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.

3784276457_61ce861929_z

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

 

 

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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

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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

Kicking off the Tawas Point Birding Festival and a Saginaw Bay Water Quality Initiative

For Friday, May 8, 2015

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. . .

1 – The biggest birding festival in the Midwest starts next week in Iosco County.

eastern bluebird michigan birding

Eastern bluebird. Credit: Rodney Campbell

The 2015 Tawas Point Birding Festival runs from Thursday, May 14, to Sunday, May 17. It’s headquartered at the Tawas Bay Beach Resort in East Tawas.

Organizers say the festival offers some of the best birding in the Great Lakes region, and includes tours, workshops and evening events.

Tawas Point is well-known for high concentrations of migrating warblers during the month of May. Almost 200 species were recorded during last year’s festival.

Earlier this month, a Sunrise Coast Birding Trail was dedicated at three points — in Oscoda, Alpena and Mackinaw City. The new trail is about 150 miles long, beginning at the AuSable River mouth in Oscoda and travelling north to the Mackinac Bridge.

The Sunrise Coast Birding Trail connects with the existing Saginaw Bay Birding Trail, which runs 142 miles from Port Austin in the Thumb to East Tawas.

2 – A major water quality initiative kicked off this week in the Saginaw Bay region.

Leaders from The Nature Conservancy and Michigan Agri-Business Association announced the project in Lansing, which they say will help farmers and agribusinesses protect and improve Saginaw Bay water quality.

Under the new program, certified crop advisers will have new tools to assist Saginaw Bay and Thumb area customers in accessing funding for conservation practices on farms.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program aims to enroll more than 25,000 acres in new agricultural land management practices in the next five years. The effort is expected to keep an estimated 2,500 tons of sediment on the land, and more than 17,000 pounds of phosphorus out of the water.

Farmers will be able to sign up this fall. The program is part of a $20 million public and private partnership under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Saginaw Bay Watershed RCPP

Infographic via The Nature Conservancy

– 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

Climate Education, Dark Skies and (Barely) Biodegradable Plastics

For Friday, April 3, 2015

1April 22 is Earth Day. The week of Earth Day, April 18-25, is Climate Education Week.

The week, organized by the Earth Day Network, urges teachers to educate and engage students on climate change.

To help, there’s a free Toolkit that educators can use. It includes a week of lesson plans, activities and contests for K through 12 students.

The lessons meet Next Generation Science and Common Core standards.

There’s a different theme for each day of the week, and the lessons include videos and items for various grade levels.

You can find the lesson plans and more information at ClimateEducationWeek.org.

2Look up at the sky tonight. How many stars do you see?

You’d see more if there were fewer unnecessary outdoor lights on homes and other buildings.

international dark sky week michigan

Credit: Brian Lauer

April 13-18 is International Dark Sky Week.

Several Michigan state parks will remain open late for night sky viewing during the week. Some parks will host special astronomy events.

Participating parks include Port Crescent State Park in the Thumb.

 

3 – Biodegradable plastics are better than regular plastics, right?

Not really, according to a study by Michigan State University researchers.

Some water bottles and other plastics are dubbed as biodegradeable. But they don’t break down in the environment much faster than plastics that don’t contain additives.

According to Chemical & Engineering News, plastics labeled as LDPE and PET can remain in a landfill for years, so some manufacturers include additives to help the plastics disintegrate faster.

The MSU researchers designed a study to see if the materials performed as promised. Among the findings: After three years of soil burial, plastic samples with additives did not show any greater physical degradation than samples without them.

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

Follow me @jeffkart on Twitter.

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff

 

 

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