Audubon Ohio News - May 5, 2003

  • From: "SINGER, Deborah" <DSINGER@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <audubonoh-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 15:27:52 -0400

Audubon Ohio News - May 5, 2003

1.      Ohio Budget Debate Moves to the Senate
2.      Fire Rips Through Mentor Marsh IBA
3.      Audubon Ohio Supports IBA Land Acquisition Grants in Athens and =
Paulding Counties
4.      Caveat Raptor: Study Shows That Birds Are Impulse Buyers


This has not been a happy budget year for conservationists.   Like many =
other states, Ohio's budget is being squeezed on the revenue side by a =
sluggish economy, and on the expense side by growing entitlement =
programs that choke off discretionary monies. =20

Ohio's Constitution requires a balanced budget, meaning that our state =
legislators cannot imitate their colleagues in Washington by running up =
the government's debt to cover shortfalls in revenue.  Many legislators =
oppose any increase in taxes, regardless of need.  As a result, the =
fundamental assumption underlying the budget debate is that the budget =
must be balanced by cutting programs rather than by raising taxes.

Environment and natural resources programs consume well under one =
percent of the state budget.  We conservationists long ago gave up any =
hope of winning new programs or meaningful increases in existing =
programs this year.  We have been struggling just to maintain what we =
already have.

The Ohio House recently passed its version of the 2003-05 biennial =
budget.  The debate now shifts to the Ohio Senate, which will begin =
taking testimony from interested parties during the week of May 19.

A few issues of particular interest to Audubon Ohio have emerged:

--The General Assembly presently funds the wetlands regulation program =
at Ohio EPA at less than 60 percent of the level that the agency =
believes is necessary to operate the program properly.  Moreover, the =
House budget would provide that developers would pay less than five =
percent of the cost of this program.  The House rejected an amendment by =
Rep. Dale Miller (Cleveland) to increase developer fees to a level where =
general revenue funds would not be needed to support this program.  It =
remains to be seen whether the Senate will agree to require taxpayers to =
continue to subsidize the cost of this program, which benefits only =
developers by granting them permission to dredge and fill wetlands and =
headwater streams.

--The House reduced the appropriations for the Divisions of Forestry, =
Parks and Recreation and Natural Areas and Preserves at the Department =
of Natural Resources below the levels requested by Governor Taft.  The =
Senate may be asked to restore this funding.

--The House went along with Governor Taft's request to eliminate funding =
for the Civilian Conservation Corps, rejecting an amendment by Rep. Fred =
Strahorn (Dayton) to continue the program.  The General Assembly saved =
the program in the last biennium, despite the Governor's attempt at that =
time to kill it.  The Senate may be asked to save the program once =

--The House budget provides no funding to update Ohio's Sport Fishing =
Consumption Advisory Program.  As a result, fishers will be denied =
up-to-date information concerning the safety of consuming fish caught in =
Ohio.  The Senate may be asked to provide the funding needed to update =
these advisories.

Audubon Ohio has requested an opportunity to testify before the Senate =
Finance Committee to discuss its concerns about the state budget.


Nearly half of the 666-acre Mentor Marsh Important Bird Area in Lake =
County was affected by a fire that broke out in the Marsh on April 28.  =
The precise cause of the fire was not known, but the Akron =
Beacon-Journal reported on April 30 that the likely culprits were =
children with matches.  The fire spread rapidly because of dry spring =
weather in the area, which had received only two-tenths of an inch of =
rain in the three weeks preceding the fire.

Mentor Marsh is one of the two largest contiguous-area natural wetlands =
remaining in Ohio.  In 1996 it was designated as a National Natural =
Landmark.  The area supports 50 to 100 nesting bird species, and is =
visited by hundreds of other migratory species each year.

According to a report of the fire published in the Cleveland Plain =
Dealer on April 29, fires are not unusual in the Marsh.  There have been =
ten fires in the Marsh since 1979.  Major fires occurred in 1992, 1993 =
and 1998.  Only the l988 fire, which destroyed 40 acres, occurred =

Wildlife in the Marsh will likely be affected adversely in the short =
term; fire, however, is not necessarily bad for the long-term health of =
the Marsh.  According to John Ritzenthaler, Audubon Ohio's Director of =
Habitat Conservation: "Disturbance to an ecosystem has been shown to be =
advantageous in many instances.  In certain cases the very health of a =
particular habitat is contingent upon a fire regime that may have been =
suppressed.  Fire often releases native plant species that exist as =
invisible members of the seed bank resting in the soil.  In the case of =
Mentor Marsh much of the vegetation that burned was a non-native =
invasive--the fire may have acted as a control upon this weed."=20


Audubon Ohio has provided letters of support to two local conservation =
organizations that are seeking funding to acquire rare forest habitat in =
and around Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas in Athens and =
Paulding County.

One letter supports the efforts of the SORT, an Athens-based group, to =
acquire Hawk Woods, a 105-acre parcel near the Wayne National Forest =
IBA.  The parcel includes 80 acres of rare virgin old growth forest.  =
The land is owned by a forest products company that has indicated an =
intention to log the area if it is not quickly acquired by a =
conservation group.

The second letter supports the efforts of the Black Swamp Conservatory =
to acquire an 80-acre tract of swampy forest within the Marie DeLarme =
Forest IBA in Paulding County.  The forested area presents a sharp =
contrast with the surrounding area, which is largely drained =
agricultural land.  The parcel in question is owned by a family that =
must sell for financial reasons.


According to a recent BBC report, scientists in England and Canada have =
documented bird behavior suggesting that birds are susceptible to =
marketing similar to that used to lure shoppers in department stores.

Stores frequently position eye-catching "decoy" products near stocks of =
other products that they are trying to move.  The target brands benefit =
from the attraction generated by the decoy products.

The study team used similar methodology to attract rufous hummingbirds =
to less desirable flowers that they would normally shun.  The =
researchers created a mock flower bed containing feeding wells that =
varied in nectar volume.  The birds would normally choose the flowers =
with the greatest volumes of nectar.  By placing attractive "decoy" =
flowers near the wells with lower volumes of nectar, the researchers =
found that the birds invariably headed for the inferior wells.

Dr. Melissa Bateson, one of the researchers, noted that the birds were =
acting like impulse shoppers, making instant decisions based on the =
immediate choices.

According to Dr. Bateson, the research "shows that birds, like humans, =
are actually more irrational than we previously thought."

AudubonOH-NEWS is sent to Audubon chapter leaders, board members, and =
others interested in Audubon activities in Ohio. If you do not wish to =
receive further editions, it is easy to unsubscribe: simply send an =
e-mail message to audubonoh-news-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx In the subject =
of your e-mail, write UNSUBSCRIBE. We can be reached through e-mail at =
ohio@xxxxxxxxxxx, phone at (614) 224-3303, or mail at 692 N High St Ste =
208, Columbus, OH 43215. =20

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