Environment

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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


Portage River cleanup opens floodgates to complaints

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ten years after the petition was filed, the Portage River project will finally be moving forward. But not everyone along the river is happy about how it will affect their land and their wallets. More than 80 people crowded outside the Wood County Commissioners Office on Tuesday for the final hearing on the river cleanup. Some had waited a decade for the project to be approved.  Others, however, were unhappy about paying for the project, didn’t want county workers on their land, and worried that the cleanup upstream will cause more flooding downstream. But as the hearing came to a close, the county commissioners from all three counties involved voted in favor of the river cleanup. The project is the biggest river project undertaken in Wood County in terms of area, according to Wood County Engineer John Musteric. It follows 46 miles of the south and east branches of the Portage River, covering 111 square miles of watershed in Wood, Hancock and Seneca counties, affecting about 8,200 parcels of land. While the size of the project is great, the scope is not. There will be no digging, no widening, no channelizing. The river branches will be allowed to keep their meandering paths. The work will only remove logjams and trees leaning into the river. The cleanup of the Portage River branches is intended to reduce future flooding. The estimated cost of the project – $658,914 – will be divided among the landowners, based on the benefits their properties are expected to experience….


BG nears break through on glass recycling solution

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t throw away that glass quite yet. Bowling Green is reportedly within days of announcing a new recycling solution for glass. Without revealing the name, Mayor Dick Edwards said at Monday’s City Council meeting that an agreement is close with a “world headquarters” of a company in the glass industry in Perrysburg – presumably Owens-Illinois. “We’ve gotten the attention of one huge partner in the world market,” the mayor said. “We’ve had continuing discussions,” Edwards said. “We’re wanting to make sure we stay in the glass recycling business.” Last month, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. City officials contacted Bowling Green State University’s recycling program, which contracts with Waste Management for pickup of recycling materials. But that did not provide an answer, so the city looked elsewhere. Council member Sandy Rowland asked Edwards if city residents should just hold onto their glass recyclables a little while longer. The mayor replied that if possible, they should store them a bit longer. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “People are interested in recycling.” City officials realize that glass recycling has been a costly operation for some time. However, paying for glass to be landfilled isn’t cheap either – with dumping costs at about $40 a ton. The recycling center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site…


Ohio EPA promises to meet with BG on Nexus pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After months of thinking no one at the Ohio EPA was listening, Bowling Green officials are being promised a meeting on the Nexus pipeline. Mayor Dick Edwards reported to City Council Monday evening that he had received a “long awaited and very welcomed” phone call from Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler. Butler assured the mayor that the EPA is aware of the city’s concerns about the proposed Nexus pipeline being built so close to the Bowling Green water treatment plant. Butler reportedly said EPA staff and Ohio Geological Commission staff are in the process of reviewing documents sent to them from Bowling Green officials, including a concerning report prepared by BGSU assistant professor Andrew Kear. When those reviews and analyses are completed, Butler and his staff plan to share their findings in a meeting with the mayor, council, staff and members of the board of public utilities. The meeting will be public. The mayor said the EPA director also offered to facilitate further communications, including a possible meeting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the body that rules on pipeline projects. Edwards expressed gratitude to Butler, State Senator Randy Gardner and environmental attorney Mary Ellen Hogan, for helping to arrange the communication. Butler reportedly told Edwards that the Ohio EPA had been very focused on the problems being caused by the Rover pipeline crossing the state. But he promised the Nexus project will also get a proper review. “We’re going to give it our best scientific review,” the mayor said Butler told…


River cruise seeks to educate & enlist people in clean water campaign

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Floating on the Maumee River heading northeast toward Maumee Bay, observers get a sense both of the river’s potential and its problems. From the cruise boat Sandpiper, several dozen passengers on the Clean Water Cruise can see plenty of recreation – fishermen, kayakers, motor boaters, and jet skiers, though no one foolhardy enough to swim in the brown river. Seagulls and Canada geese fly overhead, ducks float by the shore where the occasional heron stands at attention before lofting gracefully into the air. The scenery on the shoreline is industrial, broken up by large patches of scrub brush. The grain towers, full of the product of the surrounding farmland waiting to be loaded on freighters docked alongside, are testament to the agricultural enterprise that’s so central to the Maumee’s vast 7-million-acre watershed. The Sandpiper is cruising through water that’s infused with soil that’s been washed away from those acres. “That’s somebody’s soil,” says Cheryl Rice, of the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, an arm of the US Department of Agriculture, noting the brown hue of the river. The cruise was more than a Saturday lark on the river. Sponsored by the Maumee Area of Concern Advisory Committee, the Clean Water Cruise was intended to educate residents about efforts to clean up the Maumee and by extension Lake Erie and to enlist them in helping in those efforts. The Great Lakes contains a fifth of the earth’s fresh water, and the Maumee watershed sends more water into the lakes than any other source. Kris Patterson,…


