On Following a Black Bear and Germania Restoration

For Aug. 18, 2017

1 – Michigan educators can register for classroom wildlife programs.

black bear michigan crossing

Credit: Tony Faiola

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers free educational opportunities for K through 12 educators.

The resources meet required educational standards and include “Elk University,” which touches on Michigan history, forest management, elk biology and wildlife disease.

There’s also “A Year in the Life of a Michigan Black Bear,” which includes following a bear through its seasonal movements by using actual data points from a radio-collared Michigan black bear.

Educators are asked to register for these classroom programs by Sept. 30.

To register, visit mi.gov/dnrteachers and click on “Wildlife Education and Outreach.”

2 – Two community meetings are planned for Sept. 13 at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center in Saginaw.

The meetings are to discuss the future use and restoration of the former Germania country club, which recently became part of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

The public is invited to provide input about their needs for wildlife, outdoor recreation and environmental education along with any concerns they may have on future management of the area.

The Sept. 13 meetings will be from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

Two future meetings are being planned in the Saginaw area.

– 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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BaySail Seeks Trainees, Refuge Considers Commercial Guides, State Surveys Fish

For June 2, 2017

 

1 – BaySail in Bay City is offering Windward Bound Voyages.

They take place on board the 65-foot Appledore V schooner.

Teenagers from 14-18 can join a professional tall ship crew to learn about navigation, sailing, and the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Windward Bound graduates are eligible to join a year-round training program and enjoy future sailing opportunities as volunteers,

The voyage schedule includes a trip from Bay City to Buffalo, New York, in June, and others through August.

A limited number of scholarships are available for teens from Bay, Midland, Saginaw and Isabella counties.

For a complete schedule and an application, see BaySailBayCity.org.

 

2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comment on a plan to allow commercial guides for wildlife observation and photography.

Officials say wildlife observation and photography by the public was previously determined to be compatible with a refuge conservation plan.

Officials are seeking comment on a similar plan that expands this use to include commercial guiding for wildlife observation and photography.

Comments are being taken for two weeks, ending June 14, at the refuge website and on its Facebook page.

All commercial guides would be required to apply for a Special Use Permit and steps would be taken to minimize impacts to wildlife.

3 – All four of the state’s fisheries research vessels are back on the water, beginning their annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations for the Department of Natural Resources.

The surveys are designed to examine and collect information on fish communities and their habitats.

The research vessels are based in Marquette, Alpena, Charlevoix and Harrison Township.

They work throughout the Great Lakes, beginning as soon as ice has cleared and continuing into November.

On Lake Huron, work is done by the research vessel Tanner, the DNR’s newest vessel which was launched in 2016. This vessel focuses on assessments of lake trout and walleye populations, and broader fisheries assessments in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River.

 

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.  

14978353651_08dfdcea97_z

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.

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