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Protect Ohio’s Wetlands From the Palm of Your Hand

Ohio Environmental Council, March 15, 2013

Vernal pool smart phone app would be first in Ohio.

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) today began a campaign to raise funds to develop the first Ohio vernal pool monitoring smart phone app.  

“We are very excited at the opportunity to develop this smart phone app idea,” states David R. Celebrezze, Director of Air & Water Special Projects. “We hope all Ohioans will pledge their support for this important monitoring tool.” 

Similar to crowd-funding tools like Kickstarter, the OEC is taking pledges now through May 15, from $15 to $5,000. Once the goal of $18,500 in pledges is reached, then all pledges will be processed and development of the app will begin.

“We have great prizes for every pledge level,” Celebrezze continues, “everything from an I [heart] vernal pool bumper sticker to a personalized tour of a vernal pool.”

Vernal pools are dynamic, seasonal wetlands that are vital to Ohio’s natural environment. They:

  • improve water quality;
  • serve as a bellwether wetland;
  • hold flood waters;
  • provide habitat to hundreds of species, including migratory birds;
  • and are an excellent educational tool.

The vernal pool monitoring mobile app is a critical tool that will streamline monitoring, making it easier and more efficient to gather information vital to protecting these special places.

The OEC’s Vernal Pool Mobile App will be able to:

  • Look up amphibians known to a county
  • Record time, temperature, wind, and precipitation dataplay
  • Document landowner and observer information
  • Log species
  • Provide a checklist of tools to bring to the vernal pool
  • Record disturbances
  • Send a report via email to the user and the OEC for submission into database
  • and much more!

While we already have dozens of Ohioans helping us to monitor vernal pools, a mobile app will encourage new people to go into the field and gather the critical information we need.  After a night of monitoring the user submits the data and it is e-mailed to them as well as the OEC.  

The OEC keeps track of the pool and looks for trends over time. If a pool looks like it is declining, OEC will investigate. Additionally, monitoring data can be used to help establish baseline health of a vernal pool which can correlate to protections.

Ohio has lost more than 90% of its original wetlands; historically because of agriculture and more recent due to poorly planned developments.  OEC’s Vernal Pool Conservation and Education program strives to educate people about vernal pools and their benefits.  The program has many aspects whose goal is to support the citizen scientist in their quest to protect these special places.  

Specifically, the program:

Holds yearly workshops;

  • Developed monitoring forms;
  • Created educational DVD;
  • Created Ohio’s only field guide to plants and animals of vernal pools;
  • Created animal fact cards;
  • Leads small expeditions to vernal pools for monitoring;
  • Posts educational videos to YouTube;
  • Runs the Ohio Vernal Pool Partnership; and
  • Created an on-line database where citizens can view monitoring results by county.

For more information and to pledge, visit www.theOEC.org/VernalPoolApp