Environment

Park district programs share nature with public

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT   Intro to Nature Photography Tuesday, September 18; 5:30 – 7:30 pm Bradner Interpretive Center 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner Interested in capturing the wonders of the outdoors in photographs but unsure how to do so? Bring your camera and practice honing your skills at our Nature Interpretation Center. This session will focus on making the most of natural lighting and taking great pictures without a flash. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Friends’ Migration Field Trip Tuesday, September 18; 9:00 am – 2:00 pm Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer Road, Bowling Green Join the Friends of the Parks on a tour of the parks in search of migrating songbirds. A light lunch will be provided. Leader: Jim Witter (14) Emerge: Space is limited on the park bus, but participants may follow behind. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Wonderful Wooly Bears! Tuesday, September 18, 6:00 – 7:30 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg Do these cute fuzzy “bears” have the ability to forecast our winter? We will search out the answer as we look for them on the trail and in the quarry. All winter prognostications are the responsibility of the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth and are not necessarily the viewpoint of the Wood County Parks.  Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897     Parks Bus Tour Saturday, September 22; 9:00 am – noon Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer Road, Bowling Green Enjoy a naturalist-led tour of a few parks, with a brief hike at each. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Canoeing with Crayfish Saturday, September 22; 9:00 am – noon Weirs Rapids Access 21095 Range Line Rd, Bowling Green Enjoy a scenic float down the Maumee River with Naturalists and ODNR stream scientists who will point out interesting river features. Experience how experts evaluate the health of the river by investigating the critters that call it home! Cost: $10, FWCP $7. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Hunter Education Class Sundays, September 23 and October 28, 2:00 – 6:00 pm Park District Headquarters: Community Classroom 18729 Mercer Road, Bowling Green Need to complete an Ohio Division of Wildlife Hunter Education course for your hunting license? Finish your Home-Study course with a park officer. Please register online at http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/education-and-outdoor-discovery/hunter-and-trapper-education with the “Find a Course” link in the Home-Study Course…


BG Rides wants to kick efforts into a higher gear

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Biking has many benefits. The rider gets exercise, and maybe sheds some pounds. Bike riding can help reduce the use of cars, and the resulting emissions. And for some folks it’s how they get where they need to go. For those people even the cost of an inexpensive bike can be a barrier. For a couple years, an informal group of bike enthusiasts has been gathering unwanted bicycles, rehabilitating them, and then giving or selling them for a minimal price. Now Kelly Wicks, one of the organizers of BG Rides, wants to step up the effort. They are meeting Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m., in Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. Anyone interested can contact Wicks at: kelly@groundsforthought.com BG Rides, Wicks said, started as an offshoot of the Community Rides in summer, 2016. He participated in the rides and from that sprouted the idea to connect unwanted bikes with bike riders. “We’re looking for help to see if there are other people  in the community interested in helping to take the group from its more informal nature to something more structured,” Wicks said. “In talking to  people in the community from various non-profits and international students, there’s a great need for bikes. For some people it’s an important form of transportation.” In its three summers of existence, BG Rides has distributed about 200 bikes, he said. The group would like more and wants to enlist more help to pursue that mission. “We fix those bikes up and either give them away or sell them for the cost of that it took to get them road ready.” Though it has been a low-key effort, Wicks said that Grounds for Thought gets multiple calls a month from people inquiring about finding a bike. “We need bikes,” he said. “We’re asking for bike donations.” Maybe landlords have abandoned bikes that can be refurbished rather than put out on the scrap heap. Even bicycles that can’t be repaired can be used for spare parts. Bicycling, Wicks said, is the second most common form of transportation after walking. “How many students have we seen come over from China or Europe and get here and not have any avenue to get around?” He added: “When you ride your bike a little bit, you become of aware of benefits.” Maybe it’s just “getting out and seeing your neighborhood,” he…


