Saginaw River Dredging, Better Birding, and a local 350 March

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart), at 9 a.m. Fridays. As heard in Bay City, Michigan, on April 26, 2013, Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

1 – A $1.7 million dredging project is due to start next month (May) on the Saginaw River and Bay.

early bird catches worm

The early bird. Credit: ellenm1

The work will be done by Luedtke Engineering of Frankfort, with funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps says the dredging will help ensure that marine commerce keeps moving in and out of the Saginaw Bay Region. The Saginaw River is used for hauling cement, coal, limestone, salt, potash and grain.

Luedtke will dredge more than 200,000 cubic yards of mud from two portions of the river, according to the Corps.

This includes more than 150,000 yards of material to be dredged along a three-mile area between the Independence Bridge in Bay City and the mouth of Saginaw River. The spoils will be taken to Channel Island, a Confined Disposal Facility located two miles out in the bay.

Luedtke will dredge another 50,000 cubic yards of material upstream in Saginaw County. Those spoils will go into a Dredged Material Disposal Facility that straddles the Bay-Saginaw county line.

The dredging is slated to start in early May and finish by late June.

(For more, see pdf of Operational Management Plan for Upper Saginaw River DMDF).

2 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is pursuing a Birding Trail project.

The conservancy, with an office in Bay City, will use a $1,000 grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The conservancy was the winner of an Earth Day Facebook contest put on by the Network. The conservancy’s Birding Trail project garnered more than 300 votes to win the prize.

The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail runs for more than 140 miles and features 50 sites from Port Austin to East Tawas. The grant will be used to add new signs to the Trail. More than 200 species of birds can be spotted along the stretch, including warblers, plovers and waterfowl.

The conservancy is partnering on the project with Michigan Audubon. It also will include a website, a “hub” location in Bay City, and a free field guide.

3 – A Bay City-area environmental group will hold its third clean energy event on May 18.

The Lone Tree Council is planning a “350” march and walk over the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Bay City and into Vets Park, featuring students and others. Electric and hybrid cars also will be on hand.

The Saginaw Valley Sustainability Society is participating, and area residents are invited to attend.

The 350 event, on May 18, is meant to oppose the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation, which contributes to climate change. This is the fourth annual 350 event in Bay City. Similar events are being held in the United States and abroad.

The number 350 refers to the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The current level is above that number, and scientists say it needs to be reduced to below 350 to avoid serious consequences.

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Saginaw Bay Forum, Low Ice Cover, and More Toxics in the Great Lakes

great lakes saginaw bay ice cover 2013 google earth

NOAA Coastwatch ice cover map via Google Earth.

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, on Delta Q-90.1 FM, Michigan:

1 –

A community forum on the Saginaw Bay environment is planned for Feb. 22 in Bay City.

The forum is sponsored by the nonprofit Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network and the state-created Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative.

The meeting is from 1-4 p.m. at the Delta College Planetarium in downtown Bay City.

A preliminary agenda includes a talk on “Michigan’s Vision for the Great Lakes and Saginaw Bay” from Jon Allan, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes; and a status report on Beneficial Use Impairments in the federally designated Area of Concern for the Saginaw River and Bay.

The Friday meeting is part of a series of ongoing meetings that will be held to discuss issues related to Saginaw Bay and its tributary system.

The meeting is an opportunity for groups working on various projects to provide updates on their work, and hear from others.

2 –

Ice cover on the Great Lakes is at near-historic lows.

A composite map of satellite data from earlier this week shows thin ice on most of Saginaw Bay. The map is from CoastWatch, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A CoastWatch manager tells Great Lakes Echo that conditions this year on the Great Lakes could break a record for low ice cover set in 2002.

Earlier this month, average water temperatures on each of the Great Lakes were running 2 to 3 degrees above normal.

A lack of ice cover means increased evaporation, which is bad news for water levels, which are already low in the Great Lakes.

More: Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis

3

Toxic pollution to the Great Lakes increased in 2011.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a report out this week, says toxic releases into surface waters in the Great Lakes Basin increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.

