Environment

Scientists continue to address harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even in an age of satellites, vintage tools have their place in protecting the environment. The research in harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie by scientists from state and government agencies and institutions of higher education is constantly evolving. A new European satellite promises to provide a steady stream of advanced analytics and should allow for the development of 3D models of harmful algae blooms. As scientists monitor the water in Lake Erie and the tributaries that feed it, they also employ a tool that dates back to the middle of the 19th century. As part as a water testing demonstration at the Stone Lab on Middle Bass Island, researchers used the Secchi disc, a basic device that’s lowered into the water to determine how clear it is. The demonstration was part of the seventh Harmful Algae Blooms forecast conference held at the lab. Rick Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that this year’s bloom splits the difference between the smaller bloom in 2017 and the more extensive problem in 2016. The severity was rated at 6, on the open ended scale. The worst blooms, seen in 2011 and 2015, were 10 or greater. Last year was an 8. The forecast for algae blooms is based on six different predictive models, all using different methodologies. Scientists can’t say, though, what the chance is that this bloom will turn toxic like the one in 2014 that left 500,000 customers served by the Toledo system without safe water. Stumpf said that scientists are working on developing techniques to forecast the likelihood of toxicity. The blooms, he said, appear to be developing sooner as the lake warms up earlier. They tend to subside in August, but then last year re-emerged on a smaller scale in September. The earlier onset does not mean the bloom will be more severe, he said. Thomas Bridgeman, from the University of Toledo, noted, there’s also been more healthy algae growth in the lake, and  that could compete with the harmful variety. James Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer for Ottawa County, said it was important for those managing water plants to look further into the future as they consider the needs for new technology to address the problem. “We need to able to predict how soon this may subside,” he said. Chris Winslow, the director of Stone Lab, said that given the size of the watershed feeding the lake that’s hard to predict. Methods have been developed and implemented in the agricultural community to keep nutrients, especially phosphorus, from running into the lake and feeding the harmful algae growth. But those techniques vary from farm to farm, he said. “If algae runs out of phosphorus it stops growing,” Stumpf said. Laura Johnson, from Heidelberg University, reported on the findings from a water testing site at Waterville testing on the Maumee River. The site is one of 23 that the water quality program at Heidelberg monitors. Data have been collected at the sites since 1974. The flow of phosphorus is largely dependent on heavy rain except in May when farmers apply fertilizer to their fields. The loads increase then regardless of the weather. Stumpf said that the outlook is not for much severe weather through the end of July. The…


Hold the mower, Simpson Garden Park tries natural look

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No, the city lawn mowers are working just fine. No, the recent rains haven’t created an abnormal growth spurt in these grasses. The city parks and recreation staff is fielding questions about the new tall grasses being tried out in Simpson Garden Park. To those with perfectly manicured lawns, the new experiment at Simpson Garden Park may be jarring and offend their sense of order. But to the park staff, the new tall grasses are an experiment that could lessen the human impact on the environment. Chris Gajewicz, the city’s natural resources coordinator, talked about the new grass Tuesday evening during the monthly meeting of the city parks and recreation board. The new grass getting the attention is a fescue called Scottish Links, growing near the amphitheater in the park. It is drought resistant, so it does not need to be irrigated, and does not need fertilized. Once established, the fescue out-competes weeds like dandelions and thistle, so there is little to no need for chemical herbicides and pesticides to manage weeds, Gajewicz said. The Scottish Links is a low-mow grass variety, so the staff may mow it as little as once a year – which will use less fossil fuels and produce less carbon emissions. A sign will be posted by the fescue to explain its purpose. Gajewicz realizes the tall grass may look unkept – particularly to people with perfect lawns. But this is an “experiment in sustainability” that can help reduce the city’s environmental footprint, he said. Besides, some people appreciate a more natural look. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Gardens are always in a state of change,” Gajewicz explained. Since Simpson Garden Park was first created 13 years ago, it has undergone a lot of changes. The healing garden is now designed to nourish visitors’ minds, bodies and souls – instead of just displaying medicinal plants. New bridges and concrete paths have been installed to make the site accessible to people with physical disabilities. And now the park staff wants to make the park more sustainable and responsible, he said. The efforts were praised by Mayor Dick Edwards and City Council member Sandy Rowland. “I so agree with what you’re doing,” Rowland said to Gajewicz. “I like your philosophy on this.” Edwards said he appreciates the Scottish Links. “It’s a constant reminder to me what real golfers have to deal with.” The mayor mentioned that his wife’s first reaction to the tall grass was not exactly positive. However, when the purpose for the fescue was explained, her opinion changed. “Even Nadine likes your Scottish Links,” Edwards said. To explain the unruly grasses to park patrons, Gajewicz wrote the following statement: “Gardens, by definition, are not static but dynamic. They are living, growing, constantly evolving spaces. Each growing year, day, and even minute, every single moment in a garden is in a constant state of change. Visitors to Simpson Garden Park may have noticed over the past eleven years, the “Healing Garden” has changed to accommodate the entire person, their mind, body, and spirit while surrounded by healing plants. The garden is no longer a collection of medicinal plants, but a space meant to nourish the whole visitor. The Holistic Healing Garden is now…


