Monitoring Lakes and Streams, Dam Removal, and Flying Trees

photo au sable river large woody debris michigan

Screenshot from MDNR slideshow.

As heard at 9 a.m. Sept. 28, 2012, on Friday Edition, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College NPR …

1 – The Michigan Clean Water Corps is closing in on 40 years of monitoring waters in the state. 

The Corps, known as MiCorps for short, assists the state Department of Environmental Quality in collecting quality data for use in management protection programs.

The group this year is celebrating 39 years of the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, which began in 1974.

In that time, thousands of volunteers have taken measurements on water clarity, temperature and content. They’ve also reported on ice melt and the effects of exotic species.

A recent dispatch from MiCorps notes that more than 800 inland lake basins are monitored by the program, including several counties in Northeast Michigan.

The monitoring data is public and searchable.

The monitoring indicates that there has been an improvement in water quality in Michigan lakes and streams since 1980, according to a MiCorps staffer. But the lakes have responded in variety of ways to zebra mussels.

MiCorps is looking for volunteers. You can find out more at micorps.net.

2 – Fish migration will be improved in Northeast Michigan with the help of other volunteers from Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord. 

The group is adding sites to its Small Dam Removal program. Work on the Grayling Hatchery Dam Removal is to begin with design work this winter, on the East Branch of the Au Sable River.

The project is being done to allow fish to migrate further upstream into the upper East Branch, and enhance the ability of the hatchery to rear fish.

Plans are to remove the dam and install a series of small rock ramps in 2013.

The small ramps will allow for movement of fish, while still maintaining upstream water levels, according to Huron Pines.

The project is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Also on the Au Sable, more than 100 large trees are being flown in by helicopter to enhance instream habitat on the lower portion of the river.

– SEE Michigan DNR Au Sable Tree Drop Slideshow –

That “large woody debris” program is a partnership between Huron Pines and the U.S. Forest Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Placing a goal of 125 trees is expected to take two days. This is the final year of a 10-year program.

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Great Lakes Education Tool, Saginaw Bay Grants and Meetings

As heard at 9 a.m. Sept. 21, 2012, on Delta College’s Friday Edition, Q-90.1 FM …

photo great lakes huron

Photo by Bill McKee

1. Attention teachers and parents: There’s a new tool to educate high schoolers about the Great Lakes. 

It’s for students in grades nine through 12 and is called “Great Lakes in My World.”

The curriculum is an addition to a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade program by the same name.

Great Lakes in My World was developed by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and has been endorsed by representatives from various organizations, including Shedd Aquarium and the University of Wisconsin.

The new curriculum aims to “give high school students a meaningful way to learn scientific, geographic and research skills while learning about the Great Lakes,” says Alliance Education Coordinator Katie Larson.

The curriculum is focused on coastal habitats, restoration, careers, and stewardship.

Both the K-through-eight and new version of Great Lakes in My World align with Common Core and state learning standards for science and social studies in Michigan.

2. The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network has a new small grant program for local projects.

The 2012 Community Action Mini-Grant Program offers funding to organizations that are working to make improvements in neighborhoods, communities, and watersheds within the framework of “sustainability.”

That is, the projects should “balance economic, environmental, and social priorities to enhance the quality of life for this and future generations.”

The network plans to award grants of up to $1,000 to applicants whose projects show creativity, and address an important and demonstrated need.

The deadline to apply is coming up, on Oct. 12.

Eligible organizations include nonprofits, local governments, and educational institutions.

For more information, see SaginawBayWIN.org (pdf).

3. Saginaw Bay WIN also is hosting a series of ongoing meetings to discuss issues related to the Saginaw Bay and its tributaries.

The first meeting is set for Sept. 27 at the Wirt Library in downtown Bay City. A public session (pdf) runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The evening session will be used to gather public input on a work plan being put together by Public Advisory Council of the state-sponsored Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative.

Planned is a discussion of issue affecting Saginaw Bay, and citizen concerns.

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Saginaw Basin Field Guide, Dow Chemical consent order, and more Great Lakes algae

photo pressprich nature preserve sblc

Via SBLC

As heard Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, on Q-90.1 FM‘s Friday Edition, Delta College …

1. A new field guide will soon be available for explorers in the Saginaw Bay region.

The guide, with trail maps, directions and information on local nature preserves, is being put together by the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy, headquartered on Bay City’s West Side.

The Saginaw Basin Field Guide also will include information on wetlands, animals and birds, native and invasive plants, and protection efforts by the conservancy. The Saginaw Bay watershed is home to more than 100 endangered or threatened species.

The guide is being developed and published with support from a number of partners.

The conservancy owns a number of nature preserves around the basin that are open to the public. The nonprofit is holding a 6th Annual Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy Nature Photography Contest, with a focus on the preserves. Entries are due by Sept. 30.

The field guide is expected to be available from the conservancy in early October, for free.

2. The Dow Chemical Co. plans to settle a case with the state over pollution from its Midland manufacturing site.

The company plans to pay $38,500 to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as part of a consent order.

The state cited Dow for exceeding particulate matter emission limits in June and July 2011.

According to a DEQ staff report, the excess emissions were from a ethyllcellulose production facility.

A Dow spokesman says less than 12 pounds of a non-hazardous product were emitted during testing of processing equipment.

The problem was immediately corrected, the spokesman said, and the company has taken steps to prevent a recurrence.

Ethylcellulose, sold by Dow under the name ETHOCEL, is used as an additive in medicine tablets to improve their appearance and mask the bitter taste of active ingredients, according to the company.

The consent order stipulates penalties of up to $3,000 per violation per day for future violations of the company’s Renewable Operating Permit.

Public comments on the proposed order are being taken until Oct. 10.

3. This week was Great Lakes Week, and agencies and environmental groups participated in four days of conferences in Cleveland. 

photo great lakes erie algae muck

Via U of M

Among the issues discussed in Ohio was excess algae, and shoreline muck, like the kind that’s been fouling the Saginaw Bay for years.

A University of Michigan aquatic ecologist presented his latest findings on the topic, saying climate change could double the number of intense spring rain storms in the Great Lakes region by the end of this century.

And that would likely add to the number of harmful algal blooms and “dead zones” in Lake Erie.

The ecologist says additional conservation actions need to be taken by the agriculture industry to prevent more harmful blooms in the future.

The ecologist says widespread adoption of no-till farming and other agricultural techniques since the mid-1990s appear to have increased the availability of a type of phosphorous that promotes algae blooms.

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