ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
July 26, 2000
CALL TO ORDER– The meeting was called to order by Chairperson Carole Wheeldon at 7:05 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Bruce Moats, Kari Tuck, Karen Amarotico, Russ Otte, Mort Smith, Carole Wheeldon, Russ Chapman and Howard Braham. Staff present was Sonja Akerman. Dan Murphy represented Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. Member Ashley Henry was unable to attend the meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Tuck moved and Chapman seconded to approve the minutes of the June 28, 2000 meeting as submitted. The motion was unanimously passed.
PUBLIC FORUM – Water Conservation Analyst Robbin Pearce spoke to the Commission about the soil food web. She explained she recently had the opportunity to attend the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) meeting in which water conservation practitioners from the Pacific Northwest got together for training and updates on water conservation measures. One of the speakers was Dr. Elaine Ingham, from Oregon State University. She spoke to the group about what is happening in the soil. Pearce explained she was very skeptical at first, but Dr. Ingham answered every question she had and added she was completely convinced by the end of the session. Ingham said we need to fix the soil, as we are in the process of killing off the necessary organisms because of pesticides. Dr. Ingham presented her view of how to deal with plant problems (such as thatch) by balancing the soil. If you have healthy soil, you should not have plant problems. Viable compost produces a product called "compost tea" which can be applied topically to the soil. Typically, compost that comes in a bag cannot be used because it has been sitting too long, thus depleting the necessary elements (bacteria and fungi). The compost tea needs to be applied within five hours, as the longer the tea sits in a jug, the sooner the viable product is being depleted. In Eugene, there are two companies that produce the tea and have it available every Saturday morning.
Pearce asked if the Commission would allocate $500 to get Dr. Ingham down here to present a seminar to citizens in the Rogue Valley, landscaper contractors, Master Gardeners, etc. Pearce is proposing Dr. Ingham give a half-hour presentation to the Commission, a brief overview of what the entire process is, and then shift it to a more technical session for the public. Also, she would like to work towards someone making the tea in this area, and would like to begin by getting the Parks Department involved. The machine that produces the tea (a brewer) costs $3,000. Braham said he would like to see publications on this process. Chapman commented this has to be good, judging from Pearce's excitement and enthusiasm. Wheeldon asked if there was a window for this because no planning for this year's budget has been discussed yet. Pearce said she would like to do this prior to next spring and that the timing would need to work around Dr. Ingham's schedule. When asked about the length of the seminar, Pearce said she would like to see a two or three hour session. Wheeldon asked if the money would cover travel costs and the seminar and Pearce replied it would cover everything. Moats asked if this was a year round process and Pearce responded it is seasonal. Chapman asked where the companies in Eugene get the raw material for the compost. Pearce answered both organizations have on-going compost piles. She will find out more about this for next month's meeting. Both are forest by-product companies, but she knows it is more than that. Pearce added Dr. Ingham had explained that in order to make the tea, viable compost needs to be used, not putrefied food. She also noted chlorinated water cannot be used. Otte said he would like to see this seminar happen. He commented that in a miniscule way, the school had generated some tea with the worm bins. This tea was applied to plant life in some of the classrooms, however a minimum number of persons was involved. Braham asked if this could be a pilot project at one of the schools, but Pearce said because there are so many different types of parks and the Parks Department maintains some of the school grounds, it would make more sense for the Parks Department to make this happen. She would also like to see the Parks Department not only hear Dr. Ingham speak but also buy a brewer. Otte commented this is a great educational opportunity. Pearce agreed and said this will take the place of the majority of pesticides. Otte told Pearce that once the Commission allocates money and a date is decided upon, if it looks as though there will be 400 people or so, he will work to make the high school auditorium available. Also, because of some formats being used at the high school on citizen topic days, he would like to work it out so that Dr. Ingham's day can be extended to do some things for high school students.
Amarotico asked if there might be a way to solicit donations to be used toward the purchase of a brewer. Pearce said it is so important to get people interested, she would rather not ask for money. After the seminar, perhaps a working group can be formed that can look for a site and get donations for a brewer. Braham said he would like it to be noted the Commission is very interested in this subject and is encouraging Pearce to continue this pursuit. She will get feed back and updated information to the Commission next month. Wheeldon would like to know what kind of interest level there is.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE – Dan Murphy stated he has written a short report on where recycled materials end up, however there is so much information, he would like to write a two-part series for the Jefferson Monthly. The second article would focus on plastics and glass. Discussion on Murphy's articles progressed to the article Smith wrote about recycling for the August Jefferson Monthly issue. Wheeldon suggested taking questions that arise from Smith's "Tips on Recycling", then using these to formulate a series of articles. Chapman recommended e-mailing the questions to Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Commission agreed Murphy's articles would be great follow-up to Smith's article. Otte also stressed the importance of educating citizens on precycling. In discussing Murphy's articles, it was decided he should write about regional recycling markets for the Jefferson Monthly. The education subcommittee will take this information and questions that arise and write a series of articles for the Tidings. Murphy will submit the second part of his article next month.
