Apply today for Stream + Wetlands Foundation Scholarships!

Up to five scholarships of $5,000 each will be awarded.

Applications are now being accepted for the Stream + Wetlands Foundation scholarships for the 2023-2024 academic year. The scholarship fund is held and managed by the Fairfield County Foundation (FCF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and economic viability of the Fairfield County community. Applications and a letter of interest must be submitted through the FCF website by Friday, March 10, 2023. Visit the FCF website here: https://www.fairfieldcountyfoundation.org/scholarships.

Requirements:

  • Applicant must be a resident of Ohio AND an undergraduate or graduate student currently attending a college or university in Ohio.
  • Applicant must have completed at least one year towards an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological or ecological science.
  • Applicant must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5.
  • Applicants working towards a degree that will facilitate a career in native habitat restoration engineering/ecology will be given highest priority.

After the deadline, Stream + Wetlands will review the applications and make selections for scholarship recipients. Notification of scholarship recipients will take place in May and June 2023. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on March 10, 2023.

Please feel free to contact Stream + Wetlands’ Controller Megan Garber at mgarber@streamandwetlands.org with any questions about the scholarship or submittal requirements. For questions regarding the Fairfield County Foundation or the scholarship process, contact Senior Program Officer Abby King at aking@fairfieldcountyfoundation.org or Program Officer Andrea Spires at aspires@fairfieldcountyfoundation.org or call (740) 654-8451.

Messerly Authors HB 175 Article for Ohio Engineer

Ohio ENGINEER magazine is the official publication of the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE). In the recent edition focused on environmental engineering, an article written by Stream + Wetlands Foundation’s President Vince Messerly is featured. “Mitigating for impacts to ephemeral streams” discusses House Bill 175 which recently went into effect on July 21, 2022 and its protection of ephemeral streams and its alignment with Ohio EPA’s regulatory authority with federal jurisdiction (Waters of the United States or WOTUS). Read Vince’s article here (pages 6-7).

We are hiring!

The Stream + Wetlands Foundation is seeking a full-time, salaried, Ecological Restoration Specialist to join our interdisciplinary team to support our efforts to restore, enhance and protect stream and wetland habitat throughout Ohio and nearby states. The selected candidate will assist with the planning and management of various types of ecological restoration projects to help ensure that projects meet restoration goals and objectives. We are seeking a person with 3+ years of full-time experience and demonstrated advancing responsibility in the management and monitoring of wetland and stream restoration projects in the Ohio region. Candidates must have an associates degree or higher education level in biology, forestry, civil engineering, agricultural engineering, ecological engineering, or similar natural resource related degree.

Desired Qualifications:

  • Experience with Section 401/404 permitting process, including delineations of waters of the United States, and other relevant state and federal environmental regulations
  • Effective writing and verbal communication skills
  • Proficiency with ESRI ArcGIS
  • Skilled in the use of Microsoft Office
  • Stream and wetland habitat restoration planning, monitoring, and management
  • Experience with operating GIS data collection devices
  • Experience supervising field crews for installation of wetland plant materials, construction oversight, and treatment of invasive species

The position will require working outside in all types of weather throughout the year; the ability to lift and carry more than 50 pounds; and to hike uneven terrain. The amount of working indoors and outdoors will vary by season. Overnight travel may be required up to 50% of the time (will vary seasonally). In addition to excellent compensation, S+W offers a benefit package which includes paid time off; health, life and disability insurance; 401k; and paid holidays.

Interested candidates should submit resume and a cover letter by email to Vince Messerly at vmesserly@streamandwetlands.org. The position will remain open until filled. The cover letter should describe relevant work experience, why you are interested in this position, your anticipated available start date, and other relevant information.

