Saginaw Part of Nationwide ‘Livability’ Project, Invasives Sold at Bait Shops

For Sept. 5, 2014

1 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County has been picked for a national Livability Initiative.

shiawassee refuge livability map

The four communities selected for the initiative. Via The Conservation Fund.

It’s an effort to help Gateway Communities assess and improve natural assets that make them appealing places in which to live, work and play.

Gateway Communities are those adjacent to wildlife refuges and other public lands. In this case, the initiative will look at the cities of Saginaw, Frankenmuth and Birch Run, along with Spaulding, James and Bridgeport townships.

The Livability Initiative is a two-year project by the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other organizations.

From Sept. 9-11, the refuge and its Gateway Communities will take part in an assessment to evaluate key livability factors, including transportation options, affordable housing, employment and business opportunities, and community character.

Another partner, The Conservation Fund, will develop a livability report that outlines key recommendations. A local workshop will follow on ways to advance the proposals.

The Saginaw County refuge and its Gateway Communities are one of only four in the nation chosen for the project.

The others are in Oregon, South Carolina, and Colorado.

2A scientific paper says the bait fish trade represents a serious threat for spreading invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Researchers from Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame tested water samples from tanks containing small fish for sale as bait at more than 500 shops around the eight-state region.

Twenty-seven of the samples tested positive for DNA of invasive fish, such as Asian carp.

Andrew Mahon of CMU says the findings suggest that at least some invaders are being spread by anglers who dump unused bait into the water.

A Notre Dame scientist says more consistent bait fish regulation among Michigan and other Great Lakes states is needed.

The scientists say the study is the first systematic effort to document the presence of invasive species in bait supplies using a tool known as “environmental DNA,” in which water samples are examined in a lab for signs of genetic fingerprints from particular fish.

The paper was published in a journal called Conservation Genetics Resources.

Via AP

— 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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Recyclemania, ‘Healthy’ Asian Carp, and the Best Barrier

1 – There’s another kind of March Madness.

The 14th annual Recyclemania tournament began this month. It pits colleges and universities against each other, competing to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The competition goes for eight weeks, running concurrently with the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

This year, students, faculty and staff at more than 461 schools are participating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to organizers.

Participating schools in Michigan include Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. As of Thursday morning, CMU was ranked 35th in the Competition Division, out of 86 schools.

Schools compete in any of 11 categories targeting commonly recycled or composted materials such as paper and paper-based packaging, aluminum, plastics bottles, electronics and food organics.

Ranking are published online, to allow schools to track their progress and standings against rival colleges.

Last year, 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered during the event.

For more information, see Recyclemania.org.

asian-carp-recycle-logo

Asian carp recycling? Credit: LouisvilleUSACE and StockMonkeys.com.

 2 – If we want to eat our way out of the Asian carp crisis, they’re not all that bad.

Researchers at the Prairie Research Institute in Illinois have found that overall, concentrations of arsenic, selenium, and mercury in bighead and silver carp from the lower Illinois River do not appear to be a health concern for a majority of human consumers.

Results of the study have been published in the journal Chemosphere.

Asian carp impact the ecosystem and fishing industry by out-competing native fish for resources.

Commercial harvest of bighead and silver Asian carp has been proposed to help contain the spread of the highly invasive fish, which are already in the Illinois River, which is connected to the Great Lakes via the Chicago Waterway System.

Researchers say the average mercury concentration in fillets of fish they studied was below U.S. screening values for recreational anglers. Overall, investigators say the carp are low in mercury in comparison to many other commercially available fish.

Arsenic and selenium concentrations in bighead and silver carp fillets examined also didn’t pose a risk to human consumers. MMM MMM Good.

3 – Speaking of Asian carp, another study says placing dam-like structures in Chicago waterways would be an almost foolproof method of preventing the fish from reaching Lake Michigan.

