January 7, 2019

Students invited to enter T-Shirt Design Contest

OWENSVILLE, Ohio (Jan. 7, 2019) – All local K-12 students are invited once again to participate in the annual Spring Litter Clean-Up T-Shirt Design Contest.  Sponsored locally by the Duke Energy Foundation, the Clermont County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Southern Ohio Association of Realtors (SOAR), the T-shirt contest helps to jump-start planning for the clean-up event, scheduled for Saturday, April 13.

Any K-12 student attending a school located in Clermont County, or within the East Fork watershed, may register to compete. T-shirt designs should emphasize litter clean-up and prevention. Students should register and review the rules on the event website: www.springlittercleanup.com.

The grand prize winner will be awarded $100, with an additional $100 going to the winning student’s school art department. There will also be 13 grade-level awards given at $25 each.

Designs must be submitted by Feb. 8.

The Spring Litter Clean-Up will be held from 9 a.m.-noon on April 13 in various communities across the county and watershed. The clean-up is a combination of two events that have proved successful for more than 20 years in Clermont County – the East Fork River Sweep and Clermont Clean & Green events. The event is coordinated each year by the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District and the Valley View Foundation.

(Photo: Last year’s winner, Leah Decatur, center.)

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December 3, 2018

East Fork returns to natural path in Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG, Ohio (Dec. 3, 2018) – The East Fork of the Little Miami River once more meanders on a natural path through the Village of Williamsburg, no longer constrained by a dam that was built in the early 1930s.

The low-head dam, built during the Great Depression along with a waterworks pump station to provide drinking water to the Village, was breached on Oct. 13. On Nov. 30, a ribbon cutting was held on the banks of the East Fork where the dam once stood to mark the completion of the project.

More than 60 low-head dams have been removed across the State of Ohio, said Rebecca McClatchey, watershed coordinator at the Clermont  Soil & Water Conservation District. McClatchey, who coordinated the project, noted that these dams are dangerous. They create churn and can mask risky conditions. In 1974, brothers Kenny and Tom Harris drowned just below the dam in Williamsburg. A memorial in their honor in 2015 spurred renewed interest in removing the dam, and restoring the river to its natural path.

The project, which was funded by a $763,000 grant from the Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP), took several years of planning. Partners included the Village of Williamsburg and Williamsburg Township, the Ohio EPA, the SWCD, the Clermont County Parks District, Dualite, Sunesis Construction, Environmental Solutions & Innovations, Wood PLC, and Olde Fireshouse Brewery. Another partner was the City of Akron, which sponsored the project through the WRRSP.

Oct. 13 was breach day. As the dam was breached, it lowered the river level upstream and exposed hundreds of mussels along the river banks. Sixty-plus volunteers worked on both sides of the river to collect more than 500 mussels, which were either planted upstream or moved to the Mill Creek in Hamilton County.

After the dam was demolished work was done to reshape the channel, said Warren High, a senior biologist with Wood PLC who managed the project. The banks have been seeded with riparian grass, and shrubs and trees will be planted next spring. “We can expect to see greater diversity in fish and other species,” High said. Water quality will improve and the river will be better for kayakers, he and McClatchey said.

Williamsburg Mayor Mary Ann Lefker thanked the village’s partners at the ribbon cutting, particularly the Soil & Water Conservation District, which took the lead on the project. #####

How the low-head dam looked before demolition.

The East Fork has begun to reclaim its natural shape after the dam was removed.

 

Posted in: BCC, SWCD
October 17, 2018

Mussel collection a success as dam is breached in Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG, Ohio (Oct. 17, 2018) – The work was slimy but rewarding: More than 60 volunteers collected hundreds of mussels on Saturday, Oct. 13, during a dam removal project in the Village of Williamsburg.

The dam, on the East Fork of the Little Miami River, was built in the early 1930s as part of a local water works plant that supplied drinking water to residents. The plant was closed in 2003, and the dam was no longer needed. The Clermont County Soil & Water Conservation District joined with the Village of Williamsburg

An example of the mussels collected.

to remove the dam this autumn to return the river to its natural state.

On Saturday, the dam was breached at 7:30 a.m., lowering the river level upstream and exposing hundreds of mussels along the river banks. Volunteers, coordinated by Environmental Solutions & Innovations, worked on both sides of the river to collect more than 500 mussels in the project area.  Breaching the dam and relocating the mussels are the first steps in the process; eventually the dam will be completely removed and stream restoration will begin.

