Spotting Ducks, Treating for Ash Borer, Awarding Grants

For Friday, March 31, 2017

1 – Ducks were down in a recent survey. But state biologists say they still believe populations are stable.

aerial waterfowl survey michigan dnr ducks

Department of Natural Resources biologists counted ducks, geese and swans while flying low over Michigan’s waterways as part of an annual effort to monitor waterfowl populations. Credit: MDNR

Staffers from Michigan Department of Natural Resources took to the skies in small aircraft earlier this year to count ducks, geese and swans.

They observed more than 148,000 ducks, which was down by 5 percent from about 157,000 ducks observed in 2016.

Biologists say the decline can be attributed to cold arctic blasts in late December and early January that pushed birds southward. Some ducks bypassed Michigan altogether.

The state has conducted aerial surveys of wintering ducks and geese since 1991. The results are important for helping manage habitat for the species.

2 – Yellow dots on trees in Bay County mean they’ll be treated to fight emerald ash borer.

Officials with County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program say they are including hundreds of healthy, living ash trees in an annual Emerald Ash Borer Treatment Project.

yellow dot abstract

Credit: Pellinni

Trees scheduled to be treated this year will be marked with a yellow dot on the side facing the road. These trees were last treated in 2013.

Trees marked with a green dot were treated in the spring of 2016.

The treatments help to maintain the health of ash trees and should protect them from further emerald ash borer damage for at least two years.

3 – Spring is here, and action grants are available from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The group has set a deadline of April 14 for proposals.

They’re looking for organizations with great ideas for projects that focus on natural resource restoration, education and promotion, or sustainability.

The funding is available to organizations working to make improvements in neighborhoods, communities, and watersheds.

The Network will award grants of up to $1,000 to successful applicants. A one-to-one match is required.

More information is available online at

– 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


Au Sable River Conservation, Michigan Infrastructure Recommendations

For Friday, Dec. 9, 2016

1 – More than 1,000 acres on the Upper Au Sable River is closer to being protected.

grayling michigan water

Grayling, Michigan. Credit: Aaron Burden

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has approved $3.1 million for a conservation project on the river near Grayling. The funding still needs approval by the Legislature.

The land has been owned for more than 70 years by a family who enjoyed it for hunting and fishing.

The land is to be sold to the state so it can be enjoyed by other families and outdoor enthusiasts. It is bordered to the north and south by state-owned property.

Huron Pines, a local nonprofit, says the project is important for linking together protected natural lands, maintaining healthy wildlife populations and protecting the waters of the Au Sable River.

The land sale has received community support from Crawford County, Frederic Township, the Grayling Chamber of Commerce and businesses. Huron Pines expects the sale to be finalized by the fall of 2017.

2 – Michigan needs to invest in infrastructure to address priorities including transportation, water and sewer systems, telecommunications and energy.

This is according to a report from a 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, unveiled this week by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The group says close to $60 billion in additional public spending is needed for the improvements over the next 20 years.

The report calls for replacing aging water systems, investing in roads and bridges, modernizing the electric grid, and making Michigan a top-five state for broadband internet service.

Recommendations from the Commission include expanding efforts to reduce energy waste, and obtaining 30 percent of Michigan’s energy needs from energy efficiency and renewable energy.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes


Fighting Michigan Invasives, Creating Clean Jobs, Preserving Rare Orchids

For Friday, April 29, 2016

1 – A new state website provides information and insight on Michigan’s invasive species.

Residents struggling with invasive species or seeking help on how to identify invasive plants, insects and animals are invited to explore the new Michigan Invasive Species website at

An invasive species is one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health.

Human activity is the primary means by which invasive species are moved from place to place. The new site offers simple steps people can take, like removing seeds and mud from shoes, gear and pets.

People can use the site to identify invasive species by searching photos and descriptions.


Mute swan. Credit: Andrew C

Residents are encouraged to report sightings of identified species to assist in state and local detection and management efforts.