According to the research,  physically separating the lake from the Mississippi River watershed would prevent 95-100 percent of Asian carp incursions, while an electric barrier system would have a success rate of 85-95 percent. Using a combination of sounds, bubbles and strobe lights could prevent 75-95 percent of Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

The study was conducted by the University of Notre Dame, the U.S. Forest Service and Resources for the Future, an independent research institution. Their conclusions were based on a survey of experts.

The news follows the January release of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report to Congress, which outlined eight possible scenarios for preventing Asian carp passage through the Chicago area waterway system.

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

Algae Pics, Clean Energy Roadmap, and Asian Carp Comments

1- Do you have any pictures of excess algae?

Saginaw bay algae muck bay city state recreation area

Saginaw Bay muck. Credit: Jeff Kart.

It’s also called muck, and you can often find it along the shores of Saginaw Bay, Lake Erie, and other parts of the Great Lakes.

Circle of Blue is collecting photos of the Great Lakes and algal blooms.

The idea is to make the issue real and visible to people around the world.

The online news site plans to launch a major story project this year about algal blooms in the Great Lakes. The project will be circulated far and wide, organizers say.

Pictures, and videos, are being sought of harmful algal blooms, failing municipal water treatment systems and overflows, agricultural runoff, and beach closings. All of these have been a problem at one time or another in the Saginaw Bay region.

You can participate and share your photos and videos via a link at CircleofBlue.org. (Update: Saginaw Bay made the cut http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2014/choke-point-index/slideshow-great-lakes-algae-bloom/)

Circle of Blue reports on water, food and energy around the world. It’s based in Traverse City, Michigan.

2 – Michigan is one of only three states in the nation to be selected for a Clean Energy Manufacturing Roadmap project.

The Roadmap will be developed for Michigan with $400,000 in federal funds, matched by more than $300,000 in local funds.

North Carolina and Washington state also received funding, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The awards are in support of a national goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030, and are aimed at advancing clean energy manufacturing in the states.

Michigan, and the two other states, will develop roadmaps to increase clean energy manufacturing activity in their regions.

As part of this, the Michigan and Ohio State energy offices will convene stakeholder, company and expert events to identify opportunities and barriers.

– via GLREA.

3 – If you want to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, a pen may come in handy. Or, more likely, a computer keyboard.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report released this week lays out the federal government’s options for keeping Asian carp and other invasive species out of Great Lakes.

It’s called the Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study, and includes eight options that focus on the Chicago Area Waterway System.

The Corps. is holding public meetings around the basin this month to receive public comments on the options, which include physical separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

Public meetings are planned for Ann Arbor and Traverse City.

But, you also can submit written comments until March 3 online at the study website.

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

Cleaning up the Rifle, Asian Carp Salesmen, and 1 Million Michigan Campers

As heard 9 a.m. Eastern, Oct. 26, 2012, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College NPR … 

Photo by Willie Lunchmeat (really)


1 – The nonprofit Huron Pines group in Gaylord is expanding its Rifle River Watershed Project. 

The group recently received a grant of nearly $700,000 for the work.

The broader program will cover the entire northern Saginaw Bay, according to the group, adding in the AuGres and Tawas watersheds.

The aim is to improve the water quality of the bay, increase and improve stream habitat for fish, and reduce runoff that negatively impacts rivers. Goals of the project include reducing sediment pollution by 850 tons a year and phosphorus inputs by 200 pounds a year.

With the most recent grant, from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes program, Huron Pines has added a fulltime watershed project manager.

The Rifle is one of 16 Designated Natural Rivers in Michigan and is a tributary to Saginaw Bay.


2 – Hey, wanna buy some Asian carp?  

The Great Lakes Commission is helping crack down on people who sell aquatic invasive species online.

The Commission is developing web-crawling software to troll the Internet for the sellers of plants and animals for use in aquariums, nurseries, water gardens, aquaculture, and as live bait.

Accidental or intentional releases of live organisms sold online can adversely impact the Great Lakes.