County flooded with calls about Portage River cleanup

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 9,500 letters have been mailed out by the county to the owners of parcels that drain into the south and east branches of the Portage River. The letters are one of the final steps in a river cleanup process that has taken a decade. The Portage River project is the biggest river cleanup ever attempted by the county – covering 46 miles of waterway. The notices mailed out alert the landowners of their estimated assessments for the river cleanup and of a hearing scheduled for Aug. 22. The cleanup of the Portage River branches is intended to reduce future flooding. However, the notices have led to a flood of phone calls to the Wood County Engineer’s Office – many of them from people questioning their responsibility to help fund the project. “We’re getting a lot of calls. ‘What’s this got to do with me? My water doesn’t go there,’” Wood County Engineer John Musteric said of the typical comments from callers. Many landowners don’t realize where their water drains – they just know that it goes away after heavy rains, Musteric said. Though the river cleanup project is the longest ever undertaken in Wood County, it is less extensive than many projects in the past. There will be no digging, no widening, no channelizing. The river branches will be allowed to keep their meandering paths. The work will only remove logjams and trees leaning into the river. “This one is actually very mild,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said of the…


Scout concerned about effect of CAFOs on water quality

Dear BG Independent News, I am a Life Scout from Troop 777 of Toledo, Ohio. I am writing to you to voice my concerns about the effect concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO’s have on the recent Lake Erie algae blooms. According to the Sierra Club, there are 146 registered CAFO’s currently in the western Lake Erie Basin. The CAFOs are responsible for generating 700,000,000 gallons of animal waste each year, which is more than the sewage produced by the cities of Los Angeles and Chicago combined. There is a possibility that the waste is seeping out of the storage lagoons, and into the ground, leading to the contamination of nearby groundwater. additionally, the waste is spread directly onto crop fields, resulting in the run-off of excess nutrients into Lake Erie and the feeding of the dangerous algae.   This issue does not only affect this generation, but future generations to come. My wish is for those who read this to help stop the CAFO’s from aiding in dangerous algae blooms, and help make the lives of the citizens healthier. Sincerely, Bryan Fitzpatrick


County may can some recycling sites, extend others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County may be cutting back on its satellite recycling sites, but may also be turning some of those monthly sites into permanent drop-off locations. There are currently 15 satellite recycling sites operated by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District. Many of them are open once a month, according to Amanda Gamby, environmental educator for the district. They are located in Bloomdale, Grand Rapids, Jackson Township/Hoytville, Jerry City/Cygnet, Milton Township/Custar, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Perry Township, Perrysburg Township, Portage, Portage Township, Rudolph, Stony Ridge, Tontogany/Washington Township, and Weston. A survey conducted in 2015, through a partnership between the solid waste district and Bowling Green State University master’s of public administration program, was conducted to determine the interest in recycling among rural Wood County residents. A total of 2,725 surveys were mailed to rural resident, with 683 being returned. The study found: Rural residents had a favorable attitude toward recycling. A number of the residents said they drive to Hancock and Lucas counties to use permanent recycling facilities. Of those who use the satellite locations, 55 percent said they would increase their use beyond once a month if permanent sites were made available. As it is now, mobile containers are placed at each of the satellite locations so residents can drop off their recyclables once a month. The recyclables are separated at most of the sites by Scouts or other community groups. Those groups are paid a per capita allocation that adds up to roughly $127,000 a year, according to Kelly O’Boyle, assistant…


Petition aimed at prioritizing people over pipelines

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents may be asked to vote on a pipeline issue in November. A group of concerned citizens is trying to place an issue on Bowling Green’s ballot aimed to protect the city and its water supply from pipelines. The group’s goal is to prioritize people over pipelines. Brad Holmes, president of the Environmental Action Group at Bowling Green State University, talked about the charter amendment earlier this week during a City Council meeting. The group pushing to put the issue on the ballot has collected approximately 1,000 signatures so far. “We’re shooting for 1,200,” though just 700 valid signatures are required to get the charter amendment on the November ballot. The group hopes to submit its petition to the Wood County Board of Elections by July 31. Holmes talked about the threats posed by the Nexus pipeline to the Bowling Green water supply, since the proposed route for the natural gas line is close to the city’s water treatment plant. As volunteers have talked to local residents while collecting petition signatures, they have encountered varying degrees of awareness about the Nexus pipeline project, Holmes said. Some residents are not aware of the pipeline proposed so close to the water plant. Many others are under the impression that when City Council denied a property easement to the pipeline company, that the pipeline was no longer a concern. That isn’t true, Holmes said. “We still do face threats from the Nexus pipeline.” The purpose of the proposed charter amendment is “recognizing and…


Newly sealed Slippery Elm Trail now less slippery

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Slippery Elm Trail is now a little less slippery. The 13-mile rails to trail that stretches from Bowling Green to North Baltimore has been paved with a new surface product called Onyx. The sealant promises to last longer, seal faster and be less slippery. “I’ve had nothing but great comments on the Onyx,” Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District, said last week during a meeting of the district board. “Everybody loves it.” Some of those comments came during the board meeting by park board commissioner Christine Seiler, who had just used the trail that morning. “The traction was wonderful,” even with all the rain the area had the previous day. However, Seiler said there appeared to be some areas of the trail where the old pavement seemed to be showing through. Baney said he would check on that. The Wood County Park District Board paid $119,552 to seal the trail, including striping of the trail at intersections along the route. According to Ned Fairbanks, the park district maintenance specialist, the product has a proven record of creating a stronger surface that will last longer. The sealing product also remains black since it does not fade in the sun like other sealants used in the past. That will help with melting the snow, since the district does not salt or plow the Slippery Elm Trail. The Onyx also has a quick setting time, meaning there was less time that the trail was closed to users, Fairbanks said at…