Environment

County parks are busy places during March

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT Native Bees and Bee Houses Wednesday, March 7; 6:30 – 8:30 pm J.C. Reuthinger Preserve 30370 Oregon Road, Perrysburg Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists Suzanne Nelson and Dean Babcock will present on native bees and how to encourage them to visit your backyard. You will complete your own mason bee house with guidance from the program leaders. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Native American Moccasin Making Workshop Series Tuesdays, March 6, 13, 20, and 27; 6:00 – 9:00 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green Learn the skill of making authentic Native American moccasins over the course of four sessions. The Plains two-piece style will be featured. Attendance at all sessions is required. Cost: $20; FWCP $15. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, March 8, 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve: Hankison Great Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder, essays by David Quammen. 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   CPR Certification at the Park Saturday, March 10; 8:00 am – noon Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer Road, Bowling Green Get certified in adult, child, and infant CPR and AED use and learn choking relief. This American Heart Association course is taught by certified Park District staff. Participants must be 14 years of age. Registration deadline is March 3. Card certification cost: $20. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Community & Parks Open Forum Wednesday, March 14th  5:00 – 7:00 pm N Baltimore Public Library 230 N. Main Street, North Baltimore Learn about the new and exciting opportunities with the Wood County Parks. Your input matters. Share your thoughts with us to help shape the future of the parks. Light refreshments and good company provided. Archery Skills: M-Archery Madness! Friday, March 16; 6:00 – 7:30 pm William Henry Harrison Park 644 Bierley Ave, Pemberville Beginning archers build their skills in this fun and instructional program, where we’ll focus…


Historic farm acreage could be site for wetlands project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Settlers in the Great Black Swamp worked hard to drain the soil to make fields that would grow crops rather than flood. Now, a group dedicated to conservation may work hard to turn one field back into wetlands. Melanie Coulter, of the Black Swamp Conservancy, presented a proposal on Tuesday to the Wood County Park District. The conservancy is a non-profit land trust with a goal of conserving primarily private and some public lands. Coulter’s proposal to the park district board was to set up a demonstration project on acreage at the Carter Historic Farm, located north of Bowling Green on Carter Road. “It’s a working farm that the public comes to,” she said. So the project could become an example of how wetlands can be used to filter out nutrients from farm fields. The preliminary proposal calls for a series of wetlands with a wooded buffer on 20 acres on the far west end of the farm. The acreage involved sits along a ditch that flows into Toussaint Creek. If grant funding is received, a public meeting would then be held to explain the wetlands project, Coulter told the park board. The wetlands would be designed to create wildlife habitat, she added. The acreage being considered for the wetlands project would be on land currently being used as farmland. The existing wooded area near the field would not be touched and the existing drainage would not be changed. Working on the design of the demonstration project is Hull & Associates. The construction of a wetlands and buffer area would be quite expensive. The preliminary estimate is in the $400,000 range, Coulter said. That amount could be trimmed if the acreage was reduced, she said. Wood County Park District Executive Director Neil Munger said if the project proceeds past the design stage, grant funding would be sought for construction. Since the Toussaint Creek is in the Maumee “area of concern” for waterways and contamination of Lake Erie, the wetlands demonstration project may stand a better chance of…


Science teachers enrich lesson plans with activities about Lake Erie algae blooms

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Area science teachers visited the Bowling Green State University campus early this month to learn how to integrate lessons ripped from the headlines into their lesson plans. The professional development sessions brought about a  dozen teachers to learn ways to teach intermediate and middle school students about issues surrounding algae blooms in Lake Erie. Doug Reynolds, who teaches fifth grade at Holland Elementary, said he was excited about having the professional development on “real world problems.” Like several other teachers in the class this was a return to his alma mater. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BGSU in 1997 and 2000 respectively. Karen Krontz has yet to earn her BGSU degree. She’s student teaching at Dorr Elementary in Springfield. “It’s so relatable to everyday life,” she said of the issue. During lessons students share stories about how they use water, and they’re aware of the consequences when something goes wrong. In 2014, toxic blooms made the water in Toledo and much of the surrounding area undrinkable. “They know about algae blooms. Some were affected a few years ago, so they’re very interested.” The workshop was taught by BGSU professor George Bullerjahn, one of the leading experts on algae blooms, with Mark Seals, director of the School of Teaching and Learning, and STEM educator and researcher Ken Newbury. The sessions, funded by a $60,000 Ohio Math Science Partnership grant awarded to BGSU, demonstrated simple hands-on activities that showed the dynamics of how algae blooms form and how they can be mitigated. That meant the teachers getting their hands dirty as they put dirt into trays on top of wire screening. The lesson is intended to show how buffer zones around fields can help keep the runoff rich with nutrients applied as fertilizer from flowing into the lake. Those nutrients nourish the plant life in the lake, just as they nourish plants on land. Conor Whelan teaches science to fifth and sixth graders at a school for the gifted in Sandusky. Surrounded by farm field, his students…


