Mich Enviro Report: Ban on Hunting and Snowmobiling in Huron-Manistee & Avian Botulism

As heard Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College, NPR:
1.

Comments are being taken until Dec. 21 on snowmobile and firearm use in the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
A proposal to ban gun hunting and snowmobiling within certain areas of the forests was prompted by a federal court decision.

The U.S. Forest Service has now developed alternatives related to snowmobile and firearm use in areas of the national forests.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs is encouraging people to attend several public meetings planned to explain the process and submit written comments.

The alternatives include no action, no snowmobiling or firearm hunting in the forest areas, and allowing firearm hunting and snowmobiling use to continue as is.

Meetings are planned for Birch Run, Oscoda, Mio and other locations.

2.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is looking for help from citizen scientists.

The Bay City-based conservancy says people can help improve the Great Lakes ecosystem by reporting sightings of injured or dead birds, and algal blooms, to the federal Wildlife Health Monitoring Network.

The reports can help with research on avian botulism and protecting birds from the disease.

The reporting system was funded by a grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Injured or dead wildlife, and evidence of algal blooms, can be an indication that an area is being affected by a Botulism outbreak, which can kill waterfowl.

In recent decades, incidences of botulism in the Great Lakes have increased steadily, according to federal sources. Thousands of birds died from 1998-2001 in Lakes Huron and Erie.

— Photo by Paul Williams
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Mich Enviro Report: Dow Making Solar Shingles & EPA Targeting Saginaw Bay

As heard Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, on Delta College public radio Q-90.1 FM

Photo via Dow Chemical/Saginaw Future

1.

Solar shingles made by the Dow Chemical Co. are rolling off the line in Midland.

The company says it will bring its POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle to U.S. markets this month, starting in Colorado and moving into targeted states next year.

According to Dow officials, the POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle combines the performance and protection of a conventional asphalt roof with an integrated photovoltaic system that powers the home. The shingles can save a homeowner money and are an alternative to rack-mounted systems.

Dow officials say the POWERHOUSE system can be installed when a homeowner is purchasing a new home, or replacing an existing roof due to repair or replacement.

Dow is partnering with national homebuilders, developers and professional roofing contractors to bring the POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles to U.S. homeowners.

About a dozen states have been targeted for introduction of the POWERHOUSE product between now and the end of 2012.

How much will a solar roof cost you? A Dow vice president says an asphalt roof with POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles can be thousands of dollars less expensive than other integrated solar products.

The POWERHOUSE  Solar Shingles are being manufactured at a small facility in Midland. Dow Chemical has begun construction of a new, large-scale facility in the city, and expects to create  up to 1,275 jobs between now and 2015.

2.

Ongoing algae problems in the Saginaw Bay watershed are being targeted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA Chief Lisa Jackson said during a stop in Detroit last week that her agency has set several priorities for projects in Michigan, including work to reduce algae in Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay watershed.

Jackson says that over the next two years, her agency will prioritize efforts to reduce phosphorus pollution to Saginaw Bay. Ohio’s Maumee River and the Lower Fox River in Wisconsin also will be targeted.

Phosphorus runoff from farms, failing septic systems and sewage overflows has been blamed for causing algal blooms in Saginaw Bay.

Jackson said the area will receive special attention as part of a federally funded Great Lakes restoration program.

The Saginaw River and Bay were listed as federal hot spot, or Area of Concern, in the late 1980s.

(See also: Toxic Algae Bloom in Lake Erie Worst in Decades)

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Mich Enviro Report: GREEN River Testing, Steudle in Charge & Offshore Wind

As heard Friday, Oct. 7, 2011 on Delta College Q-90.1 FM …
1.
Students from Bay City Central High School were out this week helping with water quality testing on the Saginaw River.

About 90 students were involved. They worked with volunteers from General Motors, the Bay City School District, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the nonprofit BaySail organization.

The students visited the Saginaw River to assess its water quality as part of the Earth Force GREEN program, funded by GM.

They waded in with sampling nets and chemical testing equipment. Water testing and environmental education stations were set up in the Visitor Center at the Bay City State Recreation Area.

The GM GREEN program aims to inspire youth to be active in their communities and learn more about the complexities of environmental issues. The automaker has been sponsoring the program for about 20 years.

2.

A former Essexville official will lead the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Kirk Steudle, a former member of the Essexville City Council, has been appointed to the presidency of the association. Michigan environmental groups say the post will allow Steudle to have a positive influence on national transportation policy.

According to the Michigan Environmental Council, Steudle has previously supported important initiatives in the areas of passenger rail service and making towns and cities safer and more accessible for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and others.

One of Steudle’s immediate priorities will be working with Congress on the Highway Trust Fund, which maintains highways and other federal transportation infrastructure through a per-gallon tax on gasoline.

Steudle has been director of the Michigan Department of Transportation since 2006.

Prior to that, he was MDOT’s Bay Region Engineer, and responsible for state transportation programs and services for a 13-county region surrounding the Saginaw Bay area. He served on the Essexville City Council in the late 1990s.

3.

The University of Michigan is studying the impact of ice on power-generating turbines operating offshore in the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded more than $1 million to the school for two studies that will explore the effect of winter ice on the collection and distribution of power by offshore wind turbine in the lakes.

According to university officials, the work will include a $400,000 grant to develop computerized modeling tools that will simulate surface water ice and the impact of ice-loading or pressure on offshore structures.

The analysis will inform the design of turbines that could be deployed at varying depths in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

A second, $690,000 award will go to analyze seasonal trends and conduct field measurements related to ice, wind and wave loads on fixed offshore structures.

The studies are tied to another project on the feasibility of offshore wind power on Lake Michigan.

— Photo by Randen Pederson

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