ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
November 29, 2000
CALL TO ORDER– The meeting was called to order by Chairperson Carole Wheeldon at 7:06 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Bruce Moats, Kari Tuck, Karen Amarotico, Russ Otte, Carole Wheeldon, Russ Chapman, Howard Braham, Mort Smith and Paige Prewett. Staff present were Dick Wanderscheid and Sonja Akerman. Dan Murphy represented Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. No members were absent.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Wheeldon stated she would like page 3 of the October 25, 2000 minutes to reflect she questioned if a Conservation Commission member was necessary to be on the Demolition Committee rather than why. Chapman moved to approve the minutes of the October 25, 2000 meeting as corrected and Moats seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously passed.
PUBLIC FORUM – Paul Kay presented the Conservation Commission with a large laminated copy of the Bear Creek Watershed map. He said the creation of the map had been in progress for two years and more than 1300 hours of labor had been donated. Alan Cartography donated 120 hours of cartography work and SOU student Dan Shaw donated 600-700 hours. In addition, resource agencies provided data. The map was made from existing electronic data, and Kay was happy to report it is already outdated, as students from Griffen Creek Elementary School have recently documented steelhead by their school. Kay noted free maps would be distributed to government bodies, resource agencies, and the 40 schools in the valley. Maps will be available for purchase in Ashland at Northwest Nature Shop, and in Medford at Neilson Labs and Pacific Survey Supply. These outlets are contributing 100% of the sale price of these maps to benefit Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners for stream education programs. The laminated maps can be purchased for $45 and the paper ones are $25. Wheeldon asked if the people who worked on the map had a passion for the environment and Kay said he couldn't imagine working on a project of this scope without passion.
Kay then showed the Commission on the map where test acreage using the subsurface drip irrigation is located at Royal Crest Orchard. The east Talent Irrigation District (TID) canal feeds that area. He explained this was not a research project; it was a demonstration project. He said more precise irrigation could increase sugars in the fruit. He also noted 50% of the water and about half the nutrients were saved in the one-acre test area. He is hopeful the project will be expanded, as the potential is there to save a lot of water. Kay stated he would like to keep the Commission conscious of the results of the subsurface drip irrigation method used in the orchard. Also, he will be writing a short article for the utility billing newsletter.
Tuck commented the Nature Center will be getting a six-foot by eight-foot magnetic map of the Bear Creek Watershed. She noted the maps would probably be available for purchase at the Nature Center also.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE – Dan Murphy reported 1) 60 tons of leaves and grass were brought in to the transfer station in November and it was all distributed to organic farmers. None went to parks. 2) Crystal Weber won the high school essay contest and will be March's Living Lightly article in the Jefferson Monthly. Six essays were received. 3) Murphy will give North Mountain Park a couple composting worm bins. 4) Written response was received from the Association of Oregon Recycling that articles from its newsletter may be reprinted as long as AOR is credited.
Prewett thanked Chapman for the great tour of Rogue Disposal & Recycling transfer station, Dry Creek Landfill and BioMass. Chapman noted BioMass produces enough electricity to supply 19-20,000 homes. This is one of the cleanest burning wood fired plants in the country. Monitoring is tied directly into DEQ in Medford. Finney stated Don Cordell had a good point about the sorting machine that will be purchased at the transfer station. The benefit is that people don't have to take the time to sort everything at home - all material will go in to one bin. It is estimated the recycling volume will increase over 30%. Chapman added in the Rogue Disposal area there will be a 95-gallon recycle cart for yard waste and one for recycling material, in addition to the garbage can. Recycling would be picked up one week, yard waste the next. The same trucks and crew will be utilized. Wheeldon asked if an investment like this would be beneficial for the region. Chapman replied that as long as volume is being focused upon, the last big piece to go after is the green waste. After everything has been done for recycling and the green waste, hopefully the numbers will reverse, as far as per capita waste generation is concerned. Wanderscheid added it will be important for Rogue Disposal to get its compost facility up and running and recycling sort lines. Otte stated this is another reason more has to be done with precycling.