Past, present, & future live in the art of indigenous activist Dylan Miner

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In the language of the Metis one word refers both to ancestors and descendants. The word means both great-grandparents and great-grandchildren. For indigenous people the past, present, and future are not a continuum but ever present, said Dylan Miner, an artist, activist, scholar and educator from Michigan. “All are intimately connected in a being that is myself,” he said. And all that’s connected in the art he creates. Miner, who teaches at Michigan State, was the guest for the opening talk in the Homelands and Histories Speaker Series presented by the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society at Bowling Green State University. He spoke Tuesday at the Wood County District Public Library. Miner’s art is deeply rooted both in the history of indigenous peoples and their current struggles, which are fought to secure the future. Miner is Metis on his father’s side. The Metis are a people that trace their ancestry back to the descendants of indigenous people and French and English fur traders. Miner’s people lived on Drummond Island until removed. The land of the Metis stretches from the Georgian Bay to through western Canada, straddling the border with the United States. The Metis language, Michif, is a mix of French nouns and Cree verbs and grammar. Miner introduced himself in Michif and then in Ojibway, which he learned from Ojibway elders living in Lansing. The first art work Miner discussed was a fire bag, called colloquially an “octopus bag,” which his grandfather’s grandmother had, and which still remains in his family. It was used to carry the herbs for medicine. Miner continues to use natural materials for some of his own art. In a piece celebrating Louis Riel, a Metis who led two insurrections against the fledgling Canadian government in the late-19th century, Miner altered archival photos by covering Riel’s image in birch bark. The legal systems that ended in the executions of Riel in Canada or 38 Dakota men in Minnesota in 1862, the largest mass execution in U.S. history, persist to this day,…


BG Council asked to encourage businesses to go ‘green’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A group of environmentally-conscious students would like to see Bowling Green businesses going more green. Members of the Environmental Action Group at Bowling Green State University approached City Council at its last meeting about encouraging local businesses to adopt environmentally-friendly policies. The organization has worked to lessen waste and increase sustainability on campus, and now would like to extend those efforts to more of the community. Julia Botz, a senior biology major, suggested such practices as: Green composting by restaurants. Recycling at Main Street businesses. Restricting the use of disposable plastic foam. Adding more electric car charging stations. Businesses could be encouraged to participate with the awarding of a “Green Bowling Green Business” designation to those that make efforts to help the environment, Botz suggested. Council President Mike Aspacher thanked Botz for making her presentation. “I appreciate your efforts,” he said. Aspacher suggested that members of the BGSU Environmental Action Group meet with Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter to discuss ways the city can assist with the organization’s efforts. Mayor Dick Edwards complimented the student organization for the changes that are being put into place at BGSU. “You’re really accomplishing some amazing things on campus,” Edwards said. “Pretty amazing.” The mayor asked the students to bring a report to City Council of the successful programs on campus, so city officials and the general public can be made aware. On a related matter, the city recently created the new position of “sustainability coordinator” and is in the process of hiring a person to fill that spot. That position was established to help the city develop sustainability programs and work on public outreach on items like refuse/recycling, solid waste diversion and reduction, storm water management and assist with an urban forestry program. “It has become evident that the city needs a position like this to educate, inform and work with residents on the services provided and responsibilities of residents when it comes to refuse and recycling,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said.