“We encountered one problem — the mussels were so large that they overwhelmed the holding tanks and caused us to quit counting and just start relocating them as fast as we could,” said Warren High, a senior biologist with Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions. “We were unable to measure, weigh, and mark the mussels as planned due to the large number and size; a problem we were pleased to have had.” The East Fork of the Little Miami River has a well-documented diverse mussel population, including the rayed bean (Villosa fabalis), a state and federally endangered mussel.

Most of the mussels were moved upstream in the East Fork of the Little Miami River, but some were moved to the Mill Creek in Hamilton County to help replenish extinct mussel populations. “This is the first inter-basin mussel relocation to occur in Ohio,” High said. The mussels relocated to the Mill Creek included the white heelsplitter, fat mucket, and floater species, all of which have a higher tolerance for pollutants commonly found in urban streams.

In addition to the mussel relocation, volunteers also assisted with honeysuckle removal and planting shrub and tree seeds along the newly exposed banks. Old Firehouse Brewery helped sponsor the event. “We’re pleased to see so much community support for this project and we’re eager to see the river returned to a more natural state,” said Williamsburg Mayor Mary Ann Lefker.

In the coming weeks, crews will work to fully remove the dam and install restoration and bank stabilization features to complete the project. More information can be found on the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District website: https://www.clermontswcd.org/williamsburg-dam-removal/.

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September 27, 2018

Shaw Farms to be recognized Oct. 11 as ‘Bicentennial Farm’

BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 27, 2018) – Shaw Farms in Miami Township will be recognized as an “Ohio Bicentennial Farm” on Oct. 11 by Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels. This extraordinary designation identifies Shaw Farms as being owned and operated by the same family for over 200 years.

Founder Thomas Shaw moved to Clermont County from Bucks County, Pa., in 1807 when he purchased 68 acres in Miami Township. The following year, Shaw purchased an additional 63 acres from none other than Gen. William Lytle, who some recognize as the “Father of Clermont County.” Thomas’ son, James Shaw, purchased the current property in 1834. His son, William, helped run the farm until he was captured during the Civil War and died at the notorious Andersonville prison camp.

Today, Shaw Farms is run by members of the family who are six to eight generations removed from the founder, and is led by matriarch Jean Shaw, who at age 87 still works full days at the farm. The future of the farm is in good hands, with ninth- and tenth-generation children living and playing on the farm. Shaw Farms is perhaps best well known for the produce they sell and their annual Fall Festival, which includes a corn maze, an interactive playground, hayrides and more. This year’s festival runs through October.

Director Daniels will present the Ohio Bicentennial Farm designation at Shaw Farms (1737 SR 131, Milford, OH 45150), at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11. This event is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For additional information, contact the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District at 513.732.7075 ext. 3. For more information on Shaw Farms, visit its website at www.shawfarms.com.

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September 24, 2018

Conservation assistance offered to farmers through Oct. 19

OWENSVILLE, Ohio (Sept. 24, 2018) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that Friday, Oct. 19, is the deadline to submit applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in Ohio.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps to make conservation easier for producers. Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations.

Lori Lenhart, the NRCS District Conservationist for Brown and Clermont Counties, says, “Through EQIP, we are able to give producers both financial and one-on-one help to plan and implement conservation practices, such as cover crops, nutrient management and others which lead to healthier soils, cleaner water and improved agricultural operations.”

Financial assistance is now available in a variety of agricultural categories such as cropland, forestry, pasture operations, and organic. Several special projects are also available which address water quality (such as fencing livestock out of streams), forestry management (such as removal of honeysuckle and other invasives), improving pollinator populations, applying best management practices and many more.  All available agricultural categories are listed on the Ohio NRCS website under “EQIP Application Deadlines.”

To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. Applications signed and submitted to NRCS by the Oct. 19 deadline will be evaluated for fiscal year 2019 funding.

In Brown and Clermont Counties, agricultural producers interested in applying for EQIP and conservation planning assistance should contact Lenhart prior to Oct. 19 at 513.732.2181, ext. 102 or by email at lori.lenhart@oh.usda.gov.