That’s in contrast to a 3 percent decrease in discharges nationwide during the same period.

The numbers come from EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory report.

An EPA official calls the 12 percent increase in the Great Lakes Basin “signifiicant,” and notes that the Great Lakes region is lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to improving water quality.

Most toxic surface water discharges to the Great Lakes Basin come from nitrates and pesticides from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agriculture, according to EPA.

Nitrates also are discharged by primary metals facilities, such as iron and steel mills and smelters, and food and beverage manufacturers.

The EPA says information from the latest report will be used to work with municipalities, agricultural producers and manufacturers to improve water quality in the basin.

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Saginaw Bay Could Benefit from Sustain Our Great Lakes: See the GLEAM Map

Mr. Great Lakes. As heard on Fridays on Q-90.1 FM, 9 a.m. Eastern. The Jan. 11, 2013, broadcast is below … (starts at 6:37)

great lakes gleam map saginaw bay

Saginaw Bay, on the GLEAM map.

1 — The Saginaw Bay area could see an influx of funding for habitat restoration and other environmental improvements.

The Sustain Our Great Lakes program, a public-private partnership, is accepting applications for funding through its 2013 grant cycle.

The submission deadline is Feb. 14.

This year, grant funding will be awarded in three categories:

  • Habitat restoration
  • Private landowner technical assistance, and
  • Delisting of habitat-related Beneficial Use Impairments.

Beneficial Use Impairments refer to Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes, which include the Saginaw River and Bay.

To apply for funding, projects must occur within the Great Lakes basin. Eligible applicants include nonprofits, educational institutions, and local governments.

Up to $9 million is expected to be available for Sustain Our Great Lakes awards, with individual awards ranging from $25,000 to $1.5 million.

Request for proposals (pdf).

2 — Saginaw Bay is red on a new map of environmental stressors in the Great Lakes.

The map comes from the GLEAM project, which stands for Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping.

The map, three years in the making, identifies environmental stressors from Minnesota to Ontario, according to University of Michigan researchers.

The project’s lead researcher says the condition of the Great Lakes continues to be degraded by stressors including coastal development, pollutants transported by rivers from agricultural and urban land, fishing pressure, climate change, invasive species, and toxic chemicals.

“Large sub-regions of moderate to high cumulative stress were found in lakes Erie and Ontario as well as in Saginaw and Green bays, and along Lake Michigan’s shorelines.

In contrast, extensive offshore areas of lakes Superior and Huron, where the coasts are less populated and developed, experience relatively low stress,” researchers say.

The map is designed to be used by federal and regional officials to sustainably manage the Great Lakes.

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Solar Shingles Expand Home Market, BaySail Nears Milestone, and New Life for Coastal Wetland

Mr. Great Lakes. As heard Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM Friday Edition, at 9 a.m. Eastern …

Photo by Eric Dobis

Photo by Eric Dobis

1 .
Dow Solar has announced a major expansion in the availability of its Powerhouse Solar Shingles.

Homeowners can now purchase the shingles through Kearns Bros., based in Dearborn, and Cobblestone Homes, based in Linwood, according to the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.

Powerhouse shingles protect like a standard shingle, but also have embedded solar cells to help power a home. They are made in Midland by Dow Solar, a business unit of the Dow Chemical Co.

Cobblestone is featuring the shingles on new model homes in the mid-Michigan region.

According to Dow, Kearns Bros. in Dearborn will service the re-roof market.

Homeowners who need a new roof can upgrade to a Powerhouse roof. The system costs more than a standard asphalt roof, but pays for itself over time through energy savings, and adds to the value of a home.

2.

BaySail in Bay City is nearing a milestone.

The nonprofit, which offers sailing and environmental education aboard to two Appledore schooners, has hosted nearly 40,000 students in 15 years of operation.

BaySail launched its Science Under Sail program in 1998, and since then has educated 37,969 students, according to leaders.

That amounts to 1,186 classes from elementary through high school that have come aboard two tall ships operated by program staff and volunteers.

