Ohio Wesleyan Student Spearheads Creation of University’s Third Rain Garden

With climate change, water rights, and environmental politics dominating world discussions, Ohio Wesleyan University student Kayla Adolph ’20 of Toledo, Ohio, is addressing the issues on campus with a project 10 months in the making.

Collaborating with OWU students, faculty, and staff, as well as workers from the City of Delaware, Adolph spearheaded the installation of a rain garden this fall on the west side of Merrick Hall. The garden is the result of a project in professor John Krygier’s spring 2019 course, Geography 360: Environmental Geography.

More: Beauty and Function: Ohio Wesleyan Student Spearheads Creation of University’s Third Rain Garden

Delaware Run Storm Drain Net Installed and Catching Crap!

Ohio Wesleyan University senior Brianna Graber has spent the past year planning and conducting water-quality research on the Delaware Run, which flows through the university campus and into the Olentangy River.

Her work included collaborating with the City of Delaware to install a 4-foot-high, 18.5-foot-wide, concrete-weighted storm drain net directly into the waterway. Put in place by crane Sept. 9, the 13,000-pound trapezoidal net is now capturing trash and green debris (organic waste such as lawn clippings and leaves). The net is one of the first installed in Ohio and the nation.

More information: Net Benefits: OWU News & Media

Visit the storm drain net: then social media it: #delrunstormdrainnet

The storm drain net is accessible from the OWU campus, just east of the 2nd footbridge east of S. Sandusky St.:

A video of the storm drain net in Delaware Run (Sept. 25, 2019)

Rain last weekend started the process of filling the net and trapping stream debris just upstream from the net (below). An assortment of larger trash along with quite a large amount of organic material is evident. Most notable is the impressive collection of cigarette butts.

Brianna Graber (OWU 2020) has been testing Delaware Run water, and will be able to compare water quality before and after the storm drain net installation. Material caught in the storm drain net will be analyzed for content (organic vs waste, etc.). The effects of such larger water-bourne materials on water quality is the focus of Graber’s work.

The presence of so many cigarette butts is of interest. Not only do cigarette butts contain plastic, but they also contain chemicals including nicotine. Some studies have began to investigate the impact of nicotine and other contaminants from cigarette butts on urban water (see Littered cigarette butts as a source of nicotine in urban waters, Journal of Hydrology
Volume 519, Part D, 27 November 2014, Pages 3466-3474).

Analyzing the contents of the storm drain net will allow the City of Delaware and other collaborators to understand and create target efforts to reduce specific kinds of waste, and to understand how both human generated and organic waste effect water quality.

Watch here for updates and let us know if you have questions!

New Campus Bird Feeders @ Treehouse SLU

Two nest boxes and a feeder stand were recently installed in the backyard of the new Tree House SLU (small living unit) on Rowland Ave., on campus.

Two nest boxes and a feeder stand were recently installed in the backyard of the new Tree House SLU (small living unit) on Rowland Ave., on campus. Alumni Dick Tuttle and student Eva Blockstein installed the boxes and are maintaining them. The nest boxes were taken from the old Tree House SLU where they raised Carolina Chickadees and House Wrens during their stay there. The feeder stand’s top is many decades old but it has a new layer of paint.

Nest box 2 is facing the sidewalk on Rowland Ave. so students can see it as they walk to-and-from classes.  Number-2’s label should cause the curious to ask, “So, where is number 1?”

Eva filled a feeder with sunflower seed and it now hangs from the feeder stand. The second feeder will be seen by veteran birds and will speed up the use of the new offerings.

New Bio-retention Cells (rain gardens) by Branch Rickey Arena on OWU’s Campus

Drawing by Jonathan Stechschulte

Branch Rickey Rain Garden (Bio-retention) Development on OWU Campus

Participants: Janelle Valdinger (City of Delaware, OWU), Dr. John Krygier (OWU Geography & Environment & Sustainability), Brad Stanton (City of Delaware), Perry Mickley (City of Delaware), Department of Parks and Recreation (City of Delaware), Department of Engineering (City of Delaware), Carolyn Cicerichi (City of Delaware)

Contact: Janelle Valdinger (JValdinger@delawareohio.net), John Krygier (jbkrygier@owu.edu)

This rain garden project is the outcome of an Environment & Sustainability program student project, in collaboration with the campus Sustainability Task Force, OWU Buildings & Grounds, and the City of Delaware.

Ohio Wesleyan University was established in 1842, in one building (Elliot Hall). Elliot was built near a sulfur spring, which flowed into the Delaware Run, near the earliest settlements in the area (upper green oval, below) The proposed rain garden is located along an unnamed stream just south of the sulfur spring and Delaware Run. The stream was buried sometime in the early 1900s. The area was developed as an athletic field for Ohio Wesleyan shortly afterward. Branch Rickey Arena was built on the site in 1976.

What is a Bio-Retention Cell? MS4 Permit/Storm-water Project: The City of Delaware works diligently to keep waterways healthy. One way this is achieved is through compliance with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (OEPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program. The City has a permit with the OEPA for stormwater discharges, which are generated by runoff from land and impervious surfaces such as parking lots and rooftops. This bio-retention cell helps keep the City in compliance with its permit by treating stormwater pollutants before they reach streams, rivers, and other waterways.

Rain gardens are designed and developed to improve water quality in nearby bodies of water to ensure rainwater becomes available for plants as groundwater rather than being sent through storm-water drains out to local tributaries. Rain gardens have the ability to reduce the amount of pollution reaching nearby streams and rivers by 30%. The purpose of this project is to design and implement two rain gardens located on the north side of Branch Rickey Arena/Gordon Field House.

Two storm basins have were located and inspected by the City of Delaware Department of Public Utilities as approved project sites. Two planning meetings took place with the Department of Engineering, Department of Parks and Recreation, and management to determine the design, layout, plant requirements, grading requirements, and labor needed for the said project. Calculations were made to determine the exact design layout.

Drawing by Jonathan Stechschulte

A quote from the City Arborist placed a $12,500 price tag on this project, and the funding was from a City of Delaware grant. OSU Landscape Architecture graduate student Jonathan Stechschulte provided the excellent drawings of the project, which OWU’s administration required before moving forward with the project.

Fall 2018: 95% of plants planted in the spring survived, with a minimum of maintenance.

Maintenance after the project has been completed will be shared by OWU’s Buildings & Grounds as well as being part of a semester and summer internship (focused on watershed issues). Interns will monitor, maintain, and report on the rain gardens, along with assisting our Watershed Coordinator and Department of Public Utilities employees with other tasks.

This project is part of a larger effort to create a more sustainable, and green infrastructure within the City of Delaware and especially on OWU’s campus. The possibility of this kind of project spreading to more locations on and around campus is high. Students can come back to this project year after year, choose a single storm basin or a collection of storm basins, create a design and implementation plan, and present it to the Department of Public Utilities. The Department of Public Utilities creates a capital improvement budget, along with a working budget every year to every five years, creating a constant allocation of funds for projects similar to this.

Building the bio-retention cell, Spring 2018:

Dustin Braden points to the future location of one of the two bio-retention cells, Spring 2018. Damn cold that day.
Dustin Braden and Janelle Valdinger admire the stakes which will mark the boundaries of the bio-retention cells.
One of the two cells, right after being planted in the Spring of 2018.

Two signs (above) describe the way bio-retention cells work, and the history of the location: a buried stream runs under/near both cells. See the old map of campus (above).

Publication: “Scrappy Sustainability at OWU” – Chapter written by OWU Student & Faculty

“‘Scrappy” Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University” is a recently published book chapter which describes OWU’s sustainability efforts and strategies over the last decade.

Woodrow (Woody) Clark is an OWU alumnus (’67) long involved with environmental and sustainability efforts. The second edition of his Sustainable Cities and Communities Design Handbook (December 2017 info here and here) contains a chapter written by OWU student Emily Howald (OWU, ’18) and Professor of Geography John Krygier.

