Algae Pics, Clean Energy Roadmap, and Asian Carp Comments

1- Do you have any pictures of excess algae?

Saginaw bay algae muck bay city state recreation area

Saginaw Bay muck. Credit: Jeff Kart.

It’s also called muck, and you can often find it along the shores of Saginaw Bay, Lake Erie, and other parts of the Great Lakes.

Circle of Blue is collecting photos of the Great Lakes and algal blooms.

The idea is to make the issue real and visible to people around the world.

The online news site plans to launch a major story project this year about algal blooms in the Great Lakes. The project will be circulated far and wide, organizers say.

Pictures, and videos, are being sought of harmful algal blooms, failing municipal water treatment systems and overflows, agricultural runoff, and beach closings. All of these have been a problem at one time or another in the Saginaw Bay region.

You can participate and share your photos and videos via a link at CircleofBlue.org. (Update: Saginaw Bay made the cut http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2014/choke-point-index/slideshow-great-lakes-algae-bloom/)

Circle of Blue reports on water, food and energy around the world. It’s based in Traverse City, Michigan.

2 – Michigan is one of only three states in the nation to be selected for a Clean Energy Manufacturing Roadmap project.

The Roadmap will be developed for Michigan with $400,000 in federal funds, matched by more than $300,000 in local funds.

North Carolina and Washington state also received funding, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The awards are in support of a national goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030, and are aimed at advancing clean energy manufacturing in the states.

Michigan, and the two other states, will develop roadmaps to increase clean energy manufacturing activity in their regions.

As part of this, the Michigan and Ohio State energy offices will convene stakeholder, company and expert events to identify opportunities and barriers.

– via GLREA.

3 – If you want to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, a pen may come in handy. Or, more likely, a computer keyboard.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report released this week lays out the federal government’s options for keeping Asian carp and other invasive species out of Great Lakes.

It’s called the Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study, and includes eight options that focus on the Chicago Area Waterway System.

The Corps. is holding public meetings around the basin this month to receive public comments on the options, which include physical separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

Public meetings are planned for Ann Arbor and Traverse City.

But, you also can submit written comments until March 3 online at the study website.

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

Remember Michigan’s Great Blizzard of 1978?

Let me tell you sumpin’ whippersnappers. Back in my day, we measured snow in feet, they never closed school, we walked, and we liked it! Sorry to yell. But all the talk of 2011’s Snowpocalypse, Snowmaggedon, #snOMG has me reading up on my weather history. And about The Great Blizzard of 1978.

photo snow storm february 2011 nasa

It seems I’ve said to myself more than once, “Self, it sure used to snow a lot more back when I was a kid (in the 1970s).” Here’s a refresher:

Back in Jan. 26-27, 1978, Traverse City’s snowfall ranged from 22-28 inches and the city was unofficially shut down.

“A Great Storm is Upon Michigan” read a National Weather Service headline on the morning of Jan. 26. That was followed by hurricane-force winds, extreme blizzard conditions, and about 20 people died. Snowfalls for the entire storm included 30 inches in Muskegon, according to the National Weather Service.

What do you remember? I’ll be digging through my old photo albums. Stay safe.

— Photo from the (much-hyped) Great Blizzard of 2011. NASA.

Were government flies released to combat caterpillars?

My bug bites have bug bites. After four days in northwest Michigan near Traverse City, I’m home, inside, and enjoying the air conditioning. One thing is still bugging me, though. The story that my brother, Scott, told me about black flies. Word in the woods is that the flies, which land on you every 3 seconds this time of year, were released by the Michigan DNR (now DNRE) to control tent caterpillars.

Sounds like a rumor. But usually rumors start out as truths, if you get my drift. According to a posting on UpNorthLive, with a Traverse City dateline, there’s an increase in black flies this year due to an increase in caterpillars. Black flies eat caterpillar larvae.

Which makes you wonder, what’s causing the caterpillar population to grow? And would the DNRE admit to releasing black flies for caterpillar control if the project went haywire (as in, annoying the hell out of people)?

David Lemmien, a DNRE unit manager, says his Traverse City office has been getting lots of calls about the fly-caterpillar scandal, but the DNRE hasn’t released flies to manage the outbreak of forest tent caterpillars.

Let’s take David at his word. Other words in this story aren’t as believable, such as “In fact, the DNRE doesn’t even have the means to raise flies.” Really? That’s laughable. Anyone with a checkbook has a means.  The story also circulated in New York in 2007, though, so it seems pretty mythical.

And there is a way to control black flies — a tip that comes courtesy of the nice cashier at the Village Market in Alden. Rub a dryer sheet on your skin and they’ll stop landing on you. It works. Too bad you can’t rub sheets on trees.

— Image via  Fat Man of the Mountains.

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