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

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

Park district springs into may with full slate of nature programs

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Park District is offering a variety of nature programs in May. Spring Wildflower Walk                          Tuesday, May 1; 6:00 – 7:30 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg Woodland wildflowers put on a brief, but beautiful show on the forest floor. Join us for a naturalist led stroll to see who is starring this month. Learn why these flowers are called ephemerals. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Archery Skills: Rainbow and Arrow Thursday, May 3; 6:30 – 8:00 pm Otsego Park 20000 West River Road, Bowling Green Improve your archery skills through this short, beginner-friendly instructional program, focusing on the steps of shooting and consistency. Make progress you can see, as we create some artistic targets using our newfound skills. All archery equipment provided, personal gear welcome (inspected at program). Must be 7 yrs of age or older to attend. Minors must be accompanied by legal guardian. Bring a small canvas, shirt, poster, or anything you’d like splatter-painted! $5/$3 FWCP Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, May 3, 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve Friends’ Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read The Sea Around Us, Special Edition (1989) by Rachel Carson. Group meets once a month. Register for any or all. Discussion leader: Cheryl Lachowski, Senior Lecturer, BGSU English Dept. and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN). Register atwww.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Homeschoolers: Bird Migration Friday, May 4; 10:00 – 11:30 am Bradner Preserve: Nature Interpretation Center Northwest Ohio is a great place to witness the spring migration! Learn about where these birds are going, how our parks play an important role, and what species you might see before heading out into the field. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Heritage Farm Demo Saturday, May 5; 1:00 – 5:00 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green  Stop by any time during the afternoon the first Saturday of each month to see farm staff and volunteers in action working on the farm. No registration needed. wcparks.org Intro to Nature Photography Tuesday, May 8; 6:00 – 8:00 pm Bradner Nature Interpretation Center 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner Interested in capturing the wonders of the outdoors in photographs, but unsure of what all of those camera settings do? Bring your camera and practice honing your skills at our new Nature Interpretation Center. This session will focus on how to use those camera settings to your advantage. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Nature Journaling Thursday, May 10; 6:30 – 8:00 pm Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve 26940 Lime City Road, Perrysburg We provide the sketchbook for your outdoor journaling adventure, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN), Sue Frankforther, is your guide. She’ll share her passion for nature, writing and illustration and get you started. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Spring Tree and Woody Plant ID                          Saturday, May 12; 3:00 – 5:00 pm Bradner Preserve 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner They are some of the largest living things in our parks, but do you know how to tell an oak from a maple or poison ivy from Virginia creeper? Woody plants anchor many of the habitats that native wildlife need, begin learning some of these fascinating organisms and how they benefit animals and people. We will be learning in the outdoors, both on and off trail. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897 Homeschoolers: Stream Study                          Saturday, May 12; 2:00 – 3:30 pm William Henry Harrison Park 644 Bierley Avenue, Pemberville Water quality is an increasingly important issue in our area and in the world. But how do we find out the water quality of a river? We’ll…

Renovated University Hall wins gold for being green

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

Money on a mission: Values-based investment pays off

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

Spring weather arrives in time for Earth Day event

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

Creation Care Celebration, April 29, at Peace Lutheran

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

Thanks for the memories; why you should vote ‘yes’ on county parks levy

Do you have fond memories of picnics in the park? Did your scout troop learn about leaves and animals and insects while at the park? Do you visit the park to bird watch or celebrate a birthday or graduation with family and friends? Do you enjoy walking trails? Are you the more active type and enjoy repelling down a limestone wall? Perhaps a naturalist visited your school or club and shared information you had never considered about various critters. Do you enjoy the challenge of geocache? Is photography your thing and you find perfect subjects at the park? This list could go on and on. And that is why we support the May 8th renewal levy for the Wood County Park District. We hope you will as well by voting “Yes” for your Wood County Parks on May 8th! Joe and Lynne Long Grand Rapids

