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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