Join in the Excitement of the New Era

Those trying to prevent the Icebreaker Project from going ahead are not
put off by the facts.  They continue to add to the Ohio Power Siting Board’s
Comments Page their dishonest arguments, claiming that wind turbines are
responsible for large numbers of bird and bat deaths.  This is despite the Final
Environmental Assessment, announced by the U.S. Department of Energy on
September 10th, which showed that the Icebreaker Project has very little
environmental impact, and should be free to move ahead.

Regardless, the Lake Erie wind power opposition forces just persist in their
attacks.  On October 10th they submitted to the OPSB references to statements expressed by those who claim that wind turbines emit sub-auditory sounds that are capable of damaging the brain.  However, these fears are clarified as baseless, in an article discussing “wind turbine syndrome” in The Atlantic, on June 19th, 2017.

These phony fears have been vigorously propagated by the Australian coal
mining industry, in various parts of their Continent.  The effort began at least a
decade ago, when these wind power opponents judged that Australians would have greater interest in the health of their eardrums and brains than in any potential danger to wildlife.  Their fabrications certainly caused many citizens around that country to become wind opponents.

Fossil fuel providers, instead of continuing to battle against the essential need of countries to move away from outdated energy sources, should find a way of getting on board the exciting opportunity of moving to new, non-polluting versions.

There are countless examples, throughout history, of far-sighted innovators who could see that the way that objects were being made could be improved. In some cases these innovators had no previous experience in influencing how the necessary materials or equipment could be manufactured, in order to make the desired updates.

However, other innovators have actually been the makers of the forms of equipment that were increasingly becoming outdated.  They saw how some of that equipment they were producing could be modified, in order to move us into the new era. Studebaker was a classic example of such a company.  It was founded in 1852 and was originally a manufacturer of farm wagons.  Studebaker then formed the Studebaker Automobile Company, and in 1902 began the production of electric vehicles. After two years it moved to building gasoline vehicles. Although the company did not have a very long lifespan, it developed a reputation, over the next 50 years, for very high quality and reliability.

A current example of corporate far-sightedness is illustrated by Statoil.  It
recently adapted its offshore oil drilling business to include manufacturing
floating platforms for offshore wind turbines.  It partnered with Masdar, and on
October 18th 2017, Statoil Hywind, the world’s first floating wind farm started
production, offshore from Peterhead in Scotland.

But it is not only industry leaders who can benefit from making smart
transitioning choices.  Some of those who have actually been employed as coal
miners in the past are moving to newer, and very different forms of
employment.  An example of such a transition was the subject of an NPR
interview on October 19th 2018, in which Colorado coal miners told how they
had enthusiastically taken up jobs in their state’s new fiber-optic cabling

So the message for us all, and now particularly for the fossil fuel industry,
is, as it has always been, “Evolve – Don’t Stagnate”.

-Written by Sarah Taylor, Windustrious

KEC Now Accepting ‘Legacy for the Environment’ Grant Proposals for 2018-2019

KEC is seeking proposals from persons or organizations with ideas for improving the environment in Portage County.  Areas of consideration will include, but are not limited to, environmental education, storm water management, the mitigation of stream and river degradation, the protection of other surface and groundwater resources, enhancement of alternative energy usage, and/or the creation of sustainable communities. We also welcome other areas of consideration that would improve air or water quality, natural beauty, and environmental awareness in Portage County.

Requests will be considered for amounts up  to $1,000.

Proposals must be submitted by December 31, 2018, and awards will  be announced by February 16, 2019.
For a complete description of the requirements and a copy of the RFP application form, click  here.

Permaculture Resources from Fall Forum: The Promise of Permaculture

We had a great turnout at the October 22 Fall Forum: Hope for the Planet: The Promise of Permaculture with Renee Ruchotzke.

Here are some resources from the Forum:


Hope for the Planet: The Promise of Permaculture (2018 Fall Forum)

Renee and Randy Ruchotzke in their backyard (Photo Copyright Record Courier)

The threat of climate change calls for a revolution in our way of life, toward a sustainable future. Permaculture offers this revolution in the brilliant disguise of a gardening fad that is really developing a deep understanding of the complex workings of natural systems.

Forum presenter Renee Ruchotzke will share the basic principles of Permaculture and how she is implementing them in her back yard garden. She will offer practical tips you can try at home and ways we can have a positive impact on the climate starting in our community… restoring the earth one back yard at a time.

Renee Ruchotzke has completed a Permaculture Consultant Design course, using what she has learned both in her city lot garden (with husband Randy) and in her work nationally consulting with and training leaders of liberal faith communities.

Monday, October 22, 2018, 7:00pm

Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent
228 Gougler Ave, Kent, OH 44240

Free and open to the public!

