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.
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 researchers sampled 64 river systems in Michigan for E. coli and human fecal bacteria as part of largest watershed study of its kind to date.
Sample after sample, bacterial concentrations were highest where there were higher numbers of septic systems in the watershed area.
It has been assumed that soil can filter human sewage, working as a natural treatment system. Unfortunately, such systems do not keep E. coli and other pathogens from water supplies, the researchers say.
Researchers say information from the study is vital for improving management decisions for locating, constructing, and maintaining on-site wastewater treatment systems.
3 – Old habitat is being reopened to Saginaw Bay fish.
A Frankenmuth fish passage project began last week. The work will reconnect fish of the Saginaw Bay to more than 70 miles of historically significant spawning areas.
Construction crews are assembling a “rock rapids” system along the Cass River, which will allow passage of walleye, sturgeon and other fish beyond the a dam to areas that have not been accessible for more than 150 years.
1 – The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making lakes healthier and local economies stronger.
– a map from the EPA report
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that, since 2010, the federally funded Initiative has implemented more than 2,500 projects to improve water quality, clean up contaminated shoreline, protect and restore native habitat and species, and prevent and control invasive species.
According to a copy of the report, Northeast Michigan’s environment saw many improvement last year as a result of Huron Pine projects.
That includes the Northern Saginaw Bay Restoration Initiative.
That intiative aims to improve water quality in the Rifle, Au Gres and Tawas river watersheds. In 2014, Huron Pines improved five road and stream crossings to reconnect more than 17 upstream miles of aquatic habitat.
The nonprofit also worked with private landowners and agricultural producers to reduce streambank erosion and runoff from farms.
An additional 20 acres were treated for invasive phragmites along the Lake Huron coast.
3 – Advocates have been busy this week, urging members of Congress to protect the Great Lakes.
The effort is known as Great Lakes Day. Members of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition were among those involved. Programs on the radar include the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
This is a special year for Great Lakes Day. The Joyce Foundation this week launched a new website called Great Lakes Great Impact.
The coalition spent time showing videos from the site to members of Congress about the impact of Great Lakes restoration around the region.
1 – A new federal plan for the Great Lakes will focus on protecting water quality, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat over the next five years.
The Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan II.
The new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Action Plan was released this week in Chicago. It lays out steps that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other departments will take during Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019.
A federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the lakes.
The new action plan will focus on cleaning up additional Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes, preventing and controlling invasive species, reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful and nuisance algal blooms, and restoring habitat to protect native species.
Money from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been used in recent years to double the acreage enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in watersheds where phosphorous runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms. That includes western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Green Bay.
2 – A new nature preserve is opening in Midland County.
A boardwalk built by an Eagle Scout candidate leads visitors through wetlands at Forestview Natural Area. Credit: Little Forks Conservancy.
The 70-acre Forestview Natural Area will be opened to the public next month.
The Little Forks Conservancy is hosting an event at 1 p.m. Oct. 12 to mark the opening, and guests will be invited to explore the preserve’s 1.25-mile trail loop.
The Conservancy purchased Forestview Natural Area in 2012.
The new preserve is located directly across the Tittabawassee River from the Conservancy’s 419-acre Riverview Natural Area.
The trail was constructed last fall by volunteers from CPI Engineering.
Local Boy Scouts led projects to place boardwalks along the trail, and a bridge over a small waterway on the property. The preserve is home to many species of reptiles and other amphibians. The riverbank is a roosting spot for bald eagles.
3 – Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a whole lot larger.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has expanded the boundaries of the sanctuary from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles. The area now includes the waters of Lake Huron adjacent to Michigan’s Alcona, Alpena and Presque Isle counties.
The expansion is based on several years of research, and protects an additional 100 known and suspected historic shipwreck sites.