Choose a Clean Marina

Clean Marinas 2015-12-10

Photo credit: Ohio Sea Grant

Wherever you live in Ohio, you probably are a boater or you know a friend or family member who enjoys boating. Ohio has over 450,000 registered boaters, ranking in the top 10 of all states in the U.S., and for good reason. Whether you have a coworker who kayaks in a Scenic River, an uncle who fishes an inland reservoir or a friend who goes sailing on Lake Erie, there are many ways to explore Ohio’s waterways. There are also many marinas who rely on these waterways and contribute to our local economies by attracting visitors who frequent our hotels, restaurants, and local businesses.

Ohio Sea Grant, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association partnered to implement the Ohio Clean Marinas Program, a voluntary, incentive-based program designed to encourage marinas and boaters to use simple, innovative solutions to keep Ohio’s coastal and inland waterway resources clean.

Clean Marina Flag - croppedSince 2005, 48 marinas in the Lake Erie watershed have been certified for adopting environmental best management practices, or BMPs. We are excited to announce that with strengthened ODNR partnership through the Division of Watercraft, we are now able to certify any marina in the Buckeye State. By engaging marinas in protecting the very resource they rely on for a successful business, we hope to help ensure our waterways are enjoyable for boaters of all kinds for years to come. So keep a lookout for those marinas “flying the flag” of the Ohio Clean Marinas Program, and encourage a marina near you to join. Choose a Clean Marina, and help support efforts in Ohio and beyond to protect and enhance our waterways.

Lake Erie Watershed marinas and boaters wanting to be part of this initiative should contact Sarah Orlando at orlando.42@osu.edu or Jenny Roar at jenny.roar@dnr.state.oh.us. Marinas and boaters in the Ohio River Watershed should contact Heather Sheets at heather.sheets@dnr.state.oh.us.

(Submitted by Sarah Orlando, Program Manager, Ohio Clean Marinas, Ohio Sea Grant)

Leaking Lake Erie Shipwreck Discovered

Ohio Sea Grant’s take on the wreck of the Argo

Argo Shipwreck 2015

(U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Marblehead)

What was discovered?

A shipwreck was discovered via side scan sonar on August 28, 2015 by Tom Kowalczk from Cleveland Underwater Explorers. The measurements and general location of the wreck appear to match the Argo, a barge which sank October 20, 1937.

While further exploring the wreck October 23, 2015, Kowalczk noticed oily droplets on the surface of the water and a smell of solvent. An overflight by the Coast Guard Air Station Detroit on October 24, observed a 400-yard discoloration on the water, but a second flight on October 25 was unable to locate any discoloration.

What is leaking? Is it hazardous to humans?

Exactly what is leaking is unknown at this point, but the Argo was believed to have been carrying 4,762 barrels (over 200,000 gallons) – half benzol (a coal-tar product containing benzene and toluene) and half crude oil.

The Coast Guard has set up a regulatory safe zone, meaning boats are not to enter the area, with a 1,000 foot radius around the location of the wreck, primarily to avoid human exposure to any fumes. The coordinates of the zone are broadcast continuously on marine radio.

Did the government know about the ship’s existence and make a plan for what to do if it leaked?

NOAA knew of the wreck of the Argo and that due to its cargo, it was a risk for leaking oil. The Argo was identified as the shipwreck with the greatest pollution potential in the Great Lakes region. A March 2013 report, written when the exact location of the wreck was still unknown, recommended use of surveys to attempt to locate the vessel, along with ongoing outreach efforts with the local dive community and fishermen so officials would be made aware of any changes in the site.

Does the leak pose a threat to drinking water or wildlife?

Coast Guard officials told the Toledo Blade that, as of October 26, 2015, the leak poses no threat to drinking-water supplies or to nearby aquatic life.

What steps are being taken to secure the leak and mitigate any harm to the environment?

The Coast Guard is overseeing an effort to identify and secure the leak, and is taking steps to ensure the safety of responders within the regulatory safety zone.

