Environment

Callecods: BG charter amendment “ill-conceived”

We consider ourselves to be avid environmentalists and share the concerns of many citizens of Wood County about the potential negative environmental impacts of the several proposed pipelines through the area, particularly the Nexus project which will run under the Maumee River near Bowling Green’s water intake and distribution plant.   A local activist group succeeded in getting sufficient signatures on a petition to place an amendment to the Bowling Green City Charter on the November 7 ballot.  The petition was touted as an action to protect the city’s water by banning the pipeline project. However, the actual language of the amendment goes far beyond the issue of pipelines:  It states that “The people…and the natural communities and ecosystems…possess the right to a healthy environment and livable climate.”  No problem with that, other than how does one define “healthy” environment and “livable” climate? But the scary part comes next: “If the City…or court fails to enforce or defend this amendment…ANY person may enforce these rights through non-violent direct action…(and)…law enforcement, and cooperating agencies…shall have no lawful authority to surveil, detain, arrest, or otherwise  impede persons enforcing these rights.” Power to the people is an admirable objective.  Citizens of Bowling Green are free to, and often have demonstrated openly on issues, have packed City Council meetings to voice their concerns, and most importantly, voted for candidates who share their views on those issues. For the health and safety of its citizens and the environment, the city has zoning laws, codified ordinances and policies; and we have highly trained and qualified safety officials and judges to enforce those laws and procedures.  The concept of an individual or group of individuals to be able to act with impunity against a corporation or agency (or their neighbor, for…


Pipeline work to begin – mayor reminds Nexus that city will be watching

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nexus pipeline officials have notified the city of Bowling Green that construction of the natural gas pipeline through this area will begin “in the near future.” Bowling Green officials have sent notification back that they will be keeping an eye on the construction of the 36-inch pipeline. The main concern of city officials is the Bowling Green water treatment plant, which sits about 2,000 feet from where the pipeline will be buried. The water reservoir, which supplies the plant, is just 700 feet from the pipeline route. “We want to make sure Nexus is adhering to the standards,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said Monday afternoon. Nexus Gas Transmission sent a letter to the city earlier this month to make officials aware of company contacts to call in case there are construction problems with environmental, restoration or other issues. The company will make an effort to respond to hotline calls within one hour, the letter stated. A Nexus representative will respond within 24 hours to discuss resolution of concerns, the letter continued. “We are committed to minimizing any inconvenience our construction may cause,” said the letter signed by Walton Johnson, right-of-way project manager for the Nexus project. Last week, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards wrote back. He let pipeline officials know that the city has voiced several concerns about the project – most which have not been resolved. “I trust and sincerely hope that you and your colleagues know that the City of Bowling Green, it’s administration and city council, have some very basic concerns about the project in terms of its proximity to the city’s state-of-the-art water treatment plant located on…


Ben Otley: Charter amendment “promotes anarchy … is deeply flawed”

On November 7, you will be asked to vote on an Amendment to Bowling Green’s City Charter.   Even if you are against pipelines, I urge you to vote no on the proposed Amendment.  The type of language contained in this Amendment will keep new businesses from locating in Bowling Green and will drive existing businesses out.  Simply put, it promotes anarchy.  It will also cause the city great expense to defend because its constitutionality is certain to be challenged.   Let me be clear that I do not question the sincerity of the local group of activists pushing this initiative.  I believe the local organizers genuinely wish to ensure a healthy environment for future generations.  Unfortunately, the initiative they are pushing is deeply flawed, and I do not believe it was authored by the local organizers.  The proposed Amendment goes way beyond its stated purpose of banning pipelines, lacks basic definitions, is vague, confusing and leaves me wondering if the author has a hidden agenda.  For example, it extends rights to “natural communities” and “ecosystems”, then goes on to state “the right shall include the right to be free from new infrastructure for fossil fuel”, but is completely open ended as to what other rights it extends.  The language allows any citizen enforcement rights using “non-violent direct action” with direct action defined as “any activities carried out to directly enforce . . . this Amendment.”  It further states that “City of Bowling Green law enforcement . . . shall have no lawful authority . . .” to intervene.  Please take time to read the Amendment which can be found at www.co.wood.oh.us/BOE/ under Questions and Issues List.  Then vote no on…


