Spring Beach Cleaning, Oak Wilt, Earth Day

For April 21, 2017

1- April marks the unofficial start of beach cleanups around the state.

The volunteer events are part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach program. Many groups are holding their first events of the year, with Earth Day being celebrated on Saturday, April 22.

Last year, more than 15,000 Adopt-a-Beach volunteers picked up more than 40,000 pounds of debris from locations including the Saginaw Bay area.

lake-michigan-beach-ppj

Credit: PPJ

In addition to picking up trash, the volunteers collect data that’s shared with beach managers and scientists.

In 2016, 87 percent of the trash picked up by volunteers was plastic. Over time, plastic litter breaks down into small pieces which can be eaten by birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Volunteers interested in participating in Adopt-a-Beach can find more information online at greatlakesadopt.org.

 

2 – April also marks the start of oak wilt season.

 

oak-wilt-michigan-2016

Credit: MDNR

Oak wilt is a disease that mainly affects red oak trees. Red oaks often die within a few weeks after becoming infected.

 

The spread of oak wilt occurs during this time of year as beetles move to wounds on healthy oaks. Because of this, state officials advise people not to prune oaks from April 15 to July 15.

Although oak wilt hasn’t been detected in every Michigan county, officials say there’s a need for vigilance statewide. That means you also shouldn’t move firewood from wilt-affected oak trees.

For more information see michigan.gov/invasives

 

3 – An Earth Day cleanup is planned for Saturday at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

Officials say managing wetlands in the refuge presents many challenges, and one of those is dealing with trash and water pollution. Wetlands act as a natural filtration system for contaminants in the water.

The cleanup is from Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the refuge. The event is open to all ages, individuals and groups. Snacks will be provided.

Long sleeves and pants are suggested. Avoid open-toe shoes or sandals.

Bring gloves, and be prepared to get dirty. Trash bags will be provided.

 

– 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

Restoring Michigan’s Largest Estuary, Improving Energy Efficiency

For Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 (Fall Pledge Drive)

1 – Part of Michigan’s largest freshwater estuary has been restored.

shiawasseesunset

Credit: Rebecca Kelly/USFWS

This is thanks to federal funding from Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the work of biologists and land managers at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge, in Saginaw County, partnered with Ducks Unlimited to restore a highly-altered agricultural landscape and reconnect rivers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is part of an area known as Shiawassee Flats, historically a 50,000-acre wetland complex. The Flats is one of the most unique wetland complexes in the Great Lakes, because it functions as a freshwater estuary even though it’s 20 miles inland.

The restoration project restored 10 percent of the refuge, or 1,000 acres of its land base, which will benefit fish and wildlife populations.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is designated as an Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy.

A Ducks Unlimited biologist says waterfowl used to skip over the project area during migration. Now, they’ll look down and see a healthy and productive habitat.

2 – Michigan is among three most-improved states for energy efficiency.

The latest annual Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks Michigan, Missouri and Maine rank as the three most-improved states.

California and Massachusetts both won the top spot.

The group says that in the past year, several states have strengthened efficiency policies and programs, which give businesses, governments, and consumers more control over how and when they use energy.

The group says a growing number of states, including Michigan, have taken major steps toward the adoption of Department of Energy-certified codes for new residential and commercial construction.

– 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 Soda’ Repels Asian Carp

For July 8, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/aa4lntd3i1jkvcg/mr-great-lakes-7-8-16-environment-report.mp3]

1 – Making Great Lakes soda may help control Asian carp.

Researchers say adding carbon dioxide gas to water, a process similar to making carbonated soda, could help control the movement and behavior of invasive carp in the Great Lakes.

Bighead carp and silver carp are species of invasive Asian carp that threaten the Great Lakes.

Scientists with the University of Illinois and the U.S. Geological Survey tested the effectiveness of infusing water with carbon dioxide gas to discourage movement of the carp. Both carp species avoided CO2-infused water in a research pond in Wisconsin.

The study’s lead author says the responses provide evidence that CO2 could be used as a tool to deter the movement of bighead and silver carp.

Scientists say further tests are needed before CO2 can be used in Asian carp management.

The next research step is to test the usefulness of CO2 gas in controlling carp movement in a natural river.

 

2 – Visit the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, and don’t forget your cell phone.

The refuge, located in Saginaw County, is putting on a Cell Phone Photography Contest.

The contest will be judged by adult and youth age groups.

Each group can submit photos that depict wildlife, or plants and landscapes.

The public will vote online for their favorite photos in the two categories from July 24-30.

Certificates and prizes will be awarded.

Photos will be displayed at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center and on the Refuge’s Facebook page.

– 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

Make Free Fishing Weekend Plans, Protect Inland Lakes, Spray for Gypsy Moths

For Friday, May 20, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/cxutge77zqv9l2r/5-19-16-mrgreatlakes-environmentreport-q901.mp3]

1 – Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend is June 11 and 12.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and partners will be sponsoring the 36th annual Kids Free Fishing Day on Saturday, June 11, at Ojibway Island.

Holding Fish.jpg

Courtesy of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Hundreds of children and their families are expected for the event, from 8 to 10 a.m.

This year, there will be more chances for children to win prizes. Kids will receive a ticket for each fish caught. Drawings will be held after the event.

Participation prizes and free bait also will be offered while supplies last. The event also will include host games, practice casting and knot-tying stations.

Events are being held throughout the state for this summer’s Free Fishing Weekend, in which all fishing license fees are waived for two days.

 

2 – Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes.

A new Guide for Local Governments aims to help protect these water bodies.