Law’s exhibit celebrates nature & the flowering of community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Painting wasn’t enough for Rebecca Louise Law when she was an art student. As much as she loved the richness of painting, she longed for something more immersive. She tried installations, including some horrendous efforts involving food. Law found what she was looking for in her father’s garden – dahlias. Fifteen years after that first flower-based installation, “Dahlias,” the English artist has created an installation that she said most fully realizes her vision. Law’s “Community” opened Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Canaday Gallery. The site specific work was created over the past several weeks by Law, her four-member team, and more than 400 local volunteers. It uses 520,000 dried flowers. Of those 10,000 were harvested locally, including some from the museum’s grounds. The rest are the flowers used in her previous 51 installations. She saves everything. After an installation’s run, everything is boxed up for future use, even the dust that the flowers eventually become. These are encased in glass. She will return to Toledo in September for a residency at the Glass Pavilion working with that dust. On Saturday, Law discussed the evolution of her work with the museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs Halona Norton-Westbrook who curated “Community.” Growing up in the countryside near Cambridge, England, she spent her time in the fields and fens. If it wasn’t raining her mother sent her and her siblings out to play. If they were inside often it was among the dried flowers in the attic. Law went on to study painting. “I felt incredibly frustrated. I wanted to work outside the canvas. I couldn’t figure out how to paint in the air.” Then she had her epiphany. Law started to “paint” with flowers. That led her to discover and study a whole new world of botany. “Personally I’m blown away by nature,” Law said. “That’s my ultimate inspiration. The more I know, the less I know.” The flowers are draped across the Canaday’s ceiling and hang down to the floor. From the entry the effect is a shimmering tableau. Then the viewer walks into the scene to be among the blossoms. During a press preview on Friday Law explained that she stands back while others arrange the flowers at her direction. The arrangement is guided by mathematics and aesthetics. Saturday Law said of the effect she seeks: “I suppose it’s spiritual, the presence of the beauty of what we have here on earth.” Last December Law visited the museum to finalize the details for the exhibit. She was shown several possible locations for the installation. When she saw the Canaday she decided: “I’ll take that space, thank you very much.” She said the lighting arranged by Claude Fixler, exhibition designer, was the best for any of her installations, brighter and more open. Also, during her initial visit to Toledo she met with museum staff and the members of the Apollo Society and Ambassadors group. Many of them were among the volunteers who spent 1,600 hours helping to realize Law’s vision. That intimate connection with the city is an important part of the work, she said. Part of the team with her for the installation was her husband, Andrew, and their son Alexander, who celebrated his first birthday here, as well as the artist’s…


Researcher spells out threat of superbugs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Superbugs may sound like a new summer time horror movie, but the dangers they pose are real. This past semester Dr. Shannon Manning, from Michigan State University, presented “Superbugs! Antibiotic Resistance Matters,” the keynote address of the Ned Baker Public Health Symposium. The talk, despite its sensational title, was aimed at those in public health. The talk delved deeply into biological mechanisms as Manning explained the rapid evolution of pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics and other treatments. The use of antibiotics, she said, goes back to well before people knew what they were. They were present in ancient beer, an unpalatable brew akin to liquid bread dough. Egyptians used honey and lard to treat wounds because of the anti-microbial properties. But superbugs arose only after scientists understood these properties and created drugs. This launched an evolutionary war between the drugs meant to cure diseases and the pathogens that cause diseases. While the antibiotic kills most of the pathogens, a few cells immune to the antibiotic survive, and thrive, creating new strains immune to the antibiotic. That led to the emergence of superbugs. “They can cause high rates of morbidity and mortality in human populations and also are causing high rates of disease in animal populations,” Manning said “Some of these superbugs tend to be more virulent causing more severe infections.” That leads to high rates of death and long-lasting health problems, she said. Patients end up “sicker for very long period of times.” “We do have a set a resistant pathogens that cannot be killed by any of known drugs that we have,” Manning said. “Many of these pathogens and others have developed resistance to many types of antibiotics. These are increasing in number.” None of this should have been surprising. Alexander Fleming the scientist who first isolated penicillin warned of the drug’s of overuse, Manning said. Unheeded, his warning was proven true quickly. At first penicillin was considered a miracle drug. Staph aureus killed 70 percent of its victims before the drug was discovered. Those fatalities dropped dramatically once people started taking penicillin. That prompted increased use of penicillin. Nature reacted, and drug-resistant strains evolved. Death rates rose again. Hospitals are battlegrounds. They have many patients who already have compromised immune systems and are targets for these new drug-resistant pathogens. The war between drugs and pathogens was engaged with drug resistant strains emerging as soon as a new drug was developed. That led to the evolution of the superbugs, pathogens resistant to not just the drug that targets them but to other drugs as well. It’s a global problem that’s complicated by the diversity in use of antibiotics. In some places they can be bought over the counter; some places they are not used at all. Even in the latter locations, Manning said, studies have found traces of drug-resistant pathogens in human feces. Farmers feed animals antibiotics. They had been used to promote growth in animals. However, as the problems emerged a ban was imposed on using any human relevant antibiotic for growth promotion. Still they are used to treat sick animals and the antibiotics find their way into food animals, food products and in farm soil. The soil is teeming with microbes fostering high rates of gene exchange, she said. That…


