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

Growing the Saginaw Children’s Zoo and Michigan Solar

For Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 –

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1 – The Children’s Zoo in Saginaw owns about 16 acres of vacant land next to its developed zoo site.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is funding a project to turn the land into an outdoor classroom and nature play area.

The play area will include natural features such as boulders, logs, and native plants.

A nature trail will include signs geared toward families and children, to describe natural features on the land.

Invasive species on the property will be removed.

The project is slated for 2017.

2 – The solar industry is growing 10 times faster than the national economy.

That’s due to continuing technology improvements and declining costs, according to the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

A recently released Michigan Public Service Commission report says net metering and solar pilot programs increased by 20 percent in 2015.

That’s on top of 25 percent growth in solar deployment in 2014 and an 18 percent growth in 2013.

The Council says there’s still room for more, since Michigan’s two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE, have more than 80 percent of space left in their net metering programs.

Under Michigan’s net metering program, customers with on-site renewable energy systems like solar panels receive a credit on their bills for excess energy that’s generated and sent to the grid.

– 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

Plans for Saginaw Riverfront Park, Michigan Water Strategy

For Friday, June 17, 2016

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1 – Planning for a proposed Riverfront Park is progressing in Saginaw.

The Saginaw Community Foundation has awarded a grant to The Nature Conservancy.

The Conservancy is working on a project to develop and implement a community vision for a former General Motors property.

The Conservancy is working with community partners including Saginaw County and Saginaw Future on an open space, recreation and conservation vision for the proposed Riverfront Park.

The conceptual plan includes public access to the river and lake for fishing, multiple trails, and a link to a larger regional vision for trails, open space and recreation lands.

Grant funds will be used for the initial stages of the project and to begin the proposed improvements to Riverfront Park.

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2 – Michigan officials have released a 30-year vision for stewardship of the state’s water resources.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has published the first part of Michigan’s Water Strategy, a plan to protect, manage and enhance Michigan’s water resources.

Part I of the Strategy is centered on promoting stewardship through improving water literacy and community engagement, and protecting and preserving Michigan’s water resources.

The final Strategy will focus on five priorities:

  • Safe drinking water
  • A 40 percent phosphorous reduction in the Western Lake Erie basin
  • Preventing the introduction of new invasive species
  • Supporting investments in commercial and recreational harbors
  • Developing and implementing a Michigan water trails system.

The state is to form a Water Team to involve governments, nongovernmental organizations, industry, academia, local communities and individuals.

 

 

Discovery Playground, Rain Barrels, and Milkweed for Monarchs

For Friday the 13th, 2016

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1 – The Discovery Preserve is an urban, learning landscape established in 2013 and located at 1701 S. Euclid Ave. on Bay City’s West Side. 

discovery-preserve-playground-sblc

Via SBLC.

This year, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is helping build a nature play area at the site. Children will be able to climb large boulders, build woodland shelters out of logs, and dig in the dirt.

The play area also will include interpretive signs that provide children with ideas to help explore and learn about the natural environment. The playground is due to be finished by this summer.

The Conservancy is holding a contest to name a playground mascot. Kids ages 12 and under are encouraged to submit suggestions online at sblc-mi.org.

2 – Rain barrels are a simple, efficient and low-cost method for conserving water to feed lawns and gardens.

The Little Forks Conservancy in Midland is taking orders for repurposed 55-gallon rain barrels.

Proceeds will support local conservation programs.

The barrels feature mesh screening to keep out mosquitoes and other bugs; overflow valves; a garden hose spigot; and a polyethylene surface that can be painted.

Rain barrels collect and store rainwater runoff, typically from a home or building’s rooftop. Instead of running down driveways and sidewalks to sewers, the rainwater is directed to a rain barrel where it can be stored for later use. The average home yields more than 250 gallons of water from every 1 inch of rainfall.

Orders are being taken until June 6. For more information, see littleforks.org.

3 – Throughout Michigan, people are working to help boost populations of monarch butterflies.

The numbers of monarchs have dropped sharply in recent years mostly because milkweed plants also have been decimated.

