Top 10 Eco-Schools and Lake Trout in Lake Huron

For Friday, Oct. 2, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/dpsyuk4noy65zz2/10-02-15-mrgrealakes.mp3]

1 – The National Wildlife Federation is honoring the Top 10 eco-schools in the U.S.map-nwf-eco-schools-michigan

The schools are being recognized for “their commitment to wildlife protection, sustainability and environmental education” as part of the Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program.

The top schools are in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, California, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Maryland and Florida.

According to the NWF, the Top 10 schools in total saved more than $207,000 in energy, water and waste that was diverted or saved.

There are already 67 eco-schools registered in Michigan. They include St. James Elementary in Bay City, Vassar High School, Frankenmuth High School and Marshall Greene Middle School in Birch Run.

2 – Successes of the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are being highlighted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Lake trout stocking in the Great Lakes. Credit: USFWS

Lake trout stocking in the Great Lakes. Credit: USFWS

The Service has received more than $41 million this year to support new and ongoing Great Lakes projects, and more than $271 million over the past six years.

A “Restoring the Great Lakes” report from the agency says the conservation investments are starting to show tangible returns.

Lake trout, for instance, have been a central focus of Great Lakes stocking efforts for decades.

Now they are starting to make a resurgence, and reproduce naturally.

In Lake Huron, annual lake trout surveys recently revealed that more than 60 percent of the fish collected were of wild origin, the agency says.

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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

Septic Tanks Don’t Work, Restoration Does

For Friday, Aug, 7, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/ng90urix4mxpayo/8-7-15-environment-report-mrgreatlakes.mp3]

1 – Great Lakes restoration projects are coming to Northeast Michigan.

Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership, is funding 20 projects at a total cost of more than $5.7 million.

That money includes $350,000 to Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord.

Huron Pines will use $115,000 to restore more than 350 acres of wetland and shoreline habitat by controlling invasive species, planting native buffers, and reconnecting upland and wetland habitat.

Another $235,000 will be used in the Au Gres River Watershed, to replace five road–stream crossings, install in-stream habitat structures, and implement agricultural conservation practices.

Other grants went to conservation organizations and public agencies in Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

2 – Researchers at Michigan State University say, bluntly, that “septic tanks aren’t keeping poo out of rivers and lakes.”

poo sign michigan msu septic tanks

Credit: Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

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.

The MSU study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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.

Early work on the project was supported by the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, headquartered in Bay City.

The project should be mostly complete by mid-September.

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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

Saginaw Bay in Report to Congress, Waterfowl Festival

For Friday, July 31, 2015

1 – The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making lakes healthier and local economies stronger.

epa great lakes initiative report to congress saginaw bay map

– 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.

The work is summarized in a new Report to Congress and the President.

From Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2014, the EPA received about $1.6 billion in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds.

The funding has been a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination, EPA officials say. This has produced “unparalleled results.”

That includes work with the agricultural community to reduce phosphorus runoff, which contributes to algal blooms in areas including Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

Federal agencies also used funding to increase the number of acres of farmland enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in Saginaw Bay and other priority watersheds by more than 70 percent.

More information about the Initiative, including an interactive project map, is available at glri.us.

2 – The Saginaw Bay Waterfowl Festival is this weekend at the Bay City State Recreation Area.

ducks on the go michigan saginaw bay waterfowl festival 2015

Credit: Ducks Unlimited

The state park in Bangor Township will host the festival on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 and 2.

This is said to be the park’s most popular special event weekend. This is the 20th anniversary.

Features this year include a State Championship Duck & Goose Calling Tournament, Waterfowl Stamp Competition, Wildlife Arts & Craft Show, Waterfowl Calling Clinic and Waterfowl Carving Contest. New this year is a chainsaw carving contest and live auction.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and headquartered at the park’s Saginaw Bay Visitor Center.

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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

Battleground: Smartphone App Fights Invasive Species, Groups Fight for Rivers and Lakes

For Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

1If you see a crime, call 911. If you see an invasive critter, use the app.

A smartphone application developed by a scientist at Michigan State University lets folks snap a photo, log a few quick notes, and send an alert to the invasive species police.

These critter cops are a growing network of scientists and state officials who can use the information to respond to threats from invasives.

The free app is part of the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, a regional effort to enhance early detection, rapid response, and better manage invasive species.

Developers of the app say reports logged by smartphone users will help map the spread of invasives, and help state agencies deploy more effective management plans.

Invasives to look out for in Michigan include the killer shrimp, sea lamprey, Japanese knotweed, and the emerald ash borer.

Teachers in the Chicago area are already using the app, teaming up with local foresters.


2Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, has a story to tell about its accomplishments in 2014.

