Winter Stoneflies, Environmental Educator Award, Christmas Bird Count

For Friday, Dec. 16, 2016

1 – The annual Christmas Bird Count began this week across the U.S. and Canada.

Every year, thousands of volunteers identify and count birds during the count, which is put on by the National Audubon Society. The Count helps researchers, conservation biologists, and others study North American bird populations over time.

Last year more than 2,500 counts were completed and 58.8 million birds were reported.

Anyone can participate in the Christmas Bird Count until Jan. 5.

The Count takes place in geographic circles that include experienced birders. That means even beginners can participate.

In Michigan, counts are planned in locations including Huron County, Tuscola County, Bay City, Midland and Tawas.

2 – Does your child’s teacher go above and beyond?

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches and use the environment as a context for learning.

Award winners receive up to $2,500 for professional development.

The winning teacher’s local school also receives up to $2,500 to fund environmental education activities and programs.

Up to two teachers from each U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regions will receive the award.

Applications are due March 1.

3 – Some flies live through the winter.

winter stonefly stoneflies michigan

Credit: Dysmorodrepanis, Wikimedia Commons

During the coldest months, winter stoneflies hatch from rocky stream bottoms and crawl up through openings in the snow or ice that covers the water.

They have four wings, stay close to the snow and ice, and walk to find mates, according to information from Michigan Lake and Stream Associations.

Little is known about how these stoneflies survive freezing water and air temperatures.

What makes these flies particularly special is that they’re an indicator species. Because the flies are sensitive to poor water quality, monitoring the locations and numbers of these flies can help determine the health of a stream.

Several watershed organizations hold winter stonefly searches in lower Michigan to help understand winter stonefly populations and predict stream health.

– 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

 

 

Lake Guardian Survey, Phragmites Treatment, Electric Vehicles

For Friday, Aug. 5, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/u9g1dlgyd6xomj2/mr-great-lakes-environment-report-8-5-16.mp3]

1 – Consumers Energy wants to install electric vehicle charging stations across the state.

The Michigan utility hopes to install more than 800 charging stations as part of a $15 million statewide electric vehicle infrastructure program.

The request is under consideration by the Michigan Public Service Commission as part of a broader rate increase.

The utility is looking to install 60 direct current fast-charge stations and 750 alternating current stations across the state, according to Midwest Energy News.

The fast-charging stations would be located along highways and allow drivers to recharge up to 80 percent of their battery in about 20 minutes.

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An example of an electric vehicle charging station in Virginia. Credit: alexanderromero

2 – The public is invited to a Phragmites Treatment Information Meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Phragmites is a perennial wetland grass. An invasive variety of the plant can grow up to 15 feet tall and degrade wetlands and coastal areas by crowding out native plants and animals.

The meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Akron Township Hall in Unionville. It’s intended to help private landowners through the phragmites treatment process.

Those who attend can find out about how to control phragmites, along with the permits that are required and contractors who are available to do the work.

There is no cost for the meeting.

More information is available from the Tuscola County Economic Development Corp.

3 – This month, the Lake Guardian begins its summer survey of the five Great Lakes.

The Lake Guardian is a research vessel operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Chicago.

The ship is used to gather environmental data to gauge the health of the lakes. Its crew samples water, air, sediments and aquatic organisms like plankton.

Month-long surveys are done each year in the spring and summer.

You can track the ship’s location during this summer’s survey at lakeguardian.org.

The vessel started its survey on Lake Michigan and was near Milwaukee on Thursday.

– 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

 

 

 

 

Happy ‘Shoe Year’

Winter Fitness, Recycling and Visualizing Your Watershed

For Friday, Jan. 8, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/z9grg4m9u8bvynw/1-8-2016-mr-great-lakes.mp3]

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.

showshoes-noeh

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-2016-deq

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

 

 

 

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

How the Clean Water Rule Affects Michigan, and Kirtland’s Warbler Fest

For Friday, May 29, 2015

1 – A new Clean Water Rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will protect streams in Michigan.

According to the EPA, the rule will benefit people who get their drinking water from seasonal, rain-dependent or headwater streams. More than half of the population in Bay and Arenac counties fits into that category.

epa esri map drinking water michigan clean water rule

Via EPA

The EPA says protection of about 60 percent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands has been confusing and complex as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.

The rule protects streams and wetlands that are scientifically shown to have the greatest impact on downstream water quality.

Clean Water Action, a Michigan environmental group, says the rule closes loopholes that have left drinking water sources for one in seven in Michigan residents at risk of pollution.

Michigan environmental groups and others have spent about a dozen years asking for clarity on protections under the Clean Water Act.

2 – The Kirtland’s Warbler Festival returns next week.

The festival is Saturday, June 6,  in downtown Roscommon.

kirtlands warbler michigan usfws

Via USFWS

The event will include Kirtland’s warbler tours, a kids activity tent, educational speakers, kayak tours, timber equipment demonstrations, and local food.

A Home Opener on Friday night will features a talk by an expert from The Nature Conservancy.

The Kirtland’s warbler is an endangered songbird that nests in young jack pine stands in places that include northeast Michigan.

Habitat management and other programs have brought the species from a low of 167 singing males in 1987 to more than 2,000, according to federal data.

– 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

Scooping up Dioxins and Mapping Coastal Wetlands

For Aug. 15, 2014

Update, Aug. 18: A comment link has been posted http://www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/dowchemical/pubcomment-201408.html

1The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to clean up dioxin-contaminated soil in frequently flooded areas along the Tittabawassee River.

The floodplain includes about 4,500 acres and extends along 21 miles of the river below the Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland.

The proposed plan calls for a combination of steps, according to EPA:

If tests show a high-enough contamination level in homeowners’ yards, workers will dig up and remove contaminated soil, replace it with clean soil, and restore grasses and plants.

In other areas, such as farms, parks, and the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, contaminated soil will be trucked away for disposal or covered with clean material. Some areas will be replanted.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed cleanup plan through Oct. 14. (As of 2 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 15, a comment link was not available at www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/dowchemical/). A public meeting is planned for Sept. 24 in Freeland.

2- A Central Michigan University helicopter is on the job.

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The tiny, six-foot-long chopper is being used by Central Michigan University researchers to study Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

The craft is fitted with a high-resolution digital camera. It was recently in the sky at Wilderness State Park near Carp Lake, along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The ‘copter’s onboard camera took thousands of aerial photos that researchers will use to map locations of Pitcher’s thistle, a threatened native plant that grows on beaches and grassland dunes along the shorelines of Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron.

The CMU researchers hope data from the helicopter, along with ground sampling efforts, will allow scientists to cover larger areas and get a better understanding of how ecosystems around the Great Lakes are changing.

The project has research support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The helicopter’s aerial method of data collection and mapping is relatively new technology.

Pitcher’s thistle, an important food source for certain birds and small mammals, was once fairly common in sand dune ecosystems of Michigan. Its numbers have declined in recent decades due to habitat destruction associated with shoreline development, recreational use, and  invasive plant species.

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

Energy Attitudes, Spring Migration, and Clean Water Rules

1 – When it comes to energy, what’s more important – the cost, or environmental impact?

On average, consumers believe home energy bills would have to nearly double before they’d be forced to make lifestyle changes to save on costs, according to a new University of Michigan survey.

The U-M Energy Survey was conducted for the first time in October 2013. It also found that consumers believe home energy bills will rise more than the cost of gasoline over the next five years.

According to federal data, the average U.S. household spent about $2,000 last year on home energy, including electricity and other household fuels. The average household spent about $900 more per year on gasoline.

In the survey, more people also expressed concern about environmental damage from energy than they did about the cost of energy.

sandhill crane flickr kates

A sandhill crane. Credit: Phil Kates.

2 – Spring is here, but you wouldn’t know it based on the weather.

However, recent sightings at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge indicate that the spring migration has started.

Several types of birds have arrived at the refuge in Saginaw County, including the Turkey Vulture, Killdeer, Song Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, and Common Grackle.

The songs of the Red-winged Blackbird have even been heard, and several waterbird species have arrived, including more than 40 Sandhill Cranes.

You can find bird sighting reports on the refuge’s Facebook page.

3 – A long-awaited federal rule would help protect the Great Lakes.

The Obama Administration has released a proposed rule to clarify which waters of the United States are protected from pollution and destruction by the Clean Water Act.

The National Wildlife Federation says the rule would be a big step forward in the effort to restore the overall health of the lakes, along with its streams and wetlands.

The rule, proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would give the federal government regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands, and about 2 million miles of streams, according to The Washington Post.

Read more at the EPA’s website.

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

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