AS HEARD June 29, 2012, on Friday Edition, The Environment Report, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College, Michigan:
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 (www.nrdc.org/beaches). The data comes from government reports.
Bay County beaches were closed or under advisory for a total of 29 days in 2011.
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.