Ohio Legislation Now in Effect that Clarifies Regulation of Ephemeral Streams and Requires the Establishment of Mitigation Regulations

On April 6, 2022, the 134th Ohio General Assembly passed Substitute House Bill 175. The legislation was signed by Governor DeWine on April 21 and went into effect on July 21, 2022.  The law preserves Ohio EPA’s ability to protect ephemeral streams and aligns Ohio EPA’s regulatory authority with federal jurisdiction (Waters of the United States or WOTUS).  It helps ensure that Ohio’s waterways are not used as a dumping ground for debris and waste and strikes a balance between protecting Ohio’s waterways and providing consistent state regulations to support economic development and construction of infrastructure. This will provide needed clarity for the regulated community and continued protection of water quality.  On July 21, 2022, Ohio EPA also rescinded the general permit for ephemeral stream impacts that was previously adopted by the agency in 2020 when the Navigable Waters Protection Rule was promulgated by the Trump Administration. The Ohio EPA has created a Guidance Document and Ephemeral Stream Mitigation Calculator to aid applicants that have proposed impacts to ephemeral streams in applications for Section 401 Water Quality Certifications.

The legislation also added criteria by which Ohio agencies may participate in the Interagency Review Team (IRT) process.  The IRT process described in the federal mitigation regulations at 33 CFR 332 is utilized to complete review and approval of mitigation projects that provide compensation under Sections 404 and 401 of the Clean Water Act and Ohio’s Isolated Wetland Law. Additionally, the legislation requires that within twenty-four months of the effective date of the legislation, the Director of Ohio EPA shall review and adopt, in accordance with sections 106.03 and 119.03 of the Revised Code (the “rule making process”), wetland and stream mitigation standards to review and approve mitigation projects, including permittee responsible projects, mitigation banks, and in-lieu fee projects.  This should help streamline the review process by providing consistency in the evaluation of mitigation proposals.  It will also be the first time that comprehensive regulations for both wetland and stream mitigation will be codified by the Ohio EPA.

The Stream + Wetlands Foundation team is continuing to monitor activities surrounding the impact of these actions and are available to discuss how they could affect your projects.

S+W Attends MWCD Conservation Discussion

On June 29, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) held a two-hour engagement session to address conservation needs in each of MWCD’s six sub-river basins. The session was led by MWCD’s Executive Director Craig Butler, Chief of Conservation Matt Thomas as well as environmental economist Elizabeth Schuster with Sustainable Economies Consulting and attended by members of the Stream + Wetlands Foundation. At the beginning of the meeting, Executive Director Butler emphasized that the three priorities of the MWCD were flood control, recreation, and conservation.

This strategic planning session focused on the conservation needs in the Licking River watershed. Key discussion topics included maintaining/improving water quality and the quality of life offered while continuing to support population and economic development in the watershed.

ODNR and S+W Hold Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony at H2Ohio Project Site

On Friday, May 20, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on H2Ohio’s new Trumbull Creek Wetland Restoration Project. Leading the ceremony were H2Ohio Program Manager Eric Saas, ODNR Director Mary Mertz and S+W’s President Vince Messerly. The event also included a walking tour of the wetland. 

“Our main goal with H2Ohio is to improve water quality, but sites like this show just how diverse these wetlands can be,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “People can now come to watch native wildlife or birds just passing through, students can learn about plants and the role they play, or families can come to just enjoy the beauty and tranquility these wetlands provide to the public.”

“We were honored to be chosen to receive a grant from H2Ohio,” said Messerly. “The entire team at ODNR has been responsive and effective at helping us navigate the grant program for the first time for this project. We are hopeful that we can do additional wetland habitat restoration projects in the future through the H2Ohio program.”

About the Trumbull Creek Wetland Restoration Project

Located in Trumbull Township (Ashtabula County), this project restored approximately 25 acres of wetlands and five acres of upland forest that were previously used for crop production. These actions will slow the flow of water across the landscape, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous from the Grand River and Lake Erie while providing an important habitat for wildlife as well as recreation and educational opportunities. This H2Ohio project is adjacent to the 460-acre Trumbull Creek Mitigation Bank.

“The Trumbull Creek H2Ohio restoration project will restore 30 acres of diverse native habitat, including more forest, emergent marsh, and wet meadow habitats,” said Messerly. “We anticipate that wildlife will quickly start to use the site, including waterfowl, migratory birds and amphibians.”

