Top 10 Eco-Schools and Lake Trout in Lake Huron

For Friday, Oct. 2, 2015

1 – The National Wildlife Federation is honoring the Top 10 eco-schools in the

The schools are being recognized for “their commitment to wildlife protection, sustainability and environmental education” as part of the Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program.

The top schools are in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, California, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Maryland and Florida.

According to the NWF, the Top 10 schools in total saved more than $207,000 in energy, water and waste that was diverted or saved.

There are already 67 eco-schools registered in Michigan. They include St. James Elementary in Bay City, Vassar High School, Frankenmuth High School and Marshall Greene Middle School in Birch Run.

2 – Successes of the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are being highlighted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Lake trout stocking in the Great Lakes. Credit: USFWS

Lake trout stocking in the Great Lakes. Credit: USFWS

The Service has received more than $41 million this year to support new and ongoing Great Lakes projects, and more than $271 million over the past six years.

A “Restoring the Great Lakes” report from the agency says the conservation investments are starting to show tangible returns.

Lake trout, for instance, have been a central focus of Great Lakes stocking efforts for decades.

Now they are starting to make a resurgence, and reproduce naturally.

In Lake Huron, annual lake trout surveys recently revealed that more than 60 percent of the fish collected were of wild origin, the agency says.


– 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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Invasive Plant Hunt, Green Infrastructure Contest, and a Total Eclipse of the Moon

For Friday, Sept. 25, 2015

1 – The Little Forks Conservancy in Midland is hosting an online challenge to promote the use of a smartphone app.

The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network app allows users to track and determine areas where invasive species exist.

The Conservancy is holding free public workshops in October in Midland, Gladwin and Clare counties. The workshops will show landowners how use the app to identify invasive plants, and become more aware of invasive plants and the threats they pose.

Participants will use the app to record the locations and images of invasive plants in their towns.

The challenge will take place from Oct. 21-29.

Little Forks will award prizes to the participant who reports the most invasive plants from each county.

Register here.

2 – Registration is open until Sept. 30 for the fourth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge.

The contest, being put on by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is for undergraduate and graduate students.

The EPA is inviting student teams to design a green infrastructure project for their campus. The project should show how managing stormwater at its source can benefit the campus community and the environment.

As opposed to catch basins, pipes, and ponds that move stormwater away from the built environment, green infrastructure uses vegetation and soil to manage rainwater where it falls.

This year, EPA is asking student teams to incorporate climate resiliency into their designs.

There are two design categories: the Master Plan and the Demonstration Project.

EPA will award a total of $16,000 to first- and second-place winners for the Campus RainWorks Challenge. Winners will be notified in April 2016.

First-place winners for 2014 were from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland, College Park.

3 – Michigan has three state parks with dark sky preserves, including Port Crescent State Park in Huron County, and parks in Lenawee and Emmet counties.

super blood moon

Via US Naval Observatory/EarthSky

On the night of Sept. 27 to the early hours of Sept. 28, these parks are the perfect spot to view a total eclipse of the moon, the state Department of Natural Resources says.

The Harvest Moon eclipse begins at 9:07 p.m., but the best views will be from about 10:10 to 11:30 p.m., from anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.

Michigan state park day use areas are closed after 10 p.m. For late-night viewing opportunities, you’ll need to book a campsite and watch the skies from the campground.


– 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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Two New Invasive Species, Fall Conservation Summit and MiWaters

For Friday, Sept. 11, 2015

1 – Two new invasive species have been found in Michigan waters

Staff from the state Department of Environment Quality have confirmed a freshwater alga commonly known as didymo (di di-mo)  – or rock snot – growing in extensive mats in the St. Mary’s River near Sault Ste. Marie.

Also recently discovered were New Zealand mud snails in the Pere Marquette River near Ludington.

Didymo is a nuisance algae that thrives in cold, clean water. It can grow into thick mats that cover the river bottom. The algae is not a threat to human health, but it can crowd out biologically valuable algae and important food for fish. It also can interfere with fishing and wading.

