Looking Back And Looking Forward

Looking Back And Looking Forward

One of the biggest steps we took last year was applying for, and receiving, one of six Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) grants to fund a watershed coordinator for the next three years. Receiving this grant out of a good-sized pool of applicants was exciting, of course, but as a staff, we were really energized by the process of identifying the needs of our county, and working on identifying partners and practices for solutions.

Trees provide resources, so here are some resources about trees

Roy LS Yoder's Tree.jpg


Karen Gotter, Water Quality Program Assistant

April 24, 2018

Our annual tree sale just finished up, and for me, it’s always bittersweet: It’s a lot of work (a lot more, now that we are down one person!), but it is downright inspiring to see people excited about getting their order.  We sometimes get to hear why they are planting them, and the particular hopes and plans they have for the little babies.  It’s also such a good way to connect with an audience that we might not normally work with, and to let people know of the other services we offer.  We get a great set of volunteers from the Buckeye Career Center Business Academy class, and the county garage staff bend over backward to help, providing everything we need for packing and distributing thousands of trees over two busy days.

It was tree sale, (and the fact that Arbor Day is this week!) which prompted me to want to share some of the interesting, helpful, and fun web-based resources that I’ve come across.

Please check out this page!  I was just amazed at how much information is available, and how many programs go on through the Arbor Day Foundation.  Basically, any question or random tree-related thought is probably addressed on their site and organizations they work with.

--Arbor day tree planting video  and guides:  Nervous about giving your little ones the best start possible?  The video and explanation guides will walk you through it!  Also at this page is a Tree Health guide, pruning guide, conservation planting guidelines, a storm recovery assessment and more!

--Tree Finder: There’s a wizard under their “Choosing the Right Tree” heading that will help you make an informed decision for your tree planting goals.  Apparently, arborists have also adopted 2 of the 4 Rs: The Right Tree in the Right Place!  They’ve also got free landscape designs here, the best trees for wildlife, and their database of 200 trees and shrubs.

--Tree Collections:  Check out the selections available for purchase from the Arbor Day Foundation’s nursery.  They offer quite a selection of fruit trees and shrubs, flowering ornamentals, evergreens of all kinds and quantities, and some curated collections that will help guide your selections, according to your planting goals and location.

--Tree ID guide: The Arbor Day Foundation has had a printed publication for years, and that is definitely still available (if you join as a member, they send you one for free!), but here is a handy online edition, and even an iPhone app.  Frankly, I prefer other tree identification guides, but these companion sources do offer a lot of information.

--The Tree City USA program is a way to celebrate and promote urban forestry across the country.  Did you know that Ohio leads (by FAR!) the number of tree cities in any state:  We’ve got 243 certified communities, with Wisconsin in second place with 193.  And three cities (Springfield, Westerville, and Wooster) have been members for 41 years!  Millersburg has been a member for two years, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Arlie Rodhe!

--If you’re looking for a meaningful gift or a way to give back, the foundation is one way to do it! Plant trees in memory of someone, as a gift for holidays, or even for your pet, in rainforests around the world, in National Forests, for Natural disaster relief, or to offset your carbon footprint.

--Free trees now with a membership The foundation is currently giving away 10 free seedlings if you join for a $10 or $15 membership!  Who could say no to free trees? And there’s even a pretty decent variety to choose from.


Other Helpful (and Fun!) links:

What Tree Is It? This is my go-to tree identification tool.  Interestingly, it is a collaboration between the Ohio Public Library Information Network and the Ohio Historical Society, but winds up being a very easy to use and comprehensive informational key about most tree species found in Ohio.  You can begin a search by both Common and Scientific Names, or by Leaf, or by “Fruit”, then easily click through to get to a basic information sheet about the species.

Tree protector info sheet: This link is for an information sheet on selecting the right tree protection for your trees, created by the Penn State Extension service.  During our tree sale, we got a few requests for information about tree protectors, which makes sense, given how little the seedlings are, and how much wildlife enjoy young seedlings to nibble on.  We don’t sell them, and unfortunately don’t know of any local sources to purchase them.  We know they are available through supply companies like Forestry Suppliers, Ben Meadows, and A.M. Leonard, and there are companies online that deal only in tree shelters or tree tubes.  However, I also stumbled across this fun anecdotal article and video about a DIY project for simple and affordable tree shelters.  It was a follow up to this Outdoor Life article discussing the amazing finds available through conservation district tree sales!

