Spring Beach Cleaning, Oak Wilt, Earth Day

For April 21, 2017

1- April marks the unofficial start of beach cleanups around the state.

The volunteer events are part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach program. Many groups are holding their first events of the year, with Earth Day being celebrated on Saturday, April 22.

Last year, more than 15,000 Adopt-a-Beach volunteers picked up more than 40,000 pounds of debris from locations including the Saginaw Bay area.

lake-michigan-beach-ppj

Credit: PPJ

In addition to picking up trash, the volunteers collect data that’s shared with beach managers and scientists.

In 2016, 87 percent of the trash picked up by volunteers was plastic. Over time, plastic litter breaks down into small pieces which can be eaten by birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Volunteers interested in participating in Adopt-a-Beach can find more information online at greatlakesadopt.org.

 

2 – April also marks the start of oak wilt season.

 

oak-wilt-michigan-2016

Credit: MDNR

Oak wilt is a disease that mainly affects red oak trees. Red oaks often die within a few weeks after becoming infected.

 

The spread of oak wilt occurs during this time of year as beetles move to wounds on healthy oaks. Because of this, state officials advise people not to prune oaks from April 15 to July 15.

Although oak wilt hasn’t been detected in every Michigan county, officials say there’s a need for vigilance statewide. That means you also shouldn’t move firewood from wilt-affected oak trees.

For more information see michigan.gov/invasives

 

3 – An Earth Day cleanup is planned for Saturday at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

Officials say managing wetlands in the refuge presents many challenges, and one of those is dealing with trash and water pollution. Wetlands act as a natural filtration system for contaminants in the water.

The cleanup is from Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the refuge. The event is open to all ages, individuals and groups. Snacks will be provided.

Long sleeves and pants are suggested. Avoid open-toe shoes or sandals.

Bring gloves, and be prepared to get dirty. Trash bags will be provided.

 

– 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

 

Debating Ag Land Windfall, Finding Trout Trails

For April 14, 2017

1 – Agricultural land is the only type of property in Michigan that’s increased in overall value since 2008.

According to Midwest Energy News and Bridge Magazine, that may be in part due to wind energy development. Areas that have seen significant development — such as the Thumb region — also had some of the greatest property value increases.

One analysis says commodity prices of corn, sugar beets and soybeans are the primary reason for the increased agricultural property values.

But a Lansing-based consulting firm says that analysis focused on a property’s value, not including other taxable features like wind turbines.

5 Lakes Energy says counties that host the largest number of turbines, including Huron County,  have seen the largest increase in the total taxable value of property in their areas.

2 – Those who love to fish for trout will want to check out a new online Trout Trails tool.

michigan-trout-trails

Credit: MDNR

The application pinpoints quality trout streams and lakes throughout the state.

The state Department of Natural Resources says the tool features lesser-known waters that are considered to be outstanding places to fish for trout, and they’ve verified by biologists.

Almost 100 new sites were recently added to the application, which includes about 300 locations in the Great Lakes basin.

Each entry features extensive information, including the trout species available, regulations, the presence of stocked or naturally reproducing fish, driving directions, area lodging, restaurants and more.

Visit michigan.gov/trouttrails to access the information.

– 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

 

 

Energy Laws, Duck and Bird Advice, Power Plant Expansion

For Friday, April 7, 2017

 

1 – There are new energy laws coming to Michigan and opportunities for public involvement.

A web page from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on the laws, which take effect on April 20.

The new laws include updates relating to utility rate cases, electric choice, energy waste reduction and renewable energy. Electric providers will be required to produce 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.

You can sign up to receive email updates on topics of interest. You can find more information at michigan.gov/energylegislation.

— Via GLREA

2 – If you find a duck nesting on your property this spring, leave it alone.

Goslings are a common sight in Michigan in the spring

Goslings. Credit: MDNR

Michigan wildlife experts say ducks nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards often build nests in landscaping, gardens or other locations.

While finding a duck’s nest in an unexpected location may be a surprise, there is no need for concern. Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.

If the mother duck is successful and her eggs hatch, she will lead her ducklings to the nearest body of water.

Don’t worry if you do not live near water, the mother duck knows where to take her ducklings to find it.

If a bird builds a nest on your property, it’s common to find baby birds on the ground after they attempt to fly. Don’t touch them. Their parents will continue to take care of them, even when they are on the ground.

Touching a baby bird will not cause adults to abandon it. But if you move a baby bird, the parents may be unable to find and care for it. It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents.

3 – A Midland power plant plans a $500 million expansion.

midland cogeneration venture plant expansion artist rendering

Artist’s rendering. Credit: MCV

According to the Midland Daily News, the Midland Cogeneration Venture plans to spend the money to add two new gas turbines and a steam turbine at its 1,200-acre site.