Airing out the arts in Simpson Garden Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Art in the Park allows the arts to blossom right along with the flowers in Simpson Garden. For the fourth year, the festival of arts will take place at the garden, at the intersection of Conneaut and Wintergarden, Friday, June 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event packs in a lot of activity into a two-hour span. It features plein air art – artists working in the open air, as well as strolling musicians, theater, at every turn, and children’s activities in the Simpson Building. That’s where performances will happen if the rain comes. But Alice Calderonello, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, urged people not to give up on the weather. Last year the rain threatened all afternoon, but then the skies cleared just in time for art walk. “For some reason heaven smiles on us,” she said. This year, said her husband, John Calderonello, there are more performers than ever. They will be spread from the upper healing garden where strolling performers from the university’s doctorate in contemporary music will do their musical version of plein air art, improvising to suit the mood. Also, new to the event will by the vocal ensemble Inside Voices, also near the healing garden. Down the way in the peace garden the Kaze No Daichi Taiko drum ensemble will perform. In stages closer to the building singer Tom Gorman, the old time ensemble Root Cellar Band, Irish tunes by Toraigh an Sonas, and the Black Swamp Drum Circle will entertain. In the amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theater will stage a preview of its summer musical, “Dorothy in Wonderland,” at 5:15 and 6:30 and in between the Black Swamp Players will read a section of Scott Regan’s original play “Peanuts and Crackerjacks.” The play will be part of the Players’ 51st season. Spread throughout the garden will be artists at work, though not so intently that they won’t take a time to chat with guests. Last year eight artists took part, but organizers are always hoping for more. Jules Webster of Art Supply Depo is again sponsoring a $100 gift certificate to go to one artist voted the favorite by those attending. While artists can sign up on the day of the event, Alice Calderonello encouraged them to register in advance to make sure the council can get their names on the ballot and has contact information should they win. Artists should contact Craig Blair at blair@surrealogic.com. Art Depo is also giving young artist a chance to do plein air painting just like their elders. That will be offered in the children’s garden. The Bowling Green Montessori School and BG Parks and Recreation will have children’s activities inside the Simpson Building. Arts council member Nancy Stonerock is busy baking cookies for the event. Alice Calderonello said that this year the council has trimmed Art in the Park down to two hours. Most people come after work and before supper, so the 5 to 7 time frame fits well. Prudence Brott of Sunset Bistro is offering 15 percent for the arts council that evening for those who want to catch supper after the event. Putting on such a festival takes many hands. Art in the Park involves a collaboration. Calderonello praised the help that Ivan Kovacevic and the…


