Mich Enviro Report: Great Lakes Restoration, Wireless Parks & a Tidy Lighthouse

As heard on Delta Q-90.1 FM, Feb. 18, 2011 …

1.

Michigan’s Ag Director says broadband Internet service could help bring more visitors to state parks.

But the head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment says expanding wireless service to more state parks would be too expensive.

According to Capital News Service, Michigan was the first state to add wireless Internet service, for a fee, at  eight of its 97 state parks in 2004. That pilot program included East Tawas. Internet access is still available at those parks, for a cost of $8 a day.

But there wasn’t much interest, since nearby coffee shops and other businesses often offer free Internet access and many people can surf the Internet for free with their smartphones.

The latest proposal would make the Internet free at some state parks. But it’s not clear if that will happen.

2.

Speaking of Tawas,  the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment is looking for  lighthouse keepers.

The keepers can stay up to two weeks at the Tawas Point Lighthouse, located in Tawas State Park. The keepers are responsible for greeting guests, leading tours, working in the museum’s gift shop and doing some light maintenance of the buildings and grounds.

The lighthouse was recently renovated, and staying in the keeper’s quarters costs $250 per person, per week. The quarters include two bedrooms, a kitchen and a single bathroom.

The program is available to single folks and couples from March 4 through Dec. 23.

The Tawas Point Lighthouse has been in operation since 1876.

3.

Funding would be cut for a Great Lakes restoration plan under a federal budget recently submitted by President Barack Obama.

The budget calls for $350 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2012. That’s $125 million less than the $475 million in the 2010 budget, and $50 million more than the amount requested for this year.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition says more funding is needed for the initiative, which aims to clean up toxic pollution, control invasive species like the Asian carp and restore habitat.

The coalition says the restoration initiative offers some of the best returns on the dollar in the federal budget. The money goes for efforts to protect drinking water, safeguard public health, create jobs and improve the quality of life, the coalition says. A 2007 Brookings Institution study said every dollar spent on the Great Lakes restoration generates $2 in economic activity.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lake Coalition, which represents more than 100 environmental conservation and other organizations, is pushing Congress to fund the initiative at $475 million in 2012.

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Mich Enviro Report: Collapsing Roofs, Recyclemania & Post-Coal Jobs

From the Feb. 11, 2011, Environment Report, heard on Delta College Q-90.1 FM … 

1.

Proposed new federal air pollution rules could bring about 62,000 construction jobs to Michigan during the next five years.

That’s according to a University of Massachusetts study released at a national green jobs conference in Washington, D.C.

The study says $200 billion worth of investments to clean up and modernize power plants in the U.S. would create about 1.5 million jobs through 2015.

The report says those investments would create 62,346 construction, installation and professional jobs in Michigan.

On the flip side, about 137 operation and maintenance jobs would be lost in the state, if coal-fired power plants are closed after the new power plants go online.

2.

From now through April 2, universities across the country are competing in Recyclemania 2011.

In Michigan, participating schools include Central Michigan University and Saginaw Valley State University.

Campuses are competing to see which school can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, and produce the least amount of trash per capita.

SVSU is participating in the Waste Minimization category. Organizers plan to educate employees and students about ways to minimize waste, and work to recycle paper cups and pizza boxes used and sold in the food court.

At CMU, there are programs to sell or donate campus surplus property, work with vendors to reduce transportation packaging and offer reusable dinnerware and utensils in all sit-down dining facilities.

3.

Watch your head. Roofs are collapsing across the Midwest under the weight of all this snow.

The Saginaw Valley received about 10 inches of snow earlier this month.

A report by The Weather Channel cites roof collapses in Port Huron, Michigan, along with Indiana and other states.

A structural engineering professor at the University of New Hampshire recommends that homeowners who can safely remove snow from the ground with a roof rake do so regularly, and not let the snow build up.

Ice dams on your roof can be temporarily addressed by melting the ice with road salt or hot water, the professor says.

If ice damming is a recurring problem, you should have your roof inspected and modified to allow for better ventiliation.

— Photo of roof collapse from 2009. Credit Ryan McFarland, Flickr.

Remember Michigan’s Great Blizzard of 1978?

Let me tell you sumpin’ whippersnappers. Back in my day, we measured snow in feet, they never closed school, we walked, and we liked it! Sorry to yell. But all the talk of 2011’s Snowpocalypse, Snowmaggedon, #snOMG has me reading up on my weather history. And about The Great Blizzard of 1978.

photo snow storm february 2011 nasa

It seems I’ve said to myself more than once, “Self, it sure used to snow a lot more back when I was a kid (in the 1970s).” Here’s a refresher:

Back in Jan. 26-27, 1978, Traverse City’s snowfall ranged from 22-28 inches and the city was unofficially shut down.

“A Great Storm is Upon Michigan” read a National Weather Service headline on the morning of Jan. 26. That was followed by hurricane-force winds, extreme blizzard conditions, and about 20 people died. Snowfalls for the entire storm included 30 inches in Muskegon, according to the National Weather Service.

What do you remember? I’ll be digging through my old photo albums. Stay safe.

— Photo from the (much-hyped) Great Blizzard of 2011. NASA.