Directory of Ohio Service Foresters: If you need advice or assistance in managing a tree or your woodlot, chances are good you’ll be directed to speak to a service forester.  John Joliff is the ODNR service forester for Holmes, Wayne, Ashland, Richland, Medina, Lorain, Huron and Erie counties, but we’re lucky because he’s based nearby out of Mohican State Forest.  But remember, consulting with the OSU extension office is a good first step to diagnosing and tackling tree issues at home.  

The Division of Forestry is housed under the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and their website is good place to look for a variety of resources.  They have sections addressing fire management, urban forestry, managing woodlands, and have a list of notices about closures, rule changes, and proposed initiatives in the forests. They also have lots of informative publications and a video library that covers many forest related questions.  Right now they are even advertising lumber for sale from Zaleski State Forest!

Ohio Tree Farm Program: This certification program recognizes the efforts of families who manage their woodlands in a 4-pronged approach: For the betterment of Wood, Water, Wildlife, and Recreation.  This helps in the promotion of sustainable forest management, and offers guidance and informational resources to landowners who want to manage their forest ground in the best way possible.

Ohio’s own National Forest:  It’s shameful, but I’ve spent very little time in Wayne National, which is a fantastic recreational opportunity for Ohioans.  Did you know that the USDA is the parent agency of the Forest Service?  Their mission is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service said that National Forest land is managed “to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run.”  There are 155 National Forests (also 20 National Grasslands, and 1 National Tallgrass Prairie) administered by the Forest Service which encompass 193 million acres across the United States.  Wayne National comprises 3 major areas (The Marietta unit, the Athens unit, and the Ironton District) and is over 830,000 acres of forest land, the majority of which is held by private landowners.

Check out this virtual tour of a Scandanavian forest, through Finnish company UPM (you need to allow your flashplayer to play the tour).  The only thing that I can tell about UPM is that they appear to be a forestry products company committed to a sustainable approach to forest management, but have come up with a really great way to share their passion to viewers around the world!  This virtual tour is very easy to get through, and incredibly well done. I think it would be a fun thing to check out with some kids, to show the similarities and differences between North American woods and Northern European ones.  For me, the best part is how it highlights the way that a forest (especially a well-cared for one) is more than the trees. 

National Tree Benefits Calculator  I just stumbled upon this calculator tool developed by Casey Trees and Davey Tree.  Curious about just how much good a particular tree is doing?  This site asks you to identify the species, the DBH (one of the more common tree measurement parameters: Diameter at Breast Height), and the closest land-use type for a given zip-code.  The results are that tree’s estimated financial benefit to you, as well as how it contributes to stormwater management, property value, energy reduction, air quality and carbon dioxide sequestration. It’s kind of fun to play around with!

Speaking of educational and fun, Project Learning Tree is the flagship tool for forestry education in the country, and it’s success led to the development of other very popular educational curriculums like Project WILD and Project WET.  PLT “uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. From its beginnings in 1976, PLT has exemplified high-quality environmental education.” If you are (or know) an educator who would be interested in using the PLT curriculum, let us know, and we’d love to help!

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Karen Gotter, Water Quality Program Assistant

Karen joined the Holmes SWCD in January 2016.  A current resident of Wooster, Karen splits her time between Holmes and Wayne counties, and the “home farm” near Bellville, Ohio. Since joining the staff, she has been involved with a variety of tasks within the office, including soil testing and nutrient recommendations, water sampling, conservation planning, field days and educational programming.  She is on the state committee for the Ohio Envirothon, and is working with the multi-county water quality stewardship program, Credits 4 Conservation.  She spends Tuesday mornings at the Farmerstown sale barn to increase SWCD’s presence in southern Holmes County, and she has taken charge of the MWCD cover crop cost-share program.  The wide range of conservation projects, outreach, and technical assistance that the Soil and Water office provides is the main reason she looked for an opening in this field, and Karen considers herself extremely lucky to have found the perfect position in Holmes County.  She can be reached at 330-600-3107 or kgotter@co.holmes.oh.us.