Accusations fly at council meeting over charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Supporters of the Bowling Green Charter Amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot accused their opponents Monday evening of engaging in “smear politics to sway the vote.” But one of several Bowling Green City Council members opposed to the charter amendment called the proposal “an attempt to legalize anarchy.” The charter amendment proponents spoke first at Monday’s City Council meeting. Lisa Kochheiser said the amendment purpose is “expanding rights of people to protect their families and community” against environmental harm. She spoke of the Nexus pipeline route that is proposed near the city’s water treatment plant, and said that a second pipeline by the same company is in the works. Wood County is “caught in the crosshairs” of many pipelines since it is located on the natural gas route from southeast Ohio to Canada. Kochheiser accused city leaders of knowing two years in advance about the Nexus project, but not telling the public. She asked when the city was going to inform the public about the second proposed pipeline. Though city council denied an easement for the pipeline, that was the only action taken to stop the project, she said. City council “refused” to take formal action against the pipeline, did not pass an ordinance against the project, and would not file complaints about the proposal. “The city refuses to support the rights of the people,” she said. Kochheiser was also critical of multiple council members who have stated that the issue does not belong in the city charter – that it would “sully the pristine charter.” “Seriously people. Who are you protecting?” she asked. Kochheiser accused the opponents of “spreading hysterical rumors”…


Area around solar field may be restored to natural habitat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials hope to save on mowing expenses and provide wildlife habitat all in one plan. Instead of mowing the open grassy areas surrounding the solar field on Carter Road, city officials are suggesting that the acreage become a pollinator habitat. The Board of Public Utilities was presented with the proposal Monday evening by Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for Bowling Green. While mowing the 12 acres around the solar field doesn’t require a lot of time, it is an expense the city could avoid, O’Connell said. Daryl Stockburger, assistant utilities director, began looking for ways to reduce maintenance and enhance the solar site. He talked with representatives of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about a grant to help convert the grassy areas into a pollinator habitat as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the Maumee Area of Concern. The habitat restoration would increase native habitat – such as vegetation, migratory birds and bees – and improve water quality in the watershed, O’Connell said. An agreement would likely require a commitment by the city to allow the pollinator habitat to remain for possibly five to 10 years. That would not be a problem, O’Connell said, since the solar contract has a longer term and there are few options for the narrow strips of land outside the solar field. It has been suggested that the Wood County Park District could maintain the habitat restoration area over the life of the grant. The project could provide educational opportunities for the park district, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green City Schools, and the city. The planting of the 12 acres,…


Peace Symposium to address nuclear threat

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS  “Seeking Peace in the Nuclear Era: A Peace Symposium” is the focus of a series of presentations Oct. 16-19 at Bowling Green State University. Four speakers will provide insights on the dangers of nuclear war and threats to peace facing the world today. At the end of the Cold War, the constant threat of nuclear annihilation seemed to be over. Today, though nuclear stockpiles have been reduced, the weapons are still with us. In recent years, new political and military conflicts, especially between western democracies and North Korea and Russia, have revived the specter of nuclear war. Yet the U.S. public, especially young people, are generally unaware of the issues, the nature of nuclear war, the history of Hiroshima, and effective ways to achieve peace. BGSU alumnus Dr. Thomas Snitch ’75, ’15 (Hon.), a scientist and policymaker who spent decades working on nuclear policy for the U.S. State Department, will give the Hiroko Nakamoto Peace Lecture Oct. 16. He will tell the story, based on declassified intelligence, diplomatic history, political intrigue, technology diversions, skullduggery, and his trips to North Korea, about how Pyongyang was able to successfully build, test, and now, possibly deploy a thermonuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. His presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater (Room 206). Gwynne Dyer, a renowned journalist, military historian, author, and filmmaker, will provide an overview and analysis of an array of current threats to peace, with a focus on nuclear issues and North Korea. His Oct. 17 lecture at 7:30 p.m. in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, titled “Don’t Panic: Threats to Peace in this Nuclear Age,” will explain how people and governments can effectively deal with threats from North Korea,…