“The U.S. Coast Guard deals with pollution response in the maritime environment all over the country,” says Ohio Sea Grant’s Sarah Orlando, Ohio Clean Marinas program manager. “They know what to do in this type of situation.”

Where can I learn more about Lake Erie shipwrecks?

Lake Erie is home to a number of shipwrecks, many with historical significance. Ohio Sea Grant Extension Educator Joe Lucente helps run the website Shipwrecks & Maritime Tales of the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail at ohioshipwrecks.org, which has detailed information on the history of wrecks, including maps of confirmed wrecks.

“This just goes to show how many shipwrecks – even near-shore wrecks – there are that we don’t know about,” Lucente says. “Without groups like Cleveland Underwater Explorers giving their time, money and resources, we wouldn’t know about them.”

CLUE donated many of the pictures featured at ohioshipwrecks.org, Lucente says (in a downloadable full-color brochure featuring maps and history of 28 Lake Erie shipwrecks).

For a list of additional resources and the complete article originally published on October 27, 2015, go to: go.osu.edu/argoleak.

Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.

(Submitted by Joe Lucente, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Sea Grant Program)

The Lake Erie Resource

Lake Erie Resource #1 2015-08-06

In most years there are more fish caught out of Lake Erie for human consumption than all of the other Great Lakes combined! (Photo: Ohio Sea Grant)

Lake Erie is arguably one of the most important lakes in the world. It’s the southernmost, shallowest, and warmest of all the Great Lakes, which makes it the most productive. While power generation is a major use of Lake Erie water, the most important may be that it serves as drinking water for 11 million people. It’s also an unmatched recreational resource for Ohioans as over 30 million people live within a day’s drive.

While fishing is king in the “Walleye Capital of the World,” people come from all over to enjoy boating, beaches, sailing, diving, birding and a variety of other outdoor activities. This amounts to around $11.5 billion and 117,000 jobs annually from the eight Ohio counties bordering Lake Erie. This is more than a quarter of the tourism revenue for the entire state.

In order to keep reaping the benefits of the resource, we need to keep taking care of the resource. With that in mind, Ohio Sea Grant has identified six critical issues that we’re working on to make sure we sustain a healthy Lake Erie.

  1. Sedimentation and dredging: When we get big rain events, we get a lot of dirt flowing into Lake Erie. Shipping lanes get full and need dredged, which comes at a big cost and can stir up toxins that have settled to the bottom.
  2. Phosphorus and nutrient loading: With the sediment comes the phosphorus and other nutrients. It can come from agriculture, urban runoff, combined sewer overflows, over fertilized lawns and a handful of other sources. It’s basically fertilizer for algae.
  3. Harmful algal blooms (HABs): When there’s too much phosphorus and the water gets warm in mid to late summer, we see major blooms of blue green algae, aka cyanobacteria, that can produce very powerful toxins. You shouldn’t swim in the blooms, and definitely don’t ingest it or let your pets drink it. If it gets in drinking water supplies it can be difficult to treat, which was the cause of Toledo’s issues last summer.
  4. Dead zones: As the algae and other living things die and break down at the bottom of the lake, vital oxygen gets used up. Sometimes this can cause pockets of no oxygen where fish and other aquatic life cannot survive.
  5. Aquatic Invasive Species: There are dozens of plants and animals that have been introduced to Lake Erie. They often out-compete our native species. This can cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem and cost millions of dollars to try to combat.
  6. Climate Change: We’ve seen more intense storms more frequently, and warmer temperatures more often. This can make the other issues even worse.
Lake Erie Resource #2 2015-08-06

Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. (Photo: Ohio Sea Grant)

Despite all of these issues, Lake Erie is still Ohio’s greatest natural resource and a great place to visit no matter how you prefer to enjoy the water. So how can you help keep the critical issues in check?

  • Use phosphate-free lawn care products.
  • Regularly check your septic system. Damaged septic systems can contaminate nearby waters.
  • Reduce the amount of water you send to the water treatment plant. Install low-flow toilets and rain barrels.
  • Plant native plants along shorelines and ditches. These plants can filter out fertilizers and are essentially maintenance-free.