“‘Scrappy” Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University” describes OWU’s sustainability efforts and strategies over the last decade. These efforts have been the work of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members all working at a grassroots level. These efforts, in practice, have led us to develop a series of strategies, Scrappy Sustainability, which is particularly appropriate for colleges and universities.

The first page of the chapter below. PDF here.

…and a text from the first few pages:


“Scrappy” Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University

Emily Howald, John Krygier

Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH, United States

Chapter Outline
A Grassroots Model for Sustainability in Higher Education 561
The Context of Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University 561
Coordinating Sustainability Without a Sustainability Coordinator 564
“Scrappy Sustainability” Outcomes 565
A New Model for Sustainability? 570

A GRASSROOTS MODEL FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

There are colleges and universities with the expertise and financial resources to invest in large-scale, conspicuous sustainability efforts (such as large solar arrays, stylish LEED-certified buildings, and full-time sustainability staff) and there are those who do not. However, those without the funds for conspicuous sustainability are not necessarily excluded from substantive sustainability efforts. Indeed, we suggest that grassroots, “scrappy” sustainability efforts on college campuses and at other institutions may have certain benefits over top-down, high-investment sustainability.

THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABILITY AT OHIO WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY

Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) is a small, private, liberal arts college in central Ohio that serves as a modest showcase for a relatively low-cost, grassroots, and distributed approach to sustainability. The university neither has a sustainability coordinator position nor any other employee with distinct expertise in sustainability. None of the faculty have specializations in the field, and there are no classes taught on the subject. As of yet, there is no official sustainability plan and there are neither funds nor donations set aside specifically for sustainability projects. OWU has, over the last decade, expanded its endowment, raised significant funds for student travel and research, and embarked on a substantial upgrade to campus student housing. These are all fundamentally important and easily justifiable priorities. Given this situation, it is easy for students, faculty, and staff to feel like not enough is being done to foster sustainability on campus. Instead of complaining about the lack of top-down, large-investment sustainability, a group of students, faculty, and staff have embarked on a grassroots effort to make sustainability work at OWU despite limited resources. Ultimately, we argue, sustainability efforts can succeed if those who believe in the value of sustainability actually do something, then persist in furthering the efforts until something takes hold, and then persist in keeping the efforts going. Successes with these smaller, “scrappy” efforts will, hopefully, lead to larger efforts, backed by a spreading culture of sustainability.

OWU has a rocky history with sustainability efforts. Many higher education institutions believe that they must be leaders in finding solutions to the environmental crisis by developing and promoting the knowledge, tools, and technologies needed to transition to a sustainable society. As the environmental movement emerged and developed in the 1960s and the 1970s, OWU established an Environmental Studies major, the first such program in an academic institution in Ohio. In its nearly 40-year existence, the program has produced hundreds of majors that have gone on to successful careers related to the environment. In 2009, a Sustainability Task Force was created to evaluate the President’s Climate Commitment (PCC), which 80% of students voted to support. Despite the lack of any direct negative consequences for not meeting the PCC goals, the Task Force was concerned about the capital investments and employee time needed to implement and monitor the necessary energy efficiency upgrades to campus facilities, and recommended that a sustainability coordinator be hired (rather than signing the PCC). In 2011, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant funded a 2-year sustainability coordinator position. The university hired Sean Kinghorn for the position, and his efforts generated significant rebate funds for the university, as well as energy-saving efforts and dozens of sustainability projects (many led by students). In 2013, Kinghorn’s position ended, after the failure of several grants intended to acquire additional funds for the position. A student protest later that year demonstrated student commitment to the sustainability coordinator position. With the decision not to sign the PCC and the lack of funds to continue the sustainability coordinator position, one might expect the prospects for sustainability on campus to fade. At that point, the campus Sustainability Task Force set out on an effort to encourage grassroots sustainability efforts and create a campus sustainability plan, despite the setbacks.


 

 

May Move Out

In the Spring of 2012, Geog 360 student, Sarah D’ Alexander embarked on a major campus donation drive known as the May Move Out. The purpose of this project was to collect many of the items students typically throw away at the end of the year and donate these items to local charities and the OWU Freestore. It was estimated that 43 tons of “waste” was donated and kept from the massive dumpsters set up all around campus.

maymoveout_headerimage

May Move Out       

April 25th 2013 to May 11, 2013

Sarah D’ Alexander, Reed Callahan, Sean Kinghorn

In the Spring of 2012, Geog 360 student, Sarah D’ Alexander embarked on a major campus donation drive known as the May Move Out. The purpose of this project was to collect many of the items students typically throw away at the end of the year and donate these items to local charities and the OWU Freestore. It was estimated that 43 tons of “waste” was donated and kept from the massive dumpsters set up all around campus. However, in the Spring of 2013 the two recycling coordinators (Reed Callahan & Sarah D’ Alexander) and the OWU sustainability coordinator at the time (Sean Kinghorn) revisited this project with a full vengeance for waste reduction. We examined the successes and failures from last years May Move Out and worked to improve the project. Many of these changes pertained to improved organization, systematic structural changes and increased signage and donation bins. All of these factors led to a significant increase in donations collected.


The May Move Out for Spring 2014 was modified in an attempt to have existing OWU staff complete the work, but with mixed results. A revival of the May Move Out, based on the experiences in 2012 and 2013, is planned for the spring of 2015. Contact John Krygier for more information.


Go to May Move Out Spring 2012     |     Go to May Move Out Spring 2013

Note: Both the 2012 and the 2013 report have not been updated so some of the information is out of date.


May Move Out Spring 2013

Reed Callahan, Sean Kinghorn

In regards to the results of this year’s May Move Out we were not able to collect accurate empirical data on the amount of donations collected. Last year Sean was able to examine the differences in waste accumulation and reduction due to the May Move Out, and conduct a comparative analysis of waste tonnage diverted. He was able to conclude that when comparing a 5-year average of waste produced in the past years before the May Move Out that in the Spring of 2012 when the May Move Out was first implemented it diverted 43 tons of waste. The data for this years waste diversion from the May Move Out should be available around mid June, but there is no individual available to calculate the amount of waste diverted for the 2013 May Move Out. Krygier, this may possibly be a project you could do for a future student; have them collect the data from Waste Management, which is provided to the University and have them figure out the amount of waste diverted from this years May Move Out.

Planning the Event

While trying to restructure the May Move Out the most useful source we had was the experiences Sarah and Sean had from last year running the project. We started planning for the Spring 2013 May Move Out in the beginning of the Spring Semester, and this really helped us properly plan out the project and make the necessary contacts.

While planning for the May Move Out there was not a sequential order of steps we followed that led to the end product; we slowly developed upon a broad based plan and then dissected the specifics of each main part of the project. When designing the plan an important aspect was the scale of the project. We realized that we needed to not bite off more than we could chew, and make the May Move Out manageable for the amount of time and effort we would be willing to contribute to the project. This can be a very time consuming project and it is important to realize the lack of free time people have around that time in the semester. In this year’s May Move Out in the last week, Sarah Sean, and I were probably working 5-7 hours a day. If next years students are able to get more volunteers than it may be feasible for some individuals to not commit that amount of time, but this project really requires a few dedicated volunteers to make large time commitments.

When trying to evaluate the scale/size of the project we first needed to consider how many donation areas do we want to have around campus. Last year the donation areas were located in one spot in every dorm and there seemed to be a lack of consistency in the donation locations. This year we put donation boxes on every floor of every residence hall, and donation boxes in every fraternity house, senior housing and SLU.

Shown below is the list of all donation areas (floors for each residence hall and number of fraternities, SLUs, senior housing)

  • Stuy: 3 floors (12 boxes)
  • Smith West: 4 floors Smith East: 5 Floors (36 Boxes)
  • Hayes: 4 floors (16 Boxes)
  • Thompson: 3 floors (12 Boxes)
  • Bashford: 4 floors (16 Boxes)
  • Welch: 4 floors (16 Boxes)
  • 9 Senior Housing and Fraternities (36 boxes)
  • 7 SLUs (28 boxes)

Donation Box Layout

One question that may come to mind is why did I list the number of boxes after each location. This year we decided to use four donation boxes at each location. These four boxes each had labels indicating the types of items that should be placed in them.

