Environment & Science

Environment
10:02 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Michigan steps up the war on wild boar

Rural Michigan is fighting a war with feral swine and wild boars.   The problem is getting worse.   Now, the state is about to take a major step up declaring them an "invasive species"


The Associated Press reports:


Michigan's fight against feral swine and wild boar is escalating.  Department of Natural Resources and Environment Director Rebecca Humphries announced Friday she signed an order declaring the swine an invasive species in Michigan.

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Invasive Species
11:02 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Sooper Yooper

Yeah, that's a wetsuit under his flannel shirt.
Painting by Mark Heckman, courtesy of Thunder Bay Press.

With 180 invaders already in the Great Lakes, it might take a superhero to keep them out.  Luckily, we have one: Sooper Yooper!   A new children's book written by Mark Newman and illustrated by the late Mark Heckman, features Billy Cooper, an ex-Navy Seal who lives in the U.P. with his scuba-diving bulldog, Mighty Mac.  I spoke with Mark Heckman's wife, Diane, and author Mark Newman about the book and Mark Heckman's legacy.

Top 3 Things to Know about Sooper Yooper:

  1. A dive in icy Lake Superior to catch a sea lamprey is not for the faint of heart.  Please leave this to the professionals.
  2. Billy Cooper is not a shapeshifter, nor does he have x-ray vision or invisibility.  Instead, he's super smart.
  3. Having trouble getting legislation passed in Congress?  No problem for Sooper Yooper.  He must have some mighty good lobbying skills.
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Environment
4:45 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Enbridge oil spill sickened hundreds, according to a new report

Clean up workers along the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek in August, 2010
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new report finds last July’s massive oil spill in mid-Michigan sickened many people, but the long-term effects of exposure to the spill is unclear. 


The Michigan Department of Community Health worked with local health departments in Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties to compile data on people who were affected by the Enbridge Energy oil spill.

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Nuclear Power
11:27 am
Tue December 7, 2010

Radioactive Water Spill from Fermi 2

Everything’s back to normal at the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in southeast Michigan after a spill last week.

A drain valve for a filtering system failed and 100,000 gallons of slightly radioactive cooling water overflowed a holding tank. The water contaminated the shoes and outer clothing of some plant workers, but no one was harmed.

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Outdoors
7:04 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Incoming director of the Michigan DNR wants more hunting, fishing

Rodney Stokes, incoming Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, wants more people in hunt in Michigan
Noel Zia Lee/Flickr

Michigan's soon-to-be Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Rodney Stokes, says he wants more people to hunt and fish in the state.

Stokes was named director of the department by Governor-elect Rick Snyder earlier this month.  Snyder announced he would be dividing the Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two agencies: The Department of Natural Resources and The Department of Environmental Quality.

Stokes told The Detroit News that he wants to expand the focus of the department's recruitment efforts and that he has no plans to increase license fees.

The Associated Press reports:

Revenues from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses were $45.3 million in the most recent budget, said Sharon Schafer, the department's assistant division chief for administration and finance. That's down from 2005 when adjusted for inflation.

Environment
5:19 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Congress bans an Asian carp that is already here

They're banned, but they're already here. Current distribution of the Bighead Carp in the U.S.
USGS

Update December 3rd 5:13 pm:

Marc Gaden of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission says "as far as I know, no one thinks there are any Asian Carp in Lake Erie." He says Lake Erie is colored red in the USGS map above because two Bighead carp were found in commercial fishman's nets several years ago. They colored the entire Lake red based on these two incidents.

December 1st 5:27 pm:

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Asian Carp
6:05 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Michigan loses legal round in Asian Carp battle

The state of Michigan has suffered another legal setback in its effort to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes.  

A federal judge in Chicago has denied a request by Michigan and several other states to order the closure of canals which link Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin. Asian Carp are a voracious invasive species.  The carp have devastated Mississippi River fish populations.  

“The court agreed that Asian Carp are indeed a threat," says Joy Yearout,  a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, '"But the judge also ruled the actions the federal government has taken over the last several months prove they are addressing the threat enough to make it not immediate enough to require a court order."

Federal agencies have stepped up construction of electric barriers to keep Asian Carp from passing into Lake Michigan.  Other methods are also being studied. 

The states may continue their legal fight.  They are also asking President Obama to order the canals closed.

Environment
1:33 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

What lies under the farm fields? (audio slideshow)

Lynn Davis' family has run a farm drainage business in northwest Ohio for 100 years.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

A few years back, we at the Environment Report did a comprehensive series called, "The Ten Threats to the Great Lakes." Doing our best to make it comprehensive, we broke each of the Ten Threats into several stories.

We joked that the "Ten Threats" series turned into a 33-part series as we dug deeper into the issues.

For the series, I traveled to northwest Ohio and met with Lynn Davis. His grandfather had started a farm drainage business in 1910 using a steam powered trenching machine. Davis later took over the business from his father and uncle.

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Environment
12:54 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Snyder shuffles environmental agencies

Governor-elect Rick Snyder speaking at the Michigan Farm Bureau.
Photo by Lindsey Smith

Governor-elect Rick Snyder is already shuffling things in Lansing. He’s planning to split up the Department of Natural Resources and Environment... back into two separate agencies.

