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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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    Last week, local lawmakers welcomed remarks from Gov. Mike DeWine signaling a renewed focus on addressing algae blooms and the health of Lake Erie.

        “We need a leader who will help restore the partnership between the state and our local communities to better solve problems and protect our greatest natural resource,” said State Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson, who was President of Toledo City Council during the 2014 Toledo crisis, when a toxic algae bloom left nearly 500,000 Toledo area residents without clean water. “I am encouraged that the governor wants to make the health of our lake a priority, and we look forward to working with him to do just that.”

        During his address, Gov. DeWine said his administration will prioritize and provide funding for Lake Erie. He also announced the creation of the “H2Ohio” fund to address issues with clean drinking water.

        “While encouraged by the Governor’s willingness to make clean water a priority, I would warn him that we cannot simply spend our way out of the algae crisis,” said Representative Michael Sheehy, who was recently appointed as Ohio’s representative to the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus Executive Committee, which represents all eight states and two Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin.

        “This will be an expensive problem to solve, but without mandatory restrictions on excessive nutrient application, he runs the risk of failing Lake Erie and all his constituents that depend on it.”

        “Lake Erie's health is vital to not only our families, but our farmers and businesses too,” said Representative Lisa Sobecki. “Northwest Ohio's economic success depends on the quality of the lake's water.”

Lake Erie Commission

        In other news on Lake Erie, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) will hold its next quarterly meeting Wednesday, March 20 at 10 a.m. at the National Museum of the Great Lakes, 1701 Front Street, Toledo.

        During the meeting, the commission will hear about a series of recently completed grant projects. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management will provide a special report on the Sandusky Bay Initiative. There will also be various updates from OLEC staff about projects and programs going on in and around Lake Erie.

        OLEC oversees Ohio’s Lake Erie Protection Fund, a grant program for projects that benefit the Lake Erie watershed economically and environmentally. This fund is supported by Ohioans who purchase a Lake Erie license plate displaying the Marblehead Lighthouse, Toledo Harbor Lighthouse or the Lake Erie preserver and other donations.

        All OLEC meetings are open to the public and include reports from the member state agencies and advisory committees followed by a public comment period. Organizations and citizens are encouraged to attend.

        OLEC was established for the purpose of preserving Lake Erie’s natural resources, protecting the quality of its waters and ecosystem and promoting economic development in the region. The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency serves as the commission’s chairman. Additional members include the directors of the state departments of Transportation, Health, Development services, Agriculture, Natural Resources and five additional members appointed by the governor.

New funding

        On a related matter, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Dorothy Pelanda recently announced new assistance programs for producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin funded by the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299.

        Signed in 2018, Ohio Senate Bill 299 provided $23.5 million for soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) located in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) for nutrient management programs. ODA has already distributed $3.5 million to 24 SWCDs in Northwest Ohio.

        “Water quality is a top priority of our administration,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “Roughly three million Ohioans rely on Lake Erie for their drinking water. These programs are a good step toward promoting better water quality, and more will come.”

       

Programs

        At the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual meeting last month, Pelanda announced plans for the remaining $20 million, to be spread across three new assistance programs:

  • The Ohio Working Lands Program will encourage producers to establish year-round vegetative cover on eligible crop land. The program will promote the conversion, establishment and maintenance of forage/hay land on certain cropland acres. Also, there will be a new incentive payment to encourage producers to re-enroll acreage through the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. This will help reach the 67,000 acre goal and increase conservation efforts;
  • The Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development Program will be a partnership with the Ohio Agribusiness Association, in which producers are reimbursed for soil testing and nutrient management plans. This would help to ensure the 4R principles are put into place.
  • The Cost Share and Equipment Buy Down Program will provide producers with funds to purchase technological improvements to agricultural land, equipment and structures to reduce nutrient loss;

        “This $20 million suite of practices will go a long way toward our clean water initiatives and helping us set the tone for water quality efforts statewide,” said Pelanda. “Our agency looks forward to working with producers to implement meaningful programs that make progress toward our common goals of soil and water conservation.”

       

Proper stewardship

        “Ohio’s farmers are committed to doing their part to keep nutrients on our fields and out of our water and these programs will help us do that,” said Kris Swartz, Past President of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Northwest Ohio farmer. “I’m confident interest for these programs will be strong and I know our soil and water districts are ready to put them into practice.”

        “Our members understand how important our role is helping farmers practice proper nutrient stewardship and the 4R’s,” said Chris Henney, President and CEO of the Ohio Agribusiness Association. “We’re excited to be part of these programs and stand ready to help Northwest Ohio farmers.”

        Producers located in the Western Lake Erie Basin are encouraged to contact their local soil and water conservation district office to learn more and sign up for these new programs.

       

 

Universal Income

What do you think of presidential candidate Andrew Yang's proposal for a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every adult?
32550042 [{"id":"323","title":"It will help millions of people who are increasingly losing their jobs to automation.","votes":"1","pct":8.33,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"324","title":"No, if the proposal is paid for by tax payers.","votes":"10","pct":83.33,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"325","title":"Yes, if billionaires pay for it, as labor costs disappear due to automation.","votes":"1","pct":8.33,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /component/communitypolls/vote/118-universal-income No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...