Lake Huron Fish Research, Beach Cleanups and Phragmites Maps

As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m Eastern,  part of Friday Edition on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart …

1 – State research vessels are back on Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron to study fish populations. 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses four research vessels to conduct annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations.

The vessels went back on the water earlier this month in locations throughout the lakes.

The surveys are designed to estimate relative abundance, biomass, age and growth of fish populations, along with their health, diet, survival rates, natural reproduction and movements.

On Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay, surveys are being conducted from a Research Vessel called the Chinook. The work involves assessments of lake trout, walleye, and broader populations.

The Research Vessel Channel Cat will likely join in for surveys on Saginaw Bay, the DNR says.

The Channel Cat also is used for surveys of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie fish populations, focusing on walleye, yellow perch and lake sturgeon.

2 -Memorial Day signaled the beginning of summer … and the end of the spring kickoff of the Adopt-a-Beach program.

The program, organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, dispatches volunteers to clean beaches throughout Michigan and other states in the region.

Preliminary results from this year’s Adopt-a-Beach kickoff, held April 1 through Memorial Day, show that 68 teams participated in 96 locations on all five of the lakes.

The spring teams amounted to more than 1,800 volunteers who removed and catalogued close to 6,000 pounds of debris. A total of 140 health assessment forms also were completed, to help pinpoint pollution sources, according to the Alliance.

The cleanups this spring included one earlier this month at the public beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area. Data from previous beach cleanups at the state park in Bay County’s Bangor Township show food- and smoking-related items make up almost 70 percent of litter at the beach.

More beach cleanups are planned for the summer.

 3 -Satellite data has been used to map the invasive plant known as phragmites. 

phragmites map great lakes red

From the Study.

The reeds, which already ring parts of Saginaw Bay and can grow to more than 10 feet tall, pose a threat to native coastal wetlands.

Since early treatment is a key to controlling the spread of phragmites, scientists from Michigan Technological University and other partners spent three years mapping the U.S. coastline of all five Great Lakes, using satellite data and field studies.

The map shows the locations of large stands of phragmites located within six miles of the water’s edge.

The greatest amount of phragmites were found in Lakes Huron and Erie.

The study results were published in a special issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Read the study: “Mapping invasive Phragmites Australis in the coastal Great Lakes with ALOS PALSAR satellite imagery for decision support.”

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A Larger Shiawassee Refuge and new Great Lakes Boating Forecasts

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta Q-90.1 FM.

1 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge just grew in size.

shiawassee refuge 180 acres

Wetlands and grasslands at the refuge’s 180-acre addition. Credit: Steven F. Kahl/USFWS.

The refuge, located in Saginaw County, is now 180 acres larger, due to funding from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The new tract is located on the east side of Miller Road, from Hart Road to Swan Creek.

The area is made up of large, open grassland mixed with small wetlands and river-edge marsh.

Refuge managers will work to restore the habitat to a historic mix of emergent marsh and wet prairie.

The new land makes for a good location for observing wildlife, including grasshopper sparrows, short-eared owls, rough-legged hawks, sandhill cranes and white-tailed deer.

A parking lot is located at the south end of Miller Road on the Shiawassee River State Game Area.

See also: Dragons in Saginaw

2 -Boaters looking for lake-specific forecasts are in luck. 

The Great Lakes Observing System has launched an expanded, online Boaters’ Forecast Tool that covers the entire Great Lakes.

The tool provides information on water currents and depth, along with marina and boat launch locations.

The tool was developed by partners including the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab and Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystem Research, both located in Ann Arbor.

lake huron boating glosFor Lake Huron, the forecast also show data on waves, surface temperature and winds.

The Great Lakes Observing System, also known as GLOS, is one of 11 regional associations of the Integrated Ocean Observing System.

See also: Saginaw Bay Walleye Migrating Further, Earlier, & a Great Lakes Beach App

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Midland man to document Greenland warming, updates on energy forums and Bay City transport projects

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, on Friday Edition – 9 a.m., May 17, 2013, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM

1 – Midland resident Peter Sinclair will join a scientific team on the Greenland ice sheet this summer.

greenland frozen meltpond

Via NASA

Along for the ride will be well-known climate activist and writer Bill McKibben, who will cover the journey for Rolling Stone magazine.

The effort is called the DarkSnowProject, and it’s being led by Jason Box, formerly of the Byrd Polar Center at Ohio State, now with the Denmark Geological Survey.

Box and the team will be sampling snow at key points on the ice sheet, to determine the causes of a decreased whiteness that has been observed in the past decade. A darkening of the ice causes more solar energy to be absorbed, and more melting.

Box recruited Sinclair to document the expedition in video and photos.

Sinclair produces a popular YouTube series called “Climate Denial Crock of the Week,” which pokes fun at those who doubt the science of global warming and climate change.

The expedition has been funded through private donations and via an Internet campaign.

The researchers will be on the Greenland ice during late June and early July.

2 – Earlier this year, state-sponsored forums on Michigan’s energy future were held throughout the state, including on March 4 at Delta College.

A recent analysis by the Michigan Land Use Institute says the seven forums drew big crowds and strong support for clean energy development.

All but two of the forums attracted full houses, and a total of almost 250 people spoke during the sessions.

