Now hiring? Need a job? Put this on your list for tomorrow

CFAES career expoIf you’re looking for a job or internship in sustainability … are looking to hire people in fields related to sustainability … or just want to network with students, graduates, faculty, and employers with an interest in sustainability, then come to CFAES’s Environmental Career Expo Jan. 31, which, as of today, is tomorrow. It’s a once-a-year chance to do just that. Details here (scroll down).

Despite drought, conservation tillage left him smiling

Image of David BrandtWhen it became apparent that the dry spell many Ohio growers were experiencing last year would become the worst drought in 50 years, David Brandt, pictured, wasn’t worried about how well the corn and soybeans on his 1,150-acre farm would fare. The Carroll, Ohio, farmer instead relied on a natural form of insurance that left the soils in his fields protected against the devastating effects of the record heat and drought that decimated many farmers nationwide in 2012. Read the story …

Color them scarlet and green: How plantings like this can keep Olentangy clean

cardinal flower image

Stormwater runoff carries oil, grease, trash, sediment, and other pollutants into water bodies. This is a main cause of pollution in the Olentangy River, which flows through Ohio State’s campus in Columbus. Although the university is currently involved in the Olentangy River restoration project, a stormwater management plan will be necessary to ensure that the river’s water quality remains healthy after the restoration project is completed. We suggest the use of rain gardens as tools to stop polluted runoff from reaching the river.

How rain gardens work

Rain gardens are landscaped areas that absorb stormwater runoff and filter pollutants. They may look like your average garden, but beneath the surface they contain multiple layers of gravel, soil, and sand. These layers help with quick infiltration. Rain gardens are most effective when placed as buffers near impermeable surfaces, such as roads, parking lots, or rooftops. This is why we propose building a rain garden along the reconstructed Cannon Drive between Woody Hayes Drive and Lane Avenue. If located along Cannon Drive, the rain garden would absorb runoff from the road and from neighboring buildings in the campus’s proposed new science and technology gateway.

Economic, environmental benefits

Rain gardens would have many benefits, including decreasing the runoff and pollutants that reach the Olentangy River. But they would also help the university save money. For example, an interesting application of rain gardens is to use them to collect and store rainwater. The rainwater is collected after it filters though the garden, then is stored in tanks until needed. Generally, this stored rainwater is used for irrigation in times of drought. Rain gardens are landscapes that are both economically and environmentally friendly.

How to learn more

For details on using rain gardens in cities, watch this video featuring scientists with CFAES’s research arm, OARDC.

For a bulletin by CFAES’s outreach arm, OSU Extension, about rain garden design and other green stormwater management systems, click here (link to pdf, 73 pages).

Read a press release about a new rain garden design developed by OARDC scientists here.

(Photo of cardinal flower by Linnaeus via Wikimedia Commons.)

Shale/fracking programs set for Jan. 24, Feb. 23

Two shale gas/fracking-related programs you may find of interest:

• “A Theoretical Framework for Analyzing Hydraulic Fracking Policy” on Jan. 24, which at this point is tomorrow, on Ohio State’s Columbus campus. The speaker is Gwen Arnold, assistant professor of environmental policy, University of Cincinnati. It’s part of the spring seminar series of CFAES’s School of Environment and Natural Resources.

“Shale and You: A Workshop for Landowners” on Feb. 23 in Canfield near Youngstown in northeast Ohio. The sponsor is CFAES’s statewide outreach arm, OSU Extension.

Student team: Restored Olentangy needs a boardwalk

boardwalkAttention, all birders: Are you sick of your birding being interrupted by bikers screaming “To your left!”? Do you wish you had a place to go birding without someone scaring all the birds away? Do you want to walk 10 feet without seeing litter? If you answered yes to all these questions, you’ll like what you’re about to hear.

Following completion of the 5th Avenue dam removal project, wetland restoration along the Olentangy River on Ohio State’s campus will take place in the next five years. Along with this restoration, a plan for a boardwalk through the wetland could be put into action.

Now you’re probably asking, “How can a boardwalk help birders?” A boardwalk would mean birders wouldn’t have to fear bikers (who are part of a greener Ohio State too). It would provide a better, safer, litter- and debris-free place to walk and watch birds from. And it would protect the restored wetland’s plant life (which faces its own challenges: click here and here).

The restored wetland will attract more birds, which in turn will attract more birders. Providing a boardwalk for them and for other visitors could lead to a new Ohio State tradition, one where nature and outdoor recreation (not just birding but fishing, etc.) are a large part of the campus and surrounding community (whose involvement is key to the river’s restoration).

So if you want to optimize your birding experience, and the campus experience overall, put your support toward Ohio State building a boardwalk along the Olentangy River.

New sustainability major: Great (and surpassed) expectations

EEDS major

CFAES’s new Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability (EEDS) program has surpassed its enrollment expectations and has added three new courses.

The program launched at the start of fall semester 2012 and is one of Ohio State’s newest majors. It recently added four other new courses.

Climate change, the food you grow, and ‘seasonal sustainability’

canned garden food

CFAES’s Linnette Goard will talk on “Preserving Your Fall Garden Harvest” Jan. 26 at the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s 8th Annual Sustainability Symposium. She’s a food safety, selection, and management specialist with our outreach arm, OSU Extension. The event’s theme is “Seasonal Sustainability for Gardeners and Everyone.” Kent State climatology professor Scott Sheridan will give the keynote speech, “Climate Change and Our Future Environment.”

Restoring the Olentangy’s plant life: Keep out invaders

phragmites 2The removal of the Fifth Avenue dam on the Olentangy River is great for aquatic ecosystems and will increase central Ohio’s plant and animal biodiversity. The river’s banks will be heavily disturbed and will offer new, fresh territory for plants to propagate and succeed. Wind, water, and even birds will contribute to the spread of seeds. Native vegetation, however, can’t become established when outcompeted by invasive non-native plants, some of which may include bush honeysuckle, narrow-leaved cattail, and common reed, or phragmites, which is pictured.

Our plant-related recommendations for the river’s restoration:

• Use native plants in the landscaping.

• Lobby legislators concerning quarantine areas and invasive species legislation

• Read. Field guides and other books (such as this one by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) show invasive plants to guard against and native plants to consider growing.

• Volunteer — with groups such as the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW).

• Sign up for a central Ohio newsletter or email list related to gardening, landscaping, invasive species, and/or the river. FLOW, for instance, has a newsletter (pdf).

Invasive plants’ seeds can travel fast and far on hiking boots, running shoes, garden equipment, bike tires, kayaks, canoes, and boats. So clean your equipment before travelling to new areas.

Invasive plant colonization usually involves an initial population quickly seeding then plateauing in numbers of the population.

Ohio State’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science will be offering a course introducing such topics as controlling, identifying, and monitoring invasive plant species along the Olentangy corridor. It will be an exciting course involving lots of time on task along the river.