Currents February 2018

Did you know that the Great Lakes are the biggest freshwater source in the world? Lake Erie is the most productive for fishing of all the Great Lakes. Your support helps make our streams clean, clear and healthy so they can support this complex ecosystem. By donating to PCS, you help us reach our goals of restoring rivers that lead to Lake Erie beaches that promote fishable and swimmable conditions for generations.

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GCMFor the third year in a row, PCS will be partnering with the Toledo RoadRunners at the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon to ensure healthy runners and healthy rivers! We are pleased to announce that we have again been asked to be part of the “Green Team” for the marathon. We will be busy recycling all the plastic bottles, heat sheets, cardboard, glass, and overwrap to save our landfills from unnecessary waste and to keep this debris from reaching the rivers. But we need a bigger Green Team to tackle all of the recycling needs. If you are available to volunteer to assist us at our educational outreach tabling event and/or diverting recyclables during the marathon on the weekend of April 20th, please contact us! Last year, PCS was able to recycle 800 pounds of glass, 1800 pounds of cardboard, 40 pounds of plastic overwrap, 50 pounds of plastic cups and bottles, 25 pounds of GU packs (Terracycled), and filled a 20-yard dumpster 2/3 full with compostable material! Help us to show the runners how much Toledo loves recycling!

strawsIt may seem that there are much bigger issues affecting our waterways and oceans than an innocuous little straw. The threat of ocean acidification, overfishing, and rising sea levels worry us all, but it can often feel like there is nothing we can do to fight against the onslaught of climate change on marine ecosystems. At PCS, we focus on what we can do as individuals to lessen our impact on our precious water resources. One easy way to combat marine debris? Quit using drinking straws! Almost any restaurant or coffee shop will provide its customers with disposable cups, lids, sleeves, and a straw (usually wrapped in plastic or paper). That’s a lot of unnecessary waste for one drink! Very few people have a true need for a straw; it has just become part of our consumer culture. But this culture is consuming our aquatic friends by littering their homes and causing physical deformities.

Straws break down into microplastics which have been found in almost 99% of studied marine life. And the problem seems to be getting worse. Each day, Americans go through 500 million straws! We have seen a steady increase of small plastics (including straws, plastic cutlery, and other food wrapping items) being found during our stream cleanups over the past ten years. This is not just a local issue; microplastics in our waterways has become a global topic of concern. We hope that with more awareness of this pollutant problem, legislation will follow that tackles the production side of the plastics problem.

So far, over 1800 restaurants, organizations, institutions, and schools have placed a ban on plastic straws or implemented a straw-upon-request policy. We use a straw only once, but they end up in our streams, rivers, and oceans for hundreds of years.

There are also reusable, stainless steel, or eco-friendly straws that you can purchase that won’t end up in our waterways (or a turtle’s nose!   It’s these small choices that we make everyday that can have an enormous impact on our natural resources.

MaumeeiceWe’ve had some weird winter weather so far, with temperatures ranging from -16 to 56. With all that constant thawing and unthawing, the Mighty Maumee River has experienced a breakup of ice as it flows into Lake Erie. And Lake Erie itself, near Port Clinton, was recently a tourist stop as ice chunks pushed in off the lake into ice mountains, as if we were on an iceberg. Residents are hopeful that a slow incline of warmer temperatures will prevent major flooding in the spring. If the water warms up too quickly, the melting ice blocks tend to flood rapidly, potentially causing property damage. Three years ago, the ice flow on the Maumee River garnered national attention as it toppled gravestones and devastated a nearby park. You can still see the damage on trees in the area where the blocks of ice stripped their bark. Depending on which weather forecast you subscribe to, Northwest Ohio could finish out the winter on a warmer than usual note or be in for more snow and freezing temperatures. Either way, it is important to proceed with extreme caution if you are planning any winter activities along the Maumee River. Here are some tips to keep you safe out on the ice:

  • To determine the thickness of the ice, assess the:
    • appearance (color, texture, and features)
    • temperature range throughout the day
    • snow coverage
    • depth of water beneath it and the size of the water body
    • local climate fluctuations
  • Remember, you cannot rely on your eyesight alone to determine the thickness and safety of ice. Flowing water near the edges, water flows in cracks, and abnormal surfaces are all signs that you should not be out on the ice.
  • There is an old saying “thick and blue, tried and true; thin and crispy, way too risky.”
  • Follow these general measurements for playing it safe on the ice:
    • 3 inches = keep off
    • 4 inches = okay for ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and walking
    • 5 inches = okay for one snowmobile/ATV
    • 8-12 inches = okay for one car and/or group of people
    • 12-15 inches = okay for a light pickup truck or a van. But remember, the river is always flowing under the ice making it risky.

Even if you don’t venture out near the river during the winter, you can enjoy its icy aesthetic by looking at our “Maumee River in the Winter” video on our Facebook page.

Currents: February 2018

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Terry Shankland

President of the Board
Private Citizen

Andrew Curran
Vice President
Assistant Scout Executive,
Boy Scouts of America

Joan King
First Solar

Kyle Spicer
Private Citizen

Denise Fonner
Board Member
Private Citizen

Jeff Gibbs
Board Member
Private Citizen

Chris Smalley
Board Member
Park Services Supervisor
Metroparks of the Toledo Area

Bob Neubert
Board Member
Lucas Co. Engineers

Bill Hoefflin
Board Member
Private Citizen

Partners for Clean Streams Inc. is striving for abundant open space and a high quality natural environment; adequate floodwater storage capacities and flourishing wildlife; stakeholders who take local ownership in their resources; and rivers, streams and lakes that are clean, clear and safe