Farm Bill Funding for Saginaw Bay, Beach Wellness, and Finding Endangered Dragonflies

For May 30, 2014


1The Great Lakes have been designated as a Critical Conservation Area.

stabenow saginaw bay

U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow.

That means the region will be eligible for increased funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program under the 2014 Farm Bill.

The announcement was made this week in Bangor Township by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The program, created by Stabenow in the new Farm Bill, will strengthen the Saginaw Bay region’s ability to address priority watersheds with the greatest conservation needs.

The program will provide opportunities for public-private partnerships to address soil erosion, habitat protection and water quality, according to the Great Lakes Commission.

The designation of the Great Lakes as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas in the U.S. means it’s a target region for clean water projects, and there will be additional funding available to address water quality issues, Stabenow says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $1.2 billion in funding over the life of the five-year program and can leverage an additional $1.2 billion from partners for a total of $2.4 billion for conservation.

The 2014 Farm Bill was approved by Congress in February.

 

2The 8th Annual Beach Wellness Event will be held on Saturday, June 21, at the Bay City Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

A range of events start at 9 a.m. and will be held throughout the day for all levels of competition and ages.

That includes a 10K and 5K run, a 5K walk, and a quarter-mile run for kids. There also will be a volleyball tournament for adults and kids, and a classic car cruise.

All proceeds from this year’s Beach Wellness Event will go for grooming the public beach at the state park. Save Our Shoreline has already donated $1,500.

Sign-up info for the runs and walk are available at runsignup.com. You can contact the YMCA in Bay City for info on the volleyball tournament.

More than $70,000 has been raised from previous Beach Wellness events.


3Have you seen the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly?

hines emerald dragonfly

An adult Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly is the focus of this coastal habitat conservation project in northeast Michigan. Photo credit: David Cuthrell, Michigan Natural Features Inventory

A coalition of agencies and organizations are working together to find and protect the insect, which lives in only a few places in the Great Lakes, including Northeast Michigan.

People are being invited to join in a new “citizen science” effort led by partners including Huron Pines in Gaylord and Michigan Sea Grant.

About 150 species of dragonflies and damselflies are known to inhabit Michigan, according to Sea Grant.

The Hine’s emerald dragonfly is rare, in part, due to its specific northern fen habitat requirements. That habitat is threatened by development and the invasion of high impact, non-native species.

The citizen science effort is a two-year project aimed at involving people in protecting the dragonfly and high quality natural habitats at two state parks along the shores of northern Lake Huron. Participants will conduct field surveys for larval habitat and invasive species.

 

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

Energy Forum at Delta, Dragons in Saginaw, and a Project on the Kawkawlin

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard at 9 a.m. Eastern, Fridays on Delta Q-90.1 FM. The Feb. 15, 2013, broadcast:

1 – A public forum on Michigan’s energy future is planned for March 4 at Delta College.

coal chunk

Credit: Jeffrey Beall

 

The forum is one of seven planned for locations throughout the state, and will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, March 4 in the Delta College Lecture Theater.

The public forums are hosted in part by the Michigan Public Service Commission, which regulates major electric utilities in the state.

Gov. Rick Snyder has charged the chairs of the Commission and Michigan Energy Office with overseeing a public input process. The process is meant to assist policymakers as they take a look at future energy needs in the state.

Snyder says he’ll rely on the results of the process when making comprehensive recommendations in December regarding Michigan’s energy future.

The forums come after voters in November 2012 rejected a proposal to increase the amount of wind, solar and other renewable energy generation in the state from 10 percent by 2015 to 25 percent by 2025.

The Snyder administration is spending this year collecting comments and considering proposals for future state energy policy after the 2015 deadline passes.

Comments also are being taken online until April 25. There are specific questions on  renewables, efficiency, and the regulatory structure for electricity.

Bay County is home to the Karn-Weadock complex, which creates electricity by burning coal and is the largest power plant in the Consumers Energy fleet.

– – –  See Appendix A: Governor’s Energy Message (pdf)

2 – A dragon hunter has identified six new species in Saginaw County.

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We’re talking about dragonflies, at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge Manage Steven Kahl reports that volunteer Jeff Sommer conducted a dragonfly count last summer.

He found six new species at the refuge, including

  • the Racket-tailed Emerald
  • the Cobra Clubtail
  • the Skillet Clubtail
  • the Dragonhunter
  • the Spot-winged Glider, and
  • the Spatterdock Darner.

These six new species raise the number of dragonfly and similar insects found
on the refuge to 54 species.

The diversity is due in a large part to a variety of wetlands on the refuge.

For those counting, the first day of spring is March 20.

. . .

3 – Bay County Executive Tom Hickner is now a member of the Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Committee of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC).

Hickner was recently appointed to a two-year term as a voting member of the Committee.

The Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Committee provides recommendations to the board of the Michigan Association of Counties on current issues, legislative activity, and statutes affecting Michigan counties.

In other Bay County news, Drain Commissioner Joseph Rivet has accepted a nearly $1 million grant for water quality improvements on the Kawkawlin River.

The project will focus on best-management practices for agriculture, including erosion control projects. Also, direct livestock access to river will be managed and barriers constructed.

The project also aims to acquire 100 acres of permanent conservation easements, and identify and eliminate failed septic systems along the river. The goal is to reduce phosphorus and sediment inputs to the river.

The Kawkawlin River was flagged for high bacteria levels twice in 2012, and under a contamination advisory or closure for a total of 79 days.

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