Lake Huron Fall, Michigan Coastal Initiatives, Energy Plans

For Sept. 8, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/m5qrqpwxg55vg9x/mr-great-lakes-sept-8-2017-environment-report.mp3]

1 – While fall doesn’t officially begin until Sept. 22, Sept. 1 was the equivalent in terms of weather and water levels.

Michigan State University Extension notes that levels on Lake Huron seem to have peaked in July and August and are now following a typical seasonal decline.

This decline usually continues into October and through December, and then the lake begins a seasonal increase in January and February.

Lakes Huron and Michigan are technically one lake that’s connected by the Straits of Mackinac. The current forecast is that Lake Huron will dip by 2 inches by around Oct 1. That 2-inch decrease amounts to about 1.5 trillion gallons of water (evaporation, precipitation and runoff.)

2 – Michigan is supporting coastal initiatives throughout the state.

Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes will use a half-million dollars in federal grants for 11 projects along the coastline.

The funding supports local governments, nonprofits, and university researchers. Projects will improve beach safety, create public access, and develop tools to protect coastal habitat, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Some funds will continue support for initiatives like the Adopt-a-Beach and Clean Marina programs. Others will explore new ground with aerial photography and geospatial technology.

The projects include a master plan for the village of Sebewaing in Huron County. The plan will be crafted with public input and is intended to help manage natural and recreational Lake Huron resources that include coastal wetlands, a marina, an inland waterway, and a campground.

sebewaing park huron county michigan

Credit: Dale Noel

3 – Clean air and health advocates are pushing for expanded renewable energy and energy efficiency in Michigan.

Groups including the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Ecology Center are calling for utility companies to increase investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy as part of Integrated Resource Plans (IRP).

Under a new energy law that took effect in April, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy must file Integrated Resource Plans that lay out long-term plans for energy efficiency and demand response, and for building power plants and other forms of electricity generation.

The Michigan Public Service Commission is holding public comment sessions throughout the state on these plans.

One was held held this week in Livonia. Others are planned for Grand Rapids and Marquette.

Comments on the plans also are being taken online until Oct. 6 at michigan.gov/lara.

– 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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SC Johnson Wind Energy, Summer Teacher Institute, Canada Geese

For July 7, 2017

1 – SC Johnson’s manufacturing site in Bay County recently joined two other company-owned sites running on 100 percent wind energy.

The Bay County site is located in Bangor Township and manufactures Ziploc brand bags.

The Bangor Township facility is purchasing all of its electricity from nearby wind farms.

SC Johnson says almost one third of its global energy usage now comes from renewable sources. It’s part of a company effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Two other SC Johnson sites in the Netherlands and Poland are running completely on wind energy.

2 – Teachers can go back to school this summer.

From Aug. 14-17, a Lake Huron summer teacher institute will be held in Alpena. Applications for the event are due July 21.

It’s put on by the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, in partnership with federal and state agencies, universities, nonprofits and others.

The event provides an opportunity to network and explore Great Lakes and natural resource issues.

Participants will receive a $500 project stipend to launch a place-based education effort at their school.

For more information, see nemi glsi . org.

 

canada-geese-attack

Credit: Michael Gil

3 – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has tips for avoiding problems with Canada geese this summer.

A subspecies called the giant Canada goose is most plentiful in Michigan. These birds nearly went extinct in the 1950s because of overhunting and habitat loss.

These days, the number of giant Canada geese counted each spring in Michigan is well over 300,000 due in part to wildlife management programs.

Tips to keep geese away from your yard include using bird-scare balloons and applying repellents like grape concentrate to your lawn to keep geese from feeding on the grass.

Also, do not feed Canada geese. Be aware of your surroundings when visiting parks and areas near water. Canada geese are protective of their nests and hatchlings. Do not disturb them or get too close.

– 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

 

More Michigan Renewables, Updated Fish Finder, Saginaw Pollinator Project

For Friday, May 25, 2017

1- Michigan’s two largest utilities have announced plans to increase their commitments to renewable energy.

They say it’s based on a continued transition away from coal and in response to customer demand.

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Credit: Jim Sorbie

According to Midwest Energy News, DTE Energy says it will add 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy from wind and solar, and retire all of its coal power plants by about 2040. At that time, DTE says 60 percent of its portfolio will come from wind, solar and nuclear, and the remainder will come from natural gas.

Consumers Energy has applied for a tariff with state regulators to allow large commercial customers to purchase generation from new renewable energy projects. Consumers says the three-year, voluntary pilot program is in response to growing demand from corporations for renewable energy.

 

2 – A fish finding tool has been updated.

michigan-fish-finder (2)

via MDNR

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer features more than 40 streams that represent a range of conditions in terms of stream size, temperature and Great Lakes access.

The focus is on streams with long-term data and naturally reproducing populations of trout, salmon and bass that provide users with information on self-sustaining fish populations around the state.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources launched the app in 2014.

Officials say it’s useful for fishery managers, anglers, conservation groups, and the public.

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer can be found at mcgi.state.mi.us/fishpop/#.

3 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy seeks volunteers for a Pollinator Project in Saginaw.

This year, the conservancy plans to turn vacant lots on 50 sites into natural spaces.

