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Natural Resources & Environmental Meeting 9/27/06
Attending: Karl Runser, Tim Traxler, Dick Hogan, Joe Shields, Ivars Balkits, Rebecca
Wood, Cheryl Coon, Robert Wiley, Mike Steinmaus, Dan Imhoff, Mike Gosnell, Ben
McCament, Rory Lewandowski, Eric Conkey, Kevin Lewis, Darren Cohen.
Handouts: Ohio at Night + Sustainability, Urban Planning, and What They Mean to Dark
Skies (Joe); Land Use Category charts (Rory); several samples of GIS layers (Kevin).
Welcome & Introductions - Joining the group for the first time: Rebecca Wood and Joe
Shields. Charlotte Wachtel has resigned as co-chair of the committee. Karl Runser is
Statement of Purpose - The group reviewed the statement that the committee worked up
"To evaluate existing conditions and to develop strategies for the protection and
enhancement of the environment and natural resources of Athens County."
Responses tended to favor the statement for its simplicity and straight-forwardness, Tim
noted that it is "in language easy to relate to" by the many types of people in Athens
It was generally agreed it would be best to have breakouts at the general meeting for
teams to work on their topic areas. Joe joined the Air and Sky team. Rebecca joined the
Land team. The Vegetative Cover team passed out a spreadsheet of resources sorted by
Land Use Category from Bob Eichenberg. Kevin passed around samples of GIS map
layers from SWCD. Darren is compiling data from the ILGARD GIS and will give a 15-
minute presentation next meeting; he expects to have DVD copies of the GIS data for
Kevin said to remember there are increasing inaccuracies in data as one layer is laid over
another. Rob said that often the data is not field-checked and offered to do that when
possible. Rob also suggested we continue to review and alter Team categories as the data
flows in, and he put forth a fifth category: Environmental Problems.
The teams then met for about 20 minutes. Here are the reports that have come in to date:
Vegetative Cover Committee report:
Our task was to review the general aspects of physical, biological and human
environment as they related to vegetative cover. We first came to agreement that
vegetative cover meant plant material growing on the surface of the county. Given this
definition, we found we could not really distinguish between physical and biological
aspects of vegetative cover. Therefore our physical and biological aspects are grouped
together and follow some of the basic divisions listed on the land use category spread
sheet and map that was handed out earlier in the meeting. Those divisions include:
· Forested Woodlands
· Shrub/brush land
· Open land
Pasture – Agricultural Use
Corn, soybeans, wheat, vegetables, some discussion on if hay production is
included here or in grasslands
· Wetlands, non-woody growth (some overlap with water committee)
Our discussion on human environment with regard to vegetative cover was brief but
focused on two areas: human impact on vegetative cover and looking at the quality of the
vegetative cover as it relates to suitable human use. There will be overlap on the quality
division with the land/soil committee as soil type, slope, etc will have effects on this. We
didn’t get very far at delineating these two areas of human impact, however some
topics/issues thrown out for further discussion include:
· Managed forest vs non-managed forest
· Vegetative cover and possible impacts implications in developed areas
Lawns, landscapes (trees and shrubs), ornamentals (invasives?), hardscapes, parks
· Human impacts on vegetative cover through:
Chemical use, logging, farming, grazing, road maintenance, recreation, fire, development
(concrete), mining (acid mine drainage leading to loss of vegetation?) gas/oil spills,
garbage generation (dumps, etc)
Air and Sky Team Report
Our report is organized by the three environments: physical, biological, human. First the
notes for each category and then commentary:
1. Physical Environment - weather (subtropical induction zone?); climate (existing and
coming), amount of average sunlight, rainfall, drought... affecting growing season
(overlap with Biological Environment). Dust.
You may have heard the phrase in reference to Athens County: "If you don't like the
weather, just wait an hour." It's variable. A meteorologist friend of Ivars once described
the local weather pattern (which is climate?) as a "subtropical induction zone." What is
the existing climate, and how will it change with global warming? We need to focus on
that. Average sunlight, rainfall, drought are parts of the Physical environment that affect
the growing season (which overlaps both Biological and Human environments). Dust
comes from the human environment (roads) as well as natural processes.
2. Biological Environment - bird flyways, pollen (and other organic particulate matter),
airborne microbes, methane (from livestock).
The migration of birds is important to consider when making decisions about wind-
generated power. Pollen and other organic particulate matter are biological parts of air
and sky that affect the human environment. Airborne microbes (viruses, for example)
also do. Methane from cattle has been found to be a major polluter around the world.
3. Human Environment - particulates from cars, factories, home heating (CO2. mercury
(HC), other chemical emissions), radiation, light pollution, airborne pesticides/herbicides
(re: ODOT, AEP, county, township spraying), noise pollution.
Air pollution from human activity can lower the quality of life of our citizens. Radiation
studies are available for this area. Joe has a lot of information to contribute on light
pollution in our area and public policy associated with light pollution. Ivars is interested
in documenting herbicide and pesticide use by various state and local agencies in our
area. He is also gathering information on IPM, integrated pest management, in Athens
County schools. Indoor air pollution in general is a big public concern. Noise pollution is
also an issue that the Air and Sky Team will consider.
Still needed reports to date: Land, Water.
Next Meeting: Wednesday, October 11, 6:30 p.m. Site TBA (possibly SWCD office in