Best farm practices for Lake Erie Watershed to be discussed at ag breakfast

From CENTER FOR INNOVATIVE FOOD TECHNOLOGY An environmental expert with the Ohio Lake Erie Commission will discuss Maumee River watershed best management practices for agricultural producers at the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum, Thursday, Oct. 19 from 8 – 9:30 a.m.  The event is hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology  at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation (AIF). Environmental specialist Dr. Sandra Kosek-Sills will share information on the Ohio Domestic Action Plan and how this will advance state level efforts toward proposed nutrient reduction targets. OLEC’s role is to preserve Lake Erie’s natural resources, to protect the quality of its waters and ecosystem, and to promote economic development of the region by ensuring the coordination of policies and programs of state government pertaining to water quality, toxic substances, and coastal resource management. Arrive early, as breakfast and informal networking will start at 8 a.m., with the program to follow.  The cost is just $10 per person when you RSVP in advance, or $12 per person at the door without RSVP (cash or check) which includes breakfast and networking opportunities. The Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum is an educational networking opportunity to provide information on current issues, trends and programs available to the agricultural community and those who support its advancement. The AIF is located at 13737 Middleton Pike (St. Rt. 582) in Bowling Green.  Walk-ins are welcome, but guests are encouraged to reserve a seat in advance by visiting ciftinnovation.org.


Taming invasive plants so they don’t take over nature

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Bowling Green Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz took over at Wintergarden Park 17 years ago, he led Jennifer Windus, of ODNR, on a tour of the wild acres. He proudly showed her the woods and the prairie. But Windus, now retired from ODNR, couldn’t help but notice all the non-native invasive plant species that were taking over the park. She zeroed in on the 4-foot tall impenetrable garlic mustard plants. “You are the poster child for everything that can go wrong,” Gajewicz recalled her saying. That was then. After years of volunteers and staff pulling out the stubborn garlic mustard and other non-native invasive species, Wintergarden is a back-breaking success story. “My sons can both identify garlic mustard while going 60 mph down the highway, and insist that we stop to pull it out,” Gajewicz said. The efforts have worked, according to Windus, who is now president of Ohio Invasive Plants Council. “I am really impressed with all the work you are doing,” she said last week after taking a tour of the park that she once called a “nightmare.” Windus returned to Bowling Green last week to talk about “Good Plants Gone Bad,” at the annual Kuebeck Forum offered by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. Many of the non-native invasive plant species look like beautiful wildflowers or vines to the inexperienced eye. But if left to roam, some can rapidly take over natural areas, Windus said. They reproduce quickly and have no natural controls. “They out compete native species,” she explained. “Vines tend to creep and crawl over other vegetation and smother it out.” There are more than 65 non-native…


Princeton Review lauds BGSU for being environmentally responsible

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University is among the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to the 2017 Princeton Review Guide to 375 Green Colleges. The guide, released Sept. 20, profiles colleges “with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives and activities.” BGSU was on the 2016 list as well. “We are pleased that our sustainability efforts have once again been recognized by the Princeton Review guide,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “This recognition honors the students, faculty and staff who have taken leadership roles in making us a more environmentally aware and responsible institution.” In 2012, Mazey signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, lending BGSU’s support to the effort to promote climate neutrality and sustainability. In 2014, BGSU submitted its Climate Action Plan and began to implement it. The Princeton Review chose colleges based on “Green Rating” scores tallied using data from the 2016-17 application. On that application, administrators reported on their sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. Schools with Green Rating scores of 80 or higher made it into the 2017 guide. “The application is immense, time-consuming and all-encompassing,” said Nicholas Hennessy, BGSU sustainability manager. “It incorporates every aspect of the University’s operation and daily activities. Everything from academic course offerings/research, to energy usage, purchasing, student activities, and buildings and everything in between is considered in determining a Princeton ranking. “The Guide is not only a recognition of BGSU’s efforts and accomplishments in sustainability, but also creates a clearer plan for what needs to be done to move forward.” The ranking provides a good reference for prospective students…


