Off-Road Proposal, Frog-Bit Challenge

For June 16, 2017

1 – There’s a proposal to open up thousands of miles of state forest roads to off-road vehicles in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The expanded access is to take effect in January 2018.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is inviting public input.

Officials have spent the past several months mapping the region’s state forest roads. State forest roads, managed by the DNR, provide access for activities such as habitat improvement, timber management, and fire control, as well as public access for hunting, fishing, hiking and outdoor recreation. Historically, these roads have been closed to off-road vehicle use unless designated as part of an off-road vehicle route.  

A 2016 state law encourages more people to enjoy Michigan’s public lands by enhancing off-road opportunities in the northern Lower Peninsula. Beginning in 2018, all state forest roads in the region will be open to off-road vehicle use unless designated closed by the DNR. Reasons for closures include ensuring user safety, preventing user conflicts and protecting environmentally sensitive areas.

The DNR is holding meetings to allow people to review the proposed changes, ask questions and provide input. Meetings are set for Monday, June 19, in West Branch; Tuesday, June 20 in Cadillac; and Wednesday, June 21 in Gaylord.

For more information and to comment online, see michigan.gov/forestroads. The comment period closes July 15.

 

2 – Huron Pines wants people to take the Frog-bit Challenge.

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Credit: Audrey

It does not involve a bucket of frogs.

The nonprofit is running a Frog-bit Challenge until Sept. 1. The goal is to pull a combined total of 20,000 pounds of the invasive plant. The focus is on the Thunder Bay River watershed.

About 300 pounds of the plans were pulled recently from the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary by students from Besser Elementary, along with volunteers and staff from Huron Pines.

To participate in the challenge or to start a similar effort in your area, contact Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member Wendy Lemon at wendylemon.americorps@gmail.com or call (989) 448-2293 ext. 32. Visit huronpines.org to learn more.

– 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

 

 

Paris in Michigan, PACE in Saginaw, Training in Midland

For June 9, 2017

1 – More than 200 U.S. mayors, including a number in Michigan, have signed on commit to goals of the Paris climate agreement.

President Donald Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the climate accord, which was signed by nearly 200 other countries and aims to reduce polluting emissions by 2025.

The more than 200 mayors have signed on to an agreement from a national group called Climate Mayors.

Michigan cities that have committed to honor the Paris agreement include: Ann Arbor, Buchanan, Detroit, East Lansing, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Lapeer, Pleasant Ridge, Rockwood, Royal Oak, Traverse City, and Ypsilanti.

Other cities are being encouraged to join the coalition.

 

2 – School may be out for some, but summer offers training opportunities on forestry, trails and invasive species.

The Little Forks Conservancy of Midland is hosting three workshops for volunteers interested in learning from experts about managing natural lands.

The first is 6 p.m. June 27 and will focus on tree care and forest management.

The second is 6 p.m. July 18 and will discuss how to create and maintain a trail network.

The final workshop is 6 p.m. Aug. 22 and will focus on identifying and removing non-native invasive plant species.

Each workshop will meet at Little Forks Conservancy office at 105 Post St. in Midland. Participants who attend all three workshops will be designated as Certified Stewards for Little Forks.

The workshops are free and open to the public. Registration is required by contacting Sara Huetteman at 989.835.4886 or shuetteman@littleforks.org.

For more details, call 989.835.4886 or visit www.littleforks.org.

 

3 – Saginaw is celebrating the transformation of a classic, 88-year-old apartment building in a downtown neighborhood.

The project involved installing all new windows, cutting $610,000 from the building’s 20 year-operating cost, and reducing the apartments’ carbon footprint.  

The work was accomplished through Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. The state-adopted program, also known as PACE, allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through a special assessment on their property taxes.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce and Saginaw Future Inc. hosted a ceremony this week (June 7) at the New Amadore Apartments in Saginaw.

– 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

 

BaySail Seeks Trainees, Refuge Considers Commercial Guides, State Surveys Fish

For June 2, 2017

 

1 – BaySail in Bay City is offering Windward Bound Voyages.

They take place on board the 65-foot Appledore V schooner.

