Spotting Ducks, Treating for Ash Borer, Awarding Grants

For Friday, March 31, 2017

1 – Ducks were down in a recent survey. But state biologists say they still believe populations are stable.

aerial waterfowl survey michigan dnr ducks

Department of Natural Resources biologists counted ducks, geese and swans while flying low over Michigan’s waterways as part of an annual effort to monitor waterfowl populations. Credit: MDNR

Staffers from Michigan Department of Natural Resources took to the skies in small aircraft earlier this year to count ducks, geese and swans.

They observed more than 148,000 ducks, which was down by 5 percent from about 157,000 ducks observed in 2016.

Biologists say the decline can be attributed to cold arctic blasts in late December and early January that pushed birds southward. Some ducks bypassed Michigan altogether.

The state has conducted aerial surveys of wintering ducks and geese since 1991. The results are important for helping manage habitat for the species.

2 – Yellow dots on trees in Bay County mean they’ll be treated to fight emerald ash borer.

Officials with County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program say they are including hundreds of healthy, living ash trees in an annual Emerald Ash Borer Treatment Project.

yellow dot abstract

Credit: Pellinni

Trees scheduled to be treated this year will be marked with a yellow dot on the side facing the road. These trees were last treated in 2013.

Trees marked with a green dot were treated in the spring of 2016.

The treatments help to maintain the health of ash trees and should protect them from further emerald ash borer damage for at least two years.

3 – Spring is here, and action grants are available from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The group has set a deadline of April 14 for proposals.

They’re looking for organizations with great ideas for projects that focus on natural resource restoration, education and promotion, or sustainability.

The funding is available to organizations working to make improvements in neighborhoods, communities, and watersheds.

The Network will award grants of up to $1,000 to successful applicants. A one-to-one match is required.

More information is available online at SaginawBayWIN.org.

– 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 Huron Conservation, Shiawassee Restoration, Spring Grant Funding

For Friday, March 11, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/vst99osas62g20q/mrgreatlakes-3-11-16.mp3]

1 – Michigan is receiving money along with other Midwest states for conservation efforts.

The funding comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has announced $201 million from its Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Michigan is receiving almost $34 million. Funding from the program in Michigan currently goes to projects including stocking lake trout in Lake Huron. 

laketrouteggs-usfwsmidwest

Lake trout eggs. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the importance of lake trout in the food web of the lake has increased over the past decade since the collapse of alewife and a decline in chinook salmon.

The Service says Michigan findings from the 2015 field season show that lake trout in the main basin of Lake Huron are moving from dependence on stocking to a naturally self-sustaining population.

2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County is hosting an open house.

The event is March 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center on Maple Street in Saginaw.

At the event, a draft restoration plan will be introduced for the Green Point Area property, formerly the Germania Golf Club.

location.JPG

Location of property. Via Draft Restoration Plan

The refuge acquired the 135-acre property in 2014 as a donation from The Nature Conservancy. The land is north of the Tittabawassee River and borders the Learning Center to the north and west.

Officials are now considering alternatives to restore lands in the area.

The property is dominated by turf grasses, ornamental plantings and infrastructure associated with golf courses, along with non-native and invasive species.

Officials are requesting input from the public regarding the proposed restoration.

3 – The first day of spring is Sunday, March 20.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is requesting proposals by March 18 for its Community Action Mini Grant Program.

heron-kramer.jpg

Heron. Credit: Rachel Kramer

The Network, funded by area foundations, is looking for ideas from organizations for projects that focus on natural resource restoration, education, promotion or sustainability.

Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to successful applicants whose projects show creativity, address an important and demonstrated need, and support the vision of the Network.

Eligible organizations include nonprofits, local governments and schools.

– 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

Echo Wind Park Spins, WIN Grants Available, and Septic Tips

For Oct. 3, 2014

 

1 – A new wind park is spinning in Huron County.

echo-wind-park-construction-dte

Echo Wind Park construction. Credit: DTE.

DTE Energy says its Echo Wind Park has reached commercial operation. There are 70 turbines in the park, located in Oliver and Chandler townships in Michigan’s Thumb.

The Echo Wind Park adds 112 megawatts to DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio, or enough to power more than 50,000 homes.

The wind park is sited on nearly 16,000 acres. It’s the fourth to be owned and operated by DTE Energy.

The project is the first to tie into a new 345,000-volt transmission system built to handle all the renewable energy flowing onto the electric grid in the Thumb.

The wind park will be operated and maintained by a team of seven employees. As many as 170 workers were on site during peak construction activity.

With the commissioning of the Echo Wind Park, DTE’s renewable energy portfolio is at 9.6 percent. Under state law, Michigan utilities have to meet a 10 percent standard by 2015.

– via GLREA

 

2The leaves are falling, and fall funding is available from Saginaw Bay WIN.

Saginaw Bay WIN, which stands for Watershed Initiative Network, is funded by area foundations. It’s offering Fall Community Action Mini Grants.

They’re available to organizations working to make improvements in their neighborhoods, communities, and watersheds within the framework of “sustainability.” That is, projects that have economic, environmental and community impacts.

WIN will award matching grants of up to $1,000 to successful applicants whose projects show creativity and address an important and demonstrated need.

Past grants have gone to environmental education initiatives, public access projects, watershed signage, tree plantings, and community gardens.

