Bringing Back the Arctic Grayling, Looking for Frogs

For March 3, 2017

1 – The Arctic grayling hasn’t been seen in Michigan waters since the 1930s.

But reintroduction of the fish has edged a step closer.

arctic-grayling-2.JPG

Arctic grayling. Credit: Michigan DNR

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Michigan Technological University have received a grant to support efforts to bring back the extirpated fish to Michigan waters.

Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative consists of 32 organizations that are working reintroduce the species.

The $117,175 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation will fund work this year to address two immediate needs for a successful reintroduction.

The first is the collection of habitat and fish community data in the upper Big Manistee River, where the fish used to live

The second is to create an outreach plan to engage Michigan citizens in the reintroduction efforts.

Members of Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative have met twice to identify knowledge gaps and discuss management and stocking strategies and public outreach.

State officials say the information collected through the grant will help guide management agencies in selecting appropriate reintroduction sites.

2 – Volunteers are needed to help with a frog and toad survey.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers throughout the state.

Declining populations of frogs, toads and other amphibians have been documented worldwide since the 1980s. Studies suggest amphibians are disappearing due to habitat loss, pollution, disease and collection.

Michigan’s annual frog and toad survey helps biologists monitor frog and toad abundance and distribution in the state. Michigan has the second-longest-running such survey in the country, after Wisconsin.

Michigan’s surveys are conducted along a system of permanent survey routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites. The sites are visited three times during spring, when frogs and toads are actively breeding. Observers listen for calling frogs and toads at each site, identify the species present, and make an estimate of abundance.

Those interested in volunteering may contact Lori Sargent at 517-284-6216 or SargentL@michigan.gov.


– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

Comments on Michigan Air Contaminants, Updates on Renewable Energy

For Feb. 17, 2017

1 – All of Michigan’s electric providers met or exceeded the 10 percent renewable energy standard in 2015.

Michigan’s new renewable standard will increase to 12.5 percent in 2019 and 2020 and 15 percent in 2021.

A Michigan Public Service Commission annual report says meeting the 2015 standard can be credited with the development of more than 1,670 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy projects.

The average price of existing renewable energy contracts also is considerably less than was forecast in initial renewable energy plans.

The report notes that wind energy has been the primary source of new renewable energy in Michigan and about $3.3 billion has been invested to bring new renewable energy projects online through 2016.

The average cost per megawatt hour for renewable energy also has been substantially lower than the cost of a new coal-fired plant.

2 – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is taking comments through April 14 for more than 1,200 health-based screening levels used in its Permit to Install Air Permitting Program.

The public comment period is the result of rule revisions that took effect in December and require all screening levels and their origins be posted for public review with comments accepted for 60 days.

The state’s air program aims to protect public health by regulating toxic chemicals in industrial air emissions.

michigan tree snow wind

Credit: GollyGforce

Under the new rules, the emission of a toxic air contaminant cannot result in a maximum ambient air concentration that exceeds a health-based screening level.

Previously, memos describing the reasons behind screening levels were only available upon request. Now they’re open for review and public comment through April 14.

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– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

CMU Studies Freshwater Contaminants, Michigan Gains Solar Jobs

For Feb. 10, 2017

1 – Contaminants of emerging concern are in everyday products from soap to pharmaceuticals.

But their environmental impact is largely unknown. A Central Michigan University biologist is studying how these contaminants in the water and sediment affect the ecosystems and life cycles of freshwater mussels.

Biologist Daelyn Woolnough is looking at freshwater mussels and largemouth bass, which act as hosts for mussel larvae.

freshwater mussels great lakes central michigan university

Freshwater mussels research. Credit: CMU

Of the more than 40 freshwater mussel species in the Great Lakes, more than 70 percent are endangered or threatened. Their populations have been impacted by invasive species like the zebra mussel, and may be impacted by contaminants of emerging concern, which also include agricultural products.

Freshwater mussels filter water from the basins in which they reside, and they don’t move around like fish. So testing mussel tissue or contaminants will tell researchers what’s happening at the bottom of rivers.

The results may help inform management and conservation decisions.

2 – Michigan gained 1,339 solar industry jobs in 2016, representing a 48 percent increase in the state’s solar workforce.

A new National Solar Jobs Census from the nonprofit Solar Foundation says Michigan now has a total of 4,118 solar workers, up from 2,779 in 2015.

One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2 percent of all new jobs.

Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total solar industry employment increase by 10 percent.

In 2016, the five states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.

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– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

Creating an Urban Park, and Keeping the Lights on in Michigan

For Friday, Feb. 3, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/rhfoh4jv2s7a4og/ENV%20RPT%20-%20ONLINE%202-3-17.mp3]

1 – More than 334 acres along the Saginaw River will be used for urban recreation.

The site of the former General Motors Saginaw Malleable Metals foundry and Greenpoint Landfill will be managed by the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Potential uses for the proposed Riverfront Park include hiking and biking trails, wildlife viewing, and catch-and-release fishing.

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The Saginaw River. Credit: Saginaw Future

Additional trails may connect the site to the Iron Belle Trail, downtown Saginaw and the nearby Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, according to The Nature Conservancy, which secured a grant for project planning.

In December, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended that the state Legislature approve a $290,000 grant to be used for trail development and other improvements.

2 – Michigan should have enough energy to keep the lights on, even in challenging times.

The Michigan Public Service Commission says current utility projects should result in Michigan’s electric reliability remaining strong in the summer of 2018.

Officials note, however, that developing additional resources in the Lower Peninsula as a backup plan would be appropriate.

