Recreation Passports Fund Improvements, Salt is Damaging Rivers and Streams

For Jan. 19, 2018

1 – Money from recreation passports is helping communities complete outdoor recreation improvements.

recreation passport logo

Credit: Michigan DNR

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says 22 communities will share more than $1.4 million in grants this year. 

The funding comes from $11 annual passports that give residents vehicle entry to state parks, recreation areas and boating access sites.

The money will go to playground development and renovations, sports and fitness facility development and improvements, trail and walkway development, ski-run development, park and picnic area improvements and improved accessibility.

Townships in Oscoda and Tuscola are among those to receive funding.

In Oscoda County, $55,000 to go toward rustic campsites, a fitness trail and other renovations at Clinton Township Park.

In Tuscola County, $75,000 will go to develop a pavilion and walkway in Vassar Township.

2 – Salt from winter road maintenance, irrigation and other human activities is damaging US rivers and streams, with consequences for infrastructure and drinking water supplies.

This is according to a nationwide study by the Cary Institute of New York.

8458604034_b27e79513f_z

Credit: MTA New York

Researchers found 37 percent of the drainage area of the contiguous United States experienced a significant increase in salinity over the last 50 years. Water also is becoming more alkaline, affecting its ability to neutralize acid.

These changes in water chemistry can damage the pipes that deliver water to homes. This happened when Flint switched its primary water source to the Flint River in 2014, and the river’s high salt load caused lead to leach from water pipes.

A study co-author says long-term monitoring is vital to understanding the pressures facing the nation’s freshwaters from increased salt loading, and for guiding strategies that protect drinking water.

Strategies for managing road salt pollution include pre-wetting salt to allow it to stick to roads and using brine to prevent ice from forming on road surfaces.

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State Forest Roads Open to Off-Road Vehicles Jan. 1, Au Gres to Assess Stormwater Drainage

For Friday, Dec. 15, 2017


1 – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has completed final recommendations to open thousands of miles of state forest roads to off-road vehicles in the northern Lower Peninsula.

DNR Director Keith Creagh is to take action on the recommendations at a Dec. 14 Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.

The expanded access, if approved by the director, will take effect Jan. 1, 2018, as required under a 2016 law.

The DNR received nearly 2,000 comments on the change.

The agency says that beginning in 2018, all state forest roads in the region will be open to off-road-vehicle use. That is, unless they’re designated as closed by the DNR. Reasons for closures include ensuring user safety, preventing user conflicts and protecting environmentally sensitive areas.

For more information about the state forest road inventory and recommendation process, visit www.michigan.gov/forestroads.

UPDATEMost state forest roads in Northern Lower Peninsula will open to ORV use Jan. 1; check maps for closed areas

Black Mountain Recreation AreaBeginning Jan. 1, 2018, ORV users in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula will have increased access to thousands of miles of state forest roads. Credit: Michigan DNR

2 – Area grants will provide initial funding for stormwater assessment in the city of Au Gres on Saginaw Bay.

A total of $17,500 will be used by Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord. The funding comes from the Bay Area Community Foundation and Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

Saginaw Bay is a designated Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. That’s due in part to excess sediment, nutrients and bacteria that enter the water through stormwater runoff.

A stormwater assessment by Huron Pines will evaluate existing stormwater drainage in Au Gres, including a component to educate community leaders on stormwater management practices. There also will be formal recommendations for next steps.

This project will include student participation in the study and a volunteer-built rain garden to help filter pollutants out of stormwater runoff.

– 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

Off-Road Proposal, Frog-Bit Challenge

For June 16, 2017

1 – There’s a proposal to open up thousands of miles of state forest roads to off-road vehicles in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The expanded access is to take effect in January 2018.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is inviting public input.

Officials have spent the past several months mapping the region’s state forest roads. State forest roads, managed by the DNR, provide access for activities such as habitat improvement, timber management, and fire control, as well as public access for hunting, fishing, hiking and outdoor recreation. Historically, these roads have been closed to off-road vehicle use unless designated as part of an off-road vehicle route.  

A 2016 state law encourages more people to enjoy Michigan’s public lands by enhancing off-road opportunities in the northern Lower Peninsula. Beginning in 2018, all state forest roads in the region will be open to off-road vehicle use unless designated closed by the DNR. Reasons for closures include ensuring user safety, preventing user conflicts and protecting environmentally sensitive areas.

