Happy ‘Shoe Year’

Winter Fitness, Recycling and Visualizing Your Watershed

For Friday, Jan. 8, 2016

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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





Saginaw Bay in Report to Congress, Waterfowl Festival

For Friday, July 31, 2015

1 – The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making lakes healthier and local economies stronger.

epa great lakes initiative report to congress saginaw bay map

– a map from the EPA report

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that, since 2010, the federally funded Initiative has implemented more than 2,500 projects to improve water quality, clean up contaminated shoreline, protect and restore native habitat and species, and prevent and control invasive species.

The work is summarized in a new Report to Congress and the President.

From Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2014, the EPA received about $1.6 billion in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds.

The funding has been a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination, EPA officials say. This has produced “unparalleled results.”

That includes work with the agricultural community to reduce phosphorus runoff, which contributes to algal blooms in areas including Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

Federal agencies also used funding to increase the number of acres of farmland enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in Saginaw Bay and other priority watersheds by more than 70 percent.

More information about the Initiative, including an interactive project map, is available at glri.us.

2 – The Saginaw Bay Waterfowl Festival is this weekend at the Bay City State Recreation Area.

ducks on the go michigan saginaw bay waterfowl festival 2015

Credit: Ducks Unlimited

The state park in Bangor Township will host the festival on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 and 2.

This is said to be the park’s most popular special event weekend. This is the 20th anniversary.

Features this year include a State Championship Duck & Goose Calling Tournament, Waterfowl Stamp Competition, Wildlife Arts & Craft Show, Waterfowl Calling Clinic and Waterfowl Carving Contest. New this year is a chainsaw carving contest and live auction.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and headquartered at the park’s Saginaw Bay Visitor Center.


– 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 Change in the Great Lakes, Protecting Children’s Health, and Fighting Mussels with Algae

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For Friday, May 16, 2014

1 – Climate change will heighten ongoing risks to the Great Lakes, according to a new National Climate Assessment.

climate change great lakes midwest

Cover of the National Climate Assessment.

The assessment is a product of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989.

The latest report says that in the Midwest, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops. However, those benefits will be offset by extreme weather events. In the long term, we can expect decreased agricultural productivity.

Per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the Midwest are more than 20 percent higher than the national average. Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased in the last 100 years. These trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.

For the Great Lakes, the effects include changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species.

What’s to be done? The report says planning for adaptation – to address and prepare for impacts – and mitigation – to reduce future climate change – is becoming more widespread. But, “current efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences.”

2 – Protecting children from environmental health hazards is the goal of new Children’s Environmental Health “wiki.”

The “wiki,” an online database, was recently launched by the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health and the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor.

The Network and the Center developed the wiki as a platform for people interested in sharing research that addresses links between health problems and environmental exposures, along with related reports, policy activity and recommendations. It’s been a two-year project.

The site will be monitored by experts to assure that the information presented is based on well-referenced scientific evidence.

The wiki is organized around critical child health issues including respiratory health, asthma and cancer.

The Network and Center are inviting the research community, parents, advocates and others to join the community of people contributing to the database.

An introduction is here.

3 – Scientists at Wayne State University are researching how algae might help disrupt reproduction of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Preliminary research indicates that algae produce chemicals that may inhibit spawning in the invasive mussels.

Researchers are trying to identify chemical cues released by algae, and determine how those could be used to develop a control strategy.

Such an ecological strategy would be a cleaner alternative to attacking the mussels with toxic chemicals.

Zebra and quagga mussels have caused widespread damage to the lakes since arriving in the 1980s in ballast tanks of oceangoing ships.

The mussels deprive fish of food, crowd out native mussels and clog water intake pipes.

Via AP

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


Manure Runoff, Lake Huron Summit, and Solar Panel Glare

1A broad coalition is calling for an end to the use of manure as fertilizer in the winter.

A furry moth eye. Credit: Andrew Magill.

A furry moth eye. Credit: Andrew Magill.

The groups have called on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to end the application of manure on frozen ground, or ground covered by snow.

A general permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, is currently being revised by the DEQ.

The coalition includes the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Michigan Clean Water Action, Michigan Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

The groups say the problem is runoff from snowmelt and thaw that pollutes lakes and streams. That runoff contains phosphorus, which feeds harmful algal blooms in waters like Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

The groups say the practice of applying manure in the winter has damaged beaches, fisheries and drinking-water supplies. They say intakes in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron also are at risk.

2Success stories from citizens will be featured at a Lake Huron Watershed Summit.

The event is on Friday, April 25, at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena. It’s being put on by Huron Pines and the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG).

The Summit will feature a series of citizen presenters, breakout sessions to share lessons learned, and a State of the Lake panel of natural resource experts.

