Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rural Action News

A Fond Farewell to Matt Miller, VISTA for Monday Creek Restoration Project
By Kelsey McCoy, VISTA for Media

Since his arrival in New Straitsville, Ohio to work with the Monday Creek Restoration Project in December 2005, Americorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) Matt Miller has enjoyed learning about the many factors influencing the hard work of preserving our environment. “My background in biology gave me a solid grounding in hard science, but my position at Monday Creek has taught me a lot about the politics influencing environmental conservation,” Matt said.

Matt decided to work on education and outreach as a VISTA because it would be an opportunity to contribute to one of the most important parts of conservation: reaching out to the communities most affected by damaged environments. “I’ve always had a strong appreciation for volunteer service, and I wanted to use my background in ecology to help Monday Creek communicate with the public about the importance of restoration work in the watershed,” Matt said.

During his two and a half years as a VISTA, Matt utilized many outlets to connect with communities. This included planning and facilitating meetings with partner organizations, publishing a regular newsletter about Monday Creek, and coordinating youth education activities and programs.

“One of my best accomplishments is establishing a relationship with Hocking County Extension, with whom the Rural Action watershed team is collaborating on the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Program. This program to cultivate and certify volunteer naturalists is brand new to our corner of the state, and should provide an additional stream of trained volunteer help for Rural Action's environmental education and outreach programming,” Matt said.

Matt plans to explore employment opportunities in the Athens County region. His dedication and kindness will be greatly missed. Good luck Matt!

Adventure Auction Website Has Been Launched
By Jordan Vincent, VISTA for Development

The Adventure Auction, a benefit event for Rural Action, is coming to the Inn at Hocking College on Saturday, April 19, 2008. The auction will feature local businesses and adventure opportunities in the region.

The event’s official website, www.adventureauction.org, is up and running. Here you will find an auction catalog that is updated every week as exciting donations continue to roll in, and information about the event’s sponsors and donors. Details of the evening are on the site too: dinner, live and silent auction rounds, and the live local tunes of Woody Pines and The Lonesome Two. You can easily purchase tickets on the website through a secure server, or contact Jordan, Jordan@ruralaction.org or 740-767-4938. Experience a night to remember with fellow community members and Break Away From the Every Day at Rural Action’s Adventure Auction!
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Huff Run Watershed Partnership Preps Belden Project for Construction
By Marueen Wise, Huff Run Watershed Partnership Coordinator

Huff Run's Belden project is finally going to be under construction this summer. This project is one that the group has been planning and studying since the late 1990s. Exposed coal refuse and clay dot the project site along with acidic ponds left behind from strip mining. The project will change the landscape and add passive treatment measures such as open limestone channels, two steel slag beds, a settling pond and steel slag berms in one healthy pond. The bulk of funding for this project is from Rural Action's US EPA Targeted Watershed Grant.

On February 21, the 20 acre area had its first prep work for onstruction. The site contains some prime Indiana Bat habitat. Although this sounds like a good thing to benefit an endangered species in Ohio, some of the trees that the bats would prefer will be cut down to make way for reclamation. The bats migrate back to Ohio and live here between mid April and mid September. In order to make sure that the bats are not living in the trees over the summer during construction, the trees need to be cut down before April 15. And so a representative from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Huff Run staff, an ODNR employee, the technician from Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District, plus five Huff Run volunteers marked "bat trees" last Thursday. Jeromy Applegate from the Fish and Wildlife Service trained the crew on what to look for in a perfect bat home. Using bright orange marking tape, the team found and marked just over 150 trees that will need to be cut down. The contractor who will construct the project over the summer will down the trees before the April deadline. Look at the video below to watch a slideshow of pictures!

Daylong Training on Invasive Plant Management Planned for March 10
By Tom Redfern

Invasive plants continue to pose a threat to the rich bio-diversity of our woodlands. In a 60 to 70% forested region such as ours this can create economic as well as environmental problems. Studies such as one done by Rural Action Forest Advisory Board member Dr. Brian McCarthy, have shown that competition from invasive plants can seriously reduce the amount of timber produced over time, hitting the pocketbook of anyone looking at harvesting. Invasive plants can also outcompete and reduce the numbers of valuable non-timber forest products such as ginseng, goldenseal, and black cohosh.

On Monday, March 10th the Rural Action Forestry program, through funding by North Central SARE, will offer a day-long training on this subject. Speakers will include Doug Albaugh a Morgan County landowner who has been able to overcome a serious "infestation" of Tree of Heaven, and has become an expert in its control. Dr. Frank Porter, owner of a Meigs County native plant nursery will present on native alternatives to invasive species, and how to establish them. Dr. Porter has done a great deal of work with native sedges and grasses, many of which can be easily incorporated into home, as well as woodland landscapes.

This training is designed for Natural Resource professionals, students, and community volunteers. Continuing Education Units will be offered through the Ohio Forestry Association. It is free and open to the general public. It will be held at Geneva Hills, at the Geneva lodge, south of Lancaster. For more information and a complete agenda contact Heather Sheets, or Tom Redfern at 740-767-4938.

Second Annual Project ReUse to be held at ARTS/West
ReUse Industries is proud to announce the 2nd Annual Project ReUse Fashion Show! This year's Project ReUse will be held on Saturday, March 8th from 6 pm to 8pm at ARTS/West in Athens, Ohio. Ten teams of designers and models will compete for prizes donated from local businesses and organizations in this sustainable fashion event. The proceeds from this event will benefit ReUse Industries.

Each team has been given a $10 gift certificate to the ReUse Industries Thrift Store, with which they've purchased the raw materials for their creations. The teams' creations will be judged by a panel of local celebrity judges: Passion Works founder and current Ohio Arts Council Artist in Residence Patty Mitchell, local musician Liz Pahl and Angela Keslar of television’s Project Runway fame.

Last year's Project ReUse was a huge success, and this year’s extravaganza is shaping up to be even bigger. With more designers, more models and an excellent live DJ to get things moving, Project ReUse looks to become more of an institution than just an annual event. The goal of this event is to raise awareness of the importance of reusing materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

An art installation, “Infestation: Love Swarm” will be displayed at ARTS/West during Project ReUse.. These collages of found items were created in January of 2008 by the Athens Middle School 7th and 8th grade classes, along with Patty Mitchell and Art Instructor Pandy Reiser. This project was sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council and The Dairy Barn, with additional support provided by Athens Business Machines.

After the fashion show, at 10 pm, Casa Cantina will be hosting the official Project ReUse after-party featuring a unique blend of music from Athens bands Casual Future, Silo Circuit and Russenorsk.

The 2nd Annual Project ReUse Fashion Show will be held at ARTS/West on Saturday, March 8th at 6 pm. ARTS/West is located at 132 W. State Street in Athens. Admission will be a suggested donation of 6 dollars at the door, with the proceeds benefiting ReUse Industries. For more information contact ReUse Industries at (740) 698-8200 ext. 15 or e-mail sherri@reuseindustries.org.