Earth Week speaker: People favor protections, but not if labeled ‘job-killing regulations’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lana Pollack got her first taste of government regulation, or protection as she prefers to call it, when she was a girl watching beef being butchered. As the Lamb Peace lecturer, Pollack, who chairs the U.S. section, International Joint Commission, kicked off Earth Week at Bowling Green State University posing the question: “If protections are good, why are regulations bad?” Certainly her father who ran a grocery store and butcher shop in rural western Michigan didn’t appreciate the state inspector who stood by while he and his help processed a beef carcass. Her father, Pollack said, was the kind of person who fed a lot of people whether they could pay their bills or not. Once a week he’d go to the cattle auction and buy a couple steers, which he’d bring back. Pollack said she went along, and watched the processing. “I know where my meat comes from.” She could see her father was “aggravated” by the inspector and his seemingly petty demands. In his later years, his daughter asked him if the state regulations made his ground beef or hot dogs any better. No, he said. “But it kept the guy down the road from adding sawdust to his hot dogs.” The consumer wasn’t protected from an ethical business like the one her father ran, but from the unethical ‘guy down the road.” That holds true for the environment as well, including the Great Lakes. That’s why the EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Environmental Regulatory Agency. People like “protection,” she said. They think far less of regulations, especially when they are so constantly referred to as “job-killing regulations.” That phrase is tossed around so much that it almost becomes one word. It’s a favorite of conservative lobbying efforts like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “Words matter,” Pollack said. It’s not like businesses, including agribusiness, are opposed to government action, she said. They’re fine with it as long as it benefits them. While agribusiness may fight rules aimed at controlling the run-off of phosphorus from fields that causes toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, farm interests back federal government support for ethanol production, Pollack said. Now 40 percent of corn on 7 million acres of heavily fertilized cropland is grown for fuel. Taking action to combat pollution of the Great Lakes is a complex issue that involves understanding the science, as well as the cultural and political context. Pollack, who served in the Michigan State Senate from 1984 to 1993, describes herself as “a recovering politician.” At her lecture she showed two photos of the Cuyahoga River on fire, one from 1952 and the other from 1969. No action was taken in 1952 in the years of complacency after World War II. But the 1960s was a “time of social revolution” and “progressive change.” The burning river caught the public’s attention. Action was taken. Citizens agitated for environmental protections That action had beneficial effects. It dramatically reduced the amount of PCPs going into the Great Lakes. And it reduced the amount of phosphorus going into the lakes. That came by the removal of phosphorus, which promote algae growth, from washing detergents and commercial lawn care products. And it came from billions being invested into water treatment systems – which are now aging, she noted. But federal action also did harm. The Clean Water Act, for example, exempted “nonpoint pollution,” that is runoff that cannot be traced to a specific source. That means farmland. Even now, Pollack said, officials are not allowed to determine “hot spots” on fields that generate more…

Protecting Great Lakes focus of Lamb Peace Lecture

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Earth Week 2018 at Bowling Green State University kicks off April 16 with the annual Lamb Peace Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater. The free lecture is titled “Policy, Politics and Pollution in the Great Lakes Basin: If Protections Are Good, Why Are Regulations Bad?” with Lana Pollack, chair of the U.S. section, International Joint Commission (IJC). The IJC was established by the U.S. and Canada to address issues related to boundary waters including the Great Lakes. Pollack was appointed chair by President Barack Obama in June 2010. She has had a diverse career in public office, education and the public interest sector. From 1996-2008, she was president of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 environmental organizations working to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan’s environment. She was elected three times to the Michigan legislature, serving as a state senator from 1983-94. During her tenure, she was a leading advocate for women, children and the environment and earned praise as the architect of Michigan’s landmark 1990 polluter pay statute. Pollack was a Fellow at the institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, taught at the University of Michigan and was an elected trustee of the Ann Arbor Board of Education. She served on a number of educational, nonprofit and corporate boards, including the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, which annually directed $35 million to $50 million in discretionary public funds to protect, purchase and enhance parkland and open space for preservation and recreation. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. BGSU’s Edward Lamb Peace Lecture annually brings internationally recognized experts to campus to address major environmental issues and how they affect world security. The lecture series began in 1986 in honor of the late Edward Lamb, a prominent Toledo lawyer committed to social justice, civil rights and world peace. It is underwritten by the Lamb Foundation of Toledo.

