Endangered butterflies, climate change, and robofish: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories from around Michigan and the globe related to conservation and nature. Check out some of what happened this week in environmental news:

A poweshiek skipperling butterfly. Photo by Dwayne Badgero.

A poweshiek skipperling butterfly. Photo by Dwayne Badgero.

Two Prairie Butterflies Gain Endangered Species Act Protection in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Dakotas (Center for Biological Diversity): The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday a settlement to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled plants and animals across the country. Among these are the Poweshiek skipperling butterfly, which survives in small numbers in Michigan.

Autumn anomaly: Deepest Great Lakes’ levels rising (Detroit Free Press): The brutal winter of 2012-2013 is still impacting the Great Lakes this fall, contributing to rising water levels in Lake Superior and connected Lakes Michigan and Huron. In the fall, the Great Lakes typically have a slow decline in water levels. Lake Superior’s depths, however, rose almost a half-inch from Aug. 1 to Oct. 1, and Lakes Michigan and Huron rose almost two full inches.

How climate change is transforming winter birds (Conservation Magazine): Data analyzed from the Project FeederWatch citizen science project as well as other bird survey and climate data indicate that bird species that prefer warmer weather are advancing north. Between 1989 and 2011, the average temperature index of species present at surveyed cites crept upward, meaning warm-adapted birds became more prominent.

University spawns robofish to monitor Great Lakes (Great Lakes Echo): For about 10 years, Michigan State University engineering professor Dr. Xiaobo Tan has been working on a robotic fish that can be used to monitor water quality.

MNA to recognize volunteers and conservationists at October 17 ceremony

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Don’t miss out on MNA’s annual Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner on Oct. 17 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

Guests will enjoy a delicious meal, jazz music and the presentation of awards to hard-working, dedicated individuals who do so much to protect Michigan’s natural heritage.

Tickets are $30. You can purchase tickets online through the MNA website or by contacting Danielle Cooke at dcooke@michigannature.org or 866-223-2231.

The following awards will be presented during the celebration:

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Climate change, fall colors, and oil transportation: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories related to conservation and the environment from around Michigan and the United States. Catch up on some of what happened this week in environmental news!

Protestors at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014. | Dominique Mosbergen/The Huffington Post

Americans Are Getting More Worried About Climate Change, According to New Polls (Huffington Post): Results from two nationwide polls indicate that Americans are getting increasingly worried about climate change and its impacts. One poll found that nearly half of Americans believe global warming is causing a serious impact now, while 60 percent said protecting the environment should be a priority “even at the risk of curbing economic growth.”

Photo: NASA (click to enlarge)

Photo: NASA (click to enlarge)

Fall Color in the Great Lakes (NASA Earth Observatory): See fall color from space! NASA’s Terra satellite captured images of fall color around the Great Lakes on September 26 and New England on September 27. The brown and orange shades on the map are most pronounced in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and northern Wisconsin. The progression of fall color will move from north to south across North America from mid-September to mid-November.

Scientists Trace Extreme Heat in Australia to Climate Change (The New York Times): Five groups of researchers from around the world have concluded that the heat wave that hit Australia in 2013 was almost certainly a direct consequence of greenhouse gasses released by human activity. The research observed the heat across Australia through all 12 months of 2013 and relied on computer analysis of what the climate would have been like in the absence of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

Air near chemical plant remains polluted long after it closed (Great Lakes Echo): A recent Indiana University study finds that people living within six miles of the former site of Velsicol Chemical Co. in St. Louis, Mich. “are still being subject to relatively high levels of HBB, PBBs, and DDTs in the air they breathe.” The plant, which closed nearly 40 years ago, was designated a Superfund site by federal regulators in 1982. Cleanup of the site and the nearby Pine River have cost millions of dollars and continue today.

New report: oil transportation poses risks to Great Lakes Region (WKAR): This week, the Great Lakes Commission released a draft report exploring the safety of how oil is transportated. Increased oil production in North Dakota and Western Canada has turned the Great Lakes region into a transportation corridor for crude oil, but several oil spills have raised questions about how safe oil transportation is.

Fall foliage, Great Lakes restoration, and wolves: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news related to conservation and the environment from around the state and country. Here is a bit of what happened this week in environmental news:

The 10 best fall foliage trips in the U.S. (Huffington Post): The Huffington Post lists ten places to see America’s awe-inspiring fall beauty. It’s no surprise that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula makes the list.

Good fall color is showing “halfway up the Keweenaw Peninsula” on Sept. 22, 2014. (Courtesy: Mlive commenter jeltez42)

Michigan fall colors: Trees are changing fast with one part of Michigan near peak fall color (MLive): Speaking of fall foliage, MLive reports that parts of the western Upper Peninsula may be reaching peak fall color in just a few days. The U.P is expected to peak next week, and the northern Lower Peninsula should peak during the second week of October. Southern Michigan should peak during mid-October.This year’s fall color seems to be pacing about a week ahead of normal.

EPA unveils second phase of plan to reverse Great Lakes damage (The New York Times): On Wednesday, the federal government revealed a plan for efforts to restore the Great Lakes. The plan includes cleaning up 10 contaminated rivers and harbors and an increased course of attack on poisonous algae blooms. The program will also include an attempt to buffer the lakes against the effects of climate change.

Heirs to Rockefeller fortune divest from fossil fuels over climate change (The Guardian): This week, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune withdrew their funds from fossil fuel investments. Rockefellers included, more than 800 global investors have pledged to withdraw a total of $50 billion from fossil fuel investments over the next five years. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund controls approximately $860 million in assets, 7% of which are invested in fossil fuels.