The site also houses a catalog of resources for classrooms and residents interested in becoming more involved in the fight against invasive species. There also are links to volunteer opportunities and local management programs.

The site again, is at

2 – 
Michigan’s clean energy industry has more than 87,000 workers, according to an analysis from the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and Clean Energy Trust.  

The council is a business trade association. The trust is a Chicago nonprofit.

The 2016 Clean Jobs Midwest Survey says Michigan leads the Midwest in clean energy vehicle jobs and is second in renewable energy jobs.

The analysis is based on federal data and a survey of thousands of businesses across the region.

The analysis provides detailed breakdowns of clean energy jobs not available previously – including job totals for all Michigan counties.


From a map section of the Clean Jobs survey.

In Bay County, for instance, the analysis found 107 jobs in renewable energy and 444 jobs in energy efficiency.

Those involved with the report say that extending Michigan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards will drive further growth and investment in the clean energy sector, which would mean tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs.

3 – April showers bring May flowers. And the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County is working to conserve a rare orchid.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to 16 projects across 27 states for recovery of some of the nation’s most at-­risk species on or near national wildlife refuges.

In Michigan, the focus is on the threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid.

Staff members at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge plan to establish a population of the flower using plant orchid plugs in suitable habitat.


Eastern prairie fringed orchid. Credit: USFWS Midwest

Staff also will manage an orchid population on private land near the refuge to harvest seed to supplement the planted plugs.

Monitoring of the plugs and hand pollination of orchids on the private land will occur for three years. Results will be assessed to focus future recovery actions.

– 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

Bears, Bay Alerts and Wind

For Friday, Nov. 20, 2015

1 – There’s a bear hunt going on in northern Michigan.

This is a hunt for black bear dens. Hunters and trappers are being asked to report bear dens that they come across this season. The state Department of Natural Resources is looking for the locations of bear dens for an ongoing research program.

After locating a denned bear, DNR biologists will determine if the animal is a good candidate for the project. Bears that are selected will be sedated and fitted with a radio-tracking collar and ear tags.

The bear will then be returned to its den, where it will sleep through the winter.

Information gathered from bears will assist in managing the population, according to a DNR biologist in Roscommon.

Currently, three female bears are being monitored from the air and ground using radio tracking equipment.

2 – Bay Alerts are back in Bay County.

The county’s 911 department recently relaunched a new and improved Bay Alerts Emergency Management Notification system. The system includes new features that allow residents to manage the type, frequency, and method of emergency alerts that they receive.

Residents who sign-up for Bay Alerts receive text or email notices advising them of emergency information on severe thunderstorms, tornado, and winter storm warnings.

Bay Alerts also can notify residents via land-line telephones.

Residents can choose to receive additional alerts on traffic, road closures, preparedness tips and more.

To sign up or for more information, see the Bay County website or call 895-4112.

3 – Wind farms can bring a windfall to Michigan.

The American Wind Energy Association and Wind Energy Foundation recently looked at calculations made by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The analysis says further expansion of wind energy in Michigan could supply the electricity for more than 710,000 homes by 2030, and add more than $17 million in annual property tax revenue. More wind energy also could bring in $7.6 million in annual lease payments to Michigan landowners.

Wind farms provide about 3.7 percent of the electricity generated in Michigan; the report envisions 6.8% by 2030.

Wind energy has attracted almost $3 billion in investment to Michigan, and rural landowners receive a total of about $4.6 million a year in land lease payments for hosting wind turbines.

Currently, about 4,000 jobs are supported by wind power in Michigan, including at 33 factories that produce parts and supplies. The state has about 900 wind turbines installed, powering the equivalent of about 355,000 homes.


Happy Thanksgiving!

– 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



Alternatives to Microbeads, Frankenmuth Fish Passage, Michigan’s Recycling Rate

For Friday, Nov. 6, 2015

1 – Microbeads continue to threaten the health of the Great Lakes. They’re used in products like facial scrubs, body washes and toothpaste.

