Skin Cancer, and Energy, from the Sun

For July 18, 2014


If you’re going to be spending time in the sun, protect yourself with sunglasses, sunscreen, and take a break in the shade.

Your eyes and skin need protection while swimming, hiking, boating or fishing. The sun emits radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Those rays will be highest around noon on a clear sunny day. UV levels also will be highest near surfaces that reflect sunlight — like water and sand.

Exposure to UV rays can cause sunburn, skin aging, eye damage and skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. An estimated 76,100 United States residents will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2014. For Michigan, the estimates are 2,830 people, according to the American Cancer Society.

July is UV Safety Month.


The sun is not all bad. It provides plenty of opportunities for clean energy generation.

bright sun pylon

Credit: Craig Chew-Moulding.

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association has announced a partnership with Localstake Marketplace of Indiana. The company has launched a renewable energy crowdfunding Web page to encourage the development of solar and renewable energy projects in Michigan.

The idea is to connect investors to Michigan projects. The new program is called the Michigan Solar Funding Platform.

Localstake will review and vet all Michigan projects that use the platform. The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association will encourage business and individual members to use the site and provide education on crowdfunding to project developers, investors, and the general public.

Right now, businesses and potential investors are being asked to sign up. Later on, nvestors will be able to research proposed renewable energy projects in the state and support those they want to see built by investing as little as $250.


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


Nature Preserve in Midland County, Conservation Funding for Saginaw Bay Farmers

For July 11 (on a summer schedule)


1 – A new nature preserve in Midland County will be dedicated this weekend. 

Szok preserve midland county

Via Little Forks Conservancy.

The Little Forks Conservancy will officially open the Albert and Virginia Szok Preserve to the public at a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 12. Following the dedication, guests are invited to explore the property.

The 8-acre property was donated to Conservancy by the children of Albert and Virginia Szok in memory of their parents. The new preserve is located within the Pine Haven Recreation Area at the end of Maynard Road, along 1,200 feet of the Salt River.

A short hiking trail and bench will be added to the property for users to enjoy the beauty along the river’s edge.

Albert Szok was a long-time Midland Public Schools teacher, who helped develop environmental education programs for the Chippewa Nature Center and environmental education standards for the state of Michigan.

Chippewa Watershed Conservancy will help permanently protect the preserve through a conservation easement donated to them by the Szok family.

2 – Conservation funding is available for agricultural producers in the Saginaw Bay area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $6.3 million in conservation financial assistance available to private landowners in Michigan to help improve water quality and wildlife habitat around the Great Lakes.

The financial assistance is available to farmers and agricultural producers in selected Michigan watersheds through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Farmers and landowners interested in obtaining assistance to implement conservation improvements on their land must apply before Aug. 1. The financial assistance is available to agricultural producers in the Saginaw Bay area, the Western Lake Erie Basin, and areas of Northern Michigan near the Great Lakes.

Conservation activities like planting cover crops and installing buffer strips can help improve water quality in the Great Lakes. A portion of the funding is targeted to reducing the amount of phosphorus runoff that contributes to algal blooms that damage aquatic habitat and water quality.

More information is available online from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


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


Climate Action for Michigan, a Response to Great Lakes Debris

For June 12, 2014


1- How does a proposed federal Climate Action Plan affect Michigan?

michigan power plants

The location of fossil fuel fired power covered by the proposed Clean Power Plan.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a related Clean Power Plan to curb pollution from power plants. The plan would help cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels.

According to an EPA analysis, the proposal would require Michigan to develop a plan to lower its carbon pollution to meet a carbon dioxide emission rate goal of 1,161 pounds per megawatt hour.

Right now, Michigan’s power sector emits about 535 more pounds per megawatt hour. The Midland Gogeneration Venture and the J.C. Weadock plant in Bay County would both be covered by the rule.

Michigan would be able to choose how to meet the goal through various measures.

Strategies include efficiency programs, improving power plant operations, and renewable energy standards. Michigan’s current renewable energy standard of 10 percent expires in 2015.

Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. About half of Michigan’s energy comes from coal.


2 – Just in time for the summer, there’s an action plan for addressing debris in the Great Lakes.

We’re talking about plastics and litter, abandoned vessels, and old fishing gear.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a first-of-its-kind Great Lakes Land-based Marine Debris Action Plan.