Officials estimate 700 people will be employed during the two and a half years of construction, and 20 long-term jobs will be added at the site. The upgrades will boost electrical capacity by at least 40 percent.

Midland Cogeneration Venture is the largest plant of its kind in the United States. It uses natural gas to produce electricity and process steam for customers including nearby chemical production companies.

Construction on the expansion is to begin once the plant secures a power purchaser, which is expected to take six to 12 months.

Officials say the expansion is driven by the need for more energy following the shuttering of older power plants.

– 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

 

Spotting Ducks, Treating for Ash Borer, Awarding Grants

For Friday, March 31, 2017

1 – Ducks were down in a recent survey. But state biologists say they still believe populations are stable.

aerial waterfowl survey michigan dnr ducks

Department of Natural Resources biologists counted ducks, geese and swans while flying low over Michigan’s waterways as part of an annual effort to monitor waterfowl populations. Credit: MDNR

Staffers from Michigan Department of Natural Resources took to the skies in small aircraft earlier this year to count ducks, geese and swans.

They observed more than 148,000 ducks, which was down by 5 percent from about 157,000 ducks observed in 2016.

Biologists say the decline can be attributed to cold arctic blasts in late December and early January that pushed birds southward. Some ducks bypassed Michigan altogether.

The state has conducted aerial surveys of wintering ducks and geese since 1991. The results are important for helping manage habitat for the species.

2 – Yellow dots on trees in Bay County mean they’ll be treated to fight emerald ash borer.

Officials with County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program say they are including hundreds of healthy, living ash trees in an annual Emerald Ash Borer Treatment Project.

yellow dot abstract

Credit: Pellinni

Trees scheduled to be treated this year will be marked with a yellow dot on the side facing the road. These trees were last treated in 2013.

Trees marked with a green dot were treated in the spring of 2016.

The treatments help to maintain the health of ash trees and should protect them from further emerald ash borer damage for at least two years.

3 – Spring is here, and action grants are available from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The group has set a deadline of April 14 for proposals.

They’re looking for organizations with great ideas for projects that focus on natural resource restoration, education and promotion, or sustainability.

The funding is available to organizations working to make improvements in neighborhoods, communities, and watersheds.

The Network will award grants of up to $1,000 to successful applicants. A one-to-one match is required.

More information is available online at SaginawBayWIN.org.

– 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

April Showers Bring Grants, Fisheries Workshops, Youth Opportunities

For March 17, 2017

1 – A grant program to reduce bacteria in the Cass River watershed is available to farmers and landowners in Tuscola and Saginaw counties.

Funds of up to $10,000 are available to pay for structures to reduce E. coli bacteria that makes its way from local creeks into the Lower Cass River. Tributaries highlighted for improvement include Cole Creek, Dead Creek, Perry Creek and Millington Creek.

Grants can be used to build livestock crossings, fences, animal watering systems and manure management structures. The goal is to manage animal and agricultural runoff from small farms.

The landowner commitment is a 25 percent match, which includes in-kind goods and services.

Anyone who is interested should contact the Tuscola Conservation District (Mike Boike, technician at the TCD, at mike.boike@mi.nacdnet.net or 989-673-8174 ext. 103).

 

2 – Michigan Sea Grant is hosting spring fisheries workshops along Lake Huron’s coastline.

The events are open to the public, and held in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, the state Department of Natural Resources, the federal Great Lakes Science Center and local fishery organizations.

The workshops will include information and status updates on topics such as: fish populations and angler catch data, forage or prey fish surveys, the status of Saginaw Bay yellow perch and walleye, and citizen science opportunities for anglers.

Workshops are planned for Wednesday, April 12, from 6-9 p.m., at Bangor Township Hall; and Wednesday, April 26, from 6-9 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Oscoda.

Other evening Lake Huron workshops are planned for April 4 in Port Huron and April 27 in Cedarville. Registration is requested.

 

3 – If you’re 14 to 18 years old, or know someone who is, consider a spot on the Natural Resource Commission Youth Conservation Council.

The state is accepting nominations from youth who are interested in a position on the council.

It’s an opportunity to gain leadership experience, explore outdoor recreation issues and participate in activities under the guidance of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

You can apply until Friday, April 28.

The appointment is for two years, and members will be expected to participate in four meetings each year.

At least two of the meetings will be offered as weekend training sessions at a conference facility.

State officials say they hope members will help develop recommendations on policy, programs and legislative changes that can boost young people’s interest and involvement in the outdoors, including hunting and fishing.

– 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

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.

-30-

– 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

%d bloggers like this: