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.

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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

 

 

Spotting Ducks, Treating for Ash Borer, Awarding Grants

For Friday, March 31, 2017

1 – Ducks were down in a recent survey. But state biologists say they still believe populations are stable.

aerial waterfowl survey michigan dnr ducks

Department of Natural Resources biologists counted ducks, geese and swans while flying low over Michigan’s waterways as part of an annual effort to monitor waterfowl populations. Credit: MDNR

Staffers from Michigan Department of Natural Resources took to the skies in small aircraft earlier this year to count ducks, geese and swans.

They observed more than 148,000 ducks, which was down by 5 percent from about 157,000 ducks observed in 2016.

Biologists say the decline can be attributed to cold arctic blasts in late December and early January that pushed birds southward. Some ducks bypassed Michigan altogether.

The state has conducted aerial surveys of wintering ducks and geese since 1991. The results are important for helping manage habitat for the species.

2 – Yellow dots on trees in Bay County mean they’ll be treated to fight emerald ash borer.

Officials with County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program say they are including hundreds of healthy, living ash trees in an annual Emerald Ash Borer Treatment Project.

yellow dot abstract

Credit: Pellinni

Trees scheduled to be treated this year will be marked with a yellow dot on the side facing the road. These trees were last treated in 2013.

Trees marked with a green dot were treated in the spring of 2016.

The treatments help to maintain the health of ash trees and should protect them from further emerald ash borer damage for at least two years.

3 – Spring is here, and action grants are available from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The group has set a deadline of April 14 for proposals.

They’re looking for organizations with great ideas for projects that focus on natural resource restoration, education and promotion, or sustainability.

The funding is available to organizations working to make improvements in neighborhoods, communities, and watersheds.

The Network will award grants of up to $1,000 to successful applicants. A one-to-one match is required.

More information is available online at SaginawBayWIN.org.

– 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

CMU Studies Freshwater Contaminants, Michigan Gains Solar Jobs

For Feb. 10, 2017

1 – Contaminants of emerging concern are in everyday products from soap to pharmaceuticals.

But their environmental impact is largely unknown. A Central Michigan University biologist is studying how these contaminants in the water and sediment affect the ecosystems and life cycles of freshwater mussels.

Biologist Daelyn Woolnough is looking at freshwater mussels and largemouth bass, which act as hosts for mussel larvae.

Of the more than 40 freshwater mussel species in the Great Lakes, more than 70 percent are endangered or threatened. Their populations have been impacted by invasive species like the zebra mussel, and may be impacted by contaminants of emerging concern, which also include agricultural products.

Freshwater mussels filter water from the basins in which they reside, and they don’t move around like fish. So testing mussel tissue or contaminants will tell researchers what’s happening at the bottom of rivers.

The results may help inform management and conservation decisions.

2 – Michigan gained 1,339 solar industry jobs in 2016, representing a 48 percent increase in the state’s solar workforce.

A new National Solar Jobs Census from the nonprofit Solar Foundation says Michigan now has a total of 4,118 solar workers, up from 2,779 in 2015.

One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2 percent of all new jobs.

Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total solar industry employment increase by 10 percent.

In 2016, the five states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.

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– 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

Getting Warmer on Climate Predictions, Surface Temperatures

For Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/qf7mohqej0lpjhf/ENV%20REPORT%2012-2-16%20mrgreatlakes.mp3]

1  – The Great Lakes are part of one climate system, although they differ greatly from one another.

great lakes model nayuki

Credit: Nayuki

A new integrated computer model brings together climate and water information for the Great Lakes region. It will be useful for climate predictions, dealing with invasive species and other environmental research.

Michigan Technological University helped develop the model, along with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, and other organizations.

A researcher says knowing the warming trend is an important concept in climate change modeling, along with understanding that extreme events become more severe.

The new model will help researchers better understand the connection between air and water in the Great Lakes.

The model’s accuracy was vetted by comparing its simulations to historical records and satellite data.

2 – The temperatures of the Great Lakes were the warmest in six years for late November.

Surface temperatures in November 2016 were several degrees warmer than at the same time two years ago.

Data for Saginaw Bay shows temperatures in the 40s and 50s for Nov. 30.

With winter on its way, warm lake waters and cold winds blowing across them will be a perfect combination for lake-effect snow, according to officials with the federal Coastwatch program.

The last time the lakes were this warm, in November of 2010, lake surfaces remained mostly ice free for the entire winter.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

National Spotlight for Saginaw Bay Restoration, National Ban for 11 Invasives

For Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 –


1 – Wetland restoration in Saginaw Bay is highlighted in a national report.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration points to seven partnerships in the U.S. that have helped safeguard natural resources.

