New Markets for Old Tires, and Completion of the Thumb Loop

For Friday, May 22, 2015

. . .

1 – Scrap tires are good for more than breeding mosquitoes.

scrap tires

Credit: Scott.Symonds

The state Department of Environmental Quality has awarded $2.8 million in grants to help develop new markets for old tires.

The grants cover three types of projects.

The first type involves using rubber-modified asphalt in construction and repairs to improve existing Michigan roadways.

The second involves research to find new and better ways to incorporate scrap tire rubber into asphalt and concrete to improve the material’s performance.

The third involves equipment to create commodities from scrap tires and increase existing product generation. Examples of existing products include floor tiles and footwear.

Grants to local governments included $150,000 for roads in Bay County, and $85,000 in roads for the city of Saginaw.

 

2 – The Thumb Loop is done.

thumb loop michigan complete itc

The Thumb Loop transmission project consists of 789 steel monopoles and 32 steel lattice towers and 1,680 miles of wires. Credit: ITC

ITCTransmission of Novi says the third and final phase of its Thumb Loop high-voltage transmission project is complete.

ITC invested more than $500 million to build the 345,000-volt line, which serves as the backbone of a system designed to meet the identified maximum wind energy potential of Michigan’s Thumb region.

The company say the improvements allow for an increase in transmission system capacity and reliability, and the more efficient transmission of renewable energy.

The project was completed early, and had been slated to be finished by the end of the year.

During the construction phase of the Thumb Loop, ITC estimates the project had a direct impact of $366 million to the Michigan economy, including employment of local contractors, vendors and suppliers.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

Kicking off the Tawas Point Birding Festival and a Saginaw Bay Water Quality Initiative

For Friday, May 8, 2015

. . .

1 – The biggest birding festival in the Midwest starts next week in Iosco County.

eastern bluebird michigan birding

Eastern bluebird. Credit: Rodney Campbell

The 2015 Tawas Point Birding Festival runs from Thursday, May 14, to Sunday, May 17. It’s headquartered at the Tawas Bay Beach Resort in East Tawas.

Organizers say the festival offers some of the best birding in the Great Lakes region, and includes tours, workshops and evening events.

Tawas Point is well-known for high concentrations of migrating warblers during the month of May. Almost 200 species were recorded during last year’s festival.

Earlier this month, a Sunrise Coast Birding Trail was dedicated at three points — in Oscoda, Alpena and Mackinaw City. The new trail is about 150 miles long, beginning at the AuSable River mouth in Oscoda and travelling north to the Mackinac Bridge.

The Sunrise Coast Birding Trail connects with the existing Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, which runs 142 miles from Port Austin in the Thumb to East Tawas.

2 – A major water quality initiative kicked off this week in the Saginaw Bay region.

Leaders from The Nature Conservancy and Michigan Agri-Business Association announced the project in Lansing, which they say will help farmers and agribusinesses protect and improve Saginaw Bay water quality.

Under the new program, certified crop advisers will have new tools to assist Saginaw Bay and Thumb area customers in accessing funding for conservation practices on farms.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program aims to enroll more than 25,000 acres in new agricultural land management practices in the next five years. The effort is expected to keep an estimated 2,500 tons of sediment on the land, and more than 17,000 pounds of phosphorus out of the water.

Farmers will be able to sign up this fall. The program is part of a $20 million public and private partnership under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Saginaw Bay Watershed RCPP

Infographic via The Nature Conservancy

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

Sugar Trails Kickoff, LEED Gold for Delta, Geothermal Financing Options

For Friday, April 24, 2015 –

1 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is looking for volunteers.

michigan sugar trails sign

Credit: Jeff Kart

The Bay-City based organization recently trained 24 people to assist staff with habitat management, trail construction, and the monitoring of conserved lands.

There are more opportunities to get your hands dirty. That includes the Michigan Sugar Trails Kickoff on Saturday, May 2.

From 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers will help clear debris, rake and groom existing trails, add signs and cut back vegetation.

Michigan Sugar Trails is located on the Middlegrounds Island in Bay City.

You can find out more at SBLC-MI.org.

2 – The renovated Delta College Health Professions Building has earned a green award.

The renovation project was recently granted Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Delta officials say the building is one of only three Gold-certified LEED buildings in the region.

The project involved WTA Architects of Saginaw and construction manager Spence Bros., with an office in Saginaw.

