Frog-Bit, Japanese Barberry, and Nonpoint Source Pollution

For Friday, July 29, 2016


1 – The Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area exists to create and support collaborative invasive species management among federal and state agencies.

The group also works with municipalities, tribes, nonprofits, community organizations, schools, and private landowners.

Recently, members have been busy pulling European frog-bit.



European frog-bit. Via: MISIN


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.

Those interested can apply to be a seasonal stewardship technician with Huron Pines.

– Via


3 – Nonpoint source pollution happens when rain, snowmelt, or wind carries pollutants off the land and into lakes, streams, wetlands, and other water bodies.

Michigan has a Nonpoint Source Program to assist local governments, nonprofits, and others in reducing this type of pollution by implementing plans to protect watersheds in the state.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality anticipates that $4.3 million will be available in fiscal year 2017 for projects that implement recommendations in approved watershed management plans.

A webinar with more information is planned for Aug. 2. Projects are to awarded in the summer of 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


Proposing New Cleanup Criteria, Using Turtles to Monitor Wetlands

For June 10, 2016 –


1 – The state is proposing new cleanup criteria rules for contaminated sites.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is holding a series of informational meetings throughout the state on the newly proposed generic cleanup criteria rules.

Such rules are used to evaluate risks to public health, safety, welfare and the environment from regulated hazardous substances at sites of environmental contamination.

The update of the cleanup criteria includes 304 regulated hazardous substances. The criteria is used to evaluate exposure pathways such as drinking water and direct contact.

Meetings are planned for June 16 in Gaylord and June 28 in Bay City.

A formal public comment period runs from June 17-July 26.

Pre-registration for the meetings is requested.


2 – You’ve heard of the canary in the coal mine. How about the turtle in the wetland?

Just like canaries were once used to test the safety of air in coal mines, turtles can be used to measure pollution in wetlands.


Credit: Don Henlse

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.

A paper describing the research was published in the journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

– 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

Ag Runoff, Wetland Restoration, and a Race for Nature

For Friday, May 27, 2016 –


1 – More than $4.3 million in grants will go to protect Michigan lakes and streams from pollution.

Officials say the Michigan Department of Environment Quality grants will help restore impaired waters and protect high-quality waters by reducing nonpoint sources of sediment, nutrients and other contaminants.

Nonpoint source pollution is runoff that picks up natural and human contaminants as it moves across the ground and eventually deposits those contaminants into waterways.

Organizations and projects selected to receive funding include the Tuscola Conservation District in Caro.


A example of agricultural runoff. Credit: USDA

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.

Wildlife Drive surrounds three sides of the restoration area.


3 – The Michigan Nature Association is hosting the Race for Michigan Nature.

The event is a statewide series of Family Fun Runs & 5Ks stretching from Belle Isle in Detroit to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula.

Each race will spotlight one of Michigan’s rarest species and promote the importance of protecting natural areas.

The next race in the series is the Kirtland’s Warbler Family Fun Run & 5K on June 4 in Roscommon.

Other races will take place in the summer and fall.

The runs are endorsed by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. Each 5K race will be timed and there are prizes for male and female overall winners. Walkers also are welcome. 

– 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


Staying Warm: Largest Energy Efficiency Standards in History

For Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

1 – State policies to spur renewable energy have billions in benefits.

A new study estimates $2.2 billion in national benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions due to state renewable portfolio standards, like one in Michigan that ended in 2015.


Find the report here

Another $5.2 billion in benefits came from national reductions in other air pollution.

The U.S. Department of Energy report looked at policies in effect during 2013.

Michigan’s 10 percent by 2015 standard for renewable energy was signed into law in 2008, and resulted in the construction of numerous wind farms, primarily in the Thumb region.

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.

– Fact Sheet

2 – Up to $5 million is available for local governments, nonprofits and other organizations to restore and enhance habitat in the Great Lakes basin.

Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership, is taking pre-proposals until Feb. 17 for the funding.

Full proposals are due by April 21.

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.


Northern pike. Credit: Kelly Sikkema

Preference will also be given to projects that reduce sediment and nutrient loading to streams and other waters.

