campus-sustainability/earth-month.html In 2015, the University adopted its Climate Action Plan to help meet its goal of being a carbon-neutral institution by 2040 as part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Students have been active participants in BGSU’s environmental efforts. Among them, the student-led Green Initiatives Fund  provides a pool of money for projects that enhance sustainability at BGSU. In honor of Earth Month, the Environmental Service Club invites others to join its “Adopt-a-Highway Earth Month Edition” on April 16. To learn more about the issues surrounding climate change, the community is invited to attend a guest lecture by Dr. Henry Pollack, a professor emeritus of geophysics at the University of Michigan. He will be presenting a blend of climate science and policy in a talk entitled “Good COP, Bad COP: The Paris Climate Accord,” at 7 p.m. April 18 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater. Pollack will share his research on how to move forward with public policy even though there is scientific uncertainty. A highlight of the month is always the annual Eco-Fair, on Earth Day, April 20. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Union Oval and features environmental organizations, groups and initiatives from all across the region. Two films will highlight different aspects of environmentalism. “Trashed,” a disturbing documentary about how the Earth’s resources are consumed and wasted, will be shown at 7 p.m. April 14 in 108 Psychology Building. And audiences will be inspired by “Billions in Change,” a documentary about one man’s rise from poverty into wealth and his commitment to improving the environment in the developing world. The screening begins at 7 p.m. April 19 in the Union Theater. More of the month’s events are hands-on. Earth Month kicks off on Friday (April 1) with the “Once Upon a Desk” office supply giveaway, where students, faculty and staff with their BGSU ID can choose from a wide array of new and gently used office supplies. For the kickoff, additional items such as BGSU spirit gear, art supplies and bulletin boards will be available. The giveaway is held on the second floor of the Kreischer Quad. The Campus Waste Audit on April 9 will be a chance to get your hands dirty and see what the University community is throwing away and what could have been recycled or reused. It is estimated that the Bowen-Thompson Student Union produces from six to seven tons of waste each week. The information gathered from the audit will help guide decisions about how to reduce waste. One way to safely reduce waste is to bring used electronic items to the free recycling drive, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 9 in the Ice Arena parking lot.  View a list of accepted items. To learn more about a clean way Bowling Green is adding to its electric power, take a tour of the wind turbines…

Amidst green water woes, BG water gets gold star

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The recent Waterkeeper conference on the health of Lake Erie spread plenty of blame around for the conditions that turn the water green and make it unsafe to consume – much of it directed toward the continued practice of spreading too much manure on farm fields. But one entity got a gold star from a member of the Lake Erie Waterkeeper board – Bowling Green’s water treatment plant. It isn’t that the water going into the plant is pristine – quite to the contrary. What’s notable is the treated water that the plant sends out to its water customers. Dr. Earl Campbell was presenting data on some very technical contaminants, when he happened to mention that in the last two years, Bowling Green’s reservoir water repeatedly had very high levels of the microcystin, from blue-green algae. The difference between how Toledo and Bowling Green handled the contaminant was major. “It just happened that Bowling Green tested it,” Campbell said. “The person running that plant stood between the people and disaster.” At that point, no standard orders were in place in Ohio to test for the microcystins. “A lot of people were paying absolutely no attention to this,” Campbell said. But Bowling Green officials, with their static reservoir water drawn from the Maumee River, tested and treated the water. “It was their own initiative.” Campbell said there are 146 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the region, which each having either cows numbering 1,000 or more, and pigs numbering 2,500 or more. “There is more shit than the land to put it on,” he said. “The land can’t hold this all.” The result is phosphorous rates in the Maumee River and Lake Erie that have been “off of the charts,” Campbell said. When asked by an audience member about the safety of Bowling Green water, Campbell replied, “I think you’re probably safer there than most places.” The key has been the city’s investment in its water treatment plant. “Bowling Green has been very astute,” he said, listing off the reverse osmosis system at the plant as significant. “Bowling Green wisely invested in this fantastic water plant.” So last week, Campbell met with Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards and city utility department officials for two reasons. He wanted to praise them for their water efforts, and he wanted to ask them to join an effort to clean up the water before it reaches their treatment plant. When phosphorous from fertilizer and manure runs off farm fields, Bowling Green has been doing the right thing. “For a long time, they’ve been paying for other people’s pollution.” But all communities aren’t that fortunate, and Campbell said he worries about small towns with reservoirs that aren’t doing necessary testing and treatment. “How many other village or towns have this,” type of system in place, he asked. So while Campbell praised Bowling Green’s efforts, he also asked officials to request that the Maumee River and Lake Erie be declared “legally impaired.” According to Campbell, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has found several tributaries into the Maumee River to be legally impaired because of bacteria, nitrate, ammonia and other contaminants. That means the waterways are out of conformity with federal guidelines and must be remediated to protect the drinking water…