Donation Box Layout

The four categories the bins were divided into were school supplies, non-perishable food items/detergents, clothing, and electronics. (I will send an email attached with the signage we used) This system of bin layout contributed to the students separating their items and when dividing the items in the OWU Free Store this saved a significant amount of time in the sorting process. The sorting of items in the May Move Out can be very monotonous so this relieved many of the volunteers from this type of work. As a result more volunteer’s time and effort could be allotted to donation collection. In regards to the decision to collect these types of items, the experience of the past May Move Out helped us gauge the types of items that students typically disposed of at the end of the year. Along with that, the signage used on the donation boxes was very simplistic and used a visual aid to help guide students to the proper bin for their donated items. As a result we had very little contamination or incorrect items in the various donation boxes.

Donation Box Locations

Another important feature of our donation locations was the centralized donation areas in each residence hall that was intended for larger items such as futons and mini fridges. Our reasoning behind the use of this location was that the four donation box areas were in the hallways and larger items being placed in the walkways could be a fire hazard or a more serious concern is that it could look aesthetically unpleasing. The centralized donation areas were typically on the first floor of the residence halls, where there was ramp access, but still easily accessible to students. We indicated the specific location of the centralized donation areas by taking a photo of the location and putting it on a sign that was placed above the donation boxes on each floor. (Refer to the attached pictures of the signage).

Hayes Donation Location

The scale of the project may have been double the size of last years May Move Out, but along with that we had to make sure Res Life approved of the project and the changes we planned to make around the residence halls. An important aspect to note for future groups is that constant communication with the RLC’s is crucial for this project. We met with the RlC’s multiple times and explained where we planned to have donation bin locations and the types of items we were collecting. In order to create as much transparency about the May Move Out to the RLC’s we set up a meeting and showed a PowerPoint of all the locations within the residence halls where the donation bins will be placed and exactly how they will look. This may have taken some extra time, but it worked well because the RLC’s were able to provide us with valuable advice and information that we never would have known. Also photo documenting the locations helped tremendously when we gathered volunteers to help distribute the donation bins all across campus and when donation collector knew exactly where to pick up the bins.

Here is the link to a PDF that shows all of the bin location we proposed to the RLC’s around campus (this document is available in Google Docs, please contact John Krygier for access).

Volunteer Recruiting

The May Move Out relies heavily on the use of volunteers for the success of the project. This year we tried our hardest to get as many volunteers as possible, but we still did not have the turn out we originally hoped for. It is obviously a difficult time in the semester to ask students to commit a few hour volunteering when they have a big final, paper and/or project due that week. We tried to reach out to as many students as possible, but also faculty and staff. Many individuals in the University’s administration or even professors may have some free time to help out and it is worth reaching out to them. This year we had a few professors and even Chaplain Powers and his staff show up to volunteer and that honestly made a huge difference for the success of the project.

List of strategies/methods used to recruit volunteers

  • OWU Daily: we started submitting OWU Daily’s a month before the first week of the May Move Out, but no one responded. We then changed the message in the OWU Daily to “Want Free Stuff” and then explained if students volunteer for the May Move Out they get first dibs on the items we collect. We also had a link to our volunteer sign up sheet.
  • The Transcript: get a reported from the Transcript to write a piece about the project. No one really reads the Transcript, but it can’t hurt
  • Service Learning Hours or Probation Hours: Some classes/majors or organizations require a certain amount of Service Learning hours so let the school administration know about the project and that you need volunteers so students can be directed towards your cause. Also when students get in trouble they need to get a certain amount of community service hours.
  • Word of Mouth: This was probably the most valuable way to recruit people and often allowed us to guilt individuals into volunteering. Also reach out to certain clubs or organizations that typically do a lot of service work (Progress OWU, Environment and Wildlife Club, etc.)

Volunteer List

One of the greatest successes of this year’s May Move Out was the volunteer list we created. There were three different volunteer positions that individuals could sign up for, and we allotted the number of volunteer slots and times based upon our speculated number of volunteers needed on each day. Our approach is documented in the May Move Out Volunteer List (.xlsx file). A Google Docs version of this file is available from John Krygier).

List of Volunteer Positions and Descriptions

The description of these positions helps shows how we intended these volunteer positions to interact within our donation collection and sorting system

Donation Monitor Volunteer Description:

Your job as Donation Monitor will be to do a walkthrough of your assigned residence hall on the day you have signed up. You will need to go and check the various donation locations and call or text one of the van drivers if you notice a full donation box or a large item in the centralized donation area. This job only requires a short time commitment and can be done at your availability anytime before 4pm.

Donation Collector Volunteer Description:                                                                             

The donation collectors will be helping us pickup donations at the various residence halls, SLU’s and fraternities. These individuals will be helping to move the donated items from the donation locations in the residence halls to the vans. The donated items will then be delivered to the OWU Free Store for sorting and further distribution to charities such as Goodwill & Habitat for Humanity.

Free Store Sorter Volunteer Description:                                                                                

Your job will be to sort the donations delivered to the OWU Free Store. This job involves the seperation of donated goods into predetermined categories (clothes, electronics, school supplies etc.) as well as deciding which items should be left for the OWU Free Store and which items will be given to the other participating charities. We will provide more specific instruction upon your arrival. Free Store sorting will take place in the Stewart Annex, which is next to the jaywalk: 70 S. Sandusky St.

Another important part of the volunteer list was collecting the volunteers contact information, residency, and whether an individual was OWU van certified. We used this information to send out a reminder email a day before an individual’s volunteer shift to make sure they were aware of their commitment. Along with that we had people’s phone numbers to call them in case they missed a shift or if there was a change of plans that day. The information about volunteer’s residency was important because if we were having any problems in a certain dorm or needed some quick help we could reach out to individuals in that dorm or housing unit.

The May Move Out was only two weeks long (last two weeks of spring semester), but regardless of the amount of volunteers helping out the last week will be extremely hectic.

Our donation boxes on every floor of every dorm were filling up as fast as we could empty them and this caused non-stop donation collection all day, especially the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of finals week. We had two OWU vans reserved all day for the entirety of those two weeks and having the vans is crucial. If future students are to tackle the May Move Out next year than they need to reserve at least two OWU vans and ask to have all of the seats taken out, except driver and passenger seats (felt like that disclaimer was necessary). If next years May Move Out Musketeers are able to recruit more volunteers than three vans may be necessary to avoid a bottleneck in time due to a lack of van accessibility.

Shown below is the inflow and outflow of donations from the donation boxes, to the centralized distribution location and ultimately to end destination of these donations.

May Move Out Process

Sorting Process in the OWU Free store

The OWU Frees store, which is the Stewart Annex by the Ross Art Museum, was used as our donation distribution center. The Stewart Annex is a mostly vacant building that is still used by some faculty on the 2nd floor, but we used the first 3 rooms closest to the buildings entrance. These rooms stored the various items we collected and also helped us separate and categorize the donated items. Future students must make sure in advance that these rooms will be available in those two weeks and also all summer (items need to be stored there for next year’s OWU Free store). The school administration may put up a small fight for these rooms, but their reasoning behind denying you these rooms has very little valor; a group of alumni use one of those rooms once a year in the summer. If they make this point tell them that the rooms have been used for this project in the past two years, and that the rooms are so disgusting as it is that they should be ashamed for allowing alumni to step foot in those rooms. Often if you reason through the argument of aesthetics and alumni enjoyment then you can attack the heart of the beast known as the OWU administration.

Shown Below is a variety of pictures we captured from the project and the layout of the different rooms in the Stewart Annex.