The guide is from the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership of state agencies, academia, nonprofits and private industry.

It’s designed to help local officials and concerned citizens understand the benefits of inland lakes to communities, the regulations that govern inland lakes, and opportunities for protecting inland lakes at the local level.

Chapters outline a variety of protection techniques, from simple enforcement of existing statutes to comprehensive ordinances.

The book says inland lakes are most valuable to communities when they are clean and healthy.

Clean lakes offer better recreational opportunities as well as higher tax revenue. One study estimated that inland lake properties in Michigan generate $3.4 billion in annual tax income to local governments.

 

3 – Gypsy Moth Caterpillars have begun to hatch throughout Bay County.  

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Gypsy moth. Credit: John Borg

After resting a few days, the caterpillars will begin searching for food, according to an official with the county’s Gypsy Moth Suppression Program.

Some caterpillars will settle on the trees where their egg masses spent the winter. Others will spin a long silk thread and “balloon” to new trees where they can find more food.

The Bay County gypsy moth spraying program is tentatively scheduled for the week of May 29, weather permitting.  

Treatments with a biological pesticide will begin shortly after sunrise and be done by low-flying helicopters.

Officials say reasonable precautions should be taken, such as avoiding direct exposure under the flight path of a helicopter. Gypsy moths are targeted because, if left uncontrolled, they can defoliate large trees in a few weeks.

Fighting Michigan Invasives, Creating Clean Jobs, Preserving Rare Orchids

For Friday, April 29, 2016

1 – A new state website provides information and insight on Michigan’s invasive species.

Residents struggling with invasive species or seeking help on how to identify invasive plants, insects and animals are invited to explore the new Michigan Invasive Species website at michigan.gov/invasives.

An invasive species is one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health.

Human activity is the primary means by which invasive species are moved from place to place. The new site offers simple steps people can take, like removing seeds and mud from shoes, gear and pets.

People can use the site to identify invasive species by searching photos and descriptions.

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Mute swan. Credit: Andrew C

Residents are encouraged to report sightings of identified species to assist in state and local detection and management efforts.

The site also houses a catalog of resources for classrooms and residents interested in becoming more involved in the fight against invasive species. There also are links to volunteer opportunities and local management programs.

The site again, is at michigan.gov/invasives.


2 – 
Michigan’s clean energy industry has more than 87,000 workers, according to an analysis from the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and Clean Energy Trust.  

The council is a business trade association. The trust is a Chicago nonprofit.

The 2016 Clean Jobs Midwest Survey says Michigan leads the Midwest in clean energy vehicle jobs and is second in renewable energy jobs.

The analysis is based on federal data and a survey of thousands of businesses across the region.

The analysis provides detailed breakdowns of clean energy jobs not available previously – including job totals for all Michigan counties.

bay-county-clean-jobs

From a map section of the Clean Jobs survey.

In Bay County, for instance, the analysis found 107 jobs in renewable energy and 444 jobs in energy efficiency.

Those involved with the report say that extending Michigan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards will drive further growth and investment in the clean energy sector, which would mean tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs.

3 – April showers bring May flowers. And the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County is working to conserve a rare orchid.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to 16 projects across 27 states for recovery of some of the nation’s most at-­risk species on or near national wildlife refuges.

In Michigan, the focus is on the threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid.

Staff members at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge plan to establish a population of the flower using plant orchid plugs in suitable habitat.

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Eastern prairie fringed orchid. Credit: USFWS Midwest

Staff also will manage an orchid population on private land near the refuge to harvest seed to supplement the planted plugs.

Monitoring of the plugs and hand pollination of orchids on the private land will occur for three years. Results will be assessed to focus future recovery actions.

– 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

Saginaw Part of Nationwide ‘Livability’ Project, Invasives Sold at Bait Shops

For Sept. 5, 2014

1 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County has been picked for a national Livability Initiative.

shiawassee refuge livability map

The four communities selected for the initiative. Via The Conservation Fund.

It’s an effort to help Gateway Communities assess and improve natural assets that make them appealing places in which to live, work and play.

Gateway Communities are those adjacent to wildlife refuges and other public lands. In this case, the initiative will look at the cities of Saginaw, Frankenmuth and Birch Run, along with Spaulding, James and Bridgeport townships.

The Livability Initiative is a two-year project by the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other organizations.

From Sept. 9-11, the refuge and its Gateway Communities will take part in an assessment to evaluate key livability factors, including transportation options, affordable housing, employment and business opportunities, and community character.

Another partner, The Conservation Fund, will develop a livability report that outlines key recommendations. A local workshop will follow on ways to advance the proposals.

The Saginaw County refuge and its Gateway Communities are one of only four in the nation chosen for the project.

The others are in Oregon, South Carolina, and Colorado.

2A scientific paper says the bait fish trade represents a serious threat for spreading invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Researchers from Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame tested water samples from tanks containing small fish for sale as bait at more than 500 shops around the eight-state region.

Twenty-seven of the samples tested positive for DNA of invasive fish, such as Asian carp.

Andrew Mahon of CMU says the findings suggest that at least some invaders are being spread by anglers who dump unused bait into the water.

A Notre Dame scientist says more consistent bait fish regulation among Michigan and other Great Lakes states is needed.

The scientists say the study is the first systematic effort to document the presence of invasive species in bait supplies using a tool known as “environmental DNA,” in which water samples are examined in a lab for signs of genetic fingerprints from particular fish.

The paper was published in a journal called Conservation Genetics Resources.

Via AP

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

 

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