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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.

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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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Our recent 130-acre project at Mosquito Creek Wildlife Refuge in Trumbull County was featured this week in several news outlets including WFMJ News and WKBN27 in Youngstown as well as The Youngstown Business Journal. In this news clip, S + W President Vince Messerly discusses how we partnered with Ultium Cells and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to restore a wildlife habitat in Trumbull County.   

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President Biden, on the same day as his inauguration, signed 17 Executive Orders (EOs), some of which reversed decisions made by the Trump administration. Three EOs targeted issues about the environment. One EO rolled back many actions taken by the previous administration to loosen environmental standards and protections that were inconsistent with Biden’s articulated policy.

On Wednesday, June 9, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Michael Regan announced the intention of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to expand the number of waterways that receive protection under the Clean Water Act. This would reverse a rule adopted by the Trump administration in 2020, known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which limited bodies of water that could receive federal protection. The Biden administration wants to expand protections to smaller waterways like streams, ditches and wetlands that feed into bigger bodies of water.

The issue of which streams and wetlands are subject to federal regulation has been a major concern for the past two presidential administrations, which have gone back and forth on different regulatory definitions. Regan mentioned in a statement that after the EPA and the Corps reviewed the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, they determined the current rule was leading to significant environmental degradation. According to the Corps, the Trump-era rule has led to a 25 percent reduction in “determinations of waters that would otherwise be afforded protection.”

While a compromise on this new rule appears to be a long-shot, Regan and the Biden administration is committed to holding public outreach sessions around the country this summer and fall. 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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On March 24, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a Public Notice for proposed changes to the National Wetland Plant List (NWPL). The USACE is proposing wetland rating changes or additions to 27 species and 48 regional ratings (some species were reviewed in multiple regions). The public has the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes. Comments must be submitted on or before May 24, 2021. Click here to read the entire Public Notice. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-24/pdf/2021-05989.pdf

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Photo credit: The Ohio State University Archives
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, the Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) would like to recognize the many accomplishments of women in science throughout the years. From the discovery of radiation to the invention of Kevlar and sending us to the moon, women from around the world have played a significant and often overlooked role. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize one such trailblazer who came from right here in Ohio and her work from more than 100 years ago continues to help us still today.

Frederica Marie “Freda” Detmers (1867-1934) was a Buckeye, through and through. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1887 and in 1891 she received the first master’s degree presented by the Department of Botany that was based on research with plant pathogens from The Ohio State University (OSU). In 1889, Freda became the first woman to hold a research position for the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES), a position she held until 1892. She went on to teach science and German at North High School in Columbus from 1893 to 1906.She returned to OSU in 1906 as an instructor in the Department of Botany. Freda earned her Ph.D. in 1912 (the second doctoral degree granted by OSU’s Department of Botany), became an assistant professor and ultimately returned to OAES in 1918, becoming an assistant botanist. Eventually, she left Ohio in 1927 to become the curator of the University of Southern California herbarium.

In March 1930, she was injured in a fall during a botanical collecting trip in southern California. She later died in 1934 at the age of 67.

A true pioneer, she was credited with many firsts including:
• Her masters thesis on rust fungi of Ohio was the first in the field of plant pathology at OSU.
• She was the first scientist with a Ph.D. hired on the Wooster campus with responsibilities in the area of plant pathology.
• She was the first woman in Ohio to hold a position entirely devoted to botanical research.

During her life, Dr. Detmers published at least 28 technical papers and articles including her Ph.D. dissertation, An Ecological Study of Buckeye Lake: A Contribution to the Phytogeography of Ohio, which is a comprehensive study combining data from floristic, ecological and other viewpoints – the first such study to combine these topics into one presentation. Through her life’s work, we were left with a better understanding of our state’s ecology, particularly of the Buckeye Lake region. Her dissertation included a compilation of historical records that provides great insight into the plant community that formerly existed in this area. These details will help S+W develop an ecologically appropriate habitat restoration plan for its project located within the former Bloody Run Swamp.

The Bloody Run Swamp was a large marsh located in Union Township of Licking County, a couple miles northwest of present-day Buckeye Lake. In 2019, S+W acquired an 82-acre parcel located within the footprint of the former 600+/- acre marsh. Restoration of this small part of the former Bloody Run Swamp will take place over the next few years. Please look for updates and additional historical details of this important habitat restoration project going forward.

We would like to give a special thank you to The Ohio State University Archives for their permission to use these images of Dr. Detmers.
Photo credit: The Ohio State University Archives

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Photo credit: Dr. Lara Roketenetz, University of Akron Field Station

Outdoor learning and access to nature provides positive benefits for people of all ages. Most of these programs are provided by nature centers, outdoor-science schools, parks and zoos. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the survival of programs that provide outdoor environmental and science education as well. 

Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) Board of Trustees has recently made a three-year commitment to support the environmental education program at the University of Akron Field Station at Bath Nature Preserve. Established in 1998, the mission of The University of Akron Field Station (UAFS) is to serve the needs of the people of northeastern Ohio through research, education, and service that promotes a better understanding of our relationship with the natural environment. 

“We are pleased to help support the work of Dr. Roketenetz and the UAFS at Bath Nature Preserve,” said S+W President Vince Messerly. “Outdoor learning experiences, particularly ones that promote the importance of wetlands, engage students and encourage positive attitudes about our environment.” 

“For the last five years, we have had the pleasure of hosting more than 4,000 students from northeast Ohio on field trips to the University of Akron Field Station, as well as conducting classroom visits for an additional 4,500 students so that they can learn about nature, biomimicry, wetlands and conservation,” says Field Station Manager Lara Roketenetz, Ph.D. ”This generous and sustained support from S+W will allow us to continue to offer these important environmental education experiences to our local schools at no charge.”

S+W’s contribution will help the University of Akron Foundation develop an outdoor learning center at the Bath Nature Preserve and provide continuing support for environmental education programs for urban and rural K-12 students in the region.

“This (gift) removes a very real financial hardship and burden for many of our partner school districts, which might otherwise prevent their learners from having access to quality nature-based experiential learning,” Roketenetz continued. “We are very grateful for the S+W donation and can’t wait to continue our important work!”

Situated on the 411-acre Bath Nature Preserve, the UAFS is located between Cleveland Akron/Canton. The facility is among the largest terrestrial ecology field stations in Ohio.

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On March 4, the Ohio EPA finalized the 401 Water Quality Certifications (WQC) and Response to Comments for the 2021 Nationwide Permits published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Federal Register on Jan. 13, 2021. The 2021 Nationwide Permits are effective from March 15, 2021 through March 15, 2026. The final version, issued by the Army Corps, only included Nationwide Permits for 16 activities. The other 40 Nationwide Permits will remain under the 2017 conditions until their expiration on March 18, 2022. For more information, visit the Ohio EPA website here.

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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 12, 2021.Scholarships are for the 2021-2022 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 April and May.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 12, 2021.

Questions? Please feel free to contact Megan N. Garber at Stream + Wetlands about the scholarship or submittal requirements.

For questions regarding the Fairfield County Foundation or the scholarship process, contact Abby King.

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Indiana Senate Bill 389, a controversial bill to strip state protections of isolated wetlands, passed the Indiana Senate on Monday, Feb. 1 with a vote of 29-19. The bill eliminates all state isolated wetlands permitting requirements from the law. Wetlands that meet the Waters of the United States criteria will still be regulated under the Clean Water Act (sections 401 and 404).

Read more about how the passage of SB389 will affect the state’s wetlands.

SB 389 will now head to the Indiana House of Representatives for its first reading. To voice your support or opposition to the bill, reach out to your state senator.