Sam Miller for Forests

Submitted by Susan Miller on Mon, 02/12/2007 - 10:41.

The Joyce Foundation has given a $5 million grant to begin cleanup of the Maumee River. Toady's article in the PD begins What happens in Northwest Ohio doesn't stay in Northwest Ohio. One of the things that will happen as part of this effort to reduce run off from agricultural land in Northwest Ohio is the planting of trees. “Working with farmers to plant trees and vegetation along the Tiffin and Blanchard rivers to restore wetlands and create a continuous buffer; and to test new drainage ditches to reduce sediment." This article extols the opportunities for industrial Northwest Ohio. But at one time this area was home to the Black Swamp.

The Black Swamp was located in the northwestern part of Ohio. Native Americans refused to live in the foreboding region. It consisted of dense forests, and for much of the year, the land was flooded. By 1820, most of Ohio was settled and no longer was part of the frontier. The only exception to this was the Black Swamp area. Later in the nineteenth century, Ohioans drained the swamp. This area now consists of some of the most fertile agricultural land in the entire United States.

With the Black Swamp long since drained and covered with farms, is it any wonder that there are runoff problems for Lake Erie? This is reminiscent to the loss of wetlands throughout our nation. In New Orleans, the swamp and marshlands would have protected the city from the storm surge. In South Florida, the river of grass, the Everglades have had a long history of drainage. When will we learn to slow down and look, consider what nature has laid before us as a natural filter and restoration system before launching into development?

Along with the loss of the Black Swamp, we have also lost this lovely creature:

"Dorcas Copper Butterfly"
Photo courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society

The dorcas copper butterfly, whose Latin name is Lycaena dorcas, is a very rare butterfly in Ohio and is most likely extirpated (existing elsewhere but not in Ohio). This specimen was found in the Mud Lake Nature Preserve in Williams County, Ohio, May 23, 1955 by Homer F. Price. This species is usually found in swampy areas. Prior to the draining of the Black Swamp in the mid nineteenth century and other human altering of the landscape, this species was more common. However, since the wetlands are now gone, it has moved to other areas surrounding Ohio, where the landscape has not altered as much, such as southwestern Michigan and northeastern Indiana. It is a member of the Lycaenidae (gossamer winged) family of butterflies and peaks around July. This species has a wingspan of 0.75 to 0.88 inches (M00063).

So I propse for Sam Miller of Forest City, that he consider a Trees for Ohio Campaign. He could make this truly a Forest City/county/state. More than we need the George Dubya Coloring Book Library (which is apparently going to Southern Methodist University), we need forests and wetlands to begin the restoration of our air and water. He could begin by saying that for every shopping strip center Forest City has built, he will plant X# of trees for our future. It is not a bad idea for someone whose company has Forest in the name.

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Living in Harmony Isn't Easy - Even When You Try

This is a great informative report.  When you suggested that Mr. Miller sponsor tree planting, something started trying to surface from the back of my mind.  What was it?   Had someone recently suggested that planting trees in temperate zones might backfire?  I couldn't remember where I'd read about the effects of tree planting in temperate zones v. in the rain forest.  I looked around and found this....maybe I heard this instead of reading it.  Check it out.   http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2007/01/22/planting/index.html

Basically the lesson we refuse to learn is that once we meddle, we can't stop.  Each action has so many effects that even if we are trying to be responsible environmental stewards, it is hard to imagine all the ramifications that just one change to the environment will have.  This is not to say that we shouldn't try to be aware and do this imagining before we act, just that the whole matter is extremely complex.

Planting forests, rainforests and swamps

I think I heard the same interview you did, Martha... on NPR, I'm sure - something about Dell giving money from every computer sale to plant trees to offset the CO2 produced by their company and/or products (didn't get all the details). The report and an expert saying if you plant trees in certain regions it increases global warming because the trees are dark and absorb light and heat causing more warming than the harm of the CO2 offset by the trees, in the wrong places. In the rain forests, the environmental impact is different. So Sam should plant swamps where there were swamps and trees where there were trees, and more trees where we really need trees, like the Amazon. That would really represent thinking locally and acting globally...

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