Worms and Streams and Renewable Energy

For May 11, 2017

1 – Spring stream sampling is getting underway in Gladwin and Clare counties.

Volunteers for the Little Forks Conservancy of Midland will be out on Saturday, May 13, conducting sampling to determine the water quality of the Cedar River.

Teams will sample six sites in the river in Gladwin and Clare Counties.

Little Forks Conservancy began monitoring the water quality of the Cedar River in fall of 2015.

 

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Worms. Credit: Jeff Kart

 

The conservancy says the project provides an opportunity for citizen scientists to learn about the importance of using macroinvertebrates to monitor the health of a watershed.

These macroinvertebrates include aquatic insects, crustaceans and worms.

The conservancy says volunteers are helping create a more complete picture of the health of the Cedar River with each monitoring event.

2 – DTE Energy has opened a Discovery Center in Bad Axe.

The 3,000 square-foot space is available for use by local community groups and equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia capabilities and renewable energy education videos.

The Discovery Center is attached to the Huron Renewable Energy Center, a formerly abandoned retail store that DTE renovated and opened in 2016.

DTE says it wants to create to create a place where students and local residents can learn about renewable energy, especially wind power, because Huron County leads the state in wind energy development.

The Discovery Center’s educational videos focus on how renewable energy is contributing to Michigan’s economy, why Michigan is attractive for future wind park development, how renewable energy is supporting the state’s clean energy future, and how wind parks work in tandem with farming.

DTE’s newest wind project in Huron County, Pinnebog Wind Park, was commissioned at the end of December.

 

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

 

Nature Preserve in Midland County, Conservation Funding for Saginaw Bay Farmers

For July 11 (on a summer schedule)

 

1 – A new nature preserve in Midland County will be dedicated this weekend. 

Szok preserve midland county

Via Little Forks Conservancy.

The Little Forks Conservancy will officially open the Albert and Virginia Szok Preserve to the public at a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 12. Following the dedication, guests are invited to explore the property.

The 8-acre property was donated to Conservancy by the children of Albert and Virginia Szok in memory of their parents. The new preserve is located within the Pine Haven Recreation Area at the end of Maynard Road, along 1,200 feet of the Salt River.

A short hiking trail and bench will be added to the property for users to enjoy the beauty along the river’s edge.

Albert Szok was a long-time Midland Public Schools teacher, who helped develop environmental education programs for the Chippewa Nature Center and environmental education standards for the state of Michigan.

Chippewa Watershed Conservancy will help permanently protect the preserve through a conservation easement donated to them by the Szok family.

2 – Conservation funding is available for agricultural producers in the Saginaw Bay area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $6.3 million in conservation financial assistance available to private landowners in Michigan to help improve water quality and wildlife habitat around the Great Lakes.

The financial assistance is available to farmers and agricultural producers in selected Michigan watersheds through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Farmers and landowners interested in obtaining assistance to implement conservation improvements on their land must apply before Aug. 1. The financial assistance is available to agricultural producers in the Saginaw Bay area, the Western Lake Erie Basin, and areas of Northern Michigan near the Great Lakes.

Conservation activities like planting cover crops and installing buffer strips can help improve water quality in the Great Lakes. A portion of the funding is targeted to reducing the amount of phosphorus runoff that contributes to algal blooms that damage aquatic habitat and water quality.

More information is available online from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

 

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

 

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