BG church plants seeds for new ‘giving garden’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is something magical about digging in the dirt, planting a seed, watching it grow, then savoring the result of all the work. The magic goes a step further when the harvest is given away to those in need. For that reason, First Presbyterian Church is starting its own “giving garden.” It will be the third community garden at Bowling Green churches, with the other two already in place at Peace Lutheran and First United Methodist. Though some community garden models operate with families given plats to grow their own vegetables, the First Presbyterian site will be a giving garden, according to Lyn Long, a church member who planted the seed for the new effort. The community and church members will be invited to plan, plant, water, weed, harvest, and feast on the produce. “I just thought, there’s a huge lot over there and we only use it once or twice a year,” Long said. “It just didn’t seem like good stewardship.” Long is being assisted by Megan Sutherland, executive director of the Common Good organization which has worked with the other two church community gardens for years. “I think gardening teaches you a lot of lessons, some are short term and some are long term,” Sutherland said. “There’s something special about working with people in the sunshine, in the dirt. Even picking weeds. It becomes really meditative.” Gardening teaches all ages about community building, healthy eating and delayed gratification, Sutherland said. Long is also hoping to find some expertise and hands-on help from area master gardeners and FFA students. A meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. for anyone interested in the Presby Community Garden, at First Presbyterian Church, 126 S. Church St. The meeting will be held upstairs in the church’s Green Lounge. Sutherland reminded that a giving garden is a time consuming project. “People like the idea of a garden, but they don’t realize it’s like a child,” she said. “It’s after it comes up – and the weeds do, too,” Long said. Long said she is far from an expert gardener. “I grew up in tiny little village, with a big garden,” she said. But she knows that a community working together in a garden can result in far more than harvest at the end of the season. “One person can make a really big difference,” Sutherland agreed. The other church gardens produce such bounty as tomatoes, corn, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, green beans, peas, lettuce, kale, radishes, brussel sprouts, broccoli, herbs and flowers. People in the community can come work as they please, and take what they need, she said. “Usually if people receive, they want to give back,” Sutherland said. Anyone wanting to know more about the Presbyterian community garden may contact Long at 419-352-8019 or pmclong33@gmail.com.  

