Restoring Michigan’s Largest Estuary, Improving Energy Efficiency

For Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 (Fall Pledge Drive)

1 – Part of Michigan’s largest freshwater estuary has been restored.


Credit: Rebecca Kelly/USFWS

This is thanks to federal funding from Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the work of biologists and land managers at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge, in Saginaw County, partnered with Ducks Unlimited to restore a highly-altered agricultural landscape and reconnect rivers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is part of an area known as Shiawassee Flats, historically a 50,000-acre wetland complex. The Flats is one of the most unique wetland complexes in the Great Lakes, because it functions as a freshwater estuary even though it’s 20 miles inland.

The restoration project restored 10 percent of the refuge, or 1,000 acres of its land base, which will benefit fish and wildlife populations.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is designated as an Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy.

A Ducks Unlimited biologist says waterfowl used to skip over the project area during migration. Now, they’ll look down and see a healthy and productive habitat.

2 – Michigan is among three most-improved states for energy efficiency.

The latest annual Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks Michigan, Missouri and Maine rank as the three most-improved states.

California and Massachusetts both won the top spot.

The group says that in the past year, several states have strengthened efficiency policies and programs, which give businesses, governments, and consumers more control over how and when they use energy.

The group says a growing number of states, including Michigan, have taken major steps toward the adoption of Department of Energy-certified codes for new residential and commercial construction.

– 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 #MrGreatLakes


Growing the Saginaw Children’s Zoo and Michigan Solar

For Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 –


1 – The Children’s Zoo in Saginaw owns about 16 acres of vacant land next to its developed zoo site.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is funding a project to turn the land into an outdoor classroom and nature play area.

The play area will include natural features such as boulders, logs, and native plants.

A nature trail will include signs geared toward families and children, to describe natural features on the land.

Invasive species on the property will be removed.

The project is slated for 2017.

2 – The solar industry is growing 10 times faster than the national economy.

That’s due to continuing technology improvements and declining costs, according to the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

A recently released Michigan Public Service Commission report says net metering and solar pilot programs increased by 20 percent in 2015.

That’s on top of 25 percent growth in solar deployment in 2014 and an 18 percent growth in 2013.

The Council says there’s still room for more, since Michigan’s two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE, have more than 80 percent of space left in their net metering programs.

Under Michigan’s net metering program, customers with on-site renewable energy systems like solar panels receive a credit on their bills for excess energy that’s generated and sent to the grid.

– 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 #MrGreatLakes

Share Your Stories at The Great Flood of 1986 Website (Interview)

For Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 –


1 – Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University and the Bay County Historical Society have launched a new website, 30 years later.

The website at was developed as part of a project to collect and preserve stories from Michigan’s Great Flood of 1986.


Residents who lived through the storm can submit stories, memories, and photographs to be featured on the site and entered into the permanent archives at the Historical Museum of Bay County.

The project is hosting events for people to share their memories in person with historians and get their photos scanned for preservation.

The first event was Thursday, Sept. 15, in Bay City.

The second event is Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland.

The 30th anniversary of storm occurred this past weekend. Project organizers say it should remind us of the importance of preparing for extreme storm events at the individual and community level.

Two simple actions you can take to prepare for future floods include having a plan, and building an emergency kit.

You can find more information on preparing for future floods and links to local and national flood preparedness resources at

2 – Remembering the 30th anniversary of the flood of 1986 is part of a larger project for Michigan State University Extension.

Katy Hintzen, with the Bay County Extension office, says an $80,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is being used to improve resilency in the Saginaw Bay watershed.

After 1986 Storm, Green Infrastructure Grew (Photos, Public Event)

For Sept. 9, 2016


1 – This month marks the 30th anniversary of the storm of 1986 — one of the most devastating in Michigan’s history.

Throughout the month, Michigan State University Extension is sharing stories of extreme storms in the Saginaw Bay region, how they impact communities and the natural environment, and what you can do to be better prepared.

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In the years since the 1986 flood devastated 22 counties across the Saginaw Bay and Thumb regions, Michigan has made significant progress in adopting new policies and practices to reduce flood damage. One key area of improvement has been an expansion of green infrastructure projects across the state.

Green infrastructure is an approach to stormwater management that mimics the way rainwater is stored and filtered in nature. Green infrastructure methods slow down, store and filter rain water before it reaches the storm drain or local waterways, resulting in improved flood protection.

Upcoming Public Event – Sept. 15 in Bay City:


2 – Green infrastructure comes in all different shapes and sizes, from large networks of parks and wetlands to smaller projects like bioswales, rain gardens, porous pavement and green roofs.

Michigan State University Extension says millions of dollars have been invested in green infrastructure across the state, and hundreds of communities have participated in planning efforts.

In the Saginaw Bay area, the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network established a group to bring together local, state, and federal agencies, nonprofits, and concerned citizens to identify and map important green infrastructure elements across the tri-counties.

The 1986 flood had a direct impact on land use planning and the prevalence of greenspace around the region. Some of the hardest hit cities, such as Midland and Vassar, responded by changing their development practices. Over the past 30 years, these communities have converted river adjacent land from residential and business districts into parks and green space that can more easily withstand and absorb flood waters.

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See also: Remembering the 30th Anniversary of Michigan’s Flood of 1986

– 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 #MrGreatLakes




Remembering the 30th Anniversary of Michigan’s Flood of 1986

For Sept. 2, 2016


1 – September marks the 30th anniversary of one of the worst flooding events in Michigan history.

The 1986 storm hit hardest in the Saginaw Bay and Thumb region.

For three days, from Sept. 10 to 12, rainfall over Central Lower Michigan averaged between 6 and 12 inches, with some reports as high as 14 inches.

Several rivers established record crests. Eleven dams failed. Across the state, more than 3,600 miles of road and 30,000 homes were flooded.

Ten people died as a result of the storm. Damages totaled $500 million. Twenty two counties were declared federal disaster areas, impacting more than 1.8 million residents.

A new project spearheaded by Michigan State University and Michigan Sea Grant will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1986 storm and help communities prepare for future storm events.

The project includes an online interactive map showcasing firsthand accounts of the 1986 storm as well as events in communities that were heavily impacted by the flooding.

Residents who lived through the 1986 storm can submit photos and written descriptions of their experiences.

All of the historical documents and accounts submitted to the project will be archived by the Bay County Historical Society.

A new website for the project will go live around the anniversary of the storm. Stay tuned for updates.

2 – If you want to be a citizen scientist and protect against potential invasive threats, here’s your chance.

Little Forks Conservancy is hosting a free workshop on Wednesday, Sept.7, along with Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Forest Association.

The training is from 5:30-8 p.m. in the Community Room of the Dow Memorial Library in Midland.

The Sept. 7 workshop is part of a statewide effort called Eyes on the Forest.

The goal is to inform residents about the impact and risk of invasive species, and recruit trained volunteers to monitor trees across the state.

During the workshop, experts will explain the program, and show people what to look for and how to report their findings.

The workshop is free and open to the public. RSVPs are requested by contacting Little Forks Conservancy in Midland.

– 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 #MrGreatLakes


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