Category Archives: Tourism

Great lakes basin spring clean-up efforts begin

RIVERKEEPER_PIC_mediumIt’s springtime and that means cleanup efforts are getting underway in various cities throughout the Great Lakes basin.

Thousands of volunteers from work to clear the shoreline of debris, not just this time of year, but all year long. Like the volunteers at the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper . The nonprofit is hosting its Spring Shoreline Sweep on April 22.

It’s an annual event and it resulted in clearing more than 11 tons of litter from shoreline areas last year.

Riverkeeper’s executive director Jill Jedlicka says volunteers find items as small as cigarette butts and sometimes larger items tires and televisions.

“Unfortunately we do find things like hypodermic needles, we do find petroleum based products sometimes,” she said. “Just a lot of what we call flotsam and jetsam, which is the stuff that gets washed off from parking lots and streets everywhere. And, it ultimately finds its way into the waterways.”

Once it enters the waterways it can have a negative effect on everything from drinking water to wildlife habitats.

“We don’t always want to be cleaning it up after the fact, we’d rather it not be there in the first place,” said Kris Patterson, executive director at Partners for Clean Streams in Ohio.

Patterson says they like to include prevention education as part of their cleanup events.

The group organizes cleanups in shoreline and other areas throughout the year. Their largest cleanup event is in September.

“We want to show people the ways we can reduce marine debris,” she said. “It’s by reducing what your using in the first place, so not always getting the plastic grocery bag can you take a reusable grocery bag.”

And, she says, it all comes down town being mindful of what we’re consuming and how we’re consuming it.

State, local business fight over iconic M22 highway sign

M22 highway sign at an intersection in Leelanau County between Leland and Glen Arbor.

M22 highway sign at an intersection in Leelanau County between Leland and Glen Arbor.

There’s a fight over a simple black-and-white sign that identifies a state highway that runs through a popular vacation and resort region in northern Michigan. A business claims it has the exclusive right to use it as a product brand. The state says otherwise.

Now, the dispute is in federal court.

The M-22 highway in northern Michigan is considered one of the nation’s most scenic drives. For 116 miles, it hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline, and offers stunning views of woodlands, cherry orchards, and vineyards.

The M-22 highway sign has become iconic. The black-and-white logo graces cars, t-shirts and glassware, among other things, all sold by a local business.

For visitors to the areas, like Jodi Olson of Aurora-Illinois, the M-22 logo is a happy reminder of being “up north” in Michigan resort country. She has an M-22 sticker in the upper left corner of the tailgate on her SUV.

“God’s country, is what I say. It’s beautiful. The water, the– it’s just absolutely gorgeous,” says the Traverse City native.

The M-22 business was started a dozen years ago by a couple of other locals, Matt Myers and his brother Keegan. It started as a t-shirt business. Then they slapped the logo on a on a wider variety of retail products and souvenirs. They even have an M-22 wine label.

“We created something,” says Matt Myers. “A brand like ourselves never existed before. Nobody was selling shirts like this, or created a brand like this around something like the road.”

The Meyers say the M22 brand represents their love for the area where they grew up. The brothers trademarked the logo in 2007. Myers says the trademark protects their business, and their customers from cheap knockoffs.

“It’s all about the thought and the detail and the love and the passion that we’ve put into our brand,” he says. “That’s what’s made it into what it is today.”

Myers is quick to point out the trademark does not mean he and his brother own the M-22 logo – it simply allows them to keep products similar to what they sell out of the marketplace.

“Anyone can do anything they want with it as long as it doesn’t confuse our customers.”

Myers says that means an M22 towing service, and M22 party store, or an M22 tax accountant can all use the logo without running afoul of the trademark because those businesses are not competitors.

But the M22 company says the Good Hart General Store is a competitor. The store is located on another northern Michigan scenic route. M-119 is sometimes called the “Tunnel of Trees,” and it runs roughly 30 miles along Lake Michigan.

The M-22 company said the Good Hart General Store’s M119 wine label was too much like its brand, and sent a cease-and-desist letter. That’s when Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette got involved. He declared state highway signs are in the public domain for anyone to use, and he filed a lawsuit challenging the M-22 trademark.

“M-22, the American flag, the state Capitol, the US Capitol – It’s everybody’s flag, everybody’s Capitol, everybody’s road, so nobody can stop others from taking their picture, putting it on a t-shirt, and trying to market it,” he said.

“I don’t know that there’s anything exactly like this, but I think the state has a tough hill climb here,” says Mark Janis, the director of the Center for Intellectual Property Research at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

Janis says a highway sign doesn’t really compare to the flag or the Capitol, which under trademark law are considered “insignias” – official symbols of government authority.