Park District offers nature education programs in June

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT   PIPs: Dragonflies and Art in the Park Friday, June 1; 10:00 am – noon WW Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Look for dragonflies through their life cycle and create artwork guided by local artist Valerie Rowley. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Paddle the Pond Every Monday, June-August; 4:00 – 7:30 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Enjoy a float on the pond at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve; perfect for a family outing, comfort-builder for beginners, or relaxing exercise! An instructor will be available for introductory safety and skills education. All boats, life-jackets, and paddles provided. Boats and gear on a first-come-first-served basis. Enjoy a nature walk while you wait! The last Monday of every month will feature kayaks along with canoes: June 26, July 24, August 28.   Kayak Safety & Rescue Saturday, June 2; 9:00 am – 2:00 pm Three Meadows Pond 700 Three Meadows Drive, Perrysburg Join American Canoeing Association instructors to advance your kayak safety and rescue skills. Be prepared to take a swim through this involved course that will help you keep all boats afloat and prepare you for when they don’t. See online description for full details and registration requirements.  Cost: $25, FWCP $20 Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Senior Nature Hike Series Mondays, June 4 and August 6, 10:00 – 11:30 am June 4: WW Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg August 6: Otsego Park 20000 West River Road, Bowling Green Join a naturalist for exercise and the wonder of watching the seasonal changes. The hikes will offer a true mind-body connection. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Bird Song I.D. Part Two Tuesday, June 6; 7:00 – 8:30 pm Slippery Elm Trail: Cricket Frog Cove 14810 Freyman Road, Cygnet Get some experience listening for breeding birds as we build upon skills learned in March’s bird song program. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, June 7, 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve Friends’ Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by Richard Louv. Group meets once a month. Register for any or all. Discussion leader: Cheryl Lachowski, Senior Lecturer, BGSU English Dept. and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN). Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Bike Skills Bash Sunday, June 10; 1:00 – 3:00 pm Black Swamp Preserve 1014 South Maple Street, Bowling Green Learn from the pros of Spoke Life Cycles as they teach fundamental skills to conquer off-road biking challenges and features. Bring your own bike and helmet. This class is appropriate for riders of all skill levels! Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Open Bouldering Wednesday, June 13; 6:00 – 8:00 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg Come anytime between 6:00 and 8:00 to get hands-on with the quarry rock as staff share knowledge, tips, and tricks to get beginners climbing safely in this ever-challenging outdoor sport. Crash pads for safe landing and limited chalk supplied. Wear flexible, yet sturdy footwear with good grip. No registration needed. Night Nature                                      Thursday, June 14; 9:00 – 10:30 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg When the sun sets not everybody goes to bed, experience the park after dark and learn about some fascinating creatures that wake after the gates normally close….


BGSU ReStore sheds light on need to reuse material

Nick Hennessey, director of the Bowling Green State University Office of Sustainability, is all business as he gives a reporter a tour of the ReStore sale. We stroll down a long corridor that starts in the Sundial on the north side of Kreisher dorm, into the dorm’s lounge area. Lining the space are tables of stuff, lots of stuff, a variety of stuff from the makings of a Halloween party to books passed rows of clothes. There are microwaves, lamps, and electronics. This is a college-life version of Ali Baba’s cave. Then Hennessey stops. “I’m digging these green pants,” he said, picking up a pair of trousers from a stack. Setting them back down, he allows they probably won’t fit. Then he gestures to a nearby pile of blue jeans. In previous years, there were many, many more. “We used to get so many pairs of jeans,” he said. This year, “jeans seem relatively low for both men and women.” And that may be a good sign. “Maybe some people are hanging on to things longer. That would please me a great deal. Maybe people are having second thoughts about getting rid of stuff maybe they could reuse.” The ReStore is the culmination of his office’s When You Move Out Don’t Throw it Out (WYMO) campaign. It encourages students when they leave campus for the summer to donate what they don’t want or can’t fit in their vehicles. Some people misinterpret the treasure trove of castoffs, Hennessey said. “One of the things I like to clarify to people because we’re always hearing people come in and see all this stuff and say ‘I can’t believe students left all this stuff behind.’ The reality is they have to make intentional decision to donate it. They made the decision ‘I want to donate something to the WYMO program.’” That means hauling stuff to the lobby of their residence hall and putting it in the appropriate bids, even though the dumpster may be closer.” With the help of interns, Sierra Wilson and Wolfgang Ach, and numerous volunteers, these donated items are organized, cleaned up, and laid out for people to buy. Last year, Hennessey said, the sale netted about $4,000. That money helps support sustainability programs and education. Those proceeds, though, are not the reason for WYMO, Hennessey said. This sale itself is a demonstration of the importance of reusing goods. Last year, Ach, an environmental policy and analysis major, said, the sale kept 17,000 pounds of material from going to the landfill. “That’s amazing.” So everything is priced to go, even if that means it’s free. “I’m not going to charge someone for crutches,” Hennessey said, referencing a dozen pair or so leaning against the wall. Students get injured. They go to the Falcon Health Center, and their insurance provides them with a pair, which they no longer have use for. The sale is open to “the university community,” Hennessey said. That’s defined very broadly to include faculty, staff, and students, their families, former students, and retirees. “We consider them all part of the university.” And that’s on “the honor system.” The sale runs Wednesday (May 23) through 4 p.m. and continues Thursday, May 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shoppers should enter in the central door just across Ridge Street…