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Recommendations/Advice

Learn from our mistakes. I advice all future group that want to take on the May Move Out project to learn from the successes and failures of the past two years of May Move Out’s and improve the project. Please fell free to use any of our signage (Download zipped file of signs here) Google Doc Spreadsheets (previously linked, here), or presentations that we used this year. Also understand that there are many improvements that could be made to our signage, Google Docs, donation bin layouts, etc. and alter these aspects of the project in a way that you see fit best.

The donation boxes we used were given to the school by the International Paper Company; make sure you have over 200 of these boxes at your disposal. OWU typically uses these boxes during large events or graduation when they need easily accessible trash bins, but they should have extras. Contact Building and Grounds in advance about the number of boxes you will need and establish a good relationship with someone in B&G, they can be a huge help for this project when it comes to needing supplies.

Try to recruit as many volunteers as possible. The success of the May Move Out project relies heavily on volunteer participation. The last two weeks of the semester is a difficult time for students, but try to get early commitment from individuals. Also reach out to University administration and faculty; they often have the ability to convince/force students and/or staff to help out. Reach out to the Delaware community for participation. Individuals from the Delaware community expressed interest in helping out this year, but we never had time to follow through with them. At the end of the semester some individuals from the Delaware go through the OWU dumpsters and collect items for charities so there is definitely interest within the community for this type of project.

Make sure you keep strong communication with Res Life and be transparent about exactly what you plan to do. Try to also get more involvement with Res Life physically helping out with the Move Out considering this project overlaps with many of Res Life’s job duties. We had originally asked that the RA’s be more involved with the May Move Out because it pertains to proper room check out and disposal, but we received very little help from the RA’s. My advice is to be really persistent with the RLC’s in getting the RA’s to be involved with the May Move Out. The RA’s do not have to be physically collecting donations, but they should be notifying volunteers when the boxes are full or helping advertise for the event. The RLC’s may tell you that the RA’s already have a lot on their plate and this would be too much extra work; they are lying. You would most likely be asking for a small time commitment and it would fall within their job description of managing the room check out process.

Advertise as much as you can. There are mixed feelings about the best way to advertise around OWU’s campus, but hitting all the different avenues can’t hurt. However, in the grand scheme of the project and regarding time management, this should be a fairly small portion. The bins in each resident halls are pretty self explanatory so students often know the boxes are for donations, but the advertisements around campus could explain the project and also see if students would be interested in volunteering.

Note: The document below describes the first May Move Out, modified for the second May Move Out in 2013, as described above. As with the 2013 report, this report has not been updated so some of the information is out of date.


May Move Out Spring 2012

Sarah D’Alexander, Sean Kinghorn

The Problem

Every year at the end of the spring semester, the strategically placed dumpsters all over campus become completely full and have to be emptied several times during move out week. This would not be such an issue if the dumpsters were full of garbage. However, upon closer inspection, one can find: printers, furniture, clothing, books, lamps, chairs and a wide variety of other reusable things that do not belong in a landfill. This is due to the fact that many students don’t have the time or the ability to transport all of their things back home in the rush of moving out, so they choose the path of least resistance —throwing it away.

We wanted to change this. Colleges all over the United States have dorm move out programs, and we wanted Ohio Wesleyan to be included in this demographic. Our mission was to make donating reusable furniture, school supplies, etc. to be as effortless as throwing them away. This way students would, by default, donate their extra things instead of throwing them into the dumpster. This is not only important for its environmental implications, but it would also economically benefit the university to not have to hire a truck to come empty the dumpsters so many times.

Our overall goals for this project were to:

  • Reduce the amount of solid waste students produced
  • Enforce the reuse of unwanted things
  • Increase awareness on the importance of donating unwanted items
  • To support the OWU Free Store which will be an active resource for the students on campus by the fall semester of 2012.
  • Create a program that is continued every year

Project Setup

Organizing this project was a very large task because in order for it to be successful we needed as many people on campus as possible to be aware of our efforts. We also knew that we were going to need a lot of help!   Upon researching what other schools had done we formulated a “to-do” list. We first had to plan the time-line for the project, so we could make sure that we could get everything done in a timely manner. To do this we worked extensively with Sean Kinghorn, the University’s Sustainability Coordinator, to help him organize and run the project. We also contacted Residential Life and Building and Grounds on campus, so they would be aware of what we wanted to accomplish and to get their cooperation and support. We wanted to collect a variety of things, so we created a donation list that we could hang with the donation bins, so students knew what they could drop off.

Next, we had to recruit volunteers. We did this by advertising our project and our need for student help in any way we could. We posted advertisements in the OWU Daily, created a facebook event where we could keep interested people updated on our progress, put up fliers, and contacted organizations on campus who could help provide volunteers such as: E&W, Circle K, Progress OWU and WCSA.

We tried to get a volunteer representative from each SLU, Fraternity and dorm on campus. This way we could make sure that we had a representative at every donation location that could be available to answer questions, help put up fliers, and let us know when donation bins needed to be emptied. We communicated with volunteers through email and through group meetings where we discussed the logistics of the project.

Gathering Resources

Nearly all of the resources we needed for the project, were donated, borrowed or already owned by the University. Goodwill donated large blue bins with wheels, which we put in each dorm to help move the donations. We also had several dozen large cardboard boxes donated to the university, which we put in each dorm for people to drop off clothing, non-perishable food, and small personal items. Buildings and grounds, while cleaning out storage units, came upon a couple of dozen small hard plastic recycling bins, which we put in the public bathrooms and laundry rooms for people to donate their left-over detergent, shampoo, soap etc. to local charities. All the other cardboard boxes we needed were given to us by the Thompson store.

Day of the Event

This event lasted about two weeks long, as we started receiving donations two weeks before the end of the school year. However, the majority of the donations came during finals week, when people began moving out. Sean Kinghorn and all available volunteers went around to each dorm every day to empty the donation boxes.

We sorted the donations into two piles: one that would go to a charitable organization and one that would go back to the students through the OWU Free Store. Due to our limited space we only accepted appliances, electronics, like-new clothing, and school supplies for the OWU Free Store. We kept these donations in a room at the OWU Annex, next to the Ross Art Museum, to be sorted through and organized.

The busiest days for collecting donations were the last day two days of finals (the Thursday and the Friday the majority of students had to move out by). We had so many donations that it took all morning and afternoon to get through all of the dorms, which we had to return to multiple times a day, since students were constantly dropping off unwanted things during the day.

Also, on the Saturday before finals week, we had the Habitat for Humanity Restore truck on campus all afternoon to collect larger items, such as furniture and appliances. This was especially useful this year because, due to a change in policy, the Fraternity Houses had to get rid of all of the furniture in their houses and the SLUs had to empty their storage rooms. We also had volunteers stationed at the truck to collect clothing or other donations that the Restore truck does not collect.

Results

By the end of the move out, we had collected an astonishing amount of items. A rough calculation determined that there were about 230 boxes donated to Goodwill (11,500 pounds); 2,000 pounds of furniture donated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore, 750 pounds of clothing and linens donated to the Community Free Store, and 70 boxes of donations went to the OWU Free Store (5,250 pounds). This resulted in a net weight of approximately 19,500 pounds of donations (nearly 10 tons!!!)

Also, the dumpsters themselves were emptied much less often than they had been in past years. For example, the large dumpsters behind Smith were emptied for the first time at about noon on the Friday after finals week, when ordinarily they would have already been emptied twice by then. 

Tips

Since this was the first time a project like this had been attempted, there were a number of things that we could have done better.

