Friday, June 29, 2012

Deer Management...

. . .is the term used by government, wildlife, and park agencies when the deer population is thinned to protect either the biological ecosystem or to reduce property damage caused by deer.  The Health, Education & Welfare committee of Council, which I chair,  is currently in the process of re-evaluating Amberley's deer management practice and going the additional step of creating an actual deer management policy, by passing an Ordinance that future Councils and staff can rely on in order to know what to do to most effectively manage the deer in our community. There is no currently existing Ordinance, which means that Council is left to invent solutions year after year.

In furtherance of the goal of establishing Village deer management policy, the HEW committee has so far had two separate meetings with experts in the field of regional wildlife and natural resources. In May, two representatives from the Cincinnati Park Board came to a meeting and discussed the deer management practice of the Cincinnati parks. The minutes of this meeting from May 7th, can be read HERE. Deer are culled in the Cincinnati parks for one reason only: to ensure the sustainability of the park ecosystem. No consideration is given to residential property concerns or incidences of deer-vehicle collision. While these are legitimate municipal concerns, they are not the concern of the Cincinnati Park Board. According to Park representatives Dave Gamstetter and Jim Godby, in their opinion, the optimal number of deer to ensure a sustainable ecosystem is 15-20 deer per square mile. When asked specifically about French Park, they estimated that the park could sustain six deer before exhibiting signs of deer defoliation or a "browse line." It is not only the flora of the park that is at issue, but since the deer will eat practically anything, food supplies for smaller woodland creatures from turtles to squirrels are affected by too many deer in one area.

This week, two wildlife experts from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources spoke to the HEW committee. They relayed the history of Ohio's deer population and how hunting practices have changed in the last two centuries reflecting the fall and rise of the deer population. Briefly, when Ohio was settled, no hunting regulations were in place and the deer population was decimated. Hunting of deer was prohibited and most deer populations were on game preserves. As the population began to increase, deer hunting resumed in the 1950s with strict regulations. By the 1980s, hunters were permitted one deer per season. Currently, Ohio has three different zones with different "bag" limits. Hamilton County allows the most deer per hunter per season with six deer permitted. Additionally, Urban deer zones permit an additional six "antlerless" deer per season.  The representatives from the ODNR stressed that for communities, it is important to find the balance between the "biological carrying capacity" (which is the primary concern of the Cincinnati Parks) and the "cultural carrying capacity" which addresses residents' concerns about their landscaping and other property damage, as well as deer-related vehicle incidences.

Both the Cincinnati Parks and the ODNR stated the deer have no natural enemy in Ohio other than coyotes that can take out very young deer. Other than hunters and the automobile, there is no other way of controlling the ever-increasing deer population. Contraceptive use on deer is also prohibited by the ODNR.  Additionally, "trap and transfer" methods are also impractical and inhumane. Statistically, deer mortality rates when deer are moved are higher than 50%. Also, there is nowhere else in Ohio or in neighboring states to take the deer. For more on the Ohio Division of Wildlife's recommendations for managing deer populations, you can read Publication 138, which also gives recommendations for plantings that may be safe from deer predation.

The next meeting of the Health, Education, and Welfare committee to address the deer issue will be on Friday, July 13th at 3:00.  Our guests will be Lynn Tetley, City Manager of Wyoming, Ohio, as well as Wyoming's Police Chief. Wyoming has been undergoing a similar investigation of their deer management policy and it will be helpful to learn what our neighbors have to say about this issue. Everyone is invited, as well as encouraged, to attend these public meetings. It is important for Council to hear from residents. You will be able to speak and to ask questions of our guests.

For a very informative article on deer management techniques please read THIS article by the State of Connecticut. Several states and studies were used for reference, including Ohio.

Have a great July 4th weekend. Be extremely careful if you plan to light fireworks as it is very, very dry this year.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Fun Stuff

Ridge Road Trail Head
View from French Park driveway
Standing on the corner of Ridge and Section Roads this morning with Councilman Tom Muething, and Steve and Wes from Amberley's Public Works Dept, going over logistics for next Friday's We THRIVE! event, I couldn't help but grin. We were planning for an event that is going to be one of the culminating pieces of the improvements we've made to the Village with a grant from We THRIVE! and Hamilton County Public Health with the goal of improving our residents' access to nutritional foods, healthy lifestyles and exercise, and reduced use of tobacco. The particular project we were discussing is unique in that it involves a sharing of assets with the Cincinnati Park Board and Amberley.

You may have noticed the "We THRIVE!" sign by the side of Ridge Rd. about 100 feet north of Section. This sign indicates a project that is funded by Amberley's grant. In this case, it is a new trail in French Park, with the trail head located at the sign on Ridge Road. The trail will increase options for walkers and runners who currently use the existing Village Hall walking path and a sign will be placed on the west side of Ridge Rd., at the ball fields, informing users of increased opportunities for exercise. What's particularly exciting is that in order to reach the connecting piece of trail located within French Park proper, users must cross a yet-to-be-constructed bridge.

Two roads diverge...
Which brings me to this morning's meeting... The bridge itself will be constructed by a group of young Israeli Scouts and a group of inner-city teens from The Mayor's Summer Greanleaf Program. The teens will not only be literally building a bridge on June 22, but will also be, figuratively speaking, bridging the culture gap and forming connections with kids their age from different countries and backgrounds. Local Amberley businesses Topicz and PepsiCo are donating snacks and water for the teens, and a resident has donated pizza.  The actual bridge building will take place next Friday at 8:00 AM, but there will be a dedication and laying of the final plank, as well as a tree dedication and a Proclamation from the Mayor at 12:00 Noon. All residents are invited and encouraged to attend.

In the wake of budget cuts, belt-tightening, and a police levy, I could only smile and say "this is the fun stuff!"
A surprise awaits inside!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Have you ever given serious thought to your family's rate of recycling? More household items than you might suspect are now recyclable and the more Amberley residents recycle, the greater our Residential Recycling Incentive (RRI) grant from the Hamilton County Solid Waste District. Last year, Amberley's rate of recycling was 22% which is very good. If our rate is between 20%-24.9%, our RRI $ per ton is $28.  We received a little more than $11,000 in 2011 just for recycling. However, if we increase our rate to 25%, our RRI $ per ton increases to $32.  How can we do that if we are already one of the top recycling communities in Hamilton County?

If we are smarter about recycling we can easily meet that goal. Mariemont and Montgomery already surpass us by 10%, and Mariemont does it with the small red bins as well.

First of all, go ahead and order that large recycling bin from Rumpke. You will find that with the acquisition of a larger bin, your rate of recycling will probably surpass your rate of throw-away trash. The bins can be purchased and delivered to your home. You could wait a year and get one for free when Amberley renegotiates it's garbage contract (most likely), or you could buy one this year and get another one next year. I know we could easily fill two large recycling containers at my household every week.

Pay attention to what you are throwing away. Toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls? Both are recyclable, but you are probably throwing them away. I've started keeping two waste baskets in the bathroom -- one is for recyclable trash.  Open your mail over the recycling bin. Also, all those receipts in your wallet and purse are recyclable too.

Don't throw away those old computers and televisions. They are recyclable! Hazardous household waste products can be taken to 4600 Spring Grove Avenue . I am certain with a little more thought and a bigger household bin, Amberley can become an elite community of recyclers and bring in a little more revenue to the Village as well.