Ice Breaking in Saginaw Bay, and Almost 10,000 Geese in the Shiawassee Refuge

1 – A U.S. Coast Guard cutter began icebreaking operations this week on Saginaw Bay.

The cutter Bristol Bay was working in the bay’s shipping channel.

The ice in the Essexville area is unstable and the Coast Guard is advising everyone to stay clear.

us coast guard bristol bay

The cutter Bristol Bay. Credit: USCG.

The cutter Bristol Bay is a 140-foot tug that works in conjunction with a special barge.

The icebreaking work is part of Operation Coal Shovel, which breaks ice in Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario and the southern part of Lake Huron. It also does work in the St. Clair and Detroit river systems.

Another Coast Guard team is breaking ice in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.

– via AP

2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County is posting weekly waterfowl count results on its Facebook page.

Earlier this week, most refuge waters were reported to be frozen, but sections of the river remained open to harboring birds.

Those included almost 10,000 Canada geese, 27 sandhill cranes, and 23 bald eagles.

canada geese on ice

Credit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors.

The refuge contains more than 9,600 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest, and grasslands.

The refuge is designated as a U.S. Important Bird Area for its global significance to migratory waterfowl.

It’s one of a limited number of locations that these geese use to rest and feed while traveling the Mississippi Flyway to and from wintering grounds as far south as Georgia.

Refuge profile on


11 Vibrant Waterfront Communities and 12 Days of a Clean Energy Christmas

… and free camping. See below.

1 – What makes a vibrant waterfront community? 

alpena vibrant waterfront community

Via Michigan Sea Grant. The Alpena Case Study.

Michigan Sea Grant has developed 11 case studies of communities that balance the economy, ecology and aesthetics along their shorelines.

Bay City didn’t make the list. But, up north, Alpena did.

Sea Grant, a joint project of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, says in its study that “coastal communities support water-dependent uses while also providing for a mix of support industries and other uses that benefit from the presence of the waterfront, including public access.”

For Alpena, the reports to the city’s harbor advisory committee, marina department and an ongoing regional ports study. It adds that boating, diving and fishing are popular recreational opportunities. Thunder Bay and surrounding waters near shipping lanes also are home to more than 80 discovered shipwrecks.

Other cities on the list are Charlevoix, Manistee, Manistique, Marquette, Monroe, Muskegon, Ontonagon, Port Huron, Saugatuck and Sault Ste. Marie.

2 – On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … a press conference?

Bumbles Bounce.

Bumbles Bounce.


The Clean Energy Now coalition kicked off Day One of its “12 Days to a Clean Energy Christmas” campaign at media events this week in East Lansing and Monroe.

The campaign will use Facebook, Twitter, advertising and public events to highlight a different issue each day, through Dec. 23. Those include renewable energy, coal ash, and the negative health impacts of fossil fuels.

The old image of Santa putting coal in the stockings of people who’ve been naughty is appropriate in this case.

Organizers say the campaign is meant to educate people about the problems that burning coal to generate electricity has on communities … and to highlight clean energy solutions.

A few of the days’ themes include: Don’t Frack the Halls, The Abominable Coalman, and Energy Efficiency Elves.

3 – If you like to camp — for free — you may be interested in being a state or forest campground host next year.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to serve as hosts at Michigan state parks and state forest campgrounds for the 2014 camping season.

Hosts handle a variety of responsibilities, including directing visitors to their campsites, answering questions about the park or state forest, arranging campground activities and performing light maintenance.

In return for their service, hosts are allowed to camp in the state park or state forest campground at no charge. The commitment is 30 hours a week, for at least four weeks, and individuals, couples and teams can apply.

Host assignments begin in April and continue into October.

Information and applications about the host program are available from the DNR’s website at

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.


Cross Winds in Tuscola, and Hazardous Holiday Garland

1 – Ground has been broken on a new wind energy development project in Tuscola County.

Construction of the Cross Winds Energy Park is expected to create about 150 construction jobs. Initial work will focus on building access drives and turbine foundations, weather permitting. Turbine construction is set to begin in the summer.

The park is to be operational in late 2014, with a capacity of 105 megawatts. Cross Winds will be made up of 62 1.7-megawatt wind turbines, made by General Electric.

The project is being developed by Consumers Energy and lead contractor Barton Malow of Southfield. Consumers officials say more than $100 million of the $255 million park will come from services and goods supplied by Michigan companies.

– Via Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA)

2 – Happy Holidays may bring hazardous chemicals.

gold holiday garland

Pretty … hazardous. Via

A Michigan study has found that holiday and Mardi Gras beads contain thousands of pounds of hazardous chemicals. Those include lead and flame retardants from recycled plastics that are used as fillers.

The research findings come from the nonprofilt Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, as part of a project called

Ecology Center researchers tested a total of 106 beaded products, including 19 beaded holiday garlands from national retailers for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer.

Center researchers say plastic bead products are being used as “a dumping ground for old plastic waste, which is loaded with toxic chemicals.” recommends common sense when handling these Chinese-made products because they may contain hazardous substances. Wash your hands after trimming the tree, and don’t let kids put the items in their mouths.

The Center says lead has been restricted in children’s products, but it’s poorly regulated in other products.

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

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