  • This is a large project so make sure you have at least two committed students heading the efforts along with a staff or faculty advisor
  • Although we had been prepping and discussing the project all semester, we really didn’t start putting boxes out and meeting with the volunteers until mid-April. In the future, it would be better to devise a solid schedule ahead of time. This will make sure you stay on task, keep the volunteers notified on what is going on, and make sure there is a pick-up schedule for all of dorms.
  • Getting committed volunteers was also a problem for us. Although we had been gathering volunteers since March, and we had about 30 responses, barely any of them actually showed up to help on the Thursday or Friday pick-up days. We did, however, have a few committed volunteers in each dorm who really helped us put fliers up and kept us updated on the status of the donations in their dorm.
  • We only had one volunteer meeting to discuss the logistics of the project and, although there was a good turn out, not all of the volunteers could attend. In the future, having a volunteer meeting every couple of weeks would be beneficial; this will help commit the volunteers to the project. During this time you can devise a schedule to make sure you have volunteers each day of the move out week, and assign duties to each volunteer to make sure everything gets done.
  • Even though we had an overwhelming number of donations there were still a number of residences where we did not actively collect donations. We did not have any volunteers from the Williams Drive Residences (4, 23, or 35) and we could not set up boxes there ourselves because only people living in those dorms have access inside. Also, we had participation from only a few SLUs (Tree House, Cow House, House of Thought and the Modern Foreign Language House) we did not have representatives from the other SLUs, so we could not effectively collect donations there. We had a similar problem with the Fraternities where we only had active participation from a couple of them (Alpha Sig and Phi Delt).
  • We only had one van that we used to pick up things from each dorm. This made the pick-ups quite slow, since the van had to take a load to Goodwill or the OWU Free Store after nearly ever dorm. Hiring or getting a volunteer to drive another van would be a huge help in the future.
  • It would have been helpful to have the support of other campus organizations as well. Nearly all of the help we did receive was from members of the Tree House and the Environment and Wildlife Club. It would be beneficial to contact as many organizations as possible, since they already have a group of committed students who could likely help. Organizations to consider are: SLUs, Circle K, Progress OWU, fraternities, sororities, WCSA, and members of ResLife.

When inspecting the dumpsters they contained no visible reusable items, which was a huge accomplishment. However, we did see a lot of recyclable things thrown away. There were more bags of plastic bottles, cans, and cardboard boxes than there was garbage! To take this project one step further in the future, it would be worthwhile to come up with a way to divert the amount of recyclable things thrown away. This could be done by emphasizing what can be recycled, communicating more effectively with buildings and grounds, and putting volunteers on “dumpster duty” to monitor what is going into the dumpsters.

Green Business Survey and Resource Guide

The goal of the Delaware Green Business Project is to create a Green Business Challenge for the City of Delaware in order to help local businesses to become more environmentally sustainable. An online survey and resource guide (downloadable) were created for the project.

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Photograph of historic downtown Delaware, Ohio. Photography by John Hollinger (Source)


Delaware, Ohio Green Business Survey & Resource Guide                      

Spring 2012

Sophie Kiendl, Amy Carr, John Krygier, Sean Kinghorn

Summary

The goal of the Delaware Green Business Project is to create a Green Business Challenge for the City of Delaware in order to help local businesses to become more environmentally sustainable. The Challenge will be initiated with an online survey created for the project. The survey will allow us to monitor various environmental issues related to community businesses over time, and can be connected to the Sustainability Region database. Our main objective is to decrease energy usage, water consumption and waste and improve the performance of commercial and institutional buildings and their operations. We will work with Delaware business to increase the environmentally business practices will decrease their expenditures. The Green Business Project is a business friendly project and will in no way harm participating businesses. We encourage the entire business community to join us and help create a greener community.

Methods and Results

At the beginning of the semester Dr. Krygier informed us that we would be doing class projects involving the environmental sustainability of Ohio Wesleyan University and Delaware County. We had to come up with ideas that both would add depth to the project and interested us. Amy came up with the idea of a Green Business Challenge for Delaware Businesses. The idea came from a previous project she worked on in Charleston, SC, which had the same goal of increasing greener business practices in their community. Amy and I worked with Sean Kinghorn to come up with ideas for what we would like to have involved in our green business challenge to make it effective and applicable to the Delaware County business community. We met weekly to ensure that we could provide our participants with the best possible challenge and resources to complete the challenge. We developed an online survey with 37 questions for the participants to complete with 65 points possible.

Participants will receive this message upon receiving the online survey challenge.

We have sent you the Delaware Green Business Challenge survey. The survey is meant to give you a baseline of how green your business is and an idea of what areas you can improve in. It includes 50 actions that are necessary for a greener business. Once you have completed the survey your answers are collected and your score is generated. There are a 100 points total 4 tiers of achievements. Tier 1 being the highest level of achievement. See the chart below for a breakdown of points needed for each tier.

Along with the challenge businesses will receive a Resource Guide to help green their business. Once each business has finished the challenge we will compute their scores and personally work with them on ways to better their businesses. As well businesses will receive a plaque or certificate showing the public that they have participated (in no circumstances will the businesses scores be shared with the general public, we are here to help not harm!).

See the two documents generated for this project:

  • Green Business Challenge Survey (PDF)
  • Green Business Resource Guide (PDF) (Word)

The survey is in Google Docs format and can be modified and sent to businesses if students are interested in continuing the project. The resource guide, with some updates, can also be used for future projects. Contact John Krygier for more information.

Recommendations (2012)

  1. Consult the City of Delaware Chamber of Commerce. Allow for critique and adjustment of the survey to meet the needs of Delaware businesses. With the approval and backing of the Chamber of Commerce it is possible that more businesses will want to participate in the survey and Green Challenge program. Inquire as to methods of promoting the survey and program.
  1. Consult additional local business organizations, such as Downtown Delaware. Again, allow critique and adjustment of the survey and the Green Challenge program. Inquire as to methods of promoting the survey and program.
  1. Develop educational programs on sustainable practices that are open to the public along with programs only for those that are participating in the program. The educational programs should be hosted by Ohio Wesleyan, which opens the possibility to involve students in the programs. The involvement of both the City of Delaware and Ohio Wesleyan in the program will lead to a stronger relationship between the City and the University. Reach out to the Economics Department to see if students and faculty may be interested in moving the survey, Green Challenge, and additional sustainable practices programs forward.
  1. Directly link the results of the survey to the Sustainability Region database. Institute a program to periodically resurvey businesses to track change over time and assess the impact of the programs promoting sustainable practices.

 

Ohio Wesleyan Salamander Habitat

A small wetlands area exists at the edge of Ohio Wesleyan’s campus, pinched between the recreational trail, US Highway 23, and OWU Athletic fields. This habitat, artificially created by the significant landscape modifications in the area over the past 100+ years, supports salamanders and other wildlife, despite poor water quality, noise, half-buried waste from an old Ohio Wesleyan dump, and garbage. This project builds on an earlier project that removed garbage from the area and provided a basic assessment of the location and animal species present.

salamanders

OWU’s Salamander Swamp                       

Fall 2013

Tiffany Green, Amy Downing, John Krygier, Sean Kinghorn, Thomas Wolber, Milagros Green, Sara Starzyx

Summary

Wildlife can thrive in even the most marginal of habitats. A small wetlands area exists at the edge of Ohio Wesleyan’s campus, pinched between the recreational trail, US Highway 23, and OWU Athletic fields. This habitat, artificially created by the significant landscape modifications in the area over the past 100+ years, supports salamanders and other wildlife, despite poor water quality, noise, half-buried waste from an old Ohio Wesleyan dump, and garbage. This project builds on an earlier project that removed garbage from the area and provided a basic assessment of the location and animal species present. Our goal for the current project is to consider the development of the area as an outdoor classroom and research location. To this end, we need to complete a more thorough assessment of animal and plants in the area, test the water (and potentially soil) and consider steps (short and long term) to enhance the habitat. Habitat enhancements may include the addition of salamander-friendly wood “houses,” invasive plant species removal, improved (but ecologically friendly) access for class and researcher access, remediation of water pollution sources, remediation of litter sources, noise reduction, etc.

