Watch: ‘The great part is that the function of the vehicle remains the same’

We mentioned OARDC’s newly converted bi-fuel cars, which can run on either gasoline or natural gas, several posts ago. Here, Michael Pallotta, owner of the Wooster, Ohio, Ford Lincoln dealership that did the conversions, and OARDC Associate Director Dave Benfield, a leader of the project, talk about how the cars work (video, 2:04).

Olentangy restoration: Community involvement is key to success

Many groups and organizations affiliated with Ohio State participate in a multitude of philanthropic projects around campus each year. Currently, one of the largest and arguably most visible projects happening on campus is the restoration of the Olentangy River corridor (including the removal of the Fifth Avenue dam, shown here).

Research conducted by a group of undergraduate students in the School of Environment and Natural Resources’ “Communicating Environmental and Natural Resources Information” course, ENR 2367, discovered that community involvement is a great way to increase the success of projects of this nature.

The students, members of the course’s “Community Involvement in Restoration” research group, found that involving the local community in a restoration project instills a sense of pride and ownership over the natural resource and provides benefits to individuals and to the community as a whole.

Options are endless when considering ways to involve the community in a restoration project. The models assessed in the research came from all parts of the country and from different types of ecosystems. The research focused on highly successful restoration projects.

‘Ohio State has an amazing opportunity’ 

What all the examples had in common was generous support from their surrounding community. This support manifested in many different ways, including but not limited to community festivals, educational outreach, and volunteer opportunities for the community to be directly involved.

Ohio State has an amazing opportunity to make a difference in the community and in the Olentangy River restoration process. By getting the community involved in the progress of the river and by educating residents about the river’s ecosystem, we hope to create environmental literacy in our community.

Ohio land-use planning conference is Jan. 11

CFAES’s outreach arm, OSU Extension, is co-sponsoring a statewide land-use planning conference on Jan. 11. It’s called Linking Land Use and the Economy: Our Land, Our Water, Our Future (subtitle: “A Conference Exploring Tools and Trends”) and is for local government officials, planning and economic development professionals, and the development community. Get the program brochure with complete speaker, topic, and registration details here (pdf).

Restoring the Olentangy: ‘Our concern is that there will be conflicting interests between wildlife and humans’

With the Olentangy River restoration project, including the removal of the Fifth Avenue dam, Ohio State has the opportunity to create new green space along the river. This space could be a “new Oval” for students to spend time in on a nice spring day. However, a group of students in the School of Environment and Natural Resources’ “Assessing Sustainability: Project Experience” course, ENR 4567, think the new green space may be home to more than just humans.

“All the open space, fertile soils, and new plants growing in the river corridor are a great place for wildlife to expand their home ranges,” said Krysten Dick, a member of the course’s “Managing Urban Wildlife” research group. “Our concern is that there will be conflicting interests between wildlife and humans in the new green space.”

“Education is the key to having the public understand how important it is to experience and appreciate the value of wildlife.”—Stephanie Karns

Dick and her fellow group members studied the potential of human-wildlife interactions in the restored river corridor. Based on their research, they estimate that urban wildlife has a higher probability to transmit disease and that proximity of wildlife to humans could be a health concern.

“This could be dangerous for students, especially since Ohio State currently doesn’t have a wildlife management plan,” said group member Dani Flowers.

Signs, animal-proof trashcans

The group has devised a plan to keep wildlife and humans from having negative interactions with each other. “By implementing animal-proof garbage cans, we can deter animals from scavenging in the corridor, and limit their direct contact with humans,” said Justine Patmon, also a member of the group.

In addition, the group plans to design and install educational signs to help the public enjoy wildlife at a safe distance.

Group member Stephanie Karns said, “Education is the key to having the public understand how important it is to experience and appreciate the value of wildlife.”

The group hopes that its plan can be utilized by the university to keep both humans and wildlife safe in the new corridor.

Read a summary of the group’s plan here (pdf).

Nuts, timber at risk? New pest ‘threatens the sustainability of walnut trees’

If you’re a reporter or blogger who writes about the environment or gardening, here’s a list of experts from our college who can speak on deadly Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) in walnut trees.

Two state agencies on Monday (12/10) announced the first discovery in Ohio of the walnut twig beetle. The insect carries the fungus that causes TCD. But the disease itself hasn’t been found at this time.

‘Growing opportunities, cultivating change’

Registration is open for Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference. It’s the 34th annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, set for Feb. 16-17 in Granville in central Ohio.

In previous years, scientists and specialists from CFAES, including from the Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Program, have been among this conference’s many speakers.

OARDC adds greener, bi-fuel vehicles to its fleet

OARDC, CFAES’s research arm, now has four environmentally friendly bi-fuel vehicles on the road as part of a new demonstration project. The vehicles can run on gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG), which is a less-polluting, less-expensive fuel. Furthermore, most of the CNG is expected to come from renewable, locally produced, non-fossil-fuel-based biogas. Read the story … 

‘Sustainability strategies and successes’: 2nd Tuesdays Breakfast Club is Dec. 11

Register by Friday (12/7) by check or by Saturday (12/8) by credit card for this month’s 2nd Tuesdays Breakfast Club, which is Dec. 11. The topic: “Sustainability strategies and successes at Momentive, the Columbus-based world leader in specialty chemicals and materials.”

The sponsor is the Environmental Professionals Network, which, if you’re interested (and hungry), you may want to look into joining. Details about it here.

Permaculture expert, author to speak Dec. 7

Peter Bane, author of The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country, will speak this Friday (12/7) at Ohio State in Columbus (pdf). Free. All are welcome. It’s part of a tour in support of the book, which came out in June.

Permaculture, according to the book’s website, “is a practical way to apply ecological design principles to food, housing, and energy systems; making growing fruits, vegetables, and livestock easier and more sustainable.”

The talk’s co-sponsors are the EARTH Center at Ohio State, the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens on our campus in Columbus, and the Ohio State Student Farmers Coalition.