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September 13, 2018

Monroe Township declared free of ALB

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 12, 2018) – The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) today announced that Monroe Township in Clermont County is free from the invasive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). This follows the eradication of ALB from Stonelick and Batavia townships in March.

“We are excited to see continued success due to the dedication of our state, federal and local partners in the fight against the Asian longhorned beetle,” said Tim Derickson, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “This is one more important step to rid this pest from Ohio and we will continue to work together to achieve this common goal.”

Derickson was joined by USDA APHIS representatives, as well as community leaders at an announcement ceremony and tree planting in Fair Oak Park, near the quarantined area in Monroe Township.  Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter also spoke.

ODA and USDA APHIS will move to lift the quarantine of Monroe Township. The beetle was first discovered in Tate Township in Clermont County in June 2011. ALB quarantines remain in effect for Tate Township, East Fork State Park and portions of the East Fork Wildlife Area.

Residents should remain vigilant and inspect their trees regularly for signs of the beetle. Adult ALBs are large, shiny black insects measuring 1 to 1 ½ inches long, not including antennae, with random white spots. Their white-banded antennae can be as long as the body itself on females and almost twice the body length on males.

Signs of infestation include perfectly round exit holes (about 3/8 to 1/2 inch in diameter) made by adult beetles when they emerge from trees; pockmarks on tree trunks and branches where female beetles deposit eggs; frass (wood shavings and saw dust) produced by larvae feeding and tunneling; early fall coloration of leaves or dead branches; and running sap produced by the tree at the egg laying sites or in response to larval tunneling. The beetle will infest various common trees in Ohio, including all species of maple, buckeye, willow and elm.

To report signs or symptoms of ALB, call the Ohio ALB Eradication Program Office at 513-381-7180 or report online at asianlonghornedbeetle.com.

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August 30, 2018

Time to collect milkweed pods to help the monarchs!

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 30, 2018)  –   It’s that time of year again!

The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is calling on Ohioans for a second year of milkweed pod collections. This project started in 2015 as a seven-county pilot and last year hundreds of Ohioans worked together, said Judy Krebs, education coordinator for the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD).

Since then the volunteers have collected approximately 5,000 gallons of common milkweed seed pods, totaling more than 22 million seeds. Milkweed is the only host plant for the monarch butterfly for egg laying and caterpillar rearing. It also serves as a food source for monarchs as well as many other pollinator species.

The disappearance of milkweed across the United States has contributed to the 80 percent decline of the Eastern monarch butterfly population over the last 20 years. “We are working hard to change this, and we can use all the help we can get,” Krebs said.

Make sure that before you collect seeds, you become familiar with the common milkweed to avoid harvesting pods from similar plants such as hemp dogbane and swamp milkweed.

Krebs offers these tips:

  • It is best (and important) to collect the pods when they are dry and gray or brown.
  • If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, the pod can be harvested.
  • Store pods in paper bags; plastic bags collect unwanted moisture.
  • Put date and county collected on the bag when you turn them in.
  • Keep pods in a cool, dry area until you can deliver them to the nearest collection site.

Collections start Sept. 1 and continue through Oct. 30. SWCD will accept pods until Nov. 1 at its office at 1000 Locust St., Clermont County Fairgrounds, Owensville.

If you have questions regarding milkweed collection, please contact Judy Krebs at jkrebs@clermontcountyohio.gov , Marci Lininger at Marci.Lininger@dot.ohio.gov  or Lori Stevenson at Lori_Stevenson@fws.gov.

For more information on milkweeds refer to this video: http://u.osu.edu/beelab/milkweed-seed.

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April 30, 2018

Public invited to tour restored O’Bannon Creek tributary

OWENSVILLE, Ohio (A[o; 30, 2018) — The Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District and Clermont County Water Resources Department recently partnered to restore an unstable, 620-foot stretch of a tributary to O’Bannon Creek in Goshen Township using natural channel design techniques. On Wednesday, May 23, the two organizations will host a tour of the project beginning at 10 a.m. at the O’Bannon Wastewater Treatment Plant, 1270 Neale Lane, Loveland, OH 45140. Anyone interested in learning more about the project or about natural stream design principles is invited to attend.