Two sides at odds over proposed BG charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Words matter. The proposed Bowling Green charter amendment is intended to give the community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate. But while that may be the intent, critics say the words go far beyond those reasonable rights. The wording of the charter amendment may be difficult for voters to digest. The supporters interpret it as giving citizens a right to peaceably protest projects such as the Nexus pipeline that is planned near Bowling Green’s water treatment plant. But others see the wording as so open to interpretation that it goes far beyond what most city residents would want. It hardly seems possible the two sides of the Bowling Green charter amendment issue are talking about the same two pages of text when they describe the proposal. Lisa Kochheiser and Brad Holmes, of the Bowling Green Climate Protectors, see the charter amendment as a way for citizens to intervene if the city does not adequately protect its citizens from harm to their environment. “We’re not trying to overthrow the government. We want to strengthen our government by adding to citizen rights,” Holmes said. The majority of people don’t want pipelines in or near their communities, he said. “This is going to be the most tangible way of people legally protesting.” City attorney Mike Marsh doesn’t want pipeline in the city either. And if there were a ballot issue to not allow Nexus on city land, he would support it. But the charter amendment goes far beyond that, he said. “It’s a far reaching, almost anarchy type of proposal,” Marsh said. “It allows citizens on their own to take actions they deem…


STEM in the Park embraces every day science & fun

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – are infused in daily living. Don’t believe it? Take a stroll through STEM in the Park that sprawled inside and outside of the Bowling Green State University Field House Saturday. You’ll see feats of engineering, and owls, starfish and other fauna from around the world, and bottles with multicolored water  that illustrate the ocean layers. You’ll also see kids making pizza dough, and taking those first tentative sounds on musical instruments. You’ll see kids tumbling and watching bubbles float high above them. And don’t forget the slime. That was the favorite of Melissa Works’ four children, age 4 to 10. Logan, 8, was especially enthusiastic about the slime, his sister Rozlyn, 6, liked the bubbles and gymnastics, and all including Benjamin, 10, and Serena. 4, were enjoying the free hot dog and mac and cheese lunch provided by Tony Packo’s. Well, Serena was more interested in leaving her mark with a crayon to the paper table coverings. Work said that the activities held the interest of her crew. They still had the outside to explore, she said. This is the eighth year the event has been staged on the campus of Bowling Green State University, Emilio Duran, who teaches in the College of Education and Human Development, said the idea for the event first occurred to him and his wife, Lena Duran, who also teaches in the college. The college, they realized, offers many events for students and teachers. “We wanted to do something for families,” Duran said. “This is a community event. It’s about learning about science together.” The event is presented by Northwest…


BG fifth graders take learning from classroom to camp

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For one week, the fifth graders left behind their classrooms, their parents, their cell phones. But they found nature, social skills and how to learn without being tied to technology. The fifth grade teachers and principal from Crim Elementary School talked with the Bowling Green Board of Education Tuesday about the experiences of the nearly 250 fifth graders who traveled to Heartland Outdoor School last month. The best explanations perhaps came from the students themselves, who wrote letters to people in the community who helped pay for the week-long learning adventure. “I learned that fear was just a word,” one student wrote after reaching the peak of the rock wall. Another student talked about the different environments they observed and the different types of rocks they studied. “We learned so much, I could fill the whole page,” the child wrote. And another told of learning how to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy streams, how to shoot arrows, make candles and throw a tomahawk. Not typical classroom lesson plans. This was the first year of camp for Crim’s new principal Alyssa Karaffa. “It was a great experience,” she said. And for the teachers who return year after year, “they are absolutely saints,” Karaffa added. Science and social studies teacher Tyler Nye said it’s easy for him to explain when people ask why the students go to a week of camp every year. Where else can they have hands-on learning about crawdads in the creek, food chains, and adaptation of animals. “In my opinion, it’s the best way to learn,” Nye said. And where better to learn about the skills that settlers…


