Dark Sky Week, and Another Dam Removal

1This week was International Dark Sky Week.

Credit: Timothy Boocock

Credit: Timothy Boocock

It’s about preserving the wonders of the night sky, and reducing light pollution.

The glow of uncontrolled outdoor lighting can hide the stars from view, and change the nighttime environment.

International Dark Sky Week aims to draw attention to the problems associated with light pollution, and promote solutions to diminish it.

For instance, you can shield outdoor lighting so it doesn’t spread beyond your property, and angle the lighting downward.

There’s also a program called GLOBE at Night, which allows people to document light pollution in their neighborhood and contribute to a global database of measurements.

Light pollution and exposure to artificial light can harm humans and animals, and waste energy.

Research also has found that increased outdoor lighting doesn’t necessarily reduce crime.

The International Dark-Sky Association has designated 16 Dark Sky Parks around the world.

One of them, called The Headlands, is located in Emmet County west of Mackinaw City.

2A dam blamed for a fish kill will be removed with help from a state grant.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced $1 million in grants under a new Aquatic Habitat Grant Program.

The eight projects approved include $272,500 for a Golden Lotus Dam Removal project on the Pigeon River in Otsego County. The work will be managed by Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord.

According to Huron Pines, the money will go to remove the Song of the Morning dam on the Pigeon River. Dewatering of the impoundment will begin this summer, followed by removal of the structure.

Golden Lotus, the property owner, will contribute  $100,000 as well as in-kind services. A new bridge will be constructed and the river area will be restored.

Currently, the dam impedes fish passage. The dam released sediment into the river in 2008, killing thousands of fish. State agencies reached a settlement earlier this month with Golden Lotus.

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



White-Nose Syndrome in Michigan, Birds in Tawas, and Earth Day in Bay City

1 – White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in Michigan bats. 

Credit: USFWS.

Little brown bat; close-up of nose with fungus, New York, October 2008. Credit: USFWS.

The Department of Natural Resources says the serious disease has been detected for the first time within state borders.

White-nose syndrome has been found in three Michigan counties: Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac. The fungus is known to cause significant rates of illness and death in North American bats.

The DNR and partner organizations are now shifting gears from surveillance to working to stop the spread.

Five little brown bats showing disease characteristics were collected in February and March by researchers from Eastern Michigan University.

The disease was first documented in 2006 in a cave in upstate New York. Eleven species of bats have been infected and more than 6 million have died.

There are no known harmful effects to humans from White-nose syndrome.

But the DNR says the loss of bats due to the disease could be economically significant for agriculture and commercial forestry, leading to an increase in pests that are harmful to crops and trees.

Bat die-offs can be reported through an observation report on the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/wildlife or by calling the DNR at 517-336-5030.

2 – The Tawas Point Birding Festival is May 15-18 in Iosco County.

The ninth annual festival will be based at the Tawas Bay Beach Resort in East Tawas. The Michigan Audubon Annual Conference will be held at the same time.

The Tawas Point festival will feature guided birding walks at area hotspots, along with programs and talks by some of Michigan’s leading wildlife experts. Some events are already sold out.

Tawas Point is a spring destination for birders from around the country and the world.

The “Point” is well known for high concentrations of migrating warblers during the month of May. More than 200 species of birds were recorded during the festival weekend in 2013.


3 – The city of Bay City has plans for Earth Day.

The 20th annual Ed Golson compost event is Saturday, April 26, at Veterans Memorial Park. It starts at 8 a.m., and ends when the compost is gone.

Little League teams will be collecting donations to offset their utility expenses. The compost can be shoveled, and it’s known as “black gold” for the benefits it brings to gardens.

There’s also a “Clean Up Bay City” event on April 26, sponsored by the mayor and city neighborhood groups. That’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with opportunities for residents to recycle and reduce their excess bulk trash.

ReLeaf Michigan also will have a pick-up location at Bay City Electric Light & Power for people who that have purchased trees for planting.