Before restoration work began, three active slides existed along the banks in the project area. Erosion at these points increased the amount of silt and sediment entering O’Bannon Creek and ultimately the Little Miami River, where excess sediment is a particular concern. Habitat surveys showed low stability and limited habitat cover for fish and other aquatic species. Restoration work, which was funded in part by a Section 319 grant from Ohio EPA, included improving the channel pattern, constructing riffles and additional flood plain, bank stabilization structures and native plantings.

Registration is not required to participate in the tour. For more information about the project or the tour, contact John McManus, Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District, at jmcmanus@clermontcountyohio.gov or at (513) 732-7075 x3.

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April 11, 2018

Becky Ploucha, longtime Spring Litter Clean-Up advocate, to retire

Becky Ploucha

OWENSVILLE, Ohio (April 11, 2018) — This year’s Spring Litter Clean-Up on Saturday, April 21, marks the end of a volunteering era, with the retirement of Becky Ploucha, a long-time advocate for Clermont County communities and coordinator for litter prevention activities.

“I have truly enjoyed working with volunteers in Clermont County over the last decade,” Ploucha said.  Since 2008, Ploucha has coordinated litter clean-ups throughout the county including the spring event and the Ohio River Sweep.

Over the last few years, her group has reported seeing less trash and fewer dumping sites near local parks and streams.  “We’ve found some interesting items over the years, including exercise equipment, a mannequin, prosthetics, and car parts, but we’ve definitely seen improvement because of our volunteers and the annual clean-up events,” she said.

The Spring Litter Clean-Up is a combination of two events that have proved successful for more than 20 years in Clermont County – the East Fork River Sweep and Clermont Clean & Green events.  Support from local sponsors, including the Southern Ohio Association of Realtors (SOAR), the Duke Energy Foundation, and the Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau, have helped the program grow and thrive.

“We see new volunteers each year, with many students and families looking for service opportunities,”  Ploucha said. “My motto has always been that if we create a fun, positive experience for people, we’ll create a volunteer for life.” Now, she’s looking to pass on the volunteer torch to the next generation with the aim of preserving the parks and natural areas that make Clermont County unique.

Volunteers are needed on April 21 and there are several sites to choose from, including New Richmond, Stonelick and East Fork State Parks, the Villages of Bethel, Williamsburg and Amelia, Pierce Township, among others.

The event will take place from 9:00 a.m.-noon and all volunteers will receive clean-up supplies, a picnic lunch and a thank you gift. Volunteers can register online at: www.springlittercleanup.com. , or call Clermont SWCD for more information at 513.732.7075.

The East Fork Watershed Collaborative is an agency-citizen based watershed organization whose mission is to protect and enhance the biological, chemical and physical integrity of the East Fork Little Miami River and its tributaries. 

 Valley View Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages a 130-acre nature preserve and education facility located near the confluence of the East Fork and Little Miami Rivers in Milford, Clermont County.

 Clermont SWCD is a political subdivision of the State of Ohio charged with promoting the wise use of natural resources through service and education.

March 26, 2018

Order your native plants at SWCD’s online plant store

OWENSVILLE, Ohio (March 16, 2018) — Looking to add trees, bushes or flowers to enhance your yard? How about native plants that feed and provide habitat for pollinating insects and birds? The Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District is accepting orders at its yearly plant sale.

The district’s online plant store, www.clermontplantsale.com, has many new offerings.  Bare root tree and bush seedlings are 18-24 inches tall and come three to a packet. New this year are white cedar, dawn redwood, canoe birch and prairie crabapple trees, and Allegheny serviceberry and black chokeberry bushes. SWCD also added New England aster, bee balm and wild geranium to its perennial collection, and annuals including zinnias and salvia.

Insects that pollinate plants are in serious decline due to the widespread use of insecticides and loss of habitat. Native plants growing naturally are being replaced through development, introduction of non-native plants, and clearing for crop fields, to name a few.

Large grassy yards with Bradford pears and non-native bushes are food deserts for bees and other pollinating insects. “What we really need to do is change our perception of a landscape, to think of it as something dynamic that attracts birds and butterflies and pollinators, rather than just something to look at,” said SWCD Administrator John McManus.

Clermont SWCD will be taking orders through April 9.

After April 9, please call 513.732.7075 Ext: 2 for availability. Plant pick up will be April 28 at the Clermont County Fairgrounds.

You do not have to be a county resident to buy plants.

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