Great Lakes Restoration, Phragmites and Insect Hotels

For Oct. 20, 2017

1- Great Lakes advocates gathered in Buffalo, New York, this week for the 13th annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference.

The event, hosted by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition attracted hundreds of people from the Saginaw Bay area, other parts of Michigan, and other states. It occurred while Congress is working to finalize the federal budget.

Coalition officials say federal investments in the Great Lakes are producing results around the region, which benefit communities, the environment and the economy.

The coalition is urging Congress to maintain support for federal investments for programs to clean up toxic pollution and help fix wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums.

2 – School children are learning about the impacts of invasive plants.

Earlier this month, sixth graders from Tawas Area Schools visited a patch of phragmites that have developed on the property of the St. Joseph Health System in Tawas City.

Non-native phragmites, also know as common reed, can grow into tall stands and crowd out native plants and animals.

The hospital wanted to treat for the plants and worked with the nonprofit Huron Pines in Gaylord to turn the request into a learning experience for the students.

Student activities included calculating the density of the patch, dissecting the plant, mapping the site, and journaling ideas for future site plans.

The students and teachers plan to continue the lessons by bringing the data back to the classroom for further discussion.

3 – Hotels have been built in a nature preserve.

 

IMG_1790

An insect hotel. Credit: Little Forks Conservancy

Don’t worry though, these hotels are for insects.

A Boy Scout built and installed the insect hotels for the Little Forks Conservancy of Midland.

The conservancy says these hotels are great for gardens and natural areas. The insects that check in are friendly pollinators and creatures that help control harmful bugs. The hotels are stuffed with materials to attract various insects.

Ten hotels were installed along the trail at the Averill Preserve and Riverview Natural Area. They will be seeded by the Chippewa Nature Center in the spring with native wildflowers and grasses.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

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Invasive Plant Boat Tours, Fall Colors

For Sept. 22, 2017

1 – You can learn about the effects of invasive plants during free boat tours on Lake Huron.

phragmites-boat-tour-saginaw-bay-lake-huron

Bay County and a group called Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area is offering half-hour public tours to showcase phragmites treatment efforts.

The tours leave every half hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the Finn Road Boat Launch in Essexville on Sept. 29, the Quanicassee Boat Launch in Fairgrove on Sept. 30, and Eagle Bay Marina in Standish on Oct. 1.

Those who join can learn about the effects of invasive phragmites on recreation and the ecosystem of Saginaw Bay. Local naturalists will explain the issues caused by these invasive plants and showcase areas where treatment has killed a majority of the infestation.

The tours will take place aboard charter fishing boats and are family friendly.

2 – Friday, Sept. 22, is the first day of fall.

fall leaves colors michigan

Credit: MDNR

Fall color is predicted to peak throughout October in Michigan, depending on the location. The Pure Michigan website has a map to find out the best times to visit different areas of the state.

See Michigan.org/fall.

The state Department of Natural Resources also notes that fall camping is available for people traveling north to view the colors.

Reservations are reported to be much easier to find in the fall, and officials say campgrounds are less crowded.

Many state parks will host harvest festivals for campers. Events are planned at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County’s Bangor Township on Oct. 5-7 and Oct. 12-14.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

Invasive Species, Sewer Maintenance

For Friday, Nov. 4, 2016

1 – New research in Saginaw County is looking at how invasive plants can feed farms and power homes.

According to the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, scientists are working at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge this fall to determine if harvesting invasive cattails from the marsh can improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

The harvesting could remove nutrients taken up by the soil. These nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, can lead to water quality problems in the Saginaw Bay and its river systems.

Scientists also are investigating the use of harvested biomass as supplemental fertilizer and energy source.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network provided a grant for the project and says the method could be used for other invasive species such as phragmites.

2 – The Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area promotes education, outreach and control activities in 17 counties in the Saginaw Bay watershed.

The group’s Strike Team reports a successful season treating more than 100 sites in the watershed.

