A new feature called "hit the road" on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Web site (www.ohiodnr.com) makes it easier for people to choose a good driving route to see fall color. And this might be the best weekend to do it. The weather forecast looks to be cool but sunny weather for this peak color weekend.
The new feature lets Web site visitors select from a series of 32 pre-mapped routes chosen by natural resource professionals for spectacular autumn views. Each route is mapped with place markers at the starting and ending points. Maps also identify nearby state parks, forests, wildlife areas and nature preserves where people can go to enjoy autumn activities.
Peak color updates are available online through the first week of November.
Other portions of the Web site show people how to map a scenic road trip, find activities for adventurers who are refreshed and energizedby the cool autumn weather, vacation in places of solace to enjoy the changing seasons and even help students who need aresource for leaf collection projects.
Ohioans and out-of-state visitors also can find information about fall foliage by calling 1-800-BUCKEYE or visitingwww.discoverohio.com/autumnadventures.
Jim Davis, chairman of Seneca County's Sportsmen, Landowners and Processors Feeding the Hungry, said nine deer already have been donated this year to be given to the needy of the county. The total number donated last year was eight.
"It's going really well," Jim said. "It's the same as Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. We just kind of kicked loose some political ties and things that were really bogging us down. They're a great organization, but it wasn't going to work in Seneca County."
Hunters who don't want to keep their deer meat or who have extra can take deer to Schumm's Butcher Shop, 4675 N. TR 69. Call ahead at (419) 937-2762. There is no charge.
Jim said he and a few other people are working together to distribute meat to soup kitchens such as St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tiffin and the Sharing Kitchen in Fostoria, as well as other churches such as Christ Church of Tiffin.
Individual families who are in need of food also can get a package of ground venison.
If there are more requests than can be filled by the supply, Jim said he'll create a waiting list. Anyone who would like to distribute or who is in need of meat can call Jim for more information at (419) 937-7014.
Youth pheasant hunt
Seneca Soil and Water Conservation District still is taking applications for youths interested in the annual Youth Pheasant Hunt Oct. 24.
Call (419) 447-7073 for more information.
Seneca SWCD and the village of Sycamore recently received NatureWorks grants.
SWCD plans to use its $13,744 to pave the parking lot at Miller Conservation Farm.
Sycamore's swimming pool is being renovated. The pool showers and restrooms also are being renovated to make them available for the entire park. The grant totals $22,614.
More than 15,000 ring-necked pheasants are to be released in 30 public hunting areas across the state this fall, as part of a seasonal effort by the Division of Wildlife to increase hunting opportunities for the popular game bird.
Nearby, Killdeer Plains is receiving the most birds. They are to be distributed as follows: 120 on Oct. 23, 140 on Oct. 30, 270 on Nov. 5, 250 on Nov. 13 and 280 on Nov. 25. Wyandot hunting area is to get 50 birds on each of the November dates and Ringneck Ridge, part of the Sandusky County Park District, is to get 80 birds Nov. 5 and 50 birds each Nov. 13 and 25.
Pheasants are to be released in the evening after shooting hours.
For more information regarding the issuance of free hunting permits, contact the Sandusky County Park Office at (419) 334-4495 or the Sandusky County Park District Ranger Office at (419) 637-2900.
This will be the last year for pheasant releases at Maumee State Forest and North Turkeyfoot State Park. Both areas have seen dramatic declines in the amount and quality of grassland habitat available for sportsman to use over the past decade.
Pheasant hunting season opens Nov. 6 and remains open through Jan. 10, with a daily bag limit of two male birds. Statewide hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.
Perch, walleye rules
The Ohio Wildlife Council has approved changes that affect Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch, crappies in 44 inland lakes, and Ohio River catfish.
A change to the timing of when bag limits are set for Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch was passed. New bag limits become effective May 1 instead of March 1. Changing the date allows for walleye and yellow perch quotas set by the Lake Erie Committee to be considered prior to setting bag limits.
