Volunteers are being recruited to monitor northern Michigan lakes for algae and water clarity this summer.
The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council is looking for volunteers to monitor lakes in Antrim, Emmet, Charlevoix and Cheboygan counties. And they're holding a free training this week for volunteers who are interested.
Officials say the training and monitor work is a straightforward process.
Kevin Cronk, the Monitoring and Research Coordinator with Tip of the Mitt, will provide the training.
"I'll give an introduction about the program itself, an overview, as well as a summary of data that has been collected by our volunteers in the last 20 plus years. Then I will walk volunteers through the methodologies that they will employ in the field to help us monitor the lakes of Northern Michigan." Cronk said.
Cronk said the training is followed with a field practicum.
He will take volunteers out on a pontoon boat to explain data-collecting methods in a hands-on manner.
Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill to give state wildlife officials more control over which species can be hunted in Michigan - and to permit wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula. This is the second time the governor has signed a law to allow wolf hunting.
The earlier law is the target of a referendum campaign to suspend and repeal it. That question would appear on the November 2014 ballot. But this new law would circumvent that.
Jill Fritz is with the ballot campaign. She says Governor Snyder and state officials should respect the will of the 255 thousand voters who signed petitions to put the question on the ballot.
"Michiganders have obviously spoken out that they feel very strongly about this issue, and they treasure the opportunity to be able to vote on it," Fritz said.
Supporters of the wolf hunts say pets and livestock are at risk right now in parts of the Upper Peninsula, and fixing that should not wait for an election. Opponents say there are other, better ways to handle problem wolves in the Upper Peninsula.
A new air quality report shows Michigan's ozone pollution has increased but overall air quality has improved.
The Clean Air Act is being credited for the increase in air quality.
Jim Harrington is the field organizer for the American Lung Association of Michigan. He said the State of the Air 2013 report shows a decrease in Michigan's dust-like debris called particle pollution.
"They get into your lungs, they go into your blood, and they create damage to your blood vessels, which creates more heart disease and more heart attacks in places that have particulate matter, this pollution. So this reduction is a big deal as far as mortality and health of Michigan." Harrington said.
Harrington said increased ozone pollution also affects asthma and COPD patients.
Governor Rick Snyder said he's pleased with an official opinion from state Attorney General Bill Schuette. It said the state constitution does not allow the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for dredging and other types of maintenance on public harbors.
The governor said that affirms his position.
"As we look at, let's look out to the future, I would not use the trust fund at all. That is not a place that I would look to for resources for this." Snyder said.
The governor and the attorney general say the Natural Resources Trust can only be used to acquire and improve property for the public's use. The governor and the Legislature reached a compromise earlier on an emergency dredging bill that taps into the Waterways Trust Fund and the state's General Fund. That's for dredging this spring to clear harbors suffering from record low water levels. That could affect Great Lakes shipping and recreational boating.
Central Michigan University welcomes actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah to campus this week. It's one of the events the campus is offering in honor of Earth week.
Hannah has starred in movies like Kill Bill, Steel Magnolia's and Splash. Her presentation will be in a discussion style format.
Mark Fairbrother is vice president of CMU's Program Board.
He said there was a lot of brainstorming on who to bring to CMU for Earth week.
"We landed on Daryl Hannah who we thought was an odd choice because she has such a different perspective. She's not an environmentalist by trade. She is someone that yeah know has her job and then this is what she does with every other waking hour of her life. And we think that would provide a different perspective because in order to be someone who is environmentally minded you don't have to be an environmentalist you don't have to work in the sciences." Fairbrother said.
Fairbrother said, Hannah is passionate about the environment. She even lowered her price tag by about two thirds to come speak at CMU.
The state would change its high school graduation requirements under a plan in the state House.
To graduate from a Michigan high school, the state requires students pass algebra two and earn two credits in a foreign language, among other things. Some House Republicans say that's not necessary for kids more apt to go into skilled trades.
But state Superintendent Mike Flanagan said those jobs are highly technical in the modern era, and require many of the skills the curriculum promotes.
"So some of what we're nostalgic about is something that does not exist anymore, and we're blaming the Michigan Merit Curriculum. And they just don't link up." Flanagan said.
Flanagan said schools can already create alternative graduation requirements for individual students.
The question of the presence of Asian Carp has been the focus of another report released last week by a group of researchers.
The report covers research done over several years by experts from Notre Dame, The Nature Conservancy and Central Michigan University.
Researchers have found environmental DNA from Asian Carp in Great Lakes waters.
the presence of the carp is significant because it is a key factor in the debate about closing off Lake Michigan from the Chicago waterways; and undertaking that would cost billions of dollars and last several years.
Andrew Mahon is a faculty member in the CMU Institute for Great Lakes research and a co-author on the report.
"I think the big point is that we need to act now. it's not too late even if there are a few of these fish in the Great Lakes it's not too late to actually act, but we need to do things soon otherwise we're putting the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem at risk." Mahon said.
At this juncture, not all experts agree that the presence of the DNA means the presence of Asian Carp.
Kelly Baerwalt was quotes in an article in the Detroit News supporting an alternative-source theory.
It said that the DNA came from other sources including birds who have eaten the fish.
Algae is killing Lake Erie. And it's hurting the other Great Lakes too. Erie was declared dead in the 1970's and the parallels are haunting now. Biologists met recently in Windsor to share research. They still don't know how to get rid of the green slime on the water.
The last two summers have scared swimmers, boaters and fishermen. Fertilizer ran off of farms into The Maumee River at Toledo and the Detroit River carried fertilizer and pollution from factory pipes. Both contain phosphorous.
"It was kind of a perfect storm in 2011. High loads from the Maumee combined with less dilution from the Detroit River then a warm dry year following that." DePinto said.
Dr. Joe DePinto works for the environmental research firm LimnoTech. He spoke at a 2 day workshop in Windsor. The 50 other scientists kept asking him why Lake Erie is filled with algae. A simplistic answer is that farmers and homeowners spread fertilizer so plants will grow from the soil. Fertilizer makes plants grow in water too.
"It's a combination of things. The question is what can we control? Can we control zebra mussels? Can we control thermal effluence from the power plants?" DePinto said.
DePinto said the Fermi 2 Nuclear plant near Monroe makes the water nearby 5 degrees hotter. Algae likes heat.
"But the real thing we can control is the phosphorous load." DePinto said.
No one wants green goop on the water. What's worse is that it takes out the oxygen that fish need. Reduced oxygen is called hypoxia. Dr. Depinto said Lake Erie will never eliminate it. Scientists are also worried about climate change. Drought lowers lake levels and that cuts off oxygen too. But no one can control phosphorous if even the scientists aren't sure where it is coming from.
"So can we make the same conclusions that agricultural input is really the major driver here for phosphorous even though we have half the load coming through the Detroit?" DePinto said.
That question makes scientists think that runoff from roads and parking lots in metro Detroit could be adding to the problem. Not just runoff from farmers fields. But let's cover this part first.
According to Jeff Reutter of The Ohio State University, who attended the meeting, "The Detroit River brings in 80% of the water and 50% of the amount of phosphorous. The Maumee River brings in 3% of the water and the other 50% of the load. The algae respond to concentration not load. The Maumee water comes in like soup." This is why the water pouring in from Lake Huron is not a suspect like the Maumee River is.
Shawn McElmurry points to another source of phosphorous in the Great Lakes. McElmurray is a chemist and environmental engineer at Wayne State University. He's also a jogger in the streets and sidewalks of his neighborhood.
"A lot of these fertilizers are things that are supposed to break down. So there will be a timed release fertilizer. So there will be little balls and they crunch when you run on them." McElmurry said.
Fertilizer is Professor McElmurry's enemy; people spread it on their lawns to make them thick and green. He and his wife live in Royal Oak where she joins him jogging.
"Yeah she's a social worker so she's sympathetic to a lot of things but it gets repetitive because it happens so often. We'll be out running and I'll start groaning and she said 'I know I know. They should have applied their fertilizer better.' She doesn't understand the science behind it but she understands the importance of those things." McElmurry said.
Homeowners are putting up to 20 times more fertilizer on their lawns than they need to. The grains or pellets travel to lakes, rivers and streams by the souls of shoes, car tires and the rain. Professor McElmurry is exasperated.
"My reaction is why is this person wasting their money?" McElmurry said.
"This is something that is completely controllable. And too often this happens. That fertilizer stays on the surface. When it rains it goes straight into the storm drain. It's not benefiting the homeowner. It's only hurting the environment."
The conference on Lake Erie was sponsored by the International Joint Commission. Dr. Jeff Reutter of the Ohio State University is hopeful.
"If we go back and we look at total loading to Lake Erie 1968-1969, we were 29,000 metric tons and our target was 11,000, that's about a two-thirds reduction that we had to achieve at the time. And we did it and when we did it the lake became the walleye capital of the world. So it's worth doing." Reutter said.
The U.S. and Canada were able to cut down on phosphorous 40 years ago because they banned phosphates in household soaps. These days, there's no big and obvious source to target.
Central Michigan University's student organization Take Back the Tap is making waves on banning the sale of bottle water on the Mt Pleasant campus.
Over 90 universities worldwide have already restricted or banned the sale of plastic bottles.
Take Back The Tap says 400,000 plastic water bottles have been eliminated due to so-called "retrofit drinking fountains."
Last year, CMU installed about forty-five fountains that have a double filter designed to purify the water and improve taste.
Vincent Roncelli is the President of Take Back the Tap. He said the organization continues to gain support for their cause.
"Right now we're tabling twice a week in the library getting petition signatures and we're also throwing this huge Earth Day party. Just like a generally awareness party for various RSO's and environmental issues." Roncelli said.
The organization is currently in a competition to install more retrofit drinking fountains. Currently, CMU ranks 5th nationally out of the 200 universities nationwide that have begun the move to the retrofit fountains.
To further raise awareness and begin addressing reaction to the moves, Roncelli said his group will be at CMU's annual Earth Day Party scheduled for April 22nd.
Researchers at CMU will be able to get a unique look at the Great Lakes through self-contained tanks this year. The university's new mesocosm facility will be open for business.
When it comes to lake research, a mesocosm facility is an important tool.
Don Uzarski is Director of CMU's Biological Station on Beaver Island, and Director of the CMU Institute for Great Lakes Research. He said it allows researchers to bring, in this case, Lake Michigan indoors for observation in a series of tanks.
"Each tank has its own light-source to simulate sun, We can essentially replicate Lake Michigan in a very small and controlled way inside of this building, and it's a state of the art building. There are other mesocosm facilities around the Great Lakes, but none of those have the capabilities that we have." Uzarski said.
Uzarski said it took three-years and a grant from the National Science Foundation to build the mesocosm facility. It was tested last year and is ready to become operational this year.
More than St. Patrick's day will be celebrated at Lake Superior State University is celebrating this weekend. The University will also celebrate the St. Mary's River during the 12th Environmental Summit.
During the summit, the progress of the river's environment will be discussed, as well as plans to make it better for the future.
Officials say the Summit is aimed at bringing together groups, residents and students concerned with environmental conservation.
Greg Zimmerman is a professor of biology at LSSU.
"They see our river up here and they might have the idea that it's pristine, which of course it isn't. We have a legacy of contaminated sediments, we have a lot of invasive species, we have had some habitat loss." Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said he hopes the seminar will help people learn how to better to protect the river by learning effective ways to deliver conservation messages.
Plans to pay for and facilitate emergency harbor dredging in the Great Lakes are moving through the state Legislature.
Both the state House and Senate approved separate sets of bills, with more to come in the next few weeks.
Legislation to open the state's Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for dredging also passed out of a Senate committee. Environmentalists say the fund should only be used for buying and improving state lands.
Nancy Krupiarz is with the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. She saID long-term harbor maintenance could completely drain the fund.
"I just, I don't want to jeopardize the many trail projects that we have that are just wrapping up, really critical trail connections." Krupiarz said.
Republicans say the state constitution leaves it up to lawmakers to interpret how the fund can be used.
Governor Rick Snyder said record-low water levels in the Great Lakes require more than 20 million dollars in dredging projects this year.
Michigan is home to over 19 million acres of forest land and the Department of Natural Resources released an update on the health of those forests.
The report breaks down health concerns dealing with insects, diseases and other threats.
Officials say they are guiding efforts to salvage at-risk timber before trees are lost to the invasive species.
Roger Mech is the leader for the Forest Health Monitoring Program.
"The impacts are beginning to really show in terms of the mortality. We're seeing the tree mortality in both ash and beech. In addition, to ramping up our outreach efforts to let the public know, so they're aware of what's going on with their ownerships." Mech said.
Mech said the DNR is in the process of looking at Michigan's forest inventory data and other information collected by foresters.
A battle over how to pay for emergency harbor dging is brewing in Lansing. Environmental groups are criticizing plans to tap the state's Natural Resources Trust Fund. They said it would threaten the state's ability to buy and improve parks and public land.
Hugh McDiarmid of the Michigan Environmental Council admits record-low water levels in the Great Lakes mean emergency dredging is necessary. But he said there are better ways to pay for it than raiding the Natural Resources Trust Fund.
"Diverting money to dredge harbors would hurt communities around the state who wouldn't have that money available for their parks and their recreational facilities." McDiarmid said.
McDiarmid said long-term harbor maintenance costs could drain the fund completely.
Republican lawmakers have introduced bills that would identify dredging as a proper use for that money.
Governor Rick Snyder is asking for more than 20 million dollars for emergency harbor dredging in his proposed budget. That money would not come out of the Natural Resources Trust Fund.
There's a hearing this week in Lansing on legislation that would stop the state from setting aside hundreds of acres strictly for the purpose of nurturing native plants and animals.
Opponents and supporters of the legislation packed a hearing last week on the measure, which also scrubs a finding that most natural habitat loss is due to human activity.
Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren said she can't support the ban on biodiversity areas.
"To do away with that designation, to me, is a big step backwards in the protection of what makes Michigan 'Pure Michigan.'" Warren said.
"What's the balance here because right now they've got a lot of tools to do exactly what they're trying to do here. Why this one?" Casperson said.
Republican state Senator Tom Casperson said there are already too many restrictions on public land. He said more access to trees, wildlife, minerals and other natural resources could help create business opportunities and jobs.
A state elections panel Friday gave its OK to a couple of petition drives that want to put questions on the 2014 general election ballot.
One of the petition drives wants to outlaw a type of drilling for natural gas called "fracking."
LuAnne Kozma is with the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan. She said state environmental regulations that allow fracking don't protect the public.
"It is not safe and it cannot be regulated to a safe point. Regulations are just a way of allowing it. The permit process is just a permit to pollute." Kozma said.
Another petition drive would amend the state constitution so the Legislature and the governor could no longer block referendums on new laws by putting appropriations into them. Budget acts are the only laws that can't be overturned by a voter challenge.
There's already a petition drive underway to reverse the new state law that allows wolf-hunting seasons in the Upper Peninsula.
This year marks an anniversary that some environmentalists would prefer not to celebrate; it's the 25th year of the Saginaw Bay and River being on the Federal Area of Concern list.
The Bay and River are on the list because of environmental degradation over the years; Mainly due to historic industrial pollution in the waters.
Dennis Zimmerman is the representative of the Statewide Public Advisory Council to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
"The international joint commission initially identified 14 beneficial use impairments. Among these are things like the loss of habitat, loss of populations of wildlife and fish. The Saginaw Bay has been identified to have 12 of these problems. Of which we already delisted two, and those two being bad tasting or tainted drinking water and tainted flesh on fish. We cleaned up the bay that much." Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said, The Saginaw Bay is a major operation due to the watershed size, 8700 square miles. That's about twice the size of Connecticut.
Several Michigan state lawmakers, and 300 others, signed a letter calling for President Obama to prioritize action on climate change.
This follows the prominent mention of promised action that the president gave the issue during his inaugural address.
Virginia Shannon, with Environment Michigan, said she applauds the leadership of these politicians and hopes the president will follow through on his promise to act.
"He has the opportunity during his second term to finalize the proposed rule that will reduce carbon pollution from new power plants and propose standards to address our country's existing power plants." Shannon said.
Shannon said coal-fired power plants are the number one source of CO2 emissions.
Biologists gathered for a meeting at the University of Michigan yesterday. Their goal is improving Great Lakes water quality, but they realize that might mean a worse economy. Michigan Now's Chris McCarus reports that the path to a sustainable future is not clear.
Canadians filled much of Palmer Commons on the University of Michigan campus. They came with stories of pollution emanating from both sides of the border.
Josee Methot is a graduate student in natural resources at McGill University in Montreal. Methot specializes in food systems.
"We see impacts of climate change already. This will influence our societies and how we live our day to day lives. We can't pretend it's not happening." Methot said.
21 U.S. and Canadian universities are working on the Great Lakes Futures Project. They're trying to figure out what's going to happen to the basin and to the planet. What will shape the future? They asked. Rebecca Schneider teaches about water at Cornell University.
"It really comes down to carrying capacity of any given system, in this case this whole watershed system to support people at a decent quality of living. So growth as the metric, and it's usually construction of homes, is not sustainable. But I'm not sure how you put in a different underlying philosophy to say we're not going to focus on growth. We're going to focus on a sustainable community at the watershed scale. Nobody's talking about what's carrying capacity." Schneider said.
In other words, how much abuse can the environment take? So what else is destroying this part of the world? Most of the 80 researchers here today blamed climate change. But they also factor in invasive species, biological and chemical contaminants, bad governance and the economy. Some suggest that economic growth comes at the expense of the environment. Should we shut down industries and park our cars? Biology professor Irena Creed came from Western University in London, Ontario.
"The worst case scenario was a one percent. There is always the assumption that we're going to continue to grow. Has anyone thought about an end of growth scenario and whether that could be a good thing or bad thing?" Creed said.
John Bratton has thought about it.
"Examples of negative growth, shrinkage in Eastern Europe and Detroit have created opportunities for planners at this point to say what do we do with all these vacant buildings and space?" Dr. Bratton said.
Dr. Bratton is with the Great Lakes Environmental Research lab in Ann Arbor. The lab is run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"I think the economy is still set up traditionally to be growth oriented and return on investment oriented and very short term gain oriented. So until population and consumption peak and start to decline there won't be any serious engagement. Capital will just move to where the growth is, growth du jour." He said.
Free trade has allowed the free flow of money around the world. But goods and labor have not followed. That has left people in our cities with no goods and no money but plenty of contaminated water, soil and air.
Dr. David Ullrich from the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in Chicago said the gap between rich and poor needs to go away.
"The degree of growth or lack thereof is not anywhere near as important as the gap between rich and poor and who's being left behind. Can we be looking at an economy that is more efficient and more equitable." Dr. Ullrich said.
Montreal researcher Josee Methot said people and nature are connected...
"Everything you do, everything you consume comes from somewhere and goes somewhere. So it's not enough to go about your day to day blindly. So if you care about your children and your neighbor educate yourself to take steps to correct it. Put pressure on your government. Participate in your community. These are the small things we can do now and hopefully shift in direction in the future." Methot said.
Major changes could be coming to Charlevoix County's recycling program.
The county Board of Commissioners is set to make a final this morning on possible changes to how the county processes and transports recyclable materials.
Right now, Charlevoix County has its recyclables processed by nearby Emmet County Recycling, but those recyclables are currently transported by another company.
If the county follows the recycling committee's recommendations, Emmet will become responsible for both processing and transporting recyclables.
The new bundled package with Emmet County Recycling would mean Charlevoix would need to purchase three more recyclable holding containers. But according to published reports, it would save the county money in the long run.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said its efforts to clean up scrap tires are showing success.
The DEQ's Sustainable Materials Management Unit is offering grants for removing used tires that have been stockpiled in Michigan. Spokesperson Rhonda Oyer said the department is pleased with the success of with the program.
"Back in 1991 when the scrap tire program came into effect, there were estimated to be about 31-million tires in stockpiles all around the state of Michigan. And since we've implemented this grant program we've gotten that number down to probably less than 500-thousand that are in these non-compliant stockpiles throughout the state."
Oyer said the department's biggest problem is people dumping used tires in urban areas. But, she said, illegal tire stockpiling continues to decline in Michigan.
The state is giving outdoor enthusiasts more time to weigh in on how they think state forests should be managed.
Michigan's first of their kind, State forest Management plans are intended to guide DNR decisions about activities on state forest land.
To ensure that both wildlife habitat and opportunities for recreation are protected.
Public comment was supposed to be in by yesterday. Instead the state is extending the deadline through early March.
Scott Jones is with the DNR. He said the plans are complex, and public input is important.
"The state forests really belong to the people of Michigan, and as you know, that really is very a wide spectrum of people with different interests, and we wanted to have comments from all of those interests represented in the plan." Jones said.
Jones said the DNR is working on three management plans: for the Western UP, the Eastern UP and Northern Lower Michigan.
