Taking Out Weeds, Taking Back the Tap, and Taking Care of Northern Michigan

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). The Environment Report. As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays (Eastern) on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College.

1 – Invasive species are under attack in the Saginaw Bay watershed. 

The first Cooperative Weed Management Area meeting for the watershed was held recently by the Saginaw Conservation District and the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

The Saginaw Bay watershed is the largest in Michigan, and one of the largest freshwater watersheds in the nation. Several Weed Management Areas have been established in the state and across the United States in recent years.

The Saginaw Bay watershed drains about 15 percent of Michigan, and includes about 8,700 square-miles, more than 175 inland lakes, 7,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 15,000 acres of coastal wetlands.

The objective of the Weed Management Area is to organize treatment of invasive species in the watershed, which includes all or part of 22 counties.

Invasive species that are a problem here include phragmites, an invasive reed that can grow to more than 10 feet tall and choke out native plants.

The first Weed Management Area meeting for the watershed discussed the development of a plan, goals and objectives. Some of the group’s priorities include early detection, rapid response, education and outreach.

The organizers are working with the Michigan Invasive Species Coalition and Midwest Invasive Species Information Network on the weed management efforts.

Funding for the project comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Plans include inventory and treatment work, beginning this summer.

2 – Another group at Central Michigan University is working to gradually phase out the sale of water bottles on the campus in Mount Pleasant. 

fiji over lake michigan anderson

Fiji over Lake Michigan, by Seth Anderson

It’s a group of CMU students, and the initiative is called Take Back the Tap.

According to a news release, CMU has responded to the initiative by purchasing about 15,000 fewer units of bottled water for resale between 2011 and 2012.

Last year, CMU installed retrofit kits at more than 40 drinking fountains across campus. The kits make it easier to fill reusable water bottles, and also record the number of water bottles filled over time.

As of February, the kits have helped eliminate the use of more than 400,000 plastic water bottles.

The student group is working to rally the support of other student, faculty and staff organizations on campus.

The hope is that the university will end the sale of bottled water at CMU by 2015.

3 – What’s on the Mega List?

Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Grayling, has a master database of conversation priorities for Northeast MIchigan.

The list is used to rank proposed projects according to their impact across watersheds, and apply for grant funding.

It’s also used to track the progress of fixing problems, and sites are crossed off when they’ve been restored.

The nonprofit is in the midst of a spring cleaning to update its Mega List, and is looking for projects that should be on the radar for the future.

In particular, Huron Pines is updating information on the Au Sable River Watershed, which has new inventory data for road and stream crossings, erosion sites, invasive species locations and small dams.

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Why is there Spring Snow in the Great Lakes?

The Environment Report, from Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart), for March 22, 2013.

Heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College.

1 – Is climate change leading to more snow in the Great Lakes region? 

photo figure great lakes lake effect snow climate change paper

A figure from the paper, “Sensitivity of Lake-Effect Snowfall to Lake Ice Cover and Temperature in the Great Lakes Region.”

A new paper from University of Michigan researchers examines the question.

One part of the answer may be lake-effect snow, according to U of M researchers.

They examined the impact of ice cover and water temperatures on lake-effect snow.

They used a high-resolution weather forecast model to see how lake-affect snow would be impacted by: complete ice cover on the Great Lakes, no ice cover, or warmer surface water temperatures.

The results? If there’s a reduction in lake ice, or lake ice starts forming later in the winter season, that can help to increase the area along the lakeshore that experiences snow in a lake-effect snow event.

And, if the lake surface temperature begins to significantly increase above normal values during the winter season, the overall amount of snowfall increases, along with how far inland the snowfall is seen.

And so, areas that normally do not experience lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes could begin to experience more snowfall in the future, the study says.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

2 – The status of the Lake Huron fishery is the topic of three upcoming regional workshops to be held along the Saginaw Bay coastline.

The educational workshops will offer current research and information for anglers, charter captains, resource professionals, and interested members of the public.

The events are being put on by the Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division and other organizations.

The workshops will include information and status updates on: Low water levels, fish population and angler catch data, the resurgence of native species such as walleye, forage fish surveys, results from the Lake Huron predator diet study, and other topics.

Pre-registration is requested.  Evening fishery workshops are planned for April 18 in Ubly, April 24 in Oscoda, and April 25 in Cedarville.

 (To register, contact Val Golding, Michigan Sea Grant/MSU Extension Alpena County Office by email at goldingv@alpenacounty.org or by phone at (989) 354-9870.)

3 – It’s spring, and Earth Day is just around the corner.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, also known as Saginaw Bay WIN, is holding another Earth Day Grant Contest this year.

Saginaw Bay WIN, headquartered in downtown Bay City, is looking for nonprofit organizations that have ideas to support:

  • Conservation

  • Public Access to Natural Resources

  • Natural Resource-based Recreation or Education, or

  • Energy Efficiency.

To enter the contest, the organization must describe their project in 50 words or less and send it to Saginaw Bay WIN.

Entries will be posted to Saginaw Bay WIN’s website and Facebook page.

The project that receives the most votes online will take home a $1,000 grant to implement their idea.

The deadline for entries is April 5, and voting begins April 10.

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22.

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Funding Great Lakes Restoration, Adding Up Wind, and Embracing Our Earth

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart), as heard 9 a.m. Eastern on Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

The Environment Report for March 8, 2013:

1 – Great Lakes restoration was the theme of two days of lobbying this week in Washington, D.C. 

us capitol building turned blue for great lakes days

Credit: Ron Cogswell

More than 125 Great Lakes advocates were in D.C. to urge public officials to maintain Great Lakes restoration and protection as a national priority.

The Obama administration and Congress are working to negotiate a federal budget. The administration and lawmakers are being urged to maintain funding at $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal program that has funded work on environmental hot spots in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

Advocates warn that automatic spending cuts are set to take effect unless a budget agreement is reached.

The sequestration, as it’s called, would reduce investments in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by about $25 million.

The annual Washington, D.C.. gathering is known as Great Lakes Days.

2 – The U.S. wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, the record installations amounted to 13,124 megawatts of electric generating capacity. Those installations leveraged $25 billion in private investment, and achieved more than 60,000 megawatts of cumulative wind capacity in the U.S.

The top state for new capacity last year was Texas, at 1,826 megawatts. Michigan came in eighth, at 611 megawatts of new capacity.

The 60,000 megawatts of capacity now in the U.S. is enough to power about 15 million homes, or the combined number of homes in Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, and Ohio.

The record installations of wind in 2012 surpassed a previous record in 2010 by about 3,000 megawatts.

Currently installed wind power in the U.S. will avoid almost 96 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions, according to AWEA. Still, that’s less than 2 percent of U.S. emissions of carbon, which come from sources including coal-fired power plants.

– via Great Lakes Energy News/GLREA

3- The Huron Intermediate School District, in Michigan’s Thumb, is planning for a ninth annual Embracing Our Earth event.

The event, one of the largest Earth Day festivals in Michigan, is to be held Saturday, April 13.

The festival will take place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Laker High School, in Pigeon.

Embracing our Earth is family-friendly, and will feature a wide variety of vendors, informational booths and displays, interactive games, a children’s energy fair, live animal shows, bands, and entertainment.

Local schools also will be involved, with various student competitions and presentations.

The event usually draws about 3,000 or more people to Pigeon, with has a population of about 1,200. Huron County was the site of Michigan’s first commercial wind farm, and now hosts dozens of commercial turbines.


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