Comment on Lake Huron LAMP, Info on Rapid Beach Testing

For July 28, 2017

1 – U.S. and Canadian officials are seeking feedback on a draft plan for improving Lake Huron water quality.

The Lake Huron Lakewide Action and Management Plan, or LAMP, is a five-year strategy for maintaining and restoring the water quality of Lake Huron and the St. Marys River. It was developed by a partnership led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The plan for Lake Huron identifies key priorities for the lake, and guides the coordination of binational environmental protection and restoration activities.

The plan deals with topics such as drinking water quality, beach health, fish and wildlife consumption, chemical contamination, invasive species and nutrient pollution that contributes to harmful algal blooms.

Comments are being accepted until Sept. 5.

Officials want to hear the public’s views on Lake Huron’s health, key environmental issues within the watershed, and proposed priorities and actions to restore and maintain the waters.

To find out more and comment, go online to binational.net.

 

2 – Seven local governments will soon be using a new, rapid testing method for public beaches that counts the DNA of E. coli bacteria in a water sample.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality provided grants for the work.

A total of 15 communities received $200,000 to monitor the water quality of more than 180 inland lake beaches. 

michigan beach sand fisheye

Credit: Kevin Dooley

Seven of those communities are using the new rapid testing method for E. coli bacteria at public beaches.

Those include the Central Michigan District Health Department, which serves Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Osceola, and Roscommon counties.

Testing results will be posted on the DEQ’s BeachGuard website.

– 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

 

 

Saginaw Bay Algal Blooms, UP Monarchs, River Cleanups

For July 14, 2017

1 – Phosphorous pollution has been responsible for toxic algae blooms in Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced a plan to fight phosphorous in Lake Erie.

The plan targets phosphorous pollution from farms – a large contributor to toxic blooms.

The focus is on reducing the amount of phosphorous that makes it into the water – by creating individual plans for riverside farms.

A state official says the same methods could be used to help the Saginaw Bay, which also sees heavy agricultural runoff.

 

2 – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an important stopover site for monarch butterflies on their annual migration from Canada to Mexico.

giphy (1)

via Giphy

A nonprofit called the Superior Watershed Partnership has engaged communities across the UP to help.

Monarch butterfly populations have declined more than 80 percent in recent decades due to habitat loss, pesticides and other factors. Partnership programs are restoring habitat on public and private lands throughout the UP in an effort to counter this trend. The common milkweed plant is the monarch’s preferred food. They also rely on milkweed plants to deposit their eggs and feed their larvae.

The city of Marquette recently worked with the Partnership to mail out more than 6,000 packets of milkweed seeds in utility bills to city residents and businesses.

The group also distributed more than 10,000 seed packets to other UP communities, schools, churches and community groups on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

 

3 – Friends of the Shiawassee River are celebrating 20 years of cleanup events.

The Friends and the Shiawassee County Health Department have removed hundreds of cubic yards of debris and more than 650 tires from the river since the first cleanup in 1997.

Funding comes from the Great Lakes Commission and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

This year, volunteers will meet at the Oakwood Avenue Bridge in Owosso or McCurdy Park in Corunna at 9 a.m. on July 29. For more information, see shiawasseeriver.org.

The Shiawassee River drains an area of more than 1,200 square miles and is a major tributary to the Saginaw River.

– 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

 

Research Vessels, Energy Appraisal and Bad Axe Renewables

For Friday, June 3, 2016 –

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1 – Four state fisheries research vessels are back on the water, beginning annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says surveys conducted by the vessels are designed to examine and collect information on all aspects of the state’s Great Lakes fish community.

The vessels work throughout the Great Lakes on a wide variety of assessments and evaluations. Operations will continue into November.

channelcat

R/V Channel Cat. Via MDNR

On Lake Huron, the work is conducted by the Research Vessel Tanner  Chinook. The vessel focuses work on specific assessments of lake trout and walleye populations, as well as broader assessments in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River that evaluate fish community changes.

The Saginaw Bay evaluations are conducted jointly with the Research Vessel Channel Cat, which is based in Lake St. Clair at the Fisheries Research Station in Harrison Township.

 

2- Michigan consumers are benefiting from an abundant production and supply of natural gas, crude oil and petroleum products.

This is resulting in decreased prices across the board, according to a new state energy appraisal.

This summer, residents should enjoy dramatically lower prices at the pump.

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Credit: Joe Ross

Gas prices are about 13 percent lower than last year, officials say, along with the price of natural gas.

Officials say successful energy waste reduction efforts are noticeable in electricity demand.

Baseline usage is expected to decrease by 0.9 percent, despite a rise in economic activity and slightly increased usage by the industrial sector.

The state energy appraisal comes from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

 

3 – An old building Bad Axe has been renewed.

The Huron Renewable Energy Center was opened recently by DTE Energy, bringing 25 jobs to the Thumb.

The facility was vacant for two years and is a former Normans Warehouse and the site of the M-53 Drive-In Theater, which opened in 1952.

The newly-renovated center includes offices, garage facilities, warehousing and a maintenance shop area.

The facility also has an unfinished 3,000 square-foot space.

DTE plans to develop the space to serve as an area for renewable energy education and the hosting wind park tours, meetings and other community activities.

Plans are expected to be finalized this year, with completion of the space in 2017.

– 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

Salmon Suffering, Beach Cleaning, Happy Spring

For Friday, March 18, 2016 …

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1 – There’s bad news for salmon in Lake Huron.

A University of Michigan-led study says the lake’s chinook salmon fishery is unlikely to recover due to an ongoing food shortage.

