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GOING UNDERGROUND THE DIRT ON DIRT



Published: Sun, September 5, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- If you put a pond in your back yard, would it hold water?

If you want to build a house or add on to a structure, would water seep through the basement walls or pressure from expanding soils cave them in?

Information about the types and characteristics of soil in Mahoning County, water table levels and a slew of other helpful data are available online.

Learn how to access it at the Mahoning Soil & amp; Water Conservation District's exhibit in the Technology Building at the Canfield Fair.

Volunteers are on hand to demonstrate and teach Mahoning County property owners how to access and use the county's geographical information system Web site (gis.mahoningcountyoh.gov) as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service soil and data mart Web site (soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/).

"It's an incredible tool," observed Donald Garver, urban conservationist with the Mahoning SWCD.

Users can key in the address of the property they want to learn about, and a map of the property appears.

Property lines, and a list of other information available -- property taxes, soil types, slope and grade of the land, housing and urban development zones, waterways and wetlands are among the options -- are just a click away.

Earth tunnel

"We've had this information in hard copy," Garver said, "but now anybody can access it."

Making the data available online isn't a way to eliminate work for his office, he said, but a way to raise awareness.

Also on exhibit is an earth tunnel. The tunnel provides fairgoers with a glimpse of the underside of a farm field. Roots from crops, earthworms, even a ground hog sheltered in its burrow are visible.

Last year, the Mahoning SWCD provided fairgoers with printouts of aerial photos of their Mahoning County properties, but the photos were taken several years ago, Garver said. This past March, he said, new aerial photos were taken and should be available by the end of the year.

kubik@vindy.com




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