More information is available on the city’s website, at baycitymi.org.

Manure Runoff, Lake Huron Summit, and Solar Panel Glare

1A broad coalition is calling for an end to the use of manure as fertilizer in the winter.

A furry moth eye. Credit: Andrew Magill.

A furry moth eye. Credit: Andrew Magill.

The groups have called on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to end the application of manure on frozen ground, or ground covered by snow.

A general permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, is currently being revised by the DEQ.

The coalition includes the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Michigan Clean Water Action, Michigan Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

The groups say the problem is runoff from snowmelt and thaw that pollutes lakes and streams. That runoff contains phosphorus, which feeds harmful algal blooms in waters like Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

The groups say the practice of applying manure in the winter has damaged beaches, fisheries and drinking-water supplies. They say intakes in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron also are at risk.

2Success stories from citizens will be featured at a Lake Huron Watershed Summit.

The event is on Friday, April 25, at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena. It’s being put on by Huron Pines and the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG).

The Summit will feature a series of citizen presenters, breakout sessions to share lessons learned, and a State of the Lake panel of natural resource experts.

Topics covered throughout the day will include waterfront practices, local planning, habitat projects, and invasive species removal

For more information, visit VolunteerNorthernMichigan.org.

3Glare from solar panels has been an issue in places like Midland County’s Homer Township, where residents have complained about solar fields next to the Rose Glen subdivision.

It’s also come up in places like California, which has a lot more solar panels than Michigan.

Now, researchers at the University of California in Irvine have developed a gold coating that they say dims the glare from solar panels.

They say the light-absorbing, water-repellant material was inspired by the eyeballs of moths.

Scientists found that a simple process and a tiny bit of gold can turn a transparent film black.

The new coating also could allow people to read cellphone displays in bright light.

The university has patented the work and is exploring ways to bring the product to market.

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

Bay City-Midland Earth Day Events, and More Solar for Michigan

1 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is hosting an Arbor Day party.

winterberries flickr

Via Flickr


The event is at Discovery Preserve, across from Monitor Lanes in Bay City.

They’re calling it the Arbor Day Winterberry Blitz.

The conservancy will be planting 50-75 American Winterberries for Arbor Day, on Friday, April 25, from 3-6 p.m.

The shrubs are great for bird and other wildlife because they provide shelter and a food source during the winter months.

People of all ages are welcome to come out and help.

The Blitz is sponsored by ITC Holdings. There will be snacks, refreshments and work gear available.

Discovery Preserve was formerly known as Euclid Linear Park.

The Conservancy took votes from the public earlier this year to decide on a new nickname.

2 – Earth Day is April 22, and Chippewa Nature Center in Midland is hosting a bunch of activities to celebrate.

The Experience Earth Day event is from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 26.

Children and adults will be able to plant a young tree or bush to help enrich the biodiversity at the center, as well as learn about invasive exotic plants, and help pull invasive garlic mustard.

There also will be tours of the center’s LEED-certified Nature Preschool Building.

You can take home native wildflower seeds and also learn about native Michigan plants, recycling programs, and ways your family can live a “green” lifestyle.

Chippewa Nature Center is on Badour Road in Midland.

3 – DTE Energy has expanded its SolarCurrents program for the third time.

The pilot program allows DTE Energy electric customers to purchase and install solar photovoltaic systems at their home or business by offering financial incentives to help offset out-of-pocket costs. In return, DTE Energy receives renewable energy credits to help it meet the state’s renewable energy standard.

The utility recently selected a third round of projects for SolarCurrents.

The expansion will add 2 megawatts by the end of 2015. DTE had to hold a random drawing for the program because customers submitted 219 applications.

A total of 122 projects were chosen. There were 103 residential awards and 19 small business projects.

A fourth offering is planned for later this year. The deadline is July 23.

You can find out more at DTEEnergy.com/solar.



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