Midland Signs on to PACE, Warbler Fest Draws Visitors, Dow AgroSciences Picks up Award

For Friday, June 24, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/m2od3pocux63jkf/environment-report-mr-great-lakes-6-24-16.mp3]

1- Midland is the latest county to sign on to a renewable energy financing program.

The Lean & Green Michigan Property Assessed Clean Energy program is known as PACE for short.

The program makes businesses and nonprofits in the county eligible to add renewable energy generating items like solar panels to their buildings.

PACE deals with the high upfront costs of such projects by providing 100 percent financing at long-term, fixed rates for up to 25 years.

The money also can be used for energy efficiency and water saving improvements, and be paid back through property taxes.

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Participating jurisdictions. Via Lean & Green Michigan

Other governments to join PACE include Bay, Saginaw and Huron counties.

This is according to Petros PACE Finance, which is sponsoring training on the program for local contractors.

2 – The Roscommon area drew people from as far away as California, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina and Florida earlier this month.

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Florida. Credit: NASA

They attended Kirtland’s Warbler Weekend events on June 3 and 4.

A festival in Roscommon is meant to bring awareness to the endangered Kirtland’s warbler. Proceeds also go to support conservation programs for the songbird.

Populations of the warbler have made a comeback in recent years, but advocates say management is still needed to sustain the bird, which is selective about its nesting sites in places that include Northern Michigan.

Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, says the visitors delivered an economic boost to the area. Leaders say continued management for warbler habitat will have lasting impacts for the birds and Northeast Michigan, bringing birders, canoeists, hikers, bikers and others to the area.

3 – Winners of a national green chemistry award include Dow AgroSciences.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently honored recipients of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

The award recognizes landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn environmental problems into business opportunities and spur innovation and economic development.

Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Midland-based Dow Chemical Co., was honored for an additive called Instinct.

The EPA says the additive reduces runoff from fertilizers, and cuts nitrous oxide emissions.

The additive retains applied nitrogen longer in the root zones of plants like corn, which increases yields for farmers.

– 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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Wind Energy Payments, Kirtland’s Ham Radio and Salmon in the Classroom

For Friday, May 6, 2016

1 – Wind energy development is providing millions of dollars to rural landowners in the form of land lease payments.

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Credit: AWEA

According to Midwest Energy News, payments to Michigan landowners totaled $4.6 million in 2014.

Tax bases in Huron County increased by 34 percent between 2011 and 2015, or more than $559 million. In Tuscola County, tax bases increased by 26 percent, or more than $364 million.

The money provides revenue to help pay for county operating expenses, schools, roads, libraries, and other services.

Nationwide, the American Wind Energy Association reports that wind farms pay $222 million a year to rural landowners, with $70.7 million of that across 12 Midwest states.  

Some local officials in Michigan’s Thumb have complained about over-saturation and others have recently approved moratoriums on new wind development.

Clean energy advocates, meanwhile, fear wind development may slow considerably without an expanded renewable portfolio standard, which leveled off at the end of 2015.

2 – The 2016 Kirtland’s Warbler Festival is going worldwide.

This year’s festival is being held in Roscommon on Saturday, June 4.

As part of the event, ham radio operators will be hosting a Special Event Radio Station on the grounds of the festival.

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An example of a Special Event Station. Credit: Dan

According to Huron Pines in Gaylord, a station call sign has been assigned to the event through the American Radio Relay League, amateur radio’s national organization.

The ham radio operators in Roscommon plan to make two-way contacts in the United States and worldwide to raise awareness of the festival and recovery efforts related to the Kirtland’s Warbler.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler nests in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern lower and upper peninsulas, along with Wisconsin and Ontario.

3 – Baby salmon are swimming in Midland, thanks to the efforts of a local elementary school.

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Credit: USFWS

Fourth graders from Saint Brigid School released hand-raised chinook salmon at the end of April from the Tridge in Midland, according to Little Forks Conservancy.

The release was the culmination of a Department of Natural Resources Salmon in the Classroom Program.

A local chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsored the equipment and other resources for the effort.

Salmon in the Classroom is a year-long natural resources education program in which teachers and students receive fertilized salmon eggs from a state fish hatchery in the fall, hatch them out, feed and raise the fry through spring, and then release the young salmon into a local river.

Participation in the program has grown annually for more than 10 years, and now boasts more than 200 schools that will raise salmon next year.

You can find out more at Michigan.gov/SIC.

 

GIS in Bay County, Nature Films in Midland, Clean Communities in the Great Lakes

For Friday, April 1, 2016. No Foolin’.