Sustainable design and construction strategies that helped earn Gold Certification for the Health Professions Building included a rainwater harvesting system that feeds an underground cistern.

The cistern provides water to the building’s restrooms and irrigation for an interior living wall of plants that help remove pollutants from the building’s air supply.

The $20 million renovation consisted of 90,000 square feet of renovated space and a 2,000 square foot addition. It was funded by the State of Michigan, Delta College, and local donors, with major gifts from foundations.

3 – The Michigan Geothermal Energy Association’s spring meeting and conference is next week.

Installation of the geothermal system. Credit: JeffreyW

Installation of a geothermal system. Credit: JeffreyW

The event is on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 28 and 29, at the Soaring Eagle Resort in Mount Pleasant.

This year’s theme is “Show Me The Money,” and will focus on various financing options for geothermal projects. Keynote speakers include John Sarver, president of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.

Geothermal energy refers to heat from the earth. It can be used for the heating and cooling of homes and other buildings.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

Lake Huron Fisheries Workshops, Earth Day, and Refuge Fire

For Friday, April 17, 2015

(No audio today – Pledge Drive)

1 – Bay City is the site of an upcoming Lake Huron Regional Fisheries Workshop.

The local workshop is from 6-9 p.m. on April 30 at Knights of Columbus Hall on South River Road, north of the James Clements Airport.

The workshop is being held by Michigan Sea Grant and others. It will include information on research findings, management updates, and fishing trends.

The workshops are free and open to the public, but registration is requested.

Two other evening workshops will be held in Oscoda on April 23 and Cedarville on April 28.

The agenda for Bay City includes discussion of a Saginaw Bay reef habitat assessment, and walleye movement in Lake Huron.

2 – Delta College is celebrating Earth Day, on April 22, with a guest speaker and other events.

delta-college-earth-day-2015

Delta College Earth Day poster, 2015.

Brent Lofgren, an atmospheric scientist from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, will talk about “‘The Impact of Climate Change on Michigan’s Water Balance.”

The talk is from 10-11 a.m. in room E112.

Also on tap for the day is a screening of the “Growing Cities” film, free white pine and blue spruce seedlings, and a presentation on urban farming.

For more information, search for “Delta Sustainability” on Facebook.

3 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge caught fire this week.

Rx fire Bremer Marsh 4-13-2006 e

Credit: SNWR

It was intentional, for what’s known as a prescribed burn.

The fire was set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday at the refuge, located in Saginaw County. Prescribed burns were conducted in grasslands and marshes to improve wildlife habitat on the land.

Region 3 of the Fish and Wildlife Service uses fire to treat about 70,000 acres of refuge lands each year in the Midwest. Burn times are based on weather, and local governments and fire departments are given a heads up first.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge manages about 10,000 acres in Saginaw County for fish and wildlife habitat.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

Climate Education, Dark Skies and (Barely) Biodegradable Plastics

For Friday, April 3, 2015

1April 22 is Earth Day. The week of Earth Day, April 18-25, is Climate Education Week.

The week, organized by the Earth Day Network, urges teachers to educate and engage students on climate change.

To help, there’s a free Toolkit that educators can use. It includes a week of lesson plans, activities and contests for K through 12 students.

The lessons meet Next Generation Science and Common Core standards.

There’s a different theme for each day of the week, and the lessons include videos and items for various grade levels.

You can find the lesson plans and more information at ClimateEducationWeek.org.

2Look up at the sky tonight. How many stars do you see?

You’d see more if there were fewer unnecessary outdoor lights on homes and other buildings.

international dark sky week michigan

Credit: Brian Lauer

April 13-18 is International Dark Sky Week.

Several Michigan state parks will remain open late for night sky viewing during the week. Some parks will host special astronomy events.

Participating parks include Port Crescent State Park in the Thumb.

 

3 – Biodegradable plastics are better than regular plastics, right?

Not really, according to a study by Michigan State University researchers.

Some water bottles and other plastics are dubbed as biodegradeable. But they don’t break down in the environment much faster than plastics that don’t contain additives.

According to Chemical & Engineering News, plastics labeled as LDPE and PET can remain in a landfill for years, so some manufacturers include additives to help the plastics disintegrate faster.

