Environment & Science

Baby squirrels.
Association to Rescue Kritters

If you can't figure out what to do with the hoards of acorns Mother Nature is piling up on your lawn right now, here's an idea. 

Donate them.

The Association to Rescue Kritters (ARK) in St. Helen has taken in 18 orphaned baby squirrels who won't be able to get through the winter on their own.

This photo of Microcystis, a kind of cyanobacteria, was taken in Lake Erie in late July of this year.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Michigan officials are taking a victory lap in their efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus flowing from state farms and other sources into Lake Erie. 

Phosphorus helps those slimy, bright green blooms of toxic cyanobacteria grow.

micropterus_dolomieu / Wikimedia commons

A state lawmaker wants to make sure commercial fish farms will never be allowed to operate in portions of the Great Lakes controlled by Michigan.

State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says commercial fish farming could create a huge problem with waste.

“This waste could create algae blooms, all sorts of problems on the shore, as well as out on the lake,” he says.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint hasn’t been using any corrosion-control method since it switched from Detroit’s water system in April 2014. Corrosion-control treatment helps keep lead out of drinking water. Since the switch, more kids are showing up with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

There are more than 180 species in the Great Lakes that are not supposed to be here.

Euan Reavie is a researcher with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“Duluth-Superior harbor is the most invaded freshwater port in the world,” Reavie says. “This is kind of the end of the water road for a lot of ships that come in here.”

Gabrielle Emanuel / Michigan Radio

Superintendent of Flint public schools, Bilal Tawwab, has asked parents to send their kids to school with bottled water. This comes after doctors found a spike in lead levels among children. This is likely due to the city's tap water.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 oil pipeline has lain deep under the water in the choppy Straits of Mackinac for more than 60 years. 

Over the decades, Line 5 has fed billions of barrels of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas into the lower peninsula of Michigan. 

Yet there has never been a drill to test the region’s readiness for a spill from a leak or rupture of the pipe. 

Until now, that is.

Legislator wants to ban fish farming in Great Lakes

Sep 24, 2015
NASA / Wikimedia Commons

A Republican state lawmaker is introducing legislation to ban commercial fish farming in the Great Lakes.

State Senator Rick Jones (R) said fish farms are a source of pollution, invasive species, and disease that harm native fish populations.

They generate concentrated amounts of fish waste that can cause widespread algae blooms and damage recreational areas, according to Jones.  


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has a plan to curb sulfur dioxide pollution in Wayne County, and it has plenty of critics.

In 2013, an area of Wayne County that includes part of Detroit and some downriver communities failed to meet new federal ambient air quality standards for sulfur dioxide.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The spotted wing drosophila is a nasty invasive fruit fly that's turning into a nightmare for Michigan berry growers.

Blueberries and cherries are major cash crops in the state.

Kevin Robson is a horticulture specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau. He says the fly showed up in Michigan five years ago.

Researchers from the University of Michigan looked at how far oil might travel with a 12-hour release in the Straits of Mackinac.
UM Water Center

The scenario: Someone has spotted oil on Lake Michigan in the Straits of Mackinac. They place a call to an emergency response center.

What happens next?

Today, Enbridge and other emergency response officials will test whether their emergency oil spill response plan is effective.

Painting of a boy grabbing a sea lamprey by Mark Heckman.
Painting by Mark Heckman, courtesy of Thunder Bay Press.

Officials are reporting significant progress in the battle against an invasive, fish-killing Great Lakes parasite.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission says the population of sea lampreys has reached a 30-year low in Lake Huron and a 20-year low in Lake Michigan. 

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent. Enbridge performs inspections, but won't share what they find.
Credit an Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Both U.S. senators from Michigan are spearheading legislation meant to protect the Great Lakes from an oil spill.

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow say the measures would ban shipping of crude oil on the lakes. That’s something that’s not happening now, the senators admit.

Schwallier's Country Basket / http://schwalliers.com/

Honeycrisp harvest is underway in Michigan.

The many fans of Honeycrisp apples will be happy to learn that all signs point to a fine crop this year.

But that good news presents new challenges for Michigan growers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CLARE, Mich. (AP) - A man hunting for porcupine was attacked by a black bear in Clare County.

  The Department of Natural Resources says the 46-year-old was treated for minor injuries Thursday night. The hunter told authorities that the bear knocked him over from behind.