Explorer-scientist to discuss the future of the world’s oceans at BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Sylvia Earle is known as a trailblazer for the world’s oceans. She also is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who will come to Bowling Green State University for two days to explore the value of our waters with the public, students and faculty. As this year’s McMaster Visiting Scientist, she will present “The World Is Blue” at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18 in 202A Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Her presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will immediately follow her talk. Earle’s reputation as an ecologist and conservator of marine ecosystems aligns with BGSU’s expansive involvement in the research and work being done on water quality locally, nationally and internationally. The lecture this year is focused on the importance of taking care of our water systems. Based on her book “The World Is Blue,” Earle will discuss how our fate and the oceans’ are one. She will share stories that put the current and future peril of the ocean and the life it supports in perspective for a public audience. Earle is founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.) / Mission Blue and Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. (DOER). She is chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and former chief scientist of NOAA. The author of more than 200 publications and leader of more than 100 expeditions with over 7,000 hours underwater, Earle is a graduate of Florida State University with M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University and 27 honorary doctorates. Her research concerns the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems and development of technology for access to the deep sea. She is the subject of the Emmy® Award-winning Netflix documentary “Mission Blue,” and the recipient of more than 100 national and international honors and awards, including being named Time magazine’s first Hero for the Planet, a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, 2014 UNEP Champion of the Earth, Glamour magazine’s 2014 Woman of the Year, a member of the Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, and winner of the 2009 TED Prize, the Walter Cronkite Award, the 1996 Explorers Club Medal, the Royal Geographic Society 2011 Patron’s Medal, and the National Geographic 2013 Hubbard Medal. The McMaster Visiting Scientist program is underwritten by an endowment funded by Helen and the late Harold McMaster. The longtime BGSU benefactors, from Perrysburg established the interdisciplinary program to bring eminent scholars or practitioners from the fields of chemistry, biology, geology, physics or astronomy…


West Nile virus outbreaks hard to predict, BGSU biologist cautions

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS West Nile virus already claimed its first Ohio victim of the season in July. More fatalities could follow — or not, according to Dr. Dan Pavuk, an insect biologist and lecturer in biological sciences at Bowling Green State University. “It will be interesting to see what happens with human cases this year because even though we have all of those mosquitoes out there carrying West Nile virus, we may not see a huge outbreak in humans,” Pavuk said. “It’s hard to predict that. It’s a very complicated situation with the mosquitoes, where humans are and how mosquitoes, bird reservoir hosts, and humans interact with each other. There’s a correlation, but there are a lot of epidemiological factors that come into play. People over the age of 50 are the most susceptible.” There have been five humans infected with West Nile virus this year, including Clyde Warth, 81, who died July 29 in Ross County, southern Ohio, of health complications caused by the virus. So far, 52 of Ohio’s 88 counties have West Nile-positive mosquitoes, “so that’s a large proportion of the state that’s had positive mosquitoes and that’s a concern,” Pavuk said. Pavuk and three BGSU undergraduate researchers have submitted more than 10,000 mosquitoes to the Ohio Department of Health so far this summer, and 22 batches of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus. That total exceeded Wood County’s number of positive cases last year, and is occurring earlier in the season than last year, Pavuk said. “Many counties around northwest Ohio probably also have many more mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus, but they just don’t have the funds to trap as much as we do in Wood County,” he said. BGSU’s work is funded by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency through the Ohio Department of Health and the Wood County Health District. “In terms of the timing of? mosquito infection by West Nile virus, we are way ahead of last year, which is always a concern,” Pavuk said. Typically, August through early October is when most human cases of West Nile virus occur. Last year in Wood County, West Nile virus didn’t show up in mosquitoes “probably until mid to late August,” Pavuk said. “This summer, we had positive tests in the third week of June at one location, and positive tests have been increasing steadily in Wood County and also through…


Solar engineer shines light on climate change solutions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Growing up as a Boy Scout, Bob Clark-Phelps believed in the camping mantra, “Leave no trace.” As an engineer with First Solar, Clark-Phelps knows it is no longer possible for humans to leave the earth unscarred for future generations. But he’s not yet given up on leaving behind the best planet possible. Clark-Phelps, who had been with First Solar for six years, spoke about climate change on Thursday to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. A large majority of Americans believe that climate change is occurring and should be met with policies, he said. However, the people able to make those policies don’t seem to have the stomach to do so. And debates on the topic are increasingly polarized. “All we’re missing is the political will to get it done,” he said. “It’s not going to go away on its own.” Clark-Phelps referred to a Yale Climate Study, which gauged the public’s views on global warming. More than two-thirds of those studied said climate change is happening, with 54 percent saying it is caused by humans. Meanwhile, 97 percent of publishing climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring. “There’s almost unanimity,” he said. But less than half of the people surveyed know that the vast majority of scientists back the climate change theory. That may be because journalists are trained to present all sides of controversial issues. So in an attempt to present balanced reporting, it may appear that both sides of the climate change issue are well supported by scientists. But that simply isn’t true, Clark-Phelps said. Even with climate deniers getting news time, nearly three-quarters of Americans studied agreed that the U.S. should regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. “Why is there continuing division and policy paralysis,” Clark-Phelps asked. The evidence can be seen and felt all around the world, he said. The increasing number of forest fires out west are worsened by higher temperatures, less snow, drought conditions – all of which lengthen the fire season. “Climate change is a massive risk multiplier,” Clark-Phelps said. Some researchers predict forest fires in the western U.S. will increase by six times by the year 2050. In Florida, pumping water back into the ocean is becoming commonplace as the state loses its coastline. “Florida is a place where it floods on sunny days now,” he said. In Alaska, the glaciers are disappearing…


