On Curbing Beach and Back-to-School Trash

For Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

1 – Beach cleanup season starts next month.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is celebrating 25 years of volunteer beach cleanup efforts.

This season’s kickoff is Sept. 17.

The annual September Adopt-a-Beach Event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup.

Throughout the month, beach and shoreline cleanups involving thousands of volunteers will be held to remove trash and collect data on the findings.

Cleanups will take place in Michigan along with Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Along Saginaw Bay, volunteers will be out at the Bay City State Recreation Area and the Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area.

You  can register online at greatlakesadopt.org to take part in a cleanup.

2 – A local waste hauler has some back to school tips.

Republic Services, which collects trash and recyclables in locations including Bay County, is encouraging parents to think sustainably when planning for the end of summer vacation.

The tips include:

  • Before starting the new school year, sort through old supplies. Many from last year can be reused, repurposed or donated.
  • Make a list before you shop for school supplies to limit impulse buying.
  • Purchase and use supplies made from recycled or reused products.
  • Bring drinks in a thermos or reusable water bottle and be sure to recycle milk cartons, bottles or other recyclable containers.
  • And, if your child brings their lunch to school, send reusable containers and carry them in a reusable bag or lunch box.

TRASHed Coachella 2015 Collection
– 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

Salmon Suffering, Beach Cleaning, Happy Spring

For Friday, March 18, 2016 …

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/2g7addlta23nfgt/3-18-16-mrgreatlakes-environmentreport.mp3]

1 – There’s bad news for salmon in Lake Huron.

A University of Michigan-led study says the lake’s chinook salmon fishery is unlikely to recover due to an ongoing food shortage.

The study says the lake can no longer support the alewife, which is the salmon’s main food source.

A co-author says the study should serve as a reality check when it comes to stocking Chinook salmon in Lake Huron.

Pacific salmon were introduced into the Great Lakes 50 years ago to establish a new recreational fishery and help control alewives, a non-native species.

Computer simulations in the study show that the collapse of the alewife population was caused by a combination of predation by salmon and native lake trout and food limitation tied to invasive mussels.

Lake Huron resource managers are being advised to focus efforts on restoration of native fish species like lake trout, walleye, lake whitefish and lake herring.

2 – April is beach season. At least when it comes to the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

The environmental group is kicking off Adopt-a-Beach program this spring with events throughout the state.

A cleanup is planned for Saturday, April 9, at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County’s Bangor Township.

It starts at 10 a.m. at the state park Visitor Center. You can register online at GreatLakesAdopt.org.

An estimated 25 volunteers will collect trash from the beach.

At the last cleanup in October, items collected from the beach included cigarette butts, food wrappers and beverage bottles and cans, and grocery bags.

beach-trash-erv.jpg

Credit: ERV

– 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

 

Counting Birds and Bacteria

For Friday, Dec. 18, 2015

1 – The Christmas Bird Count is underway.

The Audubon event happens every year, when thousands of volunteers identify and count birds throughout the United States and Canada.

The Count, now in its 116th year, helps helps researchers, conservation biologists and others study North American bird populations.

Last year, more than 2,400 counts were completed, with more than 68 million birds reported.

christmas bird count winter snow audubon

Credit: USFWS

Anyone can participate in the Christmas Bird Count, which takes place from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. The event takes place in “count circles” that focus on specific geographic areas. Every circle has a leader, so even beginners can help contribute data.

There are count circles in Bay City, Midland and throughout the state. Last year’s count in Bay City – sponsored by the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and Saginaw Valley Audubon Society –  recorded 52 species.

For more information, see birds.audubon.org.

– via NEEF

2 – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is taking steps to address E. coli bacteria contamination throughout the state.

The state is developing a Total Maximum Daily Load document for surface waters in impaired waters throughout the state.

The DEQ estimates that about half of river miles in Michigan are impaired by E. coli.

About 22 percent of beaches had closures due to E. coli contamination in 2014, including some in Bay County.

E. coli is used as an indicator for fecal contamination and a water quality standard is designed to protect human health during swimming and other recreation.

When the standard is exceeded, the Federal Clean Water Act requires that Michigan develop a Total Maximum Daily Load to provide a framework for restoration of water quality.

The DEQ says that due to the extent of this problem and the multitude of potential sources, a statewide approach will be most effective. A webinar on the process in planned for Jan. 19.

– Fact Sheet

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2016.

michigan winter river platte honor

Credit: Jim Sorbie

– 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

Net Metering Up, Solar Shingles Out, Beach Cleanups Planned

For Friday, Sept. 4, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/mi7zliq0lmpopoj/mrgreatlakes2-environment-report-9-4-15.MP3]

1 – A Solar Rally was held last month in Lansing. It was to protest a bill that would eliminate net metering.

Right now, people with rooftop solar panels can use the power they generate and sell the remainder to their electric company. The bill, now in committee, would require all the power to go to the utility.

For now, it turns out that more people are using net metering.

A 2014 annual report from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows a 25 percent increase in net metering compared to 2013.

There was an increase of more than 300 customers (from 1,527 customers to 1,840 customers), and more than 300 installations (from 1,631 installations to 1,947 installations). Some customers have multiple installations.

Michigan two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Electric, host 84 percent of the net metering capacity in the state.