Wheeldon asked if our recycle center would become outmoded if Ashland went to the same system as Rogue Disposal. Chapman answered they do not know what Rogue Disposal's sort line will be set up to do. Ashland Sanitary has a partnership with Rogue Disposal because there is an economy of scale. Chapman went on to explain people from outside the city limits also use Ashland Recycle Center. There is also the clothing exchange area and the classroom area. He said he would hate to give that up. Wheeldon asked what would need to be done in order to convert to the 95-gallon cart system. Chapman said as soon as Rogue Disposal gets its compost facility sited and the sort line purchased and installed, Ashland Sanitary will be able to do something. Once Ashland Sanitary goes to the new system, the depot will still not be obsolete. Wanderscheid said the depot is totally compatible to moving to the new system. Wheeldon asked if customers that go to the comingle system would be charged more, and Chapman replied only if a yard waste bin is requested. There would be no extra charge for just the curbside recycling. Wanderscheid added this is also the way the Rogue Disposal fee structure is set up. There are a lot of capitol costs associated with the new system. He said Ashland's City Council has traditionally incorporated recycling in the rate base so everyone pays for it. He noted it would be a departure if green waste recycling was extra, however, getting the infrastructure in place to be able to recycle green waste will still require a lot of expense.
Education Subcommittee – Tuck reported the subcommittee had met a couple times and will be composing two articles for the Tidings on recycling. The main focus is informational and will cover the change in plastic recycling, how to figure out a sorting system, why people should recycle, etc. Chapman suggested including the fact that people should not make a special trip in their vehicles to the depot. A car trip to the depot should be included with other errands. Smith added people should save up their recycle items, then go to the depot when they have a large amount to deposit. Tuck said the articles will also look at precycling - how can you generate less even with recycle materials? The impetus will be to get people comfortable with recycling, then make them think about the precycling steps that would come prior to recycling.
TID Subcommittee – Wanderscheid stated Mike Morrison is still getting responses from the questionnaire and employees are still visiting people in the field. He hopes to have more information for the next meeting. At that time, it can be determined if the committee needs to move in a new direction.
Compost Bin at North Mountain Park – Tuck passed around a diagram of the proposed compost bin for the Nature Center. The only cost will be $330 for the material; there will be no charge for the labor. She stated she had talked with Claudia Law who explained treated lumber is supposed to be used, but it is not a good material to be used in a compost bin. Therefore, Tuck said they will be using Trex Decking. Tuck then introduced Chigusa Kobayashi, a Southern Oregon University student from Japan who wanted to develop a strategy for composting, and conceived the idea for this bin. Tuck said she has done an amazing job of research, especially as she had never composted in Japan. She then distributed Chigusa's draft, which will become a brochure on easy steps to composting and will be available at the Nature Center. Kobayashi explained she is an environmental studies major and making a composting site is her senior project. The goal of her project is to make people become familiar with composting, so they will know how good composted material is for soil and how it contributes to saving our environment. The purpose of her environmental studies major is to make students deal with these issues after graduation. This project is the first step for her to do something about environmental issues in society. Waste management is one of the big issues and composting is one of the solutions to reduce waste for the future. Kobayashi said she would like to see more people to make an effort to improve their own environment. Tuck added the key to her project is not only the demonstration sites at North Mountain Park, but that this will be incorporated into the student classes and community programs. The site at the Nature Center will incorporate a "hands on" experience and directions will be available for building compost bins.
When asked about the design of the compost bin, Kobayashi said she had taken the compost class at Ashland Recycling Center and the design came from Claudia Law. Wheeldon asked about recycling in Japan. Kobayashi said she has not been back for more than two years, but when she was there, Japan did not have recycling centers in the communities. There may be some now. Newspapers and magazines were picked up from door fronts. Wheeldon thanked her for the work she has done.
Braham had inquired why the Parks Department could not pay for the compost bin and Tuck said this is a valid question. For this project, the department is paying for her staff time, coordination with Chigusa, her time to have the compost bin built, time to put the programs together, how to teach people to build and use the bin, etc. The Parks Department is doing
a lot through the Nature Center to support projects and the education programs. She pointed out the programs she works on would not happen without partnerships of time and money from other sources. This is an opportunity for the Commission to get a lot for its money. Also, Tuck said since this item is not in the budget, construction of the bin would have to be put off at least a year if funding needed to come from the department.