The DNR is holding meetings to allow people to review the proposed changes, ask questions and provide input. Meetings are set for Monday, June 19, in West Branch; Tuesday, June 20 in Cadillac; and Wednesday, June 21 in Gaylord.

For more information and to comment online, see michigan.gov/forestroads. The comment period closes July 15.

 

2 – Huron Pines wants people to take the Frog-bit Challenge.

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Credit: Audrey

It does not involve a bucket of frogs.

The nonprofit is running a Frog-bit Challenge until Sept. 1. The goal is to pull a combined total of 20,000 pounds of the invasive plant. The focus is on the Thunder Bay River watershed.

About 300 pounds of the plans were pulled recently from the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary by students from Besser Elementary, along with volunteers and staff from Huron Pines.

To participate in the challenge or to start a similar effort in your area, contact Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member Wendy Lemon at wendylemon.americorps@gmail.com or call (989) 448-2293 ext. 32. Visit huronpines.org to learn more.

– 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

 

 

Au Gres Restoration and Michigan Adventures

For Friday, Jan. 15, 2016

1 – The Au Gres River watershed will be a focus of restoration efforts in 2016.

Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, was recently awarded funding from the Bay Area Community Foundation to help residents in the watershed improve land and water stewardship practices.

The project is part of a larger Northern Saginaw Bay Restoration Initiative to protect clean water, enhance wildlife habitat and strengthen communities throughout Arenac, Iosco and Ogemaw counties.

Huron Pines will use the latest funding to organize public meetings, engage students in outdoor education opportunities and provide technical and financial assistance to residents who want to better manage their property to promote clean water and healthy wildlife.

Over the next couple of years, Huron Pines and partners also plan to complete restoration work in the Au Gres River watershed.

Money from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-Sustain Our Great Lakes Program will go to improve five road-stream crossings, stabilize eroding streambanks, and work with farmers to improve stewardship practices on agricultural lands.

2 – If you have a bucket list, here are some things to add.

An online community called The Outbound Collective has compiled a list of the Top 30 adventures of 2015.

Nothing in Michigan made the list, but there are still plenty of things to see in our state, and add to your before-death to-dos.

A search for adventures near Bay City, Michigan, includes kayaking to Turnip Rock in Port Austin, backpacking the Manistee River Trail, and camping in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness south of Manistee.

You can find more ideas at theoutbound.com.

the-outbound-collective-near-bay-city-michigan

Camp in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness – via The Outbound Collective

– 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

 

 

Happy ‘Shoe Year’

Winter Fitness, Recycling and Visualizing Your Watershed

For Friday, Jan. 8, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/z9grg4m9u8bvynw/1-8-2016-mr-great-lakes.mp3]

1 – Happy Shoe Year.

It’s 2016, and time to explore new trails, see new vistas, and get to know Michigan while you get fit.

The pitch comes from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which is encouraging residents to get outside and exercise during the month of January.

The DNR is offering Shoe Year hikes at state parks, including the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County.

A Shoe Year’s Trek is being held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, at the recreation area in Bangor Township.

There will be healthy refreshments, tips on winter fitness, a warm-up activity and a guided nature trail hike. Limited snowshoes also are available.

showshoes-noeh

Credit: Karen Neoh

For more information, call the Visitor Center at 667-0717.

The DNR also is promoting a virtual 5k event with Epic Races. People can register to participate, with a portion of the proceeds going to support fitness programs and reforestation efforts in state parks.

2 – Tired of recycling bins? Imagine recycling carts: one big cart instead of a bunch of smaller bins.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is offering up to $450,000 in grants to local governments interested in purchasing recycling carts for residents.

recycling-carts-2016-deq

Recycling carts – via infographic from The Recycling Partnership.

The money is part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s initiative to double the state’s residential recycling rate, with is one of the lowest in the nation.

The state says thats switching to recycling carts, as opposed to smaller bins, generally increases community recycling rates. According to a national nonprofit called The Recycling Partnership, communities that use carts can recover 400-450 pounds of recyclable material per household every year.