The plans are expected to be completed this year: by late summer or early fall.
With Michigan being ranked number three when it comes to obesity in the country, access to free outdoor recreation becomes increasingly important.
Now, The DNR is working toward creating more trails in the state to help with this concern.
The Equine Trailways Subcommittee is one of many groups focused on improving and expanding equestrian trails and facilities throughout Michigan.
That's part of a broader move to develop motorized and nonmotorized trail plans in the state.
Sandra Batie is the chairperson for the subcommittee.
"The Michigan snowmobile and trails advisory council plan is composed of recommendations for trails and trail facilities, including connector trails to existing trails, that are proposed for the future. Also the improvement and expansion of existing trails and facilities so we're really talking about outdoor recreation on trails and in facilities." Batie said.
Batie said creating more trailways in the state is an important economic driver for businesses and citizens.
She said the plan will be formally considered in February.
The holiday season is filled with giving; whether it's money to charities, card giving to family and friends, or presents to the kids. But all that giving leads to an increase in trash.
Emmet County Recycling is expanding what materials are accepted this time of year to encourage people to keep the waste out of a landfill.
This time of year the waste stream increases by 25 percent.
Kate Melby is with Emmet County Recycling. She says to cut back on waste the recycling center has increased what it accepts during the holiday season.
"New this year we're taking cards, like greeting cards and wrapping paper though it is limited to ones that don't have metallic foils or inks, so if it looks gold or silver or shimmery, or glittery, those would interfere with the recycling process. But other greeting cards and wrapping paper can go right in with the paper now." Melby said.
Melby said Christmas trees are also free to recycle through the end of January.
A measure to allow wolf-hunting in the Upper Peninsula is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder. The bill would require state wildlife officials to study whether a hunting season would be helpful to manage the grey wolf population. The grey wolf was only recently removed from the federal endangered species list.
It would be up to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to decide whether to allow a wolf hunt. State Representative Steve Lindbergh is a Democrat from the UP.
"If a wolf hunt is something that there's merit for, we can proceed with that, and if there's not, maybe we can take a wait-and-see attitude." Lindbergh said.
State wildlife officials say wolf hunts would probably be very limited to deal with local issues, such as wolves chasing pets and livestock, or wandering into heavily populated areas. Some lawmakers voted against the bill. They say it's still too soon to allow a wolf-hunting season.
A lawsuit designed to prevent the spread of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes has been dismissed by a federal judge.
The suit mandates barriers be placed in the Chicago-area waterways to prevent Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes.
A U.S. District Judge dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that it would disrupt shipping.
Joy Yearout is with the Michigan Attorney General's office, who, along with other states, filed the lawsuit. She said there are other options to address the threat from Asian carp, but congress would have to act quickly.
"Already we've seen congress, specifically congressman Dave Camp from Midland, he has introduced legislation to force the Army Corp to move faster to address this problem and to complete a study on permanent separation. So it may be that a solution is found in congress, who has direct oversight over the Army Corp of Engineers who controls these waterways." Yearout said.
The other option, Yearout said, is to appeal the ruling. She said the AG's office has until January to make a final decision.
Water sports enthusiasts may soon have a new adventure to embark upon: The Lake Michigan Water Trail.
Supporters of the trail are busy creating a route that circles Lake Michigan.
The water trail will loop around Lake Michigan's entire shoreline, providing access sites, bathrooms and camping locations along the way.
The goal is to attract outdoor lovers from across the country to the Great Lakes, said Dave Lemberg. He's Michigan's representative to the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association.
"The variety of experiences in going around Lake Michigan is just staggering. Talking about a trekking route, close to 1,600 miles in a loop around the lake, where you can get a range of experiences from wilderness to downtown Chicago." Lemberg said.
Lemberg said nearly the entire trail has been mapped.
He said the association will spend the next year getting local and state governments from around Lake Michigan on board with the project.
The Michigan Senate is expected to vote Thursday on allowing gray wolves to be hunted in the Upper Peninsula.
There are several hundred wolves in the U-P.
Jill Fritz of the Humane Society said the gray wolf was removed from the federal endangered species list in January, and state law already allows people to shoot wolves that threaten people, pets, or livestock.
"So there's just no justification for starting a hunting season so soon on this species that's still recovering." Said Fritz.
"You take the Detroit Zoo or any major zoo, if they got some of their wild animals out into the city, I think we would call out the National Guard." Said Casperson.
State Senator Tom Casperson is from the Upper Peninsula, where he said wildlife officers have already had to kill wolves for chasing deer or going through trash where people live.
An original land marker for Montmorency County's border has been discovered, revealing an error in property lines.
The post was one of eight, used to lay out township coordinates. Matt Dontz is a land surveyor for the DNR. He said although the post points out an error in lines used today, township lines won't change.
"That corner in particular lies on the interior of the township, so township lines won't change. But it is possible that some of the private property lines could change and if there was a case where some neighbors got into a heated discussion it could go to court."
Dontz said it's unlikely any other section post survived the past 162 years, he said the river helped preserve the one he found.
The Yellow Jug Old Drugs Program has now collected over 48 thousand pounds of unused and unwanted drugs around the Great Lakes in an effort to keep the substances out of the region's water system, lakes, rivers and streams.
The effort began in 2009 and works in partnership with participating pharmacies in the Great Lake region.
Individuals interested can dispose of any unused or unwanted drugs free of charge as long as the disposed items are non-controlled substances.
Experts say since water is always moving, controlling all contributors to pollution should be a top priority.
Chris Angel is the President of the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Clear Water Organization, the non profit that runs Yellow Jugs Old Drugs.
"It is very proactive, we believe; this is an emerging issue. Even when we started four years ago, very little was being talked about it. Four years later, we're making a lot of progress, there's more people being educated about it."
K-12 students around the country will now have the opportunity to get outside and participate in hands-on environmental watershed programs, thanks to over five-million dollars in grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
For the Great Lakes region, NOAA awarded funds to 12 groups.
The grants support activities like storm water management and invasive species investigations in the region.
To receive the awards, entities like school districts and museums submitted applications and endured a competitive process.
Cathy Green is with the grant program. She said the grants would....
"Ensure that the students participating will have a watershed education program that had components in the classroom, it would have field trips out to the watershed itself, whether that's a lake or a local stream or river and then there's also a stewardship component where programs would involve students looking at watershed issues in their area and things they could do to improve that and follow that up with evaluation."
Green said the program is to help inspire the youth to become stewards for the Great Lakes.
Something that experts say, only one percent of species do.
The Kirtland's Warbler uses its song, not to find a mate, but to claim its territory.
Keith Kintigh is a wildlife supervisor for the DNR and shared the birds song with us. He said the warbler's habitat is unique.
"This bird would move into these areas after wildfire in what people would describe as jack pine thickets. So as the northern lower peninsula was settled we began to control wildfires in these jack pine plains and so that young fire regenerated habitat became less and less on the landscape so that habitat that the kirtland's warbler utilizes became more and more rare."
So rare that there were only 167 singing males left in 1974.
"The Kirtland's Warbler is what's described as conservation reliant species meaning that it requires a pretty high level of active management and commitment to maintain it's population."
Thirty years after an active habitat management plan was put in place, Kintigh said, the Kirtland's Warbler is at the height of its population with 2,063 singing males.
The bird's success has stimulated discussion of its possible delisting from the endangered species list.
"Right now there are two main criteria for delisting."
Dan Kennedy is the endangered species coordinator in the wildlife division with the DNR.
"And that is 1,000 singing males. And a second criteria is to alleviate long term risk and so we believe along with the fish and wildlife service that if we can get this conservation strategy in place we would alleviate most of the concerns with delisting."
Kennedy said a conservation strategy would basically be a promise from the agencies involved to continuously maintain the species habitat, after delisting.
"This would be the first case of that happening in the United States, that most of the time when species get delisted there is no long term management plan, there is a post delisting monitoring plan but there is no guidance for long term management. So this is precedent setting in the United States."
Kennedy said getting the long term management plan in place would be a team effort.
"I think the main thing I would accentuate is the partnership and the cooperative effort between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service. This is really going to be an equal partnership and that's the thing I think is really unique about this is the federal and state government working together for the conservation of the Kirtland's Warbler."
Kennedy said the three agencies will hold their first meeting at the end of the month to begin establishing the official long term management plan. The plan is expected to be complete by next April.
U.S. Senator Carl Levin said federal grants are helping researchers with their work protecting the Great Lakes. Wednesday, he toured a lab at Michigan State University which uses federal grants to develop ways to ward off invasive species.
"They're doing amazing work here. There's a big chunk of federal funding here. I want to see how it's being used so I can take back to Washington the experiences here with federal funding, which are so important to protecting our lakes."
Senator Levin is highlighting what he calls efficient and essential federal taxpayer-funded services in the state. He said if there are big cuts to domestic spending, it could cripple the programs.
The clock is ticking for property owners who are encroaching on public land. Encroachment is when someone's private property; like a house or a fence, sometimes a sign or a septic system, extends on to state land.
200 cases are what the DNR calls historical or structural encroachments. And now the state is moving forward to resolve those cases.
Structural encroachment cases occur when property owners, sometimes inadvertently, trespass onto state land with a house, garage or even a well. If the structure's been there since prior to 1973, it's considered historical encroachment.
People with these encroachment cases were notified by a letter from the DNR earlier this year. The state says if property owners can prove the structure was there before 1973 new property lines will be established.
Lori Burford is the Department of Natural Resources Encroachment Specialist.
"When there's an encroachment, it takes away not just from that area but the surrounding area. It's basically privatizing that land that the public has a right to. So getting these resolved and off the books certainly will give staff more time to focus their efforts on other priority issues as well as really help us protect the public land for the public."
Burford said, people who have encroachment cases will have a chance to purchase the land until December 31.
Unusual weather patterns and low lake levels are being credited for the increase in volunteers with lake and stream monitoring programs.
MiCorps is the network that oversees volunteer water monitoring programs It's hosting a two day conference this month in Roscommon to train new volunteers.
Bill Dimond is an aquatic biologist with the Department of Environmental Quality.
He said the reason they're seeing more people in the lakes program...
"Especially this year it that it was a hot, dry, sunny year and there was a lot of aquatic plant growth and people who live on the lakes are concerned about that. I think we're getting more interest in the streams program because in particular extreme water sports are becoming more popular. People like to kayak and canoe in the river and they want them to be healthy and to look good when they're kayaking and canoeing."
More information on the conference and becoming a volunteer is at micorps.net.
Invasive species can cause harm to other plants and insects and once they're in a habitat they can be difficult to remove.
A northern Michigan group is taking measures to prevent the spread in the first place.
The Grand Traverse Conservation District has been awarded a two-year 400 thousand dollar grant to continue combating invasive species.
Robin Christensen is the invasive species program coordinator for the conservation district.
She said there are several plants, the group will be working toward removing including garlic mustard, which has recently entered Grand Traverse county.
"And also with this grant we'll be working with private property owners who are willing to treat some of those really high priority invasive species that aren't here yet and if we can catch the populations while they're really low it will save the community the big treatment costs in the future."
Christensen said the district will also work on ways to prevent the spread and live with invasive species that are already dominate in the area.
Some Michigan lawmakers hope to restore a program that would put young adults to work on public works projects, but without costing taxpayers any money. The state Senate recently approved legislation to resurrect the Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps.
The legislation would fund the MCCC through a public-private partnership. Bill sponsors say no taxpayer dollars would be involved. The bills were supported by commanding bi-partisan majorities in the Senate.
State Senator Phil Pavlov said the goal is to put young people to work while helping to preserve the state's natural assets.
"That was the intent of all the legislators working on it. And it showed on the board when we did get that overwhelming support."
Lawmakers changed the bills to include some high school students and returning veterans in the program.
Supporters hope the bills will win approval in the state House after the November election.
Fishing in the Upper Peninsula is a popular hobby for many locals.
Now, the DNR Fisheries Division has proposed to establish a new trout stream category to study the effects on the trout population.
The new category is called a Type 5 trout stream.
Back in 2000, the rule for the number of fish that could be taken each day was changed from 10 to 5.
After requests from the community, the Type 5 trout system would put the possession limit back to 10 for specific streams in the UP.
Brian Gunderman is with the DNR. He said increasing the possession limit is not expected to affect the trout population.
"We used to have a 10 fish limit for over 30 years from 1968 until 2000 and we didn't see brook trout populations crashing. I don't think we're gonna see any population level declines. What we are concerned about and the public was primarily concerned about during our public meetings on this topic and during our public opinion surveys was that their catch rates might go down."
Gunderman said there are currently only four categories of trout streams.
He said the new category would cover nearly 900 miles of trout stream.
In recent years, there has been a push for sustainability and promoting green energy.
The annual Great Lakes Bioneers Conference will focus on those topics this weekend in Traverse City.
At the conference, people from all over the state come together to focus on solving ecological and social issues.
It'll be held at Northwestern Michigan college.
The conference features keynote speakers and workshops on small business and local investment.
Sarna Salzman is with SEEDS, one of the organizations that helps organize the conference.
"We'll be talking a lot about food and agriculture anywhere from large scale policy questions down to how to build your own compost pile in your backyard. So it's a real spread of opportunities for people to engage in from hands on to very heavy policy stuff."
The conference takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Anyone who thinks hunters vote mainly on the issue of gun rights might want to think again.
A new poll shows a majority of sportsmen are concerned about things like wildlife habitat and clean water...
Most of the people surveyed in the poll by the National Wildlife Federation consider themselves to be conservative or independent. But the NWF's Brenda Archambo said their love of the outdoors trumps all politics...
"We hunt. We fish. We vote conservation."
According to the poll, nearly 90 percent of respondents say the federal government should not issue any oil or gas drilling permits without first considering wildlife habitat and keeping public lands public.
Most also said they'd like to see Clean Water Act protections restored and new investments in renewable energy.
Archambo said there is also support for action on the climate change front, an issue that she said outdoorsmen see every day...
"We've had fish kills, ticks and Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, the pine beetle infestation, the forest fire in the Upper Peninsula. We know that climate change is fundamentally altering our environment."
The poll was conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting. Respondents were randomly drawn from a list of self-identified hunters and anglers who are also registered voters.
Michigan scientists are launching a new study to compare different water regions of the state and the country. They're hoping to get a clearer understanding of how climate change may be associated with algal bloom growth.
Scientists say by studying areas where blooms respond differently such as Kentucky versus Michigan, researchers can learn how to better control algal blooms.
When algal blooms decompose, they creates a dead zone that can suffocate fish and other aquatic organisms. the dead blooms can also create problems in drinking water taste and odor, and can increase toxicity.
Jan Stevenson is the lead researcher of the study.
"So imagine a situation where we get a strong rain event in the spring with lots of fertilizer flowing in. Followed by a drought during the summer with the perfect conditions for the Algal bloom to develop from the nutrients that were loaded in the spring. Climate change has the potential of increasing the frequency and intensity of algal blooms as it does extreme weather events."
The study is being funded by the U.S. EPA and will be conducted over the next three years. It'll focus on the Saginaw Bay, the Grand Traverse Bay and the Grand River in Lansing.
Stevenson said these areas are the biggest sources of nutrients that flow into the Great Lakes, and they represent different coastal zones.
Waterfowl hunters may have had their favorite spots scouted out for the opening of duck season last weekend, but now where the birds are feeding is under investigation.
A college senior at Lake Superior State University believes the ducks diet and migration patterns have been changed by invasive species.
Kyle Point is a wildlife management student from Saint Clair Shores. He said he's asking hunters to donate pieces of the duck's digestive system so he can see which ducks, if any, have been eating zebra mussels.
"Their presence has been recently noted in the eastern Upper Peninsula a couple main duck hunting areas in the last two years and the ducks even in the last two years even seem to switch their habits, where they tend to feed and since the zebra mussels have been noted they've switched the areas they tend to hang out."
Point said some ducks that have stayed in areas with zebra mussels have seen a decline in population.
The Department of Natural Resources has announced plans to close part of the Betsie River to fishing beginning October 10th.
The lower portion of the river is being closed due to low water levels in Betsie Bay, where sand flats have become exposed. Because of the low water, Chinook salmon are having trouble entering the river to spawn.
Ray Franz is the state representative for Benzie County. He's calling on the federal government perform dredging work at the mouth of the Betsie River...
"It's imperative that we help nature a little bit with the Betsie River. The soundbar that's filling in at the mouth of the Betsie because of low water levels is creating a barrier for the salmon to actually go up the river and spawn. And, of course, that will make a dramatic impact on that river's resource of future years for fish, because if they don't spawn in that river, they don't return to that river."
Franz said several billion dollars are sitting in a federal account for dredging purposes. He wants the Army Corps of Engineers to use some of that money to fix the problems at the mouth of the Betsie River.
A conservation group has been approved for funding to remove a dam in the AuSable River in northeast Michigan.
The dam currently controls the water in the East Branch of the river for the Grayling hatchery.
Once the Grayling dam is removed a series of small waterfalls will be used to control water levels.
Patrick Ertel is the restoration project manager for Huron Pines and is coordinating the removal. He said the dam poses a barrier to fish passages.
"And seasonally a lot of cold water species that live in the Au Sable try and make their way upstream in the East Branch both for spawning activity and forage base depending on which bugs are hatching at which time. And we want to re connect those two pieces of water to let fish be able to migrate past that dam."
Once the waterfalls are put into place, Ertel said, fish will have a small jump but will still be able to migrate upstream.
The Department of Natural Resources is seeking public involvement with finalizing plans for Northern Michigan forests.
To accomplish that, the DNR will host open houses for the public.
The open houses will be held in October and serve Alpena, Cheboygan, Montmorency, and Presque Isle counties.
The purpose is to provide residents, neighbors and stakeholders information about the DNR's proposed treatment plans and allow them to weigh in on final decisions.
Susan Thiel is a spokesperson for the DNR. She said it's important to get the public's opinion.
"This is a public resource and so we do want to get input from various public, whether they be nature lovers, hunters, just one so they are aware of what we are doing and often times these public can provide us more detailed information than we may know."
Thiel says the DNR evaluates one tenth of the state forest each year before creating a management plan.
Colleges, universities, and community groups are lining up to support an effort to revive Michigan's Civilian Conservation Corps. Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher has the story.
The corps puts unemployed young adults to work on conservation projects. Legislation at the state Capitol would turn the MCCC into a public-private partnership, which wouldn't use any taxpayer dollars. But not everyone thinks the program can just sprout back up overnight. Ron Olson is the state's parks and recreation chief.
"It'll take some time for this to take ahold and try to gather enough funding to make it significant."
The program hasn't had adequate state funding for years. But sponsors of the bi-partisan bill say the level of enthusiasm so far suggests the program can make a strong comeback.
Officials with land conservancies around Michigan are shaking their heads at a recent piece of potential legislation. A state lawmaker is considering a move that would change the way conservancies are operated and taxed.
New legislation from Republican State Senator Tom Casperson would require land conservancies to pay property taxes or open their land preserves to all-use.
Currently, land conservancies, which are non-profits, are exempt from paying property taxes under the Michigan Constitution. Here's Senator Casperson.
"I understand the environmental benefits if there's something there that needs to be protected but at the same time it just seems like zero taxes, there's no balance. And the local units of government have been pretty vocal about that and the trouble it's caused them, especially when there's large tracts of land around them. We think that fundamentally it's wrong to have that much control on your property and then ultimately not let the public use it and yet get the zero tax breaks."
In lieu of paying property taxes, preserves protect biodiversity and biological resources, says Rich Bowman. He's the director of government relations for Michigan chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
"There are all types of entities which provide a public benefit and have the ability to seek exemption from taxes because they're not making money, they're using their money to provide this public benefit."
Tom Bailey, executive director of the Little Traverse Conservancy in Harbor Springs, argues that the preserves the Little Traverse Conservancy owns are already open to most public use.
"There are some restrictions: some of our properties are open to hunting, some are not. Some have trails, some don't. For example, some of our properties have nesting endangered birds on them, and to allow motor vehicles, for example, on beaches where piping plovers are nesting, even too much hiker traffic can disturb these birds."
Still, Casperson worries local governments might miss out on tax dollars that land conservancies could provide.
"At the end of the day we don't want to destroy or disturb something that's real sensitive either but at the same time to ultimately own that kind of land and pay zero taxes, we believe there should be some public access allowed."
Bailey said nature preserves require very little in the way of services from local units of government, instead proving public services in the form of recreation and workshops.
"We're not sending more kids to school. In fact, at the Little Traverse Conservancy, we take 5-7,000 kids per year out onto our preserves at no charge and teach them about the outdoors in the outdoors."
Casperson plans to introduce the legislation soon.
Hot temperatures may be nice for a tan but the warmer the weather the more intense the pollution.