The organization is holding its annual meeting on Saturday, where it will be sharing its annual report.

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.

 

3Advocates 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.

You can view the videos online at GreatLakesGreatImpact.org.

#GreatLakesDay

 

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

 

Great Lakes Action Plan 2, a New Midland Preserve, and a Larger Marine Sanctuary

For Sept. 26, 2014

 

1A 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 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.

Congress has appropriated $1.6 billion since 2009 for the restoration effort.

 

2A new nature preserve is opening in Midland County.

forestview little forks dedication

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.

For more information, see littleforks.org.

 

3 – Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a whole lot larger.

thunder bay expansion marine conservation area

Via NOAA.

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.

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, headquartered in Alpena, is one of 14 national sites and the only one in the Great Lakes.

Thunder Bay features some of the world’s best-preserved shipwrecks, and visitors can explore the underwater sites through diving, snorkeling and kayaking.

The sanctuary’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, also in Alpena, draws more than 80,000 visitors annually, and features more than 10,000 square feet of exhibits.

See Also: Saginaw Kids Hunt for Shipwreck

 

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

Great Lakes Funding on Tap, Along with New “Green Book”

1- Increased funding for Great Lakes restoration and clean water are on tap for 2014.

wad of money 100s

Credit: 401kcalculator.org

A spending bill released this week by Congress includes more money for two big Great Lakes programs.

That includes $15 million more for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The bill provides $300 million for the Initiative, up from $285 million in 2013.

Also, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund is set to receive about $1.4 billion this fiscal year, about $70 million more than in 2013. The figures are according to the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is aimed at cleaning up toxic pollution, restoring fish and wildlife habitat, fighting invasive species, and reducing runoff from cities and farms.

The Clean Water fund goes for low-interest loans for cities to upgrade aging sewers.

Michigan and other Great Lakes states would receive about $530 million under the spending bill (see pages 32 and 37).

Deep cuts to the programs had been proposed last year, the Detroit Free Press notes.

Also under the spending bill, the Saginaw River is due to receive $3.8 milllion for dredging and maintenance, according to The Detroit News.

2- Delta College wrote the book on sustainability.

green book cover

Via Delta.edu

Actually, a Delta coordinator has helped produce a new book called “Green Book: Creative Sustainable Action.”

Artwork and readings from the book are to be featured in a Jan. 31 event at a downtown Bay City business.

The book was produced and published in collaboration with Linda Petee, sustainability coordinator at Delta College, and designer Michael Glowacki.

It’s described as “a gathering of imaginative, artistic, and resourceful actions that give credence to our ability to make a difference.”

Printing was funded through a Delta College Distribution Committee Grant.

A volume 2 is already being planned.

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

A Bay County Recreation Survey, Great Lakes Restoration Database, and Educational Tools

The Environment Report, with Jeff Kart (Mr. Great Lakes). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. For Oct. 25, 2013.

1 – How should Bay County manage its parks and recreation facilities in the next five years? 

Communities in the county are drafting a master recreation plan.

The public is being asked to take a survey and submit comments.

The plan will cover recreation for the county as well as participating cities and townships (Auburn, Bangor Township, Beaver Township, Essexville, Frankenlust Township, Fraser Township, Garfield Township, Gibson Township, Hampton Township, Kawkawlin Township, Merritt Township, Monitor Township, Mount Forest Township, Portsmouth Township, and Williams Township).

Having an updated plan will allow the county and associated communities to seek grants in the future.

You can take the survey via a link at BayCounty-mi.gov.

2 – How are your tax dollars being put to work for Great Lakes restoration?

The federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has awarded more than $220 million since it began in 2010.

The money has gone for habitat and wildlife restoration and protection projects across Michigan and other states in the Great Lakes region.

A new database aims to showcase the work. The database was funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and created by the Great Lakes Commission.

The database includes an interactive map of habitat and wildlife projects. It can be searched by keyword, and generate a fact sheet for each project, with information on goals and objectives.

A search for Saginaw Bay brings up three projects, totaling almost $600,000, that focused on controlling invasive phragmites and improving fish passage.

3 – There are new ways for students to learn about the Great Lakes. 

michigan sea grant fieldscope

Via Michigan Sea Grant.

The educational tools come from Michigan Sea Grant, a joint effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

The resources are called “Teaching Great Lakes Science” and the “Great Lakes FieldScope.”

The first is a website that offers lessons, related activities and data sets. The resources explore issues like climate and weather; lake effect snow and ice cover; harmful algal blooms, beach health and water quality, according to a news release.

The second is a web-based mapping, analysis and visualization tool, hosted by the National Geographic Society. The Fieldscope can be used to investigate things like water quality or fish spawning grounds.

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