Methods and Results: Fall 2012 Clean-up

The original project involved a quick assessment of the habitat, to see if any salamanders could be found, prior to a cleanup of garbage in the area. We weren’t expecting to find salamanders; therefore it came as a shock when three Eastern Red-Backed Salamanders were found, almost immediately, under rotting trees and rocks near the water. Photos were taken and later the species was identified by comparing the images to ones shown on the internet. While finding the salamanders was positive, the habitat itself was a mess. The area was filled with trash; pillows, a shower curtain, parts of a car, a tent, bottles, ceramics, cooking utensils etc. Some of the older trash dates from the time that the area was used as a dump by Ohio Wesleyan, including half-buried barrels, vehicle parts, etc. Newer trash has descended into the area from the recreation trail, US 315, and the athletic field to the south of the habitat.

Sustainability Coordinator Sean Kinghorn helped organize a day (Fall 2012) where volunteers could help remove trash from the habitat. Sean provided trash bags, gloves, and lawn shears as well as a place to dispose of the trash. The date was set in December, because by then all salamanders would be hibernating and so we would be less likely to disturb them. Trash was removed in and around the area where the three salamanders were found. All except for those pieces that were too big, or too heavy to lift. This ended up being not such a bad thing since animals seemed to be using the car parts, tires etc. as their homes. In order to clear out the area, a rudimentary path was created by utilizing fallen logs and cutting away the underbrush. By using the path to get down the steep incline, all trash from the area was cleared, and ended up filling ten trash bags. We recycled what we could. Clearing out the trash is only the first step to saving the salamanders and their habitat; there is much left that needs to be done.

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Recommendations: Fall 2012

  1. Complete a more assessment of animal and plants in the habitat. Initiate a salamander census as the first step in assessing numbers over time. Assess salamander migration into and out of the area, if possible, and obstacles to this migration. Collaborate with OWU faculty and students who may be interested in using this habitat for research.
  2. Evaluate the water in the habitat, including sources. Test the water to evaluate any problematic pollutants.
  3. Evaluate the soil in the habitat.
  4. Evaluate noise in the habitat (primarily US 315)
  5. Create salamander friendly “houses” in the habitat
  6. Evaluate the removal of invasive species that adversely affect the area as a habitat for salamanders and other native animal species.
  7. Evaluate access to the area for class and student research purposes.
  8. Organize another trash clean up late 2013.
  9. Develop a long-term plan for habitat enhancement and use as an Ohio Wesleyan ecological research location.

Methods and Results: Fall 2013 Removal of Invasive Plant Species

Amphibians require aquatic and terrestrial habitats to complete their lifecycles, and preservation of both habitats is necessary for maintaining a steady population. A study done in 2004 showed that spotted salamanders, Jefferson’s salamander complex and smallmouth salamanders were positively associated with the amount of forest within a core zone (Porej 2004). Some invasive species thin out forests and this could have a negative impact on the salamander population found at the edge of OWU’s campus. With the help of Ohio Wesleyan student Thomas Bain, the invasive plant species most abundant within the wetland were identified. These two invasive species were amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Almost all plants within the wetland being studied were invasive. Because of this, it was thought that before removal of all invasive plant species could take place, an assessment of the impact this might have needed to be taken into account first.

Successful eradication efforts have generally benefited biological diversity. However, there is also evidence that, without sufficient planning, successful eradication can have unwanted and unexpected impacts on native species and ecosystems. Sometimes the eradication of an invasive species can hurt a native species. This happens if the native species has begun to use the invasive as a nesting habitat (as with the willow flycatcher and exotic saltcedar). But even when this is not the case, sometimes invaded areas are no longer able to support the growth of native plant species (Zavaleta 2001). This may be true with both amur honeysuckle and garlic mustard.

Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) tends to shade out native vegetation, particularly in the understory, they deplete soil moisture, and there have been studies that have shown that these plants increase pH levels in the soil (Hicks 2004 and Exotic honeysuckles 2013). Garlic mustard produces allelochemicals which suppress mycorrhizal fungi that most plants require for optimum growth (Garlic mustard 2013 and Alliaria petiolata 2013). So even with the removal of all the amur honeysuckle and garlic mustard from the area, native plant species may need additional help to reestablish themselves, since the soil might no longer be suitable for their growth.

These two invasive species are detrimental to salamander health. A study done in 2011 found that Amur honeysuckle affected the microclimate (temperature and humidity at ground level) of forest’s understory. Mean daily temperatures were lower in invaded plots compared to those not overrun with Amur honeysuckle. This was correlated with a decline in amphibian species richness and evenness in invaded plots (Watling 2011). Another study focusing on garlic mustard impacts was done in 2009. It was found that this plant was correlated with a diminish in prey resources of the woodland salamander (Maerz 2009).

Four plots of land within the wetland were marked off using flags. These plots were each 10 meters by 10 meters, and each pair was chosen according to how similar they were to each other. From each pair, one would have the invasive plants removed, while the other remained how it was found; acting as the control. After being marked off, the plots were carefully searched through for salamanders. Salamanders were found under rock and leaves. After finding the salamander, the disturbed rocks and leaves were placed back as close to the original location as possible.

Plot Number Number of Salamanders Found
1 3
2 4
3 2
4 4

Table 1. The number of salamanders found in each plot before invasive species were removed.

After the salamanders were found and recorded, the invasive species, amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), were removed from plots 2 and 4. Garlic mustard, small plants of 12 to 36 inches in height was removed by pulling the plants out by the base of the stem. Amur honeysuckle was more challenging. To remove this plant, shovels were used to dig beneath the thickest part of the root. With the soft shifting soil, amur honeysuckle could then be pulled out of the ground without much strength needed.

The following day a follow up count of the salamanders was recorded from all plots (using the same methods from the previous day).

Plot Number Number of Salamanders Found
1 1
2 0
3 2
4 0

Table 2. The number of salamanders found in each plot after invasive species were removed from plots 2 and 4.

The data collected shows that the plots removed of invasive species had a substantial decreased in number of salamanders found. It seems that the removal of invasive species did cause the salamanders to move from the area disturbed, but in order to have significant results this count must be redone in the spring to see if the salamander’s numbers increase in the areas without any invasive plant species, or if they stay mostly the same.

References

John C. Maerz, Victoria A. Nuzzo, Bernd Blossey. 2009. Declines in woodland salamander abundance associated with non-native earthworm and plant invasions. Conservation Biology 23: 975-981.

James I. Watling, Caleb R. Hickman, John L. Orrock. 2011. Invasive shrub alters native forest amphibian communities. Conservation Biology 144: 2597-2601.

Erika S. Zavaleta, Richard J. Hobbs, Harold A. Mooney. 2001. Viewing invasive species removal in a whole-ecosystem context. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16: 454-459.

“Exotic honeysuckles (Lonicera tartarica, L. morrowii, L. x bella).” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (2013) Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

Sara L. Hicks. 2004. The effects of invasive species on soil biogeochemistry. Hampshire College.

“Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (2013) Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

“Alliaria petiolata.” Wikipedia. (2013) Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

Deni Porej, Mick Micacchion, Thomas E. Hetherington. 2004. “Core terrestrial habitat for conservation of local populations of salamanders and wood frogs in agricultural landscapes.” Conservation Biology 120: 399-409.

 

Delaware Run Stream Assessment: Spring 2012

In the Spring of 2012 a team of students assessed the current ecological state of Delaware Run, adjacent to the academic side of the OWU campus. The ultimate goal, explored in a spring of 2014 project by a different group of students, is to re-naturalize and restore the stream, ideally with a focus on urban water, wetlands and wildlife.

DelRun_Assess

In the Spring of 2012 a team of students assessed the current ecological state of Delaware Run, adjacent to the academic side of the OWU campus. The ultimate goal, explored in a spring of 2014 project by a different group of students, is to re-naturalize and restore the stream, ideally with a focus on urban water, wetlands and wildlife.


