Great Lakes Restoration, Phragmites and Insect Hotels

For Oct. 20, 2017

1- Great Lakes advocates gathered in Buffalo, New York, this week for the 13th annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference.

The event, hosted by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition attracted hundreds of people from the Saginaw Bay area, other parts of Michigan, and other states. It occurred while Congress is working to finalize the federal budget.

Coalition officials say federal investments in the Great Lakes are producing results around the region, which benefit communities, the environment and the economy.

The coalition is urging Congress to maintain support for federal investments for programs to clean up toxic pollution and help fix wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums.

2 – School children are learning about the impacts of invasive plants.

Earlier this month, sixth graders from Tawas Area Schools visited a patch of phragmites that have developed on the property of the St. Joseph Health System in Tawas City.

Non-native phragmites, also know as common reed, can grow into tall stands and crowd out native plants and animals.

The hospital wanted to treat for the plants and worked with the nonprofit Huron Pines in Gaylord to turn the request into a learning experience for the students.

Student activities included calculating the density of the patch, dissecting the plant, mapping the site, and journaling ideas for future site plans.

The students and teachers plan to continue the lessons by bringing the data back to the classroom for further discussion.

3 – Hotels have been built in a nature preserve.

 

IMG_1790

An insect hotel. Credit: Little Forks Conservancy

Don’t worry though, these hotels are for insects.

A Boy Scout built and installed the insect hotels for the Little Forks Conservancy of Midland.

The conservancy says these hotels are great for gardens and natural areas. The insects that check in are friendly pollinators and creatures that help control harmful bugs. The hotels are stuffed with materials to attract various insects.

Ten hotels were installed along the trail at the Averill Preserve and Riverview Natural Area. They will be seeded by the Chippewa Nature Center in the spring with native wildflowers and grasses.

– 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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OktoberForest Campaign and Open Burning Information

For Oct. 13, 2017

 

1 – More than 20 breweries in Michigan have joined an OktoberForest campaign by The Nature Conservancy to raise awareness about the importance of forests to freshwater.

Oktoberforest_Coaster_2017

An OktoberForest coaster. Credit: TNC

That includes Tri City Brewing in Bay City.

The OktoberForest campaign aims to educate beer fans about the link between the health of America’s forests and water, which is the main ingredient in beer.  

Twenty one Michigan breweries are participating out of 81 nationwide, the most of any state.

Coasters with information about OktoberForest can be found at breweries including Tri City Brewing in Bay City and Midland Brewing in Midland, along with Paddle Hard Brewing in Grayling and Snowbelt Brewing Co. in Gaylord.

Forests help improve water supplies in a number of ways. Forests shade streams, lakes and snow from evaporation; the forest floor helps filter sediment; and tree roots help hold soil together so it can store water.

2 –  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has information on open burning in the state.

Open burning is the burning of unwanted materials like brush, leaves and grass. It pollutes the air and poses a forest fire hazard, state regulators say. And there are various rules that people need to follow.

For instance, you can’t burn hazardous materials, chemicals, tires, trash, plastics or electronics. If you live 1,400 feet outside of an incorporated city or village limit, you can burn brush and trees. If you want to burn grass and leaves, you need to check with your local government.

Go to Michigan.gov/burnpermit to see if you need a burn permit. State regulators say the rules are in place to protect people and the environment.

– 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

Invasive Plant Boat Tours, Fall Colors

For Sept. 22, 2017

1 – You can learn about the effects of invasive plants during free boat tours on Lake Huron.

phragmites-boat-tour-saginaw-bay-lake-huron

Bay County and a group called Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area is offering half-hour public tours to showcase phragmites treatment efforts.

The tours leave every half hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the Finn Road Boat Launch in Essexville on Sept. 29, the Quanicassee Boat Launch in Fairgrove on Sept. 30, and Eagle Bay Marina in Standish on Oct. 1.

Those who join can learn about the effects of invasive phragmites on recreation and the ecosystem of Saginaw Bay. Local naturalists will explain the issues caused by these invasive plants and showcase areas where treatment has killed a majority of the infestation.

The tours will take place aboard charter fishing boats and are family friendly.

2 – Friday, Sept. 22, is the first day of fall.

fall leaves colors michigan

Credit: MDNR

Fall color is predicted to peak throughout October in Michigan, depending on the location. The Pure Michigan website has a map to find out the best times to visit different areas of the state.

See Michigan.org/fall.

The state Department of Natural Resources also notes that fall camping is available for people traveling north to view the colors.

Reservations are reported to be much easier to find in the fall, and officials say campgrounds are less crowded.

Many state parks will host harvest festivals for campers. Events are planned at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County’s Bangor Township on Oct. 5-7 and Oct. 12-14.

– 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

 

On Following a Black Bear and Germania Restoration

For Aug. 18, 2017

1 – Michigan educators can register for classroom wildlife programs.

black bear michigan crossing

Credit: Tony Faiola

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers free educational opportunities for K through 12 educators.

The resources meet required educational standards and include “Elk University,” which touches on Michigan history, forest management, elk biology and wildlife disease.

There’s also “A Year in the Life of a Michigan Black Bear,” which includes following a bear through its seasonal movements by using actual data points from a radio-collared Michigan black bear.

Educators are asked to register for these classroom programs by Sept. 30.

To register, visit mi.gov/dnrteachers and click on “Wildlife Education and Outreach.”

2 – Two community meetings are planned for Sept. 13 at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center in Saginaw.