The Sierra Club has invited physician and author, Dr. Alan Lockwood, to expand on the issue this evening in Flint.
Brad Vanguilder is an organizing representative for the Beyond Coal Campaign with the Sierra Club. He said the health implications of pollution is an important topic.
He said when emissions are released from cars or coal plants they create organic compounds...
"In really strong sunlight those chemicals in the atmosphere can actually chemically combine to create much more hazardous chemicals, which we often refer to as smog, which is the common term for ground level ozone. That can be very harmful to your lungs, nasal passages and sometimes people can even feel a burning sensation from that."
Vanguilder said Dr. Lockwood will speak at Mott Community College in Flint tomorrow night about the health impacts of CO2.
Michigan's State Senator for the Upper Peninsula is calling for greater local control of federal forest lands.
State Senator Tom Casperson wants the federal government to create a pilot project that would turn control of federal forest lands over to local authorities.
He said those local officials are better equipped to make management decisions...
"We believe local control, in this case, and local management could probably do a better job, because they know the local area and they know the land better."
Casperson said the federal government has taken a let-it-stand approach to U.P. forests. He would like to see more thinning of the forests, which he said would create jobs, and help reduce the risk of wildfires.
Environmental groups, however, are often wary of proposals that would lead to increased logging operations.
The next step would be for the state legislature to pass a resolution, calling on the U.S. Forest Service to create a pilot project that establishes more local control.
Federal Funding is available for landowners affected by the Duck Lake fire that swept through the UP earlier this summer.
Landowners are eligible for funding through the DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency to restore damaged forests. More than 21-thousand acres were destroyed in the fire.
Shawna Meyer is the forest stewardship coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
She said property owners have until October 9 to enroll.
"Landowners can contact me or the Farm Services Agency to enroll. They directly enroll through Farm Service Agency and it's the Sault office of the Farm Service Agency. And the contact person they would call to start the process is Kaye Hillock-Vining."
After the application is turned in a DNR forester will visit the property to assess the damage.
Meyer said she thinks a total of 140 landowners are eligible.
Legislation's been introduced in Lansing to make some changes in how the DNR purchases state land.
The issue centers on what are called "Ecoregions." Those are large areas of the state with similar ecologies. The DNR uses the regions when considering land acquisitions.
But now, Republican State Senator Darwin Booher said ecoregions are too broad a basis for land purchases. Senator Booher will take over as Chair of the Capital Outlay committee in January.
"We are the only ones who can spend it, but we have to have the project that we're spending on, specific. That's not what Ecoregions do. Ecoregions gives you the whole state, you can buy anywhere within the whole state."
The DNR said it developed ecoregions in the 1960. There are four ecoregions in Michigan. They've been used for considering land acquisitions since the mid-2000s.
Still, Ed Golder with the DNR said the department is ready to take a look at the changes that Senator Booher is suggesting.
"We haven't done a thorough analysis of this bill, but in terms of Senator Booher's overall point of wanting more transparency in the process and wanting to know which specific parcels we'd like to acquire, we'd certainly like to work with him on that."
Senator Booher's bill on ecosystems has been introduced and is headed for hearings in the Natural Resources committee.
The Chippewa Watershed Conservancy has been preserving land and wildlife for the central Michigan area for more than twenty years. Now, the organization has received national recognition for its conservation efforts.
The Chippewa Watershed Conservancy was awarded accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
To receive this honor, a third party looks at how an organization assesses properties, conducts business management services and makes sure it's following legal practices.
The conservancy has preserved land in Isabella, Mecosta, Clare, Gratiot and Montcalm counties through limited land acquisition, conservation agreements and education.
Stan Lilley is the Executive Director for the conservancy. He said all of the organization's hard work has paid off.
"This is really big news in our world. There are about 1700 conservancies or land trusts around the country and we are part of 181 that are currently accredited by the land trust accreditation commission so it's certainly a thrill for all of us and just a culmination of all the hard work to prepare us for the process."
Lilley said the accreditation validates the organization's efforts.
He said the accreditation provides a concrete way to demonstrate its commitment to the community.
The future of state parks is resting a bit more these days on the backs of trail runners.
The state has begun courting the outdoor enthusiasts.
State parks have always welcomed a variety of users; people who like to picnic, hike and camp flock to the parks every weekend. But in recent years, state officials say they've been seeing more trail runners enjoying the great outdoors on state land.
State parks are responding with more events targeted to the runners. things like marathons, half-marathons and adventure races.
Ron Olson is the Chief of Parks and Recreation with the DNR.
He said trail runners are becoming a key in determining park use patterns in the future.
Well I think it'll be very key cause it does provide that multi-faceted recreational experience. It fits fitness with adventure, with looking at the scenery and all that rolls into one
Olson said some of the more active running parks include Sleepy Hollow State Park in Laingsburg and the Pinkney Recreation Area near Ann Arbor. The Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the UP also offers a half marathon.
Michigan's electric industry is becoming less toxic, according to a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
According to the report, Michigan power plants reduced their toxic emissions by over 7-million pounds between 2009 and 2010. That's a reduction of nearly 32 percent.
John Walae is the NRDC's director of clean air programs. He attributes the reduction to a couple of factors...
"The first is the increasing use by power companies of natural gas, which is a cheaper and less polluting fuel. The second factor is the installation of state of the art pollution controls by many plants. Those controls are being installed and will be installed in anticipation of new health safeguards issued by the environmental protection agency."
Still, Michigan's electric sector ranked seventh in the nation in terms of toxic air pollution in 2010, the most recent year with available data.
That's the same as in 2009, despite the reductions in toxic emissions.
Lake Huron is the subject of a new long-term research program. The lake will be "put under a microscope" to study the recent changes in its ecosystem.
According to scientists Lake Huron has been invaded by dreissenid mussels.
The mussels have removed phytoplankton which serve as the foundation of the food web and also lead to increased water clarity. As a result, the mussels are, in effect, robbing the food web and making beach shores full of muck.
With the decline of nutrients in the lake there have been food shortages for prey fish like salmon. But at the same time, scientists have noted that walleye and smallmouth bass like fish are increasing.
Henry Vanderploeg is the leader in the ecosystem dynamics group for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. He said this is something we are concerned about...
"The reason that we're concerned about this, in all these lakes people attempt to manage for water quality. They don't want the beach muck washing up on the beaches and at the same time they want a healthy food web that supports salmon. So we're trying to understand this to manage for fisheries production and water quality."
Vanderploeg said he hopes that this will launch into a longer term program that will monitor the conditions of the lake.
One of Michigan's original so-called "witness trees," one dating to 1850, has been removed from Kalkaska County. The tree was believed to be over 200 years old.
Witness trees serve as reference points used to locate land corners in surveying, and especially in rural areas, trees are then often used as "witnesses."
The tree was originally marked by a U.S. government surveyor named Lucius Lyon in September of 1850. At that the time the tree was 10 inches in diameter when it was removed it was 36 inches in diameter.
Jerry Grieve is a land use forester for the Department of Natural Resources...
"It's a pretty historic tree, there's only a few of them left in the lower peninsula anyway. I was talking to one of the surveyors and they could only think of four of them in northern lower Michigan. So it's kinda showing the end of an era."
Grieve said, portions of the tree will be put on display at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, the display may rotate to other state parks. Top portions of the tree are being made into plaques by the Northern Michigan Surveyors Society.
Removal of the Brown Bridge Dam in Traverse City will add more mileage to Boardman River, one of Michigan's designated Natural rivers.
The Dam removal project recently had it's Final Environmental Assessment. It found that removal of the dam will not significantly impact the river.
Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are waiting on final permits from the state.
Mark Holey is the project leader of the Green Bay fish and wildlife conservation office. He said removal of the dam will be good for the environment and return the river to its natural state.
The Boardman River Dam I believe was put in 1921. Since then they you know have come up with this Natural Rivers designation so the opportunity to remove the Brown Bridge Dam would just add more mileage to that pristine habitat as a Natural River.
Officials say the dam should be removed sometime this year.
A rare, often fatal disease is affecting deer populations in Ionia and Branch counties.
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease used to be fairly uncommon, said Tom Cooley with the Department of Natural Resources...
"It used to be a relatively rare disease. We had it in 1955 and 1974, and then we didn't see it until 2006. But since 2006, we've had it every year except for one."
Cooley said the disease only affects deer, and poses no threat to humans. Normally, we wouldn't see it at this time of year, but this summer has been abnormally warm...
"We have definitely moved up what normally occurs in late August or early September to July and early August."
EHD will cause deer to develop a fever and internal bleeding, said Cooley...
"What these animals often times will do is they search out areas where they can cool off, which they go to water. So when we hear about deer dying in or near water, this is the disease that immediately springs to mind."
Cooley said the disease should disappear by the first frost of the season.
It may cause some temporary reductions in the deer herd over the next few years, but Cooley expects populations to quickly recover.
From Waterfowl calling to Michigan Duck Stamp contest, to a hunting and outdoor recreation expo.
The DNR will host its annual Saginaw Bay Waterfowl Festival at the Bay City State Recreation Area.
The festival focuses on getting families outdoors to appreciate Michigan's ducks and geese, which depend upon the wetlands of the Saginaw Bay Watershed.
Valerie Blaschka is a park interpreter for Bay City State Recreation Area.
It's been attended by about 10,000 people over the weekend the last couple of years. We're hoping just to get families to think about getting outdoors. Maybe duck hunting, maybe taking pictures of waterfowl, maybe looking at ducks and geese and wildlife as a way to express art. We just want people to get outdoors and enjoy Michigan.
Blaschka said, there a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities planned for the festival.
Rain is on the forecast, but climatologists say if it doesn't continue beyond a day or two, it won't put much of a damper on the growing drought.
Central and northern Michigan are, right now, just across the line of the severe drought. CMU meteorology professor Marty Baxter said the drought line is projected to move north before the summer is over.
"The forecasts right now are for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation throughout August. And the government forecasters predict the drought further south is going to extend north into central and northern Michigan."
Baxter said although Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, it's not immune from a drought. He said hydrologic cycle is complex enough that the vast amounts of water in the lakes doesn't mean more water on crops.
He said this summer's drought is shaping up to be one of the most expensive weather disasters in history.
Have an unwanted pine tree in your yard? A very large, attractive pine tree? Perhaps, you'd consider nominating it as the State Christmas Tree. Nominations are underway.
The state Christmas Tree will be on display at the capitol for the annual Silver Bells in the City celebration. The tree must be either a spruce or a fir, and be at least 65 feet tall. It must also be easily removed from the property.
Kurt Weiss is with the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget; they are conducting the search.
"We do actually take the tree off the property of the homeowner or property owner, for free, but again it has to be accessible for us."
Weiss said, it takes a long time to find the right tree. When they do find it, it gets removed in November and transported to Lansing.
Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation recently that allows Great Lakes property owners to use tillers to dig up plants on the shoreline as long as they get a federal permit. But another fight is brewing over relaxing environmental rules to make it easier for developers to build on sand dunes.
Michigan has very stringent rules that prohibit building on environmentally sensitive dunes. Developers say it is possible to build on dunes set back from the shoreline without harming the view, or causing other environmental damage.
The measure to relax those rules stalled just before the Legislature took its summer break, but negotiations continue in an effort to break the impasse.
James Clift is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He said there may be some room to relax the rules, but he said the state needs to ensure the Great Lakes shoreline is protected.
"So if the state of Michigan isn't stepping up, these are dunes that are globally rare resources that are going to be under development pressure."
Clift said the dunes are a draw for tourists, and also serve as habitat to rare or threatened species.
Dry conditions across much of Michigan have fire safety officials on high alert. Governor Rick Snyder is considering a ban on open burning across much of the state, but won't prohibit fireworks before the July Fourth holiday.
Officials are warning that unusually dry conditions this summer pose a threat of wildfires. The state Department of Natural Resources is already on track to burn through its firefighting budget this year. In May alone, battling the huge Duck Lake forest fire in the Upper Peninsula cost taxpayers more than three million dollars.
Governor Snyder and the Legislature relaxed Michigan's fireworks restrictions this year. Some local governments are ordering their own restrictions because of drought conditions. A statewide order to limit open burning could also affect fireworks, but probably not before July Fourth. The DNR is recommending precautions, including having fire crews on standby for community fireworks displays.
Containment for the Duck Lake fire in the U.P. has reached one-hundred percent.
Three weeks ago the Duck Lake fire was started by a lightning-strike. In total the fire burned twenty-one thousand and sixty-nine acres of land.
Ada Takacs is the Public Information Officer for the Duck Lake fire.
"Today the incident management team is pretty much leaving the area, so it's being turned over to the local DNR fire staff. They were the first one who did initial attack and work on it initially, so they will be on site, and they are being left with some equipment from other areas that will be monitoring the fire."
Takacs said damages from the fire included 49 residences.
Fortunately there were no serious injuries reported.
She said the local areas are open for business and tourism, but she encourages visitors to stay clear of ongoing fire-monitoring efforts.
A new report has found that Michigan spends about three million dollars annually of the removal and management of Aquatic Invasive Species.
The Nature Conservancy is working with the University of Notre Dame to develop ways to detect aquatic invasive species and prevent them from spreading.
Officials say that the species impact the food chain and cause environmental problems as well.
Melissa Molenda is the Marketing Manager for the Nature Conservancy of Michigan.
"And just like with a medical problem the earlier you detect something the better chance you have at finding a remedy or for managing the situation. And so the same thing applies to AIS. And so we really want businesses to become more aware that they're affected by things like invasive species."
Molenda said the industry most affected by aquatic invasive species in Michigan is tourism business. They face revenue losses often related to beach closings.
The report said consumers also have to spend hundreds on water filtration systems, to combat infestations of invasive species.
Acres of the UP which had been closed while fire crews fought the huge Duck Lake fire in Luce county, are opening up again.
The DNR said the fire is 89% contained.
The entire fire region re-opened to property owners Thrusday. Roads and trails are scheduled to re-open on Monday.
The DNR said the fire now rates as the third largest wildfire in Michigan in modern history.
DNR Spokeswoman Ada Tacas said the fire took its toll on residents.
"Well you know, one of the things that's significant about this fire that you don't see a lot in Michigan is that we did have 136 total structure losses. Of those 49 were actually residence. So that's pretty significant. The other thing is it grew 20,000 or something acres within the first couple burn periods, so within 24-48 hours it was 20,000 acres."
Fortunately Tacas said, there were no major injuries in connection with the fire. She said hand-crews are working their way through boggy areas confirming that the fire is out. She said DNR crews should transition into patrol status, "fairly quickly."
Huron Pines, an environmental conservation group in Northeast Michigan has received two grants to aid in restoration projects.
One grant is to help sixteen Americorps volunteers and the second is for the Rifle River Watershed Restoration project.
Americorps volunteers will be supported in helping non-profit groups with conservation efforts such as removing invasive species and monitoring water quality.
Brad Jensen is the Executive Director of Huron Pines.
"One of the great things about the program is that the AC being out there and helping other groups and helping landowners; what that really leads to is getting more people out and more people involved."
Jensen said these conservation efforts have been ongoing for the past six years.
The goal of the the Rifle River project is to restore water quality to the watershed and open up more miles of stream for fish habitats.
Jensen said the Rifle River cuts through Ogemaw and Arenac Counties and into Saginaw Bay.
"And the rifle river is one of the best, if not the best tributary to the Saginaw bay, and what we're trying to do in this case, is really protect and enhance that stream systems."
Jensen said they are in the inventory stages of the project mapping areas that need to be restored.
There's a debate underway in Lansing on whether to extend the 10-cent bottle deposit to alcoholic beverages sold in pouches. The state Treasury said the deposit law applies to drinks in pouches.
A state House bill would preempt applying the new but common drink packaging pouches made of a composite of plastic, aluminum, and paper. The pouches are not recyclable or bio-degradable.
The deposit law was approved by voters 36 years ago and changing requires super-majorities in the House and the Senate. Cyndi Roper is with the environmental group Clean Water Action. She said the law has worked with bottles and cans, and should apply to booze in pouches.
"If we're going to get excited about some kind of a package, it should be that's recyclable, it should be something that can be put back in the material stream instead of something that's going to fill our landfills."
Retailers say they'd be saddled with huge costs. They don't have equipment to process pouches, and since they can't be re-used or recycled, taking them back serves no purpose.
The DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are seeking information about a wolf poaching case in the Eastern UP.
The remains of a Grey wolf were found in late April near Engadine in Mackinac County.
An examination showed the animal died of a gunshot wound.
Debbie Munson Badini with the DNR said it's likely this case will only be solved with the help of the public.
"We really depend on the conservationists and the hunters in our communities up here to say, this is not the kind of activity that we support. We want to see people following the game and fish laws, and doing things on the up and up. So most of the time when cases like this are closed, it's because someone in the hunting community felt betrayed by someone who was illegally taking game whether it's wolf or a deer or whatever."
Munson Badini said although wolves were removed from the federal endangered list in January, they now come under state management.
She said except in cases of imminent danger to humans, when wolves are in the act of killing livestock, or when property owners have gotten a permit, it's illegal to kill wolves in Michigan.
State land is being auctioned off next week for gas and oil exploration.
Groups like Ban Fracking and CMU Environmental Alliance oppose the measure.
The groups say the land will be used for the process of hydraulic fracturing, or Fracking.
Brad Wurfel is with the Department of Environmental Quality.
He said if the land is used for fracking it will not be harmful to the environment.
"And the system has worked to protect this states environment for more than 50 years. If it didn't the Department of Environmental Quality, I mean that's what we do, we protect the environment. That's our key interest in this department is to protect the environment. If this process was unsafe in anyway over the last 50 years we would have long since regulated it right out of existence if necessary but it's been proven safe in Michigan and our regulatory structure has been held up as a national model on how to do this regularly."
Wufel said state land will be up for auction Tuesday in areas across the state including Alpena, Antrim and Lake counties.
A company that wants to open a mine in the Upper Peninsula has cleared its first hurdle with state regulators. Orvana Resources hopes to start operations in 2014.
Orvana Resources wants to extract copper and silver from underground deposits located near Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. It's not far from a copper mine that shut down in the 1990s.
Brad Wurfel is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He said this is the first of several permits Orvana needs, but the state is supportive of a re-invigorated mining industry in the U-P.
"We're moving through this as quickly as we can, but we're also committed to doing it right, and so this first permit out of the gate signals to everybody that this is on its way forward."
Orvana still needs permits to withdraw water from Lake Superior and to discharge polluted water into a stream, as well as a wetlands permit. Clean water groups have expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the project.
A new law will soon limit the types of waste that can be thrown into pits and barrels to be burned. Plastics, chemically treated wood, and electronics are among the types of trash that cannot be burned.
The new rules don't go as far as some people wanted, which was to ban outdoor burning altogether. There were fights between neighbors about drifting smoke, in some cases, causing or aggravating asthma attacks.
But burning waste is so common in parts of rural Michigan that a compromise was struck. Some of the most toxic materials are banned, but grass, leaves and other yard waste can still be burned.
Dan Wyant is the director of the state Department of Environmental Quality. He hopes this is the beginning of a culture change in rural Michigan.
"We'll go out, and we're trying to educate. We're not trying to be heavy-handed in our enforcement, but we'll communicate about the law, and we do want to move away from outdoor burning."
With the Farm Bill up for reauthorization in September, a new report by the Healing our Waters, Great Lakes Coalition warns that proposed cuts to the bill threaten the Great Lakes.
The report points out that farm conservation programs funded by the farm bill have lost more than 1-billion dollars in the last two budgets and more cuts are proposed.
Jordan Lubetkin with the National Wildlife Federation said when farmers lose federal funding for preventative measures like those that keep soil from eroding, the Great Lakes suffer...
"They're seeing a resurgence of some of these water quality problems that we hadn't seen since the sixties and seventies. One of the main factors is excessive fertilizers and manure that runs off into waters."
President Obama's budget calls for more than 400-million dollars in cuts to farm conservation programs.
The republican budget calls for those programs to be cut by 16-billion.
Most counties have recycling programs for typical items like paper, plastic jugs and glass. Some offer special pick ups for electronics or batteries.
And now, a Northern Michigan county has a new program that will recycle one of your largest household commodities.
Emmet county recently announced a new mattress recycling project that will accept old mattresses, box springs and futons.
The fee to recycle the mattresses is less than the cost to landfill the same items. For example, twin and single size beds are 8 dollars to recycle compared to the 11 dollar charge to landfill.
Lindsey Walker is with the Emmet Mattress Recycling program. She said the mattresses will be given to a Gaylord business for dissembling...
"At the Gaylord operation, mattress recyclers are taking apart the ticking which would be the cover of the mattresses and the box springs, the stuffing, of course the very valuable steel and metal and has much more value than probably the other materials and then of course the wood is supplying one of the cogent electric facilities for burning for fuel."