New Zealand mud snails are about an (1/8) eighth of an inch long. But they cluster together, and compete with native snails for food and space.

State agencies want to remind anglers and boaters to clean, drain and dry their equipment to help prevent the spread of didymo, New Zealand mud snails, and other types of aquatic invasive species.

new zealand mud snails key usfws

New Zealand mud snails. Credit: Dan Gustafson

2 – A Fall Conservation Summit is coming to Bay City on Monday, Sept. 21.

fall leaves conservation summit michigan bay city
Credit: Erik Przekop

The event is being put on by Heart of the Lakes at the Delta College Planetarium on Center Avenue in downtown Bay City.

Speakers include:

A walking or biking field trip to the Michigan Sugar Trails also is planned.

Heart of the Lakes is a statewide nonprofit serving conservation organizations and Michigan’s land conservancies.

For more information on Sept. 21 Fall Summit, see

3 – 
Michigan has a new Web-based system designed to streamline the process of obtaining federal environmental permits.

The MiWaters system replaces more than 25 applications and databases, some of which were more than 30 years old.

Officials say MiWaters simplifies the process for permits dealing with aquatic nuisance control and wastewater, stormwater and groundwater discharges.

It also includes electronic reporting of untreated or partially treated sanitary wastewater.

— Via AP and Michigan DEQ


– 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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Net Metering Up, Solar Shingles Out, Beach Cleanups Planned

For Friday, Sept. 4, 2015

1 – A Solar Rally was held last month in Lansing. It was to protest a bill that would eliminate net metering.

Right now, people with rooftop solar panels can use the power they generate and sell the remainder to their electric company. The bill, now in committee, would require all the power to go to the utility.

For now, it turns out that more people are using net metering.

A 2014 annual report from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows a 25 percent increase in net metering compared to 2013.

There was an increase of more than 300 customers (from 1,527 customers to 1,840 customers), and more than 300 installations (from 1,631 installations to 1,947 installations). Some customers have multiple installations.

Michigan two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Electric, host 84 percent of the net metering capacity in the state.

2 – The Dow Chemical Co. will be rolling out Version 2.0 of its Powerhouse Solar System to additional U.S. markets in early 2016.

powerhouse solar shingles installed

Powerhouse Solar Shingles installed on a house in Detroit. Via

The Powerhouse Solar Shingle is made by Dow in Midland, and available in Michigan.

The product combines a conventional asphalt roof with an integrated solar power system. In other words, it looks like a regular roof and performs a lot like a roof full of solar panels, Dow says.

The system includes an inverter that uses collected solar energy to power a home, and monitoring that shows how much energy the system is producing.

3 – Summer is ending, but the Adopt-a-Beach program getting ready for a big cleanup.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, an environmental group, organizes beach cleanups around Michigan. Many will be taking place on Sept. 19, as part of the International Coastal Cleanup, occurring throughout the month in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

A local cleanup is planned for Sept. 19 at the Bay City Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

You can find a map of Michigan events, sign up and register at


– 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

Monarch Butterfly Count, Beach Debris Grants

For Friday, Aug. 28, 2015

1 – The federal government is offering money to clean up beaches and waterways.

bowling ball marine beach debris

Credit: NOAA

The Marine Debris Program, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is seeking proposals for community-based marine debris removal projects until Nov. 2. Great Lakes organizations are encouraged to apply.

Up to $2 million is expected to be available for projects across the U.S. Typical awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000.

The program is for the removal of old fishing gear and other debris that have a negative impact on resources and habitat in or along the oceans and the Great Lakes.

Previous awards have gone to the city of Cleveland, to reduce plastic marine debris in Lake Erie, including grocery bags, water bottles and cigar tips

To apply

2 – Populations of monarch butterflies are at critically low levels across the United States.

monarch milkweed butterfly habitat

Credit: USFWS

Only eight monarch butterflies were counted this year at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

That’s the second-lowest total ever recorded. The average is about 100. The highest count was 189 monarchs in 2007.