Credit: Maxence

Credit: Maxence

But they’re ending up in the Great Lakes because they’re too tiny to be filtered out by wastewater treatment plants.

There’s concern that fish and other creatures are eating the beads, and that the beads are absorbing pollutants.

What’s a consumer to do? Michigan State University Extension suggests that consumers look for products that contain natural ingredients instead of plastic.

That means stop buying products that contain ‘polypropylene’ and ‘polyethylene’ and look for products that contain pumice, oatmeal, apricot pits and walnut husks.

A Michigan House bill would halt the manufacture and sale of products containing plastic microbeads by 2018.

2 – A Frankenmuth project has opened up spawning habitat to fish.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced the completion of the Frankenmuth fish passage project, located in Saginaw County.

The project restores fishery access to more than 73 miles of river and spawning habitat. Previously, the Cass River Dam prevented walleye, lake sturgeon and other native species from accessing the areas.

A rock ramp was constructed downstream from the dam to allow fish to pass. The rock ramp will allow fish to access spawning habitat that had been unreachable for more than 150 years.

The improvements are intended to restore the walleye population in the Cass River, so it can be largely self-sustained through natural reproduction. The river has been identified as one of six in the Saginaw Bay watershed that are key to increasing the natural reproduction of walleye.

3 – Michigan leaders want to double the state’s recycling rate.

They’re planning a challenge called Recycle by Design that will launch early next year.

Michigan’s overall recycling rate is 15 percent, lower than every other Great Lakes state, and below the national average of 34 percent, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Recycle by Design is due to kick off on Feb. 15.

The challenge aims to foster public and private partnerships that result in successful strategies to increase recycling in Michigan.

For more information, see


– 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

Prepping Clean Power Plan, Commenting on Water Strategy, Planting Rain Gardens

For Friday, Aug. 21, 2015


1 – Michigan officials are reviewing a new federal rule regulating carbon emissions from power plants.

carbon emissions michigan

One day’s CO2 emissions. Credit: Carbon Visuals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the Clean Power Plan earlier this month. It will regulate carbon emissions from utilities for the first time, to help address climate change.

Multiple state agencies are looking at the rule and its implications for Michigan. An official with the Michigan Agency for Energy says the state hopes to find “a reasonable path to compliance,” and the public will have a chance to participate in the development of a plan.

Gov. Rick Snyder has said that, even without the rule, the expected retirement of a number of Michigan coal-fired power plants due to environmental regulations and age, means that up to 40 percent of the state’s power should be coming from cleaner sources by 2025.

State officials hope to have their review and analysis complete shortly after Labor Day.

See also: Michigan is more than halfway toward meeting a clean power goal

2 – There’s still time to comment on a water strategy for Michigan.

A draft of the strategy was released earlier this year, and public meetings have been held in Saginaw and other locations.

The strategy is built around a 30-year vision.

Key recommendations include:

●   Achieving a 40 percent reduction to phosphorus in the western Lake Erie basin

●   Preventing the introduction of new aquatic invasive species and controlling established ones

●   Supporting investments in commercial and recreational harbors and maritime infrastructure

●   Developing a water trails system.

The plan was put together by the state Department of Environmental Quality, along with the state Departments of Natural Resources, and Agriculture and Rural Development, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and communities and organizations around the state.

Comments are due by Friday, Aug. 28.

3 – You can use your smartphone to build a rain garden.

garden shovel

Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

You’ll also need a shovel.

A free Rain Garden App, highlighted recently by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, is designed to help a person properly install a rain garden at their home or office.

It includes video tutorials and diagrams, and guides on selecting plants. There also are tools for determining soil type, and measuring the size of the area.

In case you’re not familiar, a rain garden is an area, usually about 6 inches deep, that collects stormwater that runs off of a roof, driveway or yard, and helps filter out pollutants.


– 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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