The study says the lake can no longer support the alewife, which is the salmon’s main food source.

A co-author says the study should serve as a reality check when it comes to stocking Chinook salmon in Lake Huron.

Pacific salmon were introduced into the Great Lakes 50 years ago to establish a new recreational fishery and help control alewives, a non-native species.

Computer simulations in the study show that the collapse of the alewife population was caused by a combination of predation by salmon and native lake trout and food limitation tied to invasive mussels.

Lake Huron resource managers are being advised to focus efforts on restoration of native fish species like lake trout, walleye, lake whitefish and lake herring.

2 – April is beach season. At least when it comes to the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

The environmental group is kicking off Adopt-a-Beach program this spring with events throughout the state.

A cleanup is planned for Saturday, April 9, at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County’s Bangor Township.

It starts at 10 a.m. at the state park Visitor Center. You can register online at GreatLakesAdopt.org.

An estimated 25 volunteers will collect trash from the beach.

At the last cleanup in October, items collected from the beach included cigarette butts, food wrappers and beverage bottles and cans, and grocery bags.

beach-trash-erv.jpg

Credit: ERV

– 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

 

Lake Huron Conservation, Shiawassee Restoration, Spring Grant Funding

For Friday, March 11, 2016

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1 – Michigan is receiving money along with other Midwest states for conservation efforts.

The funding comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has announced $201 million from its Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Michigan is receiving almost $34 million. Funding from the program in Michigan currently goes to projects including stocking lake trout in Lake Huron. 

laketrouteggs-usfwsmidwest

Lake trout eggs. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the importance of lake trout in the food web of the lake has increased over the past decade since the collapse of alewife and a decline in chinook salmon.

The Service says Michigan findings from the 2015 field season show that lake trout in the main basin of Lake Huron are moving from dependence on stocking to a naturally self-sustaining population.

2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County is hosting an open house.

The event is March 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center on Maple Street in Saginaw.

At the event, a draft restoration plan will be introduced for the Green Point Area property, formerly the Germania Golf Club.

location.JPG

Location of property. Via Draft Restoration Plan

The refuge acquired the 135-acre property in 2014 as a donation from The Nature Conservancy. The land is north of the Tittabawassee River and borders the Learning Center to the north and west.

Officials are now considering alternatives to restore lands in the area.

The property is dominated by turf grasses, ornamental plantings and infrastructure associated with golf courses, along with non-native and invasive species.

Officials are requesting input from the public regarding the proposed restoration.

3 – The first day of spring is Sunday, March 20.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is requesting proposals by March 18 for its Community Action Mini Grant Program.

heron-kramer.jpg

Heron. Credit: Rachel Kramer

The Network, funded by area foundations, is looking for ideas from organizations for projects that focus on natural resource restoration, education, promotion or sustainability.

Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to successful applicants whose projects show creativity, address an important and demonstrated need, and support the vision of the Network.

Eligible organizations include nonprofits, local governments and schools.

– 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

Consumers Energy Cuts Pollution, Huron Pines Reconnects Rivers, and Saginaw Bay Charters Hook More Walleye

For Sept. 19, 2014

 

1 – Consumers Energy has reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Credit: Jerry 'Woody'

Credit: Jerry ‘Woody’

The agreement will reduce emissions at coal-fired power plants in Bay County and other parts of Michigan, and fund projects to benefit the environment and communities.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Consumers has agreed to install pollution control technology to reduce harmful air pollution from the company’s five coal-fired power plants, including the Karn-Weadock complex in Bay County’s Hampton Township.

The settlement with EPA resolves claims that the company violated the Clean Air Act by modifying their facilities and releasing excess sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

EPA expects the actions required by the settlement will reduce harmful emissions by more than 46,500 tons per year. The company estimates that it will spend more than $1 billion to implement the required measures.

The settlement requires the company to pay a civil penalty of $2.75 million and at least $7.7 million on environmental efforts to help mitigate the harmful effects of air pollution and benefit local communities. The new spending will include up to $4 million on the development or installation of renewable energy projects.

Consumers officials say the agreement does not include any admission of wrongdoing.

Consumers says its operation and those of many U.S. energy providers were reviewed as part of an EPA enforcement initiative that began in 1999. That initiative has resulted in more than 25 settlements nationwide.

2Several areas in Michigan will benefit from $12 million in grants for Great Lakes restoration.

The money comes from Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership that includes the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and ArcelorMittal, a steel and mining company.

The grants cover 31 projects to restore and enhanced wetlands in the basin, restore fish passage and improve habitat, and control invasive species.

Ten of those projects are in Michigan.

Huron Pines in Gaylord received money to replace three culverts and reconnect nine miles of the Black River with Lake Huron and provide stream access for coaster brook trout and other fish. The nonprofit also will conduct work in the Cheyboygan River watershed to reconnect 20 upstream miles, reduce sediment inputs, and improve fish habitat.

3Lake Huron is back, especially when it comes to fishing.

A recent report from the state Department of Natural Resources says the number of charter fishing trips taken on the lake in 2013 was the second-highest in the past five years.

There has been continued improvement in the lake’s walleye fishery.

The average Lake Huron charter fishing party targeting walleye could expect to come home with nine walleye in the cooler in 2010 and release another three. In 2013, the average walleye charter trip produced 14 fish for the table and another eight that were released.

Most of the lake’s walleye fishing is concentrated in Saginaw Bay.

According to calculations by Michigan State University and other partners, more than $671,000 in personal income was generated by Michigan’s charter fishing industry at Lake Huron ports in 2013; with a total economic output of $1.82 million.

 

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

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