But officials say little is being done to prevent potentially invasive species from being imported, traded, or released into the lakes via the Internet.

Sellers identified by the software will be contacted about relevant regulations and potential risks associated with the species they’re selling. The tool also will be available to regulators who may take further action.

3 – Camping season is pretty much over for the year, and Michigan state parks are celebrating a milestone.  

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently marked the 1 millionth camp night of the 2012 season at a state park in St. Clair County.

There haven’t been that many campers in one season since 2005, officials say.

Michigan state parks have seen a 7 percent increase in advance reservations this year, compared to 2011.

Officials attribute the rise, in part, to travelers with strained vacation budgets, and a lower-cost Recreation Passport for entrance to state parks.

For the record, some Michigan state parks offer year-round camping and cabin rentals, so you can camp this winter if you’re up for it.


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Nexteer goes SunSteer and Bill to Block Asian Carp

photo sunsteer nexteer solar saginaw

Courtesy photo

As heard July 6, 2012, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College public broadcasting …

1 –

Automotive supplier Nexteer is turning to the sun. 

The company has announced a new product, called SunSteer. The product is a solar tracking actuator that will be built at the company’s world headquarters in Saginaw.

The product uses electronic steering and driveline technologies to allow solar panels to track the movement of the sun. This can increase the efficiency of photovoltaic generation.

According to Nexteer, the Sunsteer product uses a precision built, high-efficiency ball screw – ball nut combination that provides operating efficiencies of up to 95 percent.

Under normal operating conditions, SunSteer will accurately track the sun’s position, while consuming less than $2 worth of energy per year.

The company says the product uses high-performance coatings developed under extreme vehicle testing environments. These coatings are said to reduce corrosion and provide performance of greater than 20 years in the field.

Nexteer officials say the product offers levels of reliability and efficiency that in many cases are unprecedented in the alternative energy market.

2 –

photo asian carp great lakes

Photo by author

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, a Midland Republican, says the final version of a Highway Bill Conference Report will include a study and plan to prevent Asian carp, and other invasive species, from entering the Great Lakes.

The measure is called the Stop Invasive Species Act.

In announcing the latest development, Camp mentioned a live Asian carp found two years ago near Lake Michigan. He said the act would lay the groundwork for a permanent solution to the Asian carp threat.

Camp introduced the act earlier this year with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Lansing Democrat.

The legislation requires the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study ahead of schedule, in about 18 months rather than three years.

That study is to include a plan to hydrologically separate the two basins.

Camp says hydrological separation is the only sure way to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes and prevent the invasive fish from destroying the ecosystem and devastating a $7 billion fishing industry.

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Great Lakes Commercial Fishing Numbers, Early Gypsy Moths & a Super-Efficient Home

Temporarily adopting the persona of “The Catfish.” 

Try these on, from Friday Edition, 9 a.m. Eastern, Delta College, Q-90.1 FM, Public Broadcasting, NPR, Excellent.

Flying Caterpillars of Defoliage

The Gypsy moths are hatching, and it’s much earlier than expected.

Staffers with the Bay County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program say they’e found have a few gypsy moth egg masses that are now hatching.

Officials say it’s the earliest time in the year that staffers have noted hatchings throughout the county.

Courtesy Bay County Gypsy Moth program

The population is still “extremely low,” but you should keep an eye out for tiny, 1/8th-inch caterpillars crawling around your neighborhood.

When these caterpillars hatch, they climb to the highest point they can reach and wait for the wind to blow them to a new area, and food.

Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on trees. They can defoliate large trees in a few weeks, invade yards and recreational areas, and become a general nuisance to people living in infested areas, officials say.

If you live in Bay County and feel the gypsy moth population on your property is increasing or have questions concerning invasive insects, you can call the Gypsy Moth program at (989) 895-4195 to make sure your area is surveyed.

A Year of Energy for $857?!