Anti-pipeline amendment doesn’t belong in city charter, McOmber says

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Just as the environmentalists don’t believe pipelines belong near the city’s water treatment plant, a Bowling Green City Council member doesn’t believe the proposed anti-pipeline charter amendment belongs in the city’s “pristine” charter. The anti-pipeline charter amendment remains in legal limbo – but just in case it’s cleared for the ballot in November, council member Bob McOmber cautioned about the language that may be inserted into the city’s charter. The proposed charter amendment is very difficult to understand, he said. And the portions McOmber does understand, he finds “highly objectionable.” “It’s inappropriate to insert that cause into the city charter,” he said during Monday’s council meeting. McOmber said the local residents behind the anti-pipeline charter amendment are a special interest group. While there is nothing inherently wrong with special interest groups, their views don’t belong in the city’s charter. “The proposal puts the cause of one special interest in the charter,” he said. The city’s charter is “pristine,” and has always been reserved for the mechanisms of city government. “I think it would be a mistake to insert special interests in the city charter,” he said. McOmber referred to the inflated Ohio constitution that has been allowed to grow into a “complete mess and embarrassment.” McOmber mentioned the successful anti-discrimination ordinances adopted by citizens a few years ago. That effort went through council to help with the drafting and adopting of the ordinances. “That is so much more appropriate,” he said. “This would be a mistake for the city.” McOmber, who is not running for re-election, suggested that prior to the election every council candidate should state their opinion on the proposed…


BGSU teams with Wood County to monitor mosquitoes

By BOB CUNNINGHAM BGSU Office of Marketing & Communications Notice an uptick in mosquitoes in northwest Ohio? You can thank climate change. Warmer summers mean longer mosquito seasons, and milder winters signify a higher survival rate for mosquitoes. Those conditions, which have allowed for the emergence of diseases such as that caused by Zika virus, are cause for concern — especially as mosquitoes that vector, or carry, such viruses migrate farther north. “What’s happened the last two to three years has led to a lot of concern about mosquito-borne pathogens and viruses,” said Dr. Dan Pavuk, an insect biologist and lecturer in Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University. “South Florida last summer in mosquito season had more than 200 cases of the Zika virus in humans that were actually documented to be transmitted by mosquitoes. That has spurred the interest in revitalizing a lot of the mosquito surveillance.” The Wood County Health District recently received a $17,696 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to study mosquitoes in Wood County. The health district contracted with BGSU to assist in its mosquito surveillance project. Pavuk and two undergraduate biology students, Erica Eskins of Bellevue, Ohio, and Hannah Alanis of Oregon, Ohio, have been working on the project all summer. They’ll set the traps throughout Wood County, including three sites in Bowling Green and one each in Pemberville, Grand Rapids, Perrysburg, Rossford, North Baltimore and Walbridge. “We go out at least once a week and set the traps and then go back the next day to pick them up,” Pavuk said. “Most people don’t want to work with mosquitoes, but Erica and Hannah were actually really excited about working with them, and they…


FERC approves Nexus pipeline – BG opposition not giving up

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nexus pipeline has been granted federal approval to be constructed across Ohio – but local officials and activists still aren’t giving up their hopes to get the route changed. Late on Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the construction of the 36-inch high-pressure pipeline to carry natural gas from shale fields in Appalachia across northern Ohio and into Michigan and Ontario, Canada. The $2 billion Nexus pipeline, stretching 255 miles, will be capable of carrying 1.5 billion feet of gas per day. But Bowling Green officials and local activists have expressed concerns about the close proximity of the proposed pipeline to the city’s water reservoir next to the Maumee River. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards, who has been asking the Ohio EPA to consider the risks to the city water treatment plant, still hopes the state agency can intervene. “It still has to be certified by the Ohio EPA,” Edwards said Sunday afternoon. City officials are scheduled to have a conference call with Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler and his staff next week. The agency has promised the mayor that they are conducting a systematic review of concerns submitted by Bowling Green officials. “They are painfully aware of what has happened with the Rover pipeline” in other areas of Ohio where hazardous material spills have occurred, Edwards said. The mayor insisted that the Nexus plans are not final. “We’ve tried to protect the interest of Bowling Green as it relates to the water treatment plant,” with the pipeline proposed to be buried 700 feet away. “I’ve always said that was not a good location.” Edwards said the city has invested more…