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 michigan.gov/invasives.

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.

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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 michigan.gov/invasives.


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.

bay-county-clean-jobs

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.

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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

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Free Fishing, Great Lakes Protection, and No More Renewable Energy Surcharges

For Friday, June 12, 2015

1 – This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan.

That’s Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14.

All fishing license fees will be waived for the two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing for all species on inland and Great Lakes’ waters.

Research shows that young people today do not have access to fishing opportunities that were enjoyed by previous generations. Reasons include living in urban or suburban areas, competition for time by an ever-increasing schedule of special activities, and too little time for unstructured leisure.

Events are being held around the state. In Bay County, there’s a Free Fishing Festival at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bangor Township. That includes a Family Fishing Derby, with rods and bait provided and trophies for the largest of each species of fish caught. There also will be a “Fishing Fairway,” where booths will be set up to teach and demonstrate skills, safety and knowledge which can be helpful while fishing Michigan’s waters.

Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world, according to the Department of Natural Resources, with more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

2 – The Great Lakes Protection Fund is looking for projects.

The aim is for projects that create ecological improvements on a regional scale.

The cutoff date for preproposals is Aug. 3, and decisions are expected in December.

Themes being explored include

  • Prototypes of Insurance, Assurance and Financial Products for the Ecosystem
  • Performance-Based Green Infrastructure Competition
  • Smarter Water – Healthier Lakes

The Great Lakes Protection Fund is a private, nonprofit corporation formed in 1989 by the governors of the Great Lakes states. To date, the Fund has awarded more than $72 million to support 259 projects.

To find out more, visit glpf.org.

3 – Renewable energy is paying off.

DTE Electric, Michigan’s largest electric utility, recently filed a rate change request to eliminate renewable energy surcharges from customer bills.

The surcharge will be removed beginning in January 2016, reducing electric rates by $15 million a year.

Consumer’s Energy, the second-largest investor-owned utility in Michigan, has already eliminated renewable surcharges on consumer bills.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, a trade association, says the elimination of the surcharges is additional proof of the rapid decline in costs associated with renewable energy in the state.

It also demonstrates the success of a 2008 renewable energy law that has spurred more than $3 billion in economic activity tied to renewable energy projects in Michigan.

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

Commercial Fishing May Return to Southern Lake Huron

For Friday, June 5, 2015

. . .

1 – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is exploring commercial fishing in Lake Huron, issuing a research permit to an existing Saginaw Bay commercial fisher.

lake whitefish minnesota dnr

Via the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan waters of southern Lake Huron have not been commercially fished in five decades, according to the DNR. The agency believes there could be an abundant stock of lake whitefish available for harvest.

The permit allows the fisher, from Pinconning, to explore lake whitefish populations beginning this month (June 2015). The fisher will be permitted to set large mesh trap nets on experimental fishing grounds. The location is several miles south of Harbor Beach and north of Port Sanilac.

The research fishery is expected to continue over the next three years, while the DNR monitors and evaluates fish populations.

2 – Native plants reduce stormwater runoff and attract wildlife. They also require less watering and don’t need fertilizers or pesticides to survive.

Information on native gardening is available on a new website from The Nature Conservancy.

The site aims to make it easy for gardeners to get started using plants native to their area in yards and gardens.

You can answer four simple questions about your planting area, and the site will kick out a short list of plants that will thrive there.

There also are video clips.

The site is at nature.org/GoNative.

3 – Michigan is more than halfway toward meeting a clean power goal.

Clean power plan michigan union of concerned scientists

via UCS

A proposed Clean Power Plan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes benchmarks for states to reduce their carbon emissions by 2020.

An analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists says Michigan is one of eight states that are more than 50 percent toward meeting the 2020 Clean Power Plan benchmarks. The others include Indiana and Wisconsin.

The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Most of the reductions would be made by 2020.

The EPA plan is expected to be finalized this summer, and states will submit their own plans for meeting the targets.

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– 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

Skin Cancer, and Energy, from the Sun

For July 18, 2014

 

If you’re going to be spending time in the sun, protect yourself with sunglasses, sunscreen, and take a break in the shade.

Your eyes and skin need protection while swimming, hiking, boating or fishing. The sun emits radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Those rays will be highest around noon on a clear sunny day. UV levels also will be highest near surfaces that reflect sunlight — like water and sand.

Exposure to UV rays can cause sunburn, skin aging, eye damage and skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. An estimated 76,100 United States residents will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2014. For Michigan, the estimates are 2,830 people, according to the American Cancer Society.

July is UV Safety Month.

 

The sun is not all bad. It provides plenty of opportunities for clean energy generation.

bright sun pylon

Credit: Craig Chew-Moulding.

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association has announced a partnership with Localstake Marketplace of Indiana. The company has launched a renewable energy crowdfunding Web page to encourage the development of solar and renewable energy projects in Michigan.

The idea is to connect investors to Michigan projects. The new program is called the Michigan Solar Funding Platform.

Localstake will review and vet all Michigan projects that use the platform. The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association will encourage business and individual members to use the site and provide education on crowdfunding to project developers, investors, and the general public.

Right now, businesses and potential investors are being asked to sign up. Later on, nvestors will be able to research proposed renewable energy projects in the state and support those they want to see built by investing as little as $250.

 

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

 

A Good Dam Investment, Saginaw Basin Photo Contest, and Solar Communities

(The return of) Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart (enjoying summer). As heard on Friday, July 19, 2013, in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College public radio, Q-90.1 FM

1 – Dams that hold back water can be bad news for fish and spawning.

dams shiawassee

From a dam presentation by Michigan DEQ

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is making a good dam investment, with a $62,500 grant to the Friends of the Shiawassee River. The money will support dam removal, habitat restoration and park planning at the site of the Shiatown Dam.

The grant will go to study the dam site and help restore the upstream area of the former impoundment.  It also will allow for further improvements to the Shiawassee County’s Shiatown Park, which borders the site on both sides.

Recreational use of the area for fishing and paddling will be enhanced as well.

Saginaw Bay WIN, funded by area foundations, has previously awarded grants for Shiawassee projects that include additional habitat restoration sites and public access points.

The grant recipient says the project will help return the river corridor to a more natural, healthy condition. Fish will be able to access several miles of fish spawning area previously blocked by the impoundment.

2 – A seventh annual nature photo contest is all online this year.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is holding the contest, and will be awarding prizes from partner organizations for the best photos in several categories.

This year’s categories include: landscapes, people, wildlife and plants.

There also are categories for kids up to age 18. The photos must be taken within the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

For more information, search for Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy on Facebook.

Winners are to be announced in October or November.

3 – Several Saginaw Bay area communities are becoming “solar ready.”

The cities of Midland and Saginaw, along with Thomas and Williams townships, are working to become the first Solar-Ready Communities in Michigan. The project is being led by the Clean Energy Coalition, a nonprofit in Ann Arbor.

The local cities and townships have agreed to streamline local permitting, planning, and zoning processes related to solar installations. According to the coalition, the work is part of an effort that will ultimately expand throughout the state.

Local officials have held work sessions to explore ways to best prepare for increased adoption of solar technology.

That’s included a review of national best practices for solar permitting, and discussions on adopting a region-wide approach.

The Saginaw Bay Region is home to three major solar-related companies. Those are Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., the Dow Corning Corp. and the Dow Chemical Co.

See #MIrenewable on Twitter.

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