The plan is to replace trash, old tires, and overgrown weeds on vacant lots with native wildflowers and prairie grasses. When converted, the lots will only need to be mowed once every few years.

Leaders say the project will reduce the burden of local government for maintenance and improve the visual condition of neighborhoods throughout the city.

The conservancy plans to start the work in coming weeks. Anyone interested in volunteering can call the conservancy at (989) 891-9986.

– 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

Rejecting More Wind, Bagging More Trash, Creating Less Waste

For May 19, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/lz7olvmj7yxo6ip/mr-great-lakes-wind-trash-waste-5-19-17.mp3]

1 – Voters in several townships and three counties in Michigan’s Thumb have rejected plans for wind projects and zoning changes.

Developers tell Midwest Energy News they are now regrouping, and are uncertain of whether they will pursue future projects in the three-county region of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola. The region has the most concentrated amount of wind turbines in the state.

Two projects proposed by DTE Energy and NextEra Energy and approved by Huron County officials, were reversed through petition drives and referendum votes.

DTE’s completion of a Filion Wind Park was rejected in four townships. NextEra’s 150-megawatt Huron Wind Energy Center was rejected in two townships.

Local officials say the outcome is due to a saturation of the market in the Thumb, and growing mistrust with wind development companies stemming from ongoing disputes over tax payments.

2 – Memorial Day is the unofficial start of beach season in Michigan. And volunteers with the Adopt-a-Beach program will be out on the shorelines again this year.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, which organizes the program, reports that more than 15,000 people participated in almost 1,400 cleanups last year. They recorded every piece of litter they picked up, which totaled more than 40,000 pounds.

The litter database is used identify problem areas and develop solutions to improve beach health.

The majority of trash picked up – 87 percent – was plastic. That included smoking-related litter and food-related litter, meaning it originated from human activity.

To find a cleanup near you, visit GreatLakesAdopt.org. A cleanup is planned for August at the Bay City state park beach in Bangor Township.

3 – A Great Lakes Bay Zero Waste Consortium will look at waste reduction strategies.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is partnering with Duro-Last Inc. and others to launch the effort.

The goal is to bring together area manufacturers, businesses, and institutions interested in implementing waste reduction strategies.

Participants say taking a systematic look at waste generated by businesses can help identify opportunities to cut costs through waste reduction.

A free informational meeting for anyone interested in getting involved is planned for Wednesday, May 24, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Duro-Last headquarters on West Morley Drive 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

Worms and Streams and Renewable Energy

For May 11, 2017

1 – Spring stream sampling is getting underway in Gladwin and Clare counties.

Volunteers for the Little Forks Conservancy of Midland will be out on Saturday, May 13, conducting sampling to determine the water quality of the Cedar River.

Teams will sample six sites in the river in Gladwin and Clare Counties.

Little Forks Conservancy began monitoring the water quality of the Cedar River in fall of 2015.

 

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Worms. Credit: Jeff Kart

 

The conservancy says the project provides an opportunity for citizen scientists to learn about the importance of using macroinvertebrates to monitor the health of a watershed.

These macroinvertebrates include aquatic insects, crustaceans and worms.

The conservancy says volunteers are helping create a more complete picture of the health of the Cedar River with each monitoring event.

2 – DTE Energy has opened a Discovery Center in Bad Axe.

The 3,000 square-foot space is available for use by local community groups and equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia capabilities and renewable energy education videos.

The Discovery Center is attached to the Huron Renewable Energy Center, a formerly abandoned retail store that DTE renovated and opened in 2016.

DTE says it wants to create to create a place where students and local residents can learn about renewable energy, especially wind power, because Huron County leads the state in wind energy development.

The Discovery Center’s educational videos focus on how renewable energy is contributing to Michigan’s economy, why Michigan is attractive for future wind park development, how renewable energy is supporting the state’s clean energy future, and how wind parks work in tandem with farming.

DTE’s newest wind project in Huron County, Pinnebog Wind Park, was commissioned at the end of December.

 

Debating Ag Land Windfall, Finding Trout Trails

For April 14, 2017

1 – Agricultural land is the only type of property in Michigan that’s increased in overall value since 2008.

According to Midwest Energy News and Bridge Magazine, that may be in part due to wind energy development. Areas that have seen significant development — such as the Thumb region — also had some of the greatest property value increases.

One analysis says commodity prices of corn, sugar beets and soybeans are the primary reason for the increased agricultural property values.

But a Lansing-based consulting firm says that analysis focused on a property’s value, not including other taxable features like wind turbines.

5 Lakes Energy says counties that host the largest number of turbines, including Huron County,  have seen the largest increase in the total taxable value of property in their areas.

2 – Those who love to fish for trout will want to check out a new online Trout Trails tool.

michigan-trout-trails

Credit: MDNR

The application pinpoints quality trout streams and lakes throughout the state.

The state Department of Natural Resources says the tool features lesser-known waters that are considered to be outstanding places to fish for trout, and they’ve verified by biologists.

Almost 100 new sites were recently added to the application, which includes about 300 locations in the Great Lakes basin.

Each entry features extensive information, including the trout species available, regulations, the presence of stocked or naturally reproducing fish, driving directions, area lodging, restaurants and more.

Visit michigan.gov/trouttrails to access the information.

– 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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