Workshop at BGSU advocates for socially responsible investing

From SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING WORKSHOP Most investors do not know what companies they own as part of their investment portfolios holding mutual funds. That is not good.   To address that problem, a group of northwest Ohio activists has spent a year putting together a two-hour workshop at BGSU. The Socially Responsible Investing Workshop will be held Tuesday, April 24, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in room 201 in the Bowling  Green State University student union. The workshop is being hosted by: Nick Hennessey, director of BGSU Office of Sustainability; Professor Enrique Gomez del Campo, Department of Environmental Sustainability; Professor Neocles Leontis, Department of Chemistry;  Josh Mudse, CFP Munn Wealth Management; and Professor Emeritus Tom Klein, English Department. Panel members will be: Darren Munn, CFA, Chief Investment Officer, Camelot Portfolios; Owaiz Dadabhoy, Director of Islamic Investing, Saturna Capital; and Robert Huesman, CFA, CFP, Senior Investment Associate, 1919 Investment Counsel. Socially responsible investing is a strategy that had a dramatic birth in the 1970s when investors began divesting from companies operating under South African apartheid.  It has become very popular over the last three decades, considering both financial return and social and environmental good.  Since 2012 such investing has grown in popularity, with a 135% increase in assets under management to $8.72 trillion.  Today there are about 500 such funds. Specifically, it’s possible to promote positive change by investing in companies advocating clean energy, social justice and environmental sustainability.    Many funds give the investor the choice of what to avoid or invest in.   For example, choices can include harmful industries such as fossil fuels, civilian and military weapons, tobacco, GMO producers and nuclear energy; they can also include support for companies that help the poor start businesses such as the work of micro-finance in Africa. The three most important goals of sustainable investing are to protect the planet, protect our communities and families, and protect our portfolios.

Climate change poses threat to coffee business

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Climate change may increase the cost of your morning coffee. Kelly Wicks, who owns Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green with his wife, Laura, was quoted in a recent Business Forward report saying that climate change is “adversely affecting the long term outlook for coffee, putting additional burdens here at home and putting small farmers in potential financial peril in all the major growing regions worldwide.” Early this year, the Wicks family and a couple key employees traveled to the Siles Farm in Matagalpa, Nicaragua to get a first-hand look at how their main product is grown, and the challenges facing the  farmers, small business owners like the Wicks family, who provide it. Coffee growers, Wicks said, are battling “rust,” a pathogen that can have devastating effects on a coffee plantation. The disease thrives at warmer temperatures. Even a temperature increase of a couple degrees can promote the disease and that can reduce the crop dramatically. The Siles farm is large enough with several thousand acres, that the growers can, for now, combat the spread of the disease by moving production to higher elevations, where the trees are less susceptible. “They have some ability to combat the challenge from climate change,” Wicks said. Siles also has its own dairy herd. The whey is used to produce a material to help protect the trees from rust. The milk is given to their employees. “It’s small growers who have no option.”  While Siles produces thousands bags a year, a small farmer may produce 20-30 bags. “They can’t say we’re just going to go up the mountain,” he said. “And if their well runs dry, they’re out of luck.” While rust is a problem wherever coffee is grown, it is a particular issue in Central America. Should the region’s coffee crop be devastated, that would put a million people out of work, Wicks said. Coffee harvesting and processing is still a labor intensive process, Wicks said. “It’s labor intensive hands-on commodity.” The crew from Grounds got to experience that first hand, getting up before dawn to head out to pick the fruit that contains the beans from the trees. They did so under the watchful eye of the experienced hands at Siles Farms. The coffee fruit that look like mini crab apples, must be picked one by one since they ripen at different rates. And this highlights another problem posed by climate change. It is extending the growing season by as much as 30 days. That means more labor for a smaller crop. Once the pods are harvested, they go through a machine that separates seed from fruit. From there, the beans undergo initial fermentation for 24 hours. After that they may or may not be washed. A farmworker will run his hands through the beans to determine whether enough of the sticky residue from the fruit has been removed. The Siles farm is a big enough operation to maintain these facilities on site. Small farmers will sell their beans and have a processor do the job. Siles Farm ships its beans to a dry mill in nearby Matalgalpa. The beans are spread out on a screen on a patio to dry. Once the moisture level is cut from about 50 percent to 16 percent or so, the beans are cleaned of any debris and sorted by color and size. Then some are roasted and brewed to assess their characteristics. Then they are bagged. Wicks said at this point, the lower quality beans that account for most coffee have not been severely affected. So  the overall the supply and…