The ships are docked on the Saginaw River and journey to Saginaw Bay and other parts of the Great Lakes.

A goal of BaySail is to activate the passion of the next generation by helping young people make direct connections to the natural world.

Students who come aboard the ships for science-based programs are often experiencing the Great Lakes for the first time.

BaySail also offers a regular schedule of public sails.

You can find out more at BaySailBayCity.org.

3 .

A new pump is giving new life to a large coastal wetland in Pinconning.

The pump replaces a failed pump structure at the Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area in northern Bay County.

The new equipment can be used to manipulate water levels in a 298-acre marsh at the site.

Nayanquing Point consists of about 1,400 acres of coastal marsh and associated upland habitats along Saginaw Bay.

It provides habitat for thousands of migratory birds in the spring and fall. The 298-acre marsh area is managed to provide waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Ducks Unlimited received a nearly $200,000 federal grant for the project from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

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Army Corps: Federal Beach Grooming Permits Still Required

plus other stories on deer hunting and a Great Lakes Advisory Board. 

As heard July 20, 2012, on Friday Edition, 9 a.m. Eastern on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

1

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reminding beachfront property owners that federal permits are still required for shoreline maintenance.

The state of Michigan recently made changes to its permitting process for beach grooming. But a federal Army Corps process is still in place, according to spokeswoman Lynn Duerod.

On the Great Lakes, the Corps regulates sand leveling and the grooming of sand or vegetated areas between the ordinary high-water mark and the water’s edge.

A new state act allows for those activities to take place without a permit. But the federal requirements remain.

The Corps says property owners who have obtained regional permits for sand leveling and grooming of sand in nonvegetated areas in the past do not have to reapply to continue these activities.

For those without federal permits, the Corps has a “short form’ application available, which generally takes a couple of weeks for approval, according to the agency.

For more information, call the Detroit District office of the Army Corps at 313-226-2218.

Applicants may submit the permit applications to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Detroit District, Regulatory Office
(CELRE-RG)
477 Michigan Avenue, Room 603
Detroit, Michigan 48226-2550.

2

Landowners will soon have a database of hunters looking to cull deer from private property.

The Hunters Helping Landowners program was signed into law recently by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The program is modeled after another in Indiana and allows hunters to voluntarily enroll to harvest anterless deer on private property in up to two counties.

According to Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the program is meant to help landowners who have deer damage issues or disease concerns on their property.

The program is still in the works, and the database has yet to be launched.

The list will be available via the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The database is due to run until 2017, unless it’s reauthorized.


3

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is creating the federal government’s first-ever advisory board on Great Lakes issues.

The advisory board will support federal agencies with the implementation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and an updated Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, according to EPA.

The new board will provide advice and recommendations to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

EPA will consider candidates from a broad range of interests including environmental groups, businesses, agricultural groups, foundations, youth groups, academia and state, local and tribal representatives.

EPA plans to solicit nominations and establish a board of 15 people this summer.

The board will focus on issues including cleaning up toxic hot spots like the Saginaw River and Bay, combating invasive species, and protecting watersheds from polluted runoff.

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Saginaw Bay Watershed Confab, Bucks for Dredging & Flaming Fish

From the Feb. 10, 2012, edition of the Environment Report, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College public radio, Q 90.1 FM …

Great Lakes Czar and More

photo of fish on fire on grill

Photo by the great 8

Environmental leaders from across the Saginaw Bay watershed are meeting next month at Saginaw Valley State University.

The event is the Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference, to be held Friday, March 16, at Curtiss Hall on the campus of SVSU.

Leaders will meet to hear about and discuss current and future projects planned to address water quality in the basin. That includes the delisting of the Saginaw River and Bay as a federal Area of Concern.

A keynote address is to be given by Great Lakes czar Cameron Davis, who serves as senior advisor to U.S. EPA chief Lisa Jackson.

State climatologist Jeff Andresen, a geography professor at Michigan State University, also is to discuss projected impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes.

The latest research information regarding beach muck in Saginaw Bay will be presented by federal scientist Craig Stow.

The conference is receiving government funding support through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The cost to attend is $25, which includes lunch.

Dig It: More Money

The Saginaw River is due to receive almost $2.7 million for dredging projects.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing additional funds for navigational dredging projects.

The extra funds total $9 million, and will pay for projects in the Saginaw River, Holland Harbor, St. Joseph Harbor, Manistee Harbor and the St. Marys River.

The additional money is for projects throughout the Great Lakes basin that support economic development and job creation.

According to U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, the funding also will help sustain Michigan harbors that were threatened with closure.

Fish Won’t Catch Fire

A federal study to be published by the Journal of Great Lakes Research found male walleye contain three times more flame retardant chemicals than females in the Saginaw River and Bay.

According to Great Lakes Echo, the flame retardant chemicals have been used in plastics, foams and fabrics since the 1970s. Animal tests suggest they can damage the liver, thyroid and brain.

The Echo report says male walleye use the Saginaw River for feeding and habitat, while females mostly stay out in the bay.

The river was found to have much higher levels of flame retardants than the bay. In the river, the chemicals are ingested by small fish eaten by walleye.

Researchers believe the chemicals are draining from landfills and other waste sites and sticking in the river sediment.

See also: New Flame Retardants as Bad as Old Flame Retardants

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Pop Sci Picks a Michigan Invention, EPA Reports on Enforcement, & a 2012 Lightbulb Guide

The Environment Report. As heard Fridays @ 9 a.m. Eastern on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College

photo lighting facts consumers union guide

Courtesy Consumers Union

Dec. 30, 2011:

1 – A Michigan invention has been named one of the “Best of” 2011 by Popular Science magazine.

The product, called Forage Boost, was developed by researchers at Michigan State University.

It’s a microbial fertilizer that uses an ingredient called SumaGrow. The fertilizer was chosen as a “Best of What’s New” product by Pop Sci for its positive environmental impact.

SumaGrow is different from common fertilizers because it harnesses the power of non-genetically modified living microorganisms to improve the productivity of forages, hay crops, and grain and vegetable crops, according to MSU researchers.

SumaGrow is said to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and improve disease resistance.

Popular Science magazine wrote that Forage Boost “could eliminate all other fertilizer use on the planet’s eight billion acres of pasture grass.”

2 –

Enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cut more than 300 million pounds of pollution in the Great Lakes region, according to a year-end report.

The information comes from the EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, which oversees enforcement efforts in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Major cases highlighted by EPA for fiscal year 2011 include a settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, which will keep untreated sewage out of Cleveland-area waterways and Lake Erie.

Closer to home, EPA records show enforcement actions in 2011 involving the Saginaw Wastewater Treatment Plant, which discharges to the Saginaw River.

In total, the region’s office estimates that 311 million pounds of pollution was reduced, treated or eliminated as a result of EPA enforcement actions.

An additional 25 million pounds of hazardous waste was cut, and 72 million cubic yards of contaminated soil or water were cleaned up, the EPA says.

3 –

New federal lightbulb laws are taking effect Jan. 1.

Here’s what you need to know: Incandescent lights are not being banned. But the lights you can buy in stores will be more efficient come Jan. 1, and there will be expanded choices.

The Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union have released a guide on the new lighting standards.

Light bulbs sold in 2012 will have to be 25-30 percent more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

There will be three choices: Halogens, Compact Flourescents, and Light-emitting diodes. The last of those, LEDS, cost around $25 per bulb, but prices are expected to drop. Halogens and CFLs sell for about $2 each. All three last longer than traditional incandescents and can reduce emissions from power plants due to less energy consumption.

You’ll have to buy based on lumens, not watts. Lumens indicate brightness. 60 watts is 800 lumens, for instance, and 100 watts is 1,600 lumens.

You’ll also have to check for light color, measured on the Kelvin temperature scale. Lower K numbers indicate more yellow light. Higher K numbers mean whiter or bluer light.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of this, because the law also requires a “lighting facts” label on packages for most bulbs manufactured after Jan. 1, 2012.

Those facts will include estimated yearly energy costs.

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