KEC Participates at Festivals

KEC’s booth at both River Day and Kent Heritage festivals this year focused on the use of rain barrels to help with water conservation and watershed protection.  Sixty percent of municipal water goes to watering lawns, so using collected rain to water during dry times means there is less water flowing into storm drains, sewer systems and ultimately local waterways.  This protects local watersheds by decreasing runoff from the 70 million pounds of fertilizers and pesticides used on laws each year.  And in doing so, the water plants receive is naturally soft, free of chlorine, fluoride and others chemicals in tap water.  KEC also had displays about the Cuyahoga River’s 20th year as an American Heritage River and information about Lake Erie coastal management.

River Day, the third Saturday in May, was sunny and dry and an overall spectacular day this year.  The Coast Guard oversaw the Ready,Set, Wear It! Lifejacket activity, with young and old trying them on and having fun.  Next year, we are adding dog lifejackets, so stay tuned.

The Kent Parks and Recreation booth was shared by Portage Soil and Water and the City of Kent. They gave away about 500 native trees, including pawpaws, hundreds of packs of a milkweed seed mix, stormwater awareness and safe summer information as well as answering countless questions and sharing fun aquatic animals to look at and touch—always enjoyed by young and old.

The e-fishing at Tannery Park with Davey Resource Group was successful on Friday with Student Day and on Saturday, families shared what they had seen, as the water was not conducive to e-fishing on Saturday.  See pictures from that Sunday’s Record Courier at


Saturday, Crooked River Adventures was sending out kayaks for the on the river for “River Day” Adventures.  And Brad Bolton was there to take pictures and provided music on Saturday as well.


We are all looking forward to next year. It will mark  the 29th Annual River Day Festival here in Kent in May, as well as the 50th anniversary in June of the last Cuyahoga River fire.  There are many groups working to plan great events for next May and June.  Well let you know as things progress.

Sustainability in High Places

On a recent trip to Chicago, I went on a river tour of their downtown Architecture.  I learned  lot about the various styles of buildings from historically inspired and art deco to mid century modern, post modern and contemporary and how they visually tried to integrate any new buildings by using details from nearby buildings to make it seem to fit.

The environmental fact that interested me is that as these styles changed, so did their energy efficiency.  I was surprised me to know that some of these very tall skyscrapers are LEED (Leadership in Energy  and Environmental Design) certified, thus saving money and increasing energy efficiency.

One example they gave of this is 111 South Wacker.  The previous building at that site was then the tallest building in Chicago to be demolished.  The current 51-story, blue glass structure is a striking example of creative problem solving and was completed in 2005.  It achieved Chicago’s first LEED (Gold) certification.  Among other features, the building has a green roof. But designers were concerned about plants surviving 65 floors up, so their green roof houses alpine species.  For more information about this and other Chicago architecture, as well as information about architectural boat tours, click here:

 –Lorraine McCarty

Where Ohio Meets the Lake: Managing the North Coast

Scudder Mackey, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of  Coastal

Scudder Mackey

Management, spoke at the 4th Annual Edith Chase Symposium on June 1. The coastal management office is responsible for managing and protecting both the 312-mile-long Lake Erie shoreline that runs from Conneaut to Toledo and the Lake Erie Islands–all while balancing economic, cultural and environmental interests.

Mackey talked about meeting Edith Chase within a couple of months after he began to deal with coastal management in 1992 and believes that she would approve of the current direction the office is taking. In addition to Mackey, three technical engineers provide aScudder Mackey, the Chief of the Office of Coastal Management, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, spoke at the 4th Annual Edith Chase Symposium on June 1, 2018. This Office is responsible for managing and protecting the 312 mile-long Lake Erie shoreline that runs from Conneaut to Toledo as well as the Lake Erie Islands, while balancing economic, cultural and environmental interests. Mr. Mackey talked about meeting Edith within a couple of months after he began to deal with coastal management in 1992 and feels that she would approve of the current directions they are taking. Beside himself, there are 3 technical engineers who provide assistance and guidance—both in the office and going out into the field.

True color photo images of Lake Erie harmful algal blooms on August 14, 2017
(Photo Credit: Aerial Associates Photography, Inc. by Zachary Haslick)

The Coastal Management staff are trying to develop more responsive programs. For the first 25 years he’s been there, they did mostly regulatory programs and some technical stuff. Now they want to shift to on the ground advice and implementation. They are looking for innovative ideas to do things differently, not just follow the past. They have received enhanced funding that allows for the enhanced interagency cooperation. They are gathering new people to look at science-based decision making, which was very important to Edith Chase as well.

