Saginaw Bay Algal Blooms, UP Monarchs, River Cleanups

For July 14, 2017

1 – Phosphorous pollution has been responsible for toxic algae blooms in Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced a plan to fight phosphorous in Lake Erie.

The plan targets phosphorous pollution from farms – a large contributor to toxic blooms.

The focus is on reducing the amount of phosphorous that makes it into the water – by creating individual plans for riverside farms.

A state official says the same methods could be used to help the Saginaw Bay, which also sees heavy agricultural runoff.

 

2 – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an important stopover site for monarch butterflies on their annual migration from Canada to Mexico.

giphy (1)

via Giphy

A nonprofit called the Superior Watershed Partnership has engaged communities across the UP to help.

Monarch butterfly populations have declined more than 80 percent in recent decades due to habitat loss, pesticides and other factors. Partnership programs are restoring habitat on public and private lands throughout the UP in an effort to counter this trend. The common milkweed plant is the monarch’s preferred food. They also rely on milkweed plants to deposit their eggs and feed their larvae.

The city of Marquette recently worked with the Partnership to mail out more than 6,000 packets of milkweed seeds in utility bills to city residents and businesses.

The group also distributed more than 10,000 seed packets to other UP communities, schools, churches and community groups on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

 

3 – Friends of the Shiawassee River are celebrating 20 years of cleanup events.

The Friends and the Shiawassee County Health Department have removed hundreds of cubic yards of debris and more than 650 tires from the river since the first cleanup in 1997.

Funding comes from the Great Lakes Commission and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

This year, volunteers will meet at the Oakwood Avenue Bridge in Owosso or McCurdy Park in Corunna at 9 a.m. on July 29. For more information, see shiawasseeriver.org.

The Shiawassee River drains an area of more than 1,200 square miles and is a major tributary to the Saginaw River.

– 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

 

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Discovery Playground, Rain Barrels, and Milkweed for Monarchs

For Friday the 13th, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/0onwn77huxvoyq9/05-13-16-mr-great-lakes-discovery.mp3]

1 – The Discovery Preserve is an urban, learning landscape established in 2013 and located at 1701 S. Euclid Ave. on Bay City’s West Side. 

discovery-preserve-playground-sblc

Via SBLC.

This year, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is helping build a nature play area at the site. Children will be able to climb large boulders, build woodland shelters out of logs, and dig in the dirt.

The play area also will include interpretive signs that provide children with ideas to help explore and learn about the natural environment. The playground is due to be finished by this summer.

The Conservancy is holding a contest to name a playground mascot. Kids ages 12 and under are encouraged to submit suggestions online at sblc-mi.org.

2 – Rain barrels are a simple, efficient and low-cost method for conserving water to feed lawns and gardens.

The Little Forks Conservancy in Midland is taking orders for repurposed 55-gallon rain barrels.

Proceeds will support local conservation programs.

The barrels feature mesh screening to keep out mosquitoes and other bugs; overflow valves; a garden hose spigot; and a polyethylene surface that can be painted.

Rain barrels collect and store rainwater runoff, typically from a home or building’s rooftop. Instead of running down driveways and sidewalks to sewers, the rainwater is directed to a rain barrel where it can be stored for later use. The average home yields more than 250 gallons of water from every 1 inch of rainfall.

Orders are being taken until June 6. For more information, see littleforks.org.

3 – Throughout Michigan, people are working to help boost populations of monarch butterflies.

The numbers of monarchs have dropped sharply in recent years mostly because milkweed plants also have been decimated.

According to the Michigan Wildlife Council, virtually anyone can join the monarch conservation effort by planting milkweed in a backyard garden or flower bed.

Even a single plant makes a possible reproductive site. Milkweed is the only place where monarchs lay eggs. The plants also serve as the food source for the growth of monarch caterpillars.

A milkweed plant can support several caterpillars, and caterpillar survival is typically better if they are widely distributed over a number of plants.

Two of the best varieties for garden plantings in Michigan are orange milkweed – also commonly referred to as butterfly weed – and swamp milkweed.

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Monarch caterpillar. Credit: John Flannery

– 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

 

Monarch Butterfly Count, Beach Debris Grants

For Friday, Aug. 28, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/91xhoxgnhd5ib9r/mr-great-lakes-8-28-15.mp3]

1 – The federal government is offering money to clean up beaches and waterways.

bowling ball marine beach debris

Credit: NOAA

The Marine Debris Program, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is seeking proposals for community-based marine debris removal projects until Nov. 2. Great Lakes organizations are encouraged to apply.

Up to $2 million is expected to be available for projects across the U.S. Typical awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000.

The program is for the removal of old fishing gear and other debris that have a negative impact on resources and habitat in or along the oceans and the Great Lakes.

Previous awards have gone to the city of Cleveland, to reduce plastic marine debris in Lake Erie, including grocery bags, water bottles and cigar tips

To apply

2 – Populations of monarch butterflies are at critically low levels across the United States.

monarch milkweed butterfly habitat

Credit: USFWS

Only eight monarch butterflies were counted this year at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

That’s the second-lowest total ever recorded. The average is about 100. The highest count was 189 monarchs in 2007.

This year’s count was the eighth annual, and conducted in July. The count was one of hundreds coordinated by the North American Butterfly Association in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Monarch numbers have declined across the United States by about 90 percent in recent years. That’s from threats including a loss of milkweed habitat due to agricultural practices. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a campaign earlier this year aimed at saving the butterfly.

Monarchs travel thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, and into Canada.

Save the Monarch

-30-

– 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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