Winter Stoneflies, Environmental Educator Award, Christmas Bird Count

For Friday, Dec. 16, 2016

1 – The annual Christmas Bird Count began this week across the U.S. and Canada.

Every year, thousands of volunteers identify and count birds during the count, which is put on by the National Audubon Society. The Count helps researchers, conservation biologists, and others study North American bird populations over time.

Last year more than 2,500 counts were completed and 58.8 million birds were reported.

Anyone can participate in the Christmas Bird Count until Jan. 5.

The Count takes place in geographic circles that include experienced birders. That means even beginners can participate.

In Michigan, counts are planned in locations including Huron County, Tuscola County, Bay City, Midland and Tawas.

2 – Does your child’s teacher go above and beyond?

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches and use the environment as a context for learning.

Award winners receive up to $2,500 for professional development.

The winning teacher’s local school also receives up to $2,500 to fund environmental education activities and programs.

Up to two teachers from each U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regions will receive the award.

Applications are due March 1.

3 – Some flies live through the winter.

winter stonefly stoneflies michigan

Credit: Dysmorodrepanis, Wikimedia Commons

During the coldest months, winter stoneflies hatch from rocky stream bottoms and crawl up through openings in the snow or ice that covers the water.

They have four wings, stay close to the snow and ice, and walk to find mates, according to information from Michigan Lake and Stream Associations.

Little is known about how these stoneflies survive freezing water and air temperatures.

What makes these flies particularly special is that they’re an indicator species. Because the flies are sensitive to poor water quality, monitoring the locations and numbers of these flies can help determine the health of a stream.

Several watershed organizations hold winter stonefly searches in lower Michigan to help understand winter stonefly populations and predict stream health.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

 

State Land for Sale, Wild Turkey 101 and Big Data

For Friday, Nov. 18, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/6bh737kswscxjr7/ENV%20REPORT%2011-18-16.mp3]

1 – A state auction of surplus public land starts Dec. 6.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will offer up for sale by sealed-bid auction between Dec. 6 and Jan. 10.

The auction will feature 58 parcels located in counties including Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Midland, Ogemaw, Oscoda and Roscommon.

Properties range in size from less than an acre to 77 acres.

State officials say the parcels being auctioned off are isolated from other public land, difficult to manage and provide limited public recreation benefit.

Several of the parcels are forested and have riverside or lake frontage.

Information on the auction is available online at www.michigan.gov/landforsale.

2 – The comeback of the wild turkey is a great wildlife conservation story.

At one time in Michigan, turkeys were plentiful. Over time, they vanished from every county in the state due to unregulated take and loss of habitat.

Efforts to re-establish the population were made from 1919 through the late 1980s. Today, there are more than 200,000 wild turkeys in Michigan. They can be found in every county in the Lower Peninsula and areas of the Upper Peninsula.

The National Wild Turkey Federation works with the state of Michigan to share conservation education opportunities with teachers and students.

One such opportunity is an annual Patch Design Contest.

K-12 students in Michigan are eligible to enter.

First-, second- and third-place winners will receive cash awards.

The winning design will be the basis for next year’s Michigan wild turkey management cooperator patch.

The winner and his or her parents or guardians also will be invited to the Michigan National Wild Turkey Federation State Chapter banquet and the Natural Resources Commission meeting when the patch is released to the public.

Entries are due by Dec. 15.

For complete contest rules, visit mi.gov/michiganprojectwild.

Direct link: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10369_51120-265547–,00.html

Previous winners: http://www.michigan.gov/images/turkeyboard_27029_7.jpg

3 – Massive amounts of data have been collected from the Great Lakes basin. But until recently, no effort had organized this information and made it easily accessible.

There also wasn’t a tool that allowed researchers and managers to visualize and summarize habitat conditions for the entire basin, especially on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border.

layers-saginaw-bay.JPG

Layers of data for Saginaw Bay in the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework.

