Category Archives: Environment

New fishery regulations ripple through Saginaw Bay


Yellow Perch, Courtesy of the DNR

Yellow Perch, Courtesy of the DNR


In an attempt to restore Yellow Perch populations in the Saginaw Bay, the DNR is proposing new fishing regulations.

The regulations could cut the number of Yellow Perch you take home in half while at the same time doubling the number of Walleye you can catch.

Todd Grischke , Lake Huron Basin Coordinator for the DNR, said this is just one step in a long process.

“Yes, Walleye are feeding on Yellow Perch we know that. It’s very important that we don’t draw just a straight line from high walleye-low yellow perch. There’s alot going on there with yellow perch and were taking actions a lot of other management actions to address yellow perch.”

Grischke said fisheries are complex, every decision ripples through the ecosystem.

“This is not, uh you know, the silver bullet. Really, managing the Great Lakes is complex, and there are a lot of things in play. So were trying to do what we can to move in the right direction to help improve Yellow Perch population and Yellow Perch fishing.”

The regulations are scheduled to take effect in April of 2016.

ON THE WEB
DNR Fishing Regulations: Click Here

Blue Ribbon group attempts to improve Michigan gaming

The Blue Ribbon Advisory Group is the newest regulatory body created by the DNR to protect and improve Michigan’s public gaming areas.

The group will examine hunting grounds and suggest ways to improve the habitat, and hunters’ overall experience.

Russ Mason is a spokesman for the DNR. He says the effort is more important than some people may realize

“And it’s important for people to recognize that these aren’t just acres that are sittin’ there. These are acres that are critical for the timber industry, the mining industry. These aren’t just a bunch of trees on public land. These are really valuable assets that we need to think about and care for in a very deliberate fashion, and move forward. Because they are, perhaps the catalyst for Michigan’s economic recovery.”

Mason says the group is going to have a lot to consider

“The U.P and the Northern Lower 40 acres of land per man, woman and child. Southern Michigan we’re essentially .04 acres. There are counties in Southern Michigan without a square inch of public hunting land. That needs to be different if we want Michiganders to care about the one thing that makes Michigan special in my view, and that’s their natural resources. ”

Mason says the Group is expected to wrap up its work within 18 months.

Curbing CAFO antibiotic use

This is where Carey sends his cows that are either sick or injured.

This is where Carey sends his cows that are either sick or injured.

Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO, create countless pounds of manure daily.

This refuse, or rather what’s in it, is becoming a hotly contested issue between scientists and CAFO supporters. Continue reading

Can CAFO’s keep up with regulations?

Matt Carey standing next to his MAEPE Certification

Matt Carey standing next to his MAEPE Certification


Michigan’s lower peninsula is home to more than two-hundred CAFO’s – or Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Opponents call them factory farms. They keep food prices down, but at what cost.

Matt Carey is the owner of Carey’s Pioneer Farms, the farmstead has been in Matt’s family for three generations and he said passing it on isn’t necessarily going to be easy.

“Like I said, it’s real important for us that we grow an operation that our kids might want to take over. It’s something you have to have a passion for though. You don’t just do it because your Dad wants you to or whatever. You have to have a passion to do it, ‘cus it’s a lot of work and sweat, and a lot of hours you don’t plan on workin’.”

Carey also said it’s a lot of money you don’t plan on spending. His farm is subject to regulations from the state and federal level. Many of the regulations are meant to keep byproducts of the farm away from clean water.

The byproducts could be anything from excess nutrient runoff, to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Carey's $200,000 manure storage facility

Carey’s $200,000 manure storage facility

Carey said the renovations to keep his farm up to regulation are costly, and they take a long time to yield positive results. Carey tried to justify a long time manure storage facility he said they needed just to stay open.

“That’s one of the most expensive projects I’ve ever spent in my life for somethin’ like that. There’s over 200-thousand in engineering costs and cement, just to store manure in. When you take that much money and put it into a manure storage what is the payback for that? There is a payback for that, but it’s not that much. Not compared to what was just thrown into it.”

Although costly for farmers, some believe the regulations in place are not enough to protect Michigan’s environment, or it’s residents.

Dr. Murray Borello is a scientist at Alma College, he said CAFO’s are not a sustainable future for Michigan agriculture.

“We’re not doing anything cutting edge. In fact, the scientific community is like ‘Yea okay we know this, it’s just one more piece of data, one more study that shows what hundreds of studies are already showing.’ The environment is impaired as a result of inadequacy of these regulations to protect the environment.”

In a study conducted by Borello in 2008, he found CAFO’s that operated within regulations still violated Michigan water quality laws. Therefore, he said, even if the farms were up to snuff, they were still a detriment to the environment.

Not everyone is convinced by Borello’s work however. Laura Campbell is the manager of the Agricultural Ecology Department at the Michigan Farm Bureau. She said more rigorous testing needs to be done before she buys into what Borello believes.

“I, yes, I have read his work. And have actually had several conversations with Mr. Borello. Uhm, having read his research I don’t think that his answers are definitive. Uhm, thats not to say that, ya know, I’m trying, that I would absolutely deny his findings. But I think that his findings are inconclusive from what he claims the result from them is.”

Borello said getting farms to take part in studies is extremely difficult. That makes the science behind the issue slow-going.