The agency says the partnerships demonstrate the benefits of using conservation approaches to address climate change and other issues.

Saginaw Bay is listed alongside areas in California, the Rocky Mountains and Hawaii.

 

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Lake Huron shoreline, Tawas Point, Michigan. Credit: NOAA

 

Our area is singled out for development of a coastal wetland decision support tool.

The tool helps identify and prioritize restoration activities for existing and historical coastal wetlands.

The national project is called the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative. It supports a U.S. strategy to build and maintain an ecologically connected network of coastal and other conservation areas that are likely to be resilient to climate change and support a broad range of fish, wildlife and plants.

2 – Eleven freshwater species have been added to a federal ban list.

The Nature Conservancy says the move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bans trade or import into the United States, and was determined by examining damage caused in other waters.

The list includes 10 fish species such as the Crucian carp and Eurasian minnow along with the the Yabby crayfish.

The Conservancy says these nonnative invasives aren’t currently part of trade or import, but have been determined through a risk assessment process to have a high climate match. That means, if they’re released here, they could thrive within the Great Lakes basin.

Conservancy officials say past practice has been to prohibit a species only after it’s been established in the U.S. and is causing damage. The group says this proactive assessment and restriction by the Fish and Wildlife Service is an important step forward.

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 Species, Sewer Maintenance

For Friday, Nov. 4, 2016

1 – New research in Saginaw County is looking at how invasive plants can feed farms and power homes.

According to the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, scientists are working at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge this fall to determine if harvesting invasive cattails from the marsh can improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

The harvesting could remove nutrients taken up by the soil. These nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, can lead to water quality problems in the Saginaw Bay and its river systems.

Scientists also are investigating the use of harvested biomass as supplemental fertilizer and energy source.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network provided a grant for the project and says the method could be used for other invasive species such as phragmites.

2 – The Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area promotes education, outreach and control activities in 17 counties in the Saginaw Bay watershed.

The group’s Strike Team reports a successful season treating more than 100 sites in the watershed.

The majority of the sites contained invasive phragmites and Japanese knotweed.  

All of the sites will be monitored and follow-up treatment will done as necessary.

Many of the sites treated were private lands where the property owner contacted the group directly.  

For more information, see the Facebook page for the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.

3 – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has awarded nearly $97 million to 137 municipalities to assist with costs of planning for sewer system maintenance needs.

The program provides grant assistance for wastewater and stormwater planning, and the testing and demonstration of innovative technology.

Grants in Bay County include about $655,000 to the Bay County Road Commission, $392,000 to Portsmouth Township, $424,000 to Williams Township, $1.2 million to the city of Essexville, $1.7 million to Pinconning and $1 million to Standish.

– 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

Water Strategy, Solarize Michigan, Clean Your Hunting Dogs

For Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/89ocmmjx3g2xlx3/ENV%20REPORT%2010-20-16.mp3]

1 – The final part of Michigan’s water strategy is out.sustaining-michigans-water-heritage

This is part four in a series of releases from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The final piece highlights recommendations and governance tools.

Primary recommendations include developing integrated monitoring systems, tracking groundwater use and working with tribal governments.

The next steps will involve outreach and education initiatives, and tracking progress.

The Water Strategy is a 30-year plan to protect, manage, and enhance Michigan’s water resources for current and future generations.

 

2 – The sun is setting on a solar program in the Tri-Cities.

Solarize Michigan was launched earlier this year by the nonprofit Institute for Energy Innovation and comes to a close on Oct. 31.

The program goal is to accelerate deployment of distributed solar power in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties by making the investment simpler and more affordable.

After a process that received dozens of inquiries and 10 proposals, three installers were selected. Program representatives held workshops and gave presentations to local service and community groups.

The program broke ground on its first project in June, and has since finalized 13 projects, adding more than 100 kilowatts of new capacity.

In the remaining days,organizers are working to sign-up more interested households in an effort to double the number of installations in the three counties.

– Via  http://eepurl.com/cj1B4b

 

3 – Waterfowl hunters can help stop the spread of invasive phragmites.

The plants are spreading across Michigan, and the state is calling on hunters to do their part.

New invasions of phragmites can start from windblown seeds or fragments of plant roots. These seeds and fragments can stick to hunting gear, including decoys and even dogs.

Hunters are encouraged to remove plants, seeds and mud from boots, pets, vehicles and gear before leaving a recreation or hunting site.

Hunters who notice invasive phragmites in areas where they haven’t seen them before are asked to report the sightings with a smartphone app.

– 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

 

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