Check out ohioseagrant.osu.edu for more information, or contact me if you have questions. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and I hope to see you up here on Lake Erie!

(Submitted by Tory Gabriel, Fisheries Outreach Coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant College Program)

BR&E Program focuses on Lake Erie Marina Industry

LE Marina BRE Report

Click on the image above to view the final report.

Attraction of new businesses is a highly visible activity in most community economic development programs. Yet research has shown that a community’s existing businesses account for up to 70% of all net change in local employment, and up to 86% in rural areas. This, among other reasons, is why the retention and expansion of existing businesses has become an essential activity of many local and regional economic development programs.

Recognizing the importance of local marinas, the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management in conjunction with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Sea Grant College Program established a Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Program to assist these companies in achieving their growth objectives and to improve the overall business environment of Ohio’s Lake Erie Marina Industry.

The program aims to:

  •  Identify and address concerns and issues of existing businesses by creating a value-chain of partners, including local and state government as well as private organizations and enterprises
  • Identify opportunities to stimulate local job growth
  • Establish and maintain long-term relationships among public and private entities associated in some way with Ohio’s Lake Erie marina industry

To read more about this program or to view the final report, click here. To learn more about the Ohio BR&E Program, visit Ohio State University Extension’s BR&E website.

(Submitted by Joe Lucente, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Sea Grant College Program)

NOAA Coastal Storms Program improves community resiliency in the Great Lakes

Orlando post 2015-06-18 combined

Photo credits: Top & Bottom – ODNR Coastal Management; Center – Ohio Sea Grant

In the fall of 2012, a large hurricane that began in the Caribbean Sea made landfall on the east coast of the U.S., causing ripples across the Northeast and Midwest for two days. What came to be called Superstorm Sandy in the Midwest generated an estimated $65 billion in damages in the U.S. alone and sent a shock wave through many working waterfront communities.

Marinas in the Great Lakes typically see 1-to-3 foot waves in their harbors. Superstorm Sandy brought towering waves of up to 20 feet and winds of up to 60 miles per hour. Many coastal communities across the Great Lakes were not prepared for this extreme weather and some took months to recover from the damages.

The experiences of Superstorm Sandy combined with projections of more frequent and severe storms in the future led Ohio Sea Grant to pursue and obtain a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Storms Grant in the fall of 2014. The grant project is titled Development of a Coastal Storms Preparation, Adaptation, and Response Tool for Great Lakes Marinas. This project aims to understand the needs, drivers and barriers to preparing for extreme weather hazards and to develop tools that will help marina owners now and in the future. The project is jointly led by Sarah Orlando and Joe Lucente of Ohio Sea Grant Extension with Dr. Eric Toman of the School of Environment and Natural Resources.

A total of ten small grant projects have been funded to make Great Lakes coastal communities safer and more resilient. Learn more about the projects including work on dangerous currents, stormwater impacts, shoreline mapping and hazard mitigation at the NOAA Great Lakes Coastal Storms Program Page.

(Submitted by Sarah Orlando, Program Manager, Ohio Clean Marinas Program, Ohio Sea Grant)

Ohio Sea Grant and Lake Erie Nature & Science Center continue long-time partnership in Northeast Ohio

What covers nearly 10,000 square miles, many of them comprising parts of eight Ohio counties in northern Ohio? In addition to creating a natural land/water boundary of over 310 miles in length, Lake Erie is a key focus area for Ohio Sea Grant and the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center (located in Bay Village, Cuyahoga County).

“The partnership between the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center and Ohio Sea Grant has been alive and well for nearly 30 years and continues to be an important relationship for a Center so close to Lake Erie,” says Darci Sanders, The Center’s Director of Education. “The expertise of Sea Grant staff is the perfect match to increase the effectiveness and efficacy of programming provided by our own talented staff.”