Park levy need not questioned, but more millage may pose problems

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BG officials did not question the need for a new parks and recreation levy Monday evening. They did, however, question the chances of the millage increase passing on the November ballot. City council’s finance committee listened to BG Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley as she made the pitch for a 2-mill property tax levy lasting five years. Since the proposed levy is an increased amount from the current 1.4-mill levy, the council committee felt the need to scrutinize the request. Otley explained that the parks and rec program has not seen a levy increase in 16 years. In the meantime, the program has grown in acreage, facilities and programming. “We’ve added so much in 16 years,” Otley said. “The things we added were all things the community was asking for and wanted to see.” Also during that 16-year period, several maintenance projects were deferred. “A lot of things have been put off,” Otley said. For example, the Veterans Building in City Park is in great need of repairs. The parking lot at Simpson Garden Park has serious pothole problems. The park land has grown to 333 acres, including the new Ridge Park. And the 10-year-old community center is in need of maintenance. The three members of the finance committee, Robert McOmber, Michael Aspacher and Theresa Charters Gavarone, did not dispute the need for the additional millage. But they expressed concern that if voters don’t support the levy, that the department will be left with no levy revenue since the current levy has expired. “It’s the first time we’ve gotten ourselves in a position where we only have one shot,” at the levy, McOmber said. “People don’t have to vote yes just because you need it.” McOmber suggested that perhaps other options should be considered rather than the 2-mill levy, such as a lesser 1.8-mill levy, or two levies that add up to 2 mills. In that case, if voters feel they can’t afford the entire 2 mills, they may at least continue supporting the original 1.4-mill amount. “I don’t think that’s a slam dunk,” McOmber said of the levy’s chances. He also expressed concern about the levy sharing the ballot with the presidential race. “There are angry voters out there.” But Nadine Edwards, a member of the park levy committee, said the city can market the parks as something positive to vote for at the polls. Jodi Anderson, also of the committee and formerly of the park board, said the board intentionally avoided a millage increase during tougher economic years. Now is the time to ask for enough millage to keep maintaining the programs that citizens have come to value, she said. Anderson said a quality campaign can convince voters to support the parks. “You can trust that your money is going to a good investment.” Bob Callecod, recalled the 1990 park levy campaign when similar concerns were expressed. “I’m just confident the citizens will continue to support a quality park and rec department,” Callecod said. Park board member Jeff Crawford told the committee the board had already vetted the millage amount, and felt it was the most reasonable request. Otley pointed out that the parks and recreation department is operating with a deficit. “That physically pains me – every fiber…

Large item trash pickup this week

A large item pick-up, to collect items which are too heavy or of such composition or configuration that they cannot be placed in the regular weekly  refuse collection containers, will be held this week. All items should be placed curbside on Monday to ensure pick-up.  There will only be one pick-up for each location and, once the crews leave a street, they will not return. NOTE: Pickup is by WARD and NOT by your normal refuse collection day. City Crews will collect the Large Items throughout the City independent of the normal refuse collection schedule. As with the City’s residential refuse collection program, this special collection is only for one and two family dwellings on public streets, per city ordinance. Mattresses/box springs will be collected for an additional fee. The fee is $25 for the first mattress or box spring and $15 per mattress or box spring thereafter up to a total of 3. The fee must be paid prior to collection at 304 N Church St- Public Works. Phone: 419-354-6227. Note that refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers are not eligible for collection.  By law, the city is not authorized to pick up building materials, construction or demolition refuse, sod, and rocks.  For a fee, property owners may dispose of these items at the Wood County Landfill on State Route 6. Additional information can be found at www.bgohio.org.

Trying to keep Lake Erie water from going green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After Lake Erie turned green with algal blooms in 2014, and local residents were cautioned not to consume tap water from Toledo, officials rushed to make changes to keep this crisis from happening again. But too little has been accomplished, and the threat still looms over the lake as summer approaches again, according to a Waterkeepers conference held Friday at W.W. Knight Preserve near Perrysburg. Speakers blamed a good portion of the problem on the amount of manure being created, and the amount of fertilizer being spread on fields. “We are producing more shit than we have land to put it on,” speaker Dr. Earl Campbell, of Perrysburg, said during a break in the program. “We’re not understanding the source and the amounts,” of the phosphorous from manure and fertilizers running into the lake, said Sandy Bihn, executive director of the Waterkeepers organization. “We’re not following the Clean Water Act.” Two speakers from the agricultural community praised farmers for trying to reduce runoff, but also pointed fingers at them for not doing enough. Estimates vary, but agricultural runoff is blamed for 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients creating harmful algae in Lake Erie. The problem has worsened as small farms have been replaced by large farms with more concentrated livestock operations, according to Ron Wyss, a Hardin County farmer. The building of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, sometimes referred to as mega-farms, has led to over application of manure on fields nearest the CAFOs. Recent studies have shown that less phosphorous from fertilizers produces comparable or better yields, yet some farmers continue to apply more than necessary to their fields, Wyss said. “This is America, and the more, the better,” he said. “The bottom line is, 20 parts per million is all you need to grow your crop,” Wyss said, though many farmers double that amount. “Forty parts per million is way over what we need to grow most crops.” Regulations actually allow much, much more, up to 150 parts per million. Wyss compared the soil to a sponge. When it gets saturated with water, the phosphorous seeps out and heads toward the lake. “We’ve been filling that sponge for a long time,” he said. Wyss estimated that $4 million of phosphorous is lost down the Maumee River a year. The problem is worsened by the frequent heavy rains, attributed to climate change, he added. Those downpours cause nutrient runoffs from fields and wastewater plant overflows, which fuel the harmful algae. He estimated 10 percent of the rainfalls create 65 percent of the discharge. State legislation is now in place limiting the amount and the timing when fertilizers and manure can be placed on fields, according to Laura Johnson, of Heidelberg University. Application is no longer allowed on frozen fields. “Ohio is working on a plan to meet the reduction targets,” Johnson said. Bill Myers, of the Lucas County Farm Bureau, said two positive steps have been taken, with federal funds helping farmers plant cover crops, and the restrictions on fertilizing frozen ground. “I don’t know why it took legislation to make that happen,” Myers said. More farmers are also injecting the fertilizer into the soil, which reduces runoff, he said. However, Wyss said the rules are interpreted loosely. “There are still…