Hull Prairie ditch cleaning supported – but cost details sought

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Landowners along Hull Prairie Road are in favor of the county cleaning out the ditch that runs along the road. But they have one big concern – how much will it cost them. The Wood County Commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday morning on the Hull Prairie ditch project, which covers 11.6 miles in Bowling Green, Plain Township, Middleton Township and Perrysburg Township. The project extends from south of Newton Road to north of Roachton Road. For years, clogged ditches along Hull Prairie Road only affected neighboring farmland. But now, with so many homes and housing subdivisions growing along the road, ditch drainage is necessary to keep water from creeping into basements. The estimated cost for the project is $422,000, according to Wood County Engineer John Musteric. The watershed area covers 6,749 acres, with 1,378 parcels. A preliminary cost per acre would be $62.53. However, no surveys have yet been conducted, Musteric said. Several neighbors of the ditch project attended Tuesday’s hearing to voice their support for the ditch cleaning. Carl Barnard said several of his neighbors get water in their basements with heavy rainfalls. One neighbor recently had $6,000 in damage due to flooding. “This is very critical to us,” Barnard said. Musteric agreed that the project should proceed. “Prolonging implementation now will do nothing but exacerbate drainage issues later,” he said. Better drainage will not only result in better farm yields, but also help the residential areas, Musteric said. Unless the ditch is placed under the county maintenance program, the responsibility to keep it clean is on the townships and landowners. The benefits of the project are greater than the costs, Musteric said. But the landowners would really like some more specifics on exactly what those costs might be for them individually. “This is all well and good. But the bottom line is the cost,” Joe McIntyre, of Cogan Lane, said. Until the survey is done, those costs are unknown, Musteric said. “Everybody is very curious about the costs,” said Robert Ashenfelter, of Lake Meadows…


Kids’ Tech infects students with a love of science

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maybe it takes something creepy like a parasite that controls its host to hook children on science. That’s what Dr. Kelly Weinersmith, of Rice University, hopes when she presents “When Sci-Fi Comes to Life: Parasites that Control Host Behavior” at Kids’ Tech University @BGSU. The program for children, 9-12, will be presented at Bowling Green State University in four Saturday sessions, starting Feb. 3 and continuing through March 24, when Weinersmith will present. This is a way, she said, to show “students there’s all kinds of crazy stuff in nature, mind blowing stuff, and you can spend a lifetime asking interesting questions and let them know how much fun it is to be a scientist.” Kids’ Tech is open to 150 students. The cost is $90. For more information visit http://kidstechuniversity-bgsu.vbi.vt.edu/ “We want the children to feel that the study of science is something that they should consider, and that they can be comfortable in a university environment,” said Dr. Paul Morris, who adopted the program from one developed at Virginia Tech. The daylong sessions begin with presentations by the guest scientists in the morning. In the afternoon, the students assisted by BGSU graduate and undergraduate students participate in hands-on, activities that relate to the morning presentation. Working with the university students in the campus labs and classrooms gives them a feel for life as a university science student, Morris said. “We are able to provide them with a true university experience, by directly introducing them to distinguished scientists that they can relate to talking about their work. … The speakers in our program, are chosen for their ability to reach this audience, and their effectiveness is seen in the sea of hands that are raised during their morning presentations.” Weinersmith, who has her bachelor and master degrees from BGSU, said that talking about parasites with elements that could come from a science fiction film helps engage the students. “It gets them excited and interested in how the brain and immune system can help influence behavior.” Weinersmith said a…


Park district to maintain solar sanctuary for birds, bees and butterflies

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District has agreed to play a role in a local sanctuary for butterflies, bees and birds. The park board voted unanimously Tuesday to maintain the 13.4-acre “solar sanctuary” planned around the solar field near the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of Bowling Green. The project fits nicely into the mission of the park district, according to Neil Munger, executive director of the district. In exchange for maintaining the site, the park district can use the wildflower sanctuary as an educational tool. “It’s been an ongoing issue around the country – the loss of pollinator habitat,” Munger said. The city of Bowling Green is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to develop a wildlife and pollinator habitat around the new 165-acre solar field. One goal of the wildlife habitat area is to bring back pollinators to the region. Adult Monarch butterflies have seen a 50 percent drop in the last 10 years due to disappearing milkweed plants  – which are the only plants used by Monarchs for laying eggs. Some wildflower habitats target specific species. The one at Bowling Green’s solar site will be aimed at attracting several species of bees, birds and butterflies. The plan calls for three seasons of blooming plants. The wild habitat area, which will be planted outside the fenced-in solar array, is intended to benefit various pollinators, crops, soil quality, water quality, foraging birds and Monarchs. Ohio is a priority location for Monarchs on their annual trek to Mexico. This region also has many crops that are suffering from inadequate pollination. Crops relying on pollination include tomatoes, blueberries, melons, soybeans, peppers, peaches, cucumbers, squash and apples. Honey bees account for more than $15 billion in agricultural production of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Water and soil quality are also helped by the wildflower habitats because the native plants have deeper root systems and add nitrogen to the soil. The plants also attract insects, which are a food staple for many birds, and provide bird nesting areas…


