Environment

BG arborist branches out with tree health advice

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s tree doctor uses mushrooms, spotted maple leaves and rubber mallets as clues to tree health. As trees lose their leaves, their bared branches may reveal some health issues that are concealed during the warmer months of the year. So autumn is a good time to give a close look at trees, according to Bowling Green City Arborist Grant Jones. Jones recently held a tree clinic for local residents in Carter Park, using many of the trees there as examples. “We talked about the signs of problems now, and down the road,” Jones said. For example, mushrooms growing close to a tree or even on the branches themselves can be a tell-tale sign of problems, he warned. “If you see mushrooms around a tree, you want to get that checked out,” he said. “It’s saying there’s some sort of decay in the tree or the roots. It can be a sign of bigger problems.” It’s not uncommon for trees in the Bowling Green area to lean to the east – as a result of strong west winds in the region. A little lean is survivable, Jones said. “Leans are OK as long as you don’t start to see the soil heaving,” he said. The best way to prevent slanting trees is to stake them while they are young. “As long as you see it try to correct itself,” the tree is probably OK, Jones said. Just as exposed roots can be a problem, so can roots that are buried too deep. A healthy tree should have roots flaring off where the trunk enters the ground. But trees planted too deep resemble a telephone pole, Jones said. The risk to the tree is “girdling roots,” where the roots wrap around the trunk of the tree and strangle it, he said. Some homeowners start to fret if their trees lose their leaves early. But Jones advised that some trees just naturally shed earlier…


BGSU professor says key to biodiversity may be in our own backyards

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Fostering biodiversity doesn’t require only setting aside large tracks of natural lands. Fostering wild areas amidst farmland and suburbs could very well help maintain the habitat native species need.  That’s especially true in an area like the Great Black Swamp where agriculture and suburbs encroach on the habitat of turtles, butterflies, bats, and the rest of the natural community. Conservation biologist Karen Root discussed her studies the natural habitat of the Oak Openings region. The professor at Bowling Green State University was the opening act in this week’s sustainability activities on campus. The maps she projected showed the threat to the area’s oak savannah and prairies. While forest has increased in some parts, the white areas representing suburbs moved noticeably south in the last decade. To the south of Oak Openings were large swatches of agricultural land, which with their expanse of single crop planting are in many ways the worst habitat for wildlife. Root has been studying the impact that those changes in land use have had. Those studies, she made clear, require getting your boots muddy. Collecting the data takes a host of students and community volunteers. For students that mean keeping track of road kill on certain stretches of road. They found 292 dead animals, 255 of them mammals. “We think that’s unusually high,” she said. Mammals, Root said, are the prime victims of vehicles, and the area where the Oak Opening Preserve and Maumee State meet is the worst spot. Looking at roads, and the state of vegetation along the edges, though, offers clues on how the death toll could be reduced. Areas with more cover along the side of the road tend to protect animals better. Having areas where animals can travel from one natural area to another is key, since often one area may not have everything a species requires. Root tracked the movements of other species, such as box turtles to see how far they roam, which…


Daniel Eisinger: Energy Star program should be maintained

As a business owner, I do not use the term “invest” lightly. As anyone with a mind for business knows, a favorable return on investment (ROI) signifies a prudential investment. Some simple math will illustrate the point. Imagine a program that has saved Americans $430 billion since 1992 at a cost of roughly $50 million per year; the programmatic profit (herein meaning America’s saved capital expenses), is $428 billion. By dividing this profit by the total invest of $1.25 billion, we find that the ROI of said program is 343%, or roughly 13.72% per year. But this ROI is very real, since the above example is actually of the Energy Star Program. Energy efficiency is the driver behind Energy Star’s ROI. Individuals and businesses pay lower utility bills because they are using (or losing) less electricity, water, heat, etc., and my business provides the analyses that illustrate where money can be recouped through greater energy efficiency. To discontinue the Energy Star program would be senseless. The program beautifully models the interplay of efficient free-market economics and effective public policy. Washington must act prudently; continue investing in America by investing in Energy Star. Dan Eisinger Toledo


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 that matter) because their interpretation of a “healthy environment” has been violated is what we would  refer to as anarchy. This amendment is well-intentioned (we hope), but ill-conceived.  The language is too vague and undefined to be meaningful but broad enough to be used to the detriment of the city, corporations…


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 the Maumee River and the BG Fault Line nine miles north of the city,” Edwards wrote. The city has enlisted the help of independent geologists and hydrologists, the Ohio EPA and others – and has registered concerns with the Ohio EPA, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Congress and…


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 this poorly written Amendment.     Ben Otley, President Bowling Green Economic Development


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” and of engaging in “smear politics to sway the vote.” Next to speak was Brad Holmes, who said the charter amendment proponents were forced to petition for the change because city council would not act. He said the document allows citizens to “peacefully demonstrate” against pipelines and other environmental threats…


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, which are on the north and south sides of the solar field, would begin in 2018. O’Connell explained that none of the plantings would grow tall enough to shade the solar panels. The board of public utilities supported the proposal. “Taking scrub land we have to cut, and planting flowers,”…


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, ISIS, the rise of populism, and climate change. Two presentations – an on-campus talk and an event in the community – will feature a discussion with two Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima bomb. Ms. Keiko Ogura and Ms. Setsuko Thurlow will speak on campus at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater, and…


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 plants that are documented as invasive in Ohio natural areas. Many of them were introduced in the U.S. for good reasons – like soil stability, medicinal, herbal, horticultural, or agricultural purposes. But the fast growing plants then ended up creating problems of their own. Multiflora roses were introduced in the…


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 who show a growing interest in attending colleges committed to the environment. “We strongly recommend BSGU and the other fine institutions in this guide to the many environmentally minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, senior vice president-publisher. School profiles…


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 necessary to protect the environment. It’s up to anybody’s interpretation.” Kochheiser said the charter amendment will allow citizens to protest a pipeline or other threats to the environment by peaceful protests, like a sit-in or forming of human chains. “This gives us the right to do it without the threat…


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 Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education. People don’t realize that STEM can be fun, he said. The first year drew about 1,200 people. “It keeps growing and growing.” Duran estimates about 6,000 people will attend STEM in the Park this year. There are more booths, about 160 and activities…


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 needed to survive in Ohio, from camp staff who re-enact those roles. “They get to learn what life was like before cell phones and I-pads,” Nye said. On the bus ride back to Bowling Green at the end of camp, one student exclaimed, “I survived the whole week without technology,”…