Kroger announces it will phase out plastic bags by 2025

From THE KROGER COMPANY The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) announced today it will phase out single-use plastic bags and transition to reusable bags across its Family of Stores by 2025. Seattle-based QFC will be the company’s first retail division to phase out single-use plastic bags. The company expects QFC’s transition to be completed in 2019. “As part of our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment, we are phasing out use-once, throw-it-away plastic bags and transitioning to reusable bags in our stores by 2025,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “It’s a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations.” Some estimates suggest that 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. every year. Currently, less than five percent of plastic bags are recycled annually in America, and single-use plastic bags are the fifth-most common single-use plastic found in the environment by magnitude. Kroger will solicit customer feedback and work with NGOs and community partners to ensure a responsible transition. “We listen very closely to our customers and our communities, and we agree with their growing concerns,” said Mike Donnelly, Kroger’s executive vice president and COO. “That’s why, starting today at QFC, we will begin the transition to more sustainable options. This decision aligns with our Restock Kroger commitment to live our purpose through social impact.” Kroger’s announcement follows several other Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiatives at scale, including:   Kroger’s goal to divert 90% of waste from the landfill by 2020. Of the waste diverted today, 66.15 million pounds of plastic and 2.43 billion pounds of cardboard were recycled in 2017. Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue Program sent more than 91 million pounds of safe nutritious food to local food banks and pantries in 2017. Kroger provided more than 325 million meals to families in need last year, in food and funds combined. Earlier this week, Kroger was named to Fortune magazine’s Change the World 2018 list, debuting in the sixth spot. The recognition highlights the work of 57 big companies across the world using their resources to solve societal problems. The company was recognized for its social impact plan Zero Hunger | Zero Waste. To learn more about Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative and the phaseout of single-use plastic bags, visit krogerstories.com. At The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), we are dedicated to our Purpose: to Feed the…


Bowling Green takes ‘green’ part of name seriously

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Amanda Gamby’s new job may fall short of being glamorous. It’s had her tagging garbage bins, going through recycling, and riding bike for the first time in eight years. But as Bowling Green’s first ever sustainability coordinator, Gamby doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is a true believer in the city’s environmental sustainability – whether that involves energy production, recycling, bicycling or clean water. Gamby, who spoke Thursday to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club, said the city has already made some serious strides toward sustainability. “We’re really already doing some pretty cool things,” Gamby said. “We’re just not telling about it very well.” So that is part of her job. Gamby, who previously served as the Wood County environmental educator, has expertise in public outreach and education for very young children to senior citizens, and everyone in between. And she wants them all to know that 42 percent of Bowling Green’s electricity comes from renewable sources. “That’s a pretty big chunk of the pie,” Gamby said. The city was the first in Ohio to use a wind farm to generate municipal electricity, starting in 2003. “The joke is that it’s a wind garden because it’s only four,” she said. But even though it’s just four turbines, some doubted the city’s wisdom and investment in the $8.8 million project. “Many people thought Daryl Stockburger was crazy,” Gamby said, of the city’s utilities director at the time who pushed for the wind turbines. But the turbines have been generating power ever since. The turbines are as tall as a 30-story building and generate up to 7.2 megawatts of power — enough to supply electricity for approximately 2,500 residential customers. Debt on the wind turbine project was paid in full in 2015, which was several years earlier than planned, Gamby said. And now, the city is home to the largest solar field in Ohio. The 165-acre solar field consists of more than 85,000 panels and is capable of producing 20-megawatts of alternating current electricity.  In an average year, it is expected to produce an equivalent amount of energy needed to power approximately 3,000 homes.  It will also avoid approximately 25,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year since the energy is generated from a non-fossil fuel resource. The city is also talking about building a community solar field on East Gypsy Lane Road,…


