URBAN FORESTRY ADVISORY COMMITTEE MINUTES
MEETING OF DECEMBER 9, 2005
Present: Mike Ahern, John Baird, Melissa Hutson, Bill Stalter, Drew Todd, and Ellen Walker
The meeting began at 10:04 AM with Drew Todd relating that Chief Dorka and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were examining the future sale of the 16,000 acre Raccoon Ecological Management Area know as REMA. The Division of Forestry is especially interested in a tract that abuts our Zaleski State Forest. Mead Westvaco is selling the property. Chief Dorka also wanted the Committee to know that legislation combining the Ohio Forest Tax Law and the Current Agricultural Use Value has been agreed upon. Administration, awareness, and appreciation of these two financial incentives for proper forest management will be greatly enhanced once they’re combined into one law. Legislators, to introduce to bill, are currently being sought.
Drew provided an update on the current state of Ohio’s Emerald Ash Borer control and containment strategy. Following a general overview of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s efforts, Drew reviewed the Division of Forestry’s currently work with landowners and municipalities. John Baird wondered if provisions for the endangered Indiana Bat had been made. Drew said that he would check into this. [Editor’s Note: ODA has addressed this issue with the proper oversight agencies. In addition, tree removal usually takes place in late fall through early spring when no stage of the bat would be harmed.] Drew indicated that a proposed grant to help private landowners with ash tree removal costs was not being embraced by municipalities as expected. The Division of Forestry may seek to redirect these funds to another EAB related grant that the municipalities find more palatable. John Baird also expressed support for private sector membership on the Ohio Department of Agriculture EAB Task Force. Bill Stalter offered that a request to include the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association on the Task Force was previously denied. Drew stated that this is an ODA effort and the Division of Forestry has no say in the membership of the Task Force. Drew also mentioned that a small grant request to help communities inventory the number, size, location, and condition of ash trees along their public rights-of-way was being discussed with the Forest Service. John Baird suggested that the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves might be able to assist with this effort. Drew will contact them for input. Mike Ahern also suggested that the Ohio Environmental Education Fund might be a source to fund the dissemination of ash management information.
Drew passed out mockups of the new DOF website that should be online after the first of the year.
Drew mentioned that the 2006 Urban Forestry budget had been reduced by 17% at the federal level. This should not significantly affect day-to-day operations of this program.
Under Future Grants, Drew relayed that efforts to incorporate tree planting and care into the State Implementation Plan were ineffective. Because of this, Drew suggested a new approach. An unused portion of a Federal Inner-City grant is being offered to the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Program for tree purchasing and planting. The intent is to demonstrate to the OEPA Division of Surface Water the efficiency of our grant program, and the water quality benefits with increased canopy cover. The objective is to partner with OEPA in future water quality enhancing projects.
Finally, Drew reported that the Annual Urban Forestry Winter meeting would be held in mid-January. This is an opportunity for the Urban Forestry Program to review what it does and how it does it. Drew asked the Committee to send him any issues, concerns, or new directions they feel the Program should consider.
Under Open Comments, Ellen Walker reviewed a 90-acre farm that was recently placed in an agricultural easement in Jefferson Township. Ellen also suggested that ODNR set up an informational booth at the Ohio Township Association Annual Meeting in January to convey all urban forestry services available to townships. [Editor’s Note: A modification of this suggestion, along with contact information, was shared with ODA. They will contact OTA about an EAB informational booth.]
The recently engaged Melissa Hutson reviewed the City of Hilliard’s Gateway Project completed with ODOT. According to Melissa, Dominion Homes hired a local landscaping firm to complete the project.
Bill Stalter invited the Committee to attend the 2006 CENTS extravaganza. Attendance is currently free with registration. Bill also presented committee members with an ONLA Christmas present.
With no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 11:40 AM. The next meeting was scheduled for the Columbus Forestry office on Friday, March 10, 2006.
Urban Forestry Coordinator