Not just spinning their wheels – bicyclists to meet with city engineer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Squeaky wheels don’t always get the grease. But members of the Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission will soon have a chance to have their concerns heard as the city works on its Complete Streets plan. The commission learned Tuesday evening that it will have an opportunity to meet with City Engineer Jason Sisco on April 5 at 6 p.m. “They want to hear more from bicyclists,” explained Kristin Otley, city parks and recreation director and a member of the bike commission. The Complete Streets project is an initiative to make city streets more accessible and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians – not just motorists. When a Complete Streets meeting was held last week, there was a consensus that more input was needed from those in the community who pedal along city streets the most. The bicycle group is realistic. “We don’t imagine that we’re going to have bike lanes everywhere,” member Eileen Baker said. In some cases, just a shoulder along the roadway would be nice, she added. She noted the narrow width of Napoleon Road, which leaves no room for error. “I’m happy to ride in the shoulder,” Baker said. In other cases, it would be helpful to just have a berm area with a bicycle painted on it. Part of the Complete Street concept is to link bicyclists with “destinations” in the city, giving them useable routes to places like Bowling Green State University, all the city schools, park areas and downtown. Baker pointed out how difficult it is to access the downtown area on a bicycle. It is illegal to ride on the sidewalks, and very dangerous to ride in the street, she said. “You’ll either get doored or you’re going to get squashed,” she said. And riding in the parking lots behind the businesses can be risky as well. Members of the bicycle commission were asked to do some homework prior to their meeting with the city engineer. They were given copies of the bicycle route map printed by the city in 2014, and asked to check out those routes for their current functionality. The bicycle commission has nine members appointed by the mayor, including representatives from the police division, parks and recreation department, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green High School and Bowling Green Junior High School. At least two members should reside on the east side of Main Street and two on the west side.

