Saginaw Bay Algal Blooms, UP Monarchs, River Cleanups

For July 14, 2017

1 – Phosphorous pollution has been responsible for toxic algae blooms in Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced a plan to fight phosphorous in Lake Erie.

The plan targets phosphorous pollution from farms – a large contributor to toxic blooms.

The focus is on reducing the amount of phosphorous that makes it into the water – by creating individual plans for riverside farms.

A state official says the same methods could be used to help the Saginaw Bay, which also sees heavy agricultural runoff.


2 – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an important stopover site for monarch butterflies on their annual migration from Canada to Mexico.

giphy (1)

via Giphy

A nonprofit called the Superior Watershed Partnership has engaged communities across the UP to help.

Monarch butterfly populations have declined more than 80 percent in recent decades due to habitat loss, pesticides and other factors. Partnership programs are restoring habitat on public and private lands throughout the UP in an effort to counter this trend. The common milkweed plant is the monarch’s preferred food. They also rely on milkweed plants to deposit their eggs and feed their larvae.

The city of Marquette recently worked with the Partnership to mail out more than 6,000 packets of milkweed seeds in utility bills to city residents and businesses.

The group also distributed more than 10,000 seed packets to other UP communities, schools, churches and community groups on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.


3 – Friends of the Shiawassee River are celebrating 20 years of cleanup events.

The Friends and the Shiawassee County Health Department have removed hundreds of cubic yards of debris and more than 650 tires from the river since the first cleanup in 1997.

Funding comes from the Great Lakes Commission and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

This year, volunteers will meet at the Oakwood Avenue Bridge in Owosso or McCurdy Park in Corunna at 9 a.m. on July 29. For more information, see

The Shiawassee River drains an area of more than 1,200 square miles and is a major tributary to the Saginaw River.

– 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



Ag Runoff, Wetland Restoration, and a Race for Nature

For Friday, May 27, 2016 –


1 – More than $4.3 million in grants will go to protect Michigan lakes and streams from pollution.

Officials say the Michigan Department of Environment Quality grants will help restore impaired waters and protect high-quality waters by reducing nonpoint sources of sediment, nutrients and other contaminants.

Nonpoint source pollution is runoff that picks up natural and human contaminants as it moves across the ground and eventually deposits those contaminants into waterways.

Organizations and projects selected to receive funding include the Tuscola Conservation District in Caro.


A example of agricultural runoff. Credit: USDA

That group is receiving about $205,000 to reduce agricultural sources of E. coli bacteria to the Cass River. The work will involve best management practices for agriculture and an outreach campaign.

The grants are funded under the federal Clean Water Act.


2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is restoring 940 acres of farmland to emergent marsh.

It’s the largest wetland restoration in the history of the Saginaw County refuge, and the largest wetland restoration in the last several decades for the Great Lakes region.

During the restoration, two large holes will be cut into an auto tour road to put in culverts and water control structures.

The structures are necessary to allow water back into the restoration area. Officials say the structures will enable the refuge to manage water levels in wetlands, provide optimum habitat for wildlife and control invasive species.

As a result of this work, the opening of an auto tour route, called Wildlife Drive, will be delayed from June 1 until about June 21.

Wildlife Drive surrounds three sides of the restoration area.


3 – The Michigan Nature Association is hosting the Race for Michigan Nature.

The event is a statewide series of Family Fun Runs & 5Ks stretching from Belle Isle in Detroit to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula.

Each race will spotlight one of Michigan’s rarest species and promote the importance of protecting natural areas.

The next race in the series is the Kirtland’s Warbler Family Fun Run & 5K on June 4 in Roscommon.

Other races will take place in the summer and fall.

The runs are endorsed by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. Each 5K race will be timed and there are prizes for male and female overall winners. Walkers also are welcome. 

– 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


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. 


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 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. 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

Monarch Butterfly Count, Beach Debris Grants

For Friday, Aug. 28, 2015


1 – The federal government is offering money to clean up beaches and waterways.

bowling ball marine beach debris

Credit: NOAA

The Marine Debris Program, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is seeking proposals for community-based marine debris removal projects until Nov. 2. Great Lakes organizations are encouraged to apply.

Up to $2 million is expected to be available for projects across the U.S. Typical awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000.

The program is for the removal of old fishing gear and other debris that have a negative impact on resources and habitat in or along the oceans and the Great Lakes.

Previous awards have gone to the city of Cleveland, to reduce plastic marine debris in Lake Erie, including grocery bags, water bottles and cigar tips

To apply

2 – Populations of monarch butterflies are at critically low levels across the United States.

monarch milkweed butterfly habitat

Credit: USFWS

Only eight monarch butterflies were counted this year at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

That’s the second-lowest total ever recorded. The average is about 100. The highest count was 189 monarchs in 2007.

This year’s count was the eighth annual, and conducted in July. The count was one of hundreds coordinated by the North American Butterfly Association in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Monarch numbers have declined across the United States by about 90 percent in recent years. That’s from threats including a loss of milkweed habitat due to agricultural practices. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a campaign earlier this year aimed at saving the butterfly.

Monarchs travel thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, and into Canada.

Save the Monarch


– 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

Invasive Awareness Video, New Michigan Energy Data, and a Golf Course Renewal

for May 23, 2014.



1You’ll be hearing more about aquatic invasive species this summer.