The majority of the sites contained invasive phragmites and Japanese knotweed.  

All of the sites will be monitored and follow-up treatment will done as necessary.

Many of the sites treated were private lands where the property owner contacted the group directly.  

For more information, see the Facebook page for the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.

3 – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has awarded nearly $97 million to 137 municipalities to assist with costs of planning for sewer system maintenance needs.

The program provides grant assistance for wastewater and stormwater planning, and the testing and demonstration of innovative technology.

Grants in Bay County include about $655,000 to the Bay County Road Commission, $392,000 to Portsmouth Township, $424,000 to Williams Township, $1.2 million to the city of Essexville, $1.7 million to Pinconning and $1 million to Standish.

– 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

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

 

 

 

 

Great Lakes Bay Trail, Duck Stamp Contest, Phragmites Workshops

For Friday, March 4, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/u90px1kbuvtarqo/3-4-2016-mrgreatlakes-environment-report.mp3]

1 – A Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail project is moving right along.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation has awarded $200,000 toward building the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail.

The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation also has contributed $100,000 and the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation has kicked in $50,000.

The region-wide, non-motorized trail system would link existing trails in Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.

great-lakes-bay-regional-trail.jpg

Screenshot of promotional video. Via YouTube

Once completed, it would be a 100-mile system, giving walkers, runners, bike riders and skaters access to destinations throughout the region, including natural areas, parks, and recreational facilities.

The first 6.2-mile section, connecting Bay to Saginaw, is on schedule to be completed this year, organizers say.

More than $3.8 million has been raised to date from state and regional sources to support the connection of the trails.

More information on the project is online at greatlakesbaytrails.com.

 

2 – Students can enter a contest to have their artwork appear on a stamp.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting entries for the 2016 Michigan Junior Duck Stamp Contest, administered by the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Entries must be postmarked by March 15.

The contest is part of an educational program that teaches wetland habitat and waterfowl biology to students in kindergarten through high school.

Students may submit artwork featuring species including ducks, swans, and geese.

duck-stamp-michigan

2015 Michigan Best of Show Winner. Via USFWS

Judging will be open to the general public at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center in Saginaw.

During the contest, students will be judged in four groups according to grade level.

Contest judges will select a “Best of Show” from 12 first place winners, which will be entered into the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest held in April in Florida.

The winner of the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest, along with his or her parent or guardian and teacher, will receive a free trip to a First Day of Sale ceremony in late June or early July.

The first place art from the national contest is used to create a National Junior Duck Stamp each year.

3 – A new series of public workshops will provide information on current efforts to control phragmites across Saginaw Bay.

The workshops also will provide information for landowners on how to treat the invasive plant on their property, and how to enroll in larger group treatment programs.

Phragmites is a tall grass that grows in wetlands, ditches, shorelines, and roadsides. The plant can grow up to 15 feet tall, forming dense stands, and spreads rapidly through airborne seed dispersal and underground stems.

phragmites-michigan-sea-grant

Phragmites. Via Michigan Sea Grant

Once it moves into an area, phragmites outcompetes native species for resources, displacing native plants and animals.

In Saginaw Bay, this has negative impacts on fisheries, waterfowl, and wetlands. Phragmites also can limit water access for hikers, boaters, and beachgoers and reduce waterfront property values by blocking views.

Over the past few years, several treatment projects have helped reclaim Saginaw Bay shoreline and wetland habitat from the invasive plant.

The workshops are planned for March 10 in Tuscola County, March 16 in Midland County and April 7 in Bay County.  

For questions on the workshops or more information, call 989-891-7198.

