Fish Heads, Wind Turbines, and a Golf Course Refuge

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). See the 6-minute mark:

As heard on Friday Edition, on Fridays at 9 a.m. Eastern on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. Text and information from the Jan. 25, 2013, broadcast follows …

fish head great lakes example

Mystery Fish Head. Credit: GoodiesFirst.

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Michigan Sea Grant officials say projects in 2012 focused on wind energy and whitefish in the state.

Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, and part of the National Sea Grant College Program.

A new Sea Grant Biennial Report to Congress includes impacts from each state in the Sea Grant program.

For Michigan, the report notes two items, on wind energy development and the harvest of whitefish.

On wind, Michigan Sea Grant supported research to evaluate public concerns about wind energy in coastal regions, according to the report.

The program surveyed Michigan residents to better describe public attitudes, and held 16 focus groups in three regions to promote discussion and evaluate strategies for engaging the public.

Survey results indicated that attitudes toward wind farm development are shaped by expected economic benefits to the community. Partners are now developing educational materials for state and local decision-makers.

On whitefish, Sea Grant helped processors turn byproducts into profits.

Commercial whitefish producers in the Great Lakes have struggled to stay in business, according to the report. Companies that process the fish have had challenges meeting regulatory requirements related to the disposal of fish waste. Michigan Sea Grant specialists worked with producers and processors to develop a new protocol for handling and selling unused fish parts, and a business relationship with a large seafood processing company outside of Michigan.

In 2010, Michigan whitefish producers began selling fish frames, pin bone meat, and small fish for use in kosher products, as well as fish heads for lobster bait. The large seafood processing company covers transportation costs and pays $12,000 per truckload. This new revenue has allowed Michigan fishers to make a profit from waste they had previously been paying to store and send to the landfill.

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A  former golf course may be returned to nature in Saginaw County.

flower prairie restoration shiawassee

Another prairie/meadow restoration site on the refuge. The new tract will look similar after restoration. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to accept 135 acres that were formerly managed as the Germania Golf Course.  The land would be a donation from the Nature Conservancy and would be managed as part of the Service’s Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Public-use activities that would occur on this land include fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation.

According to Refuge Manager Steve Kahl, the tract includes more than 4 miles of paved cart paths that would offer access to handicapped people and others for wildlife oriented outdoor recreation.

The land also is adjacent to a residential area, and the refuge’s Green Point Environmental Learning Center.

And, the Germania project (pdf) would keep fertilizers and herbicides out of the Tittabawassee River, with fairways and greens restored to native grasses and wildflowers, refuge officials say.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is accepting public comment on the proposal until Feb. 22.



Saginaw Bay Forum, Low Ice Cover, and More Toxics in the Great Lakes

great lakes saginaw bay ice cover 2013 google earth

NOAA Coastwatch ice cover map via Google Earth.

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, on Delta Q-90.1 FM, Michigan:

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A community forum on the Saginaw Bay environment is planned for Feb. 22 in Bay City.

The forum is sponsored by the nonprofit Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network and the state-created Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative.

The meeting is from 1-4 p.m. at the Delta College Planetarium in downtown Bay City.

A preliminary agenda includes a talk on “Michigan’s Vision for the Great Lakes and Saginaw Bay” from Jon Allan, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes; and a status report on Beneficial Use Impairments in the federally designated Area of Concern for the Saginaw River and Bay.

The Friday meeting is part of a series of ongoing meetings that will be held to discuss issues related to Saginaw Bay and its tributary system.

The meeting is an opportunity for groups working on various projects to provide updates on their work, and hear from others.

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Ice cover on the Great Lakes is at near-historic lows.

A composite map of satellite data from earlier this week shows thin ice on most of Saginaw Bay. The map is from CoastWatch, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A CoastWatch manager tells Great Lakes Echo that conditions this year on the Great Lakes could break a record for low ice cover set in 2002.

Earlier this month, average water temperatures on each of the Great Lakes were running 2 to 3 degrees above normal.

A lack of ice cover means increased evaporation, which is bad news for water levels, which are already low in the Great Lakes.

More: Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis


Toxic pollution to the Great Lakes increased in 2011.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a report out this week, says toxic releases into surface waters in the Great Lakes Basin increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.

That’s in contrast to a 3 percent decrease in discharges nationwide during the same period.

The numbers come from EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory report.

An EPA official calls the 12 percent increase in the Great Lakes Basin “signifiicant,” and notes that the Great Lakes region is lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to improving water quality.