Teenagers from 14-18 can join a professional tall ship crew to learn about navigation, sailing, and the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Windward Bound graduates are eligible to join a year-round training program and enjoy future sailing opportunities as volunteers,

The voyage schedule includes a trip from Bay City to Buffalo, New York, in June, and others through August.

A limited number of scholarships are available for teens from Bay, Midland, Saginaw and Isabella counties.

For a complete schedule and an application, see BaySailBayCity.org.

 

2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comment on a plan to allow commercial guides for wildlife observation and photography.

Officials say wildlife observation and photography by the public was previously determined to be compatible with a refuge conservation plan.

Officials are seeking comment on a similar plan that expands this use to include commercial guiding for wildlife observation and photography.

Comments are being taken for two weeks, ending June 14, at the refuge website and on its Facebook page.

All commercial guides would be required to apply for a Special Use Permit and steps would be taken to minimize impacts to wildlife.

3 – All four of the state’s fisheries research vessels are back on the water, beginning their annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations for the Department of Natural Resources.

The surveys are designed to examine and collect information on fish communities and their habitats.

The research vessels are based in Marquette, Alpena, Charlevoix and Harrison Township.

They work throughout the Great Lakes, beginning as soon as ice has cleared and continuing into November.

On Lake Huron, work is done by the research vessel Tanner, the DNR’s newest vessel which was launched in 2016. This vessel focuses on assessments of lake trout and walleye populations, and broader fisheries assessments in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River.

 

More Michigan Renewables, Updated Fish Finder, Saginaw Pollinator Project

For Friday, May 25, 2017

1- Michigan’s two largest utilities have announced plans to increase their commitments to renewable energy.

They say it’s based on a continued transition away from coal and in response to customer demand.

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Credit: Jim Sorbie

According to Midwest Energy News, DTE Energy says it will add 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy from wind and solar, and retire all of its coal power plants by about 2040. At that time, DTE says 60 percent of its portfolio will come from wind, solar and nuclear, and the remainder will come from natural gas.

Consumers Energy has applied for a tariff with state regulators to allow large commercial customers to purchase generation from new renewable energy projects. Consumers says the three-year, voluntary pilot program is in response to growing demand from corporations for renewable energy.

 

2 – A fish finding tool has been updated.

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via MDNR

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer features more than 40 streams that represent a range of conditions in terms of stream size, temperature and Great Lakes access.

The focus is on streams with long-term data and naturally reproducing populations of trout, salmon and bass that provide users with information on self-sustaining fish populations around the state.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources launched the app in 2014.

Officials say it’s useful for fishery managers, anglers, conservation groups, and the public.

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer can be found at mcgi.state.mi.us/fishpop/#.

3 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy seeks volunteers for a Pollinator Project in Saginaw.

This year, the conservancy plans to turn vacant lots on 50 sites into natural spaces.

The plan is to replace trash, old tires, and overgrown weeds on vacant lots with native wildflowers and prairie grasses. When converted, the lots will only need to be mowed once every few years.

Leaders say the project will reduce the burden of local government for maintenance and improve the visual condition of neighborhoods throughout the city.

The conservancy plans to start the work in coming weeks. Anyone interested in volunteering can call the conservancy at (989) 891-9986.

– 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

Rejecting More Wind, Bagging More Trash, Creating Less Waste

For May 19, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/lz7olvmj7yxo6ip/mr-great-lakes-wind-trash-waste-5-19-17.mp3]

1 – Voters in several townships and three counties in Michigan’s Thumb have rejected plans for wind projects and zoning changes.

Developers tell Midwest Energy News they are now regrouping, and are uncertain of whether they will pursue future projects in the three-county region of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola. The region has the most concentrated amount of wind turbines in the state.

Two projects proposed by DTE Energy and NextEra Energy and approved by Huron County officials, were reversed through petition drives and referendum votes.

DTE’s completion of a Filion Wind Park was rejected in four townships. NextEra’s 150-megawatt Huron Wind Energy Center was rejected in two townships.

Local officials say the outcome is due to a saturation of the market in the Thumb, and growing mistrust with wind development companies stemming from ongoing disputes over tax payments.