Food waste talk gives ag breakfast attendees plenty to chew on

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Clean your plate. If only the solution to food waste was that simple. As Brian Roe, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics of Ohio State University, neither the problem nor the solutions are simple. Roe was the speaker at the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum Thursday presented by CIFT at the Ag Incubator on Route 582. The problem is global, he said, though the details differ. In developing countries the waste comes earlier in the supply chain. Once the food reaches the consumer, it gets consumed. In the United States and other developed countries, the problem is focused the closer the food comes to reaching the kitchen. The cost of the problem is “staggering,” Roe said. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 31 percent of the world’s food production is lost. In the United States, the USDA estimates that percentage of loss is experienced on the retail and consumer levels in the United States as well. That means in 2010, 133 billion pounds of food were wasted at a cost of $162 billon. That waste of past-date milk, shriveled produce, and stale cereal, represents a waste of the resources that go into producing those products – the water, land, and labor. This also costs households money for products that they buy and then throw away without using. And that food, Roe said, could help feed the one in six American children who live in households that experience food insecurity. Feeding America, estimates there is 48 million pounds lost before the food even gets to market and another 22 billion pounds at local markets a year. This is usable food, Roe said. Once that food is discarded the problems continue. About 20 percent of what goes into the nation’s overstuffed landfills is food waste. As it decomposes, it forms methane gas. Only the United States and China account for more greenhouse gases than what food waste produces. Two-thirds of the food wasted in the U.S. is lost in the home. Roe said that confusing labeling of food is a particular problem. Terms such as “sell by,” “best used by,” and “expires on” are not as precise as they may seem and often lead consumers to throw out still edible food. An experiment conducted at OSU tested the influence these labels have on consumers. A cross-section of people were given…


BG officials want answers about Nexus pipeline spill

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nexus pipeline officials have some explaining to do. Bowling Green officials were satisfied with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s response to a spill last month of 20,000 gallons of non-toxic drilling fluid north of the city. But the response of the pipeline company has left the city with some questions. For example, City Council members Daniel Gordon and Greg Robinette have asked: – When did the spill happen? Ohio EPA officials have said the spill was reported on July 17. However, emails from Nexus officials have stated the spill occurred on July 16. – How quickly did Nexus report the spill? Was the reporting done in a reasonable timeframe? – What kind of bentonite was involved in the spill? Though non-toxic, if it was the acidic form, are measures being taken to mitigate and monitor potential harm? – Does the Ohio EPA consider the Nexus decision to halt cleanup efforts at night a reasonable response? – Should Nexus crews have been prepared to work through the night? When contacted by Bowling Green Independent News about some of these questions, Nexus officials declined to talk on the phone and asked for the questions to be submitted in writing. A Nexus emailed statement said the pipeline company “remains committed to safe and environmentally responsible practices, including constructing the project in accordance with applicable environmental permitting requirements.” Though previous emails from Nexus stated the spill occurred on July 16, when asked about the conflicting dates, Adam Parker, who handles stakeholder engagement for Nexus gas transmission, changed the date to July 17 at approximately 6 p.m. The Ohio EPA has stated that Nexus crew members left the scene of the spill rather than continuing to clean up. Parker stated the Nexus crews temporarily suspended activities due to safety concerns related to working along the busy road after dark. When asked if Nexus has a policy in place requiring workers to continue with cleanup until it is completed, Parker responded with the following statement: “The project’s various plans and permits were filed and approved by state and federal agencies prior to the beginning of construction. On the evening of the spill, NEXUS promptly notified the Ohio EPA, installed multiple layers of containment and worked to complete the recovery of clay and water in accordance with those plans. Nexus crews returned the following morning to continue the cleanup…


Nexus pipeline spills drilling fluid into ditch north of BG

IBy JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nexus pipeline is being fined by the Ohio EPA for spilling 20,000 gallons of drilling fluid into a ditch north of Bowling Green. The company will also be billed by the EPA for cleanup of the fluid, since the pipeline workers did not stay on the scene to clean up the spill. Ohio EPA staff responded on the evening of July 17 to investigate a Nexus pipeline site where the drilling fluid had been released into Liberty Hi ditch in Middleton Township. The spill occurred when Nexus crews were installing the natural gas pipeline under the ditch, which is a tributary of the Maumee River. The non-toxic drilling fluid – consisting of bentonite and water – impacted approximately three-quarters of a mile of the ditch, according to James Lee, media relations manager for the Ohio EPA. The EPA notified Wood County Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Gilbert, who in turn notified the city of Bowling Green, since the city’s water treatment plant is located upstream of the spill. Bentonite is a naturally occurring clay that is commonly used in drilling fluids to help lubricate and cool the cutting tools. The substance is not hazardous, Gilbert said. However, bentonite creates a milky appearance in the water, so the EPA wanted the material removed from the ditch. “It’s not a huge issue environmentally, but more of a visual thing,” Gilbert said. Efforts were made to dam the ditch to keep the drilling fluid from reaching the Maumee River. However, the Nexus crew did not follow the Ohio EPA’s request to continue cleanup throughout the night, Lee said. The Nexus contractors left the site on the evening of July 17 – so the EPA had to hire environmental contractors to continue cleanup efforts overnight. Sand bag dams, silt fence, straw bales and a filter fence were all used to contain the spill. In the days following the spill, Nexus vacuum trucks were used to remove the bulk of the material from the stream, Lee said. “Ohio EPA issued a notice of violation to Nexus for the unauthorized discharge to waters of the state and will bill Nexus for the cost of the agency’s environmental response staff hours, state contractor and materials,” an EPA press release stated. The spill reportedly had no adverse effects on wildlife, Gilbert said. As soon as Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator…