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Environment
11:02 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Effort to preserve Saugatuck dune-land likely to get state grant ahead of schedule

Dunes near Saugatuck
Norm Hoekstra

Conservationists are celebrating a recommendation to approve a $7 million grant to preserve dune-land near Saugatuck.

The grant will help the City of Saugatuck purchase the 171-acre property. The land includes thousands of feet of Lake Michigan shoreline; plus dunes, wetlands, and lakes.

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Old Schools, New Life
10:56 am
Tue November 30, 2010

Recycling Schools

Joel Landy (left) shows Ben Christenson and a band mate around the former Malcolm X Academy building in Detroit. Landy is turning the space into a music venue, with rehearsal space.
Photo by Jennifer Guerra.

A lot of Michigan’s big cities are shrinking. People have left the state to find work. Others have moved their families to the suburbs. As Jennifer Guerra reports... that has left a lot of urban school districts with empty school buildings. But instead of tearing the buildings down, some districts want to recycle them.

 

 

Asian Carp
11:54 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Asian carp dinner to raise awareness of threat

Asian Carp
Kate.Gardner Flickr

Michigan is one of five states taking the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to court to prevent the Asian Carp from getting into the Great Lakes. Organizers of an environmental advocacy group and chefs at a Grand Rapids restaurant want the same thing, but have a different approach. Chefs at a Grand Rapids restaurant are serving Asian Carp at an event Tuesday night to benefit efforts to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.


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Hunting Season
5:54 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Firearm deer season comes to a close Tuesday

Deer
Noel Zia Lee/Flickr

Tuesday is the final day for a Michigan fall tradition….firearm deer season.

Brent Rudolph is Deer and Elk Program leader for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.  He says deer season got off to a slow start two weeks ago. But, he says:

We have heard talk that both that first weekend…and the long Thanksgiving weekend…having a decent number of hunters. 

Rudolph says it will be next Spring before a final estimate for the number of deer harvested during the past two weeks will be known.  

Got Weeds?
10:08 am
Tue November 23, 2010

Rent-a-Goat

Some members of the Goat Mowers team.
(Photo by Lindsey Smith)

If you’ve got a large piece of land that’s overgrown with weeds and brush, you could bring in big lawnmowers and bushhogs. But if you want something a little more low-key… you could rent a goat. Tanya Ott brings us the story of one Michigan couple who've built a business on landscaping with goats.  

Special thanks to Lindsey Smith for her help with this story.

Sustainability
1:28 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Grand Rapids prepares for climate change

(Left to right) Missy Stoults, Mayor George Heartwell, Michael Davidson, and Haris Alibasic
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids is one of only a handful of cities in the U.S. picked to participate in a new program to prevent potential damage to life and property because of climate change. It's the only city in the Midwest that's participating. The rest are in Arizona, Florida, and Massachusetts.


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Environment
4:27 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

Refinery's neighbors protest tar sands

Theresa Landrum lives near the Marathon oil refinery, seen in the background.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

People who live near Detroit’s massive Marathon Oil refinery came out as part of a national protest against a proposed pipeline in the western U.S.


The Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline would transport heavy crude oil from Canada’s tar sands. That’s the same type of oil the Detroit plant is being retrofitted to be able to process.

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Chemicals
11:43 am
Thu November 18, 2010

Michigan to Ban BPA?

Bisphenol-A lines the inside of most metal food and drink cans.
(Photo courtesy of Sun Ladder at Wikimedia Commons)

Bisphenol-A or BPA – is a chemical that has been used for more than 40 years in food and beverage packaging. It can leach out of those packages and get into food and drinks. More than a hundred peer-reviewed studies have linked bisphenol-A to health problems. Until recently the Food and Drug Administration said that our current low levels of exposure to BPA were safe. But new studies have shown subtle effects of low doses of BPA in lab animals.

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Invasive species
3:17 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Tree-killing bug spotted in Ottawa County

Hemlock woolly adelgid ovisacs
Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service

The invasive hemlock woolly adelgid has found its way into Park Township near Holland, Michigan. Ken Rauscher with the Michigan Department of Agriculture says they are currently surveying the area to see how widespread the infestation is.

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Environment
11:15 am
Thu November 11, 2010

Opening up the deer hunting season

Michigan conservation officials hope to expand the number of female deer killed in this year's hunt, but many hunters would much rather shoot bucks. Antlers are the big prize.
(Photo by Scott Bauer - USDA)

Last year in Michigan, there were more than 60,000 car accidents caused by deer. Farmers say they can lose a lot of money when deer eat their crops. And there are deer munching on backyard gardens and even running down sidewalks.

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Kalamazoo River Oil Spill
6:50 am
Tue November 9, 2010

EPA: 50 Kalamazoo River oil spill sites clean

A section of the Kalamazoo River
Photo courtesy of www.epa.gov

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency briefed people at a meeting last night in Battle Creek about the continuing clean-up of the Kalamazoo River oil spill.  EPA officials say they've finished cleaning up 50 sites in the river. 

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