BGSU students respond to university’s stance on city solar project

Lily Murnen, Environmental Service Club president, and Matthew Cunningham, Environmental Action Group president, have responded to the university administration’s explanation of why Bowling Green Sate University will not participate in a city solar project by allowing the construction of a solar array on campus. See related story: http://bgindependentmedia.org/2016/03/08/bgsu-sheds-light-on-why-its-taking-a-pass-on-city-solar-project/ Dear President Mazey, Dr. Hennessy, and Dr. Meyer, Thank you for explaining the University’s position concerning the city solar project. We understand the concerns that BGSU has regarding the leasing of campus property, and we agree that there is great potential for university­owned renewable projects on campus. We are excited to see that within the past month there has been a convergence of many different groups all advocating for the development of renewable energy on campus. 1. The Student Green Initiatives Committee has made clear that putting solar panels on campus is one of their top priorities, and funding will be allocated for these kinds of projects. 2. With the proper publicity through the University, the existence of the Clean Energy Fund could provide additional funding for solar, wind, geothermal, and other campus energy projects. 3. The Environmental Impact Assessment course (ENVS 4020) is undertaking an environmental impact assessment of the potential for small­scale solar arrays around campus. This assessment will include feasible locations for solar panels using cost­benefit analyses and accounting for many variables. 4. The many student organizations that signed on to our first and second letters to President Mazey further support the development of solar and other clean energy initiatives as a top priority. 5. The Renewable Energy Feasibility Study was a positive first step on the part of the University to work toward the goals described in the Climate Action Plan. We look forward to actual, tangible accomplishments that use the findings of this study. We ask that the University continues pursuing renewable energy projects on campus and that transparency is maintained between the administration, faculty, and students. Achieving the goals described in the Climate Action Plan will require the cooperation of people at all levels to create a culture of sustainability on campus. If the campus as a whole is informed and engaged, then the likelihood of support from the campus community for sustainability initiatives will increase drastically. We hope to establish a new norm for campus communication and an understanding of the vital importance of campus sustainability initiatives. Thank you for responding to our inquiry, and we look forward to future correspondence concerning sustainability at BGSU. Sincerely, Lily Murnen (Environmental Service Club President) and Matthew Cunningham (Environmental Action Group President)  

Residents protest pipeline compressor station

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Waterville area residents are sick just thinking about the toxins that a pipeline compressor station could pump into their air. More than 500 showed up Wednesday evening to say they won’t sit by quietly and let the facility be built as part of the proposed Nexus pipeline. The natural gas pipeline would run 255 miles from eastern Ohio, across the state, to Michigan and end in Canada. Along its route, it will pass through Wood County, north of Bowling Green, then through Waterville. When it gets to Waterville Township, a compressor station is proposed off Moosman Road, south of Neapolis Waterville Road. Compressor stations are used to pump natural gas through the pipelines, and are located at intervals along the line to pressurize the gas to keep it moving. Residents packed a school in Waterville Wednesday evening to protest plans to put the station in their community. There were so many people who wanted to testify at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency hearing, that the EPA skipped the program and went straight to the public comments. “This is one of the larger crowds we’ve ever had at an EPA hearing,” said Mike Settles, of the Ohio EPA. Settles explained that his agency only has authority over the station’s air emissions. FERC is the agency that must approve the actual pipeline. “Safety is not our issue. I know that’s not what you want to hear,” Settles said. The air pollutants typically released from the compressor station include such items as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, methane, benzene, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and toluene. Barry Booth traveled five hours from his home in Carroll County, where the Nexus pipeline begins, to warn Waterville residents of what they can expect from having a compressor station as a neighbor. “We are living in it,” he said, of the toxins spewing out from the station near his home. “It will get on your kids’ toys. It will get onto everything.” Booth said both he and his wife have been sickened by emissions from the site. “Wake up people, we’ve got to band together,” Booth said. One by one, Waterville area citizens stood up to protest the proposed compressor station. Waterville Township Trustee Karen Schneider said the station would have a “chilling effect” on the community. She listed some of the effects associated with the emissions, such as eye and lung problems and cancer. “We should not have to wait five to 10 years to find out the negative effects,” she said. Stacy Owen, who lives less than half a mile from the station site, listed further issues associated with the emissions, like genetic mutations, skin rashes, and damage to the liver, kidneys and nervous systems. “How is it possible the EPA can approve this?” she asked, noting that 12,000 people live within three miles of the compressor site. “It is your job to protect our community.” Deb Swingholm said the prevailing winds will blow the emissions into the most populated areas. “It will carry any pollutants directly into town.” Anthony Wayne Superintendent Jim Fritz said five of the district’s six schools are within a three-mile radius of the proposed compressor site. The air intake systems are not made to deal with the emissions expected, he said. Walt Lange…