Parker a natural as county environmental coordinator

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Beth Parker’s appreciation for the environment comes naturally. She grew up near Pittsburgh, spending time outside, with a dad who worked as a canoeing instructor for the Red Cross. Her love of nature has led her to the position of environmental program coordinator for Wood County. “I guess it boils down to respect,” Parker said. “The earth is our home. We should respect it. We’re not going to get another one, so we need to treat it well.” Parker earned an environmental science degree from Bowling Green State University, with a specialization in education and interpretation. She went on to work at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio, the Long Lake Conservation Center in Minnesota, and most recently at the Wood County Park District as a naturalist. “When you have a love for nature, you want to protect it and make sure it’s well cared for,” Parker said. Parker took over the environmental program coordinator position just as the county opened permanent recycling sites at several satellite locations throughout Wood County. “That started the day before I started,” she said. “I’ve been out checking those to make sure things are going well.” The recycling sites are being used by many county residents, she said. But Parker has identified a need for education on some topics at the satellite locations. Some people are continuing to put their recyclables in plastic grocery bags, which cause problems. “They can tangle up the machines,” Parker said. And cardboard boxes should be flattened before being put in the drop-offs, she added. “But people are definitely using them, which is great,” Parker said. In addition to the county’s recycling efforts, Parker will also be giving tours of the wind farm and county landfill. She will be working on avenues for education, programs, and partnerships with community organizations. “I’m looking forward to being able to continue the educational opportunities they’ve been providing in the past,” she said. “I look forward to building relationships with other community groups, businesses, and governmental entities.” Parker is also interested in working on composting in the county. “It’s all about working toward a sustainable future,” she said.


Author talks about the importance of going native in backyard planting

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Heather Holm is always interested in doing less work in her garden. The author would rather spend her time observing the bees, butterflies, wasps, and other insects that inhabit the space. And she was pleased to tell those gathered in the Simpson Garden Building in Bowling Green that the two go hand in hand. Holm was in Bowling Green recently to speak on “Forget Television – The Real Entertainment is Happening Outside in Your Pollinator-Friendly Garden,” a talk sponsored by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation and Oak Openings Wild Ones. Funds from the Kuebeck Forum helped fund the program. Holm structured her talk around what one would find on cable TV if they weren’t out observing and working on their yards. There was everything from the food channel to crime. Her message was to cultivate plants native to the area as a way of fostering populations of pollinators needed for a healthy local environment. So plant milk weed to help feed Monarch butterflies, who depend entirely on plants for food, Holm said. Keep in mind color – butterflies and bees can’t see red – as well as fragrance as a way of attracting them. “There are plants that will thrive in the horrible conditions you’ve been struggling with all these years,” the Minnesota-based author said. And ease up on some gardening chores. Holm said she leaves plant stubble up in the fall to give nesting spaces to insects. She also doesn’t clear away natural debris because 70 percent of bees nest below ground and this provides the right material they need. On the other hand, wood mulch is a barrier for those nests. She urged the full house attending her talk to avoid applying pesticides. They inflict collateral damage on the insects that actually are better at controlling aphids and other unwanted bugs. Holm also described the many insects, some bees, some not, that can be confused with others. And when she reached the crime channel section of her talk she offered up an example that would make a zombie blanch. Conopid flies lay eggs inside the abdomen of a bumblebee, and then consume the bee once the eggs are hatched. Creating pollinator friendly landscapes is not just a suburban or rural concern. Research, she said, shows bees are often more abundant in cities than in neighboring rural areas, particularly in low income areas…


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…


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…


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…