Clean Lake 2020 Plan earns bipartisan support

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A perfect storm of sorts has led to the latest effort to fight for the health of Lake Erie – including weather projections of a moderate to bad year for algal blooms. So far this year, the lake has been the focus of a federal court order, U.S. EPA emphasis, Ohio EPA impairment declaration and a less than ideal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast. “All these factors created a sense of urgency that perhaps should have already been there,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said. And others in the state legislature seem to agree, showing strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly as a bill and a proposed statewide bond issue was introduced Wednesday in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan, introduced by Gardner and State Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, includes funding of up to $36 million in 2018 for efforts to reduce algal blooms through conservation practices and other Lake Erie initiatives. Also proposed is a Clean Water Ohio Bond Issue that would appropriate $100 million per year for 10 years after statewide approval by voters. Gardner believes that even those Ohio voters at the southern end of the state will support the bond issue since it involves help for more than just Lake Erie. The Ohio River has also seen its share of algal bloom problems. But the primary focus will be on Lake Erie, since an estimated 5 million people rely on the lake for drinking water, and tens of thousands of jobs depend on the lake. “That demands that the priority be on Lake Erie,” he said. The Ohio EPA’s declaration that the open waters of Lake Erie are impaired means little if the state doesn’t act, Gardner said. “The most important thing is – what do we do about it,” he said. “It’s what we do from now.” “Almost everyone realizes there’s a lot of work to be done to help the lake,” he said. One of the biggest factors in the algal bloom issue is something state legislators can’t control – heavy rainfall events. “It just means we have to be more aggressive and spend more on the right strategies to get it done,” Gardner said. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan has not only garnered bipartisan support in the state legislature, but also support from farm, environmental and business groups. They all seem to realize that since the lake is worth millions of dollars to the state, it’s worth spending money to defend it, Gardner said. But voters’ support will also be needed to provide long-term funding to fix the lake. “We’ve been reluctant to go to the ballot before now,” he said. The Clean Lake 2020 Plan includes the following provisions: Ohio State Sea Grant/Stone Lab: Capital funds of $2.65 million for research lab space and in-lake monitoring equipment consisting of real-time buoys and water-treatment plant monitoring devices. Healthy Lake Erie Initiative: Additional investment of $10 million (on top of the $10 million in the just-passed Capital Appropriations Act) to support projects to reduce open lake disposal of dredged materials into Lake Erie by 2020, as Ohio law requires. Soil & Water Conservation Support Fund: Funding of $3.5 million to support county soil and water conservation…


BG DECA students’ runoff filtration idea cleans up at international conference

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two DECA students from Bowling Green poured in on, and scored a second place finish at the International Career Development Conference in April with a pitch for a product to address Lake Erie’s algae problems. Sean O’Donnell and Jake Stucker, both Bowling Green High School juniors, placed second in the entrepreneurship idea contest at the DECA conference held in Atlanta with their idea for a filter that would address the runoff from farm fields that’s polluting Lake Erie. They were the top U.S. team with first place going to students from Ontario. And the pair says they’re not stopping there. “This is a huge market and could provide a future for us and families, and better future for people around the world,” O’Donnell said. They see the technology they are working on as being the foundation for a business. For that reason, they asked for a certain amount of discretion when describing the details of their idea. The have applied for provisional patents. Simply put, it is a filtration system that goes on the end of the piping from field tiles that removes the nitrates, phosphorus, and sediment that run into the Lake. That runoff messes with the lake’s ecosystem and can cause the kind of toxic algae growth that turned off the tap for much of the region during the Toledo water crisis in 2014. O’Donnell and Stucker have known each other since middle school. It was in seventh grade that they learned about the problem facing Lake Erie. But it was more recently when Stucker was having a conversation with a friend that the idea started to hatch. His friend, from Colorado, said she was headed west over winter break to go skiing. He lamented they had nothing so exciting here in Ohio. When she brought up Lake Erie, he said, it was too cold part of the year and toxic in the summer. This got him thinking about what could be done. This became the topic for his and O’Donnell’s DECA project. Trident Filters was born. Both are students in Penta Career Center’s satellite marketing program offered at Bowling Green High School. Their teacher Cara Maxey said the partners launched into the project with rare commitment.  “They worked extremely hard on their own networking,” she said. “They put in the extra time and effort outside the classroom that made the difference.” What they came up was “a real product,” with real world benefits. Usually students come up with “want-based products,” often related to fashion and cosmetics. The Trident Filter “is something the world needs,” Stucker said. “We were pretty stoked to do as well as we did,” O’Donnell said. “Right from the beginning, we wanted to take this as far as we could. We put in countless hours.” He stayed at Stucker’s house for 10 days before the district competition so they could work long into the night. And their classmates took note. Stucker said they even made t-shirts, hats, business cards, and pins. Both are competitive by nature. Stucker runs track and cross-country, and O’Donnell has played varsity soccer for three years and is a member of Columbus Crew Academy team. DECA provided an outlet for that competitive spirit, Stucker said. “You can just go hard into it.” Maxey had…