Walker said in 2011, Emmet County threw out one thousand mattresses.
She said the program hopes to recycle that amount this year to reduce waste volume at the landfill.
The word is coming out today from the State DNR and and National Forest Service: many northern Michigan recreational trails are closed this weekend.
The effects of last week's snow story are still being felt, and likely will for some time.
Ken Arbogast with the Huron-Manistee National Forest says the heavy snow and high winds caused a lot of downed trees and branches. He said there's simply no way for users to get through.
"...If people are planning to come north this weekend to get out on the trails, we encourage them to call ahead and check to see what kind of conditions they're going to encounter. Whether they're coming up for snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, A lot of the trails have been impacted by the snowstorm that we had last weekend."
Arbogast said much of the clean up work has to be done with chainsaws; by hand.
He said it will likely be weeks, if not months, before all the trails are cleared.
The Republican candidates for president have taken their messages of energy independence on the road in Michigan. The state's primary is just a few days away. Rick Santorum has been the most vocal candidate about energy and environmental issues on his campaign stops in Michigan. He said "radicals" are blocking energy independence and economic growth in the country.
At a campaign stop in west Michigan this week Rick Santorum was asked for his stance on man-made global warming.
"There is a radical ideology of radical environmentalists, who, in fact, do put the earth above the needs of man, and see them in conflict with each other." Santorum responded.
Santorum said the federal government should focus on the needs of people first, such as the need for more jobs. He said when people have their needs met they are better able to take care of themselves and, in turn, the earth. He said ultimately the responsibility of environmental stewardship is on the individual. But Santorum said radical environmentalists are using global warming to manipulate the federal government.
"And so I never signed on with global warming. I realized."
And then Santorum clarified
"Let me be specific so I'm not taken out of context, man made global warming. I do believe it warms, I do believe it cools."
Santorum rejects the science of climate change, though the vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is real and caused mostly by people.
Santorum also said the federal government needs to stop hoarding and protecting the country's bountiful natural resources. He said natural gas and coal could be used to enrich the United States, lower fuel costs at the pump, and establish energy independence. His rival, Michigan-native Mitt Romney, agrees.
"Coal, oil, gas, nuclear, solar, wind, ethanol, use all those resources, so we have an ample supply of energy ourselves, and don't have to send hundreds of billions of dollars outside of our country buying energy every year. And by the way, put in place that keystone pipeline. That's a no-brainer."
But environmentalists in Michigan say the proposal to install an oil pipeline from Canada, through the middle of the U-S, is not a no-brainer for Michiganders. The Enbridge pipeline ruptured in the Kalamazoo River two summers ago.
"Yeah, I think Michigan has seen the dangers firsthand that communities around the country face."
That's Jordan Lubetkin with the Michigan chapter of the National Wildlife Federation.
"Pipeline spills are not a rare occurrence. In fact they happen hundreds of time per year."
The Keystone pipeline proposal is an issue on which all of the major Republican candidates appear to agree. That includes Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, who have not campaigned in Michigan with Santorum and Romney. In fact, it appears there are few environmental issues the candidates disagree on. All of the candidates have also spoken in favor of more drilling for oil and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But the theme that runs through all of the energy platforms is finding ways to create more jobs while diminishing dependence on foreign oil.
Ryan Werder with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters said the intersection of energy and job creation could play perfectly in Michigan.
"The candidates are talking so much about market forces, and they're talking about 'let the private sector do as it will,' and I agree. Clean energy is where the market is going."
And Werder said Michigan is equipped with a strong manufacturing industry ready to build on wind and solar energy industries. Werder said he wishes at least one of the Republican candidates would address the economic opportunities presented by clean energy.
"We've suffered a greater economic depression than any other state in the country, and so we need to be the most innovative, and the most forward-thinking out of any state in the country."
Werder and Jordan Lubetkin with the National Wildlife Federation would also like to hear the candidates talk about the state's greatest natural resource, the Great Lakes. Lubetkin said a lot of economic growth occurs when the Great Lakes are clean and protected. But he said to continue that growth the next president will have to work with a lot of people, including environmentalists.
"It's a partnership, it's a public and private partnership, it's a partnership between people and their local governments, the state governments and the federal government. And by working together I think that's when we're going to see the results we need to see."
The Chippewa Watershed Conservancy has been awarded a three-year, 120 thousand dollar operational support grant.
The CWC works to preserve space and natural habitat through conservation easements, land acquisition and education.
The Herbert and Grace Dow Foundation is helping to maintain the conservatory though its three-year donation.
Stan Lilley is the executive director for the CWC. He said the grant support makes up 40 percent of their operational costs.
"We work to preserve open space and wildlife habitat for the benefit of current and future generations through some small land acquisitions where we create preserves that the public can access. And then primarily through helping families preserve their legacy by putting conservation easements on their properties."
Lilley said easements preserve important wildlife habitats and scenic values while still maintaining private ownership of the land.
Some movement Thursday on plans to clean up dioxin contamination in Midland. The Dow Chemical company reached a "conceptual agreement" with the State for a work plan aimed at resolving the contamination issues.
Details of the work plan are not yet being released. Dow will unveil them at a public meeting March 1. But even before details are know, state officials are praising the plan.
Brad Wurfel is a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality.
"I would categorize the latest resolution as something that we believe is scientifically sound, scientifically driven, and one that we're going to fight to see get done. And we're standing in partnership with Dow on the concepts for this plan."
Wurfel said it's important to note that what Dow and the State have are quote: "basic outlines for a strategy to get the clean up done." Dow will put together what Wurfel calls "the heart of an actual plan" and present it at public meeting March 1. The meeting will be begin at 6:30 pm in the Midland Central Middle School Auditorium.
A new report said the Great Lakes should be permanently closed off from the Mississippi River system to prevent Asian Carp from invading the lakes. The report from the Great Lakes Commission makes three suggestions on how the two waterways could be separated, with price tags that range from three billion to nine billion dollars.
U-S Senator Debbie Stabenow said it's time to move forward with a plan.
"We all know the numbers; Michigan's tourism industry, including our 7-billion dollar fishing industry, and our 16-billion dollar boating industry, will potentially be severely damaged if the Asian Carp get a real hold on the Great Lakes."
Stabenow said little can be done to close off the Great Lakes until the Army Corps of Engineers releases its recommendations in a few years. Stabenow sponsored a measure in Congress that would order the Corps to release its report in no more than 18 months.
It was only 15 years ago when the first hybrid vehicle rolled into Michigan, and now, just about everyone seems to know someone who drives one.
The question is, will electric cars catch on?
Howard Learner with the Environmental Law and Policy Center said cost is certainly an issue with electric vehicles, but government rebates and tax incentives can help.
However, he predicts it will take a while for the auto industry to "go green..."
"We need to get the policies right, but this is going to live and die based on consumer demand. And if consumers see cars they like, drive well, that look good and that help them save money, and also help reduce pollution, that market will grow."
Learner said the Michigan Public Service Commission has approved lower electric rates for drivers who charge their cars at night during off-peak hours.
The gray wolf no longer has endangered species protections in Michigan. The wolf was officially moved off the federal endangered species list Friday. State wildlife officials are now responsible for wolf management
The gray wolf was nearly extinct when it was placed on the federal endangered species list almost 30 years ago. But people complained that, as the wolf population recovered, they could not legally shoot wolves that attacked pets or livestock.
Ed Golder of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said now farmers and pet owners can kill a wolf in some situations...
"That is where the wolf is in the act of preying upon livestock or dogs. There has to be an imminent threat."
The gray wolf still has some protections because it remains in the state's list of threatened species. Golder said it is still a crime to shoot or trap a wolf that doesn't pose an immediate threat. It's estimated there are now nearly 700 gray wolves in Michigan, mostly roaming fields and forests in the Upper Peninsula.
The mild winter is preventing the D-N-R from carrying out some of its normal winter activities.
Normally at this time of year, the D-N-R would be doing den checks to check up on hibernating bears. But not this year, said D-N-R wildlife chief Russ Mason...
"We're kind of scared to go out right now, because chances are real good that bears are just sleepy, but their not out. So we'll show up, and the bear will run off, and we're just causing more harm than good."
Mason said the D-N-R is also having trouble conducting some annual wildlife population counts...
"Snow cover is so light in the northern Lower Peninsula, we're looking at the possibility of having to delay our elk census flights because you can't see them against the leaf background. You need that snow to do an accurate census."
While the lack of snow is making his job harder, Mason said it's actually good news for most wildlife.
He expects winter mortality rates to be lower this year, compared to some winter's past.
Climate change issues and impacts are again a primary focus as scientists gathered this week to convene the Climate Change Summit in Durban South Africa.
To coincide with discussions there, the United Nations recently released their Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report.
Dr. Steven Hamburg is the Chief Scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund. He said despite the debate over the validity of climate change, the report "confirmed what we already knew..."
"We're all experiencing it, we're seeing the weird weather. Whether it be the fact that there were twice as many Major League Baseball games played this past year played at ninety-five degrees or above. You know, we've all seen it. I drove not recently through the snow storm before Halloween, you know, unusual events. And they're real, they're gonna be more of them and we've gotta start to prepare for them or they're going to have devastating effects on our lives."
As the summit opened this week, the United States again refused to agree to legally binding carbon emission cuts.
The U.S. is being criticized for the action, noting that while campaigning in 2008, then candidate Barack Obama pledged to "engage vigorously in the discussions." The 2009 summit in Copenhagen failed to produce any long-term binding agreement for action on climate change.
Since the 1997 the United States and other countries have refused to sign on to legally binding reductions for carbon emissions set forth by the Kyoto Protocol.
To read more about the report, the web site for the Environmental Defense Fund is www.edf.org
Environmental groups are sounding the alarm over new ballast water regulations approved by the U-S House.
The new regulations are less stringent than those already in place on the Great Lakes.
Not only are the new standards weaker than those of many Great Lakes states, but they would also prevent states from adopting regulations that are stronger than the federal ones.
That could lead to even more invasive species entering the Great Lakes.
"If you're a zebra mussel or a ship that carries them in its ballast water, it's really the season to thank the U.S. House for passing this bill. But for the rest of us, it's no thanks," said Marc Smith who's with the National Wildlife Federation.
Smith said ballast water is the number one vector for invasive species entering the Great Lakes, and that stricter regulations are needed to keep new species out.
Shipping interests have been calling for a single, nationwide ballast water standard instead of having different standards in different states.
Smith agrees with that idea, but said a nationwide standard would have to be strong enough to protect inland lakes. He said the regulations passed by the house would not do that.
The state legislature has voted to make it easier to salvage submerged logs from the bottom of Michigan lakes.
They're a common sight on the bottom of Michigan's inland lakes and Great Lakes, submerged logs. Thousands of them.
Many have been there for hundreds of years, lying, perfectly preserved, in the low-oxygen environment.
State Representative Greg McMaster said the logs could bring new revenue into state coffers, and put people back to work.
"Because of the preservation of our cold water and the anaerobic state of these logs, which means no oxygen has reached them, these logs have been preserved for such a long time, makes it perfect for making violins, musical instruments, things like that."
Under the legislation, salvage operations would have to apply for recovery permits from the Department of Environmental Quality, and pay 35-hundred dollars in fees.
15 percent of proceeds received from the sale of the logs would also go to the state.
Recovery would not be allowed in inland rivers and streams.
Conservation groups are urging two Michigan lawmakers to remember what makes their state special, as they work to eliminate more than one-trillion dollars from the federal deficit.
Representatives Dave Camp and Fred Upton both serve on the so-called Super Committee, that is working to reduce the nation's deficit.
They're being urged by the National Wildlife Federation to preserve conservation and wildlife programs that have already been cut by more than 30 percent.
Brenda Archambo is with the N-W-F. She said these programs are "already stretched as far as they can go..."
"If the deficit committee fails to reach a deal and automatic cuts are triggered, already weakened conservation programs will be decimated."
According to the N-W-F, wildlife related recreation, including hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, supports more than 73-thousand jobs in Michigan and generates more than five-million dollars in consumer spending.
Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for a two-year halt in allowing more oil and gas drillers to use a procedure called hydraulic fracture drilling or "fracking" to extract hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits. They said that would allow more time to study the process as it becomes more commonly used.
The process is called "fracking." Frackers send water, sand, and chemicals into a well to loosen stubborn pockets of gas and oil. That's caused pollution and dried-up water wells in other states.
Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin said Michigan sits in the middle of the world's largest freshwater supply.
"So we have a lot to protect here and we want to make sure if this is done, it's done in a way that's accountable in a way that's safe."
Brad Wurfel is with the state Department of Environmental Quality. He said Michigan has some of the strictest fracking regulations in the country, and an excellent safety record.
"If you look around the state, you'll see where oil and gas producers over the past 60 years have fracked probably on the order of around 12 thousand wells. "
Wurfel said the state just updated its rules on fracking in May.
The world took note this week of the population reaching seven billion.
A new book points to projections of a population of nine billion by the middle of this century, and its author said our impact on the planet is significant enough to reflect the book's title, "The God Species."
Mark Lynas said his publisher National Geographic was hesitant about, in his words, "using the God metaphor," but Lynas said he believes it illustrates the affect humans have had...
"We all know how the atmosphere has had its chemistry changed because of human release of CO2 - that's changing the acidity of the oceans. You know, we've changed the color of the skies because of our aerosol emissions. We've obviously dramatically changed the way the land surface is used because so much of it is now not suited to grow crops."
Lynas puts forth the idea that there are so-called "planetary boundaries." He contends that historical demand and consumption of resources has put an increasing strain of earth's capacities. Were there not to be any change, Lynas believes there would be irreversible harm to the planet.
But he also said that worldwide economic growth, albeit interrupted by the downturn since 2008, is an overall positive sign because Lynas said, with such growth has come more cooperative efforts to develop better environmental practices.
Lynas' book, published by National Geographic, is called "The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans." CMU Public Radio News reached him at his home in Oxford, England.
Recycling can sometimes be a nuisance but Emmet County's program makes the task easier and more beneficial for residents.
Elisa Seltzer, head of the Emmet County program, is being recognized for her work. She's received the Michigan Recycling Coalition's 2011 Recycler of The Year Award.
Seltzer said the county's recycling program works so well because it offers incentives for people to participate.
"So the more they throw out the more they pay but they can recycle at no charge, so each individual can look at what they have and say if I throw it out it costs money the more I recycle the more I save. So there is a really strong incentive for people to recycle, and we make it really convenient and cost effective."
Eighty percent of county residents use the program.
Seltzer said it's easy to use. Residents don't need to separate their recyclables, and it can go out with the trash every week.
The program is funded through revenue gained from the recyclables.
Michigan hunting ranches and breeders have six months to get rid of Russian boar and other species of wild swine under an order that took effect Saturday. The state Department of Natural Resources has deemed the species a threat to the environment.
Wildlife experts say wild and escaped swine are prolific breeders that tear up woodlands and farms and fight with other wildlife. The new order allows ranches and breeders time to get rid of their Russian, Razorback and other outlawed boar species by offering hunts or selling them. Mary Dettloff is with the state Department of Natural Resources.
"Nothing basically will happen until April first of 2012 when we will start active enforcement of the order, meaning our conservation officers and biologists will start doing compliance inspections after that date to make sure there are no sporting swine on those facilities."
Hunting ranchers and breeders say they still have questions on exactly how the state will determine what is and is not a banned species. Ranchers and breeders say they are being unfairly targeted by regulators for a problem they did not cause.
A lawsuit is being brought against the Department of Environmental Quality for approving construction of a coal-fired power-plant in Rogers City.
Anne Woiwode is with the Sierra Club.
She said the coal plant is unnecessary and would increase energy costs.
"And Again the public service commission staff determined the cost would go up an average of 76 dollars a month per customers. There's no question that when you build an extremely large, extremely expensive coal plant that the customers are going to have to pay for it.
She said aside from being unnecessary the two billion dollar plant would cause more pollution than alternatives.
We were unable to reach the DEQ or the Wolverine Power cooperative for comment.
Wolverine Power is an underwriter of CMU Public Radio. The Sierra Club said it's currently waiting for the court to set a hearing date in the suit.
Algoma University in Sault Saint Marie is working toward a solution using federal grant money received earlier this month.
Invasive plant species are taking over forests in southern Ontario and could spread to parts of northern Michigan.
Pedro Antunes is the research chair of invasive species at Algoma University. He said his research lab is looking for microorganisms that will eat the invasive plant species, ultimately controlling their population.
He said the problem is both economic and environmental.
"The more you go toward the south the greater the problems are and with climate change we expect these problems to increase." Said Antunes.
Antunes said one invasive species is Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that destroys Ash Trees at a 100 percent fatality. But he said his research team is specifically looking at plants.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is sending Michigan firefighters to Texas to help with extreme fire conditions.
Currently a return date for firefighters is unclear. Scott Heather is with the DNR. He said the Texas fires are the worst in their history.
"Because their drought conditions are so extreme and the weather service is not forecasting any relief for them in the near future we're anticipating needing to keep staff down there for at least another two or three months."
Heather said Michigan is one of the only states that uses a fire plow. The plow fits on the back of bulldozers and has a specialized design for firefighting.
He said sending Texas help will not be an expense to the state. He said Texas will reimbursed the state for all costs.
The 16,000 acre wildfire in Ely, Minnesota is making its presence known across the Midwest.
People hundreds of miles away are smelling of smoke and some have reported ash falling from the sky.
People in Wisconsin and Michigan have been smelling the smoke throughout the day. Some called police to report a fire that they thought was nearby, but was actually some 700 miles away.
Jeff Halblaub is with the National Weather Service Office in Gaylord, Michigan. He said the smoke plume was pushed down from the atmosphere by a cold front and is blanketing an area hundreds of miles wide.
"Everyone is getting this. We can see it in satellite imagery as long as there aren't clouds obscuring it. And this is occurring over Wisconsin and Michigan, and by the end of the day today, it will probably be over Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, at least the northern parts of those states"
Halblaub said residents in the Midwest may notice the smell of smoke from the Minnesota fire for the next couple of days.
An Isabella county man is recovering in a UP hospital today after being attacked by a black bear over the weekend.
Officials say the 49-year old Sheperd man was bear hunting from a tree stand near the village of Trout Lake.
DNR spokesperson Debbie Munson Badini said when a sow with three cubs wandered into the clearing the hunter did the right thing and tried to scare them off.
"The reports I've heard from the field is that the hunter made a loud noise in order to scare the sow and her cubs off when he saw them enter the area he was hunting in. And instead of scaring them off, it seemed to irritate the sow, for some reason, maybe because it's so hot out and we're in a drought condition, who knows, but something about that irritated her enough to go up the tree after him"
Badini said the sow clawed the man's legs. He tried to kick her out of the tree, but when she continued to attack, he shot and killed her
Badini said the cubs with the sow appeared old enough to survive on their own.
The hunter suffered lacerations to his legs and is expected to recover.
Obama's Asian carp czar was in Michigan Tuesday to reassure tourism
officials that the federal government is doing everything possible to keep the
invasive species from infesting the Great Lakes. John Goss said there is a
short-term strategy to buy time that gives the U-S Army Corps of Engineers five
years to develop a permanent solution.
Goss said the stop-gap efforts include hiring commercial fishers to pull hundreds
of tons of Asian carp from the water systems leading to Chicago shipping
canals. He said that takes some pressure off electric barriers that are
supposed to keep the fish from reaching Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great
"There is a sense of urgency.
We certainly know that stopping an invasive species before it gets established
is the absolute best thing to do, so we have to do that."
Goss said long-term strategies
might include developing an Asian carp poison or, improving fish barriers in
the Chicago canals, or if nothing else will work physically separating the
two water systems.
has filed a federal lawsuit demanding that the Chicago shipping canals be
closed immediately as a precaution.
Governor Rick Snyder is expected to call today for a ban on smoking at beaches in state parks. It will be part of the governor's plan for making Michigan healthier place to live.
Aides to the governor said a smoking ban on beaches at state parks will make the waterfronts more family-friendly by not exposing children to second-hand smoke. They said it will also make the beaches more environmentally friendly.
Bill Rustem is Governor Snyder's policy director. He said there are plenty of studies that show cigarette butts that litter the beaches leach toxins into the water, and that makes it less safe for drinking and for wildlife.
"You can take a cigarette butt and put in a goldfish bowl with a goldfish and the goldfish will die. One cigarette butt."
Lawmakers would have to approve the ban. The Legislature last year enacted a controversial ban on smoking in workplaces including bars and restaurants. It's a ban that many Republicans would like to reverse.
After a summer of monitoring Cass River, the Saginaw Bay Resource Conservation and Development Council, or RC and D has determined the water quality is poor. The team is now deciding what action to take.
The Cass River in the thumb is battling nutrient loading, e-coli and dissolved action problems.
