Category Archives: Environment

Revived senate bill would help protect the Great Lakes from invasives

In Washington DC, a bill that would help protect the Great Lakes from invasive species has been revived by the Senate, and sent to the House for a vote.

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA, would set a national precedent for controlling boat ballast water that enters the U.S.

The bill was revived when Senator Gary Peters of Michigan added an amendment that would require all ships that enter the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway to dump their ballast water prior to entry.
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Ballast water is considered to be one of the biggest doorways for aquatic invasive species to enter our waterways.

The ‘Senior Citizen’ of the Great Lakes fisheries retires

R.V ChinookAfter 70 years of service, and earning the description “the Senior citizen of the Great Lakes fisheries research vessels”, the DNR’s R.V Chinook is being retired.

Research biologist at the DNR Dave Fielder spent years with the vessel. He said he’ll miss the old ship.

“Well I tend to think about the different people who have served on it, visited on it, over the years. Whole careers have been spent on this vessel. It can get pretty rough out there, it’s kinda notorious for creating seasickness, but it’s kinda like our second home.”

The new research vessel, the R.V Tanner, is expected to be constructed by April of 2016.

Fielder says the new ship is named after Dr. Howard Tanner who’s known as the, “Father of the Modern Pacific Salmon Program” .

Debate and controversy surround proposed nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron shore in Ontario

Kincardine

Controversy surrounding a proposed nuclear waste dump that would be built near the Lake Huron Shoreline in Ontario is heating up.

The main issue surrounding Ontario Power Generation’s, or OPG’s, proposed nuclear dump can be boiled down to three things.
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Debate and controversy surround proposed nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron shore in Ontario

Kincardine
Ontario Power Generation, or OPG, has talked themselves hoarse defending their proposal for a nuclear waste storage facility near Lake Huron.
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Federal funding boost for Great Lakes basin

great_lakesThe USDA is set to provide 1.2 billion dollars over five years to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program in order to improve water quality and wildlife habitats in the Great Lakes basin.
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Monumental asteroid passes by Earth

earthIf last night you thought you saw something unusual in the sky overhead, you were right.

Asteroid 2004 BL86 passed by Earth last night, with astronomers saying it passed at around three times the distance of the moon.

Mary Stewart Adams is Program Director for the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County.


She said by studying things like the asteroid’s composition, we can expand our understanding of how things work in the universe.

“We find out more and more about how our universe began, how our planetary system developed. It’s always just a great opportunity to see something new that we haven’t seen before and see if we can find out something that we don’t already know.”

Adams said the significance of this particular asteroid is it’s size and brightness.

Astronomers say the asteroid is somewhere between 400 and 900 meters wide.

Adams said this is the closest and largest asteroid that’s going to pass by Earth for the next 15 to 20 years.

Silver Lake dunes receiving reservation service

Changes are coming to the way Silver Lake Dunes in Oceana county allows in guests. They’re switching to an electronic system which allows people to reserve tickets in advance.

Ron Olson is Chief of the DNR’s Recreation Division. He said the new system will make drastic changes to the traffic flow through Mears.

“Course the big benefit here collectively is to basically revolutionize the way we do this. And so we set up the system as we described to you before where you can basically reserve it similar to a campsite six weeks in advance of the date you would like to come and prevent you from having to wait in a 4 to 5 or 6 mile line, and all that.”

The park is switching up the new system because lines for the park on weekends and holidays would stop traffic for miles through Mears.

Olson said this will be a trial year. The DNR will accept constructive criticism from the public to improve the program in the future.

No-Spills conference coming to Mt. Pleasant

In January specialists in the oil industry will be flocking to Mid-Michigan. The 25th annual No-Spills conference is scheduled for Mt. Pleasant.

Linda Hensel is Committee Chairman for what’s called the No-Spills conference. She said the conference will be an informative forum.

“Although we have vendors and they’re there because they want to meet potential clients, everybody in this conference is here because we want to know what’s actually going on in our field and related fields. I think that’s one thing that’s really important, this is not a hype type conference. The scope is very limited so that we are able to discuss the important things that need to be discussed.”

The organization is moving to a larger facility this year. The conference will be held in the Soaring Eagle Resort.

Hensel said the move is necessary because the conference is growing in size. She also said the location in the center of the state will be more accessible to the masses.

For more information on the event visit here.

In the interest of full disclosure, No-Spills is an underwriter of CMU Public Radio.

Emergency supplemental deer feeding possible near you

The past two harsh winters and a coming third have many people worried about Michigan’s deer population.

Russ Mason, Chief of the Michigan DNR’s Wildlife division, said supplemental feeding in certain areas could help.

“We would move on public land. The public can get a permit from us and under certain conditions, so far from a road and so forth, they can feed if they choose to do so.”

The public will only be allowed to feed on private land.

Mason made it a point to explain how dangerous feeding can be if done improperly. He says people could end up harming more deer than they help.

Recycle your Christmas Tree

The holiday season is in full swing, and for many people that means it’s time to bring a bit of the outdoors into the living room. But what can you do with your x-mas tree once the season’s over?

Marsha Gray, the Executive Director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association said the answer is simple: Recycle!

“I would say probably the most common option in Michigan would be to chip those trees into mulch. But you’ll also see Christmas trees that get recycled and reused in other ways. You’ll see Christmas trees piled and dumped along the shore line. It helps to prevent beach erosion. I also know some people who have lakes where they’ll sink Christmas trees because they create a great habitat for fish.”

She said one town in Minnesota takes recycling their trees to the extreme.

“St. Paul, Minnesota heats and powers most of their downtown grid with waste wood. Trimmings, clippings, palettes, all sorts of things are put into this crazy massive grinder chipper and create this product, that is literally burned, and they use that to power their city. And during the holidays they go to that waste wood facility and end up powering their city.”

Gray said although this is an extraordinary example, everyone can do something with their tree. Turn it into mulch yourself, or simply check with your local government to see if they have a street-side pick up service.

For more information on what you can do with your tree visit here.

The Christmas tree industry

Imagine 33 million Christmas trees. That’s how many holiday trees were brought home just last year in the United States according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

Marcia Gray, Executive Director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association, said Christmas trees are actually considered one of Michigan’s cash crops!

“Well, first of all, Michigan is the third largest producer of Christmas trees in the U.S. This holiday season we’re going to estimate that we harvest 2 to 2-and-a-half million trees. About 3-quarters of those trees leave Michigan. Our trees are going elsewhere and bringing dollars back.”

Gray said she expects the tree industry to bring in roughly 40-million dollars to the state this year, and that’s at wholesale price.

She also said the agriculture industry is much more influential on Michigan’s economy than people give it credit for.

For more information on the Michigan Christmas tree business visit this website.

Collaboration: The future of environmental rehabilitation

Central-Michigan-University-seal.svgScientist’s aren’t known for sharing the glory of an extraordinary discovery, but some researchers working on Great Lakes restoration are trying to change that publish-or-perish mentality. Continue reading

Pioneering Great Lakes research miles from the shore

Although Winter is well on its way, water researchers at CMU don’t plan on slowing down.

Smack dab in the center of the Lower Peninsula, miles from the shores of the Great Lakes, lies a somewhat unexpected but active participant in the restoration and protection of Michigan’s waterways. Continue reading