Green Business – Ross Finney informed the Commission there was an article about Ashland's Green Business Program in the Medford Mail Tribune on July 7. On July 28, Amarotico and Finney will be on the Jefferson Exchange radio program with Annie Hoy (who is also the Green Business coordinator for the Ashland Community Food Store) discussing the Green Business Program. Finney stated the word is getting out now and reaching a lot of people. He has had a very positive response. He also noted Lightning Copy will be printing the Green Business logo as discussed at last month's meeting. For the August Commission meeting, Finney will supply pilot action summaries for Standing Stone, Ashland Community Food Store, Brother's Restaurant and Ashland Greenhouses so the members can formally move to approve these businesses as Green Business participants. The businesses will then receive the official logos to put in their windows. Finney said the summary will contain items to which the businesses have committed - some have been completed, some will take longer. Each business will have two years in which to complete all the items. The next three will be Parkside Cottages, Stratford Inn and Architectural Design Works. Wheeldon stated the Conservation Commission should write a letter to each business thanking them for participating in the program. Finney also suggested presenting the businesses with a framed certificate (similar to the Historic Commission awards) that has the Green Business pledge on it, signed by the business owner(s) and a representative of the City. This would be for display on the wall; the logo will be for the window or door. Amarotico suggested having the Green Business logo for the background of the certificate. Tuck commented it will be important for someone from the City to follow up on what is needed. Finney said Cathy Cartmill will have no problem with the record keeping.
Wheeldon commented she had received a phone call from Duke Castle, facilitator for the Natural Step, who said he will be doing a presentation at Bear Creek Corporation. He wondered if the government would be interested in a workshop also. She told him he needed to talk to the people in government to find out what type of things that would interest them. She also included the school district. Castle may contact the Commission for more feedback.
Education Subcommittee – Tuck stated the subcommittee should wait until Murphy writes his second article in order to formulate a series of articles on recycling for Ashland. Tuck, Otte, Smith, Braham and Amarotico will be on the subcommittee. Amarotico will chair the subcommittee for this series of articles. Members can e-mail questions to Amarotico at email@example.com.
TID Subcommittee – Wheeldon reported the meetings have been very interesting. The next one will be on August 10 at 2:00 p.m. in the Public Works Conference Room. She explained they are still in the information gathering stage. Tuck noted the City is testing TID water to see if it could be treated to put into the City's system, however because of pesticides and fecal matter (especially from dogs) that have leached into the water, this may not be possible. Wheeldon explained the City of Ashland is only responsible for a small portion of the ditch; everything else is the responsibility of TID. Within the city limits, there are around 1000 TID customers, but Ashland only services about 150 of them. She also noted the Water Department is in the process of sending out letters about back flow devices to update the records. It is the City's responsibility to make sure that our water is protected. The Commission needs to determine whether TID is helping or hurting the City in terms of water conservation. Chapman noted that Ashland has no say about the quality of water that is being delivered, so the back flow device is the one safety valve.
Jefferson Monthly Article – Murphy's articles on recycle markets will go in the September and October issues. Braham suggested an article be written on soil food webs for a future issue.
Update on Solar Program – Wheeldon invited the Commission to the formal dedication of the solar systems at 10:30 a.m. on July 28 at the Civic Center.
Budget – Wheeldon asked the Commission if it wanted to do any projecting. Money has already been committed to the Green Business Program. Pearce's request for allocating $500 for Dr. Ingham's workshop will be discussed again at the August 23 meeting. Chapman pointed out there may be Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) money available to get a brewer machine. He will check this out. In addition, Tuck noted she will speak with Donn Todt from the Parks Department to get input from him regarding the soil food web.
Field Trip Discussion - Chapman will arrange a date in August and one in September for the field trip to Rogue Transfer & Disposal, Dry Creek Landfill, and BioMass. He will also arrange for someone to meet the group at each site for the tour. Staff will e-mail the members with the date(s) and time(s).
COMMISSION ITEMS – 1) Because of various reasons, Henry has been unable to attend the majority of Commission meetings this year. The Commission agreed it would like to keep in touch with her because she is such a great resource, but it is important that members attend the meetings. 2) Wheeldon read a message from Paul Kay that said while he was not selected to serve on the Siskiyou Boulevard Advisory Committee, he will be presenting water conservation and water quality perspectives and/or proposals to the committee. 3) Wheeldon read a letter from Parks Department Director Ken Mickelsen thanking the Commission for the $800 contribution to the Nature Center, which was used to offset the cost of using recycled plastic for the deck, and certified lumber for the addition. 4) Wheeldon announced there would be a special Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission meeting on July 27 to plan for the Car Free Day event, which will be on September 15. She invited the Conservation Commission to attend. 5) Braham and Tuck will be out of town for the August 23 meeting.
AJOURNMENT – The meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.