Ben Belkholm is with the Saginaw Bay RC&D. He said the council is designing a Watershed Management Plan to handle the crisis.
"The Watershed Management Plan is a document that will outline not only the main concerns that are in the watershed but the specific locations that we think need the most focus."
Belkholm said the plan will also outline the necessary action to improve the water quality.
He said the RC&D will suggest education for farmers on how to properly dispose of cattle waste, and for local residents on how to maintain their septic tanks.
The non-profit conservation organization, Huron Pines is hosting a volunteer project this Saturday to help reduce erosion in the Rifle River in Ogemaw Counties.
Erosion is casing concern in Michigan. Too much can have harmful impacts on fish. Aby Ertel is the watershed project manager for Huron Pines. She said erosion changes the fish habitat by making it difficult for fish to find food, among other things.
She said there are many ways volunteers will learn how to reduce the impacts of erosion.
"We'll also be installing something called bio-logs. These are logs made out of coconut fiber and anchor them into place against the bank. You can plant native plants in them which we'll be doing and they also start to grow additional vegetation, capture sediment that may be eroding." Said Ertel.
Ertel said other ways to collect sediment is by planting large trees and bundling brush.
She said volunteers hard work and dedication make projects like these possible.
A ferry company is going great lengths to keep its business afloat.
The SS Badger is a car ferry that transports passengers and vehicles between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Lynda Matson is the Vice President of Customer Service and Marketing for
the Badger. She said the ferry is the last coal-fired ferry in the
Great Lakes region.
She said because the ferry dumps about four tons of coal ash into Lake
Michigan per day from mid-May to mid-October, the company must get
proactive in finding an alternative fuel source or they'll be shut down.
"Currently, after looking at many other options including ash
containment and switching to diesel, we were contacted by DTE Energy
with the suggestion of converting to natural gas. And that is currently
where we're putting all of our time and energy and resources to create
this program that has never been done before."
Matson said this is the first time a vessel will have converted from
coal to natural gas. She said there is no timeline set at this point
because of the amount of research that has yet to be conducted.
Meet key historical figures from Odawa, French and British history. Watch a movie based on a French soldier's journal during the time of the French and Indian War (1750-1761), and tour an authentic wigwam during the grand opening celebration of "The Odawa Warriors' Journey" exhibit at Pellston Regional Airport.
The exhibit, a project of the Emmet County Historical Commission, opens to the public on Aug. 12, with a celebration planned from 4-6 p.m. The exhibit will be open daily beginning Aug. 13, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at no charge. Signs in the airport will direct visitors to the Trophy Room, where the exhibit components will be arranged, including interpretive display boards, a self-guided cellphone tour and life-size figures telling their own stories from the time period.
"This is an exciting opportunity for Emmet County," said Beth Anne Piehl, Emmet County's Director of Communications and Web Development, and the exhibit's Project Director. "It represents a broad collaboration of organizations who share the same mission: To promote our region, tell our stories and preserve our history. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for residents and visitors to learn about a significant time period that impacted the entire Michilimackinac region and to view artifacts culled from local grounds."
Emmet County received a $15,000 Michigan Humanities Council grant to help fund this project. Collaborating with the development of the exhibit and lending of artifacts are Mackinac State Historic Parks, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the National Park Service, through Fort Necessity. The Odawa Warriors' Journey had been on display at Fort Necessity, in Penn., from July 2010 to July 2011.
The exhibit details the journey of Odawa warriors from Emmet County to Farmington, PA, to join the fight for Native sovereignty. The Pennsylvania battle in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of the French and Indian War. At least 20 Odawas (Ottawas), known as the Anishinaabe, were among those who traveled about 630 miles to this battle against George Washington.
The local exhibit committee further expanded the journey by tying in key figures and events in the Mackinaw region to the national actions going on at time, through the use of a special movie and characters like Patrick McGulpin, the namesake family of McGulpin Point Lighthouse just west of downtown Mackinaw City, and Charles Langlade, a prominent Odawa leader who impacted numerous battles and events here and nationally.
The Pellston display will be open until summer 2012. It will be open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call (231) 348-1704, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.emmetcounty.org.
MEDIA: For further information, contact Piehl at the number or email listed above.
Researchers have teamed up with fishing guides along the St. Mary's River to track the movement of Atlantic Salmon. An effort to find out why they spend so much time in the river and not in the Great Lakes.
Roger Greil is in charge of Lake Superior State University's Aquatic Research Lab.
He said in the the first major study since 1993, area fishing guides are tagging 900 salmon this year...
"We have three different guides who are working with us on this, and each of them basically has little areas they like to fish more so than others. So with that, we're hoping to see a little bit of movement pattern." Said Greil.
Greil hopes the study will reveal why Atlantic Salmon tend to move into the St. Mary's River so early in the summer months ahead of other salmon in other rivers.
Anglers that catch a tagged salmon are asked to call the phone number on the tag and report the salmon's location to L-S-S-U.
Indian Country is bearing the biggest brunt of climate change, according to a new report from tribal groups and the National Wildlife Federation.
More frequent extreme weather, such as droughts, floods, wildfires and snowstorms is detailed, with storms in Michigan this year noted as particularly destructive and expensive for natives.
Kim Gottschalk with the Native American Rights Fund said climate change is having a big impact on Native American communities.
"They depend on these systems for their spiritual, cultural and economic welfare," she said. "And yet, despite their historically low carbon footprint, have been disproportionately affected by climate change."
Some advocates are calling for more cooperation between Indian tribes and various governmental entities, from the federal down to the local level.
"They have practices that are time-tested, climate resilient, sustainable, bountiful and cost-effective," said Jose Aguto with the National Congress of American Indians, adding that many tribes would like to share their expertise.
The study asks Congress to boost funding for conservation and climate adaptation projects through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and to repeal tribal exclusion from federal environmental programs.
An inland lake in west Michigan is getting a boost from the federal government to help clean up pollution and restore wildlife habitats.
As Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber reports, it's one of many places along the Great Lakes shoreline where cleanups are needed.
Programs to clean up White Lake, north of Muskegon, have been awarded more han 2 (m) million dollars for restoration. The money will be used to help clean toxins and reestablish habitat for fish and wildlife.
Patty Birkholz, director of the Office of the Great Lakes said damage done by years of pollution from the manufacturing industry is not beyond repair.
"That's true, it's not. But it's taken a huge investment on the part of the federal government, on the part of the state government, but also a lot of work by the local people."
Birkholz said Michigan has more "Areas of Concern" near the Great Lakes than any of the other Great Lakes states. She said it's important for the state to rehabilitate waterways that were damaged by the, quote, 'sins of our fathers.'
A northern Michigan park has received a special honor from a group of international sky gazers: it's been named an "International Dark Sky Park."
The Headlands, located just west of Mackinaw City, has been working to get the designation for several years. It is just the sixth "International Dark Sky Park" in the United States, and the ninth in the world.
Beth Piehl is the director of communications for Emmet County. She says the park will celebrate the designation on June 21, the first day of summer.
"We're going to have some speakers discussing the history of the property and the future of the property as well, and our dark sky park programming plans," she said. "And we're going to have food and fun and games and activities for all members of the family."
According to Piehl, the park is open 24-hours a day.
"We have designated certain public areas for setting up telescopes and chairs, and viewing the night sky," she said. "The park is open every day, 24 hours a day, at no charge."
The Headlands is located two miles west of Mackinaw City, at 7725 Wilderness Drive.
The Department of Natural Resources has begun the process of creating a comprehensive resource management plan for Drummond Island, near Sault Ste. Marie.
The DNR is soliciting opinions from a wide range of stakeholders -- land owners, hunters, ORV users and campers.
DNR Upper Peninsula Wildlife Manager Terry Minzey said those ideas will be used to create one comprehensive plan for the island.
"We're going to try to put together a plan for that island that is not driven by the DNR," he said. "Thedepartment will be there, and we will be providing sideboards in terms of our legislative mandates or other things that guide our management, but within those sideboards, this is going to be a plan that's developed by the folks out there on that island."
A public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 pm to solicit ideas from the community. It will be held at the Drummond Island Township Hall.
Minzey expects the planning process to take about a year to complete.
The Department of Natural Resources says its fire fighting resources could be stretched thin this wildfire season.
"We have been having a steady decline of the dedicated fire workforce, the people who's job it is to do the fire management and do the fire suppression, all those fire activities," said Paul kollmeyer, fire prevention specialist for the DNR.
Kollmeyer said the DNR has about 75 fire officers for this coming wildfire season, down from 100 fire officers a decade ago.
He said the reduced numbers will be most noticeable on bad fire days, when officers are fighting multiple fires on multiple fronts.
"We are doing everything we can to try to fill the seats in the trucks to make sure that we can respond," he said. "But I guess the message is that we will only work as safely as we can. We won't put single people in a truck just to get the truck out there. We will have to sometimes leave a truck vacant and not have it respond because we don't have the available people to help us out."
Kollmeyer said the legislature is considering a bill that would allow the department to recall some retired fire officers to help out during an emergency.
He also said there are many local and federal agencies that are able to assist, if needed.
This week marks wildfire prevention week in Michigan.
There's still snow on the ground in some areas, but Department of Natural Resources fire prevention specialist Paul Kollmeyer said this time of year is one of the most dangerous when it comes to wildfires.
"Many people don't realize that there's a danger," he said. "Sometimes it's still cool at night, there's still some snow piles here and there, and wildfire really isn't prevalent in their mind. And yet in Michigan, it is the most dangerous time of year for wildfires, simply because of all the dead vegetation that's out there."
Kollmeyer is urging residents to use extreme caution when doing any outdoor burning.
That means never leaving a fire unsupervised, and having plenty of water and tools like shovels close by.
According to the DNR, preventing wildfires means burning debris on the right day, when winds are low and dry vegetation isn't prevalent.
That also means having the necessary tools close by if you are burning outdoors, said Kollmeyer.
"Make sure you have water available, not only to put the fire out when you're done with your burn, but also in case... there's a flareup," he said.
"A little gust of wind comes up, and it jumps a little bit. Maybe a spark jumps out of where you intended to burn. And when that is a very small thing, if you have the right tools, a shovel, or you're standing right there and you have that water, you can put it out."
Kollmeyer said it's also important to protect your home before a wildfire strikes.
"If you keep your lawn watered and mowed, that will help slow down a fire, or if it's green, it could even keep the fire from spreading," he said.
Additionally, he recommends raking leaves out from under decks and porches, and not planting trees and other vegetation close to your home.
Kollmeyer said a burn permit is required any time you burn yard waste or debris outdoors.
South of Mount Pleasant, these can be obtained by calling your local fire department. North of Mount Pleasant, contact the DNR at Michigan.gov/burnpermit or toll-free 866-922-2876.
The Department of Natural Resources has proposed closing 23 northern Michigan State Forest Campgrounds.
The campgrounds could close as soon as next month.
According to DNR spokesperson Mary Detloff, the sites are rustic, unstaffed, and offer few amenities.
"These are underperforming campgrounds," Detloff said. "They're not bringing in a lot of revenue. They're probably costing us more to operate and maintain than what they're bringing in."
Detloff said fiscal considerations are behind the proposal to close the campgrounds.
"General fund money has traditionally been the main source of financial support for our forest recreation program. That's been cut 63 percent over the last three years," she said.
Detloff stressed that the proposal does not affect any state parks, and that the state has no plans to close any state park campgrounds.
"The DNR understands and realizes that state parks are huge tourist draws," she said. "They are huge to the economies at the communities that they are located near. A lot of other states closed their state parks in times of tough budgets. We have done everything we can to keep ours open."
Detloff said the proposal does not mean an end for camping in Michigan's state forests.
"Dispersed camping is still available on any state forest land in the State of Michigan," she said. "As long as you're more than a mile away from a campground, you can simply pitch a tent in the woods if that's what you're into. That's allowed, and that's free."
The proposal must be approved by the Natural Resources Commission before the closures could take effect.
That could happen as soon as May 12.
State Forest Campgrounds slated for closure:
Baraga County - Beaufort and Big Lake state forest campgrounds
Cheboygan County - Black Lake Trail Camp
Chippewa County - Lime Island State Forest Campground and Cabins and Munuscong River State Forest Campground
Crawford County - Manistee River Bridge State Forest Campground
Iron County - Deer Lake State Forest Campground
Lake County - Bray Creek State Forest Campground
Luce County - Blind Sucker #1, High Bridge, Holland Lake, Natalie and Reed & Green Bridge state forest campgrounds
Macinac County - Black River State Forest Campground
Montmorency County - Little Wolf Lake State Forest Campground
Oscoda County - McCollum Lake State Forest Campground
Otsego County - Pigeon Bridge and Round Lake state forest campgrounds
Schoolcraft County - Canoe Lake, Cusino Lake, Mead Creek and South Gemini Lake state forest campgrounds
Wexford County - Long Lake State Forest Campground
For three years now, Michigan's hunting community has been divided over a state-imposed ban on deer baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula.
The ban was put in place three years ago to stop the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, said Russ Mason. He's the wildlife chief for the Department of Natural Resources.
"Three years have gone by," said Mason. "We've done a lot of testing. We haven't found CWD. And so it's incumbent on the department and on the Natural Resources Commission to revisit this issue."
"We told the public that we would. The baiting ban was put in place in the context of CWD. We haven't found it, so now it's time to revisit this issue," he said.
The discussion over the coming months promises to be contentious. Some hunters love baiting. Others despise it.
According to Mason, the Natural Resources Commission will have to weigh the pros and cons, which range from the spread of disease to the natural movement of deer to a hunter's ability to bag a big buck.
His official position is that baiting is full of risks.
"Any baiting, and supplemental feeding presents a statistical risk," said Mason. "To say otherwise is just silly."
Mason said one of the biggest risks with baiting is the spread of disease. As an example, he cited Bovine Tuberculosis.
The disease has plagued northern Michigan's deer population for decades. It's spread when deer come in close contact, like they do at bait piles.
But because of the ban on baiting and feeding, Mason said the disease is now on the decline.
"And that was a big part of the reduction in TB incidents up there, from about 5 percent to about 2 percent," explained Mason.
"But here's the cautionary tale in all of that: it's very clear at this point, from the modeling we've been able to do that we now have an endemic disease in deer. Which is another way of saying that barring some literal intervention from God, we will have TB in deer in the northern Lower Peninsula forever, entirely the consequence of baiting and supplemental feeding."
"We want to think about that in the context of other diseases with which we'll be confronted in the future," he said. "CWD is just one of those. There's a whole host of other things out there that could be a problem for us."
Another major concern is the ability of hunters to actually get a deer.
John Madigan sits on the National Resources Commission, and he chairs the board's committee on fish and wildlife policy.
He said it's getting harder and harder to bag a deer.
"I've baited, and I've also hunted without bait," he said. "And both have some advantages and both have some disadvantages. With the amount of property around, and the amount of property being owned by private individuals, it's getting a little bit more difficult just to go into the woods and have free range of hunting areas."
Russ Mason, the DNR's wildlife chief, agrees.
He said baiting is especially effective up north, where many hunters own, and try to attract deer to, small plots of land.
"There are a lot of guys in this state, particularly in the northern part of this state, that bought small hunting properties say 25 years ago when deer numbers were higher than they are now. Deer had to go someplace, and they baited, and so those deer showed up on their properties," Mason said.
"They don't have to be there now, they don't have to be there, and in the absence of baiting, those guys are going to be pretty much deer free. What do you do about that? I don't think the answer is clear."
John Madigan, the NRC commissioner, says all those issues will be examined over the coming months.
"It's just not a black and white issue," he said. "I think depending on how old you are, how fit you are, where you hunt, if you own property, all those factors come into play on baiting or not baiting."
Madigan is inviting the public to attend one of the deer baiting forums over the coming months, or to submit written comments by mail or online.
State wildlife officials are investigating the shooting of a bald eagle in Genesee County.
The eagle was shot last week near the Gaines Township - Argentine Township line.
"The eagle did have a broken wing as a result of the gunshot wound," said Mary Detloff, spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
The eagle, however, was mobile and eluded capture, she said.
"We had to call in some specialists who handle birds of prey, including sports falconers and wildlife rehabilitators to help us," Detloff said.
The eagle is now being treated by a wildlife rehabilitator, with hopes that it will someday be strong enough to return to the wild.
"If they bird is able to be rehabilitated to the point where we feel it could survive in the wild, the bird will be released," Drtloff said. "If it can't be released into the wild, the eagle will likely be held by the rehabilitator and used in educational or nature programs."
Anyone with information about the case is asked to report it to the DNRE.
Capital Bureau Chief, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING -- The Legislature has wrapped up its work for the year and one of its final acts was to approve moose hunting in the Upper Peninsula.
No one knows the exact number, but there are an estimated 800 to a thousand moose roaming the Upper Peninsula since the species was reintroduced to the region a generation ago.
State Sen. Jason Allen sponsored the measure. He said hunting is a critical element of the northern Michigan economy, and that another hunting season will support businesses such as hotels, field guides, outfitters, butchers, and taxidermists.
"These small industries have helped put food on the table for families and create jobs," Allen said.
According to Allen, it will be up to state wildlife officials to determine how many hunting licenses will be sold, and when, how long, and where in the Upper Peninsula the moose hunting season will be.
"If they come up on their survey that there's not a sustainable population, there won't be a moose season," Allen said. "But in all likelihood, there is going to be a moose season because they believe there's enough to support that season."
It is now illegal to transport live Asian Carp, the highly invasive species threatening the Great Lakes, without a permit.
The ban was signed into law by President Obama this week. It's meant to keep Asian Carp from accidentally being introduced to the Great Lakes ecosystem.
According to Jennifer McKay, a policy specialist with the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, the ban gives wildlife officials another tool to use to fight invasive carp.
However, she said more still needs to be done to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
"This measure is not the final answer to Asian Carp," she said. "We now must address the permanent solution to restore the ecological barrier between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins."
Asian Carp are known to be in the Chicago River, and are heading towards Lake Michigan.
The only sure-fire way to stop them, said McKay, is to seal the river off from the Great Lakes.
"That is, ultimately, the only permanent solution," McKay said.
McKay fears Asian Carp might reach Lake Michigan before a permanent barrier can be built.
"We do know we have confirmed DNA samples of Asian Carp found within Lake Michigan," she said. "We've found a live Asian Carp six miles from Lake Michigan. So they're definitely knocking on the doorstep."
The Army Corp of Engineers is currently studying how to permanently separate the Chicago River from the Great Lakes. However, that study could take years to complete.
In the meantime, McKay said the carp will continue drawing ever closer to the Great Lakes.
The state's Department of Natural Resources and Environment says this year's firearm deer season seems to be on par with last year's.
Early estimates from the DNRE suggest the harvest in the UP and in the southern lower peninsula was up as much as 10% over last year.
Numbers in the northern lower peninsula, though, seem to be down about 5-15%.
The DNRE's Mary Dettloff says statewide, there were fewer hunters this year compared to last.
"On the number of licenses sold this year, we did see about a four percent drop. And that tracks historically with anytime we have a Monday opener, we generally see a decline that year in the three to four percent range in the number of licenses sold."
Dettloff says hunting license sales are generally higher when opening day falls in the middle of the week, or on the weekend.
She says the deer population appears to have recovered from the two harsh winters before this season.
The DNRE plans to release final harvest figures in the spring, after all deer hunting seasons conclude.
She was inducted into the Royal Order of the Polar Star for her work promoting renewable energy partnerships between Swedish and Michigan companies, after speding nearly a week overseas in search of jobs and investment for Michigan.
Granholm said renewable energy is a "big industry" in Sweden.
"They have created about 400,000 jobs in Sweden, which is a country about the size of Michigan, maybe even a little smaller. They have a little over 9 million people. We've got about 10 million. But they have really focused on this sector as a form of job creation and as a way to help the planet," the governor said.
She announced that two Swedish companies are making plans to expand their renewable energy operations in Michigan.
Granholm was impressed by how Sweden manages its demand for energy. She said that includes converting waste to energy, instead of taking it all to a landfill.
"It's a much better way, a more-efficient way of being able to heat your home and it certainly less expensive to be able to use waste than to buy coal," Granholm said.
The governor is set to return to Michigan on Oct. 22.
A budget proposal from President Barack Obama would cut funding for many national parks, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan. That's according to a new report from Environment Michigan.
Advocates say the budget cut doesn't make sense, because visitorship has been up at the dunes.
Nicole Lowen is with Environment Michigan. She said national parks have become popular again, and need better funding.
"They provide affordable vacations in these tough times," Lowen said. "And also, every dollar that goes into operating parks generates four dollars in private sector spending."
The report says Sleeping Bear Dunes could face a two percent budget cut. Lowen says that would put environmental restoration projects at risk.