But before we get into that, he did discuss their many responsibilities, which include:

  •  Decrease algal blooms (50% funded by NOAA pass thru funds)
  • Improve water quality (no mandate do this but they do work with the OEPA)
  • Control Estuary (CELCP) and Sea Grant money
  • Manage the Old Woman Creek National Estuary Research Reserve
  • Manage Public Lands Trust

Permits issued by the office include:

  • Shore Structure Permits
  • Coastal Erosion Area Permits
  • Salvage Permit
  • Submerged Land Lease Consistency reviews (state and national state can stop feds if doesn’t meet federal law. State has primacy.)
  • NEW: Temporary Structure Permit when there is catastrophic damage (The application is only 2 pages instead of 16 pages and they respond within 24-36 hours instead of 6-8 months that it takes to get the regular permit approved—This allows people to modify their structure in the best way possible for more positive/softer designs to increase habitat benefits and not just as it was before.)

He talked about the significant storm damage and flooding over the last year caused by storms with 2.5-3ft. waves, shorelines over the seasonal rise of lake levels over that of previous years and 1 ft. over last year. He showed pictures of their office parking lot in Sandusky, with trash dumpsters floating because the lake is now 24” above the long term mean and only 2” below the all time high water mark. This illustrates one of the challenges of current realities.

But this also leads to opportunities. Extra funding is allowing Ohio’s Office of Costal Management to do something no other costal projects in the U. S. are doing: They are using innovative ideas identified by various groups to develop a portfolio of projects that meet the goals and objectives of Ohio Coastal Management and the Costal Zone Management Act, as well as local groups that also have broader goals. They are applying Leverage Conservation Design concepts and getting training in systems thinking and spatial design to facilitate linkage to these groups. They have developed a portfolio of 39 potential projects from now to next 10 years—in sequenced increments. Partners need time to get non-federal and state funded matches—so they need to be able to anticipate projects and align resources.

Right now, we treat all Ohio shoreline the same, but there are several different types of shore structures so we shouldn’t. Can you increase nearshore water quality and increase sand resource for recreation and protection at the same time? 75% of Lake Erie’s coastline is armored to stop erosion— but when the water hits the hardened area it stops the movement of sand and increases erosion in adjacent properties. This changes nearshore habitats, and has increased zebra mussels attaching on rocks instead of in the sand.

Other goals such as coastal biodiversity, maintaining sustainable fishing and managing invasive species also present questions we need to be able to answer based on science. But we often don’t have data we need to make accurate decisions. For example, we had no data on nearshore fish populations, because until recently we had only studied and managed fish in deep water. For the past 4 years, nearshore populations have been studied through grants and surveys, giving the information we need to ask the right questions of people and to answer the question of how to manage the nearshore.

A big question on everyone’s mind is the goal of a 20% decrease in phosphorus loading by 2026. The Office of Coastal Management is working with the OEPA on this issue.

One large science-based project is focused on nitrogen-based algal bloom in Sandusky’s Inner Bay, where the blooms start before they get to Lake Erie’s Western basin. The team looked at the 6 ft deep inner bay as a system and is using a series of natural filtering wetlands so the water gets to Lake Erie cleaner. The goal is 40% cleaner by 2025. Commercial shipping is in the Outer Bay, so this does not interfere The project is funded by grant from the USEPA’s Great Lakes Research Initiative, which is passed thru to Sandusky. They are considering doing this in the Maumee Bay but there is no real opportunity to do this at other river mouths in Ohio because most are too altered/hardened, but the Sandusky project can be a pilot to show other states how to do this.

Another professor is studying internal loading so we have information for total phosphorus loading in the Western Basin. And Ohio State is researching what shifts the algae to become a toxin.

They are also working hard to clean Cuyahoga River industrial area by building a sediment processing site — where materials are pumped, the impurities settle and the water is cleared before it is drained to the lake. The sand left is mined and sold for road construction, which offsets the costs. This is working successfully.

A bed-load interceptor is another process which extracts sediments before they hit lake. They want to pump the sediments onto agricultural sites. Already loaded with phosphorus, they can be useful to the crops. This project is planting crops themselves to prove to agricultural people that it works.

In his introduction of the speaker, Bob Heath talked about Edith’s approach to environmental

Edith Chase


  1. Get the facts straight
  2. Seek science-based solutions of environmental issues
  3. Look beyond local issues
  4. Do something to make it better.

I think Edith would applaud the Office of Coastal Management’s direction and actions.

For information about other projects and resources from the Office of Coastal
Management, click here.

–Lorraine McCarty (with editorial review by Bob Heath)

Sustainability Commission Makes Progress

Kent Sustainability Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee Makes Progress in Support of Paris Agreement on Climate Change

A recent commentary in the print media said that said all of the doom and gloom articles about climate change have left people feeling helpless and that the media need to focus more on what was being done by people, companies, and communities to combat climate change. The example given was about an Alaskan village that was disappearing because climate change has forced the village to move 9 1/2 miles over the past decade to find solid ground. While Kent isn’t facing something this dramatic, the city is being proactive and taking steps to do its part to fight climate change.

