Michigan Enviro Report: Birds in Shiawassee, Rapanos Land & Saving Tobico Towers

For the Jan. 28, 2011, Friday Edition Environment Report on Delta College Q-90.1 FM:



Bird watchers, start your engines.

A $2 million auto trail is due to open this spring at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

The trail is 7.5 miles long and takes motorists through the refuge, located in Saginaw County. Construction has been completed, and the route is due to open in May, according to Capitol News Service.

The trail, called Wildlife Drive, includes two observation decks with spotting scopes for viewing birds. There’s also an expanded parking area and new fishing and canoe access site.

Previously, motorists were only allowed to drive through the refuge for one day each year. The new trail will allow more people to view birds during the spring and summer. Officials say the speed limit is 15 mph and the gravel trail was designed not to disturb wildlife.

The project, funded by federal dollars, is part of a conservation plan for all national wildlife refuges in the U.S.

The trail is the second of its kind in Michigan. There’s another one at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, in the Upper Peninsula.

The Shiawassee refuge is home to almost 300 species of birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons.


There are three newly protected parcels in the Saginaw Bay area.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy in Bay City has acquired three parcels — two in Pinconning Township and one in Standish Township.

The three parcels have been under a mitigation plan established in 2005, according to Conservancy officials.

The property was originally farm field, and is still being restored. The plans are to turn it into a forested wetland.

The 2005 mitigation plan required about 93 acres of wetlands to be created or restored. Those include forested wetlands and shrub wetlands.

The remaining 125 acres contain buffers in the form of wetlands,  hedgerows, drainage ditches and other land devoted to wildlife habitat.

The three parcels were acquired as a result of a settlement between the federal government and Midland developer John Rapanos.

The Rapanos case stretches back to the late 1980s.


You can help Save Tobico Towers at an event on Saturday, Jan. 29.

A citizens group will be holding the event at 10 a.m. in the front of Bay Banquet Hall at 363 State Park Drive.

It’s a 5-k run and walk, with separate categories for people of all ages.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. The fee is $15, with proceeds going to the Save Tobico Towers effort.

The group is trying to raise $70,000 to restore two wooden observation towers in Tobico Marsh, part of the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

So far, the group has raised about $5,000, according to The Bay City Times.


Michigan Environment Report: Batteries, Mercury & Saginaw River Shipping

As heard on Friday Edition, Jan. 21, 2011, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College … 


Battery recycling broke records in 2010.

Close to 7 million pounds of rechargeable batteries were recycled last year in North America, a 10 percent increase from 2009.

According to Call2Recycle, a free battery collection program, the largest collections came from California, Texas and Florida.

Batteries contain a high amounts of heavy metals, and contamination of groundwater is more likely if they’re thrown into a landfill and not recycled.

Several stores in the Bay City area collect rechargeable batteries for recycling, including Radio Shack, Batteries Plus, Staples and The Home Depot.

You can find more listings of recycling centers at Earth911.com. The guide includes information on recycling single-use batteries in Midland.


If you have teeth, listen up.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment has awarded a $270,000 grant to the Michigan Dental Association.

The money will go to assist member and nonmember dentists in Michigan with the installation of amalgam separators.

Many Michigan waste water treatment plants are required to reduce the levels of mercury discharged to lakes, rivers and streams under their permits.

Mercury amalgam from dentists has been identified as a significant source of mercury for some wastewater treatment plants.

A  2008 state law requires most dentists to install, operate, and maintain amalgam separators by Dec. 31, 2013.

State officials say the programs should result in a decrease in the amount of mercury sent to  landfill and discharged to state rivers and streams.


Commercial shipping on the Saginaw River declined for the fifth year in the row in 2010.

According to Boatnerd.com, which tracks vessel passages in the Saginaw River, the 2010 season lasted for 260 days, beginning March 31 and ending Dec. 15.

During that time, there were 145 commercial vessel passages by 29 different boats.  Compared to 2009, that’s 18 fewer passages and 8 fewer vessels.

The Wirt Stone dock in Saginaw saw the most traffic. Next in line was the Bay Aggregates dock in Bangor Township. Third on the list was the Wirt Stone dock in Bay City. But all of those docks saw less traffic than in 2009.

Two vessels made the most trips up and down the Saginaw River last year– the Olive L. Moore and Lewis J. Kuber were tied with 31 trips each. Those totals also were down from 36 trips by the same two boats in 2009.

— Battery recycling photo via Moria, Flickr.


Mich Enviro Report: Regional Strategy, Saginaw Bay Muck & Midland Conservation

For the Jan. 14, 2011 Environment Report on Delta College Q-90.1 FM


Leaders in Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties are working on a regional strategy to conserve energy use and improve energy efficiency.

They’re holding a public meeting on Thursday, Jan. 20, to gather input. The meeting is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Curtiss Hall on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University.

The strategy is intended to enable the region to meet a growing share of its energy demand with alternative sources and technologies.

That includes targeting sources and technologies produced in the region, and transportation efforts that reduce fossil fuel use.

The public input is being requested to help set priorities for achieving energy conservation and renewable energy goals.

The three counties have already worked together on other joint environmental efforts. Those include a partnership to attract new and expanded solar manufacturing to the region, and the state designation of Saginaw Bay and central Lake Huron as a favorable location for offshore wind development.


Michigan Sea Grant is targeting muck and algal blooms in Saginaw Bay.

The program plans to award up to $75,000 per year for research projects that address coastal issues in Michigan. The grants are to begin in February 2012, and the projects can last up to two years.