1 – A new Geographic Information System is online for Bay County.

Bay County and Bay City government have spent almost a year on the project.

The new Geographic Information System, or GIS, Web viewer is a computerized mapping system. 

It contains a large database of information on items like water well locations, flood plain boundaries, soils, and wetlands.

The new online resource is a valuable tool, says Bay County Executive Tom Hickner.

It can be used by citizens as well as government agencies like the Bay County Road Commission, and businesses.

 

 

2 – The Chippewa Nature Center of Midland is hosting a stop on the world tour of the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

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Via the Chippewa Nature Center

The festival will be stopping at the Bullock Creek Auditorium in Midland on Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9. The tour features a series of nature-themed films from around the globe.

Screenings include a special edit of “Chasing Niagara,” about a pro kayaker who decides to paddle over Niagara Falls.

Festival sponsors include the Little Forks Conservancy and the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.

The festival is named after The Banff Centre, an arts and cultural organization in Alberta, Canada.

 

3 – Applications are due by May 4 for funding from the Great Lakes Clean Communities Network.

The Network’s Community Partnership Program funds small projects to assist communities with various practices to improve water quality in their watershed. Funding is made possible through the Great Lakes Protection Fund.

great-lakes-clean-communities-network-funding

via the Great Lakes Clean Communities Nework

The Network offers an Ecological Scorecard service where communities can evaluate and track their ecological improvements over time. 

Communities, municipalities, and watershed organizations within the Great Lakes region that have initiated or completed an evaluation are eligible to participate in the program.

Applicants may apply for up to $4,000 in funding.

Applications are due by May 4 for projects that directly improve water quality or support ecological indicators such as planting trees or installing green infrastructure.

– 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.

 

Michigan Waterfowl Legacy adds Saginaw Bay, Midland wants a bioreactor, and Climate Change is already here

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

michigan midwest climate change temperatures rising

From Chapter 18 of the National Climate Assessment draft.

Text and info from the Feb. 1, 2013, broadcast:

1- The Michigan Waterfowl Legacy program now includes Saginaw Bay.

Michigan Waterfowl Legacy is a recently launched statewide initiative that seeks to bring hunters and non-hunters together to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan’s waterfowl, wetlands and waterfowl hunting community.

The Legacy is a 10-year, cooperative partnership between various government agencies and non-government conservation organizations — including the Bay City-based Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The Saginaw Bay watershed is the largest in Michigan, draining about 15 percent of the state’s waterways.

Goals of the Legacy program here include increasing the number of citizens in the region who are using and enjoying wetlands, and building on successful partnerships that have resulted in increased wetland and waterfowl habitat.

Plans include the promotion of Saginaw Bay tourism opportunities related to waterfowl and wetlands, and the development of Saginaw Bay-specific Michigan Waterfowl Legacy events, such as waterfowl hunting, birding, and trapping workshops.

Many of the new Saginaw Bay events will occur on waterfowl areas managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and tie into a new DNR campaign called “Explore Michigan’s Wetland Wonders.”

The project has been funded by a $27,500 grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, supported by area foundations.

2 – A bioreactor project is planned for a Midland landfill.

The city of Midland is requesting a construction permit from the state for a research, development, and demonstration project at an existing solid waste landfill.

According to a permit application, on file with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Bay City, the project is designed to study the effect of adding sludge from the wastewater treatment process to solid waste at the landfill.

Adding sludge to the landfill is expected to optimize conditions for the biological decomposition of solid waste.

The landfill is 340 acres, and located on East Ashman Street in Midland.

The project also could increase the life of the landfill, and the amount of electricity generated from existing landfill gas extraction equipment.

A decision from the DEQ is expected by late April.

3 – Climate change is already impacting wildlife in Michigan.

Case studies from across the country show that global warming is altering wildlife habitats, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, covering eight regions of the U.S.

Highlights from the Great Lakes and Midwest include: More heavy rainfall events are increasing runoff of nutrients from agricultural lands, contributing to harmful algal blooms and causing oxygen-depleted dead zones in the lakes.

The report recommends action to reduce the amount of toxic pollution from coal-fired energy, and support for more wind, solar, and geothermal energy projects.

Meanwhile, a recently released draft National Climate Assessment from the federal government concludes that climate change will lead to more frequent and intense Midwest heat waves, while degrading air and water quality and threatening public health.

Intense rainstorms and floods also will become more common, and existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated.

The National Climate Assessment’s Midwest chapter (pdf) was authored by three University of Michigan researchers.

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