2 – Memorial Day is the unofficial start of beach season in Michigan. And volunteers with the Adopt-a-Beach program will be out on the shorelines again this year.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, which organizes the program, reports that more than 15,000 people participated in almost 1,400 cleanups last year. They recorded every piece of litter they picked up, which totaled more than 40,000 pounds.

The litter database is used identify problem areas and develop solutions to improve beach health.

The majority of trash picked up – 87 percent – was plastic. That included smoking-related litter and food-related litter, meaning it originated from human activity.

To find a cleanup near you, visit GreatLakesAdopt.org. A cleanup is planned for August at the Bay City state park beach in Bangor Township.

3 – A Great Lakes Bay Zero Waste Consortium will look at waste reduction strategies.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is partnering with Duro-Last Inc. and others to launch the effort.

The goal is to bring together area manufacturers, businesses, and institutions interested in implementing waste reduction strategies.

Participants say taking a systematic look at waste generated by businesses can help identify opportunities to cut costs through waste reduction.

A free informational meeting for anyone interested in getting involved is planned for Wednesday, May 24, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Duro-Last headquarters on West Morley Drive in Saginaw.

– 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

Worms and Streams and Renewable Energy

For May 11, 2017

1 – Spring stream sampling is getting underway in Gladwin and Clare counties.

Volunteers for the Little Forks Conservancy of Midland will be out on Saturday, May 13, conducting sampling to determine the water quality of the Cedar River.

Teams will sample six sites in the river in Gladwin and Clare Counties.

Little Forks Conservancy began monitoring the water quality of the Cedar River in fall of 2015.

 

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Worms. Credit: Jeff Kart

 

The conservancy says the project provides an opportunity for citizen scientists to learn about the importance of using macroinvertebrates to monitor the health of a watershed.

These macroinvertebrates include aquatic insects, crustaceans and worms.

The conservancy says volunteers are helping create a more complete picture of the health of the Cedar River with each monitoring event.

2 – DTE Energy has opened a Discovery Center in Bad Axe.

The 3,000 square-foot space is available for use by local community groups and equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia capabilities and renewable energy education videos.

The Discovery Center is attached to the Huron Renewable Energy Center, a formerly abandoned retail store that DTE renovated and opened in 2016.

DTE says it wants to create to create a place where students and local residents can learn about renewable energy, especially wind power, because Huron County leads the state in wind energy development.

The Discovery Center’s educational videos focus on how renewable energy is contributing to Michigan’s economy, why Michigan is attractive for future wind park development, how renewable energy is supporting the state’s clean energy future, and how wind parks work in tandem with farming.

DTE’s newest wind project in Huron County, Pinnebog Wind Park, was commissioned at the end of December.

 

Fishing Seasons, Repealing Regulations, Targeting E. Coli

For April 28, 2017

1 – Two fishing seasons start this weekend.

The statewide trout season and the Lower Peninsula seasons for inland walleye, northern pike and muskellunge all open on Saturday, April 29.

Fishing is a major economic driver in many parts of Michigan. The state says anglers typically generate $4.4 billion in economic activity, which generates $623 million in local, state and federal tax revenue. Sportfishing in Michigan is estimated to support nearly 38,000 jobs.

The new fishing license season began April 1, so anglers need to be sure they’ve purchased a new fishing license for this fishing season.

This is the second year of the two-year Michigan Fishing Guide. The guide is available online at michigan.gov/fishingguide.

2 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments on the repeal of regulations.

An executive order from President Donald Trump requires government agencies like the EPA to create a Task Force to identify existing regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome on the American people.

For example, the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management is seeking feedback on its regulations. The office deals with the land disposal of hazardous waste and underground storage tanks; state and local governments in redeveloping and reusing potentially contaminated sites through a Brownfields program; and addressing contaminated soil and groundwater.

The EPA is accepting comments through May 15, 2017 at docket EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190.

3 – Statewide targets for E. coli bacteria in impaired water bodies are under review by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Public comments are being taken a draft statewide total maximum daily load framework for E. coli.

The framework is being developed to identify the pathogen reductions necessary to meet water quality standards.

The state says routine testing has shown E. coli levels in many areas are above the standard. These levels increase the risk of illness upon contact or ingestion of the water. High levels of E. coli can close result in beach closures.

Comments are being taken through May 19.

– 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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