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What is a Soil & Water Conservation District?

By: Patrick Troyer, Education Specialist


How much do you know about the Paulding Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) or SWCD’s in general? Do you know the services we offer or our mission? After reading the articles that we publish, it only makes sense to give a little background on who we are and what we do to serve the residents of Paulding County.

Let’s start with some basic facts of how SWCD’s came to be. Every County in Ohio has a Soil and Water Conservation District, which is a political subdivision of the State of Ohio.  In response to conservation concerns raised because of the 1930's dustbowl, SWCD's were formed in the late 1940's to complement a federal government agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Both local and federal agencies worked together to encourage farmers and landowners to employ practices on the land for the conservation of soil and water resources.  Today, SWCD’s share the common goal of conservation of natural resources on urban and rural lands.

Each SWCD is governed by a five-member board of supervisors which is comprised of landowners in Paulding County that meet monthly to conduct business of the district. This board has the responsibility of the development and implementation of all short and long-term goals for the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) including the protection and conservation of the natural resources of Paulding County and Ohio. Supervisors serve terms of three years and at least one supervisor is up for election each year. Elections take place at the annual meeting of the Paulding SWCD which is typically held in November.

Our office works closely in cooperation with the Paulding County Commissioners who provide support to the Paulding SWCD in our conservation mission. We work with rural homeowners, homeowners living in town, and producers just to name a few. Current staff for the Paulding SWCD include: District Program Administrator Deb Hubbard, District Technician Daniel Foust, Education Specialist Patrick Troyer, and Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) Nutrient Specialist Manuel Lay. The Ditch Maintenance Department comprises of Supervisor Ryan Mapes and Technician Sam Smith.

All local government grants from the Paulding County Commissioners or local villages/townships are matched by the State of Ohio nearly dollar to dollar to support SWCD operations, conservation programs, and resource management initiatives.  SWCD’s work closely with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and are now under Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Division of Soil and Water Conservation. With these resources, the SWCD is a vehicle for bringing local governments and residents together to address natural resource conservation challenges in urban and rural settings.

The Paulding SWCD seeks to serve the residents of Paulding County in the areas of technical assistance, conservation education, manure management, equipment rental, and serving as local eyes and ears “boots on the ground”. In terms of education, we offer school programs, adult programs, tree/fish sales, education models for teachers, conferences such as the Black Swamp Educator’s Extravaganza or Woodland & Wildlife Festival (held with other SWCD’s), 5th Grade Field Day, as well as newspaper articles to name a few. Our technical programs include cost share programs for nutrient placement, cover crops, or soil testing. The technician also assists with drainage projects, manure storage structures, heavy use pads, equipment rental, and much more. Our Nutrient Management Specialist serves as a resource to producers and homeowners who have questions or concerns on manure management, hauling, stockpiling, and application.

All Soil & Water Conservation Districts have their one characteristics that make them unique meaning no one district is the same from another, even in neighboring counties. Several things add to the uniqueness of our office such as maintaining the Black Swamp Nature Center building and park and housing the Ditch Maintenance Department. The SWCD and Ditch Maintenance Department work closely with one another when it comes to drainage projects, surveying, and much more.

The Paulding SWCD is entrusted with the maintenance and upkeep of the Black Swamp Nature Center for the enjoyment of the public. Our office is continually making improvements to the trails keeping the clear for you to enjoy a nice walk, working with groups such as the Boy Scouts to provide picnic tables and benches to rest on, and installing mulch or stone on the trails as well. If you have not ventured out to the nature center yet, be sure to take some time and do so! Need some space for your next event, the Black Swamp Nature Center is available for rent, contact us for details!

