How the Clean Water Rule Affects Michigan, and Kirtland’s Warbler Fest

For Friday, May 29, 2015

1 – A new Clean Water Rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will protect streams in Michigan.

According to the EPA, the rule will benefit people who get their drinking water from seasonal, rain-dependent or headwater streams. More than half of the population in Bay and Arenac counties fits into that category.

epa esri map drinking water michigan clean water rule


The EPA says protection of about 60 percent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands has been confusing and complex as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.

The rule protects streams and wetlands that are scientifically shown to have the greatest impact on downstream water quality.

Clean Water Action, a Michigan environmental group, says the rule closes loopholes that have left drinking water sources for one in seven in Michigan residents at risk of pollution.

Michigan environmental groups and others have spent about a dozen years asking for clarity on protections under the Clean Water Act.

2 – The Kirtland’s Warbler Festival returns next week.

The festival is Saturday, June 6,  in downtown Roscommon.

kirtlands warbler michigan usfws


The event will include Kirtland’s warbler tours, a kids activity tent, educational speakers, kayak tours, timber equipment demonstrations, and local food.

A Home Opener on Friday night will features a talk by an expert from The Nature Conservancy.

The Kirtland’s warbler is an endangered songbird that nests in young jack pine stands in places that include northeast Michigan.

Habitat management and other programs have brought the species from a low of 167 singing males in 1987 to more than 2,000, according to federal data.

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

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New Markets for Old Tires, and Completion of the Thumb Loop

For Friday, May 22, 2015

. . .

1 – Scrap tires are good for more than breeding mosquitoes.

scrap tires

Credit: Scott.Symonds

The state Department of Environmental Quality has awarded $2.8 million in grants to help develop new markets for old tires.

The grants cover three types of projects.

The first type involves using rubber-modified asphalt in construction and repairs to improve existing Michigan roadways.

The second involves research to find new and better ways to incorporate scrap tire rubber into asphalt and concrete to improve the material’s performance.

The third involves equipment to create commodities from scrap tires and increase existing product generation. Examples of existing products include floor tiles and footwear.

Grants to local governments included $150,000 for roads in Bay County, and $85,000 in roads for the city of Saginaw.


2 – The Thumb Loop is done.

thumb loop michigan complete itc

The Thumb Loop transmission project consists of 789 steel monopoles and 32 steel lattice towers and 1,680 miles of wires. Credit: ITC

ITCTransmission of Novi says the third and final phase of its Thumb Loop high-voltage transmission project is complete.

ITC invested more than $500 million to build the 345,000-volt line, which serves as the backbone of a system designed to meet the identified maximum wind energy potential of Michigan’s Thumb region.

The company say the improvements allow for an increase in transmission system capacity and reliability, and the more efficient transmission of renewable energy.

The project was completed early, and had been slated to be finished by the end of the year.

During the construction phase of the Thumb Loop, ITC estimates the project had a direct impact of $366 million to the Michigan economy, including employment of local contractors, vendors and suppliers.

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

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Kicking off the Tawas Point Birding Festival and a Saginaw Bay Water Quality Initiative

For Friday, May 8, 2015


. . .

1 – The biggest birding festival in the Midwest starts next week in Iosco County.

eastern bluebird michigan birding

Eastern bluebird. Credit: Rodney Campbell

The 2015 Tawas Point Birding Festival runs from Thursday, May 14, to Sunday, May 17. It’s headquartered at the Tawas Bay Beach Resort in East Tawas.

Organizers say the festival offers some of the best birding in the Great Lakes region, and includes tours, workshops and evening events.

Tawas Point is well-known for high concentrations of migrating warblers during the month of May. Almost 200 species were recorded during last year’s festival.

Earlier this month, a Sunrise Coast Birding Trail was dedicated at three points — in Oscoda, Alpena and Mackinaw City. The new trail is about 150 miles long, beginning at the AuSable River mouth in Oscoda and travelling north to the Mackinac Bridge.

The Sunrise Coast Birding Trail connects with the existing Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, which runs 142 miles from Port Austin in the Thumb to East Tawas.

2 – A major water quality initiative kicked off this week in the Saginaw Bay region.

Leaders from The Nature Conservancy and Michigan Agri-Business Association announced the project in Lansing, which they say will help farmers and agribusinesses protect and improve Saginaw Bay water quality.

Under the new program, certified crop advisers will have new tools to assist Saginaw Bay and Thumb area customers in accessing funding for conservation practices on farms.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program aims to enroll more than 25,000 acres in new agricultural land management practices in the next five years. The effort is expected to keep an estimated 2,500 tons of sediment on the land, and more than 17,000 pounds of phosphorus out of the water.

Farmers will be able to sign up this fall. The program is part of a $20 million public and private partnership under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Saginaw Bay Watershed RCPP

Infographic via The Nature Conservancy

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

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

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