According to the Michigan Wildlife Council, virtually anyone can join the monarch conservation effort by planting milkweed in a backyard garden or flower bed.

Even a single plant makes a possible reproductive site. Milkweed is the only place where monarchs lay eggs. The plants also serve as the food source for the growth of monarch caterpillars.

A milkweed plant can support several caterpillars, and caterpillar survival is typically better if they are widely distributed over a number of plants.

Two of the best varieties for garden plantings in Michigan are orange milkweed – also commonly referred to as butterfly weed – and swamp milkweed.

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Monarch caterpillar. Credit: John Flannery

– 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.

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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.

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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

Au Gres Restoration and Michigan Adventures

For Friday, Jan. 15, 2016

1 – The Au Gres River watershed will be a focus of restoration efforts in 2016.

Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, was recently awarded funding from the Bay Area Community Foundation to help residents in the watershed improve land and water stewardship practices.

The project is part of a larger Northern Saginaw Bay Restoration Initiative to protect clean water, enhance wildlife habitat and strengthen communities throughout Arenac, Iosco and Ogemaw counties.

Huron Pines will use the latest funding to organize public meetings, engage students in outdoor education opportunities and provide technical and financial assistance to residents who want to better manage their property to promote clean water and healthy wildlife.

Over the next couple of years, Huron Pines and partners also plan to complete restoration work in the Au Gres River watershed.

Money from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-Sustain Our Great Lakes Program will go to improve five road-stream crossings, stabilize eroding streambanks, and work with farmers to improve stewardship practices on agricultural lands.

2 – If you have a bucket list, here are some things to add.

An online community called The Outbound Collective has compiled a list of the Top 30 adventures of 2015.

Nothing in Michigan made the list, but there are still plenty of things to see in our state, and add to your before-death to-dos.

A search for adventures near Bay City, Michigan, includes kayaking to Turnip Rock in Port Austin, backpacking the Manistee River Trail, and camping in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness south of Manistee.

You can find more ideas at theoutbound.com.

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Camp in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness – via The Outbound Collective

– 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

 

 

More Conservation Volunteers, First on PACE, Stressed Out Saginaw Bay

For Friday, Oct. 9, 2015

1 – More volunteers are working on conservation in Michigan.

Credit: Steven Depolo

Credit: Steven Depolo

Next year will be the biggest yet for the Huron Pines Americorps program.

Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, has 23 Americorps members signed up. They’ll be placed around Michigan with host sites in Gaylord, Traverse City, Grayling, Alpena, Marquette, Gladwin, Oscoda, Petoskey, Lake City and Midland.

AmeriCorps members are college graduates who apply to be placed with grassroots nonprofits and agencies.

For the past eight years, Huron Pines AmeriCorps members have stabilized eroding streambanks, replanted trees, helped control invasive plants, improved wildlife habitat and expanded access to recreation.

Applications are still being accepted through Oct. 26, to begin serving in January 2016.

(You can find more information online at huronpinesamericorps.org)

2 – Michigan Agency for Energy is the first energy agency in the nation to make improvements using Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, also known as PACE.

Credit: Michigan Energy Agency

Credit: Michigan Energy Agency

Taxpayers are expected to save $800,000 due to energy efficiency improvements including solar panels at the agency’s Lansing offices.

The improvements, which cost about $437,000 to install, include LED lights, occupancy light sensors, roof insulation, electric vehicle charging stations, and variable speed motors for heating and cooling.

Under PACE, energy efficiency projects are financed through property tax payments rather than regular bank loan payments.

(More on PACE from Midwest Energy News)

3 – Saginaw Bay is stressed out.

Parts of the bay are looking stressed in updated maps from the GLEAM project, which stands for Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping.

University of Michigan researchers and colleagues have created detailed maps of five recreational activities in the Great Lakes: sport fishing, recreational boating, birding, beach use and park visits. They say the information can be used to help prioritize restoration projects.

map saginaw bay stressors

Via University of Michigan – GLEAM

A map of recreational use and stress shows high recreation and high stress on parts of inner Saginaw Bay. The Thumb area shows high recreation and low stress.

A paper summarizing the study’s findings was published this month in a journal of the Ecological Society of America.

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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

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