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.
Freshwater mussels research. Credit: CMU
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.
These invasive plants look like water lilies but are listed as a prohibited noxious weed by the state. They occur in shallow, slow-moving water on the edges of lakes and other places.
Earlier in July, the Saginaw Bay group spent time removing European frog-bit at the Bay City State Recreation Area.
They worked with the state Department of Natural Resources and reportedly spent 10 hours removing the weed, gathering about 1,000 pounds of plant material.
Officials say frog-bit is a newer invasive species that is quickly spreading along Saginaw Bay.
2 – Huron Pines staff are out conducting Floristic Quality Assessments along the Mason Tract, a special management area along the South Branch of the AuSable River that takes in about 4,500 acres.
The Gaylord nonprofit is working with local partners to push back invasive Japanese barberry. Japanese barberry is a spiny shrub that forms dense stands and competes with native trees and herbaceous plants, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Data from the work will help researchers understand the recovery and resiliency of the area’s special native plant communities.
Researchers from the University of Notre Dame report that painted and snapping turtles could be a useful source for measuring pollution in the Great Lakes from the historical dumping of industrial waste.
During work on a federal project to monitor coastal wetlands, researchers tested painted turtles, which can live up to 20 years, and snapping turtles, which live up to 50 years.
They analyzed the muscle, liver, shell and claws of captured turtles in four wetland locations in Lake Michigan for various metals.
They found that concentrations broadly correlated with assessments of metals in the soil of the wetlands.
Because turtles live longer than fish and are relatively high on the food chain, they can be a useful source for measuring wetland pollution.
That group is receiving about $205,000 to reduce agricultural sources of E. coli bacteria to the Cass River. The work will involve best management practices for agriculture and an outreach campaign.
The grants are funded under the federal Clean Water Act.
2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is restoring 940 acres of farmland to emergent marsh.
It’s the largest wetland restoration in the history of the Saginaw County refuge, and the largest wetland restoration in the last several decades for the Great Lakes region.
During the restoration, two large holes will be cut into an auto tour road to put in culverts and water control structures.
The structures are necessary to allow water back into the restoration area. Officials say the structures will enable the refuge to manage water levels in wetlands, provide optimum habitat for wildlife and control invasive species.
As a result of this work, the opening of an auto tour route, called Wildlife Drive, will be delayed from June 1 until about June 21.
The report also shows national water withdrawals were reduced by 830 billion gallons and consumption was cut by 27 billion gallons.
Although the study takes a national view, the authors say many of the associated benefits and impacts were highly regional.
For example, the economic benefits from air pollution reductions were associated mostly with reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and were concentrated primarily in areas including the Great Lakes.
The program will award grants for on-the-ground habitat improvements.
The focus in this round is on improving the quality and connectivity of streams, riparian zones and coastal wetlands.
Preference will be given to projects designed to improve populations of species of conservation concern, including … native migratory fish such as brook trout and lake sturgeon, and marsh-spawning fish such as northern pike.
For more information, call the Visitor Center at 667-0717.
The DNR also is promoting a virtual 5k event with Epic Races. People can register to participate, with a portion of the proceeds going to support fitness programs and reforestation efforts in state parks.
2 – Tired of recycling bins? Imagine recycling carts: one big cart instead of a bunch of smaller bins.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is offering up to $450,000 in grants to local governments interested in purchasing recycling carts for residents.
Recycling carts – via infographic from The Recycling Partnership.
The state says thats switching to recycling carts, as opposed to smaller bins, generally increases community recycling rates. According to a national nonprofit called The Recycling Partnership, communities that use carts can recover 400-450 pounds of recyclable material per household every year.
The deadline for applications is March 31. More information is here.
3- High school students have returned to classes following a holiday break.
The challenge is sponsored in part by Esri, which makes software for mapping and analyzing data. It’s open to high school students in the Great Lakes basin and Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The aim of the contest is for students to create visualizations about nutrient pollution using software along with water quality data from other sponsors including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Students in the contest will create a map that tells a story about the problem and suggests possible solutions.
The competition starts this month, with submissions due in March. Winners will be announced in April.
The grand prize includes an opportunity to attend the Esri Education Conference and publication of the winning map in an Esri Mapping the Nation book.
1 – A new Clean Water Rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will protect streams in Michigan.
According to the EPA, the rule will benefit people who get their drinking water from seasonal, rain-dependent or headwater streams. More than half of the population in Bay and Arenac counties fits into that category.
The EPA says protection of about 60 percent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands has been confusing and complex as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.
The rule protects streams and wetlands that are scientifically shown to have the greatest impact on downstream water quality.
Clean Water Action, a Michigan environmental group, says the rule closes loopholes that have left drinking water sources for one in seven in Michigan residents at risk of pollution.
Michigan environmental groups and others have spent about a dozen years asking for clarity on protections under the Clean Water Act.
2 – The Kirtland’s Warbler Festival returns next week.