Lake Erie doesn’t have a prayer without everyone taking action

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Factory farms, corporations and kids can all help address concerns about pollution in Lake Erie. That was one of the message that came out of the third Creation Care Celebration Sunday Peace Lutheran Church. Sponsored by the Black Swamp Green Team, the event encourages looking at environmental issues through a spiritual lens. That’s something that’s needed said keynote speaker Sandy Bihn, executive director of the Lake Erie Foundation, and founder of Lake Erie Waterkeeper. It is important for all faith communities to come together to protect our sources of water. The Maumee River Watershed is central to that effort. Lake Erie, especially the western basin, suffer from algae growth promoted by the phosphorus from manure and fertilizer flowing from the regions’ vast farmlands. Much of it finds its way to Lake Erie. And under the right conditions that algae can produce the deadly microcystin toxin. That toxic algal growth is what shut off the Toledo’s water supply in summer, 2014. And though $20 billion have been spent to protect the lake, those phosphorus levels have not gone down, Bihn said. She likened Lake Erie to the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Because it is so shallow, it is the first to exhibit, problems, Bihn said. However, that also means that the water in the lake is replenished within a matter of weeks, or in the case of the western basin a matter of days. However, Bihn said, once these problems begin to manifest themselves in the larger lakes, they will take much longer to remedy. Lake Erie has come back since the nadir in the 1960s. That came about because of government action to invest on better water treatment systems. States also moved to ban phosphorus in detergent. Despite the evident problems in Ohio, Bihn noted, the state lagged behind others in banning the phosphorus in laundry detergent, waiting until 1988, some 17 years after Michigan. Procter and Gamble, with headquarters in Ohio, fought the ban. However, Bihn said, two decades later when a ban on phosphorus in dishwashing liquid was proposed, the company got on board from the beginning. Now the major problem, she said, comes from agriculture. The ditches and field tiles that made the Black Swamp tillable, also mean the water’s flow to the lake is expedited. Manure contributes 27 percent of the phosphorus, and commercial fertilizer contributes 33 percent. But addressing those two sources take different approaches. Farmers must buy commercial fertilizers, so it is in their economic interest to minimize their use. Manure, however, is a waste product that needs to be disposed of, so spreading as much as possible on fields is an economic gain. Factory dairy farms and concentrated feeding operations produce a lot of manure. Now four times as much manure is used as commercial fertilizer. If those numbers were equal, she said, that could greatly reduce phosphorus levels in the lake. The point is “only put on as much as the crop needs,” Bihn said. That requires new technology for treating and using manure as well as better monitoring of the cows and pigs raised on medium and large operations. But even those who don’t own cows or pigs can do their part to address the problem, said Amanda Gamby, the newly hired sustainability…