Delaware Run Restoration Preliminary Research and Analysis

Ohio Wesleyan University and the City of Delaware

December 2013

Christopher Badenhop, Thomas Bain, Dr. John Krygier, Kristen Piper (City of Delaware Watershed Coordinator), Sarah Sanders, Theresa Wolfgang

Summary

The purpose of the Delaware Run Restoration Preliminary Research and Analysis project is to assess the possibility of the dechannelizing the Delaware Run in Delaware Ohio near the campus of Ohio Wesleyan. This assessment is to research the historical and current state of the Delaware Run in geographical and scientific terms. As a group, we wanted to what work needed to go into doing such a large-scale project. Below describes the preliminary work to gain an understanding of how to begin the process of dechannelizing an urban stream like the Delaware Run. There are also images attached of invasive plant species, the current conditions of the Delaware Run, and maps describing the historical and current geography of the area.

Geographical History

The Delaware Run is small stream, or as in local terms “creek” (often pronounced crik), that runs through the heart of the bustling North Columbus suburban community of Delaware, Ohio. With its location so entrenched in the downtown area of the town of roughly 35,000 people, undoubtedly there have been many changes to its ecological, as well as, its physical features since European settlement began around the turn of the nineteenth century. Today, the Delaware Run is located near the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University and is merely a simple trench that is overgrown with invasive species, has crumbling infrastructure, and in general no longer possesses the natural ability to reach its full ecological capacity.

The Delaware Run starts to the west of downtown and ends just northeast of Ohio Wesleyan University’s campus not far from historic Selby Stadium at a confluence with the Olentangy River. Historically, the stream made its way east, and it naturally meandered slightly, slowing the flow of water and allowing for normal ecological functions of a small stream. However, with the march of human progress, the ecological integrity has fallen at the hands of channelization. Today, in large sections of the run, the natural curvatures of the embankments have been replaced with straight cement banks. Also, large portions are no longer visible and have been built over by the expansion of downtown Delaware. These cement banks and elimination of Delaware Run’s natural order has led to an increase in the water’s speed that does not allowing life to flourish. However, now there is the ability to take some corrective action to restore the ecological integrity of the stream as it runs along side the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University.

We identified the Delaware Run’s natural path through much time researching through dusty books courtesy of the Beeghly Library Historical Section. We were able to obtain maps from the late eighteen hundreds that showed the natural meandering path of the stream prior to the current channelization and covering of the majority of the stream. In the future, these maps could serve as potential guides for complete dechannelization. Complete opening and dechannelization of the stream is rather ambitious, and it is much more likely that these maps can be used as evidence that the stream did have a natural curvature. They could serve to help dechannelization efforts along Ohio Wesleyan University’s campus.

del_run_maps

Scientific History

In 1993, a study done by Dr. John Gatz and Dr. Amy Harig showed a decline in biotic integrity of the Delaware run over the previous fifty years.   They found that by 1940, the run had already been degraded by human contact. As the population grew from 9000 to 20,000 by 1992, there was an increase in degradation seen at the Run. Agriculture began to increase which caused more runoff and siltation from the chemicals used on the fields. Urban runoff including petroleum products also increased in the Run. Also, the Run began to see a loss of riparian vegetation due to erosion. Habitat loss through channelization was also another issue they encountered in their research.

After looking at the abiotic factors of the run they turned to the biotic factors. There was a clear decrease in certain species of fish found in 1940 and an increase in pioneer species. They concluded that this change in species showed the instability of the environment, because pioneer species are known to inhabit new or frequently changing environments. When looking at the individual fish they found there was an increase in deformities, eroding fins, lesions and tumors from 1940 to 1992.

Another study, completed in 1999 on the Delaware Run, showed an increase in contamination of the water since the 1993 study. Of the selected tributaries in Delaware county, the Delaware Run had one of the highest degrees of metal contamination (aluminum, chromium, copper, and zinc) and organic contamination (phosphorous and sulfur). The metal contamination was the result of polluted runoff from city streets, sidewalks, metallic particles from car brakes, leached materials from concrete, aluminum and copper gutters, and galvanized metal products. Sewage contamination had increased along with pesticide runoff such as Chlordane. E. Coli was also recorded in the run that could have added to many illnesses in Delaware at this time. The natural sulfurous groundwater found in the area seeped into the run and left a whitish precipitate and odor that allowed only tolerant fish and macro-invertebrate communities to thrive in it, however toxic levels hindered many aquatic compounds. After this study, scientists still found that the Delaware run still had a predominance of highly tolerant and pioneering fish species indicating that the environment was still unstable.

FLOW or Friends of the Lower Olentangy watershed did an assessment of the Delaware Run in 2002, and they were able to find more problems that the run was been enduring along with other ecological measurements. The first problem they found was that the run was no longer meeting the WWH (Warmwater Habitat) standards, which it had been in the previous years and studies mentioned above. Scientist believed it could have been done due to the increase in phosphorous, contaminated sediment runoff, habitat modification and sewage. They were able to conclude this by finding only fair fish population and poor macro-invertebrates communities. Species of fish that are environmentally sensitive were lacking in the run while 67% of the fish collected for the assessment were pollution-tolerant species. Bottom-dwelling inverts were of low diversity and were dominated by pollution-tolerant forms such as the black fly larvae and flat worms.

After reviewing three ecological assessments of the Delaware run starting from the 1940s to 2002 it can be easily seen that the problems have become more of an issue through time. Population increase in Delaware has caused more chemical runoff, sewage, and debris to enter the run that then affects the biotic factors that live within or around the water.

Restoration

After meeting with Kristen Piper, Watershed Coordinator of the Upper Olentangy, we became aware of what plans the city has for the Delaware Run. Their first order of business is fixing the wall that has collapsed near Sandusky Street. If the wall continues to collapse it could affect the bridge, which the road is built on. The Delaware Run’s banks as they are now do not abide by the OSHA codes. The sides of the run drop off above the maximum required height. In order to fix this, they would need to slope to the south side of the run. Since this area has been channelized for so long, trees located on the banks of the run would need to be cut down. The city has been researching ways of saving the larger trees, however none have been proposed yet. 

Current State of the Delaware Run

The current sate of Delaware Run has several issues that are causing damage to it and endangering the Runs ecosystem. Through diligent management of the area each of these could be solved in turn and the Run ecologically improved to provide better habitat and ecological services.

Chemical Edging: The grass of campus runs right up the edge of the wall of Delaware Run. The runoff from this carries chemicals and pesticides that are used in the treatment of the landscape. This Chemical Edging is also the same process used around many of the trees near the run (insert picture). In order to prevent competition and crowding with these trees large amounts of a pesticide is sprayed around them to kill plants and prevent their growth.

State of the Water; There is a fair amount of algae growth in the water (insert photo) which means there is a high chance that it contains sizable amounts of micro-nutrients. These likely do come somewhat from campus, but most likely this is minimal. The presence of these micro-nutrients at these levels means it is most likely from an upstream source, though more research on this certainly possible. Litter is a consistent presence in the Run on campus, ranging from netting to trash to tires.

Presence of Invasive Species; There are several invasive species also present at the Run which will require removal and continual management in order to help restore other species. Many of these invasive species are situated upriver along the banks especially in Blue Limestone Park. For example photos see the Invasive Plant Example Section.

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White Mulberry: This invasive plant is native to northern China, and is the size of a small tree.

Tree of Heaven: Another species from China, Tree of Heaven translates directly to ‘foul smelling tree’. Its name derives from the fact that the tree grows very rapidly.

Japanese Honeysuckle: Native to East Asia, Japanese Honeysuckle is a vine that grows on many different trees and plants. It tends to violently displace them and grows incredibly quickly.

Bush Honeysuckle: Native to the temperate areas of East Asia. This plant is even more aggressive than its vine counterpart. Bush Honeysuckle grows incredibly wide and crowds out anything near it. The limbs, which grow together in bundles from the ground before spreading out, can be nearly as thick as a forearm. The plant secretes a chemical into the soil around it which will actually kill off other plants in addition to its crowding. In areas that are sufficiently overgrown removal of the plant revels that all of the underbrush of a forest area can become honeysuckle, leaving nothing but trees and dirt.