After 10 years, Portage River cleanup to start soon

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The wait is nearly over for citizens who petitioned 10 years ago for a big portion of the Portage River to be cleaned out. On Thursday, the petitioners got two bits of good news. First, the county commissioners from Wood, Hancock and Seneca counties accepted a bid for the project. And second, that bid was $284,273 lower than expected. So after a decade of waiting, the Portage River project will likely get started in January. Four bids were received, with the lowest bid of $374,641 from H&H Land Clearing of Middlefield, Ohio, being accepted by the county commissioners. The highest bid came in at $547,782. Hancock County Commissioner Brian Robertson vouched for the H&H company, which has done work on the Blanchard River. The firm did a “fantastic job” and was “on task and on time,” Robertson said. The Portage River project is the biggest river cleanup 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 for properties along that stretch. Duane Abke, with the county engineer’s office, said the cleanup project may start as early as January. “Weather permitting, they like to do it when the land is frozen,” he said on Thursday. The Wood County Engineer’s Office plans to notify landowners right along the river as the project progresses to their properties. “Before the contractor shows up on their door step,” Abke said. The cleanup is expected to be completed by Aug. 1, 2019. The cost of the project will…


Cleanup of contamination left at Cooper set at $1.2M

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The cost to clean up contamination left behind on a Bowling Green industrial site is expected to hit more than $1.2 million. The Ohio EPA held a public hearing Wednesday evening to explain the cleanup proposal and take citizen comments about the plan for the Cooper Standard Automotive property at 1175 N. Main St. An investigation of the site found an area contaminated by Trichloroethylene (TCE), a common industrial solvent. “TCE was formerly used in industry as a cleaning agent,” Ghassan Tafla, from the Ohio EPA Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization, explained during the public hearing. “It worked magically on auto parts to clean the grease,” Tafla said. However, later TCE was found to pose a threat to the environment and public health. It is now only used in lesser amounts by the defense department. The local contamination is believed to have occurred before Cooper Standard Automotive or Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. owned the site, since neither of those operations used TCE. Cooper Standard Automotive purchased the 25-acre site from Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. in 2004. The property had been used by Cooper Tire to manufacture rubber hoses and seals for the automotive industry. The previous owner of the site from 1964 to 1977 – Gulf & Weston – reportedly used TCE in its manufacturing of truck bodies, refuse packers and associated parts. That original company on the site is expected to be responsible for the cleanup, according to an EPA official. Gulf & Weston reportedly has insurance to cover such contamination and had made an agreement with Cooper Tire. The TCE contamination was discovered in 1986 during the removal of underground storage tanks that held xylene, which was also used to degrease equipment. The contamination has been identified in the area west of the plant building, in the area of a former above ground tank which contained TCE. The Cooper Standard Automotive plant currently employs about 370 people. Those employees are not at risk from the contamination, according to the EPA. The indoor…


EPA plan to deal with contaminants left at BG plant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Ohio EPA has come up with a plan for dealing with contamination of an industrial site in Bowling Green. Later this month, the public will be asked to weigh in on the proposal. A plan to address contamination at the Cooper Standard Automotive property in Bowling Green will be the subject of an Ohio EPA public meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m., at Ohio EPA’s Northwest District Office, 347 N. Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green. An EPA investigation of the site at 1175 N. Main St. showed that “the contamination poses unacceptable current and future human health and environmental risks based on direct contact with contaminated surface and subsurface soil, inhalation of contaminated soil and/or ground water via vapor intrusion, and direct contact with contaminated ground water.” The contamination is believed to have occurred before Cooper Standard Automotive or Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. operated the site. However, the current owner is responsible for cleaning up the contaminant even if it did not create the problem, according to Dina Pierce, of the Ohio EPA. Cooper Standard Automotive purchased the 25-acre site from Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. in 2004. The property had been used by Cooper Tire to manufacture rubber hoses and seals for the automotive industry. Other businesses used the site for manufacturing before Cooper Tire began operations. Trichloroethylene (TCE), a common industrial solvent, is the primary contaminant being addressed by the plan. According to the EPA report, neither Cooper Tire nor Cooper Standard Automotive used TCE at the site. The Cooper Standard Automotive plant currently employs about 370 people. Those employees are not at risk from the contamination, Pierce said. “The indoor air monitoring results were below risk levels set to protect human life,” Pierce said on Thursday. The site also does not pose a risk for neighboring properties, Pierce said. “No contamination is getting offsite in groundwater or air.” The TCE contamination was discovered in 1986 during the removal of underground storage tanks that held xylene, which was used to degrease equipment….


