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.

Support for Proposal 1, Grant Money for Saginaw Bay, Resources for Solar

For Friday, March 6, 2015

1 – There’s a proposal for a sales tax and roading funding measure on the May 5 ballot.

Credit: Ben W

Credit: Ben W

The Michigan Environmental Council, a nonprofit coalition of more than 70 environmental and other groups, is supporting the plan.

The Council says Proposal 1 is the state’s best chance to build a safe, reliable and modern transportation system.

If approved, the proposal will increase annual support for transit and bring in new revenue for roads and bridges, public schools and local government services, the Council says.

Proposal 1 also would provide more funding for a Recreation Improvement Fund, which supports work by the Department of Natural Resources on trails and helps maintain and improve harbors, marinas and public boat launches.

The measure would increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, but exempt motor fuel.

 

2 – There’s grant money available for everything from physical improvements to outreach in the Saginaw Bay Area.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, funded by area foundations, has announced its 2015 Community Action Mini Grant Program.

The key word for these grants is sustainability – or projects that have economic, environmental and community impacts. Some ideas include projects that involve recreation, community gardens, farmers markets, energy efficiency and recycling.

Funding of up to $1,000 per project is available. The deadline to apply is March 20, and eligible organizations including nonprofits, local governments and schools.

See SaginawBayWIN.org for more information.

 

3 – If you want to go solar, you might want to go to SolarPermit.org.

The website is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar power in jurisdictions across the country.

That includes average permit turnaround times and contact information for individual jurisdictions.

The site’s creation was supported by a U.S. Department of Energy grant.

It’s still being developed and there aren’t any local Michigan cities listed just yet.

SolarPermit.org is an interactive, crowd-sourced website. The database is populated primarily by solar installers.

 

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

Battleground: Smartphone App Fights Invasive Species, Groups Fight for Rivers and Lakes

For Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

1If you see a crime, call 911. If you see an invasive critter, use the app.

A smartphone application developed by a scientist at Michigan State University lets folks snap a photo, log a few quick notes, and send an alert to the invasive species police.

These critter cops are a growing network of scientists and state officials who can use the information to respond to threats from invasives.

The free app is part of the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, a regional effort to enhance early detection, rapid response, and better manage invasive species.

Developers of the app say reports logged by smartphone users will help map the spread of invasives, and help state agencies deploy more effective management plans.

Invasives to look out for in Michigan include the killer shrimp, sea lamprey, Japanese knotweed, and the emerald ash borer.

Teachers in the Chicago area are already using the app, teaming up with local foresters.


2Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, has a story to tell about its accomplishments in 2014.

The organization is holding its annual meeting on Saturday, where it will be sharing its annual report.

According to a copy of the report, Northeast Michigan’s environment saw many improvement last year as a result of Huron Pine projects.

That includes the Northern Saginaw Bay Restoration Initiative.

That intiative aims to improve water quality in the Rifle, Au Gres and Tawas river watersheds. In 2014, Huron Pines improved five road and stream crossings to reconnect more than 17 upstream miles of aquatic habitat.

The nonprofit also worked with private landowners and agricultural producers to reduce streambank erosion and runoff from farms.

An additional 20 acres were treated for invasive phragmites along the Lake Huron coast.

 

3Advocates have been busy this week, urging members of Congress to protect the Great Lakes.

The effort is known as Great Lakes Day. Members of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition were among those involved. Programs on the radar include the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

This is a special year for Great Lakes Day. The Joyce Foundation this week launched a new website called Great Lakes Great Impact.

The coalition spent time showing videos from the site to members of Congress about the impact of Great Lakes restoration around the region.

You can view the videos online at GreatLakesGreatImpact.org.

#GreatLakesDay

 

— 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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