Sixteen conservation organizations in northwest lower Michigan are partnering to combat the spread of invasive species.
The organizations include the Grand Traverse Conservation District and the Leelanau Conservancy. Together they'll establish the Grand Traverse Regional Invasive Species Network.
Jon Prins is with the Grand Traverse Conservation District. He says the network is currently identifying which invasive species to target.
"It'll be mainly focused on plant species. We are putting together kind of a top twenty of the highest-priority species in the area. Work's already begun on that, and that will help, you know, articulate exactly which species we're looking at with the most concern."
Prins says an important part of the project is making people aware of which plants are invasive. He says people often unknowingly help invasive species spread by using them in landscaping.
"I think in general, people, when they think of invasive species, think of the Asian carps of the world, and the kind of physical creatures, because I think, you know, that's just what resonates in people's minds. And they don't often think about the plants. People are almost unknowingly participating in the spread of invasive species simply because they don't know. You know, some nurseries in the area still sell some of these invasive species."
Prins says some of those invasive species that have been sold at nurseries include Japanese barberry. He points out, too, that not all invasive species spread that way.
The project is funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, worth nearly a million dollars.
As an Emmet County man recovers from being attacked by a black bear, state officials remind outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of those animals -- particularly in situations involving a mother and her cubs.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is investigating why the mother bear and her three cubs attacked the hunter Saturday night. Mary Dettloff is the DNRE spokesperson.
"He attended a family party prior to going hunting, and there was fried food served at the party. We think that because he was in the presence of food being cooked, and the fact that it was fried food, probably the scent on the clothing that he was wearing under his camouflage hunting gear is what lured the bear to the treestand."
Dettloff says the hunter did everything he was supposed to do when a mother black bear and her three cubs approached his treestand.
"He tried to scare them off, which is what you should do. We don't know what happened in all these split-second decisions you have to make in a situation like that, but he could have killed the bear and been perfectly justified. He wouldn't have gotten in any trouble with the DNRE, because it was a situation where he was being threatened -- and he could have killed the bear if he had to."
Dettloff says the hunter made the right choice before heading out to tell his fiance and father where he would be hunting, and that made it easy for them to find him when he didn't return from his treestand by nightfall.
The hunter received minor surgery for a bite to his calf, and treatment for wounds on his thigh and shoulder.
According to Dettloff, it's uncommon for black bears to attack -- but she says the mother probably attacked because she perceived a threat to her cubs when the hunter tried to scare them away.
STEPHENSON, MI -- There's a crack in the earth in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that wasn't there before last week. Geologists recently investigated the site in Menominee County.
People near the town of Stephenson were puzzled when they heard a loud boom and felt their furniture shaking.
The next day someone found a crevice running a few hundred feet long and as much as five feet deep and a couple of feet across.
"In some cases it split a small tree in half, half of the roots going one way and half of the roots going the other way," says Wayne Pennington. He is the head of the geology department at Michigan Tech University, and investigated the site.
And he says while the crack is alarming, it's not the most interesting feature.
"It's the fact that it's on a ridge," Pennington said. "And this ridge did not exist prior to that Monday."
Pennington thinks a fault in the underlying rock gave way and layers of limestone shifted together.
That forced the overlying ground to heave up and form a mound or ridge. And the crack runs along the top of the ridge where it splits in either direction.
Pennington said he's never seen anything like it before.
The disaster in the Gulf has been wide-reaching and will be felt for some time, panelists told a packed auditorium at CMU's University Center.
But now that the run-away well is plugged, experts can start searching for solutions -- and prevent similar spills from happening again.
Of course, finding solutions is never easy, said panelist Jeff Drury. He's an assistant professor of communication at CMU.
"Everyone's really willing to point fingers and to play this blame game," he said. "No one's really saying 'how can we get together and solve this problem?' And that's the first step to productive solutions. It's about coming together. It's what I teach in my debate classes, that debate's about finding the best solution, not about pointing fingers, not about winning, not about proving your point."
So what are some solutions, to prevent similar oil spills in the future?
The panelists all agreed on an obvious one -- cutting the nation's dependence on oil. But that's easier said than done, said CMU business student John Porter.
"At the end of the day... oil right now is probably one of our cheaper forms of energy," Porter said. "Everybody wants to complain about $2.85 at the gas pump, but honestly, there haven't been any alternatives brought about... more sustainable or a better price at the pump."
One way to ween the nation off of oil is to gradually raise the price of gas, said panelist Tom Rohrer. He's the director of the Great Lakes Center for Sustainable Systems at CMU.
"I was in Denmark and gasoline there is $8 a gallon," Rorher said. "That does two things. It encourages conservation. You drive small cars, not big trucks. You don't drive home every weekend if you're in college. You sort of conserve fuel. Also, it costs about $4 a gallon to deliver that product to the pump. The other $4 is paid in taxes, and the Danish government takes that tax money and puts it into light rail systems, alternative transportation, building bicycle lanes, putting in bus systems, coordinating all that transportation across the country so you can get off that airplane, take a train to a station, take a bus to where you need to go from there, and never have to even own a car."
Rohrer says the government might need to take a bigger role in researching and investing in cleaner, more efficient fuels.
He said right now, companies have little incentive to research more efficient technologies because oil is so profitable.
"There are some people investing in alternative energy, but it's a very risky investment at this point," he said. "The return on investments are unknown. So they're going to stick with what they know. They're going to stick with what they know pays off. And as we have fewer and fewer fossil fuel resources remaining, the proven reserves that they have under control are going to be worth more and more."
The panelists seemed to be in agreement that a cultural shift is needed before the nation will move away from oil.
"Until we have some sort of cultural shift in our thinking, we'll probably remain interested in cheap forms of energy," said event facilitator Ed Hinck, "despite the kinds of pollution or environmental risks or safety risks that might cause that."
"The problem is how do you get the citizens of the nation to figure out that energy independence is a good idea?" he said. "We need to figure out how to get to more sustainable form of energy production, and how do we manage those kinds of costs in ways that don't create huge economic dislocations in our lives right now?"
Those same questions are being asked across the country, whether on college campuses, around the dining room table or in committee rooms at the nation's capital.
The answers are often few and far between, but the general consensus is that it will be up to the generation just now coming of age to figure it all out.
Researchers hope to find undiscovered shipwrecks near Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary using new sonar technology.
The sonar is called ATLAS, for Autonomous Topographic Large Area Survey. It can map a swath of lakebed one thousand meters wide with a single scan, but with slightly less resolution than older sonar.
Russ Green is a deputy superintendent and research coordinator at the Thunder Bay Sanctuary. He says the ATLAS sonar has identified potential shipwreck sites. He says researchers will use higher-resolution equipment to investigate further.
"There are some targets that are promising, that we're looking forward to following up. And now it's a little bit of a waiting game as we kind of pull in the remotely operated vehicle and the high-resolution sonar to kind of really find out what's going on there. So there's a little lag time between what we find with this great sonar, and figuring out exactly what it is. But there are some good targets out there, for sure."
Green says in addition to finding shipwrecks, the project aims to map the lakebed more thoroughly.
"It does paint kind of a picture of the bottom. We're learning a little bit more about the geology of the lake bed. For instance, if there was a submerged sinkhole, which occur in the sanctuary, chances are the sonar would pick that up. And also habitat. We know that ATLAS will pick up a little bit of geology, and maybe we can learn a little bit more about the diversity of the habitat within the marine sanctuary, and beyond."
Green says the sonar equipment is mounted on a free-swimming underwater vehicle, which surveys the lake bed for eight to ten hours at a time.
The project concludes on Friday. By then, Green hopes to have scanned 150 square miles of the Lake Huron lakebed.
The state of Michigan says the number of private memorials on public lands in northern Michigan has increased recently. But those memorials have to be removed, according to the D-N-R-E.
The memorials include mementos left by individuals on public land near roads, trails, or in forests, to honor lost loved ones. Officials say they understand why people place the memorials, maybe near the site of a car accident or a favorite hunting spot.
Lori Burford is a trespass specialist for the DNRE's Forest Management Division.
"Often, these memorials are adjacent to public roads, as well as on state forest property. So, what ends up happening there, they can be a distraction to road users; they can occupy public land, taking that away from public use."
She says, too, that people sometimes gather around those sites and contribute to litter.
Forest Management will remove memorials if they aren't recovered by the individuals who place them.
Burford says there are several state programs that help people honor lost loved ones, instead of placing private memorials.
"We have Adopt-a-Park and Adopt-a-Trail programs throughout the state. Call the local individual park supervisor or trail manager. We have a state forest donation program, that affords folks the opportunity to donate to the state forest, and help to contribute to our management of those state forest lands, that maybe they visited with their loved ones."
Wolverine Power Supply of Cadillac is going to court in pursuit of a new coal fired power plant. The company filed the action against the state in Missaukee County Circuit Court this week.
In May, state regulators ruled that there isn't enough demand for electricity to justify a large coal fired plant in Rogers City. And that there are other, less polluting alternatives to meet what demand there is.
Wolverine says it met all the conditions of the air permit. And new requirements imposed by Governor Granholm to look at cleaner sources of energy give the state arbitrary power to pick and choose which companies get permits.
But environmental groups say Wolverine has it wrong.
Ann Woiwode is with the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club.
"Both the federal Clean Air Act and the Michigan Environmental Protection Act are very clear that alternatives can be considered when it comes to looking at whether pollution can be avoided," said Woiwode.
Wolverine is asking the Court to throw out the Governor's order and for the DNRE to reconsider the permit.
Wildlife officials are being asked to step up efforts to eradicate wild pigs from Michigan.
At a hearing in Escanaba Thursday, the Natural Resources Commission discussed listing feral pigs as a prohibited invasive species.
That would allow the state to regulate hunting ranches that import them and even ban the animals altogether.
The pigs were first brought to North America from Europe. They've already established themselves in Michigan and are very destructive to the landscape.
According to Brad Nyberg with Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the state needs to make sure no more pigs escape into the woods from private hunting ranches.
"What's happened down south in state like Texas, in states like South Carolina and Florida, these hogs have multiplied to an out of control level to where they will never be able to be controlled," said Nyberg. "They're culling them from helicopters. It's becoming a recreational activity to shoot pigs down south."
Last year feral pigs were most commonly seen or shot in southeast Michigan and around the Tri-cities.
A number have also been shot in Mason and Cheboygan Counties.
LANSING -- Environmental activists in Lansing say drilling for oil in the Great Lakes should be banned in the state constitution. And most lawmakers agree with them. But that doesn't mean anything will change.
Cyndi Roper is with Clean Water Action Michigan. She said the state law against drilling in the Great Lakes could be repealed in the future, but a constitutional ban would prevent that.
"With all of the public support for getting a ban, a permanent ban on drilling, that's out there, if this Legislature cannot come together around that issue and get it on the ballot by September 2nd that is a catastrophe," said Roper.
The Legislature would need super majorities by September to get the question of a constitutional ban before voters this fall. But political reasons in both the House and Senate have stalled the debate, and most insiders agree the subject of oil drilling was just a good campaign issue for lawmakers during a sensitive time.
It's unclear whether the measure will ever come up for a vote.
A new report says climate change will exacerbate problems with raw sewage flowing into the Great Lakes. That's because an increase in heavy downpours of rain cause overflows of sewage systems. The report was written by the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition.
Jeff Skelding is with the coalition.
"What we're doing today is we're calling on Congress to turn the tide on wastewater pollution by investing $2.7 billion to create jobs, protect public health, restore the Great Lakes, uphold our quality of life, and begin to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage into the Great Lakes," said Skelding.
According to Skelding, many Michigan sewer systems are out of date, and need to be modernized.
"The engineering of 100 years ago, where we combined the pipes, and when it rains we overflow our systems and we're forced to discharge raw sewage into the lakes," said Skelding. "That's been going on a long time. And as we continue to develop and grow, the problem gets worse."
Skelding said that the federal government needs to address years of negligence to come up with modern solutions.
Capital Bureau Chief, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING -- Michigan and four other states are asking a federal judge in Illinois to shut down the Chicago shipping locks as an emergency measure to keep invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already refused -- twice - to shut down the locks. But Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox says the need for action has become more urgent since then - last month a 20-pound Bighead carp was found in the canal beyond an electric barrier that was supposed to contain the fish.
"It's sort of like where there's one cockroach, there's more cockroaches," said Cox.
Cox's lawsuit asks a judge to shut down the canal and order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use nets and poison to contain the Asian carp until a permanent solution is developed.
"Some of these fish are making their way to Lake Michigan and, ultimately, will start moving up the west coast of Michigan," said Cox. "And ultimately will start move into the Saint Joseph River, ultimately will move into the Grand River, and to the Pere Marquette, and wrap around Michigan and destroy our inland lakes, and our great fishing rivers."
Cox, Governor Granholm and other Michigan officials say that should include a physical separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems. But that's opposed by the Obama administration because of the burden it would create on Great Lakes shipping and the economy of the Chicago area.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment announced Tuesday that thirteen facilities will receive the Neighborhood Environmental Partners Program Award.
Mary Dettloff, spokesperson for the DNRE, says the program highlights businesses that work with communities to maintain the environment.
"It's a good program that highlights the fact that in Michigan we do have several businesses that are good corporate citizens, and do the right thing, and are very much aware of their environmental footprint - and do things to reduce that."
GM's Flint Metal Center received its award in a ceremony today.
"They've worked with school children to test rivers that are near some of these factories for water quality. They've also given them tours of the environmental components of the factory: how they treat waste water, or how they deal with, you know, certain other environmental issues," says Dettloff.
Children's health advocates say current federal law doesn't adequately address toxins making their way into the Great Lakes.
Rebecca Meunink is the spokesperson for the Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health. Her organization is one of several seeking to revise the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
Meunink says that law hasn't prevented certain toxins from accumulating.
"Like mercury, PCBs, lead, dioxins keep showing up in the Great Lakes environment and have detrimental impacts both on wildlife and then up in the food chain - our own human health."
Meunink says a revision to the law would require all industrial compounds to be tested for danger. Current law only requires safety testing after other evidence suggests a compound is potentially dangerous.
"What it doesn't do is require an immediate phase-out of those persistent bio-accumulative and toxic chemicals. And those chemicals are not only just the ones that have been around for quite some time, but also the newer chemicals that are showing up in Great Lakes fish."
Meunink says mercury, lead, PCBs, and dioxins are still being found throughout the Great Lakes food chain.
People across Michigan said they felt tremors today from an earthquake in eastern Canada.
The 5.5 magnitude earthquake originated on the Quebec-Ontario border around 1:41 PM Wednesday afternoon.
Tremors were reportedly felt in metro Detroit, Flint -- and even as far west as Traverse City.
Dr. Sven Morgan is the Chair of CMU's Department of Geology and Meteorology. He says quakes don't often occur in the Great Lakes region.
"There was a 4.3 or 4.5 in southern Michigan in the 1940's or '50's, and we would have definitely felt that up here. So it's not that common."
Morgan says there's no sign of anything bigger happening.
In Mt. Pleasant, several hundred miles from the quake's epicenter, Mary Jo Davis thought she might have been having a dizzy spell.
Davis is a CMU grad student, and the Executive Secretary in the Dean's office in the College of Education and Human Services.
Then others in the office told Davis they felt tremors, too.
"Well, there were several of us in the office that felt it. It just felt like your chair was moving a little bit, like it was wobbling. And then some headphones I had hanging on my overhead bin were swaying back and forth. Another suite mate said that she could see her door moving. I have inner ear issues, and it felt like I was having a dizzy spell coming on, and it really wasn't - it was my chair moving."
Two public meetings are planned for next week in northeast Michigan to discuss proposed deer hunting restrictions in that part of the state.
The proposal would limit hunters to either antlerless deer or older bucks, in order to reduce the deer population.
According to Brent Rudolph with the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment, a smaller population makes it harder for Bovine Tuberculosis to spread among the deer herd.
"Increasing antlerless harvest is a big way to do that," said Rudolph. "You need to take females, the productive segment of the population out, in order to have a greater impact on reducing the size of the deer herd overall."
Under the proposal, hunters would only be allowed to take antlerless deer or deer with at least three antler points on at least one side.
"That point restriction, along with the added flexibility for taking antlerless deer are supposed to be working together to further reduce deer numbers overall," said Rudolph. "Get more people taking antlerless deer and reducing deer numbers overall, while still allowing people to take older bucks that are a little bit more likely to be TB positive."
If approved, the new regulations would affect only Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle counties.
The state Natural Resources Commission will vote on the new regulations next month.
Public meetings will be held:
June 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Harrisville Township Hall, 114 S. Poor Farm Rd, Harrisville.
June 23 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Alpena Civic Center, 133 Johnson St., Alpena.
The former Buick City complex will be the topic of a public meeting this evening in Flint.
The Environmental Protection Agency will use the meeting to discuss cleanup plans for the south end of the property. Motors Liquidation Corp., which now owns the site, is expected to pick up the bill for the $5 million to $7 million cleanup.
The meeting takes place tonight, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Mott Community College's Regional Technology Center Auditorium, 1401 E. Court Street.
The south end of the property includes the area south of Leith Street, bordered to the east by Cole Boulevard and the Flint River, and to the south by Harriet Street. The EPA continues to develop a cleanup plan to address contamination of the north end of the property.
Automotive production began on the site in the 1890s, and continued until 1999.
A Michigan lawmaker is using the Gulf oil spill to call for a permanent drilling ban on the Great Lakes.
Drilling on the Great Lakes is already prohibited by state and federal law.
But according to State Representative Dan Scripps, that ban is subject to the whims of elected officials. He wants to make the ban permanent, by adding it to the state constitution.
"That sort of transient nature of a legislative ban, that it could be lifted at any time, that Michigan voters should have the opportunity to make it a permanent ban," said Scripps. He wants to "put it into the constitution and make sure that we never see a BP style oil spill in the Great Lakes."
"It would be a constitutional amendment," said Scripps, "that would have to go through the House and Senate with significant supermajorities to get on the ballot, but then it's the voters opportunity to decide."
Scripps said the legislature would have to act quickly, to place the question on the November ballot.
"We need to have something in place I think by the end of August in order for voters to have their say in November, and that's the timeline we're working on."
If the amendment is approved by voters, Michigan would become the first state to permanently ban drilling on the Great Lakes.
"As the Great Lakes State, Michigan needs to be a leader on these issues," said Scripps. "And by making ours the first state to have a permanent ban on drilling in the Great Lakes, I think we show real leadership on that."
The legislation would only affect waters controlled by Michigan -- which in general is from the shore to the center of Lakes Huron, Michigan and Ontario.
The massive oil spill in the gulf-coast region is devastating wildlife there - and if it's not cleaned up by the fall, biologists say it could affect migratory birds that spend time in Michigan.
Nancy Seefelt is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Central Michigan University. She says migratory birds we see here won't arrive in the gulf until fall.
"Some of the birds that live here in the summer months, here in Michigan, will actually migrate down to the gulf coast during the winter months. This would include perhaps water fowl or water birds. But because of the time of the year the spill actually occurred, the birds that move between the two places would have already been here in Michigan, or somewhere between here and there."
Seefelt says concern right now is focused on pelicans and other wildlife, whose life cycles are being disrupted.
State officials say a disease infecting black walnut trees in some western states should be kept out of Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture implemented an exterior quarantine to prevent Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) from infecting Michigan's black walnut trees.
The walnut twig beetle has infected trees in nine western states with TCD. It's a fungus -- carried by those beetles -- that infects walnut trees as the insects tunnel into bark.
Jennifer Holton is the Public Information Officer for the Department of Agriculture. She says the quarantine restricts several products.
"Black walnut logs, green lumber, and nursery stock, from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. Also, our quarantine regulates the shipment of hardwood firewood from those states."
The disease hasn't yet been found in Michigan - and Holton says that's good.
"We want to prevent the introduction of this new invasive pest into the state to preserve our walnut resource. We have an estimated 8.5 million black walnut trees in Michigan. That sawtimber is estimated at over $86 million. That's one of the most desirable woods used in the furniture industry."
Holton says the only exceptions to the quarantine are nuts, nut meats, and kiln-dried walnut wood.
Children and their caregivers are being encouraged to turn off the TV and video games this week, and go exploring outside.
This week is "No Child Left Indoors Week" in Michigan.
According to Ray Rustem with the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment, too many children are spending too much time indoors.
"We're seeing a real decrease in kids' connection to nature," said Rustem. "And that's what this really, this week is really about, is reconnecting them back with nature, and getting them just time to play and explore."
He said children who spend more time outdoors tend to be healthier.
"When kids play outdoors, they're more physically active, less chance of obesity, they have less stress, they retain things better when they play outdoors," he said.
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox says pressure on the U-S Army Corps of Engineers lifted once the U-S Supreme Court refused to consider his request to close the shipping canal that connects the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes.
