Major Conservancy Award, Sewer Planning Bucks, Solar School Contest

For Friday, Jan. 5, 2018

1 – Eighty communities have received funding for sewer planning.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality awarded nearly $64 million to the local governments to help with planning for sewer system maintenance needs.

Communities and funding amounts include: $1.6 million to Hampton Township and $350,000 to Kawkawlin Township.

This the fifth ground of state grants for sewer planning. The DEQ says municipalities applied for the grants in 2013, and approved applications have been awarded in a lottery process starting in March 2014.

2 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy has received a major award.

The Conservancy has received the Park Design Award for 2017 from the Michigan Recreation and Park Association.

The honor is for the Conservancy’s O.U.R. Saginaw Project.

The O.U.R. Saginaw effort includes a Pollinator Project to convert more than 1,500 vacant, overgrown lots into low-growing, low-maintenance pollinator plots.

There’s also the Janet H. Nash Riverfront Preserve, a 2-plus acre new riverfront natural area, developed out of a under-used parking lot; and nature trails at the Children’s Zoo in Saginaw and at Saginaw Valley State University.

3 – Michigan students can find ways to use solar energy in their schools as part of a statewide contest.


Credit: Pixabay

My Solar School Contest” is put on by the Ecology Center, U.S. Green Building Council, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and others.

Student teams in grades 6-12 will compete by conducting a solar feasibility study at their school and creating a short video to showcase their vision.

Prizes include cash and technical support.

Pre-registration is open until Jan. 19, with a contest deadline of March 30.

See for more details.

– 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


More Michigan Renewables, Updated Fish Finder, Saginaw Pollinator Project

For Friday, May 25, 2017

1- Michigan’s two largest utilities have announced plans to increase their commitments to renewable energy.

They say it’s based on a continued transition away from coal and in response to customer demand.


Credit: Jim Sorbie

According to Midwest Energy News, DTE Energy says it will add 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy from wind and solar, and retire all of its coal power plants by about 2040. At that time, DTE says 60 percent of its portfolio will come from wind, solar and nuclear, and the remainder will come from natural gas.

Consumers Energy has applied for a tariff with state regulators to allow large commercial customers to purchase generation from new renewable energy projects. Consumers says the three-year, voluntary pilot program is in response to growing demand from corporations for renewable energy.


2 – A fish finding tool has been updated.

michigan-fish-finder (2)

via MDNR

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer features more than 40 streams that represent a range of conditions in terms of stream size, temperature and Great Lakes access.

The focus is on streams with long-term data and naturally reproducing populations of trout, salmon and bass that provide users with information on self-sustaining fish populations around the state.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources launched the app in 2014.

Officials say it’s useful for fishery managers, anglers, conservation groups, and the public.

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer can be found at

3 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy seeks volunteers for a Pollinator Project in Saginaw.

This year, the conservancy plans to turn vacant lots on 50 sites into natural spaces.

The plan is to replace trash, old tires, and overgrown weeds on vacant lots with native wildflowers and prairie grasses. When converted, the lots will only need to be mowed once every few years.

Leaders say the project will reduce the burden of local government for maintenance and improve the visual condition of neighborhoods throughout the city.

The conservancy plans to start the work in coming weeks. Anyone interested in volunteering can call the conservancy at (989) 891-9986.

– 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

Discovery Playground, Rain Barrels, and Milkweed for Monarchs

For Friday the 13th, 2016


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. 



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

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

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.


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


Making Your Own Power and Watching the Perseid Meteor Shower

For Aug. 8, 2014


1More people are generating their own power in Michigan.

The latest annual net metering and solar pilot program report from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows an 18 percent increase in the program’s size compared to 2012.

Under a net metering program, customers receive a credit when they produce electric energy in excess of their needs.

Since 2008, net metering has increased by almost 1,500 customers.

In 2013, the number of net metering customers increased by almost 200, going from 1,330 to 1,527.

Solar was the most popular, with 221 customer installations totaling 1,674 kilowatts in 2013. Some customers have multiple installations.

The state’s two largest utilities — Consumers Energy and DTE Electric — host 83 percent of the total net metering program capacity in Michigan, according to the PSC.


2 – The night sky is worth watching.

perseid meteor shower michigan

Credit: Dominic Alves.

One of the biggest and most-visible astronomical events of the year is happening this month.

It’s the Perseid meteor shower.

Some state parks in Michigan are staying open late and hosting “Meteors and S’Mores” events from Aug. 9-16 in honor of this natural light show.

Many of the events include astronomy presentations — along with chocolate, marshmellows and graham crackers.