Jefferson Monthly Article – Wheeldon said she liked the way Ross Finney gave each Green Business a little highlight because it helps people understand the variety in the businesses that can participate. She thanked Finney for all the work he has done on the Green Business program and stated this is a great closure.
Future of the Jefferson Monthly Articles – The Commission discussed the responsibilities involved in finding other people to write articles. Otte said he would like to take a year or two off to focus on writing and educating Ashland people. Braham moved to suspend the specific Living Lightly articles for one year until the Commission decides where it wants to go, what it wants to say and what audience it wants to reach. Otte seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Wheeldon said she would pass information on to the Bike & Ped Commission to find out if one of the members would like to write an article. Amarotico volunteered to write one more article on recycling (i.e. garage sales, etc.).
Paul Kay presented an outline of his article on subsurface drip irrigation to the members and asked for comments. He said he would like people to be able to call on Robbin Pearce's resources already in place at City Hall regarding irrigation. Amarotico suggested he write the article so anyone can understand it. He noted the triangle next to the snack bar at North Mountain Park might work as a subsurface drip irrigation site.
Council Decision on Green Business Program – Finney reported the Council had no objections to continuing the program through the City. This means it is no longer a pilot program. There is good support on the Council for the program. He also mentioned he received a call from Crater Lake Co., the concessionaire who manages the lodge at Crater Lake and the Oregon Caves. If the Jackson County Green Business Program is funded through DEQ, Finney said he could work with the company since its corporate office is in Jackson County. He said he is excited because that would be a nice tie-in to a much broader than regional scope. This would be a way to break in to the whole national park system. Calderra Brewing (in Ashland) has also expressed an interest in the program. On behalf of the Commission, Wheeldon thanked Finney again for all his work.
Demolition Committee Update – Wheeldon said she will be going back to the Council to let it know the Commission does not feel any single member has enough expertise to counsel contractors or residents on what to do with their waste resulting from demolitions. Ashland Sanitary has resources these people can obtain.
Electronic Debit Envelope Discussion – Wanderscheid said this was on the agenda as a result of Tuck's going on the electronic transfer system for utility billing, yet still getting envelopes in the mail. These envelopes cannot be used for other mailings even with the bar code crossed out. Anything mailed in these envelopes to another location still end up at the City offices. He explained this is a labor issue. All tasks such as this are contracted out and it would cost a lot of money to have these people go through and pick out the electronic debit envelopes. In speaking with Account Representative Russ Chaddick, he indicated once 10-15% of the people are on this type of system, it would be more cost effective to have sorters keep these envelopes out. In the meantime, if anyone has these City envelopes, Wanderscheid will take them and return them to utility billing to be used again. Wanderscheid will research to see how this system was publicized and if it needs to be promoted again. Finney asked if the paper statement is sent to the customer. Tuck said it is sent along with the envelope and it is the envelope that is not needed. Otte said it would be a positive move by the City if we can figure out how to model precycling so envelopes are not being sent out just to end up in the recycle bin.
Street Sweeping – Wanderscheid said Public Works Director Paula Brown seems to be moving in the same direction as the Commission on this, as it is in Public Works interest as well. The Commission discussed the benefits of making sure the sweeper would be able to have a clear path to pick up the debris. Wanderscheid said it would be great to have something in place by next fall. He suggested having Brown come to a meeting to talk to the Commission. Tuck suggested requiring people to rake and bag leaves to prevent them from getting in the street and going in to the storm drain. Wheeldon recommended working on this with Brown starting next May or June in order to get something in place by next fall. Otte said he thought this should happen before then in order to get signs up and people in the habit of vacating the street in order for the sweeper to go through in order to minimize the debris that goes in the storm drain. Braham suggested this issue be one of the Commission's goals for next year. Wheeldon said she didn't know if this would need to be a budgetary item or if Brown could reallocate money. If it needed to be built into the budget, it should happen now because the Budget Committee will begin meeting after the first of the year. Wanderscheid said he would invite Brown to Commission meeting to discuss this.