Would you like to know more about us? Head on over to our website, visit us at 900 Fairground Drive in Paulding, visit our Facebook page, or give us a call at 419-399-4771. We look forward to speaking with you and working with you!
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Attracting Birds All Year Long

By: Patrick Troyer, Education Specialist


We all enjoy sitting outdoors in the morning or evening and listen to the birds singing their harmonious and pleasant songs. The sounds of cardinals, blue jays, and robins are simply music to the ears in the opinion of many a bird lover. What are the tricks to attracting these voices of nature to your backyard and bring them back time after time? Let’s look at some ways that we can attract birds to our yards while also helping them at the same time.

            It is easy to attract birds to our backyards throughout all the seasons, but it is winter when the birds need our help the most. According to HGTV, birds are in greater need of our help through the winter months because they are utilizing a clear majority of their energy and time to look for food, water, and shelter. We can help in a lot of different ways to provide all these resource needs for birds and turn out yards into a place where birds can find shelter and get some food.

            One common things that comes to mind with attracting birds is plant selection. Each species of bird is going to be attracted to a different species of plants, particularly when it comes to plant height. Birds like food and shelter at varying heights or in a canopy of tall trees over smaller trees or shrubs. Landscape designer Doug Gagne ways homeowners want to go for a tiered approach by placing taller tree species at the border of your property, with smaller trees and bushes next, followed by tall grasses and low growing flowers to imitate what birds typically find in nature. Offering this type of approach is one way to attract a variety of different birds.

            The idea with attracting bird species is providing them with a source of food that they prefer. Most birds are going to prefer a variety of plants that produce an adequate selection of fruits and berries, especially those which bear fruit through the winter months. Horticulturalist Kimberly Eierman says that species that bear fruits into the winter will show up early in the season but will not be palatable to birds until a series of freezing and thaw cycles take place which she says is “nature’s way of providing food for the birds,”. Shrub species that support berries throughout the winter include: winterberry holly, bayberry, and viburnum. HGTV writes that a few species in the rose family will produce a red or orange fleshy fruit during the winter months known as rose “hips” which can also be a good choice for birds.

            Grasses have also proven to be an attractant for birds, primarily the seed produced. Many of the grasses that are native to the area can be a great food source for birds as many species like the seeds. HGTV says one way to make certain your grasses are a friend to the birds is to leave them alone and not trim back the seed heads until spring to leave seed but also shelter for any birds who may be passing through. Some of you might think this is a bad idea not to trim the grass until spring due to appearance, but you will not regret it when birds come to visit! What are some grasses to consider for a climate like ours? Species such as switch grass, little bluestem, and big bluestem have proven to provide the most benefit to bird attraction.

Perennials just like the native grasses are a great addition to your garden or landscape to aid in bird attraction. Same tips apply to perennials on restraining from trimming back the seed heads to provide seed to the birds well into the winter. Kim Eierman suggests species such as coneflower, blazing star, or sunflowers as some popular perennial favorites among birds with the suggestion to plant these in large groups so enough seed is available for all the bird visitors.

Beyond plant selection, there a few more things that we can do for birds, not only in the winter but well throughout the year. One main thing is accessibility of water for the birds. For those that have bird feeders, it is important to keep a clean supply of water available in your birdbath, especially in the winter time when it can be difficult to find water. Believe it or not, there are warmers sold for birdbaths to keep the water from freezing in the winter months and even birdbaths with warmers already built in.

No matter the season, there are several things we can do to lend a hand to the wildlife that we coexist with. Birds are delightful for many people for their appearance and especially the beautiful songs they sing, but for that to happen, they rely on the food and water we provide them. The birds will surely be grateful for your help!

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Celebrating Ohio Wildlife: Beaver & Fox

By: Patrick Troyer, Education Specialist

It goes without saying that we have some amazing wildlife that call Ohio home. With bears, turkeys, beavers, coyotes, foxes and so much more, Ohio is truly the heart of it all when it comes to wildlife! In my previous installment, we looked at the deer and the wild turkey learning about their habitats, diet, and behavior. For this article, we look at yet two more of nature’s creatures, the beaver and the fox.