The Lake Erie Committee comprises fishery managers from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania. The committee's work is facilitated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a Canadian and U.S. agency on the Great Lakes. Each year the committee sets the total allowable catch for walleye and yellow perch from Lake Erie. Total allowable catch represents the number of fish that can be caught by sport and commercial fishers without putting the stocks at risk. From the total allowable catch for the lake, individual state quotas are calculated.
Another measure approved adds 38 lakes to the current list of six lakes that have 9-inch minimum size limits on crappies. Among the 38 new reservoirs on the list is Fostoria's Veterans Memorial reserervoir.
A bag limit of 30 crappies on all lakes with 9-inch size limits also was passed.
ODNR is accepting grant proposals for community programs to improve local environments through litter prevention, beautification and waste reduction.
The Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention is to grant competitive awards up to $2,000 to support litter clean-up activities that involve the work of volunteers.
Last year, ODNR's 66 grant awards totaled $141,890 and generated more than $1 million worth of local volunteer hours, $132,852 worth of goods and services and more than $52,000 in private contributions.
The projects funded through the grant program must take place during March, April or May 2010, and recipients are to incorporate Keep Ohio Beautiful Month programming into their community awareness and promotional activities.
For more information, call (614) 265-6333 or visit www.ohiodnr.com/recycling.
Ohio's fall crop of acorns is a vital food source for more than 90 forest wildlife species. White oak acorn production declined by 15 percent from 2008 figures, while red oak acorn production increased by 11 percent.
The Division of Wildlife is participating in a multi-state research project to estimate regional acorn production throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
Wildlife biologists said they hope to use the acorn production information gathered in the study to forecast wildlife harvest and reproductive success rates on a local and regional basis.
Acorn production is cyclical, with some trees producing acorns nearly every year, while others rarely ever produce. Division of Wildlife employees scanned the canopies of selected oak trees on 38 wildlife areas in the state to determine the percentage of trees that produced acorns and the relative size of the acorn crop. Results varied regionally, but an average of 26 percent of white oak trees and 41 percent of red oak trees bore fruit this year. Wildlife prefer white oak acorns, because red oak acorns contain a high amount of tannin and are bitter in taste.
Mast crop abundance can affect hunting plans as well. Hunters can expect to find deer, wild turkeys and squirrels concentrated near areas with heavy crops of white and chestnut oak acorns this fall. In areas with poor acorn production, these animals are more likely to feed around agricultural areas and forest edges.
The Sandusky County Park District is to host a saw-whet owl banding program 6 p.m. Oct. 24 led by Tom Kashmer in search of America's smallest owl. Saw-whet owls don't breed in Ohio, but can be seen passing through in migration. Participants should meet at the park office. Take a flashlight.
Register the family for a pioneer challenge, "1817," 5:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at White Star Barn. Learn about local history and the struggles of early settlers of the Great Black Swamp. $5 fee per person.
Register for Sandusky County programs by calling (419) 334-4495 or (888) 200-5577.
*?Saturday, 8 a.m., Nature Walk Bird Talk, Garlo preserve, Seneca County Park District, (419) 435-3915, scpd_programs@yahoo.
*?Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon, tire recycling collection, Ottawa-Sandusky-Seneca Joint Solid Waste District, collection at Seneca County Ag Service Center, 3140 S. SR 100.
*?Saturday, noon, canoe float, Seneca PD, Howard Collier State Nature Preserve, (419) 435-3915, scpd_programs@
*?Saturday, 5:30 p.m., chicken barbecue, Sandusky River Coon Hunters, TR 131.
*?Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Tiffin-Seneca Izaak Walton gun raffle and fish fry, club house, 3570 N. River Road.
*?Sunday, 1-4 p.m., Forrest Nature Preserve open house.
*?Tuesday, 4 p.m., toddler pumpkin program, ages 12-36 months, Steyer Nature Preserve, Seneca PD, (419) 435-3915, firstname.lastname@example.org.
*?Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., Tiffin-Seneca Izaak Walton meeting, clubhouse, CR 33.
*?Thursday, 4:30 p.m., fall foliage hike, Steyer preserve, Seneca PD, (419) 435-3915, scpd_
Vicki Johnson reports outdoors and agriculture news for The A-T.
Contact her by e-mail at email@example.com.