An Ugly Great Lakes Beaches Report and Beautiful Nature Contest

photo great lakes beach sand report

Photo by derekp

AS HEARD June 29, 2012, on Friday Edition, The Environment Report, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College, Michigan:

1 –

Next week is the week of July 4, Independence Day. Time to hit the beach.

That is, unless the beach is closed due to high bacteria levels.

In 2011, America’s beaches saw the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than 20 years, according to a report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And things aren’t getting much better: The second-highest number of closing and advisory days occurred the year before, during 2010.

Beach closings and advisories are often blamed on stormwater runoff and sewage pollution.

In the Great Lakes, beaches were hard hit in 2011, with 11 percent of water quality samples exceeding public health standards, and indicating the potential presence of human and animal waste. The national average 3 percent lower.

For the first time this year, the NRDC report includes a map searchable by ZIP code, covering more than 3,000 beaches nationwide ( The data comes from government reports.

Bay County beaches were closed or under advisory for a total of 29 days in 2011.

2 –

Keep your eye out for good nature photos this summer.

And bring your camera.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy, based in Bay City, is holding a 2012 Nature Photography Contest.

Each photo category will feature first, second and third place winners, with cash prizes.

The deadline to submit photos is Sept. 30.

Winners are to be announced in early November.

Photos must be taken within the Saginaw Bay Watershed, which covers 22 counties.

If you’re looking for inspiration, the conservancy owns 10 nature preserves that the open to the public.

The  nonprofit recently moved its offices from The Bay City Times building in downtown Bay City to a spot on East Midland Street.



First Grey Water Re-Use in Saginaw Bay Region, and Sewage Relief

As heard on Friday Edition, June 22, 2012, on Delta College public radio, Q-90.1 FM

Delta College to get region’s first grey water re-use facility

photo grey water example

Photo by R. Schade

Environmental improvements are on tap in the Saginaw Bay region.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network has awarded a series of new grants. The group, known as Saginaw Bay WIN, is funded by area foundations.

The new grants include money for a Vassar Dam removal project on the Cass River, and the region’s first commercial grey water re-use facility at Delta College.

Funding also has been approved for a nature-based kindergarten program at Bullock Creek Schools, in cooperation with the Midland-based Chippewa Nature Center.

WIN is starting up a brand new small grant program, too. More details are coming in the next few months, group leaders say.

Additionally, the WIN group has existing funding available for projects that address land use, water resources, agriculture, energy efficiency, wildlife habitat and regional marketing.

Sewage Relief Spelled with an $$$

What will it take to curb sewage overflows into the Great Lakes?

A steady stream of money.

A new report by the Alliance for the Great Lakes looks at the success of the federal Clean Water State Revolving Fund in helping finance sewer improvement projects. Experts say improvements are needed throughout the basin to old sewage systems that overflow during rains, in areas including the Saginaw Bay region.

The Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans and flexible financing to help local governments carry out wastewater management projects and green infrastructure development, Alliance officials say.

For every federal dollar appropriated to the program, states kick in 20 cents. The fund grows as a result of repayments, interest earnings and other proceeds.

In 2011 , almost 19 billion gallons of combined sewage and stormwater was dumped into the Great Lakes by wastewater treatment plants. The report highlights two communities, including Grand Rapids, Michigan, that have achieved large decreases in their overflow volumes with the use of Revolving Fund money.

The Alliance is pushing for continued federal funding to the program. Federal money allocated yearly to the fund has decreased since 2011 and another cut is proposed for 2013.

Bonus: Midwest Energy News

A waste-eating bug for nuclear power? (Michigan State U. research on Geobacter)

Adopt-a-Beach and Comment on Warblers

Photo by Ludovic Bertron

As heard Friday, June 15, 2012 …

1 –
The beach season is off to a cleaner start in the Great Lakes.

Volunteers in the Adopt-a-Beach program say the two months of work this year, in April and May, netted more than 8,000 pounds of debris.

The spring kickoff involved 81 teams at 102 locations on all five Great Lakes, including on Saginaw Bay.

A total of 2,400 volunteers helped remove and catalog 8,059 pounds of debris along the shoreline.

At the beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area, trash collected during a May event included plastic bags, plastic bottles, beverage cans and cigarette butts.

The Adopt-a-Beach program, run by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, is done in part to help pinpoint potential pollution sources.

An upcoming Adopt-a-Beach event is planned for June 22 at the Bay City State Recreation Area, with a team leader from Saginaw Valley State University. (Register here)

Another is being organized for Sept. 21 at the Recreation Area, located in Bay County’s Bangor Township.

2 –
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is taking public input on Kirtland’s warbler management.

The DNR will host a public meeting on June 27 in Roscommon. Comments also are being taken by email.

Officials are working on a Kirtland’s warbler operational plan to direct future management of the bird and its habitat on state lands.

A multi-agency conservation strategy is also being completed.

The Kirtland’s warbler is a federally endangered species.

The birds arrive in Michigan from the Bahamas in May and nest in a few counties in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas.

The Kirtland’s warbler nests in young stands of jack pines.

Most nesting sites are on state and federal land.

Habitat is managed mostly through logging, replanting or seeding.

Besides the DNR, other agencies that manage Kirtland’s warbler habitat include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.


Saginaw Bay Walleye Migrating Further, Earlier, & a Great Lakes Beach App

As heard on Friday Edition, 9 a.m., June 8, 2012, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

More Walleye on the Move

photo saginaw bay erie walleye project


Saginaw Bay is a major source of walleye for Lake Huron, according to first-year results from a four-year, federally funded study.

The study is examining the movement patterns of walleye in Lake Huron. Researchers have been surprised to learn that out-migration from Saginaw Bay to the main basin of the lake occurs earlier in the year than previously thought, and in greater numbers than expected.

This is according to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (pdf). Officials there say evaluating the movement of walleye throughout Lake Huron will help with ecological management efforts in years to come.

The study is tracking two populations of walleye: One group originating in Saginaw Bay and another originating in western Lake Erie.

Researchers are monitoring the walleye using acoustic transmitters implanted in hundreds of fish in each location.

photo walleye transmitter migration

Via project home page

A state official estimates that as many as 2 million adult walleye are migrating from Saginaw Bay into the main basin of Lake Huron.  The tracked walleye are migrating in early June, earlier than expected.

Scientists aren’t sure why certain walleye make such a migration. It may be based on food sources or cooler temperatures.

The study is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and being conducted jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Carleton University, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

Life’s a Beach

If you want the know the condition of a Great Lakes beach, there’s an app for that.

Real-time information on swim advisories and other environmental conditions is now available via a free smartphone application.

photo mybeachcast app glin great lakes


The myBeachCast app was developed by LimnoTech of Ann Arbor,  in partnership with the Great Lakes Commission, the state of Michigan, and other states.

The app covers more than 1,800 lake and inland beaches that are monitored in the Great Lakes region.

The app allows users to find local beaches based on a phone’s location, view beaches and their status on a map, save favorite beaches, and get driving directions.

The app is for Android phones, but information also can be accessed online by iPhones and other devices.


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