95 percent of ancient Ohio was forested. But centuries ago there were also small regions of prairie. Tall grasses and wildflowers were part of the prairie ecology and so were bison. Researchers near Columbus are trying to reestablish a prairie / bison ecosystem.
Ohio Officials Consider Drought Response Plans
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Just as storm clean-up wanes,Â Ohio’s disaster response teams Friday will turn to droughtÂ preparedness.Â Despite scattered showers during the last few days, parts of Ohio remain too dry and a string of days with 90-degree plus temperatures are sapping soil moisture.
“We’re looking at what could possibly be a fairly significant problem in the state of Ohio.”
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels saysÂ about half of Ohio is abnormally dry.Â So, state agency heads will confer with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to draw up response plans.
“The crops are stressed right now. I think it’s evident as you drive down the road and take a look. Obviously, we’re going to see, we’re going to see some challenges yield wise if this weather pattern continues.”Â Says Daniels.
The National Weather service says rainfall in Columbus was about two inches below normal in June. That makes for moderate drought conditions. But, northwest and northeast Ohio have more severe rainfall shortages. As officials monitor drier conditions,Â Â Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Nally has already put tighter restrictions on open burning.
“What you don’t want to do is burn down a hayfield, or burn down a corn field or burn down you house.”Â Says Nally.
Nally some streams and reservoirs are already at August levels and that poses another significant threat.
“Freshwater drinking water for a lot of small communities. Alot of them utilize surface water as part of their drinking water source.Â And as these surface areas start to dry out over the summer it’s going to become a challenge. So we’re going to be reaching out to them and trying to come up with a plan B.” Nally says.
At the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, drought response plans will have to be updated. Division of Soil and Water Chief, Carl Gebhardt, says the agency might have to dust off plans from 1988,Â an extremely dry summer.
“I know in 1988 and in past years there were some tough choices that had to be made. They’re never easy. It can affect business as far as those businesses that are dependent on water.”Â Says Gebhardt
Gebhardt says ODNR will monitor Ohio streams and reservoirs weekly for the remainder of the summer. He notes that some cities and towns have already imposed lawn watering bans.