Parks that are hosting meteor shower gatherings include the Rifle River Recreation Area in Ogemaw County, at 10 p.m. on Aug. 12; and North Higgins Lake State Park in Crawford County, at 9 p.m. on Aug. 12.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, Hartwick Pines State Park in Crawford County will host an event at 8 p.m.

More information is available online at


3Speaking of the outdoors, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is putting kids in nature.

Kids in Nature events are planned for the Discovery Preserve at Euclid Park in coming months.

All the events are at the park in Bay City, and open to the public. But you’re asked to register in advance at

There’s a butterfly walk on Tuesday, Aug. 19, from 2-4 p.m.

On Sept. 16, there’s a twilight hike from 6-8 p.m.

On Nov. 16, you can bring the kids to look for Mammal Tracks from 2-4 p.m.

The tours, again, will be at the Discovery Preserve at Euclid Park, formerly known as Euclid Linear Park, at 1701 S. Euclid Avenue in Bay City.


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

The CGT on Low Water Levels, and Name the Nature Preserve

1- What causes low water levels on the Great Lakes?

In recent decades, Lake Huron and other waters in the basin followed a 10-year trend of lows and highs, researchers say.


From the paper, “Decadal oscillation of lakes and aquifers in the upper Great Lakes region of North America: Hydroclimatic implications.”

But, current low water levels have broken from that pattern.

Why? The continued lows are being driven by something called circumglobal teleconnection.

That’s according to new research by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Circumglobal teleconnection, or CGT for short, is like the jet stream, the paper says.

It’s an atmospheric pattern that can drag warm, moist air in to the Great Lakes basin, or keep it out.

For the last 12 years, this CGT pattern hasn’t changed much, meaning less rainfall to replenish lake levels.

Unfortunately, the research doesn’t allow researchers to predict if the oscillations will change anytime soon.

But, the findings will help scientists better monitor present conditions.

2 – A urban nature preserve in Bay City is called Euclid Linear Park.

It’s not exactly an exciting name.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is partnering with Bay County officials to revitalize the park, located next to the Region VII Area Agency on Aging.

The Conservancy is looking to give the park a new nickname, and has narrowed it down to 10 finalists. They’re taking votes for what people think is the best name.

The Conservancy plans to add more native plants and fun educational programs to the preserve, and removing invasive species at the site.

Some of the names being considered: Secret Sanctuary, Woodpecker Pond, Learning Landscape, and Indigo Trail.

You can take the survey online, and see which nicknames are proving to be most popular.

The Conservancy plans to announce the results in coming weeks.

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

Mich Enviro Report: Reptiles and Amphibians along Saginaw Bay & State Park Passports

As heard on Delta College radio, Q-90.1 FM … on Friday, 11-11-11 …


A new visitor passport system is bringing in more money to Michigan state parks. 

According to Great Lakes Echo, Michigan Recreation Passports now allow almost 2 million vehicles access to all state parks.

The passports cost $10 per year and can be purchased when people renew their vehicle registrations.

Under the old system, annual visitor permits were more than $20 each.

But more people are purchasing the less-expensive yearly passes.

In the year since the passport program took effect, it has raised almost $19 million..

That money has paid for improvements to many state parks, including repairs to water and electrical systems, bathrooms and shower facilities.

The money generated under the new system is $7 million more under the previous system, in 2010.


How many reptiles and amphibians live in the Saginaw Bay area?

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is working to conduct a broad survey of Saginaw Bay coastal habitats to document what reptiles and amphibians live there.

The conservancy says that amphibians and reptiles are particulary sensitive to water contamination and habitat disturbances.

The number of critters living in coastal habitats can often indicate environmental problems.

In that regard, the survey is being done to evaluate the integrity of local and regional ecosystems.

The results will help local and other decision-makers to determine how to best protect these animals and, if necessary, restore their habitats.

So far this year, portions of more than 30 square-miles of shoreline across the bay have been surveyed, according to the conservancy.

Twenty-three species were identified. The Blanding’s Turtle, a state Species of Special Concern, was observed in several locations. Also, the rare Four-toed Salamander was documented for one of the first times in the Thumb area.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy project is being funded by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality through  a grant from the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Mark your calendars.

There’s an informational meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 28, on Saginaw Bay coastal activities.

The meeting will provide an update on activities from the past year, including shoreline locations of treatment projects to control phragmites, an invasive plant, in Bay and Huron counties.

Also on tap is a report on beach closings and algae problems in the bay.

Further details, including a location for the Nov. 28 meeting, are to be announced soon.

You can check with the Bay County Environmental Affairs office, or tune in here for more information.

– Photo by Matt M.

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