He says the corps has pushed back deadlines and made token efforts that don't substantially address the threat of an Asian carp infestation of the Great Lakes system.
"Anyone who lives in the Great Lakes knows that when the weather heats up, the fish start moving more and the threat of more and more Asian carp getting into Lake Michigan increases by the day."
A diverse coalition representing Michigan business, national security, faith, labor and science interests has endorsed national climate change legislation introduced in Washington last week.
The group is calling on the Senate to take quick action on the American Power Act.
The legislation imposes carbon allowances on many industries, and aims to reduce American dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent over 20 years.
"It's really a great way to spur job growth in the State of Michigan," said Gary Lazarski with Carbon Green Bioenergy, an ethanol refinery in Lake Odessa. "It's good for the environment, and in terms of what we're doing in the ethanol industry, we feel its a good way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."
Other members of the coalition, like Iraq War veteran Matt Ross, said the act is a national security issue. Passage would reduce the U.S.'s dependance on foreign oil, he said.
"Iran alone gets $100 million a day in oil revenues," he said, "and we know they use some of that money to fund the people fighting us in Afghanistan and Iraq."
The Rev. Charles Morris called climate change a "moral issue."
"And as people of faith, as faith leaders, we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth, and to provide a safe and healthy world for generations to come," said Morris.
Critics of the legislation say it is essentially creating another tax, that will ultimately be paid for by consumers.
Some progressive groups are also concerned about provisions allowing off-shore drilling, especially in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Some good news for the rare Kirtland's Warbler ahead of this weekend's annual festival in Roscommon: The bird's population increased last year for the seventh year in a row.
The Kirtland's Warbler is a very finicky bird. It knows what it likes in terms of habitat, and it won't accept anything less.
It will only nest in Jack Pine forest, among trees that are between five and 20 years old.
Chris Mensing, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says fewer than 500 Kirtland's Warblers remained during the 1970s and 80s.
But then conservation efforts started, and the population began to rebound.
"Without us getting directly involved, the bird would likely be extinct by now," said Mensing.
"Over the last few years, we've been over... 1,000 singing males of Kirtland's Warbler. And last year, we were over 1,800 singing males," said Mensing. "So we've effectively increased the population of Kirland's Warblers 10 times over the last 20 years."
While the population increase is good news, Mensing said the survival of the Kirtland's Warbler will always depend upon human conservation efforts.
But he did call the latest population numbers "encouraging."
"The fact that we've learned what that bird needs, we're able to put that habitat on that ground, we're able to protect the Kirtland's Warbler and see that large population increase, definitely is encouraging," said Mensing.
Photo by Dominic Sherony, obtained through Wikimedia Commons.
Brownfields. Michigan is littered with them -- possibly numbering in the thousands.
Most are former industrial properties that now lie contaminated and abandoned.
In Michigan, knowledge is power when it comes to such sites -- if you know what the problem is, you can deal with it.
"People are always concerned about a piece of property that's been used in the past for commercial and industrial properties," said George Freeman, city manager for Reed City in Osceola County.
He says one of the biggest problems when it comes to redeveloping vacant properties is a perception that they're contaminated, whether they are or not.
"When we wondered why (some properties) weren't redeveloped, it was just because people thought that they were contaminated," said Freeman. "And that's really the definition of a brownfield... a piece of property that has all the infrastructure there to serve viable businesses. It's got water and sewer and paved streets and that, but it's not being utilized because people have that perception that it's tainted property, it's contaminated property."
It's a problem that's not unique to Reed City, said Robert McCann, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
"A lot of these issues relate to contamination that, over the course of years of operation of a facility... materials were simply being dumped on the ground or otherwise leaking into the ground," said McCann.
Over time, that contamination "went through the soils, often into groundwater, and started spreading from there," explained McCann. "And so even to identify the area of contamination your talking about can be an extremely time consuming and extremely expensive proposition. And that's not even talking about the actual cost of cleaning it up."
So how do communities figure out which properties are contaminated, and which are not?
Often, the answer is simple: they don't.
But some communities are lucky enough to receive grants from the Environmental Protection Agency -- to root out polluted properties.
Clinton County, just north of Lansing, recently received two such grants -- worth $200,000 a piece -- said John Czarnecki, President of the Clinton County Economic Alliance.
"One is to do a site assessment of a contaminated property within the county, said Czarnecki, "and the second one is grant, another $200,000, to do an assessment of all the basically closed gas stations. We're trying to find closed gas stations, determine where they are and do a site assessment of those pieces of property."
Clinton County is a largely rural area with acres and acres of farm land.
Czarnecki said the county is able to protect that farm land by identifying brownfields, and offering them up as an alternative for developers.
"If we can determine where they are, hopefully we can market those," he said. "And again, we want to reuse those. At one time, they were used. And we would like to reuse those rather, especially in Clinton County, eating up farm land. We're very protective of our farmland here."
Further north and west, in Reed City, there used to be a gas station on nearly every corner, said City Manager George Freeman.
His community also recently received an EPA grant to perform Brownfield assessments, which he says will help give developers peace of mind.
"We identify... if there is a contamination, what it is and to the extent that it's prevalent on the property," he said. "So if we do have to go in for a cleanup, then we know what it is that we're going to clean up, and we know where it's located on that property."
"Going through this process it can open that up for redevelopment and reuse without the new owners having the burden of cleaning up what's already there," said Czarnecki.
Of course, identifying brownfields is just the beginning. The real cost comes when actual cleanup efforts begin.
TUESDAY on Morning Edition and All Things Considered -- a look at three communities trying to cleanup their abandoned Brownfields -- Bay City, Grand Traverse County and Leelanau County. The cost of a Brownfield cleanup, tomorrow on CMU Public Radio.
The case pits Michigan and other Great Lakes states against Illinois, the city of Chicago, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Illinois officials say closing the canal would imperil five billion dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs.
Michigan and the other states can start over now in a lower court, or hope for a political solution from Congress or the Obama administration.
John Sellek is with the state attorney general's office. He says Michigan was anxious to get a solution in place before the spring thaw.
"Once the weather warms up, the fish are a lot more likely to head toward Lake Michigan. We've had some pretty darn nice days out lately."
The Asian carp has already infested the Mississippi water system. Experts say if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes, the invasive fish could starve out other species and decimate the seven billion dollar Great Lakes fishing industry.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service will apply pesticide to the Big Salt River system in Isabella and Midland counties this weekend to control the sea lamprey population.
Jeff Slade is the station supervisor at the Ludington Biological Station. He says the goal is to prevent larval lampreys from getting into the Great Lakes.
"The larval sea lampreys go through a metamorphosis when they get about five or six inches long, where they develop their eyes and their teeth. And then they will migrate out into the Great Lakes and begin their parasitic life stage where the cause damage to the fishery. So the objective here is to apply the lampricide to the stream before those animals develop their eyes and their teeth and go out into the Great Lakes."
Slade says the pesticide selectively targets lampreys, although it may cause minimal mortality among some sensitive species, including some broadleaf plants and some spawning fish. In large part, though, other wildlife is not affected by the lampricide.
He says the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service typically applies selective pesticide to lamprey spawning grounds periodically.
"Most tributaries where we have experienced annual recruitment of sea lampreys are treated every three to four years. Because every three to four years, those larvae recruit to the stream, and then they grow to about a hundred millimeters, or a hundred twenty millimeters in length, and that necessitates another lampricide application."
Slade says the selective pesticide is one of several techniques to control the lamprey population. The Fish and Wildlife Service also releases sterilized male lampreys into spawning grounds to prevent the animals from reproducing.
The lampricide will be applied to Bluff Creek on Friday and to the Big Salt River on Sunday. Slade advises people to avoid contact with those waters for at least twenty-four hours during and after the lampricide application.
CMU Public Radio reported recently that wolves are making a comeback in Michigan's lower peninsula.
One element of managing the wolf population includes protecting livestock from wolf depredation.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute grants to ten states, including Michigan, to support non-lethal wolf management and compensation for livestock lost to wolves.
Joshua Winchell is the spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service. He says Michigan will receive around ninety thousand dollars.
"It's a source of funds to assist the states in compensating livestock producers in their losses due to wolf kills or wolf depredation, as well as provide a source of funding for livestock producers to engage in nonlethal, proactive activities that minimize that wolf-livestock conflict."
Those nonlethal techniques include fencing and so-called "scare tactics."
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan paid farmers four thousand six hundred dollars in compensation for wolf depredation last year.
The state's Department of Natural Resources and Environment says the wolf population is now so robust that it recommends the species be removed from the federal endangered species list.
Pat Laderle is the Research Section Supervisor of the DNRE's Wildlife Division. He says removing the animal from the list would give the state -- instead of the federal government -- more authority to manage the population.
"For example, when there's depredation issues, when livestock are being killed by wolves, there are some things that we can do to alleviate that problem that we can't do right now when the species is protected under the Endangered Species Act by the federal government."
Lederle says lethal methods should be permissible in the event of wolf depredation, but for the most part, nonlethal methods are effective.
The state of Minnesota last month petitioned the US Department of the Interior to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. The DNRE supports that petition.
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox argued that closing the locks is the only way to ensure the Asian carp does not escape into Lake Michigan now that it's infested the Mississippi River system. Experts say a carp invasion would ravage the Great Lakes fishing industry as well as the environment.
John Selleck is the attorney general's spokesman. He says Cox is disappointed, but looking ahead. The next step is for the court to rule on whether it will decide on a permanent solution to the Asian carp threat. The court meets again April 16th.
"Our sense is that they may be looking toward a longer-term fix to the problem as opposed to a quick short-term one. In any event, we're going to keep fighting forward."
Selleck says the best solution would be a complete physical separation of Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River system.
State officials are warning that we could be in for a worse-than-average fire season, and they might not have the resources to respond as quickly as they would like.
It's been an exceptionally dry winter across of much of northern Michigan - and that trend is continuing into this spring.
That has state fire officials like Paul Kollmeyer worried about the upcoming fire season - and the number of fire fighters he has to respond.
"If we get a day where there's multiple complex wildfires, where we get some big fires," Kollmeyer explaned, "there is not going to be the kind of resources available to us to send to each of those fires, if they do occur."
According to Kollmeyer, in years past, the state would have more than 100 fire officers available. This year's numbers are in the low 70s.
"Certainly, we are working cooperatively with the fire departments, with the US Forest Service, and any of the other fire agencies so that when fires occur," said Kollmeyer, "we can attack those wildfires and do a unified command on them and help each other out."
"But with the way we are for our numbers, it is becoming more and more difficult to address any type of a larger fire," he added.
This year's wildfire season could be worse than normal, because of a lack of snowfall across much of northern Michigan and an early spring.
"Traditionally, fire season starts in the south and moves its way north, as we lose the snow," said Kollmeyer. "What's actually happening this year is that we are pretty much losing the snow across the state all at the same time, so everybody in the state is going to be in fire season at the same time."
Many people don't realize how early in the year fire season can begin.
"Dead grass quickly dries out becoming flammable and people do not realize there can be wildfire danger even when nights are cool and snow piles linger in the shade," said Kollmeyer.
He said the hazard begins "when homeowners start spring cleanup chores by burning yard waste."
"To eliminate the risk of starting a wildfire or irritating your neighbors with nuisance smoke, consider chipping or mulching your natural debris instead of burning," Kollmeyer advised. "It's safe and cleaner"
Residents who do chose to burn their yard waste first need to obtain a burning permit. North of Mt. Pleasant, that can be done online at Michigan.gov/burnpermit, or tollfree at (866) 922-2876. South of Mt. Pleasant, residents should contact their local fire department.
Once a burn permit is obtained, the DNRE recommends burning on days when strong winds are not forecasted.
Kollmeyer said residents should never leave a fire unattended, and have garden tools and a hose ready for when it is time to put the fire out or to douse any unexpected flare ups.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment offers the Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support, or MEECS. It's a series of workshops for teachers who want students to appreciate the environment and natural resources.
Tom Occhipinti is the Environmental Education Coordinator for the DNRE. He says MEECS focuses especially on middle-school students.
"They represent the generation that may be faced with some of the greatest environmental challenges, and it's also the generation that's probably getting the least amount of environmental exposure."
According to Occhipinti, the program is part of a national movement called "No Child Left Inside." He says the middle-school age group is too preoccupied with technology.
Occhipinti also says MEECS supplements what educators already teach.
"The Michigan Content Expectations are the guidelines that teachers need to make sure they are addressing. We have specific information for teachers on how, by incorporating environmental education, they can address specific requirements that they need to meet."
MEECS provides support for educators at the kindergarten through college levels. Over three thousand Michigan teachers have participated in MEECS workshops.
Thursday evening's workshops are in Lansing, coming just before this weekend's conference of the Michigan Science Teacher Association.
Since the Toxic Substances Control Act became law over thirty years ago, many new chemical technologies have evolved that aren't regulated by the federal government.
Stephen Rapundalo is the President and CEO of MichBio. He says the newly-formed Michigan Coalition for Chemical Safety is encouraging Congress to reform chemical regulations to protect businesses, consumers, and the environment.
"The EPA does not have the statutory enforcement wherewithal to regulate many of these chemicals and technologies. If we're going to have regulations on the book, then the EPA should have the ability to be able to make sure that those regulations are adhered to."
According to Rapundalo, the E-P-A doesn't even have the ability to regulate a substance like asbestos - documented to be a major threat to human health. He says new chemical regulations must also have some mode of enforcement.
State Representative Jeff Mayes from Bay City represents part of a region that has been called "Michigan's new chemical and clean energy alley." He says the Toxic Substances Control Act needs to be updated in order to protect the public and to let businesses grow.
"We're hoping to become leaders in battery technology, and we want to have high standards as a country, and we want to make sure the public is safe. But in the event that each of our fifty states has slightly a different standard in terms of how you would approach battery manufacturing, it's going to make it challenging for companies that want to locate here to build batteries and to be competitive."
Battery manufacturing is just one sector affected by chemical regulations - others include agriculture, biotechnology, and retail.
"Here in mid-Michigan, companies like Michigan Sugar, and Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, Hemlock Semiconductor are part of the national effort to promote changes in this act."
Representative Mayes says the Michigan coalition is part of a national effort to reform chemical regulations.
Rapundalo says the U-S Senate is already considering reforming the regulations.
"In early December, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held an oversight hearing. The chairman of that committee is making a big push in the Senate on this topic. We're feeling pretty good that this will see the light of day."
According to Rapundalo, the coalition's efforts are meant to improve the goods that people use in daily life.
These range, he says, from food and the agriculture industry to the chemical products and by products from Dow Chemical and Dow Corning.
The coalition is encouraging Congress to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act first passed in 1976, which the group says is outdated.
The Michigan Coalition for Chemical Safety is composed of about thirty member businesses and organizations.
Today and tomorrow, the Home Builders Association of the Grand Traverse Area will host Grand Traverse Green 2010. Dan Paulson works for the Green Build Committee of that association, which sponsors the event.
He says the conference will prepare builders to incorporate green construction techniques into their business.
"It's really important that, number one, builders and architects get educated about how to design properly. But it's also very important that a builder train every person on his crew, because the guy on his crew that's going to have the biggest significance in whether or not a building passes a test is his lowest-paid employee who's on the working end of a caulk gun."
Paulson says it's important also to demonstrate to home buyers that any higher cost associated with energy-efficient construction may well be offset by future savings on utility bills.
"It's been progressively led in the Grand Rapids, southeast Michigan, and Traverse City areas. Ann Arbor's been quite progressive, also," according to Arn McIntyre, Energy Center Coordinator at Ferris State University and President of Green Built Michigan. He says conferences like this weekend's are indicative of a nationwide trend -- that is, more new homes are built to be energy efficient.
"The amount of green homes built around the country, certified in the state and around the country, was at a record high. You're seeing a steady, consistent growth in that awareness of high performance, sustainable homes. The consumers are definitely getting to the point where they recognize that there is a difference in the homes the buy. When you go to a car lot, you look at miles per gallon on the sticker of the car - they understand there's a difference from one automobile to another. They're beginning to understand that in homes."
According to the most recent figures from the E-P-A, the number of new Energy Star homes in Michigan increased by more than three percent in 2008 compared to 2007.
McIntyre is speaking tomorrow morning at the Grand Traverse Green conference to discuss the current state of the green-building industry.
A key concept that conference organizers aim to convey is that building an energy-efficient home, or making improvements to an existing home, does not need to be a particularly expensive project.
Green building really is common sense, to be able to reduce their energy use by ten, twenty, thirty, forty percent," says Bruce Frost, a member of the technology faculty at Central Michigan University. He will present tomorrow afternoon on what he calls the low-hanging fruits of improving energy efficiency.
"We're going to talk to folks about how they might prioritize things in terms of trying to gain the biggest bang for their buck, and also the easiest doability for increasing their energy efficiency," says Frost.
Those measures include replacing inefficient windows or insulation, and caulking building seals. Frost says they're less extensive measures that will provide homeowners with substantial returns.
One of the conference organizers has brought the energy efficiency he's incorporated into his own home to his larger community. Dan Paulson and his wife have developed Cedar Valley Ridge, a sustainable community eight miles west of Traverse City, sprawling over one hundred seventy acres. Paulson says the community is designed to strengthen residents' connections with each other, and with their environment.
"People can buy a lot in this subdivision. It looks like they own ten acres, so that it creates a sense of community with nature. But, no community is sustainable if there isn't a community of individuals who live there who want to maintain that connection with nature. We've worked very hard to make a set of restrictions that protects this land permanently that ensures that it will always be a nature-based community."
Paulson says Cedar Valley Ridge will be home to around one hundred fifty residents. It is one of only two communities in the country to have achieved a four-star green certification from the National Association of Home Builders.
Paulson hopes this weekend's conference contributes to further development of green building around the country.
"Even though it isn't always apparent on the surface, Traverse City has gained a national profile that has become quite a source of inspiration for the country. I've been told that Mayor Daley, who wants Chicago to be the greenest city in the United States by 2015, has instructed his staff to use what has happened here in Traverse City as a model for that," he says.
Registration for Grand Traverse Green 2010 is available at the home builders association website, HBAGTA.com.
The attorney general's motion says the Supreme Court made its ruling on January 19th without knowing the urgency of the threat posed by the Asian carp. DNA from the invasive species has been found in Lake Michigan, indicating that some carp may have already slipped past the barriers designed to keep them from reaching the Great Lakes. The attorney general's filing also says the costs of closing the shipping canal are vastly overstated, especially compared with the potential environmental damage to the Great Lakes fishery.
On Monday, Governor Granholm will be at the White House to meet with President Obama's chief environmental advisor and the governors of Illinois and Wisconsin to try and devise a plan to address the Asian carp problem.
Some are suggesting that Asian Carp could have a significant impact well inland from the Great Lakes.
According to Lance Weyeneth, a real estate broker specializing in waterfront properties, many people purchase properties along northern Michigan's lakes and rivers because of the area's numerous fishing opportunities.
He says if Asian Carp make it to the Great Lakes, they will almost certainly enter the state's rivers too. And that could affect property values.
"There's no doubt that the value of the area would be perceived differently if we were talking about Asian Carp, and not wild brown trout or Brook Trout or Steelhead," said Weyeneth.
It isn't just fishing opportunities that are in danger, said Weyeneth. So too are people's jobs, and thier way of life.
"As ridiculous as this might sound, it's about more than just our livelihood," said Weyeneth. "It's about more than just our money. It's about a lifestyle, and it's about a quality outdoor experience."
Many of Weyeneth's customers come from out of state, and look at northern Michigan solely for it's outdoor opportunities, including fishing.
"Our customers won't necessarily be coming north, or to Michigan, to pursue one of the four species of Asian Carp that are currently at the doorstep of invading Lake Michigan," he said. "I just don't see that happening."
Weyeneth wants the government to close a shipping canal in Chicago that is providing the carp a route to the Great Lakes.
Otherwise, he believes the carp will almost certainly enter the Great Lakes, and Michigan's pristine trout streams.
"To look at how quickly they've moved throughout the Mississippi River basin," said Weyeneth, "and to imagine that they could move almost unimpeded to the Great Lakes, and eventually into these rivers that we find here in the headwaters region that feed the Great Lakes, it's unimaginable, quite frankly."
The first utility-scale wind farm built under Michigan's new renewable energy law has begun operations near McBain in Missaukee county.
The new wind farm is owned by Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy, and its power will be purchased by Detroit Edison.
According to Rick Wilson, Heritage's Vice President of Operations, the wind farm was the first built under a state law that requires energy companies to get 10 percent of their power from renewables by 2015.
"It was a milestone, I think, in the state's development of its home based, state based renewable energy generation," Wilson said.
The nine turbines on the site are producing 19 mega-watts of power. That's enough to power about 2,000 homes, according to Detroit Edison.