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Credit: Travis Wise

The study looked at a scenario that occurred in 2012, in which electrical demand hits very high levels and two nuclear plants are unexpectedly down.

The study showed that lower Michigan should be able to keep the lights on if that happens. But it also showed that more of a cushion is needed between now and the summer of 2018 just in case things don’t go as planned.

Demand response resources, in which users agree to use less electricity when demand is spiking, on a very hot day for instance, can be put in place before the summer of 2018, according to the Commission.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

 

State of Great Lakes Research, Lighthouse Keepers, Smart Meters

For Jan. 6, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/l27jv46zb34by51/mrgreatlakes-environment-report-1-6-17.mp3]


1 – Universities in the Saginaw Bay region are helping tackle complex issues facing the Great Lakes.

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Tawas Point Lighthouse. Credit: Michigan DNR

A State of the Great Lakes report released this week notes work by the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute, part of Saginaw Valley State University, and the Institute for Great Lakes Research, part of Central Michigan University (see page 32).

SVSU researchers are using drones for water quality monitoring. The unmanned drones can travel to remote places to collect water samples. They can bore through ice, which is faster, more efficient and safer than sending researchers out onto the frozen Great Lakes.

CMU is using the Beaver Island Ferry to collect data on Lake Michigan. The boat moves people to and from Beaver Island and also uses equipment to measure water chemistry and temperature. 

2 – The Tawas Point Lighthouse is looking for tour guides.

Those selected can spend the summer as volunteer lighthouse keepers, and live on site in exchange for conducting the tours. The program runs from May 17 through Oct. 17.

The lighthouse, located in Tawas Point State Park, has been in operation since 1876.

Keeper tasks include giving tours, greeting visitors, providing information about the lighthouse and the area, and light maintenance duties.

The minimum commitment for staying at the lighthouse is two consecutive weeks.

Applications are available online at michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse.

3 – New meters will allow Consumers Energy customers to track usage and save money, the company says.

Consumers Energy plans to complete a five-year statewide project by the end of this year, installing 1.8 million meters for electricity and natural gas.

Midland and Bay counties will begin receiving upgrades in the spring. Clare and Gladwin counties are scheduled for the summer.

Customers can use the new meters to choose their billing date, sign up and receive alerts when their energy use is trending higher than usual, and review their energy use by hour, day or month.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes

State Energy Laws, Park Improvements, Water Infrastructure

For Friday, Dec. 23, 2016

1 – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a rewrite of state energy laws.

The changes are intended to boost the use of renewable power sources and continue competition in the electricity market.

energy

Credit: GollyGforce

The governor says the policy reforms will help residents save on electric bills, ensure reliability and advance clean energy.

The Michigan Environmental Council says the legislation is an important victory.

Highlights include increasing the state’s 10 percent renewable energy standard.

Utilities will be required to ramp up their use of renewable energy to 12.5 percent by 2019, and 15 percent by 2021.

2 – Park improvements are coming to Bay and other counties.

The state Department of Natural Resources has awarded $2.2 million in Land and Water Conservation Fund grants.

Seventeen community and state parks, trails and sports facilities across the state have been recommend for funding.

Those include the village of Farwell in Clare County, Monitor Township in Bay County, and Midland Township in Midland County.

The upgrades include grills and picnic tables, safety lighting, signs, new playground equipment, electrical updates, tree replacement, and parking improvements.

The project recommendations will be sent to the National Park Service for federal approval.

3 – A Water Infrastructure Improvements Act will fund Great Lakes restoration projects for the next five years.

The funding totals $1.5 billion, and was signed into law last week by President Obama.

The measure authorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for five years at $300 million a year.

The Initiative funds projects to clean up fish and wildlife habitat, reduce farm and city runoff, fight invasive species and clean up toxic pollution.

About 3,000 projects have been completed across the Great Lakes basin since the inception of the Initiative in 2010.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes

Winter Stoneflies, Environmental Educator Award, Christmas Bird Count

For Friday, Dec. 16, 2016

1 – The annual Christmas Bird Count began this week across the U.S. and Canada.

Every year, thousands of volunteers identify and count birds during the count, which is put on by the National Audubon Society. The Count helps researchers, conservation biologists, and others study North American bird populations over time.

Last year more than 2,500 counts were completed and 58.8 million birds were reported.

Anyone can participate in the Christmas Bird Count until Jan. 5.

The Count takes place in geographic circles that include experienced birders. That means even beginners can participate.

In Michigan, counts are planned in locations including Huron County, Tuscola County, Bay City, Midland and Tawas.

2 – Does your child’s teacher go above and beyond?

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches and use the environment as a context for learning.

Award winners receive up to $2,500 for professional development.

The winning teacher’s local school also receives up to $2,500 to fund environmental education activities and programs.

Up to two teachers from each U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regions will receive the award.

Applications are due March 1.

3 – Some flies live through the winter.

winter stonefly stoneflies michigan

Credit: Dysmorodrepanis, Wikimedia Commons

During the coldest months, winter stoneflies hatch from rocky stream bottoms and crawl up through openings in the snow or ice that covers the water.

They have four wings, stay close to the snow and ice, and walk to find mates, according to information from Michigan Lake and Stream Associations.

Little is known about how these stoneflies survive freezing water and air temperatures.

What makes these flies particularly special is that they’re an indicator species. Because the flies are sensitive to poor water quality, monitoring the locations and numbers of these flies can help determine the health of a stream.

Several watershed organizations hold winter stonefly searches in lower Michigan to help understand winter stonefly populations and predict stream health.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

 

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