Now, researchers from the University of Michigan, working with U.S. and Canadian agencies and universities, have created the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework.

It’s first publicly-available database that includes harmonized habitat data and a classification of fish habitats across the basin.

The framework will allow researchers and managers to explore information on temperature, ice-cover duration, water depth, aquatic vegetation, and wave height for every location in the basin.

There also are layers for shoreline classification, wetlands, and walleye populations.

Time Change: – Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

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.

shiawasseesunset

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

Midland Signs on to PACE, Warbler Fest Draws Visitors, Dow AgroSciences Picks up Award

For Friday, June 24, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/m2od3pocux63jkf/environment-report-mr-great-lakes-6-24-16.mp3]

1- Midland is the latest county to sign on to a renewable energy financing program.

The Lean & Green Michigan Property Assessed Clean Energy program is known as PACE for short.

The program makes businesses and nonprofits in the county eligible to add renewable energy generating items like solar panels to their buildings.

PACE deals with the high upfront costs of such projects by providing 100 percent financing at long-term, fixed rates for up to 25 years.

The money also can be used for energy efficiency and water saving improvements, and be paid back through property taxes.

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Participating jurisdictions. Via Lean & Green Michigan

Other governments to join PACE include Bay, Saginaw and Huron counties.

This is according to Petros PACE Finance, which is sponsoring training on the program for local contractors.

2 – The Roscommon area drew people from as far away as California, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina and Florida earlier this month.

florida nasa

Florida. Credit: NASA

They attended Kirtland’s Warbler Weekend events on June 3 and 4.

A festival in Roscommon is meant to bring awareness to the endangered Kirtland’s warbler. Proceeds also go to support conservation programs for the songbird.

Populations of the warbler have made a comeback in recent years, but advocates say management is still needed to sustain the bird, which is selective about its nesting sites in places that include Northern Michigan.

Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, says the visitors delivered an economic boost to the area. Leaders say continued management for warbler habitat will have lasting impacts for the birds and Northeast Michigan, bringing birders, canoeists, hikers, bikers and others to the area.

3 – Winners of a national green chemistry award include Dow AgroSciences.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently honored recipients of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

The award recognizes landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn environmental problems into business opportunities and spur innovation and economic development.

Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Midland-based Dow Chemical Co., was honored for an additive called Instinct.

The EPA says the additive reduces runoff from fertilizers, and cuts nitrous oxide emissions.

The additive retains applied nitrogen longer in the root zones of plants like corn, which increases yields for farmers.

– 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

Wind Energy Payments, Kirtland’s Ham Radio and Salmon in the Classroom

For Friday, May 6, 2016

1 – Wind energy development is providing millions of dollars to rural landowners in the form of land lease payments.

red-barn-wind-rural-landowner-awea.JPG

Credit: AWEA

According to Midwest Energy News, payments to Michigan landowners totaled $4.6 million in 2014.

Tax bases in Huron County increased by 34 percent between 2011 and 2015, or more than $559 million. In Tuscola County, tax bases increased by 26 percent, or more than $364 million.

The money provides revenue to help pay for county operating expenses, schools, roads, libraries, and other services.

Nationwide, the American Wind Energy Association reports that wind farms pay $222 million a year to rural landowners, with $70.7 million of that across 12 Midwest states.  

Some local officials in Michigan’s Thumb have complained about over-saturation and others have recently approved moratoriums on new wind development.

Clean energy advocates, meanwhile, fear wind development may slow considerably without an expanded renewable portfolio standard, which leveled off at the end of 2015.

2 – The 2016 Kirtland’s Warbler Festival is going worldwide.

This year’s festival is being held in Roscommon on Saturday, June 4.

As part of the event, ham radio operators will be hosting a Special Event Radio Station on the grounds of the festival.

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An example of a Special Event Station. Credit: Dan

According to Huron Pines in Gaylord, a station call sign has been assigned to the event through the American Radio Relay League, amateur radio’s national organization.

