Outdoors news and notes from around Central Ohio

Outdoor expo returns to state fairgrounds

Those in Central Ohio looking for a very large boat, an exotic getaway and a glimpse of the smallmouth bass hiding under ice have only one option: the Columbus Sport, Vacation & Boat Show.

The annual symposium covering lures, resorts, jet skis, RVs, marinas and more runs Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 12-15, at the Ohio Expo Center. There will be acres of flashy stuff to gawk at, hands-on activities, plenty of swag and fishing seminars with outdoorsmen like Charlie Hartley and Billy Bass Hurt.

Admission costs $7.

Web: hartproductions.com

Fantastic creatures featured in upcoming forum

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold its annual Wildlife Diversity Conference on Wednesday, March 4, at the Aladdin Shrine Center near Easton.

Yes, an entire day devoted to the interesting things crawling, slithering, flying and hopping around this fine state of ours. A bit nerdy, perhaps, but necessary.

Last year's conference covered black bears, damselflies and the Lake Erie water snake. This year, experts from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, universities and conservation groups will lead short lectures on honeybees, birds, bats and even the noble American burying beetle.

Registration is recommended and costs $25 for adults and $10 for students. The conference runs 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Web: wildlifediversity.com

Local adventure group hosting old-school winter fun

When I started my outdoor adventure group, I made a serious mistake: I took people birding. Two died of boredom, three survived to warn their friends, and Venture Club was never heard from again.

It seems the Columbus Adventurers were smarter. Using the Meetup.com framework, they've got numerous events planned through spring, including a ski trip to Seven Springs and a paintball battle.

A good chance to meet these fine folk comes Saturday, Feb. 7, when a group will head to Mill Stream Run Reservation near Cleveland for some tobogganing. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Clintonville Kroger and bring $8.

Web: meetup.com/columbus-adventurers

Buddies on bikes await local commuters

For more than a decade, rideshare programs and highway carpool lanes have reduced traffic congestion and commuter headaches across the U.S. In recent years, bikers also have turned to the buddy system for safety and comfort in numbers on their daily ride to work.

One local program gaining steam is the ride-matching service offered by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

"We put your info into a secure database and match individuals based on where they live and where they work," said Lynn Robinson, manager of MORPC's Ride Solutions program. "Some individuals use the service for other commutes, but we focus on to and from the work site."

The bike program has been active for three years, but interest nearly doubled during the summer gas crunch, Robinson added. The commission now is looking to expand the program and explore other biking incentives.

Web: morpc.org