A group of cattle on Carey's  farm

A group of cattle on Carey’s farm

“I have tried to work with CAFO’s. I think we could get a great study on how to make these things more sustainable, I would love to work towards that. I’m not here to bash anybody, I wanna make the situation better. And you can’t do that when you’re fighting, you can only do it when you collaborate.”

As Borello says, the problem lies in the disconnect between farmer, and scientist.

Matt Carey attempted to get to the heart of the problem when he said,

“My whole problem is, I just wanna farm. Ya know, I don’t wanna have to do all this extra, we were doing all this extra stuff. We just weren’t documenting it before we were forced to document it. Ya know, we were doing, we’ve been doing soil testing since 1990, so it’s been a crucial part of our operation and the cash crop to be soil tested. Now they just say it’s gotta be done every three years which we already always done.”

Farmers like Carey want to create CAFO’s that are sustainable, and can be passed on to the next generation. In order to do that they have to comply with a litany of regulations.

Scientists like Borello want to ensure the regulations are stringent enough to protect Michigan’s waterways.

These goals are not mutually exclusive, and working together could shorten the journey to their solution.

Nuclear dump assessment results made public

Ontario Power Generation’s, or OPG’s, proposed nuclear dump has been declared safe enough to construct by a Canadian Joint Review Panel of scientists.

The panel submitted over 400 pages of analysis to the Minister. She now has 4 months to decide whether or not to grant OPG a permit to construct.

The panel recommended numerous plans of action that OPG will need to account for if they want to retain their accepted status.

It’s important to remember OPG is only requesting a permit to build the facility.

They will need to go through another assessment to earn a permit to use it.

Canadian joint review panel releases recomendations

After two years of hearings and arguments, a recommendation was released Wednesday, May 6th, on building a nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron.

A Canadian Panel was tasked with assessing the proposal for a nuclear dump which would be run by Ontario Power Generation – or OPG.

The Canadian Minister of the Environment will review the panel’s recommendations and issue a decision on whether or not to allow a nuclear dump within the Lake Huron watershed.

We’ll have a more detailed description of the panel’s recommendations once the documents are made public.

DNR asks for help in surveying reptiles and amphibians

Spot a spotted salamander – or one of the many other turtles, frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders and lizards found in Michigan – and report the sighting to help the DNR collect vital information about the state’s reptiles and amphibians. Picture courtesy of the DNR.

Spot a spotted salamander – or one of the many other turtles, frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders and lizards found in Michigan – and report the sighting to help the DNR collect vital information about the state’s reptiles and amphibians. Picture courtesy of the DNR.

DNR officials are looking to get a count of Michigan’s snakes, lizards, toads and any reptiles or amphibians. Citizens are being asked to report any sighting of toads, frogs, snakes, lizards or any other creature in Michigan. Continue reading

Arenac and Wexford county receive $3.4 sewer upgrades to address contaminated water

Old sewage systems have contaminated surface and groundwater in Arenac County for years, according to officials with the Michigan USDA.

This month the USDA announced more than $3 million in grants will be going to two towns in Arenac and Wexford counties to fix these systems. Continue reading

Earth week events encourage “hands on” learning


This is Earth week. It’s dedicated to restoration and conservation efforts.

There are several Earth-friendly events taking place this week at Central Michigan University, including one “hands-on” event.

It’s called “Pick up the Chip”.

It’s a service project aimed at cleaning trash from around the Chippewa river, and part of the Earth-week focus to reduce pollution and teach future generations responsible ways to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Rachel Ochylski is one of the organizers.

She said, “We really wanted to show the community that you don’t have to live near an ocean to care about marine animals and conservation of their habitat, and you can make a difference here in Michigan and right here in Mount Pleasant.”

Ochylski said event organizers hope to educate people on the importance of habitat conservation and reducing pollution.

Pick up the Chip is scheduled for Friday at noon at Mt Pleasant’s Island Park.

ON THE WEB
Pick up the Chip
https://www.facebook.com/events/1391153861208674/

MSU study shows biodegrading plastic additives are ineffective

Earth Day is just around the corner and some researchers have landfills, recycling and sustainability on their mind.

Researchers at Michigan State University recently published a study on biodegradable plastics. They found some plastics marketed as biodegradable and more sustainable don’t work. Continue reading

Another million for Michigan waters

The Michigan DNR has awarded one-and-a-quarter million dollars to 7 projects through its Aquatic Habitat Grant Program.

Friends of the Shiawassee received the single largest donation, $365-thousand, for their dam removal project.

Gary Burk is the Board Director for the Friends, he says the project is important for a number of reasons.

“We were actually approached by the State as to whether we could be a local agency to help direct grant dollars and project management for the removal of that dam. There’s a number of reasons for the removal. It’s a deteriorated structure, and we’d like to restore connectivity to the river. Plus, there have been some drownings at the dam.”

For a full list of the projects that were awarded grant money from the DNR visit their website here.

USDA grants $1.4 million to protect and restore wetland and agricultural lands

The Michigan Department of Agriculture is using a $1.4 million grant from the federal government for two land easement programs in the state.

The programs focus is on keeping wetlands and agricultural lands precisely that: wetlands and agricultural lands. Continue reading

Endangered species designation slows northern trail project

BatTrail enthusiasts in northern Michigan will have to wait a bit longer for construction of a new trail from Boyne City to Charlevoix.

The project delay is the result of a recent designation of the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Continue reading