About H2Ohio H2Ohio was launched in 2019 by Governor Mike DeWine as a comprehensive water quality initiative in Ohio to address water issues such as harmful algal blooms on Lake Erie. For more information about the work of H2Ohio, visit their website at https://h2.ohio.gov/.

First of 10 WOTUS Roundtables Held

With a commitment to listening to all sides and working to foster a common-ground approach to WOTUS, the EPA and U.S. Department of the Army announced the selection of 10 geographically varied roundtables in Feb. Through these roundtables, the agencies hope to gain a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities to enhance WOTUS implementation.

On Monday, May 9, the EPA hosted the first of 10 scheduled virtual roundtables focused on the ongoing Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rulemaking. This first meeting, called the Midwest panel by the EPA, was sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association. Two panelists, representing agricultural interests, called for the federal government to regulate farmers (particularly Iowa farmers) to get a better handle on nutrients pollution.

Agriculture interests have come out strongly in favor of the Trump administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule and against the Biden administration’s proposed two-step rulemaking process to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

Read more about this first roundtable via this Progressive Farmer article.

Apply today for Stream + Wetlands Foundation Scholarships!

Up to five scholarships of $5,000 each will be awarded.

The scholarship fund is held and managed by the Fairfield County Foundation (FCF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and economic viability of the Fairfield County community. Applications and a letter of interest need to be submitted through the FCF website by March 11, 2022. Scholarships are for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Requirements:

Applicant must be a resident of Ohio AND an undergraduate or graduate student currently attending a college or university in Ohio.

Applicant must have completed at least one year towards an associates or bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological or ecological science.

Applicant must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5.

Applicants working towards a degree that will facilitate a career in native habitat restoration engineering/ecology will be given highest priority.


After the deadline, Stream + Wetlands will review the applications and make selections for scholarship recipients. Notification of scholarship recipients will take place in May and June 2022. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on March 11, 2022.

Questions? Please feel free to contact Megan N. Garber (mgarber@streamandwetlands.org) at Stream + Wetlands about the scholarship or submittal requirements. For questions regarding the Fairfield County Foundation or the scholarship process, contact Abby King (aking@fairfieldcountyfoundation.org).

Messerly to Present at Women’s Energy Network Event

Stream + Wetlands President Vince Messerly will be leading an in-person tour of the Big Darby Hellbranch Mitigation Bank for an upcoming Women’s Energy Network event on Sept. 15. Following the tour, Messerly will discuss mitigation strategies with the group. For more information about this tour, presentation, and happy hour event, visit the Women’s Energy Network website here.

Federal Judge Ends 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule

On Aug. 30, a federal court ruling in Arizona ended a controversial Trump-era Clean Water Act rule that reversed some federal protections for streams and wetlands across the country. Judge Rosemary Marquez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered an end to the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which was set in place by the Trump administration and went into effect in June 2020. According to Judge Marquez, allowing the rule to remain in place risks serious environmental harm.

The ruling means that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) can no longer use the NWPR and will most likely return to using water protection standards from 1986 and related case law (e.g., SWANCC and Rapanos decisions).  In the coming days, EPA and the Corps are expected to provide additional details and clarifications on how their respective regulatory programs will operate going forward, including how the agencies will address existing and pending jurisdictional determinations.

The issue of which streams and wetlands are subject to federal regulation has been the root of many court cases over the course of several administrations. The controversy has escalated since the Obama administration updated the WOTUS definition in 2015.  Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced their plans to repeal the NWPR rule and issue a new rule defining which waters are federally protected under the Clean Water Act.

In response to the Biden administration’s desire to revise the WOTUS definition, the EPA announced its intent to host public meetings several weeks ago. The purpose of the public meetings is to allow for stakeholder input to the agency as it begins the task of revising the WOTUS definition. The meetings are being held as web conferences in August and September 2021. Visit the EPA webpage for the public meeting schedule and registration information here.  https://www.epa.gov/wotus/public-outreach-and-stakeholder-engagement-activities

The Stream + Wetlands team is continuing to monitor activities surrounding the impact of these actions and are available to discuss how they could affect your projects.

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