The Plan focuses on debris generated on land, which is often blown, swept, or washed out into the lakes.

The action part involves work that partners will undertake in the next five years, through 2019.

One objective is to remove 200 tons of land-based marine debris from Great Lakes environments.

Backers say there’s a role for everyone in the plan, from the citizen who picks up litter from beaches and watersheds; to organizations that support a wide range of activities like cleanup, research, education, and outreach.

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


Farm Bill Funding for Saginaw Bay, Beach Wellness, and Finding Endangered Dragonflies

For May 30, 2014

1The Great Lakes have been designated as a Critical Conservation Area.

stabenow saginaw bay

U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow.

That means the region will be eligible for increased funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program under the 2014 Farm Bill.

The announcement was made this week in Bangor Township by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The program, created by Stabenow in the new Farm Bill, will strengthen the Saginaw Bay region’s ability to address priority watersheds with the greatest conservation needs.

The program will provide opportunities for public-private partnerships to address soil erosion, habitat protection and water quality, according to the Great Lakes Commission.

The designation of the Great Lakes as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas in the U.S. means it’s a target region for clean water projects, and there will be additional funding available to address water quality issues, Stabenow says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $1.2 billion in funding over the life of the five-year program and can leverage an additional $1.2 billion from partners for a total of $2.4 billion for conservation.

The 2014 Farm Bill was approved by Congress in February.


2The 8th Annual Beach Wellness Event will be held on Saturday, June 21, at the Bay City Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

A range of events start at 9 a.m. and will be held throughout the day for all levels of competition and ages.

That includes a 10K and 5K run, a 5K walk, and a quarter-mile run for kids. There also will be a volleyball tournament for adults and kids, and a classic car cruise.

All proceeds from this year’s Beach Wellness Event will go for grooming the public beach at the state park. Save Our Shoreline has already donated $1,500.

Sign-up info for the runs and walk are available at You can contact the YMCA in Bay City for info on the volleyball tournament.

More than $70,000 has been raised from previous Beach Wellness events.

3Have you seen the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly?

hines emerald dragonfly

An adult Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly is the focus of this coastal habitat conservation project in northeast Michigan. Photo credit: David Cuthrell, Michigan Natural Features Inventory

A coalition of agencies and organizations are working together to find and protect the insect, which lives in only a few places in the Great Lakes, including Northeast Michigan.

People are being invited to join in a new “citizen science” effort led by partners including Huron Pines in Gaylord and Michigan Sea Grant.

About 150 species of dragonflies and damselflies are known to inhabit Michigan, according to Sea Grant.

The Hine’s emerald dragonfly is rare, in part, due to its specific northern fen habitat requirements. That habitat is threatened by development and the invasion of high impact, non-native species.

The citizen science effort is a two-year project aimed at involving people in protecting the dragonfly and high quality natural habitats at two state parks along the shores of northern Lake Huron. Participants will conduct field surveys for larval habitat and invasive species.


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

Invasive Awareness Video, New Michigan Energy Data, and a Golf Course Renewal

for May 23, 2014.



1You’ll be hearing more about aquatic invasive species this summer.

The states of  Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are teaming up on a new public service campaign.

The campaign encourages boaters and anglers to take steps to avoid the spread of invasives like Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and spiny water fleas when they travel between states.

The message: You can stop invasive hitchhikers by cleaning off your boat; draining your boat, bait and live well; and drying your boat.

The spot is airing on Detroit Public Television, FOX Sports 1, NBC Sports, The Weather Channel, ESPN2 and the Travel Channel.

The Michigan Department of Environment Quality is inviting people to share a YouTube video to spread awareness.

2How does Michigan generate its energy?

New information has been released by U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Michigan used coal for 54 percent of its net electricity generation in 2013. Much of the coal came by rail from Wyoming and Montana.

In 2013, Michigan’s three nuclear power plants provided 28 percent of the state’s net electricity generation.

Biomass such was wood and agricultural waste provided fuel for 42 percent of Michigan’s renewable net electricity generation in 2013. Much of that biomass came from about 19 million acres of forest land in the state.

One more: In 2012, Michigan had more underground natural gas storage capacity – 1.1 trillion cubic feet – than any other state in the nation.

See also: Energy Attitudes

3A former golf course in Saginaw County is part of an urban restoration project.