Park district springs into may with full slate of nature programs

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Park District is offering a variety of nature programs in May. Spring Wildflower Walk                          Tuesday, May 1; 6:00 – 7:30 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg Woodland wildflowers put on a brief, but beautiful show on the forest floor. Join us for a naturalist led stroll to see who is starring this month. Learn why these flowers are called ephemerals. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Archery Skills: Rainbow and Arrow Thursday, May 3; 6:30 – 8:00 pm Otsego Park 20000 West River Road, Bowling Green Improve your archery skills through this short, beginner-friendly instructional program, focusing on the steps of shooting and consistency. Make progress you can see, as we create some artistic targets using our newfound skills. All archery equipment provided, personal gear welcome (inspected at program). Must be 7 yrs of age or older to attend. Minors must be accompanied by legal guardian. Bring a small canvas, shirt, poster, or anything you’d like splatter-painted! $5/$3 FWCP Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, May 3, 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve Friends’ Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read The Sea Around Us, Special Edition (1989) by Rachel Carson. Group meets once a month. Register for any or all. Discussion leader: Cheryl Lachowski, Senior Lecturer, BGSU English Dept. and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN). Register atwww.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Homeschoolers: Bird Migration Friday, May 4; 10:00 – 11:30 am Bradner Preserve: Nature Interpretation Center Northwest Ohio is a great place to witness the spring migration! Learn about where these birds are going, how our parks play an important role, and what species you might see before heading out into the field. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Heritage Farm Demo Saturday, May 5; 1:00 – 5:00 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green  Stop by any time during the afternoon the first Saturday of each month to see farm staff and volunteers in action working on the farm. No registration needed. wcparks.org Intro to Nature Photography Tuesday, May 8; 6:00 – 8:00 pm Bradner Nature Interpretation Center 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner Interested in capturing the wonders of the outdoors in photographs, but unsure of what all of those camera settings do? Bring your camera and practice honing your skills at our new Nature Interpretation Center. This session will focus on how to use those camera settings to your advantage. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Nature Journaling Thursday, May 10; 6:30 – 8:00 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg We provide the sketchbook for your outdoor journaling adventure, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN), Sue Frankforther, is your guide. She’ll share her passion for nature, writing and illustration and get you started. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Spring Tree and Woody Plant ID                          Saturday, May 12; 3:00 – 5:00 pm Bradner Preserve 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner They are some of the largest living things in our parks, but do you know how to tell an oak from a maple or poison ivy from Virginia creeper? Woody plants anchor many of the habitats that native wildlife need, begin learning some of these fascinating organisms and how they benefit animals and people. We will be learning in the outdoors, both on and…


Renovated University Hall wins gold for being green

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS It was the first building on Bowling Green State University’s campus, and now University Hall becomes the first renovated building on campus to receive the gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation. Awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is “the most widely used green building rating system in the world and provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.” While BGSU has received LEED designations for other new and renovated buildings, the gold designation for University Hall is particularly meaningful, President Rodney Rogers said. This LEED award further validates our commitment to good environmental stewardship and our pledge to reduce our carbon footprint. University Hall is the entry point for prospective students with the Office of Admissions, and also houses key, high-impact programs that contribute to student success, such as the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship and Math and Science Education in Action. Designed by BPHD Architecture, the upgrades focused not only on energy efficiency but also on health, such as using low-emitting materials that are beneficial to the indoor environment for daily occupants and visitors. Plans for the renovation included a commitment to providing at least 35 percent of the building’s electrical energy from renewable sources. New windows throughout let in natural light, reducing electric demands while also restoring University Hall’s grandeur and views across the center of campus. The new electric lights are LEDs, which, again, reduce energy consumption and the building’s carbon footprint. Water consumption was also taken into consideration; the plumbing fixtures use non-potable water. The physical footprint of University Hall was reduced in the renovation, and materials that were removed were re-incorporated into the new structure, reducing the impact on landfills. More green space around the building was also gained. Even transportation was taken into account, with designated parking spaces provided for low-emitting vehicles and increased bicycle parking areas. The University now has a number of LEED-certified buildings, including the new Greek Village, which received gold designation in April 2017.


Money on a mission: Values-based investment pays off

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Companies that pursue policies that help the environment can also help investors’ bottom-line. That’s the foundation of the strategy of Terra Alpha Investment, said Amy Dine, director of advocacy for the company. Dine served as keynote speaker at a Socially Responsible Investing Workshop held Tuesday at Bowling Green State University. Formed three years ago, Terra Alpha Investments uses measures of  environmental productivity to determine which companies it will invest in. This approach is not “a niche,” Dine said, nor a fad. Sustainable investing, she said, represented about 20 percent of all professionally managed funds in 2016, about $8.72 trillion. That’s up, she said, by 33 percent, from 2014, and expected to grow when 2018 figures are reported. Investor putting their money where their values are, is not a new approach, Dine said. It began with investors who wanted to invest their money in companies that aligned with their religious faith, or at least, disinvest from tobacco, liquor, and other “sin”-related firms. That approach, Dine said, foundered some because the returns did not match the market. Still faith-based investing remains strong. The BGSU workshop was co-sponsored by Munn Wealth Management, a Maumee firm heavily engaged in faith-based investing. The second wave of values-based investment was prompted, Dine said, by activists in the 1970s and 1980s, looking for ways to protest apartheid in South Africa, industrial disasters including the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl and the chemical release at Bhopal, India, as well as domestic concerns such as brownfield sites. These activists saw having proxy votes as a way to sway corporate behavior. Now the third way uses corporate practices to decide which companies to invest in. This is more than protest, but a realization that those companies paying attention to how they use natural resources, that are diligent about the treatment of those in their supply chain, and that govern in a transparent and for long-term success are just better companies, she said. Chemistry Professor Neocles Leontis, one of those who organized the session, introduced Dine by saying when the coral reef is dying in the south and ice is melting in the far north, these are issues investors need to be paying attention to. Dine said this does not mean only new, cutting edge companies get supported. General Motors is developing a landfill-free plant, where everything is reused or recycled, saving $1 billion in the process. Adidas has a shoe that is made with 95-percent recycled plastic pulled from the sea around the Maldives. FedEx has redesigned its airplanes to make them morefuelefficient, and also made improvements to its truck fleet. It saved $840 million a year. And Starbucks, a company now embroiled in charges stemming from the arrest of two African-American men, just days before that incident had promised to develop a completely recyclable cup and get rid of plastic stirrers. Now, Dine said, about 2,200 publicly listed companies report on their environmental impact, giving investors the information they need. That’s a start, she said, given there are 7,000 publicly listed companies. More changes are in store, Dine said. Social media has become “a weapon of choice” is sounding off against corporate policies. She noted how quickly Dick’s and Walmart acted to stop selling some weapons after the Parkview school shooting. Millennials are more…


