By: Gwen Roth
CFW asks students to submit a proposal that answers the question:
"What can you do to improve your watershed?"
Students can work independently, or as a team of no more than four to research their local watershed, identify an environmental concern, and come up with a realistic solution.
To volunteer, please contact Gwen. We always need help mentoring students, reviewing proposals, inputting scores, etc. If you can help, we can find a task that fits your schedule and preferences.
By: Gwen Roth
Pollinator Species, such as the monarch, are experiencing population declines across the United States. To help foster the creation of monarch and other pollinator habitats, the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) is partnering with the State of Ohio's Soil & Water Conservation Districts in a Statewide Milkweed Pod Collection.
Milkweed is essential to the survival of Monarch Butterflies in our state, due to its location along the migration pattern. The Monarch butterflies that hatch here in the summer migrate to Mexico for the winter, where they will restart their life cycle and return in the spring.
During September and October everyone is encouraged to collect common Milkweed pods from established plants. It is best to pick the seed pods when they appear dry, gray, or brown in color. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure this indicates that they are ready to be picked. Seed pods can be stored in paper bags, labeled with the county from which they came, the date and time along with species collected, if not common milkweed. Pods can be dropped off at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District by October 30th. Visit our website for additional information.
By: Gwen Roth
I’m sure many of you have heard about pollinators and their importance in our food production and ecosystems. Birds, Bats, Bees, Butterflies, Moths, Wasps and many others are crucial in the pollination process. Through pollination, these faunae help plants to create food, fiber & oil, prevent soil erosion and even sequester carbon. But many pollinator populations are declining and scientists give a variety of reasons for the decline – habitat destruction (including feeding and nesting sites), pesticide use, disease and even changes in the climate.
While there are thousands, maybe millions of pollinators around the globe, I think one of the most amazing pollinators is the Monarch Butterfly. They have such a unique life cycle and migration story. Since it’s a cycle, we’ll start the story in the winter, where Monarchs spend the winter months gathered in forests located in the mountains of Central Mexico. Once spring arrives, they begin to fly north toward the United States, mate and lay eggs before dying. The egg will then hatch into a caterpillar, where it will grow for a couple weeks eating only Milkweed, a plant that is toxic to most other animals. After a few weeks as a caterpillar, the Monarch will form a chrysalis and transform into an adult butterfly, a process which takes about 10-14 days. The adult butterfly will then continue its migration northward where it will mate, deposit eggs on the milkweed plant and die. This process continues for 3-4 life cycles until late summer or early fall when the Monarchs are triggered by daylight and temperature changes to complete the journey back to Mexico, sometimes traveling more than 2,000 miles! This 4th generation of Monarch Butterflies is often called the Super Generation because they can live as an adult for up to eight or nine months. Most adult monarchs in the summer live for only 3-5 weeks - yes, weeks! This super generation will return to the same overwintering sites in Mexico (where they have never been) and spend the next several months before beginning the journey north, mating, depositing eggs and dying - beginning the cycle all over again!
For the last several decades, the Monarch’s population numbers have decreased, and many scientists believe this is due to a lack of milkweed plants as well as habitat fragmentation and weather phenomena. In December, scientists will do their annual count of the overwintering population and we will know more about the Monarch’s overall population health.
For your part, you can certainly help the Monarch Butterfly and other pollinators by doing a few simple things around your home:
For being one of the larger Urban counties in the State of Ohio, Hamilton County has many equine operations, both large and small. Any size operation has one major obstacle to overcome, what to do with the manure? What goes in must come out. On average, one horse generates about 50 pounds of waste per day. That’s a lot of poo!
It is important for all equine operations, from 1 horse to 100+ horses, to have a manure management plan. This is site specific and describes how you plan to handle the manure. Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about your manure management plan:
- What are your going to do with the manure? Spread it or have it hauled away?
- How often do you plan on spreading it or having the manure hauled out?
- How are you storing the manure? Are you storing it in a covered area that prevents rain from washing it away, causing it to leach into the ground or surface waters?
- How far is your manure pile from a property line? Current regulations say that the pile must be 500 feet from neighboring residences.
These questions, along with many others are important to discuss to make sure your operation is compliant with statewide standards. The Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Soil and Water Conservation has developed standards for the conservation and management of farming operations. The purpose of these standards is to reduce pollution in waters of the state by soil sediment, animal manure, and residual farm products. Violating these standards could lead to hefty fines.
So how do you know that you are doing it right? Give our office a call. We would rather come out and give you assistance and suggestions, over having to come inspect a reported violation. If you would like to have a member of our staff come out and look at how your operation manages your manure send Aaron Habig an email or give him a phone call (513) 772-7645.
By: Adam Lehmann
The Cooper Creek Collaborative (a group of organizations working to restore the Cooper Creek) and Green Umbrella (a regional sustainability alliance for the Greater Cincinnati area) have teamed up to install a rain garden at Deer Park Jr/Sr High School. The rain garden will reduce the impact of the School’s footprint on Cooper Creek and serve as an educational tool to teach students about hydrology, ecology, and how human activities can impact our local environment. The rain garden was funded with a grant Green Umbrella received from the Duke Energy Foundation. It was installed by staff from OKI Regional Council of Governments, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Mill Creek Alliance, and Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
The rain garden was designed by the SWCD’s Stream Specialist and Coordinator of the Cooper Creek Collaborative. The rain garden is located between the tennis courts and the back-parking lot of the school. It captures stormwater runoff coming from three tennis courts and allows the rainwater to slowly soak into the ground, rather than flowing straight into the storm sewer system which would quickly route the water to Cooper Creek, contributing to highly erosive flashy urban flows in the creek (to learn more about this problem visit www.CooperCreek.org). The native plants in the rain garden were carefully selected to maximize the proportion of the year when flowers and fruit are available to pollinators and other wildlife.
One of the SWCD’s educators will work with Deer Park science teachers to develop lesson plans that utilize the rain garden to make abstract concepts observable and relatable. The rain garden will serve as a reminder of these lessons as students continue to see it from day-to-day and year-to-year. Students can recreate aspects of the design process for applied lessons in hydrology and geometry. The native vegetation in the rain garden will create opportunities for lessons in ecology and how human alteration of the landscape impacts the wildlife who are able to survive in these landscapes (e.g. birds and insects). Additionally, Green Umbrella is working on creating a permanent educational sign to be installed beside the rain garden, so the education component can extend beyond the classroom and into the community.
5/26/2020 – final day of installation
6/4/2020 – Collecting rainwater – doing its job…
It’s not too late to have your soil tested! We partner with Penn State Extension to provide soil testing services to Hamilton County Residents. For the convenience and safety of our residents, we are temporarily mailing a maximum of two (2) soil test kits to any individual, that is a resident of Hamilton County, at no additional cost. A fee of $9 per test kit is paid directly to Penn State for a standard soil test. The standard soil test will give you levels of pH, P, K, Ca, and Mg. Additional tests, such as lead and arsenic, are available for an additional fee.
It will take approximately 2 weeks to get your results back. You will receive a copy of the results and so will our office. The results will include fertilizer recommendations, as well as how much lime or sulfur your soil may needed. If you have any questions regarding your results you are able to give our office a call. Aaron Habig can go over the results with you in detail.
For more information about this program and to request your kits please visit our website https://www.hcswcd.org/soil-fertility.html.