This year’s count was the eighth annual, and conducted in July. The count was one of hundreds coordinated by the North American Butterfly Association in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Monarch numbers have declined across the United States by about 90 percent in recent years. That’s from threats including a loss of milkweed habitat due to agricultural practices. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a campaign earlier this year aimed at saving the butterfly.

Monarchs travel thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, and into Canada.

Save the Monarch


– 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

Prepping Clean Power Plan, Commenting on Water Strategy, Planting Rain Gardens

For Friday, Aug. 21, 2015

1 – Michigan officials are reviewing a new federal rule regulating carbon emissions from power plants.

carbon emissions michigan

One day’s CO2 emissions. Credit: Carbon Visuals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the Clean Power Plan earlier this month. It will regulate carbon emissions from utilities for the first time, to help address climate change.

Multiple state agencies are looking at the rule and its implications for Michigan. An official with the Michigan Agency for Energy says the state hopes to find “a reasonable path to compliance,” and the public will have a chance to participate in the development of a plan.

Gov. Rick Snyder has said that, even without the rule, the expected retirement of a number of Michigan coal-fired power plants due to environmental regulations and age, means that up to 40 percent of the state’s power should be coming from cleaner sources by 2025.

State officials hope to have their review and analysis complete shortly after Labor Day.

See also: Michigan is more than halfway toward meeting a clean power goal

2 – There’s still time to comment on a water strategy for Michigan.

A draft of the strategy was released earlier this year, and public meetings have been held in Saginaw and other locations.

The strategy is built around a 30-year vision.

Key recommendations include:

●   Achieving a 40 percent reduction to phosphorus in the western Lake Erie basin

●   Preventing the introduction of new aquatic invasive species and controlling established ones

●   Supporting investments in commercial and recreational harbors and maritime infrastructure

●   Developing a water trails system.

The plan was put together by the state Department of Environmental Quality, along with the state Departments of Natural Resources, and Agriculture and Rural Development, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and communities and organizations around the state.

Comments are due by Friday, Aug. 28.

3 – You can use your smartphone to build a rain garden.

garden shovel

Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

You’ll also need a shovel.

A free Rain Garden App, highlighted recently by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, is designed to help a person properly install a rain garden at their home or office.

It includes video tutorials and diagrams, and guides on selecting plants. There also are tools for determining soil type, and measuring the size of the area.

In case you’re not familiar, a rain garden is an area, usually about 6 inches deep, that collects stormwater that runs off of a roof, driveway or yard, and helps filter out pollutants.


– 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

Top 11 Michigan Water Trails, Big Birding Event

For Aug. 14, 2015

1 – This list of Michigan water trails goes to 11.

up to 11 spinal tap michigan water trails list

Credit: Wikipedia

The state Department of Natural Resources has released a Top 11 list of Water Trails, as voted on by the public.

The list is a round-up of some of Michigan’s “fantastic paddling opportunities.”

Some area trails on the list: at No. 9, Lake Huron Blueways, which winds up the coastline from Tawas.

At No. 3, Saginaw Bay Blueways, which takes in the southern and western edges of Saginaw Bay.

And No. 1 on the Top 11 list: the mighty Au Sable River, which goes for more than 100 miles from Grayling to Lake Huron.

The Au Sable won the poll based on write-in votes.

2 – The Midwest Birding Symposium is Sept. 10-13 in Bay City.

The symposium will feature programs and performances by North America’s leading bird watchers and naturalists.

There also will be an opportunity for birders to network with fellow enthusiasts, a vendor area, and guided bird walks at area birding spots.

The event will be headquartered at the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Bay City.

The symposium requires registration. A portion of net proceeds will be donated to support conservation organizations and programs. Some events are already sold out.

The nonprofit birding event is held every other year in the Midwest. It was in Ohio in 2013, with more than 800 attendees.

This year’s Bay City event is hosted by Michigan Audubon, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and the Great Lakes Bay Region Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.


– 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


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