A coalition that’s pushing for higher renewable and energy efficiency requirements in the state said a majority of commenters at each forum endorsed one or both of the goals.

State officials are now mulling more than 1,000 comments submitted as part of the sessions. They are to be presented to Gov. Rick Snyder this fall, and he plans to offer recommendations in December.

Michigan’s current standard requires utilities to generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2015.

3 – The Bay City Area Transportation Study is hosting an open house on May 30 in Bay City.

The Study helps channel federal money to road and transportation projects in the area. Bay County planners are seeking public comment on a proposed Transportation Improvement Program for 2014 through 2017.

The public open house will be held on Thursday, May 30, from 4-7 p.m. at the Wirt Library in Bay City.

All users of the transportation system in the Bay City Area, from pedestrians and bicyclists to bus riders, commuters, truckers and shippers are invited to attend.

There also are opportunities to review the plan and comment by phone, fax, mail and email until June 4.

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Low-Energy Loons, State Forest Plans, and Woody Debris

Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart. As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

1 – The Great Lakes Loons are using less energy.

robot bird loons baseball time

Credit: Steve Bowbrick

The Minor League Baseball Team has set a goal to reduce total energy use by 50 percent by 2020.

The team, along with Dow Diamond and its corporate partners, Dow Chemical and Dow Corning, also plans to cut water use and waste in half by the year 2020.

The sustainability goals were updated this week in a first-quarter report.

Highlights include a new composting program for food waste at Dow Diamond, and the installation of more efficient LED lighting.

The compost program will use the food waste to fertilize the grounds and flower beds at Dow Diamond.

The LED lighting installed in various areas of Dow Diamond is expected to cut energy by about 15,000 kilowatt hours and carbon dioxide emissions by more than 36,000 pounds.

The Great Lakes Loons are a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2- Public meetings are planned this month on regional state forest plans.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hosting the meetings to discuss feedback from an earlier round of meetings that sought comment on draft versions of the plans.

The topics to be discussed at the May sessions include aspen and timber management; wildlife habitat and recreational trails.

The meetings include one on Wednesday, May 22, in Gaylord.

Following the sessions, the DNR will revise plans for each region, including the Northern Lower Peninsula, in preparation for final review at upcoming Natural Resources Commission meetings and approval by the DNR director. Final approval of the plans is expected in November 2013.

The plans are designed to help the DNR manage 4 million acres of state forest land in Michigan. Once finalized, the plans will guide DNR decisions about timber management and other activities on state forest land for years to come.

3 – Trees are making a splash in the Pigeon River.

The first trees have gone into the river as part of an instream habitat diversity project.

Stretches of the Pigeon and Sturgeon rivers are the focus of work planned for this year by Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord.

Large woody debris – like trees and branches – are placed in the river to improve habitat for fish, protect against streambank erosion, and provide habitat for bugs, turtles, birds and other wildlife.

Sites are selected to provide conservation value without interfering in river navigation.

See also: Flying Trees

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Saginaw Bay Scavenger Hunt, Goodbye Winter, and Lake Huron Fish

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. Part of Friday Edition. 

1 – Calling all photographers. 

Ducks at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Ducks at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is holding a Saginaw Bay Photo Scavenger Hunt at Fish Point State Wildlife Area in Tuscola County, Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area in Bay County, and the Shiawassee River State Game Area in Saginaw County.

Successful hunters in the Wetland Wonders Challenge are eligible for prizes, and there will be nature walks scheduled at each area to help people find items to shoot — with a camera.

To participate, sign up your team online by midnight on Wednesday, May 8.

The hunt list includes 90 items, and you have to find at least 65 to win.

You can find more information at the Facebook page for Michigan Waterfowl Legacy and via the Michigan DNR.

The Waterfowl Legacy program is sponsored in part by the Bay City-based Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

– Wetland Wonders Challenge II Saginaw Bay Photo Scavenger Hunt Rules

2 – Goodbye winter.

The U.S. Coast Guard and its Canadian counterpart recently concluded ice-breaking operations on the Great Lakes, including Lake Huron.

The efforts were dubbed as Operation Taconite and Operation Coal Shovel.

Operation Taconite began in December was carried out in Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, and northern Lake Huron.

Operation Coal Shovel began in January was carried out in southern Lake Huron, the Detroit and St. Clair River systems, Lakes Erie and Ontario, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

A group of cutters spent more than 3,000 hours breaking ice, assisting with hundreds of vessel transits, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Ice-breaking enables commercial shippers on both sides of U.S.-Canada border to transport an average of $2 billion worth of cargo each winter, including heating fuel and food supplies.

3 – A follow-up on those Lake Huron fishery workshops held last month (April) in Ubly, Oscoda and Cedarville.

According to a summary from Michigan Sea Grant, this year researchers had mostly positive news to share regarding the status and trends of fish populations and fishing on the lake.

The overall message was that Lake Huron is proving to be resilient and still offers a diverse and valuable fishing experience, despite drastic ecosystem changes driven by invasive species.

Fisheries researchers and managers have gained a better understanding of how invasive species have re-designed Lake Huron’s food web, and explored new research and management strategies over the past several years.

Findings presented at the workshops include a healthier population of naturally reproducing Chinook salmon, and an expanding number of native species including lake trout and walleye.

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