Creating an Urban Park, and Keeping the Lights on in Michigan

For Friday, Feb. 3, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/rhfoh4jv2s7a4og/ENV%20RPT%20-%20ONLINE%202-3-17.mp3]

1 – More than 334 acres along the Saginaw River will be used for urban recreation.

The site of the former General Motors Saginaw Malleable Metals foundry and Greenpoint Landfill will be managed by the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Potential uses for the proposed Riverfront Park include hiking and biking trails, wildlife viewing, and catch-and-release fishing.

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The Saginaw River. Credit: Saginaw Future

Additional trails may connect the site to the Iron Belle Trail, downtown Saginaw and the nearby Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, according to The Nature Conservancy, which secured a grant for project planning.

In December, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended that the state Legislature approve a $290,000 grant to be used for trail development and other improvements.

2 – Michigan should have enough energy to keep the lights on, even in challenging times.

The Michigan Public Service Commission says current utility projects should result in Michigan’s electric reliability remaining strong in the summer of 2018.

Officials note, however, that developing additional resources in the Lower Peninsula as a backup plan would be appropriate.

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Credit: Travis Wise

The study looked at a scenario that occurred in 2012, in which electrical demand hits very high levels and two nuclear plants are unexpectedly down.

The study showed that lower Michigan should be able to keep the lights on if that happens. But it also showed that more of a cushion is needed between now and the summer of 2018 just in case things don’t go as planned.

Demand response resources, in which users agree to use less electricity when demand is spiking, on a very hot day for instance, can be put in place before the summer of 2018, according to the Commission.

– 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

 

 

National Spotlight for Saginaw Bay Restoration, National Ban for 11 Invasives

For Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 –


1 – Wetland restoration in Saginaw Bay is highlighted in a national report.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration points to seven partnerships in the U.S. that have helped safeguard natural resources.

The agency says the partnerships demonstrate the benefits of using conservation approaches to address climate change and other issues.

Saginaw Bay is listed alongside areas in California, the Rocky Mountains and Hawaii.

 

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Lake Huron shoreline, Tawas Point, Michigan. Credit: NOAA

 

Our area is singled out for development of a coastal wetland decision support tool.

The tool helps identify and prioritize restoration activities for existing and historical coastal wetlands.

The national project is called the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative. It supports a U.S. strategy to build and maintain an ecologically connected network of coastal and other conservation areas that are likely to be resilient to climate change and support a broad range of fish, wildlife and plants.

2 – Eleven freshwater species have been added to a federal ban list.

The Nature Conservancy says the move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bans trade or import into the United States, and was determined by examining damage caused in other waters.

The list includes 10 fish species such as the Crucian carp and Eurasian minnow along with the the Yabby crayfish.

The Conservancy says these nonnative invasives aren’t currently part of trade or import, but have been determined through a risk assessment process to have a high climate match. That means, if they’re released here, they could thrive within the Great Lakes basin.

Conservancy officials say past practice has been to prohibit a species only after it’s been established in the U.S. and is causing damage. The group says this proactive assessment and restriction by the Fish and Wildlife Service is an important step forward.

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

Plans for Saginaw Riverfront Park, Michigan Water Strategy

For Friday, June 17, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/qvafc03ehurcgs0/mr-great-lakes-riverfront-strategy-6-17-16.mp3]

1 – Planning for a proposed Riverfront Park is progressing in Saginaw.

The Saginaw Community Foundation has awarded a grant to The Nature Conservancy.

The Conservancy is working on a project to develop and implement a community vision for a former General Motors property.

The Conservancy is working with community partners including Saginaw County and Saginaw Future on an open space, recreation and conservation vision for the proposed Riverfront Park.

The conceptual plan includes public access to the river and lake for fishing, multiple trails, and a link to a larger regional vision for trails, open space and recreation lands.

Grant funds will be used for the initial stages of the project and to begin the proposed improvements to Riverfront Park.

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2 – Michigan officials have released a 30-year vision for stewardship of the state’s water resources.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has published the first part of Michigan’s Water Strategy, a plan to protect, manage and enhance Michigan’s water resources.

Part I of the Strategy is centered on promoting stewardship through improving water literacy and community engagement, and protecting and preserving Michigan’s water resources.

The final Strategy will focus on five priorities:

  • Safe drinking water
  • A 40 percent phosphorous reduction in the Western Lake Erie basin
  • Preventing the introduction of new invasive species
  • Supporting investments in commercial and recreational harbors
  • Developing and implementing a Michigan water trails system.

The state is to form a Water Team to involve governments, nongovernmental organizations, industry, academia, local communities and individuals.

 

 

Tripling Renewables, Raising Rates, Rebuilding Reef

For Friday, Dec. 11, 2015

1 – Michigan electric cooperatives are going above and beyond a state renewable energy standard.

According to Electric Co-op Today, electric cooperatives in Michigan plan to triple the state’s 10 percent requirement.

One deal is between Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative and Exelon Generation.

Exelon plans to break ground in the spring on a wind project in Sanilac County. When it begins delivering electricity in 2016, Wolverine expects to have more than 350 megawatts of wind in its portfolio, putting Michigan cooperatives at a 30 percent renewable level.

