Wetland Weekend 2017 - Great turnout and great weather!

The City of Westerville City Council proclaimed May 2017 as National Wetlands Month and called upon all citizens of Westerville to aid in the continuing efforts to preserve our valuable wetland resources.  In celebration of wetlands, Westerville Parks & Recreations Dept. and MAD Scientist Associates held its 17th annual Wetland Workshop on Sat., May 20, preceded by a Frog Friday on May 19, the night before.  Both events were well-attended, with over 70 participants in Saturday's Wetland Workshop.  In addition to the City, we would like to thank Schneider's Bakery for their doughnuts and Starbucks on Polaris Parkway for the coffee donations!  As you can see in the photos below, great fun was had by all!

All Sides Interview

TRIANGLE LAKE BOG STATE NATURE PRESERVE | BISNICKS / WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

On April 25th, Mark was invited to speak on behalf of MAD and as President of the Ohio Wetlands Association, on WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher, regarding the recent Rover Pipeline spills in northeastern Ohio. Other guests included Craig Butler, the Director of the Ohio EPA, and Jennifer Miller, the Director of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter.

Christine Dilley elected to NAWBO Board of Directors

NAWBO Board swearing in

On April 6, 2017, Christine Dilley was elected to the NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Columbus Board of Directors as Vice President of Corporate Partners.  She is excited to work with other female business owners and businesses who want to support women in business.  NAWBO Columbus is the largest chapter in the United States and strives to advance women entrepreneurs toward economic, social and political achievement.  [RIGHT: NAWBO Columbus Board swearing in ceremony]  [BELOW: Presentation of new corporate partners Sharon Adams of Service Title Agency and Helen Colon of Ameriprise Financial Svcs. The Seeley Group.]

MAD welcomes two new staff members!

Jenna Odegard & Jim Palus

We are happy to welcome Jim Palus and Jenna Odegard to the MAD Scientist Associates team!  Jim received his B.S. in Environmental Science and M.S. in Environment and Natural Resources from Ohio State University, both degrees specializing in ecological restoration.  Jenna is a Minnesota native who obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and her Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources- Fisheries and Wildlife from the Ohio State University.  Visit Our Team page to learn more about our newest Environmental Scientists!

Mark is renewed for Level 3 Qualified Collector Status with Ohio EPA

MAD Scientist Associates is pleased to announce that Mark has successfully completed the renewal process to maintain his Level 3 Qualified Data Collector status with the Ohio EPA for fish studies and Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index(QHEI) assessments.  In the fall of 2016, Mark and staff members Aaron Laver and Jacob Zink sampled a reach on the Olentangy River and two reaches on adjacent tributaries.  This sampling effort was performed in collaboration with the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW), and Joe Bevan, FLOW volunteer extraordinaire, assisted with a significant portion of the field work (thanks, Joe!) 

The waterways assessed in the study were sampled using an electrofisher unit that temporarily stuns fish for ease of capture.  An Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) and QHEI score was then calculated for each site (as well as a Modified Index of Well-being, MIWb, for the mainstem Olentangy).  A summary of his findings and a link to the report can be found on FLOW’s website.  The current list of Ohio EPA QDCs is available HERE.  Mark’s certification will be valid through February 2020.  Staff member Mary Skapof is a Level 2 QDC for invertebrate studies, as well.  If you need credible fish, invertebrate or QHEI data for your next project, we would welcome the opportunity to assist you!

New Field Indicators of Hydric Soils Manual

The National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils has published a new version of the Field Indicators of Hydric Soils handbook.  This update comes 6 years following the distribution of version 7.0 in 2010 and many questions and recommendations regarding the wording of indicator criteria.  The new manual replaces the word “within” with “at a depth ≤” additionally, thickness requirements are now given as “starting at a top depth” rather than “entirely within a bottom depth.”  These changes are a further departure from the diagnostic language used in the Keys to Soil Taxonomy which commonly makes reference to features “within” a particular depth.  Additionally, the term “faint” in the Glossary, which refers to the contrast between redox concentrations colors and matrix colors has an additional figure to clarify its lack of distinction.  Apart from these small changes, and a new set of cover photos, none of the indicator criteria have changed so don’t go running to reevaluate old data sheets.  As a result, the old 7.0 manuals will still work out in the field if you’re accustomed to the “within” language.  The new version is available digitally online at the NRCS Soil Use web page or you can order physical copies through the online NRCS Distribution Center.