            Let’s first look at the fox. In Ohio, there are two species of fox that call our state home which are the gray fox and the red fox. As you can imagine, they both are named based on their color. The red fox is more of a reddish-orange with white from its below to its underside. The gray fox has an overall gray color but has a lot of black and white mixed in giving it a salt and pepper-like appearance. Besides the color differences, one notable difference between the two-fox species comes to looking at the tail. The red fox will have a white tip to its bushy tail while the gray fox will have a skinnier tail with a black tip.

            Foxes are nocturnal animals which means that they are primarily active during the nighttime hours when they hunt for their food and generally sleep during the day. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the Red Fox is a solitary creature during the fall and early winter months and generally only will roam a one to two-mile range in search for food. Some primary staples in the Red Fox diet would be mice, rats, rabbits, birds, insects, eggs, fruits, and acorns. The red fox generally is the one people tend to think of when they hear the word fox due to is rusty colored fur.

            The gray fox and the red fox have a lot of similarities between them. One of the main things comes to reproduction with foxes being monogamous breeders. What does this mean exactly? According to ODNR, this means that the fox will only have one mate through their entire life time with peak breeding taking place from February to March for the gray fox and January to February for the red fox. Foxes will only have one litter per year and can have anywhere from 4-6 kits in every litter.

Female red foxes sometimes must make their own dens from scratch. ODNR writes that females that must do this will pick out a location that has a loose, sandy soil that has a southern exposure for warmth. Dens will be dug to depths of about four feet deep. Did you know that foxes are related to your pet dog? Foxes, just like your dog, are members of the “Canidae” or Canine family. Another interesting fact with the fox is that they do not hibernate through the winter months compared to other animals.

To say the least, the beaver is quite an amazing animal primarily due to all the adaptations that it has to best live in its environment. The beaver is the largest rodent found in North American weighing an average of 60 lbs. and measuring a length of 25 to 30 inches long. One thing is for sure with the beaver, they sure love the water! They love it so much that within just 24 hours of being born, the young called kits are already actively swimming! Kits are generally born between April to July with 1 to 4 kits being born with every litter.

Beavers generally prefer ponds that are surrounded by forests to build their homes known as dams. Among some of their favorite woods to eat are poplar, birch, and maple trees. Let’s talk a little bit more about their homes which can have some differences depending on where they are built. For the most part, beavers are quite crafty when it comes to the construction of their dam such as building the entrances underneath the water. Why an underwater entrance you ask? Well for one, they love the water and two it is one of the mechanisms they use to protect themselves from predators who are left wondering how to get into the dam.

According to National Geographic, the inside of their homes features a living quarter built above the water with wood chips on the floor to absorb excess moisture along with a vent at the top to allow for air circulation. Beaver dams are built using the wood that they have chopped up with their large teeth along with mud to hold everything together.

So, let’s now talk about the many amazing adaptations of the beaver. What is an adaptation? An adaptation is a modification of an organism or its parts which allow it to better survive its environment. Among their adaptations, beavers have webbed feet, waterproof fur, adapted lungs, ear adaptations, clear eye lids, rudder-like tails, and their large teeth. The waterproof fur makes sense given that the beaver loves to swim in the water. According to National Geographic, beavers use oil glands to keep their fur wet and slippery and rub this on their fur. This is reapplied on a regular basis to ensure the fur stays wet. The fur also is good at trapping body heat to keep the beavers warm.

If a beaver is underwater all the time, how do they see? Beavers have clear eyelids that allows them to see through, so they have their own built in goggles! National Geographic writes that beavers also can stay underneath the water for as long as 15 minutes due to their specially adapted lungs. Do you like getting water in your ears or nose when you swim? Beavers don’t either! They have small flaps of skin in their ears and nose that close when they are underneath the water!

Now to those beaver teeth! According to National Geographic, beavers have long sharp teeth known as incisors which are great for gnawing wood. The teeth are continually growing, which makes it important for beavers to keep their teeth sharpened by chewing on wood. Another adaptation of the beaver is their webbed feet. The webbed feet are like flippers that divers will wear when deep see diving. Their webbed feet between their toes come in handy when they are swimming through the water.


