Check out the Conservation Corner at the Meigs County Fair

By Jim Freeman - In the Open

Next week marks the annual Meigs County Fair, which has been going on almost every year since 1851, or for more than 160 years.

Of course there is no way to take in an entire county fair during a single week; to totally grasp it takes a lifetime – for instance hanging out at the track means you miss the action in the livestock, or on the midway. There is just too much going on. For a lot of kids the fair is the culmination of a year’s worth of 4H projects, and the following week they head back to school. So for them the fair marks the end of summer as well.

On the other hand, you do have all week to check out the Conservation Corner, located in the Grange building. The Conservation Corner (not really a corner, it pretty much takes up one entire end of the building) is a partnership between different wildlife and natural resources agencies including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and others.

The Conservation Corner is now in its fourth year, and this year the main focus will be on protecting pollinators, particularly the Monarch butterfly.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife will have its popular fresh-water fish display featuring fish that are common to Ohio and the Ohio River, and new this year is a reptile display. Of course there will be games and activities for the youngsters, and the hay show and Mystery Farm contests sponsored by the Meigs SWCD will be there as well.

The main focus this year at the Conservation Corner will be the importance of pollinators, particularly the Monarch butterfly. By some estimations the Monarch population has declined 90 percent over the past 20 years.

Local SWCDs, state and federal natural resources agencies, and the Ohio Department of Transportation are taking part in the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative with the mission of improving and creating pollinator habitat in the state of Ohio, as well as raise awareness for all Ohioans regarding the importance of pollinators.

The OPHI includes such diverse partners as Ohio State University, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, American Electric Power, and sportsman’s groups like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.

You can help by participating in the annual Milkweed Pod Collection between Sept. 1 and Oct. 30, and bringing your milkweed pods to your local SWCD. All milkweed pods collected during this time will be processed by OPHI partners and all of the seed collected will be used to establish new plantings and create additional habitat for the Monarch Butterfly throughout Ohio.

To collect the seed pods from a milkweed plant it is best to pick them when the seed inside is brown. Do not collect pods when seeds are white or cream colored. If the center seam of the pod pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked.

It is best to collect pods into paper bags or paper grocery sacks.

Avoid using plastic bags because they attract moisture. Store seeds in a cool, dry area until you can deliver to the closest pod collection area.

Harvesting pods from milkweed plants does not have any effect on the population of milkweed in established areas.

Anyhow, I hope to see you at the fair! And don’t forget to share your funnel cake.

Jim Freeman is the wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at [email protected]

By Jim Freeman

In the Open