Energy firm wants to test for oil on county park land

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An oil and gas exploration business wants to see if there is some black gold buried under Baldwin Woods, which is part of the Wood County Park District. Sean Haas, of Reserve Energy Exploration, in Chagrin Falls, presented a proposal Tuesday to the county park commissioners. Haas, who noted Wood County’s long history of oil in the Cygnet and North Baltimore areas, said his company has been doing seismic testing along U.S. 6 with permission of private landowners. Seismic testing is a process where an image of the subsurface is created. That data is then used to locate the most optimum place to drill for gas or oil. The company is interested in doing more testing, specifically in the area of Baldwin Woods, a 124-acre preserve, off Euler Road near Weston. “We understand you probably don’t want to have a lot of oil and gas wells on the property,” Haas said to the park board. He explained the seismic testing does not use explosives, but rather shakes the ground to discover gas or oil. If interested, the park district could just allow testing, or could actually allow the extraction of product in which case the district could share in royalties, Haas said. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger expressed concerns about any type of testing. He referred to Baldwin Woods as a “sensitive natural area.” The preserve is a mix of woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. “It’s not something I would encourage or something I would support,” Munger said. “I would not recommend it.” Haas said the exploration process follows strict protocols and gets all the necessary permits. He said the process is “non-invasive” and should be thought of as “scientific research” that could be of benefit to the community. No hydraulic fracturing would be done, since that is not required with the shallow limestone in this region, Haas said. The testing could be done without cutting trees, requires a vehicle the size of a “gator,” and can be completed in one day. “We’re very outdoor oriented,” Haas said. “We’re not looking to destroy anything at all.” However, a park district employee asked Haas if he was aware of a recent report by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that states seismic testing is harmful to fish and wildlife. Haas said he was unaware of the report. “It shakes the ground,” he said of the testing. “It doesn’t create any tremors or earthquakes.” If oil or gas are found, the park district could get a portion of the revenue if the well on a neighboring property is drawing from a pool under the park land, Haas said. The landowners in the area would benefit, and they may possibly make some type of donation to the park district. “We want to be fair,” he said. Park board commissioner John Calderonello asked Haas to come back to the board with a proposal that would spell out all the options.  

BGSU sheds light on why it’s taking a pass on city solar project (updated)

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Just because Bowling Green State University is taking a pass on a solar power offer from the city doesn’t mean it’s not pursuing alternative energy options. In a letter sent to the campus environmental activists, university officials explain why they are turning down an offer to place a solar array on campus, and what other efforts are underway to meet the terms spelled out in a national agreement to reduce carbon emissions on college campuses. The letter by Bruce Myer, assistant vice president for campus operations, and Nick Hennessy, sustainability coordinator, was sent to Matthew Cunningham, president of Environmental Action Group, and Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Group, in response to a letter sent by them and signed by dozens of other student leaders, questioning the university position on a city solar project. The city is planning to construct a large solar array and offered to place some solar panels on a plot of land on the campus. On Monday Bowling Green City Council heard from Daryl Stockburger, of the city utilities department, that AMP-Ohio had reached a joint development agreement for Bowling Green’s solar field. Stockburger said the solar array should be ready to construct this year. The agreement, the university’s letter states, would tie up the property, which has frontage on East Poe Road, for 30 years. The university does not have plans for that site, where construction debris was dumped, but using it for a project and equipment not owned by BGSU “was deemed to provide too many restrictions on its potential use.” The letter also states that since the electricity generated by the array goes into the grid, BGSU benefits whether the solar panels are on campus or off. It shares in the power from the grid, and reaps the benefits of being able to report that it gets some power from solar energy “helping us reach our carbon neutrality goals.” The students in their letter touted the learning possibilities of having a solar array on campus. Those same opportunities will be available at the city’s site a short drive from campus on Carter Road, the university’s letter stated. A couple weeks ago, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said BGSU’s refusal to join the city in its solar project was “disappointing.” City officials spoke with university officials about doing a small demonstration project, but got shot down. “We’ve had pushback, and not from the top,” Edwards said, adding that the project would not have required a major financial commitment from the university. “All they had to do was share one or two acres.” Council president Mike Aspacher said the solar project seemed like a “natural fit” with BGSU. Faculty and students also seemed to support the idea, Edwards said. “It’s hard for us to get our heads around the reasons” why BGSU doesn’t want to join in the solar project. “There is the potential for other renewable energy and sustainability projects on campus that may be even more beneficial to reducing our carbon footprint,” the university’s letter stated. BGSU is embarking on a Renewable Energy Feasibility Study that will look at solar and “many other forms of renewable energy.” “Student involvement will be very important in determining and pursuing that potential,” the letter states. Students will be members of the study…