Up to $5 million is expected to be available for grant awards in 2016, with funding from partners including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

3 – It’s important to keep buildings warm in the winter.

And the cost and environmental impact of winter warmth will decline in coming years.

A U.S. agency has launched the largest energy efficiency standards in history.

They apply to commercial air conditioners and furnaces, used in buildings such as schools, restaurants, big-box stores and small offices.

It’s estimated that the changes will save more energy than any other standard ever issued by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Staying warm. Credit: Jeff Kart

Over the lifetime of the products, businesses will save $167 billion on utility bills and carbon pollution will be cut by 885 million metric tons, the energy department says.

The new air conditioning and furnace standards will occur in two phases.

The first will begin in 2018, with a 13 percent efficiency improvement in products.

Five years later, an additional 15% increase in efficiency is required.

The standards were developed in a rulemaking process with industry, utilities, and environmental groups.

– 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

Happy ‘Shoe Year’

Winter Fitness, Recycling and Visualizing Your Watershed

For Friday, Jan. 8, 2016


1 – Happy Shoe Year.

It’s 2016, and time to explore new trails, see new vistas, and get to know Michigan while you get fit.

The pitch comes from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which is encouraging residents to get outside and exercise during the month of January.

The DNR is offering Shoe Year hikes at state parks, including the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County.

A Shoe Year’s Trek is being held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, at the recreation area in Bangor Township.

There will be healthy refreshments, tips on winter fitness, a warm-up activity and a guided nature trail hike. Limited snowshoes also are available.


Credit: Karen Neoh

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 money is part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s initiative to double the state’s residential recycling rate, with is one of the lowest in the nation.

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.

Some are working on a new mapping challenge to visualize their local water quality.

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.

– 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




How the Clean Water Rule Affects Michigan, and Kirtland’s Warbler Fest

For Friday, May 29, 2015

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.

epa esri map drinking water michigan clean water rule


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.

The festival is Saturday, June 6,  in downtown Roscommon.

kirtlands warbler michigan usfws


The event will include Kirtland’s warbler tours, a kids activity tent, educational speakers, kayak tours, timber equipment demonstrations, and local food.

A Home Opener on Friday night will features a talk by an expert from The Nature Conservancy.

The Kirtland’s warbler is an endangered songbird that nests in young jack pine stands in places that include northeast Michigan.

Habitat management and other programs have brought the species from a low of 167 singing males in 1987 to more than 2,000, according to federal data.

– 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

Climate Education, Dark Skies and (Barely) Biodegradable Plastics

For Friday, April 3, 2015

1April 22 is Earth Day. The week of Earth Day, April 18-25, is Climate Education Week.

The week, organized by the Earth Day Network, urges teachers to educate and engage students on climate change.

To help, there’s a free Toolkit that educators can use. It includes a week of lesson plans, activities and contests for K through 12 students.

The lessons meet Next Generation Science and Common Core standards.

There’s a different theme for each day of the week, and the lessons include videos and items for various grade levels.

You can find the lesson plans and more information at

2Look up at the sky tonight. How many stars do you see?

You’d see more if there were fewer unnecessary outdoor lights on homes and other buildings.

international dark sky week michigan

Credit: Brian Lauer

April 13-18 is International Dark Sky Week.

Several Michigan state parks will remain open late for night sky viewing during the week. Some parks will host special astronomy events.

Participating parks include Port Crescent State Park in the Thumb.


3 – Biodegradable plastics are better than regular plastics, right?

Not really, according to a study by Michigan State University researchers.

Some water bottles and other plastics are dubbed as biodegradeable. But they don’t break down in the environment much faster than plastics that don’t contain additives.

According to Chemical & Engineering News, plastics labeled as LDPE and PET can remain in a landfill for years, so some manufacturers include additives to help the plastics disintegrate faster.

The MSU researchers designed a study to see if the materials performed as promised. Among the findings: After three years of soil burial, plastic samples with additives did not show any greater physical degradation than samples without them.

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

Follow me @jeffkart on Twitter.

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff



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