Michigan Enviro Report: Christmas Bird Count, Solar in Bay City, Asian Carp Comments

From the Dec. 17, 2010, Friday Edition Environment Report on Delta College Q-90.1 FM:

1.

Photo Credit: Steve Ryan, Flickr

Citizen scientists are out and about in Michigan for the annual Christmas Bird Count.

The count began this week and lasts until Jan. 5.

According to Michigan Audubon, data gathered by volunteers during the count is used to assess the health of bird populations, and to guide conservation action.

This year’s count will be held in spots including Oscoda, Bay City, Higgins and Houghton lakes, Huron County and Tawas City.

Some history: In the 1980’s Christmas Bird Count data documented the decline of wintering populations of the American Black Duck. After that, conservation measures were put in place to reduce hunting pressure on this species.

Last year, the count was instrumental in documenting range shifts of birds due to climate change.

Anyone from experienced birders to parents and kids can participate in the count. For more information, see michiganaudubon.org.

2.

A new solar array is gathering energy from the sun at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality office in Bay City.

State officials say the 10-kilowatt array will help make the office more energy efficient.

The array includes a total of 44 panels, which sit atop a structure at the north end of the property.

The building already generates power from 50-kilowatt wind turbine, visible from the Independence Bridge.

The latest improvements may earn a building an upgraded Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, under a program known as LEED. The solar panels will not only gather energy from the sun, but also pull power from parking lot lighting at night, officials say.

The solar array was funded by federal stimulus money. It came from a vendor in Novi and was installed by a contractor from Flint.

3.

If you’re concerned about Asian carp in the Great Lakes, listen up.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking comments until March 31 on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study.

In other words, the Corps is studying ways to prevent invasive species like Asian carp from swimming between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

That includes exploring a physical separation of the two basins.

Public meetings on the study are planned for Jan. 27 in Traverse City and Feb. 3 in Ann Arbor.

But you also can make comments online.

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