After years of resistance, EPA says Lake Erie ‘impaired’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Since the green algae scare in 2014 that resulted in the Toledo area being warned to not drink the water, the Ohio EPA has insisted that Lake Erie would not benefit from being declared “impaired.” But this afternoon, the EPA released a report stating the lake’s status should be changed to “impaired.” The battle has been between the state – which didn’t want the region to suffer economically from being named “impaired” – and environmentalists, who said the lake would improve only if the source of the harmful algae is identified – and the farming community that didn’t want all the blame for the algae, and didn’t want more regulation of their practices. In Thursday’s announcement, the EPA is proposing the open waters of Lake Erie’s Western Basin be designated as impaired for recreation and drinking water. This includes the area of the lake from the Michigan-Ohio state line to the lighthouse in Marblehead. The shoreline areas of the western basin and drinking water intakes had already been designated as impaired. This first assessment of Lake Erie included input from Bowling Green State University, Ohio State University Sea Grant College Program, University of Toledo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. EPA. The report identifies a science-based process for assessing impairment from harmful algae of the western basin open waters. “While designating the open waters of the Western Basin as impaired does not provide, as some suggest, a magic bullet to improve the lake, the state remains committed to our obligations under the Clean Water Act and to examine emerging science and practices that we can put in place to help improve it,” Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler stated in the report released today. The news was welcomed by area environmentalists, who have insisted for years that Lake Erie would only get worse if the sources of the harmful algae aren’t identified and limited. The “impaired” status will require such studies. While the farming community has made progress in self-monitoring and reducing phosphorus runoff that contributes to the algae, it hasn’t been enough, environmentalists said. One of those applauding the designation is Mike Ferner, coordinator of the Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie. “This decision that took massive public insistence and a federal court suit is way overdue, but let’s get down to work now.  An impaired designation kicks off a process under the Clean Water Act that includes finding out exactly who the polluters are and the amounts from each,” Ferner stated in a press release.  “It must be completely transparent, with public involvement every step of the way.  ACLE will be vigilant to see that this declaration actually means something.” Ferner has made repeated visits to the Wood County Commissioners, trying to convince them to sign onto a resolution designating Lake Erie as “impaired.” “We think the voice of local government is important,” he told the Wood County Commissioners. The “impaired” designation would trigger a full-scale investigation of all possible sources of pollution going into the lake, and then require action to reduce that contamination. Ferner said similar action was taken in the Chesapeake Bay area, which allowed about $2 billion in federal funding to be used to solve the problems there. Prior to that, voluntary efforts were tried for nearly 20 years – but it was only when mandatory goals were set that the area recovered. In the last couple years, the county commissioners also heard on the topic from Bob Midden, of the BGSU chemistry department. Midden suggested that the commissioners look at strategies that have worked elsewhere….