Gray wolf confirmed in lower peninsula

Sep 17, 2015
Gray wolf
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

The presence of a gray wolf in Michigan's lower peninsula was confirmed this week.  

In the winter of 2014, a motion-activated wildlife camera on the reservation of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians captured several shots of what appeared to be a wolf.

flickr user Kenny Louie / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The first day of autumn is less than a week away, but if you’re planning to take a trip up north to marvel at the fall colors, MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa tells us you might want to wait.

He says rain and warm weather are keeping the trees lush and green.

A female green frog. Researchers are finding more females than males in suburbia.
Geoff Giller / Yale University

Past studies have found strange things happening to frogs when they’re exposed to farm chemicals. A new study shows estrogen in suburban areas is messing with frogs’ hormonal systems too.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality plans to respond Monday to a demand for answers about Flint’s water woes.

Last week, State Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, state Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, and state Rep. Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, sent a letter to DEQ director Dan Wyant demanding answers to a list of questions about the safety and treatment of Flint’s drinking water.


Plans to expand a hazardous waste facility have sparked worries from residents in a Detroit neighborhood.

The US Ecology facility site has been processing and temporarily storing hazardous waste on Detroit’s east side for decades.

That includes toxic chemicals and other byproducts from nearby industrial facilities.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New tests show that possible changes to how Flint treats its drinking water may not solve a problem that could be creating "serious" lead levels in people's tap water.

Virginia Tech University researchers say a big part of the problem with Flint’s tap water is the corrosiveness of Flint River water.

They claim it’s 19 times more corrosive to lead solder used in pipes than the Detroit water it replaced.     


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has released its first status report on the wetlands in our state. 

You can think of wetlands as nature’s kidneys — they filter water.

Wetlands also help control floodwater and all kinds of creatures live in them.

Two environmental groups say the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) needs to do more to protect local residents from toxic pollutants from a renewable energy power plant in the Upper Peninsula.

The two groups, Michigan-based Friends of the Land of Keweenaw and Massachusetts-based Partnership for Policy Integrity, filed comments today with the MDEQ on the department's draft Renewable Operation Permit for the L'Anse Warden "biomass" plant, charging that the pollution standards at the plant are weak to nonexistent.

Map showing the location of Waukesha, WI.
Screencap from Google Maps / Google

The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin has a contamination problem in its aquifer, and the federal government has ordered the city to find a new source of drinking water by 2018.

Waukesha is just a mile and a half outside the Lake Michigan watershed, so tapping Great Lakes water seems like the most obvious solution to the city’s problem.

Much of the corn grown in the U.S. today is genetically engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, found that continuous exposure to very low doses of the herbicide Roundup might be linked to liver and kidney damage.

The researchers looked at how genes changed in rats that were given a commercial Roundup formulation containing 0.1 parts per billion of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) over a two-year period.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

Rewind a few thousand years to a time before grocery stores existed. You would have gotten a lot of your food by finding it out in the wild.

Foraging is no longer a necessary skill … but some people like to do it as a hobby. Rachel Mifsud is one of those people. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) - Environmental activists are planning events during the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk to call attention to a number of issues, including a controversial oil pipeline in the area.

A group called We Protect Mother Earth says its protest will feature speeches and a drumming ceremony. It will begin around 9 a.m. Monday at the St. Ignace Welcome Center on the north side of the bridge, where thousands of people will be taking part in the annual holiday walk.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State wildlife officials are shifting their investigation into Chronic Wasting Disease in deer in mid-Michigan.  

The Department of Natural Resources has examined the brains of roughly 600 deer since the first case of CWD was confirmed in Ingham County in May. In all, three have tested positive for the fatal neurological disease.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent. Enbridge performs inspections, but won't share what they find.
Credit an Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The state of Michigan has signed a deal with Enbridge Energy that heavy crude oil will not be shipped through a pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

But the agreement doesn’t change anything as far as protecting the Great Lakes.

Enbridge Line 5 wasn’t built to carry heavy crude oil and never has. 

Jindong Zhang, Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

There's just something about the panda that captures our imagination.

The recent birth of panda twins at the National Zoo caused much excitement, although that was tempered somewhat when the smallest cub died last month.

And pandas have captured the interest of a research team from Michigan State University, which has discovered that pandas truly "march to the beat of their own drum."