– 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

 

 

For Spring: Targeting Mosquitoes, Oak Wilt and Saginaw Bay Invasives

For Friday, March 13, 2015

1 – Spring is coming, and so are the bugs.

scrap tire mosquitoes

Credit: Fran Ontanaya

Bay County and other counties across Michigan are planning events to collect scrap tires, which can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The state recently awarded $587,000 in grants for scrap tire drop-off events and other tire cleanups across Michigan. Drop-off events will be held in the spring and summer. Besides Bay County, grants also went to Saginaw, Arenac and Tuscola counties. Last year, Bay County collected more than 2,600 tires at two drop-off events. The tires were hauled away and recycled. – via Bay County newsletter

2 – Spring arrives officially on March 20. And now is the best time to prune your trees so they are less likely to be attacked by summer bugs and pathogens.

But take care if you have oak trees. The Bay County Gypsy Moth program says Oak Wilt is a concern. Last summer, the state departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued a Pest Alert about the dangers of Oak Wilt, a  fungal disease that kills oak trees, mainly red oaks.

Classical symptoms of oak wilt on red oak leaves.  Credit: Michigan State University

Classical symptoms of oak wilt on red oak leaves. Credit: Michigan State University

Oak Wilt has not been found in Bay County yet, but residents are advised NOT to prune oak trees during the growing season. If you need to prune oaks, DO NOT prune them between April 15 and July 15. Oak Wilt was detected in more than 40 counties last year, including Saginaw, Midland, Gladwin, Roscommon and Oscoda.

3 – The Saginaw Conservation District is fighting invasive plants in 22 counties.

The District, part of a group called the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, is using $300,000 in state funding to fight invasive plants in the 22 counties that make up the Saginaw Bay watershed. Officials say the work will focus on the use of an early detection rapid response team to find and treat invasive species at a low cost and with a high rate of success. Targeted plants include Japanese knotweed, phragmites, and black and pale shallow-wort. All of these can crowd out and displace native plants.

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

Lake Huron Fish Research, Beach Cleanups and Phragmites Maps

As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m Eastern,  part of Friday Edition on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart …

1 – State research vessels are back on Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron to study fish populations. 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses four research vessels to conduct annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations.

The vessels went back on the water earlier this month in locations throughout the lakes.

The surveys are designed to estimate relative abundance, biomass, age and growth of fish populations, along with their health, diet, survival rates, natural reproduction and movements.

On Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay, surveys are being conducted from a Research Vessel called the Chinook. The work involves assessments of lake trout, walleye, and broader populations.

The Research Vessel Channel Cat will likely join in for surveys on Saginaw Bay, the DNR says.

The Channel Cat also is used for surveys of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie fish populations, focusing on walleye, yellow perch and lake sturgeon.

2 -Memorial Day signaled the beginning of summer … and the end of the spring kickoff of the Adopt-a-Beach program.

The program, organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, dispatches volunteers to clean beaches throughout Michigan and other states in the region.

Preliminary results from this year’s Adopt-a-Beach kickoff, held April 1 through Memorial Day, show that 68 teams participated in 96 locations on all five of the lakes.

The spring teams amounted to more than 1,800 volunteers who removed and catalogued close to 6,000 pounds of debris. A total of 140 health assessment forms also were completed, to help pinpoint pollution sources, according to the Alliance.

The cleanups this spring included one earlier this month at the public beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area. Data from previous beach cleanups at the state park in Bay County’s Bangor Township show food- and smoking-related items make up almost 70 percent of litter at the beach.

More beach cleanups are planned for the summer.

 3 -Satellite data has been used to map the invasive plant known as phragmites. 

phragmites map great lakes red

From the Study.

The reeds, which already ring parts of Saginaw Bay and can grow to more than 10 feet tall, pose a threat to native coastal wetlands.

Since early treatment is a key to controlling the spread of phragmites, scientists from Michigan Technological University and other partners spent three years mapping the U.S. coastline of all five Great Lakes, using satellite data and field studies.

The map shows the locations of large stands of phragmites located within six miles of the water’s edge.

The greatest amount of phragmites were found in Lakes Huron and Erie.

The study results were published in a special issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Read the study: “Mapping invasive Phragmites Australis in the coastal Great Lakes with ALOS PALSAR satellite imagery for decision support.”

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