The deadline for applications is March 31. More information is here.

3- High school students have returned to classes following a holiday break.

Some are working on a new mapping challenge to visualize their local water quality.

The challenge is sponsored in part by Esri, which makes software for mapping and analyzing data. It’s open to high school students in the Great Lakes basin and Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The aim of the contest is for students to create visualizations about nutrient pollution using software along with water quality data from other sponsors including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Students in the contest will create a map that tells a story about the problem and suggests possible solutions.

The competition starts this month, with submissions due in March. Winners will be announced in April.

The grand prize includes an opportunity to attend the Esri Education Conference and publication of the winning map in an Esri Mapping the Nation book.

– 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

 

 

 

Top 11 Michigan Water Trails, Big Birding Event

For Aug. 14, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/hatkpavc58ou4fu/mr-great-lakes-8-14-15.mp3]

1 – This list of Michigan water trails goes to 11.

up to 11 spinal tap michigan water trails list

Credit: Wikipedia

The state Department of Natural Resources has released a Top 11 list of Water Trails, as voted on by the public.

The list is a round-up of some of Michigan’s “fantastic paddling opportunities.”

Some area trails on the list: at No. 9, Lake Huron Blueways, which winds up the coastline from Tawas.

At No. 3, Saginaw Bay Blueways, which takes in the southern and western edges of Saginaw Bay.

And No. 1 on the Top 11 list: the mighty Au Sable River, which goes for more than 100 miles from Grayling to Lake Huron.

The Au Sable won the poll based on write-in votes.

2 – The Midwest Birding Symposium is Sept. 10-13 in Bay City.

The symposium will feature programs and performances by North America’s leading bird watchers and naturalists.

There also will be an opportunity for birders to network with fellow enthusiasts, a vendor area, and guided bird walks at area birding spots.

The event will be headquartered at the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Bay City.

The symposium requires registration. A portion of net proceeds will be donated to support conservation organizations and programs. Some events are already sold out.

The nonprofit birding event is held every other year in the Midwest. It was in Ohio in 2013, with more than 800 attendees.

This year’s Bay City event is hosted by Michigan Audubon, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and the Great Lakes Bay Region Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

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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

Beach Conditions on Your Phone, Contaminants in Your Fish, Wildlife in Your Windshield

For Friday, June 19, 2015

1 – You shouldn’t swim with your phone. But you can use your phone to find out if it’s safe to swim at your local beach.

mybeachcast screenshot iphone6

myBeachCast for Bay City, Michigan, on June 19, 2015.

A myBeachCast mobile app has been updated, and is available for iPhone and Android smartphones.

You can download the app online at beachcast.glin.net.

It will give you the latest swim advisories and weather conditions for more than 2,000 beaches in the Great Lakes region.

The latest version of myBeachCast features hazard alerts from the National Weather Service for high winds and waves, and strong and dangerous currents.

The app also connects to health department databases across the region to alert users of contamination advisories.

The app is a project of the Great Lakes Commission, LimnoTech of Ann Arbor, and states in the Great Lakes region.

2 – If you fish in Bay County, be sure to eat safe.

That’s the message from Bay County officials. There are advisories for fish caught in Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties. You should limit or avoid eating certain fish from the Saginaw Bay, Saginaw River and Tittabawassee River due to chemical contamination.

For example, don’t eat carp, catfish or white bass from the Saginaw River. But yellow perch are OK to eat twice a month, and walleye are OK to eat up to six times a year.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tests filets of fish for chemicals to set the guidelines.

When consuming fish caught in Bay, Saginaw or Midland counties, officials advise that you choose the right fish, clean it properly, and cook the fish on a grill to allow any excess fat to drip away.

More information is online at michigan.gov/eatsafefish or visit Bay County’s Health Education website.

3 – The Wildlife Drive Auto Tour is now open at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

map wildlife drive shiawassee

A map of the Wildlife Drive Auto Tour. Full-sized version here

The tour allows visitors to drive through the refuge, and runs from June 1 through Sept. 30. It’s open during daylight hours, and closes one hour before sunset.

The Wildlife Drive will take you past forests, grasslands, marshes, open water pools and the Shiawassee River. It runs for six and a half miles and includes observation platforms and parking areas along the way.

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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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