The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Weather permitting, technicians from the Ottawa Soil and Water District will soon begin taking water samples from an apparatus designed to remove nitrogen from farm fields before it reaches drainage ditches - and ultimately Lake Erie.

Mike Libben, program administrator for the district office, said water sampling from the nitrogen bio-reactor could begin in early April.

“We’re going to start pulling water samples on it to see if it’s really making the difference it’s supposed to,” he said. “The first day of April I’ll start watching the weather. If we get a 1-inch or 2-inch rain that will be a good indicator and I’ll try to get a reading that day so we have a solid spring sampling.”

The bio-reactor is located on a field about three miles north of the Ottawa County Fairgrounds in Carroll Township.

The denitrification process occurs when water in a main field drainage tile passes through a medium such as woodchips before reaching the tile’s end at a drainage ditch.

“In the end,t we’re hoping to reduce the nitrogen levels in the water that is going into the ditch,” Libben said. “That in turn can help reduce the algae bloom in the lake. Phosphorus is our main problem in Lake Erie but nitrogen is also a contributor. Using different media, iron slag, for example, can pull phosphorus out.”

Warmer weather is generally regarded as a good thing. But for several area towns the spring season has become synonymous with melting snow and ice – and flooding.

Compounding their concerns is the possibility of ice jams.

Last year, the Village of Pemberville experienced considerable flooding problems, and there's always the fear that this could happen again this time of the year.

Not far away, the Maumee River, which has historically caused springtime problems for northwest Ohio towns like Waterville and Grand Rapids, recently pushed some big chunks of ice into the Riverside Cemetery in Maumee, which houses Civil War-era headstones. The ice chunks also damaged fences, trees, park benches and signs.

Currently, it appears as though those living along the Portage River in villages like Oak Harbor, Elmore, Woodville and Pemberville, are safe from the flooding.

One of the most exciting events taking place during this year’s Biggest Week in American Birding festival is the Birds and & Blooms Magazine Bird Day Challenge. The challenge takes the elements of bird watching, but puts a competitive twist on it.

“The Bird Day Challenge is a 3-hour birding challenge held on International Migratory Bird Day and Bird Ohio. We have two teams that try to see as many bird species as possible in a 3-hour period,” said Birds and Blooms Editor Stacy Tornio. Tornio will lead one of the two teams in the competition.

Challenges like this aren’t uncommon in the birding world, but what makes this one especially interesting is the small amount of time allotted. The time restraint poses a series of challenges for the competitors.

“Since the time is so limited, you really have to strategize how and where you spend your time. A few minutes wasted can be the difference between winning and losing,” said Tornio.

Tornio’s team will be competing against another group lead by Birds and Blooms Senior Editor Kirsten Sweet. Both teams are currently taking donations and a victory in the challenge will go even further towards helping out some very deserving groups.

The winter of 2013 saw a historic irruption of snowy owls in the East and Midwest, which sparked the creation of Project SNOWstorm. The project sought to track and map the owls, but this posed a few problems. How do you fund this project quickly? How do you go about getting usable photographs of the owls for categorization? The answer came from unlikely sources: crowd funding and internet outreach.

“Project SNOWstorm has been completely funded by the public. Both winters we’ve run crowd funding campaigns to raise small donations from people around the world,” said Scott Weidensaul, the Project SNOWstorm Coordinator.330BuckeyeFace

Though crowd funding might be something you associate with funding new technology or independent movies, using this resource allowed the team of volunteers to move quickly and capitalize on the recent irruption of the snowy owls.

“You wouldn’t have been able to do Project SNOWstorm in the normal way that science is done. It just takes too long to write grants and get funding,” said Dave Brinker, with the Maryland Department of Natural Heritage, who helped start the project with Weidensaul.

Reaching out via the internet had benefits aside from financial support, also. In order to get the amount of data required to have a complete picture, Project SNOWstorm needed high quality photographs of snowy owls, along with the date and location the picture was taken. This is where seeking out people who were passionate about wildlife and the snowy owl in particular came into play.

A public forum to discuss the upcoming levies for the Genoa School District is scheduled for April 1 at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium.

Members of the board of education and levy committee will be attending to answer questions.

Voters in the district will decide two levies on the May 5 ballot.

An additional emergency levy will generate about $1.025 million annually if approved. It would be in effect for five years and would equal approximately 6.38 mills on property owners taxes.

For the owner of a $100,000 home, it would cost about $223 a year in additional taxes.

A 5-mill, 5-year renewal levy will also be on the ballot. It generates about $400,000 and is set to expire at the end of this year. Voters first approved it in 1990.

The levy committee has also scheduled a forum for May 3 at 4:30 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.

A 5-year forecast of the district’s finances projects it will end the fiscal year on June 30 of this year with a balance of about $1.3 million. Bill Nye, district treasurer, has estimated the balance will drop to $500,000 by June 2016 and become a deficit of about $500,000 by June 2017 without additional revenues or spending cuts.

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