Eligible organizations include nonprofit groups, local governments and educational institutions. Organizations can apply online at SaginawBayWIN.org. The deadline is Oct. 17.

 

3Faulty septic systems can pollute local waterways and contribute to harmful algal blooms.

commode toilet septic

Don’t overload the commode. Credit: Glenn Beltz.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging homeowners to maintain their septic systems as part of a public information campaign.

Nearly 25 percent of all American households use septic systems to treat their wastewater. Faulty septic systems have been blamed for beach closures in Bay County and other parts of Michigan.

Data collected by states attribute septic systems and other onsite wastewater treatment methods to water quality impairments in almost 23,000 miles of rivers and streams; about 200,000 acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds; and more than 72,000 acres of wetlands, according to EPA.

EPA tips for septic system maintenance include:

  • Protect It and Inspect It
  • Think at the Sink, and
  • Don’t Overload the Commode.

The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years.

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

Conservation in Saginaw, Michigan Beaches are 7th Best, and Where Your Rec Money Goes

For Aug. 1, 2014

 

1“Taking Root in Saginaw” is the name of a new effort by the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.

beaches, michigan, usa

A look at all the beaches examined in the 2014 Testing the Waters report, from NRDC.

The Bay City-based conservancy is partnering with The Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square, Ducks Unlimited, and Saginaw County Parks.

A grant for the project comes from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, also based in Bay City.

The idea is to connect people with nature in the city of Saginaw.

Through the project, the Conservancy and its partners will identify land use within the city limits, and determine how the Conservancy can improve access, education, and conservation in the community.

Then, Taking Root will welcome local groups to play an active role in enhancing their community through conservation.

There are hundreds of acres of vacant land in Saginaw, and the Conservancy hopes to make conservation and restoration a realistic, attainable option for some of those properties.

 

2Michigan beaches are in the Top 10 nationally when it comes to water quality.

But being No. 7 still has its challenges.

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently released a Testing the Waters report.

The report looks at the results of government-funded water quality testing at beaches throughout the Great Lakes.

Michigan ranked seventh in beach water quality out of data from 30 states.

Six percent of samples in Michigan exceeded a national Beach Action Value for E. coli bacteria in 2013.

The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates were Singing Bridge Beach, Hammel Beach Road Access, Bessinger Road Beach, and Whites Beach, all in Arenac County.

Representatives from Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, say they’re working with partners to see how specific projects may be able to help address the Arenac County beach problems.

 

3To enter a state park, you need to buy a recreation passport.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been using the money from those passports to make improvements at parks throughout the state.

The DNR says more than a dozen of Michigan’s 102 state parks have recently completed infrastructure upgrades to campgrounds and day-use areas.

The improvements were made with revenue from the passports, and a State Parks Endowment Fund.

The work has ranged from overhauling outdated electrical and sewer systems to the construction of new showers, along with campsites with access for the disabled.

The upgrades have included South Higgins Lake State Park in Roscommon.

That park has received new roadways, a boat launch and a boat wash.

Boaters are encouraged to use the boat wash to clean, drain and dry their boats before and after launching. This can help curb the spread of invasive species. The boat wash will be free and available to the public on a seasonal basis.

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

Saginaw Bay Forum, Low Ice Cover, and More Toxics in the Great Lakes

great lakes saginaw bay ice cover 2013 google earth

NOAA Coastwatch ice cover map via Google Earth.

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, on Delta Q-90.1 FM, Michigan:

1 –

A community forum on the Saginaw Bay environment is planned for Feb. 22 in Bay City.

The forum is sponsored by the nonprofit Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network and the state-created Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative.

The meeting is from 1-4 p.m. at the Delta College Planetarium in downtown Bay City.

A preliminary agenda includes a talk on “Michigan’s Vision for the Great Lakes and Saginaw Bay” from Jon Allan, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes; and a status report on Beneficial Use Impairments in the federally designated Area of Concern for the Saginaw River and Bay.

The Friday meeting is part of a series of ongoing meetings that will be held to discuss issues related to Saginaw Bay and its tributary system.

The meeting is an opportunity for groups working on various projects to provide updates on their work, and hear from others.

2 –

Ice cover on the Great Lakes is at near-historic lows.

A composite map of satellite data from earlier this week shows thin ice on most of Saginaw Bay. The map is from CoastWatch, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A CoastWatch manager tells Great Lakes Echo that conditions this year on the Great Lakes could break a record for low ice cover set in 2002.

Earlier this month, average water temperatures on each of the Great Lakes were running 2 to 3 degrees above normal.

A lack of ice cover means increased evaporation, which is bad news for water levels, which are already low in the Great Lakes.

More: Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis

3

Toxic pollution to the Great Lakes increased in 2011.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a report out this week, says toxic releases into surface waters in the Great Lakes Basin increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.

That’s in contrast to a 3 percent decrease in discharges nationwide during the same period.

The numbers come from EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory report.

An EPA official calls the 12 percent increase in the Great Lakes Basin “signifiicant,” and notes that the Great Lakes region is lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to improving water quality.

Most toxic surface water discharges to the Great Lakes Basin come from nitrates and pesticides from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agriculture, according to EPA.

Nitrates also are discharged by primary metals facilities, such as iron and steel mills and smelters, and food and beverage manufacturers.

The EPA says information from the latest report will be used to work with municipalities, agricultural producers and manufacturers to improve water quality in the basin.

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