The project was recently celebrated by The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Dow Chemical Company.

The 135-acre property, once known as the Germania Town and Country Club, fell into foreclosure and closed its doors in 2010. The Nature Conservancy purchased the property, with support from Dow Chemical. The old course is being transferred to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, which owns property on the other side of the Saginaw River.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will restore the area to native grasses and wildflowers, with public access and recreational opportunities on the property. Paved paths once used for golf carts will make the area handicap-accessible.

The Nature Conservancy has designated the Saginaw Bay Watershed as a priority area and is working with members of the agriculture community to support sustainable practices and water quality, and protect floodplain habitats that can contribute to the improved health of Saginaw Bay.

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

Climate Change in the Great Lakes, Protecting Children’s Health, and Fighting Mussels with Algae

For Friday, May 16, 2014

1 – Climate change will heighten ongoing risks to the Great Lakes, according to a new National Climate Assessment.

climate change great lakes midwest

Cover of the National Climate Assessment.

The assessment is a product of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989.

The latest report says that in the Midwest, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops. However, those benefits will be offset by extreme weather events. In the long term, we can expect decreased agricultural productivity.

Per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the Midwest are more than 20 percent higher than the national average. Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased in the last 100 years. These trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.

For the Great Lakes, the effects include changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species.

What’s to be done? The report says planning for adaptation – to address and prepare for impacts – and mitigation – to reduce future climate change – is becoming more widespread. But, “current efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences.”

2 – Protecting children from environmental health hazards is the goal of new Children’s Environmental Health “wiki.”

The “wiki,” an online database, was recently launched by the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health and the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor.

The Network and the Center developed the wiki as a platform for people interested in sharing research that addresses links between health problems and environmental exposures, along with related reports, policy activity and recommendations. It’s been a two-year project.

The site will be monitored by experts to assure that the information presented is based on well-referenced scientific evidence.

The wiki is organized around critical child health issues including respiratory health, asthma and cancer.

The Network and Center are inviting the research community, parents, advocates and others to join the community of people contributing to the database.

An introduction is here.

3 – Scientists at Wayne State University are researching how algae might help disrupt reproduction of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Preliminary research indicates that algae produce chemicals that may inhibit spawning in the invasive mussels.

Researchers are trying to identify chemical cues released by algae, and determine how those could be used to develop a control strategy.

Such an ecological strategy would be a cleaner alternative to attacking the mussels with toxic chemicals.

Zebra and quagga mussels have caused widespread damage to the lakes since arriving in the 1980s in ballast tanks of oceangoing ships.

The mussels deprive fish of food, crowd out native mussels and clog water intake pipes.

- Via AP

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


Dark Sky Week, and Another Dam Removal

1 -This week was International Dark Sky Week.

Credit: Timothy Boocock

Credit: Timothy Boocock

It’s about preserving the wonders of the night sky, and reducing light pollution.

The glow of uncontrolled outdoor lighting can hide the stars from view, and change the nighttime environment.

International Dark Sky Week aims to draw attention to the problems associated with light pollution, and promote solutions to diminish it.

For instance, you can shield outdoor lighting so it doesn’t spread beyond your property, and angle the lighting downward.

There’s also a program called GLOBE at Night, which allows people to document light pollution in their neighborhood and contribute to a global database of measurements.

Light pollution and exposure to artificial light can harm humans and animals, and waste energy.

Research also has found that increased outdoor lighting doesn’t necessarily reduce crime.

The International Dark-Sky Association has designated 16 Dark Sky Parks around the world.

One of them, called The Headlands, is located in Emmet County west of Mackinaw City.

2A dam blamed for a fish kill will be removed with help from a state grant.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced $1 million in grants under a new Aquatic Habitat Grant Program.

The eight projects approved include $272,500 for a Golden Lotus Dam Removal project on the Pigeon River in Otsego County. The work will be managed by Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord.

According to Huron Pines, the money will go to remove the Song of the Morning dam on the Pigeon River. Dewatering of the impoundment will begin this summer, followed by removal of the structure.

Golden Lotus, the property owner, will contribute  $100,000 as well as in-kind services. A new bridge will be constructed and the river area will be restored.

Currently, the dam impedes fish passage. The dam released sediment into the river in 2008, killing thousands of fish. State agencies reached a settlement earlier this month with Golden Lotus.

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



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