MEETING OF MARCH 18, 2005
Present: Melissa Hutson, John Milam, Ellen Walker, and Drew Todd
Guest: John Dorka
Drew Todd began the meeting at 10:10 a.m. by welcoming our newest member, Ellen Walker. Ellen is the Jefferson Township Administrator and will be filling the Township Chair. Ellen brings a wealth of township and village experience, as well as a deep appreciation and understanding of natural resources conservation. Welcome aboard Ellen!
Other committee membership vacancies were discussed. Two names were offered for both the ODOT and Planning positions. Drew will follow up on these shortly.
Under Chief’s Comments, Drew discussed the Division’s decreasing personnel challenge. The state’s Early Buyout Program is resulting in the loss of a number of highly experienced Forestry employees. With a budget that doesn’t allow for much if any replacement, it becomes an exercise in reorganization. As an example, Drew is the Division’s new State Fair Coordinator. Anybody want to work Smokey?
Editor’s Note: Drew failed to mention the availability of a new Smokey Bear license plate. Proceeds go to the Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention efforts. More information is available at ODNR's recent news releases.
The Emerald Ash Borer Update consisted of a review of the Division’s efforts to date, and the announcement that the Division of Forestry is requesting USDA Forest Service funds to hire four new EAB specialists. One position will focus on urban EAB issues. In addition to the new positions, the Division requested funds to help private urban property owners finance ash tree removal ahead of possible infestations.
Drew mentioned that he is starting to develop the Programs’ next Five-Year Plan. Guidance from the Forest Service and the Advisory Committee will be sought.
The new federal urban forestry allocation was discussed. The performance-based formula, which focuses on “managed” and “developing” communities, should not alter the Division’s current urban forestry mission. The only thing that may change is the way our Urban Foresters record their assists.
Under Future Grants, Drew discussed his idea of incorporating tree planting and maintenance into Ohio’s State Implementation Plan (SIP). While this wouldn’t be a major component in OEPA’s compliance with the new federal air quality standard, it might be enough to forestall more draconian efforts. Tree planting is strongly being considered in Maryland.
Ellen Walker suggested that Ohio Environmental Council Executive Director Vicki Deisner or Jack Shaner, their Director of Public Affairs, be contacted. Ellen also recommended the Ohio League of Conservation voters as another possible source of support. Drew will discuss this with Chief Dorka and Assistant Chief Ware.
Drew also mentioned that he’d like to develop a standard tree planting specification with the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association (ONLA) or with a recognized ONLA member nursery. This would be a document that communities could share with their in-house personnel or contractors and be confident that proper tree installation would occur, if followed. A joint ONLA/ODNR specification would have industry and government credibility.
Under Open Comments, Melissa Hutson presented the Hilliard/ODOT Gateway Project. Phase One is scheduled for this spring at the I-270/Cemetery Road interchange. This is a partnership between Hilliard and the Ohio Department of Transportation. The City of Hilliard provides the installation and future maintenance labor, while ODOT provides the plant material.
John Milam mentioned that CINergy is having him explore the pros and cons of becoming a Tree Line USA utility. Having a multi-state distribution territory, as opposed to a municipal-owned utility, is challenging.
Extra 2005 Big Tree Calendars, Ohio’s Tree booklets, and Ohio Windbreak Guides were made available to those in attendance.
With no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at noon. The next meeting was scheduled for the Columbus Forestry office on Friday, June 10, 2005.
Urban Forestry Coordinator