Kent City Council asked an ad hoc committee of the Sustainability Commission to develop a climate action plan for the city. The committee–two members of the Sustainability Commission members, three representatives of the Kent Environmental Council, two representatives of Kent State University, one representative of Davey Tree and support staff from the city– has been meeting regularly.

The city has joined ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability, which was founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Enviro

nmental Initiatives). ICLEI is the leading global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future. By joining, the city gained access to the ClearPath software, which is used worldwide to track greenhouse gas emissions.

The committee is representing Kent as one of 10 cities chosen to participate in a web-based, 10-week work session on how to complete a greenhouse gas inventory. Afterward, the committee will put what it has learned into action here in Kent, with the greenhouse gas inventory process expected to take 12 to 18 months. After baseline greenhouse gas inventory data have been collected, the committee will report its findings to the community and seek community input and then use that information help guide its development of a climate action plan.

–Lorraine McCarty

Don’t Kill That Queen!

Those big, black-and-yellow bumblebees that you’ve been seeing lately are bumblebee queens looking for a nesting site and foraging for nectar and pollen.They do look menacing, if only because they’re so large, but they won’t harm you. So, you should not harm them.They’re too busy looking for a suitable nesting site and building their hive to bother with you. If a bumblebee queen is killed, that is the end of the hive; each bumblebee hive typically produces about a thousand bumble bees in a year.

Bumblebee queens are the only bumblebee to overwinter in the ground, in little spaces they choose  late in the fall. All the worker bees die.In spring, the queens come out of their winter nests   (hibernatoria) and begin to hunt for a suitable place to build their underground hive (generally from late March through mid-June). After they have found a suitable location, they begin to build the tunnels and rooms that become the hive.They also begin to lay fertilized eggs that will become the workers. After the female worker bees mature (about three weeks), they take over the task of foraging for nectar and pollen for the hive.The queen then stays in the hive for the rest of her life.Eventually, she will make some fertilized eggs to produce virgin queens and lay unfertilized eggs that become males.Long-story short: the males fertilize   virgin queens as they leave the nest; once inseminated, the queens search for their hibernatorium; all the workers and the old queen die in the late autumn, completing the annual life cycle.

Bumblebees are among the most efficient pollinators around–perhaps as much as 10 times more efficient than honeybees. Bumblebees are very hairy and can hold a lot of pollen on their bodies. They also mix nectar with pollen to make a sticky ball that they glue to a special part of their hind legs.The rate that bumblebees visit a flower is faster than the visit of honeybees. Bumblebees also can fly from flower to flower faster than honeybees, and they can fly at lower temperatures and explore darker and more diverse habitats than honeybees. Although both honeybees and bumblebees are classified as generalists (i.e., they pollinate many different flowering species), bumblebees can pollinate crops such as tomatoes and peppers (crops of the family Solanaceae) that honeybees avoid. 

In short, although honeybees are having their problems in terms of population numbers, bumblebees may be able to cover for them in fields and with crops that require insect pollination. Even crops that are wind-pollinated have increased yields when insects pollinate them. As you may know, honeybees are not native to Northeast Ohio; rather, they are native to Europe and likely evolved in the Middle East or Asia. Bumblebees are native to North America and therefore may not be as susceptible to diseases as honeybees. Scientists just don’t know that for sure. Honeybees have been studied extensively because of their economic significance; native bees are only now coming under increased scrutiny for their pollination capabilities.

Part of the effort to understand the abundance and distribution of bumblebees in Ohio is being coordinated by the Bee Lab in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, at Ohio State University.


Two statewide surveys are under way. The first survey focuses on bumblebee queens searching for a suitable location to develop their hive. The second survey aims to identify when and where bumblebee queens forage for nectar and pollen. This survey is done entirely by looking and primarily by volunteers such as myself. Volunteers do not capture the queens and instead identify the bee species on the fly–something that is easier said than done for a novice like me. I photograph them and then identify the species from the photos. Both surveys will last through June and then be analyzed by Dr. Jessie Lanterman, a post-doctoral professor in the Bee Lab.Stay tuned for the results to be reported at a later date.

–Bob Heath


We hope you will come and check out the events for this year’s River Day on May 19th at the Haymaker Farmers Market 9 to 1, at the Tannery Park from 10  to 12 for electrofishing and all day for rentals from KSU Crooked River Adventures’s canoe, kayak, tube or bike rentals.   Click on the flyer below to see details and check out the second page of the flyer for information about the 20th Anniversary of the Cuyahoga as an American Heritage River.

2018 River Day Flyer two-sided final