A Saginaw County homeowner has been awarded – again – for energy savings.

Connie Rynalski of Saginaw Township first saved on energy costs at her home, through various efficiency measures. Then, she was awarded an Earth Day prize of $3,000 for going above and beyond in her energy-saving efforts.

The award came from Cobblestone Homes, a Freeland-based homebuilder which conducted an Energy Challenge among almost 100 of its homeowners.

They were challenged to save the most in utility usage compared to energy use projections during a 12-month period.

Rynalski beat the energy projections for her home by the highest amount, paying $857 for an entire year of energy costs, including heating. That’s compared to more than $3,000 for a typical, 1,900-square-foot home.

Cobblestone Homes has partnered with the Dow Chemical Co. in recent years to build Michigan’s first Net-Zero Energy Homes in Midland and Bay counties.

New Commercial Fishery Assessment on the Great Lakes

How much is Lake Huron worth?

From the GLMRIS assessment

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a report on the valuation of commercial fisheries in the U.S. waters of the Great Lakes, Upper Mississippi River and Ohio River basins.

The Commercial Fisheries Baseline Economic Assessment is part of Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study.

The report summarizes the latest annual harvesting data from state-licensed and tribal commercial fishing operations. The data will be used to help forecast impacts from potential aquatic invasives like the Asian carp.

The report says the average commercial harvest level in the U.S. waters of the Great Lakes is estimated at 19.3 million pounds of fish, with an associated average value of $22.5 million.

The report lists Lake Huron’s commercial harvest level at 3.5 million pounds, with an associated value of $4.6 million.

Lake Huron contributes 18.3 percent to the total commercial harvest of fish on the Great Lakes and 20.2 percent to the total value of Great Lakes fisheries.

The lake has seen a decline in commercial harvest levels since 1989. The maximum harvest level in the 1990s was 5.3 million pounds, accounting for almost 21 percent of the total commercial fishing harvests on the Great Lakes.

The top harvest level since year 2000 has been about 4.7 million pounds, or about 25 percent of all commercial fish harvesting in the Great Lakes.

The report examined data from 1989 to 2009.

The study plans to release an assessment later this year on recreational fishing.

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Catfish by Denise Chan

Mussel Management, Science & Trouble in the Great Lakes

As heard on the March 30, 2012, Environment Report, part of Friday Edition at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College radio, Q-90.1 FM.

Mussel Management photo freshwater mussel buttons nsf illinois

The state has introduced an updated plan to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species.

Public comments on a draft state management plan are being taken until May 1.

Beyond preventing the introduction and spread of invasives like Asian carp, the plan aims to limit the harmful effects of invasives in Michigan waters.

New actions and enhancements to existing actions are outlined in the document.

Top priorities of the draft plan include a continued push for federal action to physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. That would involve changes to the sanitary and ship canal in Chicago.

The plan also proposes cracking down on Internet and pet shop sales of nonnative species that could cause problems in the lakes.

Comments are being taken through May 1.

You can find out more at michigan.gov.

Freshwater Science

Speaking of invasives, the National Science Foundation is out with a new report on freshwater mussels and the consequences for ecosystems.

According to research by the University of Oklahoma, almost 70 percent of freshwater mussels are considered threatened in some way.

Researchers say mussels need plentiful water to thrive, and healthy fish to reproduce.

In the Great Lakes, freshwater mussel populations have been harmed by invasive zebra and quagga mussels, native to Eastern Europe.

At the moment, the human need for water is the biggest danger to freshwater mussels, researchers say.

Habitat destruction, fragmentation from dams, and an intense drought in the southern plains have all contributed to destruction of mussel beds, according to the report.

Water filtering done by freshwater mussels provides a benefit for humans.

So one future priority in research is to come up with monetary values for the services that freshwater mussels provide.

Photo: For decades, freshwater mussels were harvested and made into fancy buttons. Credit: Illinois State Museum.

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