The MSU researchers designed a study to see if the materials performed as promised. Among the findings: After three years of soil burial, plastic samples with additives did not show any greater physical degradation than samples without them.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow me @jeffkart on Twitter.

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff

 

 

Michigan Clean Tech Jobs, Powerley App and New Energy Stats

For Friday, March 27, 2015

1Michigan is No. 4. Our state ranks fourth nationally in the number of clean energy jobs.

The state holds the spot based on strong hiring for electric vehicle production and the solar industry supply chain, according to Environmental Entrepreneurs, a Chicago-based business organization that tracks job creation in the clean energy sector.

The group says that in 2014, Michigan companies added 3,600 new jobs tied to clean energy projects.

Nationwide, there were nearly 47,000 such jobs involving 170 projects. Michigan trailed Nevada, California and New York in the number of clean technology jobs created.

The group is urging Congress to take up federal tax credits that support clean energy production. More than half of businesses surveyed by Environmental Entrepreneurs said they would likely increase investment levels if federal clean energy tax credits were extended.

– Via Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council

2Information on how much energy your home uses may be an app away.

powerley powerscan

Credit: Powerley

DTE Energy, the Michigan electric utility, has announced a new venture called Powerley. It’s a joint project with Vectorform, a global design and technology firm.

Powerley was announced earlier this month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The Powerley platform is designed to allow utility companies to present real-time energy consumption information to their customers.

Customers using the app are able to track their energy consumption patterns, set goals, tackle energy-saving projects and compare usage with friends.

DTE already has a real-time mobile application called DTE Insight. Powerly aims to take the technology to other utilities, using an advanced meter and energy bridge device.

The app can be used with Android or Apple smartphones, and provides utility customers with complete, real-time breakdowns of their energy consumption.

3 – Much of Michigan’s biomass energy comes from the state’s almost 19 million acres of forest land.

Biomass provided fuel for 35 percent of Michigan’s renewable net electricity generation in 2014.

Those are some of latest statistics from new State Energy Profiles released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Some other Quick Facts:

  • In 2013, Michigan had more underground natural gas storage capacity – 1.1 trillion cubic feet – than any other state in the nation.
  • In 2014, Michigan’s three nuclear power plants, with four reactor units, provided 30 percent  of the state’s net electricity generation.
  • Michigan used coal for half of its net electricity generation in 2014.  Much of our coal is brought by rail from Wyoming and Montana.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow me @jeffkart on Twitter.

For Spring: Targeting Mosquitoes, Oak Wilt and Saginaw Bay Invasives

For Friday, March 13, 2015

1 – Spring is coming, and so are the bugs.

scrap tire mosquitoes

Credit: Fran Ontanaya

Bay County and other counties across Michigan are planning events to collect scrap tires, which can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The state recently awarded $587,000 in grants for scrap tire drop-off events and other tire cleanups across Michigan. Drop-off events will be held in the spring and summer. Besides Bay County, grants also went to Saginaw, Arenac and Tuscola counties. Last year, Bay County collected more than 2,600 tires at two drop-off events. The tires were hauled away and recycled. – via Bay County newsletter

2 – Spring arrives officially on March 20. And now is the best time to prune your trees so they are less likely to be attacked by summer bugs and pathogens.

But take care if you have oak trees. The Bay County Gypsy Moth program says Oak Wilt is a concern. Last summer, the state departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued a Pest Alert about the dangers of Oak Wilt, a  fungal disease that kills oak trees, mainly red oaks.

Classical symptoms of oak wilt on red oak leaves.  Credit: Michigan State University

Classical symptoms of oak wilt on red oak leaves. Credit: Michigan State University

Oak Wilt has not been found in Bay County yet, but residents are advised NOT to prune oak trees during the growing season. If you need to prune oaks, DO NOT prune them between April 15 and July 15. Oak Wilt was detected in more than 40 counties last year, including Saginaw, Midland, Gladwin, Roscommon and Oscoda.

3 – The Saginaw Conservation District is fighting invasive plants in 22 counties.

The District, part of a group called the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, is using $300,000 in state funding to fight invasive plants in the 22 counties that make up the Saginaw Bay watershed. Officials say the work will focus on the use of an early detection rapid response team to find and treat invasive species at a low cost and with a high rate of success. Targeted plants include Japanese knotweed, phragmites, and black and pale shallow-wort. All of these can crowd out and displace native plants.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

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