“You’d have to prove that that mark, the road sign, is an official insignia of the state,” he says. “But there’s at least a question as far as I can tell whether a road sign of this type would be deemed an official insignia of a state. I think that might be a little bit hard for the state to prove here.”

Janis also doubts the M22 company would win its argument that the M119 sign is too much like its logo. But that question is not before the federal court.

In the meantime, the Michigan Department of Transportation has its own issues with the popularity of the M22 highway sign. People keep stealing them, and they’re expensive to replace.

Several people across Michigan have been recognized for their work in educating the public on natural resources

239f757a9988330397a4131be5b0d9dbSeven educators from around Michigan were honored.

Kevin Frailey is an Education Services Manager with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says Mark Copeland of Gaylord was awarded for his work in archery.

“Outdoor education at its heart is learning outdoor skills, and one of those outdoor skills is archery and Mark Copeland has been teaching archery for many many years, he’s a certified archery instructor and he’s very involved with programs and organizations. Mark’s been teaching archery to kids to seniors to disabled to just about every kind of demographic you can think of.”

Frailey says another award was given to educator Theresa Neal, who teaches visitors of Tahquamenon Falls about the local environment.

Enbridge responds to delay for Line 5 supports

Mackinac-01Enbridge Energy is reacting today to a state decision that delays company plans to install new supports on its Line 5 pipeline.

In June, Enbridge Energy, which owns Line 5, reported four spots that required additional support because of erosion.

The Department of Environmental Quality approved supports for those four spots, but delayed action on 18 others that Enbridge requested.

Environmental groups said they’re hopeful this means the government is getting serious about a line shutdown.

But Michael Barnes, a spokesperson for Enbridge, said that’s not how he sees it.

“We think that we’re all working towards the same thing and that’s to protect the straits and keep energy flowing into Michigan.”

Officials with the DEQ said they will delay a decision on the 18 additional supports until two studies on the risks of the pipeline and alternative ways for transporting the oil are completed. Results of those studies are expected early next year.

Emmet County’s Dark Sky Park now taking reservations for event center

Starting Monday, the International Dark Sky Park in Emmet county will be accepting reservations for its new event center.

People will be able to rent the event center for private events. The facility will allow park goers to enjoy a new observatory, indoor programming space, a kitchen and – for the first time- on sight bathrooms.

Mary Stewart Adams is the program director for the Headlands Dark Sky Park in Emmet County. She said the event center is a necessity in order for the Headlands to function properly.

“Having the bathrooms as basic as it may seem is a really big thing, because we have thousands of people coming from around the world and for them not to have the facility is challenging. But still we’ve been managing with a high level of good will.”

Adams said the event center will open in June. She says construction of the facility cost seven-million dollars.

Fall colors may be delayed because of warm weather

School is back in session and football season is underway… and that means fall is right around the corner. But a staple of the autumn season… the beautiful color show put on by Michigan’s trees, may be delayed due to warmer than normal temperatures.

Usually, the leaves start changes at the end of September… but experts say it could be mid-October before we see those vibrant fall colors this year.

Jim Keysor is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He said some leaves are just now beginning to change.

“As the days get shorter we are starting to see colors in the leaves. Right now it seems like right now we’re on pace to be average or slightly later than average.”

Keysor said if evenings remain mild, we most likely won’t see fall colors peak until the second or third week of October… which is a bit later than normal.

Bay County, Michigan recognized as logistics leader

6fd362441e6d6c96fc8a48c52604e26bBay County was ranked ninth nationally when it came to logistics — that’s the industry responsible for transporting goods, either by air, road, train or sea.

Trevor Keyes is the Vice President of Economic Development for Bay Future.

He said things like MBS International Airport and the Saginaw River helped Bay County land on the list.

“I think we’ve always known locally that we have shipping channels and logistics channels that work well with business but to be recognized nationally is one of those really special things. We’re so glad that these facilities made the designation for us.”

Keyes said the county hopes to dredge the Saginaw River in the near future, so large ocean-going ships can traverse the waterway, further increasing its logistics capacity.

The rankings come from Business Facilities magazine. It also named Memphis, Tennessee and Houston, Texas as leaders in logistics.

Traverse City farmer says cherry dumping gives market to imports

IMG_5515A small cherry farmer in Northern Michigan is at odds with market regulations because he says they force him to dump as much as 40-thousand pounds of tart cherries and allow for international cherry producers to slowly take over the market.

But regulators say the rules are an important part of keeping cherry prices stable – and allowing growers to earn a livable income.

Continue reading