Dilley named OWA President

January 2017 - Mark was recently elected President of the Ohio Wetlands Association, having spent two years on the board and serving as the organization's Education Chair. The OWA is a state-wide, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting wetlands throughout Ohio. Mark looks forward to his new leadership role in furthering the important work of OWA, particularly as it pertains to raising awareness of these very crucial ecosystems and encouraging wetland restoration efforts across Ohio. As President, one of Mark's main goals is to grow this important conservation organization and garner a broader base of support.  He'll be encouraging our clients and colleagues to consider becoming members.  If you're interested in becoming a member or wish to learn more about OWA, check out their website.

MAD Stream Restoration

If there's one thing we love at MAD Scientist Associates, it's a restoration project! 

CHANNELIZED STREAM ABOVE AND RESTORED MITIGATION STREAM SEGMENT BELOW

For this stream restoration, we partnered with The Wilderness Center and Environmental Design Group to mitigate a stream impact. 

This aerial was taken by The Wilderness Center shortly after the earthwork was completed. Since then, hundreds of native trees and shrubs have been installed and herbaceous wetland plugs have been planted on the stream benches. This project replaces 600 feet of channelized and incised stream with over 800 feet of meandering channel with floodplain benches.  These features will provide better aquatic habitat and improved water quality functions through increased sinuosity, improved substrates, and riparian buffer enhancement. 

Remember us for your next stream restoration project!

Highlands Park Wetlands featured in Westerville news program

"Focus Westerville" is an online video series produced by the City of Westerville. The most recent episode highlights the topic of environmental stewardship and how community members can make a difference by understanding and caring for their natural resources.

One of MAD Scientist Associates' favorite projects, the Highlands Park Wetlands, is featured in this production (from 11:25-16:30 in the video).  Mark is interviewed about the project background and purpose of the Highlands Park wetland renovation. Footage was captured during the 2016 Wetland Workshop, which is held annually in May, National Wetlands Month. This wetland intercepts stormwater runoff from the aquatic center, parking lots, and neighboring housing developments before it enters Spring Run, a degraded tributary to Alum Creek. After four years of development, the wetland now supports a complex array of habitat types, which has increased use by migratory and resident wildlife. It has also shown to be effective at removing sediments and nutrients within the water column, which means cleaner water for downstream for Spring Run and Alum Creek. 
If you watch the entire video, you can learn about stormwater management, hazardous waste disposal, water quality, tree care, and energy conservation!  Click the photo above for our segment or click  HERE check out the whole video!

Students and families learn from MAD Scientists at McVay Elementary Science Night

The McVay Elementary PTA put on a fantastic Science Night event on Wednesday, November 16th.  MAD Scientist Associates was happy to participate, not just because we love Science Nights, but because we were able to talk with students, parents, and teachers about the vernal pool enhancement project (completed in 2015). It was great to hear reports of use from students and community members, and to have an opportunity to discuss the unique functioning of vernal pools. Oh, and participants also loved seeing our edu-animals, all of which could be found in Ohio vernal pools!

We also wanted to thank the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for providing wildlife field guides for our events. We love giving kids a hands-on experience with live animals and sending them home with guides to learn more about Ohio's native wildlife!

The importance of Plant Surveys for local park districts!

MAD staff is performing an FQAI (Floristic Quality Assessment Index) for Great Parks of Hamilton County this year to enable them compare park habitat with other parks and preserves to determine where to focus their natural resources management efforts. Read more on the Great Parks of Hamilton County web site.

MMAD Scientist Associates presents to Tree City USA Awards Program attendees

Mark did a great job presenting about Westerville wetlands to over 130 Tree City USA Awards Program attendees on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at the Westerville Community Center. Highlights included community connections that can be made through conservation efforts, and "tree-tales," which showcased the interesting facts behind tree preservation and plantings for local wetland projects. 

For Throwback Thursday, we included a shot of the moose at the Columbus Zoo enjoying the large (and non-native) corkscrew willows that were removed from Highlands Park during the wetland enhancement project.

MAD Scientist Associates receives WBE national certification

MAD Scientist Associates, LLC has received national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Ohio River Valley Women's Business Council, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).  Simultaneously, MAD also received SBA's Woman-Owned Small Business certification, which will enable them increased opportunities for federal contracts.

 WBENC’s national standard of certification implemented by the Ohio River Valley Women's Business Council is a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.

By including women-owned businesses among their vendors, corporations, and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier/vendor diversity programs.

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is the nation’s largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBENC is a resource for the more than 700 US companies and government agencies that rely on WBENC’s certification as an integral part of their supplier diversity programs.

Contact MAD Scientist Associates today to support local and federal diversity while accomplishing your goals.

MAD Scientist Associates is now EDGE certified

MAD Scientist Associates is pleased to announce that our firm is now EDGE certified by the State of Ohio.  The Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) program allows small disadvantaged businesses an opportunity to compete for state supply and service contacts.  As the primary shareholder of MAD, owner Christine Dilley is looking forward to finding more opportunities where MAD staff can participate in providing high quality wetland and ecological work to meet the project goals of various agencies within the state.  Please take a moment to review our MAD capabilities here on our web site, and contact us about how our team can help accomplish your project objectives.  