Gamby a natural as BG’s first sustainability coordinator

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Amanda Gamby has been a tree-hugger and nature defender as long as she can remember. “This is pretty much who I am,” Gamby said as she sat in her office surrounded by recycling bins, giant plants, tree pictures, and hula hoops (we’ll get to that later.) “It’s always been where I’ve gravitated toward.” Soon Gamby will be leaving this office, as Wood County Solid Waste environmental educator, to fill the newly-created position of Bowling Green city sustainability coordinator. She starts the new job on April 2. When she takes over as sustainability coordinator, Gamby will be expected to be a “utility player,” said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator. She will be educating the public about the city’s programs for trash, recycling and sustainability. She will explain new rules to the public, plus give tours of the county landfill and the recycling center. And she will work with the utilities department on stormwater management, and on educating the public about the new solar field and wind turbines. Gamby is quite comfortable being a “utility player,” since she has appreciated combining her love of nature and teaching in her position with the county over the last 12 years. Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar has no doubt that she can handle the new job. “She’s really good with people,” especially with school-age children, he said. “She has a good way of communicating. She’s just a bubbly person.” That enthusiasm comes naturally, Gamby said. “I’m very personable with them, and I truly do care about each group who comes out” to environmental presentations, she said. As a child, Gamby always chose nature, recycling or litter collection for every Girl Scout, 4-H or school project. “We were always outside, as kids,” she said. She went on to get an environmental policy and analysis degree in college, and worked in education. So she already does double-duty as an environmentalist and educator. “It’s pretty awesome,” Gamby said with a grin. During her years with the county, Gamby worked hard to create a network and partnerships between like-minded agencies in the area. “I’m most proud of building those relationships,” she said. Gamby said she is looking forward to being able to concentrate her efforts on one community – Bowling Green – rather the entire county. “I’m looking forward to really being able to apply some of the training I’ve received,” she said. Oh, and the hula hoops? Gamby plans to continue her efforts to make learning about sustainability fun – especially for kids. Her demonstrations often include a giant earth ball, and the hula hoops, which double-time as big worm segments.

Falcon lays an egg in courthouse tower

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS At least one more falcon is getting ready to call Bowling Green home, as a new peregrine falcon egg has made its appearance on the Falcon Cam, www.bgsu.edu/falconcam. One egg so far is visible on the camera, which is provided by a partnership between the Wood County Commissioners and Bowling Green State University. Last year, four eggs were laid in the Wood County Courthouse tower. “Spring is on the way and our falcon family hanging around the Courthouse nesting box is a sure sign,” said Andrew Kalmar, Wood County administrator. “This is the eighth year we will be able to watch the falcons grow their family. We have had a few bird watchers with big scopes in our parking lots the past couple weeks, trying to get a good view.” The peregrine falcon is BGSU’s official mascot. A pair of the raptors took refuge in the clock tower — just two blocks west of campus — eight years ago. “It’s fitting that the peregrine falcons have formed a unique bond with the town and University,” said Dave Kielmeyer, chief marketing and communications officer of BGSU. “We’re happy they have made a tradition of calling Bowling Green home.” Peregrine falcon eggs typically have a 33-day gestation period, so the eggs are expected to hatch in early April. For more information about the peregrine falcons in the courthouse clock tower, go to bgsu.edu/falconcam.

County Park District seeking comments on programs at open forums in March & April

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Park District welcomes the communities of Wood County to several Community & Parks Open Forums. The Park District is offering many new opportunities for nature and cultural education, and outdoor recreation. Many new features and amenities have been added and will continue to be added in the future to the twenty Nature Preserves and Parks managed by the Wood County Park District. The public is encouraged to visit these open forums to learn about what is new and upcoming, as well as, share opinions with the Park District. Public opinions will help shape the future of the parks. Wednesday, March 14; 5-7  p.m. N Baltimore Public Library 230 N. Main Street, North Baltimore   Thursday, March 15; 7-9 p.m. W.W. Knight Nature Preserve: Hankison Great Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Saturday, March 24; 1-3 p.m. Wood County District Public Library Meeting room 251 N. Main Street, Bowling Green Thursday, March 29; 6-8 p.m. Way Public Library 101 E. Indiana Avenue, Perrysburg Saturday, April 14; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pemberville Public Library 375 E. Front Street, Pemberville Wednesday, April 18; 4-6 p.m. Weston Public Library – Grand Rapids Branch 17620 Bridge St, Grand Rapids, 43522 Thursday, April 19; 5-7 p.m. Walbridge Library 108 N Main St, Walbridge, OH 43465 Tuesday, April 24; 7-9 v Bradner Interpretive Center 11491 Fostoria Road, Bradner Light refreshments, good information and great company will be provided. For more information, please visit www.wcparks.org.