Michigan’s renewable energy standard was signed into law in 2008. It requires electric providers to draw at least 10 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2015.

– via GLREA

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2 – Consumers Energy is raising its electric rates, in part to focus on environmental protection.

Beginning Dec. 1, Consumers is increasing its electric rates by $130 million annually.

The utility plans to purchase an existing natural gas plant in Jackson and retire seven coal-fired units across the state.

Residential customers using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month will see an increase of $1.88 on their monthly bill after the natural gas plant is acquired, according to state regulators.

In April 2016, the rate increase will be reduced by about 60 cents a month for residential customers when Consumers retires the seven coal plants.

The seven include two units at the J.C. Weadock plant in Bay County.

3 – Scientists from Central Michigan University are helping rebuild a reef for native fish.

They’re working with others from The Nature Conservancy and Michigan Department of Natural Resources to lower about 450 tons of limestone into Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay.

The reef is intended to help populations of lake herring, lake whitefish and lake trout.

(VIDEO)

An old reef was degraded by a dock built more than 130 years ago for the iron ore industry.

The project aims to mimic healthy reefs to encourage fish to spawn there, according to a CMU professor.

Rocks were selected from a local quarry to match the size, shape, and composition of cobble in two nearby healthy reefs.

Besides rebuilding the reef, the team also is working to control invasive species such as round goby and rusty crayfish, which prey on eggs spawned by native fish.

– 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

Commercial Fishing May Return to Southern Lake Huron

For Friday, June 5, 2015

. . .

1 – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is exploring commercial fishing in Lake Huron, issuing a research permit to an existing Saginaw Bay commercial fisher.

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Via the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan waters of southern Lake Huron have not been commercially fished in five decades, according to the DNR. The agency believes there could be an abundant stock of lake whitefish available for harvest.

The permit allows the fisher, from Pinconning, to explore lake whitefish populations beginning this month (June 2015). The fisher will be permitted to set large mesh trap nets on experimental fishing grounds. The location is several miles south of Harbor Beach and north of Port Sanilac.

The research fishery is expected to continue over the next three years, while the DNR monitors and evaluates fish populations.

2 – Native plants reduce stormwater runoff and attract wildlife. They also require less watering and don’t need fertilizers or pesticides to survive.

Information on native gardening is available on a new website from The Nature Conservancy.

The site aims to make it easy for gardeners to get started using plants native to their area in yards and gardens.

You can answer four simple questions about your planting area, and the site will kick out a short list of plants that will thrive there.

There also are video clips.

The site is at nature.org/GoNative.

3 – Michigan is more than halfway toward meeting a clean power goal.

Clean power plan michigan union of concerned scientists

via UCS

A proposed Clean Power Plan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes benchmarks for states to reduce their carbon emissions by 2020.

An analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists says Michigan is one of eight states that are more than 50 percent toward meeting the 2020 Clean Power Plan benchmarks. The others include Indiana and Wisconsin.

The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Most of the reductions would be made by 2020.

The EPA plan is expected to be finalized this summer, and states will submit their own plans for meeting the targets.

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– 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.

The Cost of Great Lakes Invasives, and BaySailing Events

As heard Friday, June 1, 2012, on Friday Edition, Environment Report, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College, NPR-member station

photo quagga mussels shoe invasive

Photo by Arthur Felig

Set Sail

BaySail has announced a series of events for the summer.
BaySail is a Bay City nonprofit that operates two Appledore schooners. The ships are used for educational and public sails on Saginaw Bay.

This summer’s public schedule includes “Legends of the Saginaw Sails,” departing from the BaySail dock in downtown Bay City’s Wenonah Park.

The sails offer a history lesson on the Saginaw River, on an Appledore schooner, sailing from the downtown out to Saginaw Bay. Some departures also feature live maritime music by the band Hoolie of Bay City.

Sails are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays in June, August and September, with lunch included.

An Appledore schooner also will be participating this summer in Tall Ships events in Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and New York.

Scholarships for secondary school students also are available for overnight voyages this summer to Nova Scotia and other destinations.

For more information, see baysailbaycity.org.

 

Invasive$ Report

A new report on aquatic invasive species quantifies their costs to businesses and consumers in the Great Lakes region.

The report, by the Anderson Economic Group, was commissioned by The Nature Conservancy.

It says the tab for businesses and consumers totals hundreds of millions (with an m) dollars per year. Those include costs for removal, maintenance and management of species like zebra and quagga mussels. Meanwhile, state and federal governments are spending millions more for efforts to control the impact and prevent the spread of invasives in the Great Lakes.

Some figures from the report include:

  • The cost of controlling zebra mussels at one water treatment facility equals about $353,000 a year. There are 381 such facilities across the basin.
  • Michigan’s cost for maintenance, control and prevention of aquatic invasive species in 2009 and 2010 totaled $3.1 million.
  • More than 100 power plants that use water from the Great Lakes also are spending a total of $130 million a year to remove invasives.

What is the largest Great Lakes industry affected by aquatic invasives? The report says tourism and recreation, which employs more than 90,000 people and generates an estimate $30.3 billion (with a b) annually in revenue.

The full report can be found online at nature.org/greatlakes

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