Aquatic Invasive Recommendations, Natural Sinkholes, and Residential Energy Use

The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart. As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College. The report for Aug. 30, 2013:

1 –

A state Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council has made several recommendations to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The governor and Michigan Legislature created the Council in 2011, to study and provide recommendations to combat aquatic invasive species in Michigan waters.

The recommendations include:

pure michigan logo phragmites plant

Collage of the logo and plant/CC.

  • Greater use of education programs for buyers and sellers, focusing on pet and aquarium stores and other outlets, according to Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
  • The Council also recommends a partnership between prevention programs and the Pure Michigan campaign.
  • Under management of phragmites, an invasive reed that clogs the Saginaw Bay shoreline, the Council recommends support and investment in biological controls for the plant. The Council believes bio-control agents, like bugs that feed on phragmites, will be available for commercial and agency use in about 5 years.

Representatives on the Council included Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

The MUCC says the conclusions of the Council are worthwhile, and the group hopes the governor acts on the recommendations.

Michigan AIS Program Overview – Summer 2013

2 –

Not all sinkholes are bad sinkholes.

Natural sinkholes in Northeast Michigan offer a unique opportunity, say representatives from Huron Pines, a conservation organization in Gaylord.

Natural sinkholes are rare, bowl-shaped geologic formations that fill with groundwater to form spring-fed sinkhole lakes. There are seven sinkhole lakes in the Pigeon River Country State Forest, and they have recently been opened for public fishing.

But continued use and visits by anglers has contributed to bank erosion, negatively impacting each lake.

So Huron Pines, the state Department of Natural Resources and Trout Unlimited are working to protect the lakes from erosion with straw bales, brush piling, and by planting native vegetation.

Projects have recently been completed at three of the lakes, according to Huron Pines. Two more lakes are to be addressed this year and next year.

3 –

If you suffered a power outage this summer, you know just how much your home relies on electricity.

The federal Energy Information Administration has gathered information on residential energy consumption through a nationwide survey of homes and energy suppliers.

The results show that Michigan households use 38 percent more energy than the U.S. average. We also spent 6 percent more for energy, on average, than other states.

You may be surprised to learn that air conditioning only accounts for only 1 percent of energy use in Michigan homes, since the weather here is cooler than in other areas of the U.S.

Heating makes up an above-average portion of our home energy use, due to those cooler temperatures.



Great Lakes Climate Change, Biting Mosquitoes, and Frog-Bit

As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). The report for Aug. 16, 1977 2013.

1 – How will the impacts of climate change be felt in Michigan and other states in the Great Lakes region?

For Bay County, the economy is moderately dependent on climate-vulnerable sectors, including farming, timber and especially tourism.

The information comes from a new interactive map launched by the University of Michigan and the Headwaters Economics research group.

The map includes social, economic and demographic statistics on counties in the Great Lakes region. That information is overlaid with data on municipal spending, land-use change and climate-change characteristics.

The map is meant to provide easy access to data, and help decision-makers plan for, and adapt to, regional impacts of climate change.

In Bay County, the average summer temperature has fallen by 0.2 degrees, according to the data.

Winter temps have increased by 2 degrees, and spring precipitation has increased by 10.6 percent.

This is when comparing 30-year averages from 1951-1980 and 1981-2010.

The online map and more information is available from U of M’s Graham Sustainability Institute.

2 – Before you swat a mosquito, protect yourself.

The Bay County Mosquito Control department says West Nile virus has been detected in the county and surrounding areas.

The department offers several tips to protect yourself against the virus:

  • Apply insect repellents

  • Empty standing water from containers or plastic wading pools

  • Mosquito-proof your home by installing screens

  • Keep ditches, drains, and culverts clear of weeds and trash for proper drainage

  • Change bird bath water weekly

  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed

  • Use fine mesh screen on the top of rain barrels. The mesh will prevent female adult mosquitoes from reaching the water surface to lay eggs.

The West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes who bite infected birds, and can cause sickness in humans, and in rare cases, death.

So far this year, there has been just one reported human case of West Nile in Michigan, in St. Joseph County along the Indiana border, according to U.S. Geological Survey.

3 – Here’s a new invasive species to add to the list: European frog-bit.

It’s been observed just north of Bay City and in Alpena, according to a group that tracks invasives in the Midwest.

The Midwest Invasive Species Network describes European frog-bit as a perennial, free-floating aquatic herb that forms large colonies, creating dense mats with tangled roots.

The plant resembles a tiny water lily, and occurs in shallow, slow-moving water on the edge of lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, marshes and ditches, according to the network.

The species is new enough that no control measures have been reported. But monitoring is occurring.

European frog-bit is native to Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. It crowds out native plants and prevents sunlight from reaching submerged plants. When a large colony dies, decomposition and removal of oxygen from the water can harm fish.


Sustaining the Au Sable River, and Info on Michigan Water Trails

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

1 – A major effort to restore and enhance the Au Sable River Watershed just received a big boost.

The effort has received a national grant to address problems like erosion, invasive species and habitat loss across the entire watershed.

Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, will manage the program.

au sable river canoe water trails michigan

Photo by Christopher Woo

The funding comes from a public-private partnership called Sustain Our Great Lakes, coordinated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Sustain Our Great Lakes has contributed about half of the money to the $1.2 million effort.

The funds will be used in 2014 and 2015 to:

  • reconnect at least 35 miles of stream for fish passage

  • replace at least 12 road-stream crossings

  • and install practices to reduce erosion and improve fish passage, according to Huron Pines.

The work also will control 150 acres of invasive species and restore native habitat, control erosion at nine streambank sites, and enhance instream habitat at priority locations.

Huron Pines is working with additional partners and the public to raise the last half of the $1.2 million.

Sustain Our Great Lakes awarded a total of $8.4 million in grants to projects in Michigan, other states, and Ontario. Other funded Michigan projects include $150,000 to Lake Superior State University for measures to improve reproductive success and nesting habitat for the endangered Great Lakes piping plover.

. . .

2 – Michigan water trails are highlighted on a new website. Just don’t get your computer wet.

The Michigan Great Lakes Water Trails site is a clearinghouse of information on where you can paddle a kayak or canoe, including put-in and take-out spots.

Previously, paddlers had to search multiple websites to gather this type of information.

The one-stop-shop at allows user to click on a region of the state – like the Thumb or Northeast Michigan –  and find information on local water trails and associated amenities, according to a news release.

The water trails information is being updated by community organizations and other users.


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