Lastly, is the beaver’s tail. They have a large tail shaped like an oar that comes in handy as a steering mechanism and to defend themselves from predators. They will slap their large tail on the water to scare off predators! Hopefully now you have a good understanding of the beaver and foxes found in Ohio. Stay tuned for the next installment which will feature more great Ohio animals!



Conserving Resources during the Holidays

By: Patrick Troyer, Education Specialist

I don’t have to tell you that Christmas is quickly approaching! Do you have your shopping done and gifts wrapped? If not, better hurry! The Christmas season is upon us with Christmas music playing in all the stores, gifts being wrapped, Christmas trees lit up across the land. As we enjoy the holiday season, let us keep the environment in mind as we are doing so with some simple ways to enjoy the holidays while preserving our natural resources. The holiday season does not have to put a burden on our natural resources, but with a little effort put forward along with some creativity, the holiday season will have minimal impact on the environment.

            One simple way we can think green during the Christmas season is to buy smart. There are several ways that we can keep then environment in mind as we finish our Christmas shopping. One of the most common things that you can do is look for locally-made gifts. Think about how goods you buy at larger chain store impact the environment during their transportation. The transportation of these items to the larger stores burns up a non-renewable resource, fossil fuels, such as gasoline or diesel fuel. Battery free gifts are another option to consider. According the US EPA, about 40% of battery sales throughout the United States take place during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Dead batteries that are discarded pose a hazard to the environment as the acid in the batteries can be toxic to many wildlife who may encounter them according to Earth Easy. To help out that situation, try a battery-free gift this holiday season.

            Now it’s time to talk about the holiday light displays that decorate the yards of many people throughout the area. Many of us know by watching many familiar holiday comedies that the house with the most decorations in the neighborhood wins the competition among the neighbors. It is all fun and games until we receive our electric bills the following month. Excess use of electricity puts a strain on our natural resources considering where electricity comes from such as coal-fired power plants. Although it may not be a fun, consider downsizing the holiday light display which will help conserve electricity and thus the natural resources used to generate that electricity.

            Another option you may consider is using LED Christmas lights. According to Earth Easy, LED lights will use up to 95% less energy than the larger, traditional bulbs commonly used. Another awesome thing about the LED bulbs is that even though one bulb goes out, the rest of the string will remain lit! One last tip is to shut down the light display during the nighttime hours. Let your light display shine while everyone is awake.

Would you believe that choosing a live tree is a sustainable choice during the holiday? Yes, you might be able to reuse that artificial Christmas tree from one year to the next, but consider what it is made of. According to Earth Easy, artificial Christmas trees are made from petroleum products (a nonrenewable resource), while also using up manufacturing and shipping resources and it seems they are thrown out after a few years when repeated use causes a decline in quality. The artificial trees end up in the landfill where they will not degrade due to their plastic makeup.

            Believe it or not live trees, although messy, can be quite the sustainable alternative. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are about 25-30 million real Christmas trees sold in the United States on any given year with about 350 million real Christmas trees actively growing on tree farms throughout the U.S. Live Christmas trees are planted on a regular basis making them a renewable resource. The trees help improve air quality while they are actively growing with nearly 90% of trees recycled into mulch, according to Earth Easy. There are Christmas tree farms around the area with locally grown trees that help save costs and air emissions from transportation.  

Recycling is a good practice to do at any time of the year and the holiday season is no exception. Have you ever considered that many of your packing materials included in your holiday presents can be reused or recycled? According to Earth Easy, items such as bubble wrap, foam packing materials, and cardboard boxes are easily able to be recycled. Get a new TV or other electronic device as a gift? Electronic devices contain hazardous materials that can prove to be toxic to the environment so let us do our part and recycle these items rather than sending them to the landfill. Not sure where to take your electronic devices to recycle? Visit and search a recycling center near you.