"We have another 20 MW to be installed at that project this year," Wilson said. That means 10 additional turbines will be installed. The company also has several projects in the development stage across the state.
A plan to remove dioxin contamination from the Tittabawassee and Saginaw River floodplains is now official.
The final agreement between Dow Chemical, the State of Michigan and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mirrors a draft plan that was released to the public last fall.
According to Robert McCann, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality, Dow will now have to complete a number of steps to clean up the contamination.
"The first of which are to start identifying some interim measures to be taken at some of the more high-use residential properties within the floodplain," said McCann.
McCann said Dow will also be designing the overall cleanup throughout the entire region.
"And it's going to be a very comprehensive cleanup plan, but ultimately, that's what's required here," he said. "And it's really a testament to, you know, the vast amount of work that's been done in the last six or seven years now, of really coming to understand just how vast that contamination is."
McCann says the public will remained involved in the process, through regular public meetings at other community updates.
ON THE WEB:
The EPA's Dow / Dioxin Website, including the agreement announced today:
Geology professor Sven Morgan says an
earthquake could be compared to a rubber band. Simply put; the longer it's
stretched the more energy will be released when it snaps. It's a phenomenon
that he says helps geologists predict how often an earthquake will strike.
took about 200 years to build up that energy where it just couldn't hold
anymore, and then it slipped. In San Francisco, the last major earthquake was in 1906 I think," Morgan says. "And based on looking
back into the past, we can see how frequent the big earthquakes were in that
region, and San
is just about due for another big earthquake."
Morgan predicts an earthquake the size
of the one in Haiti
has about a 60% chance of hitting the west coast within the next 20 years.
But he says a quake of that magnitude
wouldn't be anywhere near as devastating as what hit Haiti
earlier this week. The sub-par infrastructure and struggling economy were
likely a factor in the staggering death toll seen in Haiti.
A Michigan congressman doubts whether a lawsuit to force the closure of a Chicago shipping canal, to keep an invasive fish out of the Great Lakes, will be successful.
The lawsuit, filed by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, calls for the closure of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to keep Asian Carp from reaching Lake Michigan.
The carp is highly invasive, and has already choked out many native fish in the Mississippi River system.
Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak agrees that the carp need to be kept out of the lakes - but he said closing the canal isn't feasible.
"While I'm sure the Attorney General was well intended," Stupak said, "...you can't shut down interstate commerce because of a fish that's coming up, as devastating as that Asian Carp may be to the Great Lakes."
Stupak said he believes two electric barriers installed in the canal will be effective in repelling the fish. And he said a third electric barrier will be installed by next fall.
Other actions are also being taken to keep Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan, said Stupak.
"We just authorizeed more money for a spillway system," said Stupak. "So let's say there's massive flooding this spring by that Chicago River area. The flood waters will not enter the Great Lakes."
Attorney General Mike Cox will announce Monday that he is going to court seeking actions to stop the Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan via a Chicago shipping canal.
The legal action will likely name the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Illinois authorities that operate the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Cox could take the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over a century-old Great Lakes water diversion case.
Cox will say the carp represents a threat to shipping and recreational and commercial fishing throughout the Great Lakes region.
Dow Chemical and state and federal environmental regulators have reached a tentative agreement on how to clean up the Saginaw and Tittabawassee Rivers.
Under the agreement, Dow would be responsible for cleaning up high-use properties along the rivers, as well as removing contaminated sediment and other pollutants.
According to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Bob McCann, the agreement creates a clear path forward.
"It really sets some concrete details in place that are going to move this process forward," said McCann. "And it's going to involve, obviously, still a number of years worth of work. But we now have identified what needs to be done, how we're going to do it and how this process should move forward."
McCann said work would begin near the Dow Facility in Midland, and make its way downstream, eventually reaching the Saginaw Bay.
Public comment on the agreement is open through November 17 - after which the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan DEQ will decide whether or not to sign the agreement.
The legal battle over pumping wastewater from Bay Harbor near Petoskey into the ground under Antrim County has been put on hold.
Plans to drill a deep-injection disposal well in Star Township, near Alba, have been put on indefinite hold by a circuit court judge.
The parties involved in a lawsuit over the well have agreed to form a task force to consider other options for Bay Harbor's tainted groundwater.
Opponents of the well, like John Richter, president of Friends of the Jordan River, said it could have contaminated the Jordan River Watershed.
"It's a victory for science, it's a triumph for social justice and just plain common sense," said Richter. "I'm very optimistic that this could be a new beginning, and, you know, our position all along has been to facilitate a proper cleanup at Bay Harbor, without contaminating other sites in northern Michigan."
At this point, the disposal well hasn't been completely ruled out - but no work can commence under the judge's recent order.
The taskforce has scheduled a public meeting for August 29 in Petoskey.
One of Michigan's most popular recreational rivers will see increased patrols from law enforcement.
Residents living along the Au Sable river have complained about the behavior of canoeists and other river users. So the Department of Natural Resources will partner with local law enforcement to increase marine patrols along the river.
Jean Davis is a spokesperson for the DNR.
"We've increasingly been receiving more comments, complaints, problems," she said. "People letting us know that there's issues on the river. You know marine safety issues, littering, the drug and alcohol use that we're starting to see on the rivers. Those people are starting to let us know that we might have a problem out there, and we're trying to respond accordingly, and basically that's by having these joint patrols."
The increased patrols will continue through the rest of the summer. Davis says the campaign will not require any overtime from state workers.
The Au Sable River stretches from Grayling to Oscoda.
The Michigan Supreme Court says a lower court should re-evaluate whether two thousand people who own property downriver from Dow Chemical's Midland plant can pursue a class action lawsuit against the company.
The property owners say dioxin contamination along the banks and floodplain of the Titabawassee River threatens their health and has lowered their property values.
Dow wants each case tried separately. The Supreme Court says the Saginaw County Circuit Court needs to examine whether the expense and complexity of the lawsuit justify a class action.
A class action allows large numbers of people to share the expenses of pursuing a legal claim.
This comes after nearly a decade of record low levels.
Glen Nekvasil is with the Lake Carriers Association, which represents U.S. ship operators on the Great Lakes.
He says their business fluctuates with the water levels.
"We were predicting at near record highs in 1997," Nekvasil says. "Nobody was predicting that by 2000 we'd be in the doldrums. In 2007, Lake Superior set a record low--this is going back to 1926. And yet, in 2008, the lake started coming back up. So it's just something that is very, very hard to predict."
Nekvasil says ships aren't able to operate as efficiently when water levels are low. This in turn affects consumer costs.
Ship operators are pushing to dredge the Great Lakes. It's a process that costs hundreds of millions of dollars, but would add enough depth for ships to operate at their full capacity.
A large tract of land near Harbor Springs has been set aside as a permanent nature reserve.
The Little Traverse Conservancy calls it their "crown jewel," a 390-acre parcel of land just east of Harbor Springs.
Tom Bailey, executive director of the conservancy, said the recently-acquired tract was one of their highest priorities.
"It's a very diverse piece of land, with some rolling hardwood ridges," said Bailey. "There is some pine plantation on it that's being managed. There's a small water course and a wetland, a little marshy area in it."
According to Bailey, the new nature preserve is the largest contiguous piece of land near Harbor Springs.
"There's nothing else quite like it in the immediate Harbor Springs area," he said.
The parcel joins other preserves in forming a "green belt" around Harbor Springs, said Bailey. And it will be open for public use.
"It will be open for hiking," said Bailey. "You can take a mountain bike on the trails, there are some old logging roads in there that are conducive for mountain bikes. We also will have the property open, as it has been for the past several decades, for public hunting."
The conservancy plans to clear about three miles of trails on the property, and build parking lots for visitors.
The state Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality alert for Wednesday for eight west Michigan counties and metro Detroit.
In west Michigan, the alert includes Newaygo, Mason, Kent, Oceana, Muskegon, Ottawa, Allegan and Van Buren counties.
Ozone Action Days are issued when pollutants, including ozone, are expected to be at unhealthy levels for sensitive groups. People and businesses are urged to avoid activities that lead to ozone formation, including refueling vehicles or topping off when refueling, using gasoline powered lawn equipment, and using charcoal lighter fluid.
According to the National Weather Service, positive activities on Ozone Action Days include car pooling, biking to work, and delaying or combining errands. The alert expires at 8 p.m. Wednesday evening.
The seven county metro Detroit area is also under an Ozone Action Day for Wednesday.
For more information about Ozone Action Days, www.deqmiair.org.
When most people think of RVs the first thing that comes to their minds is 8 miles per gallon and no faster than 30 miles per hour.
However a Michigan based company Thetford Corporation is trying to change that with introduction of a Green RV.
A Green RV uses low flow toilets and sinks as well as solar panels for working the appliances in the RV.
Mary Burrows is the environmental spokesperson for Thetford.
"RVing actually can be a very Green experience. Really less of an environmental impact than many other things that you do and people that are RVers enjoy the outdoors they enjoy getting out and seeing the country and I think naturally have an interest in making sure that they don't pollute and don't have a negative impact on the environment."
Although the Green RV itself is only a demo many of the Green products in it are used by manufacturers to put into other RVs.
Although they may look the same, at least some of those RVs that you see barreling down the highway are not the same on the inside.
One company has pioneered products to turn the once gas guzzling RV into an environmentally friendly vehicle.
A Green RV uses recycled materials, low flow toilets and sinks as well as solar panels to make the appliances more energy independent.
Mary Burrows is the environmental spokesperson for Thetford Corporation who's promoting the new Green RV.
"Actually you know an RVing vacation is actually a very Green vacation. There's been a study that's been done that shows that vacationing in an RV has half the carbon footprint of taking a vacation using an airplane, rental car and a hotel room."
Thetford is promoting a demo Green RV. It houses all of the new Green technologies currently available. Manufacturers have also come up with a concept hybrid RV to add to the Go Green cause.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service are reminding hunters that it is illegal to plant food plots, which are used to attract wildlife, on private land.
"Unauthorized food plots on public land pose risks such as invasive species introduction, disturbance of endangered species, and destruction of archaeological sites," said Lt. Creig Grey, a DNR Law Enforcement supervisor in Roscommon.
State law prohibits the destruction, damage, or removal of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses or other vegetation on state land. The law is similar on National Forest land, where violators can be charged in federal court. Penalties include fines up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail, or both.
The DNR says some hunters could be using food plots to get around a ban on baiting and feeding deer in the Lower Peninsula.
"Trying to subvert the ban on baiting and feeding deer in the Lower Peninsula by planting food plots on public land is not only illegal, in encourages disputes that could devolve into hunter harassment," said Grey.
Food plots discovered on federal land should be reported to the closest Forest Service office. Plots on state land can be reported through Michigan's Report All Poaching hotline: 1-800-292-7800.
Lake Superior State University wants to know if the Atlantic Salmon it's been stocking in the St. Mary's River have been reproducing.
To do that, they've installed a giant cylinder-shaped trap - called a screw trap - in the middle of the river.
According to Roger Greil, LSSU's Aquatic Research Lab manager, the fish enter the trap through an eight-foot opening at the end.
"So when the fish get into this trap, they just move right on down into the live well," he said. "So when we get there in the morning, we just open up the live well and collect the fish."
Greil says LSSU and the State of Michigan will use the trap to gather data about what fish are using the St. Mary's River habitat.
That data will guide future management decisions for the fishery.
Photo Caption:LOADED FOR SALMON - U.S. Fish & Wildlife technicians tow a
15-foot fish trap just off shore from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on June
10, prior to it being installed at the mouth of the St. Mary's River
rapids. The entire assembly will spin in the current to separate debris
from fish that are directed into a live well. Lake Superior State
University Aquatic Research Laboratory staff, shown following behind,
will monitor the trap weekly through October in hopes of finding out
what fish species reproduce in the rapids. The lab has been stocking
Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary's annually since 1987; more than 25,000
Atlantic fry were released the night of June 9. The trap is on loan
from Michigan's Department of Natural Resources. (Courtesy: LSSU/John Shibley)
Flood insurance rates are going down in Michigan because of an increase in the city's flood preparedness rating.
Floodplain residents will receive a 25 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums, and non-floodplain residents will receive a 10 percent discount on theirs.
Keith Baker is Midland's Director of Planning and Community Development. He said the city has such a high ranking because it has been actively working to mitigate the impact of floods.
"A lot of the property that is flooded is now either golf course, public park or just open space," he said, "because over time, the city has acquired properties that had repeatedly flooded to minimize losses to those properties and remove those properties out of the flood plain."
Midland is one of 20 Michigan cities participating in the rating program - and it has the highest ranking in the state.
Only 40 communities nationwide are ranked at the same level as Midland. And only 6 are ranked higher.
Lansing, MI - The push to "go green" has resulted in an increase in the number of clean energy jobs throughout Michigan, and it's one of the few bright spots for the state's economy.
According to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Michigan is part of a national trend that saw job growth in the clean energy economy outperforming overall job growth for nearly a decade.
Kil Huh, project director for the Pew Center on the States, says, while Michigan has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs, most in manufacturing, the energy sector has produced nearly 23,000 jobs in the state.
"While the state has been losing jobs since 2000, the clean energy sector has been a bright spot," said Huh. "Jobs here have grown by more than 11 percent between 1998 and 2007."
The investment of tens of millions of dollars in Michigan will result in greater demand for jobs and businesses in the clean energy economy, says Huh.
"Michigan ranks third in clean tech patents, has attracted $55 million in clean tech venture capital, and has enacted renewable energy and efficiency standards."
The report finds the emerging clean energy economy is creating well-paying jobs for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds, including engineers, construction workers, teachers and administrative assistants - with salaries ranging from $21,000 to $111,000. Previous reports about job growth for clean energy have been criticized as being overly optimistic with estimations. This is the first report to count actual jobs and investments.
The full report, The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses and Investments Across America, can be viewed online at www.pewtrusts.org.
A long-awaited report on Great Lakes water levels will be presented to the public Thursday night at meetings in Bay City and Traverse City.
The report looks at a variety of reasons that could be causing water levels on Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior to drop, even as levels on Lake Erie rise.
Among them was the possibility that Lake Huron was draining at a faster rate because of erosion on the St. Clair River.
But John Nevin, a communications specialist for the Upper Great Lakes Study, the group that authored the report, said that is not the case.
"There is no ongoing erosion on the St. Clair River," said Nevin. "And that was the big concern coming into the study, that the river was eroding, essentially causing more water to flow from Lake Huron and Michigan down, and ultimately to Lake Erie."
According to Nevin, climate change is having the biggest impact on Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior.
"Those lakes have been lower over the last decade primarily because it hasn't rained and snowed that much," he said. "And it's been warmer, so a lot of water has evaporated over that period."
Tomorrow's public meetings are at:
The Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center Space Exploration Hall 100 Center Ave. Bay City, MI 48708
Northwestern Michigan College Oleson Center 112 1701 East Front Street Traverse City, MI 49686
Both meetings begin at 7 p.m.
Additional information on the report and the public meetings is available at www.iugls.org.
According to a report released this week, the Saginaw Bay region, northwest Michigan and a county near Grand Rapids are the best areas of the state for wind turbines.
According to Frederick Hollister, President and CEO of Bay Future, Bay County's economic development corporation, the high-wind designation could help the state's struggling manufacturing industry.
"We think there are opportunities for existing manufacturers in this region to manufacture components," Hollister said. "We think there's opportunity for companies to diversity away from some of the other traditional industries into alternative energy."
Both of Michigan's two commercial wind farms are located in the Saginaw Bay region, in Huron County.
Hollister said the state report could help attract even more wind farms to the area.
An often fatal fish means walleye production will once again be limited this year at state hatcheries.
Walleye production this year will be at only 20 to 30 percent of what it was a few years ago, prior to the discovery of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia.
The disease causes internal bleeding in fish, and can lead to large fish die-offs.
Gary Whelan, Fish Production Manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said the state will not use a Lower Peninsula hatchery for walleye this year. Instead, production has been moved to a hatchery near Manistique.
"We have moved all of our cool water production, at least our incubation, up to Thompson State Hatchery," he said, "where we have walled off part of the hatchery, changed water flows, and have provided for additional disinfection measures there."
According to Whelan, the state has also put several bio-security measures in place to stop the spread of the disease.
"Every fish that we use for the egg take will be tested for VHS. We will then also test the fry; it gives us a heads up on whether or not the virus is present," he said. "And then we'll be only putting those fish in non-drainable ponds, that way if the virus does come out to be positive or we get any positive samples, it allows us to destroy the production of that pond and ensure it does not get into one of our water bodies."
Walleye will be stocked in some inland lakes, as long as they don't have an inlet or outlet. They also won't be stocked in the Lake Superior watershed, where the disease is not present.
The National Weather Service is predicting up to 10 inches of fresh snow by tomorrow afternoon in parts of central Michigan.
That means motorists could be in for a slow commute tomorrow morning.
"Sometimes the safest thing is to stay home unless you absolutely have to go somewhere," says Anne Readett, spokesperson for the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. "And I know some of the warnings are inferring it might be that much snow."
If you do have to venture out tonight or tomorrow, make sure you have an emergency kit with you. It should include blankets, a flashlight, food, water, and even useful tools like shovels.
Lake Superior State University Biology Professor Dr. Greg Zimmerman was leading his class on a field trip when he spotted an unusual plant.
"I had not seen it before," he said. "We were out on a field trip to one of our local natural areas, and saw a big showy purple flowered plant, and thought 'that's kind of odd.'"
So he collected a sample and took it back to his lab, where he discovered it was Himalayan touch-me-not (Impatiens glandulifera). It's a fast growing species that shades out native plants, and even releases chemicals to prevent other plants from growing around it.
It also produces a lot of nectar, said Zimmerman.
"And so that makes it a particularly effective competitor for pollinators," he explained. "And so the insects want to go to that plant because it's got so much more nectar, and they tend to leave the native plants alone."
Zimmerman's class later returned to the site, where they removed all the Himalayan touch-me-not they could find.
He says pulling the plant out is an effective control method. But he also recommended conferring with a local university or conservation, forest or DNR district office before starting any removal efforts.
Photo: Lake Superior State University's BIOL337 ecology class poses with an unexpected find they made along a Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., public hiking trail. Photo courtesy John Shibley, Lake Superior State University.
Bald Eagles have made an amazing comeback in Michigan - from having only 70 mating pairs in the state in the 1970s to having over 550 mating pairs today.
Part of the challenge now is providing nesting sites, like one that was recently constructed at the Karn-Weadock Generating Facility in Essexville.
Dave Best, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, beleives the power plant offers a great habitat for eagles.
"Eagles are quite common in that area," he said. "Their water discharges and intakes attract a lot of fish, and probably waterfowl, particularly over the wintertime."
Best, with the help of Consumers Energy and Utility Workers of America Local 144, recently installed a nesting platform near the power plant, on Windy Point. He also created a starter nest, hoping it would make the platform more inviting to eagles.
"(It's a) wooden box with wire bottom, and some pieces of wood to help retain nest material," explained Best. "And then we just basically seed the box with a bunch of sticks, and actually kind of then line that nest structure with a grass. And hopefully it simulates a nest enough that an eagle would take interest in it."
Best hopes that a pair of eagles will adopt the platform and nest as their own, and remain at the site through the spring mating season.
State Reps Kevin Elsenheimer (R-Kewadin) and Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) want, at the very least, an explanation as to why the Department of Natural Resources included Beaver Island in the deer baiting ban.
They argue that the island has more water separating it from the Lower Peninsula than the Upper Peninsula does - where the baiting ban is not in place.
"If we're not concerned about the spread of this disease to the Upper Peninsula because of the separation of water," said Elsenheimer, "Then we certainly can't be concerned about the spread to Beaver Island given its 34 miles rather than 5."
The DNR says Beaver Island has always been considered part of the Lower Peninsula.
"All DNR wildlife regulations, no mater regulation they are, including this baiting ban, include Beaver Island as part of the Lower Peninsula," said DNR spokesperson Mary Detloff. "So this regulation does include Beaver Island, and it will be part of the baiting ban."
Elsenheimer says the legislature could still vote to modify the ban, but he didn't think that could be done before hunting season.
The Department of Natural Resources has announced a series of town hall meetings to discuss the Lower Peninsula ban on deer baiting and feeding.
The ban was put in place after Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurological disorder that affects deer, elk and moose, was discovered on a Kent County Farm.
It has left many hunters and farmers angry - hunters because they will be unable to use deer bait during the upcoming hunting season; and farmers because they no longer have a market for their bait products.
The meetings are scheduled for Kalamazoo on October 22nd, Marquette on October 23rd, Frankenmuth October 27th and Grayling on October 29th.
D-N-R and Department of Agriculture officials will make presentations at all meetings, and M-S-U Extension Services will moderate a question and answer session.