New Year, New MAD Discovery in Dublin

January 2016 - Often it's the little things that keep work interesting.  Case in point: Mark and Aaron's observation of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies during an ecological survey at Dublin's Brandon Park.  This species has not been recorded for Franklin County, so MAD Scientist Associates has submitted photographs for verification of the record with the Ohio Odonata Survey.

MAD-designed wetland project receives high marks from Ohio EPA

Having been tasked with an evaluation of State-funded wetland projects, Ohio EPA Wetland Ecologist Brian Gara visited the Highlands Wetland Expansion and Enhancement site this past summer.  His report on the vegetation quality of wetlands created, restored or enhanced using grants under Section 319, the Surface Water Improvement Fund (SWIF) or the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) identified the Highlands wetlands as having the highest Vegetative Index of Biotic Integrity - Floristic Quality (VIBI-FQ) score of the six sites evaluated, ranking the site as a high Category 2 wetland.  The report states: "The VIBI-FQ score of 41 is very high for a wetland so early in the successional sequence," concluding that "[b]ased strictly on this assessment, the Highland Park wetland should be considered very successful."  Another MAD project, the Reynoldsburg City Schools Summit Road wetlands was ranked as a low Category 2, a respectable result for this high-traffic educational resource for the school campus. 

Lost Creek Restoration Underway

MAD is working with Miami County Park District officials in restoring a field to forest. As part of a Clean Ohio grant project, 317 container trees were planted in what was previously a cattle pasture at the Lost Creek Reserve. This area will now connect two wood blocks and include pockets of wetlands.  We are looking forward to witnessing this site transition from a former pasture area to an oak-hickory savanna.  

Work will carry into 2016, when we plan to enhance sections of an existing wetland and prairie system. Approximately one-half acre of invasive species were treated in 2015 and were seeded with a native sedge meadow mix. Over 1,000 rooted plugs will be installed with the help of Miami County Volunteers next spring.

MAD Staff takes time to give NAHS students professional feedback

In December 2015, several MAD staff members went back to high school! Well, they were invited by the New Albany High School Environmental Science class to critique presentations developed by 11th grade students regarding harmful algal blooms. It was a pleasure listening to students explain how they researched possible solutions for phosphorus reduction in the Grand Lake Saint Marys watershed, which was the focus of their projects. Many of them came to the realistic conclusion that there is no "one-way" to solve an environmental problem, rather they are much more complex and require a multi-faceted approach. We had to share some of the reflective thoughts posted by students that make us appreciate great teachers that make learning relevant and meaningful. They came up with some really thoughtful questions and comments that made us glad we were able to participate. We've got 16 and 17 year olds talking about engineered wetlands!

After presenting our solution, it dawned on me how much I actually learned from this, and made me respect all of the scientists trying to figure out a solution.”

I am now more aware of how big of an issue water pollution in Ohio is. After listening to the experts comments, I can tell that the impact they left on the class was significant, and that there are very few people who are unenlightened about this topic.

My questions is about the cost and effectiveness of the engineered wetlands. Would it have to be constantly monitored to see its effectiveness? Overall, I really enjoyed this project due to its real life implications, and the interesting discussions with the MAD Scientist Associates. I loved everyone’s ideas and the creativity that we were able to display, especially as this is an ongoing problem not just in Ohio.”

Surprise gift from a fellow nature lover

As a thank you for our role in the Highlands Park wetlands enhancement project, local nature photographer Bill Baird dropped by our office this fall to surprise us with a framed copy of one of his beautiful Great Blue Heron photos from the Highlands wetlands.  Thanks so much to Bill!

Stratford Road low-head dam removal

MAD Scientist Associates LLC (MAD) was proud to assist the City of Delaware and other partners to continue the important work of restoring the Olentangy River. Twenty-two miles of the Olentangy River are designated as State Scenic River, but much of the waterway has been impacted by rapid urbanization and hydro-modifications. MAD was contracted to conduct mussel surveys and obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the removal of two low-head dams just upstream of the State Route 23 bridge. A Nationwide Permit #27 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities was received this past spring. In preparation for demolition activities, mussels in the work area were relocated and, during low flow summer conditions,the dams were successfully removed. The river has since returned to a more natural flow regime, with expanding beds of water willow and free-flowing riffles and runs providing valuable in-stream habitat. We commend the City of Delaware for taking on this project. We were pleased to play a small role in the restoration of one of Ohio’s beautiful rivers and we look forward to similar opportunities in the future!