Consideration towards the environment is something to keep in mind not only during the holiday season but all throughout the year. The Paulding Soil & Water Conservation District Staff and Board of Supervisors wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!



Preventing Deer Damage

By: Patrick Troyer, Education Specialist

One fact that everyone knows is that there are plenty of deer roaming around Ohio. We most often meet these creatures of nature on the roadways with our cars, but that is certainly not the only place they are seen. Anybody that has a yard bordering a woodland knows all too well that deer are a common visitor to these areas as well. You might think they are just lurking around, but they are actually doing some damage especially in your garden and landscaping.

            Have you ever looked out and seen the plants in your garden nibbled away but cannot seem to figure out who is to blame? There is a rather good chance it was a deer who is at fault. Deer damage is certainly not a new phenomenon plaguing gardeners and landscapers but it seems we are hearing more and more about it nowadays, but why? At every turn, you see new roads and homes popping up which is replacing what was once a natural habitat for the deer. With these expansions, we are seeing more deer show up in areas that humans are relocating to.  

            According to Michigan State University (MSU) deer find just as much enjoyment foraging for food in your yard as they do in their natural woodland habitat and may even like the plants you have even better than their normal diet! Normally, deer prefer corn, alfalfa, grass, twigs, and leaves as part of their natural diet. What is it that we plant that they like better? How do we prevent them from eating our plants? Let’s take a look at the deer’s behavior to get a better understanding of the plants they love and ways we can prevent damage from them.

            So let’s first take a look at some of the plants that are attracting the deer to your backyard. Michigan State University writes that feeding on plants will generally take place during the nighttime hours but it can also can also occur at any point on a host of plants when they are hungry. While many are apt to think that there are well defined plants which deer dislike, it is important to know that there is not one plant which is completely “deer proof”. Geography also plays a part in the plants that deer prefer, so that is another consideration to make. Lastly, one factor to take into account is that each plant species has different levels of damage which they can tolerate that will not outright kill the plant.  

            Michigan State University notes that many native cedars such as American Arborvitae, ornamental shrubs such as roses, as well as herbaceous plants who don’t lose leaves during the winter such as coral bells are favorites of deer while they are feeding during the winter months. As spring comes along, tulips, daylilies, and newly planted annuals are fair game for the deer. MSU writes that when summer rolls along the males (bucks) will move to woody plants, not necessarily for eating, but when they are in “velvet” to rub off the dried blood as their antlers are developing. It is not uncommon to see spots on trunks with scars that are two inches or more wide, which can damage the strength of the woody plant structure.

            Repellents are available that can help to deter the deer from damaging your gardens and landscaping. There are a host of repellants available either via homemade or commercially available remedies. Most repellents are sold either as a smell deterrent or a bad taste for the deer. According to Michigan State University, most repellents contain capsicum pepper, putrid egg shells, and with garlic which can be grouped with motion-sensing noise-makers that give the message that your landscaping or garden is not a welcome location.

            It is important to know that with any repellants used with any animal species that there is not going to be guaranteed effectiveness. Things like lawn irrigation or rainfall can dilute the repellants. Animals can get used to the repellent to the extent that it may not have an effect on them which is why Michigan State says it is a good idea to rotate your repellants between a bad taste, noise, or scent options. It is important to also keep the repellant freshly stocked in order for it to be effective. Once deer encounter these repellants enough times, it is common to see their traffic patterns change.

One additional option to help with deer damage is choosing the right plant species. According to Michigan State, deer will defer from plants that are fuzzy, coarse foliage like ferns, and also leaves or stems with foul odors or spines. Also of dislike to the deer are many ornamental grasses, ferns, and lavender. When it comes to trees and shrubs, Michigan State says that deer will steer away from pines, spruces, cypresses, and boxwood trees.