Lake Erie Day #2 2015-04-16

Photo: Ohio Sea Grant

Ohio Sea Grant’s focus on research, education and outreach for the Lake Erie region is a great fit for the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, which offers high-quality nature, environmental and science experiences through school field trips, preschool, family, scouting and planetarium programs, nature hikes, and a variety of exhibits connected to its expansive wildlife rehabilitation program.

The Center’s staff and Ohio Sea Grant are working on hands-on informal science information sessions for 2015 that will feature experts on a variety of Lake Erie topics. Most recently, they hosted a workshop for faculty from Cleveland and Columbus that provided information, curriculum and supplies for teaching about aquatic invasive species in the classroom.

Family Fishing Day 2015-04-16

Photo: Ohio Sea Grant

On May 17, Family Fishing Day, children ages 6 and up and their families can enjoy a morning learning the basics of how to cast, where to fish and what kind of fish they’ll catch in Lake Erie. May 23 is Lake Erie Day, part of the Year of Clean Water Celebration, where visitors can celebrate all things Lake Erie. Ohio Sea Grant staff will be on hand to offer their expertise and interactive activities on aquatic invasive species, harmful algal blooms, boating and water recreation, beach safety, Lake Erie water snakes and more.

For more information, please contact Ohio Sea Grant Extension Educator, Sarah Orlando.

Making informed decisions

In today’s world, where any question or problem can be answered by a 0.5 second Google search, it can be easy to get caught up in an information overload and difficult to separate fact from fiction. Truly now, more than ever, I argue that sources of knowledge are needed. Providing unbiased, factual information that is relevant to our stakeholders is the core mission of Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Sea Grant. This is the value and impact that an Extension program can provide.

There are often times when our opinions or foundational knowledge on a topic may be challenged – in conversations with friends, colleagues or family. During these times, I encourage you to utilize your local Extension Educator – we are here to help tackle some of the most difficult topics with factual information, to enable you to make an informed decision.

In Ohio Sea Grant, we focus our knowledge on understanding our Great Lakes water resources and the challenges that come with managing these resources. We have an uphill battle against misconceptions on everything from climate change to zebra mussels, but we fight this battle with the most valuable weapon – knowledge. Our knowledge comes from working with researchers to fully understand an issue and the science behind that issue, and our expertise is in communicating that science-based information in an easy-to-understand format through education and outreach.

Orlando post 2015-01-15 #1

Photo credit: Ohio Sea Grant

Below are just a few examples of ways to access some of Ohio Sea Grant’s science-based, unbiased sources of information:

In 2015, I challenge you to think about where your information comes from, and, if you question its validity – to reach out to those sources of credible information, such as Ohio Sea Grant and OSU Extension, to build your knowledge around a topic. As they say, knowledge is power!

(Submitted by Sarah Orlando, Clean Marina/Limnology Outreach Coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant Program)

A Word about Water Resources

No matter who you are or where you’re from, clean water is essential to your daily life. Always has been, always will be.  And yet it’s easy to take for granted. Most of us don’t think much about where our water is coming from or worry about its cleanliness on a daily basis. I must admit I’m biased coming from the Sea Grant world, but I was a bit surprised at how little the topic came up in the Futuring discussions at Annual Conference. Obviously things like economics and education will continue to be drivers of society. But to be able to focus on those major pillars, we need to continue to improve the management of our water resources.

Clean Water 2014-12-18

Photo credit: Ohio Sea Grant

That is precisely the mission of Sea Grant; to provide programs that lead to the responsible use of our water resources through informed decisions. That covers a lot of ground, so we break it down into four main focus areas:

  • Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
  • Resilient Communities and Economies
  • Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development

If you have questions on anything Lake Erie related, Ohio Sea Grant has you covered. We’ve recently been in the news for our work on things like harmful algae blooms (HABs) and phosphorus, but we’ve also been hard at work battling aquatic invasive species, creating resilient communities and engaging the next generation of environmental leaders.