The ham radio operators in Roscommon plan to make two-way contacts in the United States and worldwide to raise awareness of the festival and recovery efforts related to the Kirtland’s Warbler.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler nests in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern lower and upper peninsulas, along with Wisconsin and Ontario.

3 – Baby salmon are swimming in Midland, thanks to the efforts of a local elementary school.

12435393153_d57b677376_z

Credit: USFWS

Fourth graders from Saint Brigid School released hand-raised chinook salmon at the end of April from the Tridge in Midland, according to Little Forks Conservancy.

The release was the culmination of a Department of Natural Resources Salmon in the Classroom Program.

A local chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsored the equipment and other resources for the effort.

Salmon in the Classroom is a year-long natural resources education program in which teachers and students receive fertilized salmon eggs from a state fish hatchery in the fall, hatch them out, feed and raise the fry through spring, and then release the young salmon into a local river.

Participation in the program has grown annually for more than 10 years, and now boasts more than 200 schools that will raise salmon next year.

You can find out more at Michigan.gov/SIC.

 

Great Lakes Bay Trail, Duck Stamp Contest, Phragmites Workshops

For Friday, March 4, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/u90px1kbuvtarqo/3-4-2016-mrgreatlakes-environment-report.mp3]

1 – A Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail project is moving right along.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation has awarded $200,000 toward building the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail.

The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation also has contributed $100,000 and the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation has kicked in $50,000.

The region-wide, non-motorized trail system would link existing trails in Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.

great-lakes-bay-regional-trail.jpg

Screenshot of promotional video. Via YouTube

Once completed, it would be a 100-mile system, giving walkers, runners, bike riders and skaters access to destinations throughout the region, including natural areas, parks, and recreational facilities.

The first 6.2-mile section, connecting Bay to Saginaw, is on schedule to be completed this year, organizers say.

More than $3.8 million has been raised to date from state and regional sources to support the connection of the trails.

More information on the project is online at greatlakesbaytrails.com.

 

2 – Students can enter a contest to have their artwork appear on a stamp.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting entries for the 2016 Michigan Junior Duck Stamp Contest, administered by the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Entries must be postmarked by March 15.

The contest is part of an educational program that teaches wetland habitat and waterfowl biology to students in kindergarten through high school.

Students may submit artwork featuring species including ducks, swans, and geese.

duck-stamp-michigan

2015 Michigan Best of Show Winner. Via USFWS

Judging will be open to the general public at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center in Saginaw.

During the contest, students will be judged in four groups according to grade level.

Contest judges will select a “Best of Show” from 12 first place winners, which will be entered into the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest held in April in Florida.

The winner of the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest, along with his or her parent or guardian and teacher, will receive a free trip to a First Day of Sale ceremony in late June or early July.

The first place art from the national contest is used to create a National Junior Duck Stamp each year.

3 – A new series of public workshops will provide information on current efforts to control phragmites across Saginaw Bay.

The workshops also will provide information for landowners on how to treat the invasive plant on their property, and how to enroll in larger group treatment programs.

Phragmites is a tall grass that grows in wetlands, ditches, shorelines, and roadsides. The plant can grow up to 15 feet tall, forming dense stands, and spreads rapidly through airborne seed dispersal and underground stems.

phragmites-michigan-sea-grant

Phragmites. Via Michigan Sea Grant

Once it moves into an area, phragmites outcompetes native species for resources, displacing native plants and animals.

In Saginaw Bay, this has negative impacts on fisheries, waterfowl, and wetlands. Phragmites also can limit water access for hikers, boaters, and beachgoers and reduce waterfront property values by blocking views.

Over the past few years, several treatment projects have helped reclaim Saginaw Bay shoreline and wetland habitat from the invasive plant.

The workshops are planned for March 10 in Tuscola County, March 16 in Midland County and April 7 in Bay County.  

For questions on the workshops or more information, call 989-891-7198.

– 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

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