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.

tawas point lighthouse keepers michigan dnr

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

 

 

Au Sable River Conservation, Michigan Infrastructure Recommendations

For Friday, Dec. 9, 2016

1 – More than 1,000 acres on the Upper Au Sable River is closer to being protected.

grayling michigan water

Grayling, Michigan. Credit: Aaron Burden

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has approved $3.1 million for a conservation project on the river near Grayling. The funding still needs approval by the Legislature.

The land has been owned for more than 70 years by a family who enjoyed it for hunting and fishing.

The land is to be sold to the state so it can be enjoyed by other families and outdoor enthusiasts. It is bordered to the north and south by state-owned property.

Huron Pines, a local nonprofit, says the project is important for linking together protected natural lands, maintaining healthy wildlife populations and protecting the waters of the Au Sable River.

The land sale has received community support from Crawford County, Frederic Township, the Grayling Chamber of Commerce and businesses. Huron Pines expects the sale to be finalized by the fall of 2017.

2 – Michigan needs to invest in infrastructure to address priorities including transportation, water and sewer systems, telecommunications and energy.

This is according to a report from a 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, unveiled this week by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The group says close to $60 billion in additional public spending is needed for the improvements over the next 20 years.

The report calls for replacing aging water systems, investing in roads and bridges, modernizing the electric grid, and making Michigan a top-five state for broadband internet service.

Recommendations from the Commission include expanding efforts to reduce energy waste, and obtaining 30 percent of Michigan’s energy needs from energy efficiency and renewable energy.

– 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

 

Getting Warmer on Climate Predictions, Surface Temperatures

For Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/qf7mohqej0lpjhf/ENV%20REPORT%2012-2-16%20mrgreatlakes.mp3]

1  – The Great Lakes are part of one climate system, although they differ greatly from one another.

great lakes model nayuki

Credit: Nayuki

A new integrated computer model brings together climate and water information for the Great Lakes region. It will be useful for climate predictions, dealing with invasive species and other environmental research.

Michigan Technological University helped develop the model, along with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, and other organizations.

A researcher says knowing the warming trend is an important concept in climate change modeling, along with understanding that extreme events become more severe.

The new model will help researchers better understand the connection between air and water in the Great Lakes.

The model’s accuracy was vetted by comparing its simulations to historical records and satellite data.

2 – The temperatures of the Great Lakes were the warmest in six years for late November.

Surface temperatures in November 2016 were several degrees warmer than at the same time two years ago.

Data for Saginaw Bay shows temperatures in the 40s and 50s for Nov. 30.

With winter on its way, warm lake waters and cold winds blowing across them will be a perfect combination for lake-effect snow, according to officials with the federal Coastwatch program.

The last time the lakes were this warm, in November of 2010, lake surfaces remained mostly ice free for the entire winter.

– 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

 

National Spotlight for Saginaw Bay Restoration, National Ban for 11 Invasives

For Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 –


1 – Wetland restoration in Saginaw Bay is highlighted in a national report.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration points to seven partnerships in the U.S. that have helped safeguard natural resources.

The agency says the partnerships demonstrate the benefits of using conservation approaches to address climate change and other issues.

Saginaw Bay is listed alongside areas in California, the Rocky Mountains and Hawaii.

 

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Lake Huron shoreline, Tawas Point, Michigan. Credit: NOAA

 

Our area is singled out for development of a coastal wetland decision support tool.

The tool helps identify and prioritize restoration activities for existing and historical coastal wetlands.

The national project is called the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative. It supports a U.S. strategy to build and maintain an ecologically connected network of coastal and other conservation areas that are likely to be resilient to climate change and support a broad range of fish, wildlife and plants.

2 – Eleven freshwater species have been added to a federal ban list.

The Nature Conservancy says the move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bans trade or import into the United States, and was determined by examining damage caused in other waters.

The list includes 10 fish species such as the Crucian carp and Eurasian minnow along with the the Yabby crayfish.

The Conservancy says these nonnative invasives aren’t currently part of trade or import, but have been determined through a risk assessment process to have a high climate match. That means, if they’re released here, they could thrive within the Great Lakes basin.

Conservancy officials say past practice has been to prohibit a species only after it’s been established in the U.S. and is causing damage. The group says this proactive assessment and restriction by the Fish and Wildlife Service is an important step forward.

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 Land for Sale, Wild Turkey 101 and Big Data

For Friday, Nov. 18, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/6bh737kswscxjr7/ENV%20REPORT%2011-18-16.mp3]

1 – A state auction of surplus public land starts Dec. 6.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will offer up for sale by sealed-bid auction between Dec. 6 and Jan. 10.

The auction will feature 58 parcels located in counties including Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Midland, Ogemaw, Oscoda and Roscommon.

Properties range in size from less than an acre to 77 acres.

State officials say the parcels being auctioned off are isolated from other public land, difficult to manage and provide limited public recreation benefit.

Several of the parcels are forested and have riverside or lake frontage.

Information on the auction is available online at www.michigan.gov/landforsale.

2 – The comeback of the wild turkey is a great wildlife conservation story.

At one time in Michigan, turkeys were plentiful. Over time, they vanished from every county in the state due to unregulated take and loss of habitat.

Efforts to re-establish the population were made from 1919 through the late 1980s. Today, there are more than 200,000 wild turkeys in Michigan. They can be found in every county in the Lower Peninsula and areas of the Upper Peninsula.

The National Wild Turkey Federation works with the state of Michigan to share conservation education opportunities with teachers and students.

One such opportunity is an annual Patch Design Contest.

K-12 students in Michigan are eligible to enter.

First-, second- and third-place winners will receive cash awards.

The winning design will be the basis for next year’s Michigan wild turkey management cooperator patch.

The winner and his or her parents or guardians also will be invited to the Michigan National Wild Turkey Federation State Chapter banquet and the Natural Resources Commission meeting when the patch is released to the public.

Entries are due by Dec. 15.

For complete contest rules, visit mi.gov/michiganprojectwild.

Direct link: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10369_51120-265547–,00.html

Previous winners: http://www.michigan.gov/images/turkeyboard_27029_7.jpg

3 – Massive amounts of data have been collected from the Great Lakes basin. But until recently, no effort had organized this information and made it easily accessible.

There also wasn’t a tool that allowed researchers and managers to visualize and summarize habitat conditions for the entire basin, especially on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border.

layers-saginaw-bay.JPG

Layers of data for Saginaw Bay in the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework.

Now, researchers from the University of Michigan, working with U.S. and Canadian agencies and universities, have created the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework.

It’s first publicly-available database that includes harmonized habitat data and a classification of fish habitats across the basin.

The framework will allow researchers and managers to explore information on temperature, ice-cover duration, water depth, aquatic vegetation, and wave height for every location in the basin.

There also are layers for shoreline classification, wetlands, and walleye populations.

Time Change: – 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

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