Princess Tree: This tree is native to central and western China. Princess tree is identifiable by its large wide leaves that have a peculiar odor when crushed in your hand. Princess tree crowds out many native trees and is very prolific.

What Needs To Be Done

There are several projects we can do in the short term to help immediately with the Run’s state. A river sweep can be organized in the spring, and if enough people are interested an invasive species clean up can be organized. Though to remove the invasive trees would require professional services as well as some trained in the use of a very specific biodegradable pesticide in order to most effectively remove the Bush Honeysuckle. The organization FLOW has volunteered to help with the river sweep provided we inform them of when we perform it. If they are busy at the time they can also get us in touch with a local group, which can provide supplies.

Goals

Short Term:

  • River Clean Up: teaming up with the Wildlife and Environment Club along with other students from OWU, Delaware Run clean ups will be scheduled; partners will pick up debris that has fallen into the water and around the run.
    • These clean ups can also be a chance for students to remove the invasive species that have covered the banks such as Japanese Honeysuckle and Princess Tree.
  • Ecological Studies can begin immediately to measure the abiotic and biotic factors of the run. At OWU there are professors that teach parasitology, ecology, entomology, and ornithology. The run would allow them place to have field lectures and lab while also monitoring the ecological growth.

Long Term:

Time and resources allowing, the Delaware Run on Campus could become not only a healthy stream environment, but also an outdoor area for classes from the sciences to the philosophy to promote projects from species study to sound ecology. Eventually, provided it is the best option, the Run could even be dechannalized and restored to its previous state.

Recommendations

The cities work in reinforcing one of the bridges over the run will involve sloping one of the banks, one thing that could be done is the terracing of the slope to help with runoff and the placement of native species of plants that will not harm the wall.

Also, while many of the current invasive species can be removed, because they come from an outside source the Run will need to be closely monitored and the species removed when they are identified as growing. Many of the woody plants growing over the run out of the wall and causing damage to the walls stability could be cut.

Political Issues

When examining the short and long-term goals of improving the Delaware Run, political concerns came to light. We found that there were many entities that needed to be consulted before, during, and after the construction process to dechannelize the Delaware Run. The first group would be the city, and perhaps the county of Delaware, because that is where the run is located. The next would be the state due to the historical location of the creek and the issue with water rights. Finally, the national government would have to be involved due to the environmental and ecological changes that would be made to the local environment.

The city of Delaware is the first and main entity that Ohio Wesleyan will need to consult with to dechannel the Delaware Run. This being said property lines needed to be considered. We did research on local property lines, and Dr. Kriyger created a map clearly indicating the location of Ohio Wesleyan property.   We also needed to be concerned about the location of the run due to the fact that it was in an urban area. After meeting with civil engineers, we found that engineering assigned specific standards that needed to be met. The civil engineers determined that structural issues needed to be addressed where a main road runs over the Delaware Run. Also, OSHA safety codes would need to be examined to make sure no one would fall into the water below. The groups that would be overseeing the project would include Delaware City Council, Ohio Wesleyan Buildings and Grounds, local environmental restoration groups, and Delaware’s Watershed Coordinator. All of these groups would work together to manage and make sure no extra damage would be done the ecosystem during the project.

The second group is the state of Ohio and they would be where the permits do to the work on the Delaware Run would be filed. We would have to get approval from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and a few others to get the green light to work.

Kristin Piper, the Watershed Coordinator – Upper Olentangy provided us with a few resources for this project. They would have to considered and applied for when getting ready to begin on the restoration of the Delaware Run. The resources she gave us included the Olentangy General Construction Permit. It would have to be filled out to maintain a promise of water quality while working our portion of the Delaware Run. Second, we would have to comply with the rules of the Ohio EPA’s Storm Water Program by providing a notice of intent. Finally, we would have to follow the regulations when working with In-Stream Construction Activities. The time for the construction would have to be from July 30 to April 15, therefore we would be limited on the length of the project. Furthermore, an assessment of other state laws would have to be considered to be sure we would not be violating any other regulations.

Similar legal factors transcend from the state level to the federal level. Permits and approvals would have to be filed, especially when the design plan is drafted. Construction on a water area need approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, and many more. Specifically, the Clean Water Act would definitely be taken in to high consideration for the duration of the project.

Also our legal research continued, we discovered the NRCS-USDA’s Stream Restoration Handbook. It is a nationally published handbook on understanding streams and how to do restoration. There are many helpful details within its pages but to read the book in detail would take a substantial amount of time and knowledge that only an expert would have. It did hint at laws that we would have to follow including section 404 of the Clean Water Act, section 10 of the River and Harbors Act, state section 401 of Water Quality Certification, and section 106 of the National Historical Preservation Act. Also, after completing the stream design we would have to submit them to the right agencies as specified in the handbook on 654.17, which gives further information on the required criteria. The criteria includes discharge recording, wildlife assessments, and holding a public hearing to give information about the project at hand, and acquirement of all the correct permits before construction begins.

Maps

Below are maps of the Delaware Run’s natural course and Ohio Wesleyan University’s current property lines.

del_run_images1

DIY Food Workshop

Making and eating food is one of the most socially and biologically important human activities. Making healthy food is much easier, and more fun, than most students think. In order to encourage social DIY cooking on campus, with an emphasis on healthy eating, we developed a DIY Food Workshop. The workshop covered basic cooking skills and healthy DIY food options, with an emphasis on interaction and engagement. The event ends with a meal, consisting of foods prepared during the workshop. The first workshop was held in the spring of 2012.

diy_cooking

Making and eating food is one of the most socially and biologically important human activities. Making healthy food is much easier, and more fun, than most students think. In order to encourage social DIY cooking on campus, with an emphasis on healthy eating, we developed a DIY Food Workshop. The workshop covered basic cooking skills and healthy DIY food options, with an emphasis on interaction and engagement. The event ends with a meal, consisting of foods prepared during the workshop. The first workshop was held in the spring of 2012.


DIY Food Workshop

Date: April 2012

This workshop may be offered again if there is interest. Please contact John Krygier if you are interested in holding another DIY food workshop.

Project research, organization and planning: Olivia Gillison (project for Geography 360: Environmental Geography & Independent Study).

Guest Chef: Del Stroufe, Chef & Educator, Wellness Forum Foods, Columbus OWU Chefs: 5 OWU faculty, staff, or students with cooking skills to assist

Event Publication: OWU Eating Green Map, Guide, and Cookbook: Includes information on student-accessible kitchens, sources of ingredients, cooking glossary, basic kitchen tools and ingredients to have on hand, and suggestions for cooking & eating social events.

1. Talk: Introduction (30 minutes): Del Stroufe provides an overview of DIY cooking and healthy eating, and an introduction to the workshop.

2. Talk: DIY Cooking on Campus: the Facts (30 minutes)

  • available kitchens & cooking tools
  • portable cooking setup (camp stove, etc.)
  • local / organic food options
  • buying ingredients from Chartwells with food points
  • off campus food purchase options
  • encouraging healthy DIY social cooking & eating

3. The Menu & Preparation (2 hours)

  • Smith: drinks but don’t eat other food!
  • Minimize bothering staff: Dan Magee
  • participants split into groups of 4 (10 groups max)
  • five dinner courses: workstation for each: soup, stir fry, pasta, pizza, dessert (fruit crisp)
  • workstation: preparation of ingredients, assembly, cooking

3a. Basic food preparation skills

  • hands-on experience with skills needed for workshop cooking

3b. Food assembly and cooking

  • each group of participants experiences each workstation

4. Eating & Future Workshops (focused on different recipies, cooking skills, global cuisines, etc.)


Workshop outline & booklet (PDF): DIY Cooking: Do-It-Yourself Cooking Workshop for Students