Voter Pamphlet Letter – The Commission discussed a few changes for the draft letter to the Secretary of State that was included in the packet. Wheeldon said the letter covered the subject completely and that it is a good opportunity to educate the people in Salem on recycling.
Update on Soil Food Webs – The memo from Robbin Pearce was discussed under new business/budget.
Budget – Wanderscheid reminded the Commission this budget only goes through June 30 of next year. The new budget year begins July 1. Wheeldon related the balance is currently $3,068.44. Still to be allocated is the request for $330 from Tuck for the compost bin, the request from Wanderscheid and Finney for $1,430 that would cover the cost for the Shakespeare ad, finish with Architectural Design Works and Stratford Inn, and do a survey. Also, Pearce has asked for $500 for the soil food web workshop. Wanderscheid said there are enough compost bins to get through this fiscal year. The other big expense would be for silk-screening the Green Business logos. Finney explained the differences between the quality of the currently available logos versus the silk-screened ones. The current one is not opaque enough. He said he would prefer to wait until he does a survey before getting the logos printed. Wanderscheid added this is two and one half years of work and the one thing that helps to promote the Green Business Program is inferior. The cost for quality logos would be around $800 for 250 from Lightning Copy. Finney stated he got the estimate from this company because the original silk screen logo was created there. Discussion of the money and process ensued. Finney will research this in more depth. Wanderscheid noted that Ken Hagen took the logo to Lightning Copy so it has had all the artwork from the beginning. There may be a lot of expense if the logo is taken to another business. Tuck stated she thinks the Commission should recommend the businesses use the decals in their windows as it is good advertising. The Commission felt comfortable with Finney finishing Architectural Design Works and Stratford Inn and with the survey. The logos will be discussed at the next meeting. Finney said a 2¼ x 2½ inch ad for the Shakespeare Playbill is around $880 for the season. Wheeldon is concerned about spending so much money on the ad. Wanderscheid suggested that Finney discuss this during the survey with the businesses. It is definitely a reward for the pilot participants and if they think it is valuable, it may be something to continue to do. He added he would not want to rule out doing it in subsequent years also, as it may be the most powerful thing to give people in order to get them in the program. Wheeldon offered to help Finney research other silk screening options. Braham suggested contacting the art department at SOU.
Otte moved and Braham seconded to allocate $800 for the ad in the Shakespeare Playbill. The motion was unanimously passed.
Goal Setting/Budget Discussion – Goal setting will be discussed at the January 24, 2001 meeting. Wheeldon reminded the Commissioners the new budget year begins July 1. If money is allocated for everything that has been requested, she said there would be around $800 left from now until the new budget is adopted. The Commission discussed the memo submitted by Robbin Pearce requesting $500 to be used to bring Dr. Elaine Ingham from OSU to present the concept of soil food webs in the Rogue Valley. Before making a decision on this, the members would feel more comfortable receiving additional information from Pearce on the potential audience that would attend.
Chapman moved to grant Tuck's request for $330 for the compost bin and $550 for Finney to finish up the Green Business Program (which would include the completion of Architectural Design Works and Stratford Inn, and the survey). Otte seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.
COMMISSION ITEMS – Wheeldon noted she had been working with a group from the State on a template for a sustainable municipal government. This is an outgrowth of the Governor's executive order to begin the State of Oregon toward sustainability in the next 25 years. She asked the Commission to consider including a sustainability component in its goals that will be discussed at the next meeting. She referred to the Ashland 2020 group that was meeting a few years ago regarding a community wide effort toward creating sustainability indicators, and felt the template may be a place to resume. She went on to say this group is sponsored by Portland State University and has quite a bit of organizational energy and resources behind it. This group has been meeting with different people around the state with the template and is hoping for comments so it can be refined. She will report to the Commission throughout this process and will be at the next meeting. The hope is that at least some piece of the template will be integrated into some of the work Ashland is doing.
Wheeldon then took the opportunity to thank the Commission for the acknowledgement she was leaving and wished the members well in the good work the Commission is doing. On behalf of the Commission, Chapman thanked Wheeldon for her interest in the Commission and said he feels very lucky to have had her and Ken Hagen with the Commission.
AJOURNMENT – The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.