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. 

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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.

Farm Bill Funding for Saginaw Bay, Beach Wellness, and Finding Endangered Dragonflies

For May 30, 2014


1The Great Lakes have been designated as a Critical Conservation Area.

stabenow saginaw bay

U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow.

That means the region will be eligible for increased funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program under the 2014 Farm Bill.

The announcement was made this week in Bangor Township by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The program, created by Stabenow in the new Farm Bill, will strengthen the Saginaw Bay region’s ability to address priority watersheds with the greatest conservation needs.

The program will provide opportunities for public-private partnerships to address soil erosion, habitat protection and water quality, according to the Great Lakes Commission.

The designation of the Great Lakes as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas in the U.S. means it’s a target region for clean water projects, and there will be additional funding available to address water quality issues, Stabenow says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $1.2 billion in funding over the life of the five-year program and can leverage an additional $1.2 billion from partners for a total of $2.4 billion for conservation.

The 2014 Farm Bill was approved by Congress in February.

 

2The 8th Annual Beach Wellness Event will be held on Saturday, June 21, at the Bay City Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

A range of events start at 9 a.m. and will be held throughout the day for all levels of competition and ages.

That includes a 10K and 5K run, a 5K walk, and a quarter-mile run for kids. There also will be a volleyball tournament for adults and kids, and a classic car cruise.

All proceeds from this year’s Beach Wellness Event will go for grooming the public beach at the state park. Save Our Shoreline has already donated $1,500.

Sign-up info for the runs and walk are available at runsignup.com. You can contact the YMCA in Bay City for info on the volleyball tournament.

More than $70,000 has been raised from previous Beach Wellness events.


3Have you seen the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly?

hines emerald dragonfly

An adult Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly is the focus of this coastal habitat conservation project in northeast Michigan. Photo credit: David Cuthrell, Michigan Natural Features Inventory

A coalition of agencies and organizations are working together to find and protect the insect, which lives in only a few places in the Great Lakes, including Northeast Michigan.

People are being invited to join in a new “citizen science” effort led by partners including Huron Pines in Gaylord and Michigan Sea Grant.

About 150 species of dragonflies and damselflies are known to inhabit Michigan, according to Sea Grant.

The Hine’s emerald dragonfly is rare, in part, due to its specific northern fen habitat requirements. That habitat is threatened by development and the invasion of high impact, non-native species.

The citizen science effort is a two-year project aimed at involving people in protecting the dragonfly and high quality natural habitats at two state parks along the shores of northern Lake Huron. Participants will conduct field surveys for larval habitat and invasive species.

 

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

Manure Runoff, Lake Huron Summit, and Solar Panel Glare

1A broad coalition is calling for an end to the use of manure as fertilizer in the winter.

A furry moth eye. Credit: Andrew Magill.

A furry moth eye. Credit: Andrew Magill.

The groups have called on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to end the application of manure on frozen ground, or ground covered by snow.

A general permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, is currently being revised by the DEQ.

The coalition includes the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Michigan Clean Water Action, Michigan Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

The groups say the problem is runoff from snowmelt and thaw that pollutes lakes and streams. That runoff contains phosphorus, which feeds harmful algal blooms in waters like Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

The groups say the practice of applying manure in the winter has damaged beaches, fisheries and drinking-water supplies. They say intakes in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron also are at risk.

2Success stories from citizens will be featured at a Lake Huron Watershed Summit.

The event is on Friday, April 25, at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena. It’s being put on by Huron Pines and the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG).

The Summit will feature a series of citizen presenters, breakout sessions to share lessons learned, and a State of the Lake panel of natural resource experts.

Topics covered throughout the day will include waterfront practices, local planning, habitat projects, and invasive species removal

For more information, visit VolunteerNorthernMichigan.org.

3Glare from solar panels has been an issue in places like Midland County’s Homer Township, where residents have complained about solar fields next to the Rose Glen subdivision.

It’s also come up in places like California, which has a lot more solar panels than Michigan.

Now, researchers at the University of California in Irvine have developed a gold coating that they say dims the glare from solar panels.

They say the light-absorbing, water-repellant material was inspired by the eyeballs of moths.

Scientists found that a simple process and a tiny bit of gold can turn a transparent film black.

The new coating also could allow people to read cellphone displays in bright light.

The university has patented the work and is exploring ways to bring the product to market.

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

The CGT on Low Water Levels, and Name the Nature Preserve

1- What causes low water levels on the Great Lakes?

In recent decades, Lake Huron and other waters in the basin followed a 10-year trend of lows and highs, researchers say.

cgt-paper-graphic

From the paper, “Decadal oscillation of lakes and aquifers in the upper Great Lakes region of North America: Hydroclimatic implications.”

But, current low water levels have broken from that pattern.

Why? The continued lows are being driven by something called circumglobal teleconnection.

That’s according to new research by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Circumglobal teleconnection, or CGT for short, is like the jet stream, the paper says.

It’s an atmospheric pattern that can drag warm, moist air in to the Great Lakes basin, or keep it out.

For the last 12 years, this CGT pattern hasn’t changed much, meaning less rainfall to replenish lake levels.

Unfortunately, the research doesn’t allow researchers to predict if the oscillations will change anytime soon.

But, the findings will help scientists better monitor present conditions.


2 – A urban nature preserve in Bay City is called Euclid Linear Park.

It’s not exactly an exciting name.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is partnering with Bay County officials to revitalize the park, located next to the Region VII Area Agency on Aging.

The Conservancy is looking to give the park a new nickname, and has narrowed it down to 10 finalists. They’re taking votes for what people think is the best name.

The Conservancy plans to add more native plants and fun educational programs to the preserve, and removing invasive species at the site.

Some of the names being considered: Secret Sanctuary, Woodpecker Pond, Learning Landscape, and Indigo Trail.

You can take the survey online, and see which nicknames are proving to be most popular.

The Conservancy plans to announce the results in coming weeks.

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

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