OSU Extension Sea Grant Lake Erie Charter Boat Captains

Photo credit: Ken Chamberlain

Personally, I’m currently focused on the Sustainable Fisheries aspect. There are over 650 charter boat captains licensed to fish on Ohio’s Lake Erie, and for many of them fishing is a way of life. Ohio’s charter boat fleet is the largest in the Great Lakes and one of the largest in the world. That fleet is a major economic driver for Ohio’s coastal economies, and a healthy Lake Erie is essential to their success.

We partner with Lake Erie charter captains on a variety of programs throughout the year from youth fishing programs to monitoring HABs. The longest running example is the Annual Ohio Charter Captains Conference. The program covers laws and requirements, fisheries management, best business practices, new technology and equipment, and the health of Lake Erie. We typically see 25% of the licensed captains in attendance, and 74% of responding captains in 2014 stated that information from the conference will help to keep their business going or advance professionally.

The 34th Annual Ohio Charter Captains Conference is scheduled for March 7, 2015 at BGSU Firelands Campus in Huron, Ohio. Contact me (gabriel.78@osu.edu) to learn more about the conference or to ask any questions regarding Lake Erie. For information on Ohio Sea Grant visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.

Have a happy holiday season, and enjoy the water!

(Submitted by Tory Gabriel, Fisheries Outreach Coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant Program)

Watershed planning for Great Lakes communities

Most every decision we make results in some sort of impact. Take our development decisions, for example. In some way, they impact sustainability. How can we better understand the impact of our decisions?

Tipping Points & Indicators 2014-12-04

Tipping Points and Indicators is a collaborative program that gives land use planners, natural resources managers and stakeholder groups in the Lake Erie Watershed the information they need to enhance local economies and protect natural resources. Using its decision support system and action planning process, communities can determine how close a watershed is to the thresholds (or “tipping points”) that might change the way aquatic ecosystems function and pinpoint the land use practices driving them.

Tipping Points and Indicators is a new Great Lakes research and Extension program comprised of a web-based, data driven decision support system and a facilitated community visioning and action planning process designed to enable effective protection and management of natural resources throughout Great Lakes. The web-based portion is available at tippingpointplanner.org.  The facilitated portion yields an action plan that includes an overview of the current community status and whether the community is nearing or exceeding Great Lakes tipping points. It also provides customized education strategies, example policies and sample ordinances to improve current conditions. The program is targeted to land use planners, natural resources managers and stakeholder groups with an interest in assessing community sustainability using Great Lakes tipping points.

Research team members identified land use indicator variables that determine the threshold, or tipping points, that when exceeded can impact aquatic ecosystems. Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Extension Specialists developed the associated website and facilitation process that guide community groups through an interactive watershed action planning process. Touch screen monitors are used to enable community groups to collaborate and explore the website, tools and GIS maps to determine planning priorities linked to community values.

The overall program goal is to enable the development of sustainable, watershed-specific land use strategies. The Tipping Points and Indicators planning process is facilitated by Great Lakes Sea Grant specialists. Contact your state facilitator and request a planning workshop for your community.

(Submitted by: Joe Lucente, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Sea Grant College Program and Ohio State University Extension)

Environmental economics? What is that?

I am an environmental economist – but what does that mean? When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I am an environmental economist with Ohio State University Extension. In response, I get a lot of intense reactions generally involving a combination of: (a) that sounds impressive! and (b) what does an environmental economist do? Whether it is impressive is a matter of one’s perspective and is subject to debate at another time and place, so let’s instead go over what environmental economics is all about.

Lake Erie Shoreline AnglersName any environmental topic you have ever thought of or read about. There’s recycling, global climate change, pollution, preservation of sensitive lands, fracking, water quality, endangered species; the list goes on and on. Now consider that any time you discuss one of these topics or read about any of them, you might initially focus on some of the technical, physical or biological issues at the center, but it will not take very long before you begin to address the economic dimension. It is simply unavoidable. Try it and see.

Take the issue of climate change . . .  read complete article.

(Submitted by Tom Blaine, Associate Professor)