The meetings are to discuss the future use and restoration of the former Germania country club, which recently became part of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

The public is invited to provide input about their needs for wildlife, outdoor recreation and environmental education along with any concerns they may have on future management of the area.

The Sept. 13 meetings will be from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

Two future meetings are being planned in the Saginaw area.

– 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

 

State of the Great Lakes and Saginaw Bay

For June 23, 2017

1 – A new report from the U.S. and Canada accesses the condition of the Great Lakes as “fair and unchanging.”

In other words, progress to restore and protect the lakes has been made, including the reduction of toxic chemicals. But there are challenges with issues such as invasive species and nutrients. Also, the ecosystem is large and complex and it can take years to respond to restoration activities and policy changes.

For Lake Huron, the report says chemical pollutants have declined significantly since the 1970s, but there are still fish and wildlife consumption advisories to protect human health. Most nearshore waters are high-quality, but areas including Saginaw Bay experience periodic harmful or nuisance algal blooms.

To read the full report, see binational.net.

beach saginaw bay recreation state park

Saginaw Bay at the Bay City State Recreation Area, Bangor Township, Michigan

2 – Registration is now open for the State of the Bay 2017 Conference to be held Wednesday, Sept. 27 in Bay City.

The one-day conference is a chance to learn about activities related to the restoration, conservation and protection of Saginaw Bay. In addition, there will be presentations on what communities around the bay and throughout the watershed are doing to encourage public access, economic development, environmental education and watershed management.

The latest agenda includes a keynote on “Water Quality in Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie” by Dr. Jeff Reutter from Ohio Sea Grant.

The Sept. 27 conference is sponsored by the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network and its partners.

Go to stateofthebay2017.org to register for the event and review a preliminary agenda.

– 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

 

Paris in Michigan, PACE in Saginaw, Training in Midland

For June 9, 2017

1 – More than 200 U.S. mayors, including a number in Michigan, have signed on commit to goals of the Paris climate agreement.

President Donald Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the climate accord, which was signed by nearly 200 other countries and aims to reduce polluting emissions by 2025.

The more than 200 mayors have signed on to an agreement from a national group called Climate Mayors.

Michigan cities that have committed to honor the Paris agreement include: Ann Arbor, Buchanan, Detroit, East Lansing, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Lapeer, Pleasant Ridge, Rockwood, Royal Oak, Traverse City, and Ypsilanti.

Other cities are being encouraged to join the coalition.

 

2 – School may be out for some, but summer offers training opportunities on forestry, trails and invasive species.

The Little Forks Conservancy of Midland is hosting three workshops for volunteers interested in learning from experts about managing natural lands.

The first is 6 p.m. June 27 and will focus on tree care and forest management.

The second is 6 p.m. July 18 and will discuss how to create and maintain a trail network.

The final workshop is 6 p.m. Aug. 22 and will focus on identifying and removing non-native invasive plant species.

Each workshop will meet at Little Forks Conservancy office at 105 Post St. in Midland. Participants who attend all three workshops will be designated as Certified Stewards for Little Forks.

The workshops are free and open to the public. Registration is required by contacting Sara Huetteman at 989.835.4886 or shuetteman@littleforks.org.

For more details, call 989.835.4886 or visit www.littleforks.org.

 

3 – Saginaw is celebrating the transformation of a classic, 88-year-old apartment building in a downtown neighborhood.

The project involved installing all new windows, cutting $610,000 from the building’s 20 year-operating cost, and reducing the apartments’ carbon footprint.  

The work was accomplished through Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. The state-adopted program, also known as PACE, allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through a special assessment on their property taxes.

The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce and Saginaw Future Inc. hosted a ceremony this week (June 7) at the New Amadore Apartments in Saginaw.

– 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

 

BaySail Seeks Trainees, Refuge Considers Commercial Guides, State Surveys Fish

For June 2, 2017

 

1 – BaySail in Bay City is offering Windward Bound Voyages.

They take place on board the 65-foot Appledore V schooner.

Teenagers from 14-18 can join a professional tall ship crew to learn about navigation, sailing, and the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Windward Bound graduates are eligible to join a year-round training program and enjoy future sailing opportunities as volunteers,

The voyage schedule includes a trip from Bay City to Buffalo, New York, in June, and others through August.

A limited number of scholarships are available for teens from Bay, Midland, Saginaw and Isabella counties.

For a complete schedule and an application, see BaySailBayCity.org.

 

2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comment on a plan to allow commercial guides for wildlife observation and photography.

Officials say wildlife observation and photography by the public was previously determined to be compatible with a refuge conservation plan.

Officials are seeking comment on a similar plan that expands this use to include commercial guiding for wildlife observation and photography.

Comments are being taken for two weeks, ending June 14, at the refuge website and on its Facebook page.

All commercial guides would be required to apply for a Special Use Permit and steps would be taken to minimize impacts to wildlife.

3 – All four of the state’s fisheries research vessels are back on the water, beginning their annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations for the Department of Natural Resources.

The surveys are designed to examine and collect information on fish communities and their habitats.

The research vessels are based in Marquette, Alpena, Charlevoix and Harrison Township.

They work throughout the Great Lakes, beginning as soon as ice has cleared and continuing into November.

On Lake Huron, work is done by the research vessel Tanner, the DNR’s newest vessel which was launched in 2016. This vessel focuses on assessments of lake trout and walleye populations, and broader fisheries assessments in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River.

 

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