Most toxic surface water discharges to the Great Lakes Basin come from nitrates and pesticides from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agriculture, according to EPA.

Nitrates also are discharged by primary metals facilities, such as iron and steel mills and smelters, and food and beverage manufacturers.

The EPA says information from the latest report will be used to work with municipalities, agricultural producers and manufacturers to improve water quality in the basin.


Saginaw Bay Could Benefit from Sustain Our Great Lakes: See the GLEAM Map

Mr. Great Lakes. As heard on Fridays on Q-90.1 FM, 9 a.m. Eastern. The Jan. 11, 2013, broadcast is below … (starts at 6:37)

great lakes gleam map saginaw bay

Saginaw Bay, on the GLEAM map.

1 — The Saginaw Bay area could see an influx of funding for habitat restoration and other environmental improvements.

The Sustain Our Great Lakes program, a public-private partnership, is accepting applications for funding through its 2013 grant cycle.

The submission deadline is Feb. 14.

This year, grant funding will be awarded in three categories:

  • Habitat restoration
  • Private landowner technical assistance, and
  • Delisting of habitat-related Beneficial Use Impairments.

Beneficial Use Impairments refer to Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes, which include the Saginaw River and Bay.

To apply for funding, projects must occur within the Great Lakes basin. Eligible applicants include nonprofits, educational institutions, and local governments.

Up to $9 million is expected to be available for Sustain Our Great Lakes awards, with individual awards ranging from $25,000 to $1.5 million.

Request for proposals (pdf).

2 — Saginaw Bay is red on a new map of environmental stressors in the Great Lakes.

The map comes from the GLEAM project, which stands for Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping.

The map, three years in the making, identifies environmental stressors from Minnesota to Ontario, according to University of Michigan researchers.

The project’s lead researcher says the condition of the Great Lakes continues to be degraded by stressors including coastal development, pollutants transported by rivers from agricultural and urban land, fishing pressure, climate change, invasive species, and toxic chemicals.

“Large sub-regions of moderate to high cumulative stress were found in lakes Erie and Ontario as well as in Saginaw and Green bays, and along Lake Michigan’s shorelines.

In contrast, extensive offshore areas of lakes Superior and Huron, where the coasts are less populated and developed, experience relatively low stress,” researchers say.

The map is designed to be used by federal and regional officials to sustainably manage the Great Lakes.


Solar Shingles Expand Home Market, BaySail Nears Milestone, and New Life for Coastal Wetland

Mr. Great Lakes. As heard Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM Friday Edition, at 9 a.m. Eastern …

Photo by Eric Dobis

Photo by Eric Dobis

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Dow Solar has announced a major expansion in the availability of its Powerhouse Solar Shingles.

Homeowners can now purchase the shingles through Kearns Bros., based in Dearborn, and Cobblestone Homes, based in Linwood, according to the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.

Powerhouse shingles protect like a standard shingle, but also have embedded solar cells to help power a home. They are made in Midland by Dow Solar, a business unit of the Dow Chemical Co.

Cobblestone is featuring the shingles on new model homes in the mid-Michigan region.

According to Dow, Kearns Bros. in Dearborn will service the re-roof market.

Homeowners who need a new roof can upgrade to a Powerhouse roof. The system costs more than a standard asphalt roof, but pays for itself over time through energy savings, and adds to the value of a home.


BaySail in Bay City is nearing a milestone.

The nonprofit, which offers sailing and environmental education aboard to two Appledore schooners, has hosted nearly 40,000 students in 15 years of operation.

BaySail launched its Science Under Sail program in 1998, and since then has educated 37,969 students, according to leaders.

That amounts to 1,186 classes from elementary through high school that have come aboard two tall ships operated by program staff and volunteers.

The ships are docked on the Saginaw River and journey to Saginaw Bay and other parts of the Great Lakes.

A goal of BaySail is to activate the passion of the next generation by helping young people make direct connections to the natural world.

Students who come aboard the ships for science-based programs are often experiencing the Great Lakes for the first time.

BaySail also offers a regular schedule of public sails.

You can find out more at

3 .

A new pump is giving new life to a large coastal wetland in Pinconning.

The pump replaces a failed pump structure at the Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area in northern Bay County.

The new equipment can be used to manipulate water levels in a 298-acre marsh at the site.

Nayanquing Point consists of about 1,400 acres of coastal marsh and associated upland habitats along Saginaw Bay.

It provides habitat for thousands of migratory birds in the spring and fall. The 298-acre marsh area is managed to provide waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Ducks Unlimited received a nearly $200,000 federal grant for the project from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


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