The states of  Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are teaming up on a new public service campaign.

The campaign encourages boaters and anglers to take steps to avoid the spread of invasives like Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and spiny water fleas when they travel between states.

The message: You can stop invasive hitchhikers by cleaning off your boat; draining your boat, bait and live well; and drying your boat.

The spot is airing on Detroit Public Television, FOX Sports 1, NBC Sports, The Weather Channel, ESPN2 and the Travel Channel.

The Michigan Department of Environment Quality is inviting people to share a YouTube video to spread awareness.

2How does Michigan generate its energy?

New information has been released by U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Michigan used coal for 54 percent of its net electricity generation in 2013. Much of the coal came by rail from Wyoming and Montana.

In 2013, Michigan’s three nuclear power plants provided 28 percent of the state’s net electricity generation.

Biomass such was wood and agricultural waste provided fuel for 42 percent of Michigan’s renewable net electricity generation in 2013. Much of that biomass came from about 19 million acres of forest land in the state.

One more: In 2012, Michigan had more underground natural gas storage capacity – 1.1 trillion cubic feet – than any other state in the nation.

See also: Energy Attitudes

3A former golf course in Saginaw County is part of an urban restoration project.

The project was recently celebrated by The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Dow Chemical Company.

The 135-acre property, once known as the Germania Town and Country Club, fell into foreclosure and closed its doors in 2010. The Nature Conservancy purchased the property, with support from Dow Chemical. The old course is being transferred to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, which owns property on the other side of the Saginaw River.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will restore the area to native grasses and wildflowers, with public access and recreational opportunities on the property. Paved paths once used for golf carts will make the area handicap-accessible.

The Nature Conservancy has designated the Saginaw Bay Watershed as a priority area and is working with members of the agriculture community to support sustainable practices and water quality, and protect floodplain habitats that can contribute to the improved health of Saginaw Bay.

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

Ice Breaking in Saginaw Bay, and Almost 10,000 Geese in the Shiawassee Refuge

1 – A U.S. Coast Guard cutter began icebreaking operations this week on Saginaw Bay.

The cutter Bristol Bay was working in the bay’s shipping channel.

The ice in the Essexville area is unstable and the Coast Guard is advising everyone to stay clear.

us coast guard bristol bay

The cutter Bristol Bay. Credit: USCG.

The cutter Bristol Bay is a 140-foot tug that works in conjunction with a special barge.

The icebreaking work is part of Operation Coal Shovel, which breaks ice in Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario and the southern part of Lake Huron. It also does work in the St. Clair and Detroit river systems.

Another Coast Guard team is breaking ice in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.

– via AP

2 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County is posting weekly waterfowl count results on its Facebook page.

Earlier this week, most refuge waters were reported to be frozen, but sections of the river remained open to harboring birds.

Those included almost 10,000 Canada geese, 27 sandhill cranes, and 23 bald eagles.

canada geese on ice

Credit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors.

The refuge contains more than 9,600 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest, and grasslands.

The refuge is designated as a U.S. Important Bird Area for its global significance to migratory waterfowl.

It’s one of a limited number of locations that these geese use to rest and feed while traveling the Mississippi Flyway to and from wintering grounds as far south as Georgia.

Refuge profile on

This May Be the Oldest Living Red-Tailed Hawk

1 – Tweet this: The same red-tailed hawk has been coming back to Saginaw County’s Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge for 27 years.

red tailed hawk oldest maybe shiawassee saginaw michigan

Photo of the refuge’s returning red-tailed hawk. Credit: David Stimac.

Red-tailed hawks are the most common hawk found at the Refuge.

Managers say they can tell the same hawk has been returning for 27 consecutive years because it’s a rare, dark phase, western red-tailed Hawk. Most redtails in the area are light phase, eastern birds.

This same redtail comes back to the same area every year. The bird spents most of its time near fields on either side of Bishop Road, and fields next to the short loop of the Ferguson Bayou Trail.

According to the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology, the oldest known red-tailed hawk was 28 years, 10 months old. So, they might want to keep an eye on this one.

2- Energy conservation is paying off for Saginaw Valley State University.

The school recently received a rebate check totaling almost $72,000 from Consumer’s Energy.

The money is a payback for installing a new, more energy-efficient chiller unit in Curtiss Hall.

SVSU’s president says the university has the lowest energy cost of any campus in Michigan, based on square footage.

Officials say saving on energy has helped the school to keep tuition rates relatively low for students.

The rebate to SVSU was made available under the state energy act of 2008.

SVSU has been working on sustainability measures since at least 1995. Those improvements have included a campus-wide energy loop to connect chillers at all of the main buildings on campus.

3 – Speaking of energy, winter is coming and with it, heating bills.

Earth Gauge, a partnership between the National Environmental Education Foundation and American Meteorological Society, has compiled energy statistics for the Great Lakes region in advance of the chilly season, which officially begins Dec. 21.

Some of the stats: Households in Michigan and nearby states spent an average of just over $2,000 on energy in 2009.

Fifty-two percent of that went toward space heating. Most of the rest went to power appliances, electronics and lighting.

Some tips to save money this winter?

Allow sunlight to heat your home naturally by opening curtains and blinds on south- and west-facing windows during the day. And then close those window coverings at night to keep heat inside.

Turn your thermostat while you are sleeping or away, to save money on energy costs.

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


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