Researchers from universities and elsewhere are being encouraged to develop proposals that focus on issues including: muck and algal blooms in Saginaw Bay, and cleaning up Great Lakes hot spots, or Areas of Concern.

Also of interest to program funders: the development of Michigan’s aquaculture industry, risks associated with climate change and creating a sustainable Great Lakes fishery.

Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.


The Little Forks Conservancy in Midland is adding to the amount of protected land in the region.

The conservancy recently announced a 40-acre conservation easement, which protects 4,400 feet of the Pine River in Midland County.

The easement was donated to the conservancy by the Hubert family.

The designation means the land will remain forever natural and undeveloped.

The property was once part of a larger farm. The Hubert family has planted thousands of trees there in the last 40 years. It’s still privately owned.

The Little Forks Conservancy is an accredited land trust that works with land owners to permanently protect property with natural and cultural features.

Currently, the conservancy oversees the protection of more than 2,500 acres in Mid-Michigan. That includes more than seven miles of waterways and shoreline.

— Photo via draft of Great Lakes Bay Regional Energy Efficiency, Conservation, and Renewable Energy Strategy


Green Energy, Saginaw Wind Turbines & Phasing Out Light Bulbs

The Environment Report, now with Audio. This airs Jan. 7, 2011 on Delta College Q-90.1 FM public radio. Text follows …

Environment Report, Jan. 7, 2011 by jeffkart


Consumers Energy provides the most green power among Michigan utilities.

A state law requires utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by the year 2015.

So far, Consumers Energy is at 4.7 percent, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission. DTE Energy is at 2.5 percent. Across the state, 3.63 percent of Michigan’s energy comes from renewables.

Consumers Energy operates its largest generating complex, the coal-fired Karn-Weadock plants, in Bay County’s Hampton Township.

The utility has contracted for 396 megawatts of renewable energy, mostly wind power.

Eight megawatts is in commercial operation.

An additional 388 megawatts is due to be online by the end of 2012, according to the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.


In other energy news, plans for Michigan-made wind turbines are off to a good start.

The Public Service Commission has approved power purchase agreements between Consumers Energy and Heritage Sustainable Energy. The agreements, totaling 41 megawatts, are for Garden Wind Farm in Delta County and Stoney Corners 2 in Missaukee and Osceola counties.

According to the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, the agreements will result in the first large-scale production of utility-scale wind turbines made entirely in Michigan by Northern Power Systems and a key supplier — Merrill Technologies Group.

Northern Power Systems will build the direct-drive wind turbines at a Saginaw plant. The company expects to employ up to 137 people by 2014.


Incandescent bulbs are on their way out, in favor of more energy efficient CFLs and LEDs.

The 100-watt incandescent will be the first light bulb to be banned from U.S. stores, beginning in Jan. 1, 2012.

By 2014, most traditional incandescent light bulbs will be phased out. That’s due to a federal law passed by Congress in 2007.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued new guidelines for cleaning up broken CFLs, or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

CFLs contain a tiny drop of mercury, but experts say the amount of mercury they keep out of the environment is greater. Less coal has to be burned to power a CFL, for instance.

If a CFL breaks, the EPA now says the amount of mercury released as vapor is within the safe range for adults.


Thoughts on Disney Green

“What future did you choose, Dad?” 

My oldest asked me that after we got off the Spaceship Earth ride at Disney’s Epcot Center. Or, as my youngest calls it, The Apricot Center.

The ride is the one that takes place in the big Epcot ball. The basic story is about how human communication has advanced from writing on cave walls to this marvelous thing we call The Internet.

Near the end of the ride, you get to choose, on a screen in front of you, how you’d like your future to be. Riding with the Apricot girl, we chose a future focused on the Home, living in the Country, in a dwelling made of Natural Materials, and Car-pooling to work.

From this, the Disney people created a video using 0ur faces, to show us living in a home that runs on green energy, in a world that’s less polluted and a lot more sustainable than the one we have now.

My youngest in her future home. Face paint makes her look funny.

So I thought to myself, “This is pretty positive. Rather than focus on the next Disney movie or something from the Epcot Gift Shop, the take-away message is one about energy, protecting the planet, changing the status quo.”

It’s not like the Disney World experience emphasizes those things. Besides Epcot, we saw Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. Disney is a place of excess and consumerism. But it’s also a place to spend time with your family. And of all the rides and attractions we saw on our recent trip, I’d have to say that spending time with my wife and two girls was the highlight.

So does the message of green really fit with this Disney experience? Sure. Why not? Disney is a happy place, without the troubles of modern life (at least on the surface). The Mickey Mouse people have built in several positive lessons as part of this, including the Epcot ride, and conservation messages throughout the parks.

It would be easy to dismiss the green at Disney as window dressing. And it is, to some extent. But it got my kids talking.

After we got off the Epcot ride, they played a game that required them to use various forms of electricity to power a city.

“Don’t use the coal,” my oldest daughter yelled to her sister. “Use wind and solar.”

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 32 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 43 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 21st with 209 views. The most popular post that day was Welcome — I am Mr. Great Lakes.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were mlive.com, facebook.com, freefromeditors.blogspot.com, jeffkart.wordpress.com, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for used syringes, syringes, black flies, fried egg, and gypsy with crystal ball.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Welcome — I am Mr. Great Lakes June 2010


A Year Since Copenhagen, And No Great Lakes Wind October 2010
1 comment


Buy a Dolphin, Help Clean the Gulf, Give Props to Larry King June 2010
1 Like on WordPress.com,


About June 2010


Were government flies released to combat caterpillars? June 2010

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