2 – The Dow Chemical Co. will be rolling out Version 2.0 of its Powerhouse Solar System to additional U.S. markets in early 2016.

powerhouse solar shingles installed

Powerhouse Solar Shingles installed on a house in Detroit. Via Houzz.com

The Powerhouse Solar Shingle is made by Dow in Midland, and available in Michigan.

The product combines a conventional asphalt roof with an integrated solar power system. In other words, it looks like a regular roof and performs a lot like a roof full of solar panels, Dow says.

The system includes an inverter that uses collected solar energy to power a home, and monitoring that shows how much energy the system is producing.

3 – Summer is ending, but the Adopt-a-Beach program getting ready for a big cleanup.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, an environmental group, organizes beach cleanups around Michigan. Many will be taking place on Sept. 19, as part of the International Coastal Cleanup, occurring throughout the month in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

A local cleanup is planned for Sept. 19 at the Bay City Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

You can find a map of Michigan events, sign up and register at GreatLakesAdopt.org.

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– 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

Monarch Butterfly Count, Beach Debris Grants

For Friday, Aug. 28, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/91xhoxgnhd5ib9r/mr-great-lakes-8-28-15.mp3]

1 – The federal government is offering money to clean up beaches and waterways.

bowling ball marine beach debris

Credit: NOAA

The Marine Debris Program, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is seeking proposals for community-based marine debris removal projects until Nov. 2. Great Lakes organizations are encouraged to apply.

Up to $2 million is expected to be available for projects across the U.S. Typical awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000.

The program is for the removal of old fishing gear and other debris that have a negative impact on resources and habitat in or along the oceans and the Great Lakes.

Previous awards have gone to the city of Cleveland, to reduce plastic marine debris in Lake Erie, including grocery bags, water bottles and cigar tips

To apply

2 – Populations of monarch butterflies are at critically low levels across the United States.

monarch milkweed butterfly habitat

Credit: USFWS

Only eight monarch butterflies were counted this year at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

That’s the second-lowest total ever recorded. The average is about 100. The highest count was 189 monarchs in 2007.

This year’s count was the eighth annual, and conducted in July. The count was one of hundreds coordinated by the North American Butterfly Association in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Monarch numbers have declined across the United States by about 90 percent in recent years. That’s from threats including a loss of milkweed habitat due to agricultural practices. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a campaign earlier this year aimed at saving the butterfly.

Monarchs travel thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, and into Canada.

Save the Monarch

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– 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

Saginaw Bay in Report to Congress, Waterfowl Festival

For Friday, July 31, 2015

1 – The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making lakes healthier and local economies stronger.

epa great lakes initiative report to congress saginaw bay map

– a map from the EPA report

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that, since 2010, the federally funded Initiative has implemented more than 2,500 projects to improve water quality, clean up contaminated shoreline, protect and restore native habitat and species, and prevent and control invasive species.

The work is summarized in a new Report to Congress and the President.

From Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2014, the EPA received about $1.6 billion in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds.

The funding has been a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination, EPA officials say. This has produced “unparalleled results.”

That includes work with the agricultural community to reduce phosphorus runoff, which contributes to algal blooms in areas including Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

Federal agencies also used funding to increase the number of acres of farmland enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in Saginaw Bay and other priority watersheds by more than 70 percent.

More information about the Initiative, including an interactive project map, is available at glri.us.

2 – The Saginaw Bay Waterfowl Festival is this weekend at the Bay City State Recreation Area.

ducks on the go michigan saginaw bay waterfowl festival 2015

Credit: Ducks Unlimited

The state park in Bangor Township will host the festival on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 and 2.

This is said to be the park’s most popular special event weekend. This is the 20th anniversary.

Features this year include a State Championship Duck & Goose Calling Tournament, Waterfowl Stamp Competition, Wildlife Arts & Craft Show, Waterfowl Calling Clinic and Waterfowl Carving Contest. New this year is a chainsaw carving contest and live auction.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and headquartered at the park’s Saginaw Bay Visitor Center.

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– 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

Michigan First to Use New, Faster Beach-Testing Method

For Friday, June 26, 2015

1 – Michigan will become the first state to monitor beaches using a new, rapid testing method.

beach bay city state park recreation area

The beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area, June 8, 2015. Credit: Jeff Kart

The new method quickly identifies E. coli DNA in a beach’s water sample.

The process provides results the same day a sample is taken. That means necessary beach closures will occur more efficiently in locations where bacteria is detected.

Previous testing methods took longer, meaning beaches that tested positive could not be closed until the day after a water sample was drawn.

To implement the new water testing process, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality awarded a half-million dollars to health departments in the state.

Agencies involved with the new testing method include health departments in Bay and Saginaw counties, and Saginaw Valley State University.

Daily beach testing results are be posted on the DEQ’s BeachGuard website.

2 – Information on the environment and other topics is available from a new GIS Open Database.

The site is a part overall efforts to make more information open and available to citizens, according to the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, provide location components to information, allowing data to be represented geographically.

The new site can be used to browse, search, preview and download a variety of geospatial data sets and view them on a map.

Data categories include Fish & Wildlife, Environment and Public Health.

The Environment section includes data on land cover, wetlands and potential wetland restoration sites.

The site can be accessed at www.michigan.gov/openmichigan.

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– 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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