Another option to consider is possibly physical barriers such as wraps, netting, or perhaps some small fencing. This may be something to consider especially if there are newly planted trees in your landscaping. As more people start living in areas where animals are found, encounters are simply bound to happen. The key is understanding that animals are simply trying to find food and survive just like humans are also doing.






Celebrating Ohio WIldlife: Part I

By: Patrick Troyer, Education Specialist

Without a doubt, there are some quite amazing animals that call Ohio home but do you know the native animals of Ohio? There are the obvious species that come to mind, but I am sure there will be some that surprise you. Over a series of articles, I hope to introduce you to some of nature’s most magnificent and not so magnificent creatures that call Ohio home. Perhaps you will learn a new fact about an animal you already know or learn about one you didn’t even know lived around here.

With each article, there will be two or three animals featured. The first installment will feature the wild turkey with Thanksgiving quickly approaching along with the white-tailed deer.

First, we will feature the wild turkey. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the wild turkey is the largest upland game bird in the state of Ohio standing at four feet tall and weighing up to twenty-four pounds. At the turn of the 20th century, the wild turkey was nearly extinct in the state. ODNR writes that this is attributed to the expansion of settlement and destruction of their habitat. The wild turkey served as a main food and sport creature for the early Native Americans that settled in Ohio.

Overall, wild turkeys can be identified with an overall dark tint to their feathers with a bronze or green color mixed into their feathers. Adult male turkeys are known as gobblers and can be identified by a reddish head, a tasseled “beard” that hangs from the breast, black tipped feathers, and spurs on the legs according to ODNR. Males will have big and flashy feathers while the females will not. Females are known as hens and can be identified by a blue head, no beard, no spurs, and buff-tipped breasts according to ODNR. During the mating season, the courting male will puff himself into a big feathery ball fill the air with their quite loud gobbling along with their showy feathers to attract a female mate.

The wild turkey is an animal that tends to travel in groups. According to Cornell University, a flock, or group of turkeys, will travel together to search the surface for nuts, berries, insects, and snails. Their strong feet are used to scratch the ground surface to move leaves out of the way as they are searching for food. During the night, turkeys will fly up in their flocks and roost in trees.

That is one fact unique to the wild turkey that it can fly while the domesticated turkey cannot. Another distinguishing characteristic between the wild turkey and the domesticated turkey is the feather color. Unlike wild turkeys, domesticated turkeys that you find on your Thanksgiving table are a pure white color.

Generally, wild turkeys are found in forested areas but it is not uncommon to find them in fence rows and along the edges of fields. According to Cornell University, it is also not uncommon to find them along roads or in backyards that border a wooded area.

White Tailed Deer

            Certainly, many of us have encountered a white-tailed deer sometime when driving on area roadways. They have two colors to their fur, it is a reddish-brown color with short hairs in the summer which fades to a grayish-brown color in the winter with heavy and long hairs, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The deer will generally be found in the forest but can also be found near most farmland and in swamps. If you have a yard that borders a woodland, chances are they frequent your backyard!

            The White-Tailed Deer is known as Ohio’s only big game animal. It was an important animal for the Native Americans who used the antlers for tools/weapons, the meat for food, and the fur for clothing. Some terminology to know with the deer is that the male is known as a buck, the female is a doe, and the baby deer is known as a fawn. The male is the only member of the white-tailed deer species that will have antlers, which will regrow every year.

            Deer commonly will eat mainly plants and plant parts such as twigs, leaves, and branches but also things such as corn, grass, and alfalfa. According to ODNR, white-tailed deer are commonly active at dawn or dusk which proves to be a hazard for us as humans during their breeding season which takes place in the fall. Mating activities start in mid-October with the bucks on the hunt for does. ODNR reminds us to be on alert from October through December when traveling through areas marked with deer crossing signs.

            The deer and the wild turkey are just some of the many amazing animals that we have living around Ohio, but there are so many more! Stay tuned for part two of this series in a few weeks where we will feature the beaver and the fox!