      This past Sunday my family clicked off one of our annual goals: kayak in the wetland area accessible off Clark Road in the Killbuck Wildlife Area, near the Wayne/Holmes county border. There’s a narrow window of opportunity when this is possible-- when it’s “warm”, the water is high, and the vegetation hasn’t grown into a tangled jungle.  Because of our “March madness” schedule, we decided Sunday was a now or never opportunity, as future weekends were booked. Forty-three degrees with a brisk wind doesn’t exactly say welcome spring, but the sky was a beautiful blue and the sun was inviting, so we bundled up and off we went. I’ve never used my kayak as an icebreaker, but there’s a first time for everything.  Exploring wetlands is such a unique experience.  Wetlands are areas of land that are either permanently or seasonally saturated with water. There are three characteristics of wetlands: water, hydric (“water-loving”) plants, and hydric soils. W etlands are important because    they act like kidneys to filter contaminants and sediments from water.  The wetlands of Killbuck Creek also hold floodwater and release it slowly. I saw that firsthand last weekend. Usually when we make our annual kayak trek the vegetation is such that there’s an impenetrable border to get to the main channel. The water was high enough in this instance that we could float right up to the main channel of Killbuck Creek and get the interesting experience of looking UP at the channel, which was higher than where we were. The channel was breaching in several places to fill the wetland area. I can only imagine how much more downstream flooding would occur without the vast (over 5000 acres) wetland area.     



              Kyaking in the Killbuck Wildlide Area in an annual outing for the Wood family.  



     Besides these benefits, wetlands are teeming with life. They provide an important habitat for many species of waterfowl and are home to rare and endangered plants. We were a little ahead of the peak bird migration last weekend, but still saw a wide variety of birds. I’m not very good at waterfowl identification and besides wood ducks and mallards I fail miserably (that’s a, um…., white billed duck). We saw several sandhill cranes (the B52’s of the sky, as my son calls them), as well as a bald eagle and several other raptors.  Even without being able to identify them, it’s incredible to see the numbers and variety of birds in the wetlands, plus there’s no lack of muskrats, beaver, snakes, frogs and turtles to mix it up when the weather warms. I encourage everyone to attend the  Shreve Migration Sensation  to learn more about this wonderful resource on March 17 and take advantage of the lectures, hands-on activities, and many viewing opportunities.   With a loss of over 90 percent of Ohio’s wetlands, the  Killbuck Wildlife Area , managed by the  Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife , is a rare gem in our backyard. Wetland appreciation is critical  and efforts to protect the state’s few remaining wetland resources involve of us. We can help protect wetlands by minimizing fertilizers use on lawns and crop fields, reporting illegal wetland fills, and decreasing nonpoint source pollution throughout the entire watershed.  Holmes Soil & Water Conservation District is all about improving water quality, and I’m inspired to be part of conservation efforts that in some way makes a difference to improve water quality and resources like wetlands. Give our office a call at 330-674-SWCD for educational programs about water quality, as well as landowner assistance, or check out the resources on our website.          











                MICHELLE WOOD, DISTRICT PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR   Michelle Wood oversees the day to day operations of the district and the diverse activities offered to promote clean water and healthy soil. With a lifelong passion for the outdoors and a background in communications, she appreciates the conservation district grassroots model which enables the local board and staff to create programs that meet the conservation needs of Holmes County.  Michelle is a member of several state and national committees.  Contact Michelle at 330-674-2811 or at mwood@co.holmes.oh.us

Exploring wetlands is such a unique experience.  Wetlands are areas of land that are either permanently or seasonally saturated with water. There are three characteristics of wetlands: water, hydric (“water-loving”) plants, and hydric soils. Wetlands are important because they act like kidneys to filter contaminants and sediments from water. Holmes SWCD Program Administrator shares her annual family experience kyaking in the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area this past weekend.

Holmes County Farmers Plant a Conservation Crop

Holmes County Farmers Plant a Conservation Crop

Credits 4 Conservation is a new nutrient stewardship program Holmes SWCD is participating in as part of the Muskingum River Watershed Joint Board. Sarah Sprang of the West Holmes FFA Agricultural Communications team talked with Jane Houin, Holmes SWCD fiscal & education specialist and marketing coordinator for Credits 4 Conservation, to learn more about how the program works in Holmes County.