Mich Enviro Report: Birds, Earthworms, Rain & the Rifle River

For Friday Edition, April 29, 2011, Delta College Q-90.1 FM … 

1.

Early to mid-May is prime time for birdwatching.

photo robin worm grass

Photo Credit: John Benson

The Tawas Point Birding Festival takes place from May 12-15, during the spring migration.

The festival is a Michigan Audubon event supported by the local Au Sable Valley chapter.

Birders can expect to see migrating warblers at Tawas Point during the month of May. More than 160 species of birds were spotted during a festival in 2008.

The festival includes field trips, workshops, lighthouse tours, a Charity Island cruise, and Kirtland’s Warbler tours.

This year’s feature presentation is by authors and photographers Don and Lillian Stokes.

For more information, see tawasbirdfest.com.

2.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy has inked an agreement with Huron Pines to permanently protect land in the Rifle River Watershed.

Under the agreement, the Conservancy will identify parcels of land that exhibit important conservation values like wetland habitat or working farmland.

The Conservancy will then work with landowners to secure voluntary conservation easements on at least 100 acres of land in the watershed, according to those involved.

The Rifle River flows through Ogemaw and Arenac counties.

It’s about 60 miles long and drains 396 square miles into Saginaw Bay.

The Rifle is being negatively impact by sediment and nutrient loading.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is based in Bay City.

Huron Pines is a conservation organization with offices in Grayling.

3.

Rain Rain Rain. The next time you see a worm crawling on the sidewalk, give that worm some respect.

Earthworms are an indicator of soil health, and can impact soil structure and plant growth.

According to the Michigan Nature Association, there are 21 species of earthworms in Michigan, and you can find up to 300 individual worms in a square yard of soil.

Earthworms consume dead and decaying plant material and excrete food for plants.

Their other environmental benefits include helping with soil drainage, especially after a heavy downpour.

Earthworms can live up to eight years, but most don’t survive more than a year.

Thank the birds for that. Foxes, shrews, skunks, moles and garter snakes also enjoy the taste of worms.

The Saginaw Bay area has received plenty of rain this week. The precipitation has resulted in flood warnings for the Saginaw River.

Mich Enviro Report: Earth Day Beach Cleanups, a Festival & Thumb Wind Farms

As heard on Delta College public radio Q-90.1 FM, Friday Edition, April 22, 2011:

Junk from a Grand Haven beach cleanup in 2010. Via the Alliance for the Great Lakes

1.

Today is Earth Day (April 22), and beaches around Michigan are being cleaned up by volunteers.

The Adopt-a-Beach program is in its ninth season, and runs through May 4. This year, volunteers will target spots around the Great Lakes that have seen beach closings or been designated as federal Areas of Concern because of past pollution.

That includes the public beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area, where a cleanup is planned for April 23. It’s the first Adopt-a-Beach cleanup at the state park in recent memory.

Other cleanups are planned throughout Michigan, including in Allegan, Berrien, Muskegon, Ottawa, Van Buren and Wayne Counties.

Adopt-a-Beach is organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes. During the events, volunteers clear trash and sample water quality. Additional work also is being done this year with funding from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Last year, Adopt-a-Beach volunteers removed more than 31,000 pounds of trash from Great Lakes shorelines.

2.

More wind farms are coming to Michigan’s Thumb.

DTE Energy plans to build its first three wind farms in Huron and Sanilac counties, to be completed in 2012.

The development is part of efforts to expand the generation of renewable energy in Michigan. Utilities in the state are working to meet at 10 percent by 2015 standard.

The three DTE wind projects will generate about 110 megawatts, according to company officials.

The estimated cost of the project is $225 million. About 50 turbines are to be installed along 15,000 acres in the two counties. The project is expected to create more than 500 construction jobs.

DTE still needs to select a turbine manufacturer, a construction company, and secure permits for the three wind farms.

But the company says it hopes to begin construction next year.

3.

The big Earth Day celebration is planned for Saturday, April 30, in Huron County.

School officials are planning for a seventh annual Embracing Our Earth event, which typically attracts thousands of visitors.

This year’s festival is to take place at Bad Axe Junior High School, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Attractions this year include a Marking Art from the Earth display by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, a rainforest and alligator display, and pedal powered cookies.

The Detroit Science Center also will put on a  “Green Machine” stage show, and there will be live music, face painting and a kayak tank.

Wind farm tours also will be offered, along with mechanical surfboard rides, Segway demonstrations, and more.

Mich Enviro Report: Great Lakes grant $, Levin back on task & Don’t flush your drugs

From the Friday, April 8, Environment Report on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

1.

New funding is available for Great Lakes restoration.

Photo by Minimalist Photography / Steve Johnson

Getting a shot at it is a task for many area environmental and conservation organizations.

That’s why the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition is making funding available to help local groups in the region obtain and use funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The HOW grants program will be providing $115,000 to help jump-start projects.

The HOW program has identified five focus areas in the Great Lakes.

Those areas include spots in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

HOW is making the grant preparation funding available with help from a group called Freshwater Future.

A Saginaw Bay Priority Area Meeting is planned for Friday, April 15 from 9 to noon at the Sage Branch Library in Bay City.

For more information, see  freshwaterfuture.org. (or this pdf meeting announcement)

2.

A federal Great Lakes task force will continue to be led by a Michigan senator.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat, will serve as co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force for the 112th Congress. The other co-chair is Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois.

According to Levin, the task force has led the way to passage of legislation to clean up contaminated sediments, fight invasive species and prevent the diversion of precious fresh water from the Great Lakes basin.

Recently, co-chair Kirk has worked with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin to crack down on raw sewage dumping into the lakes.

The Great Lakes Task Force is a group that works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes.

Members have worked to pass programs supporting the lakes, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Levin has served as the Democratic co-chair of the task force since 1999.

3.

Don’t flush your old drugs, plan for National Take Back day.

This year’s National Take Back Initiative Drug Disposal Drive is planned for April 30th.

In Bay County, drives will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30th.

People will be able to turn in old, expired and unneeded medications at …

  • the Bay County Sheriff Department
  • the Bay City Police Department
  • the Michigan State Police Post on Euclid Avenue
  • and Delta College Department of Public Safety.

The National Take Back Initiative is aimed at properly disposing of unwanted prescription and over the counter drugs, so they don’t contaminate the water supply, or end up in the hands of people who might abuse them.

Drop offs are anonymous and people who use the program will not be questioned, according to Bay County Executive Tom Hickner.

Last year, the collection day netted 54 pounds of medicine, which was transferred to an undisclosed location and incinerated.

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