Topics covered throughout the day will include waterfront practices, local planning, habitat projects, and invasive species removal

For more information, visit VolunteerNorthernMichigan.org.

3Glare from solar panels has been an issue in places like Midland County’s Homer Township, where residents have complained about solar fields next to the Rose Glen subdivision.

It’s also come up in places like California, which has a lot more solar panels than Michigan.

Now, researchers at the University of California in Irvine have developed a gold coating that they say dims the glare from solar panels.

They say the light-absorbing, water-repellant material was inspired by the eyeballs of moths.

Scientists found that a simple process and a tiny bit of gold can turn a transparent film black.

The new coating also could allow people to read cellphone displays in bright light.

The university has patented the work and is exploring ways to bring the product to market.

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

Saginaw Bay Algae Events, WIN Earth Day Contest, and Warblers in Ogemaw

1Two upcoming events will focus on environmental issues in the Saginaw Bay Watershed.


The first is a speaker series being hosted by the Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed, to discuss nutrient levels and nuisance algae in the bay. The event is from 1-3 p.m. on April 24 at the Wirt Public Library in downtown Bay City. It also will discuss ongoing projects by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey to better understand and manage the bay’s algae problems.

And, a Wayne State University researcher will present “An Integrated Assessment of Beach Muck and  Public Perception at the Bay City State Recreation Area.”

The second event is a Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference, being coordinated by the Michigan State Land Policy Institute and groups throughout the watershed. That event is on June 12 at Saginaw Valley State University’s Curtiss Hall.

The day-long conference will focus on “tools and strategies for protecting water quality, the critical need for action and the development of local policies to protect and restore the Saginaw Bay.”

2Fifty words or less could be worth $1,000 to a local nonprofit.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is looking for short descriptions of projects for an Earth Day Contest.

The ideas need to be related to conservation, public access to natural resources, natural resource-based recreation and education, or energy efficiency.

If you can describe the project in 50 words or less, your favorite nonprofit can win a grant to help support it.

Ideas will be posted to the Saginaw Watershed Initiative Network’s Facebook page, and the one with most votes will receive the grant.

The deadline is April 9. The award is to be announced on Earth Day, April 22.

3Which Michigan county is home to the largest number of nesting Kirtland’s warblers?

The answer: Ogemaw County. The endangered birds nest in 12 counties in Northern Michigan. Out of more than 2,000 singing males counted in a 2013 census, 26 percent were found in Ogemaw.

Why Ogemaw? Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, notes that conservation programs which help the warbler also also help protect other natural resources in the region.

Ogemaw contains the headwaters of the Rifle River, which flows for 60 miles and empties into Saginaw Bay.

The group is looking for volunteers to help keep the river clean. You can find out more at Huron Pine’s website.

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


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.

Saginaw Bay Runoff Research, and Algae Maps for All

The Environment Report, heard at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. From Sept. 13, 2013:

-1- Eight research grants, totaling nearly $2.9 million, have been awarded by the University of Michigan Water Center to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts.

The two-year grants were awarded to researchers at universities in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York.

The projects will support efforts to restore native fish migrations across the Great Lakes Basin,  improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, and guide ecological restoration of Saginaw Bay.

The Saginaw Bay grant involves $413,000 awarded to a Saginaw Valley State University researcher. The money will go to assess projects within the Kawkawlin, Pigeon and Pinnebog rivers that have been aimed at reducing nutrient runoff from agricultural land into the bay, and develop priorities to guide future conservation efforts.

The grant was awarded to David Karpovich, director of SVSU’s Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute.

Karpovich says the project will integrate available data, models, and decision tools to address the scientific gap between the placement of land-based conservation actions and their resulting ecological outcomes in rivers and nearshore areas of the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

The results will be used to guide future placement of agricultural best management practices for the best possible ecological outcomes at the lowest cost and impact to the community, SVSU officials said in a news release.

The project is slated for completion in September 2015.

– 2 – Scientists at Michigan Tech Research Institute are using satellite data to determine where harmful algal blooms are increasing in the Great Lakes and what threats they may pose to water quality and public health.

The project generates maps of the Western Basin of Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, and Green Bay on Lake Michigan. The maps show the location and extent of blooms, along with areas of water quality and public health concern. The maps are updated weekly, and made available online to the public.

Harmful algal blooms develop when nutrients from agricultural runoff encourage the development of high algae levels that can clog water intake pipes, affect the quality of drinking water, potentially harm pets and make humans sick, according to Michigan Tech.

Climate change is another factor. Algae thrive in warmer water, and the water temperature in the Great Lakes has risen in recent years, and continues to rise.


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