Spring weather arrives in time for Earth Day event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After weeks of cruel winter-like weather, Mother Nature graced the region with springtime just in time for Earth Day. The sunshine was a perfect backdrop Sunday afternoon for kids learning about nature, recycling and energy at the ninth annual community Earth Day celebration. The fun lessons included serious messages, such as: An estimated 20 pounds of food per person, per month is thrown away in the U.S. Trees in public spaces in Bowling Green intercept more than 7.4 million gallons of stormwater each year. The Wood County District Public Library bookmobile runs on compressed natural gas, which is an abundant, low-cost, green alternative to gasoline or diesel. Turning off the water faucet when brushing teeth could save 5,480 gallons of water a year. The yard outside the Montessori School in Bowling Green was covered with kids learning about helping Monarch butterflies, protecting Lake Erie, planting trees and saving the Earth. Many of the children signed pledges that gave them specific ideas of how to help the Earth. To be a “Clean Water Superhero,” kids agreed to shorten their showers, pick up litter, adopt a storm drain and turn off the water when brushing teeth. Some agreed to “pick up pet poo,” to prevent bacteria from getting in water sources. The lesson, according to Bowling Green Sustainability Coordinator Amanda Gamby, is that kids can make a difference. “We can do things individually at home to help,” Gamby said. Kids learned about the importance of dragonflies, flower pollination, and nature’s food chains. They also learned how much energy is takes to operate small household appliances. With the help of Jason Sisco, engineer with the city of Bowling Green, kids pedaled a bicycle to get an idea of how hard they had to work to create enough power to run light bulbs, then a radio, a hairdryer and a fan. Children got to plant saplings and sunflower seeds to take home. They learned about the need for humans to protect Monarch butterflies. “I’m trying to get everybody excited about Monarch butterflies, and how to help them,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “Monarch populations have been plummeting for several years,” so much so that they are now on the endangered species list, she said. The reason is because the butterflies need milkweed plants for reproduction. “We’ve done such a good job getting rid of milkweed,” Stutzman said. She is trying to get Bowling Green residents to plant butterfly weed, which will attract the Monarchs back. Several Bowling Green State University environmental education students had stations set up for interactive learning. One site had three ecosystems of Lake Erie, the Maumee River and the Great Black Swamp – and children were asked to put wildlife where it belonged. “We want them to get a better idea of what’s around them, native plants and animals,” said BGSU student Carmen Highhouse. Another station examined the effects of oil spills on water and waterfowl, and discussed how solar and wind power don’t raise such risks. Oil was put into water and onto feathers, and different efforts were made to clean up the water, using sponges or skimmers. “We’re showing different ways to clean up oil,” BGSU student Piper Jones said. “We…


Creation Care Celebration, April 29, at Peace Lutheran

From BLACK SWAMP GREEN TEAM We warmly invite you to attend the third annual Creation Care Celebration on Sunday, April 29 from 1-3 p.m., at Peace Lutheran Church, BG Water care will be the primary focus of this year’s gathering. Sandy Bihn of Lake Erie Water Keeper (www.lakeeriewaterkeeper.org) will be our keynote speaker. The recent federal designation of Lake Erie Impaired and what next steps are underway will be discussed as well as other efforts to keep our water safe! Lake Erie Water Keeper is part of the National Water Keeper Alliance. United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community’s right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. www.waterkeeper.org This event is being organized by the Black Swamp Green Team, an ecumenical group of religious and community leaders and ordinary citizens committed to greening Northwest Ohio to ensure our region does its part in the worldwide effort to avoid climate disruption and ensure a sustainably prosperous future for ourselves and the next generations.