BGSU students advocate for solar array on campus

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS A hill created by construction debris goes mostly unoccupied during the year. Except that is on Independence Day when people gather there to watch the fireworks being launched from the stadium to the southeast. A group of Bowling Green State University students have a different vision for the site – they’d like to see an array of solar panels erected there. Recently the Environmental Action Group and Environmental Service Club drafted a letter and had it signed by a couple dozen other student leaders urging the university to take the city up on its offer to put solar panels on the site. The city’s main solar array will be located on Carter Road, but it offered to also place some on campus. No site was designated. City officials confirmed Monday night that the offer was made, but they’ve yet to hear a response from BGSU. Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Group, said the university hasn’t taken enough action to fulfill its climate action plan that resulted from president Mary Ellen Mazey joining other higher education executives in signing a Climate Commitment calling for campuses to become neutral in their greenhouse gas emissions. That plan, filed in November, 2014, sets out “a vision of the institution as a sustainable campus in the 21st century, operating economically and efficiently, and producing net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This is a vision to be realized by the year 2040.” The solar project would provide “great visibility for the university showing how we are taking some steps to realize our goals,” Murnen said. Matthew Cunningham, the president of the Environmental Action Group, said, the solar panels could also provide students with hands-on learning experiences. As much as the lack of action, Dan Myers, public relations officer for the Environmental Action Group, said the students were concerned that the administration is not communicating with students. “We’re pretty significant stakeholders in the university.” Cunningham said he did see Mazey at a Presidents Day event, and that she said she would be sending a response to the letter to student government. That the activists said would not be enough. Undergraduate Student Government leaders, Cunningham said, have too much on their plate. Murnen said that this issue also shows a need for more student engagement. “Maybe students need to take a more active role.” Students on other campuses are advocating for a variety of issues, she said. Though there is a consensus on campus that the university needs to take action on environmental issues, Myers said, “a lot of people believe they don’t have the ability to do something.” Cunningham said they have been in contact with members of faculty senate about bringing up the issue in that forum. “What it really comes down to transparency between students, administration and faculty.”

Students do the neighborly thing on East Side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With their rubber gloves and blowing garbage bags, the students scooped up sandwich wrappers, paper plates, and beer cans. But their primary prey was much smaller. “The two big contenders are cigarette butts and Taco Bell sauce packets,” said Sean Herman, who organized Saturday morning’s cleanup of the city’s East Side through The Common Good organization. By 9 a.m. nearly 50 students and a couple full-time residents were crammed into The Common Good house on Crim Street to load up on coffee and bagels before heading out for the neighborhood cleanup. They were given gloves, garbage bags and maps with instructions of streets their teams should cover.   Herman has organized several cleanups, but this one drew more volunteers – from fraternities, a student environmental group and honors students. The work focused in the Wooster Street area on the east side of the city. “This is where the most trash seems to accumulate,” he said. Through The Common Good, Herman has pulled together occasional cleanup crews for the past 18 months. “I just thought there was a need out there and no one was doing anything about it,” he said. Hollie Baker said the cleanups started after the East Side neighborhood group began talking about the negative effects of living in an area so populated by university students. “So this is a way to help the East Side become cleaner and show them that college students acknowledge it’s a problem,” Baker said. Megan Sutherland, director of The Common Good, said BGSU students canvassed the East Side neighborhood to ask how relationships could improve between campus and community members. “We were expecting something way more complicated,” than picking up trash, Sutherland said. “This is so simple. But the residents see there are students who care and the students get to know the residents.” The simple act of collecting trash is helping to build a bridge between the campus and the community, she said. Some of the residents have responded by asking if they can join the cleanup efforts, Herman said. “People ask if they can help out.” Gradually, distrust is being replaced by respect, Sutherland said. “When you start actually meeting your neighbors, it becomes a neighborhood,” she said. “It’s putting a face to a house. You watch out for each other.”