Rover Pipeline ‘goodwill’ checks follow bad spill record

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Officials from Rover Pipeline – the company with 19 Ohio EPA violations so far and $2.3 million in fines and damages – presented some checks Tuesday to help first responders. The $10,000 checks, “offered in goodwill by the company,” are going to the emergency management agencies in each of the 18 counties in Ohio being traversed by Rover pipeline. Wood County is one of those on the route. The funds are to be used to purchase new equipment or offer additional training . “We hope these funds will go toward emergency first responders,” Bill Barth, senior specialist for emergency response with Rover, said as he passed on the giant checks. “We look forward to working with you.” Wood County EMA Director Brad Gilbert is grateful for the funds, but he would just as soon not have to work on a pipeline incident. He may use the check from Rover to help put a state MARCs radio system in the sheriff’s dispatch center. The $10,000 donation will pay just a portion of the total $40,000 expense. “The pressure’s on them to do the right thing during construction and operations,” Gilbert said of the pipeline. “Hopefully we don’t need it for any issues with them.” However, Rover’s accident record isn’t exactly clean. The check presentations come on the heels of Rover Pipeline being cited for a 19th environmental violation. Most recently, the Ohio EPA cited Rover for spilling contaminants into the Mohican River in Ashland County. When questioned about the level of trust counties should have in Rover, the company’s communications specialist said the 19 citations are based on Ohio EPA’s definition of a violation. “We’re showing different data,” Alexis Daniel said Tuesday as the pipeline firm prepared to hand out the giant checks in the Wood County Courthouse atrium to the EMA directors from Wood, Hancock and Seneca counties. The Rover pipeline is being constructed through southern Wood County on its way from West Virginia to Ontario, Canada. Despite the Ohio EPA’s records, Daniel said Rover has “not…


Solar field ‘sanctuary’ to attract butterflies, bees, birds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials learned Monday evening how its solar field could be turned into a “solar sanctuary” for butterflies, bees and birds. The board of public utilities heard how the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service hopes to develop a wildlife and pollinator habitat around the 165-acre solar field near the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of Bowling Green. “You are producing good clean energy, and you’re helping wildlife at the same time,” said Marci Lininger, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “This is a really cool project for us,” Lininger said. One goal of the wildlife habitat area is to bring back pollinators to the region. “Pollinators are in decline right now,” she said. Adult Monarch butterflies have seen a 50 percent drop in the last 10 years due to disappearing milkweed plants  – which are the only plants used by Monarchs for laying eggs. Some wildflower habitats target specific species. The one at Bowling Green’s solar site will be aimed at attracting several species of bees, birds and butterflies. The plan calls for three seasons of blooming plants. The 12-acre wild habitat area is intended to benefit various pollinators, crops, soil quality, water quality, foraging birds and Monarchs. Ohio is a priority location for Monarchs on their annual trek to Mexico. “We have a huge responsibility here in Ohio,” Lininger said. This region also has many crops that are suffering from inadequate pollination, she said. Crops relying on pollination include tomatoes, blueberries, melons, soybeans, peppers, peaches, cucumbers, squash and apples. Honey bees account for more than $15 billion in agricultural production of fruits, vegetables and nuts, Lininger said. Water and soil quality are also helped by the wildflower habitats because the native plants have deeper root systems and add nitrogen to the soil. The plants also attract insects, which are a food staple for many birds, and provide bird nesting areas in tall grasses. The wildlife habitat will be a team project of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the City of Bowling…


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 than others – like the Catalpa and Hawthorne. Other trees, like Crabapples, are prone to…


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 can be surprisingly far. This is done by applying fluorescent chalk to the bottom of…