Want to hunt Michigan wolves? You’ll have to wait until at least 2015 (Detroit Free Press): The Natural Resources Commission will not schedule a hunt of gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula for 2014. There are two proposals concerning wolf hunts on the November ballot, and the NRC says that the vote is happening too late in the year for the organization to have the authority to schedule a hunt in 2014.

 

Mock oil spill, heat records, and old-growth forest: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories related to conservation and the environment from around Michigan and the globe. Here is a bit of what happened this week in environmental news:

Some of the 200 people taking part in Wednesday’s mock oil spill on the Indian River. Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Mock oil spill tests response plan (Michigan Radio): On Wednesday, federal and state agencies joined with local groups to respond to a mock oil spill in the Indian River in northern Michigan. The groups involved in the drill are the same groups that respond to real oil spills in the Great Lakes. The drill provided an opportunity to practice with a full command center, as well as allow groups to familiarize with one another.

Global heat records set for month and season (The New York Times): This August went on record as the earth’s hottest August, and summer 2014 was the globe’s hottest summer. Meterologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average world temperature in August was over 61 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the record set in 1998. The earth is on pace to move toward breaking the hottest year record set in 2010.

The DNR says its reversal on possible oil drilling at Hartwick Pines State Park is in response to public outcry. Photo: The Center for Michigan/Bridge Magazine

DNR yields to public and will not allow drilling under prized land at Hartwick Pines (MLive): DNR Director Keith Creagh announced last week that the parcel of Hartwick Pines State Park that includes old growth white pines was being pulled from an auction that would have allowed drilling exploration underneath them. Hartwick Pines is the last remaining stand of old growth white pine forest in the Lower Peninsula. The DNR is still considering auctioning off oil and mineral rights under other parts of the park that do not include the old growth forest.

The cost of fixing climate change (Huffington Post): A new study finds that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could boost the economy rather than slow it. The study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds that adoping rules that redirect infrastructure investments toward low-emissions options (including a more efficient use of resources and the building of cities serviced by public transportation) could make economic sense.

Why we’re going on the biggest climate march in history (The Guardian): In this interactive slide show, personalities from across the world talk about why they’re planning to march to call for action on climate change during the UN climate summit in New York on Sunday.

climatechange

Ten MNA sanctuaries to visit this fall

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

As the season changes, so do the leaves. Well, at least in Michigan! Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons to experience in Michigan as fall colors surround beautiful landscapes. MNA’s nature sanctuaries are home to a variety of habitats offering breathtaking colors perfect for a fall hike. We had a hard time narrowing the list down, but here are a few sanctuaries to check out if you’d like to experience Michigan this fall.

For a complete list of upcoming guided fall hikes, download the Fall 2014 edition of Discover Michigan Nature or check out the online calendar of events. Click here to access a map of MNA’s nature sanctuaries in Michigan.

Ten MNA Nature Sanctuaries to Visit this Fall:

1. Timberland Swamp Nature Sanctuary in Oakland County

Autumn hardwoods

Photo by Mark Carlson.

This 245-acre sanctuary offers guests the chance to explore the wonders of the woods. This sanctuary contains hardwood swamp and second hardwood growth. Visitors are welcome to explore on a 2-mile loop trail, but be sure to pack proper footwear as the sanctuary can be wet and swampy (as the name implies).

2. Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary in Newaygo County

DSC02175

Photo by Matt Schultz.

 

This 210-acre sanctuary is made up of oak and pine barrens. Despite having no trails, the terrain makes it easy for visitors to explore. In this sanctuary, the fall is prime time for the blooming of sunflowers, goldenrod and asters.

3. Wilcox-Warnes Nature Sanctuary in Macomb County

IMG_2654

Photo by Jeff Ganley.

 

Visitors can take a hike on a mile-long loop through this sanctuary. The 44-acre sanctuary is home to an array of different plant species including tulip trees and round-leaved orchids and parts both mature and mesic forest.

4. Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary in Keweenaw County

Photo by Marianne Glosenger

This 510-acre sanctuary offers two loop trails, each about a mile long, that intersect offering a 2.5-mile challenge for visitors’ hiking pleasure. The giant white pines have an awe-inspiring height of up to 125 feet, which surround guests with beautiful color as they make their way through the trails. There are also many bird species to watch out for at Estivant Pines.

5. Mystery Valley Karst Preserve and Nature Sanctuary  in Presque Isle County

Photo by Katherine Hollins

Photo by Katherine Hollins

Mystery Valley is home to one of the largest karst “collapse valleys” in the Great Lakes region. On the 1-mile Earthcrack Trail, visitors can explore the incredible earth cracks and valley formed by the erosion of limestone beneath the earth’s surface. The half-mile Valley Trail passes fossils of marine life embedded in the rock. In addition to the sanctuary’s interesting geology, the slightly acidic soil supports a northern-mesic forest, dominated by sugar maple, beech and hemlock trees. In the fall, the trees change and beautifully highlight the landscape.

6. Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary in Cass County

Autumn in the woods

Photo by Sherri Laier.

This sanctuary offers a 1.5-mile loop as well as boardwalks over naturally wet areas and some benches to take a rest. Even if visitors are just sitting for a moment, they still have a great opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the nature around them in this “crown jewel” nature sanctuary. The sanctuary is a mixture of floodpain, southern mesic forest and hardwood swamp, a home for several different bird and reptile species. The Dowagiac River also flows through this sanctuary.

7. Columbia Nature Sanctuary in Jackson County

IMG_2568

Photo by Jeff Ganley.

A beautiful array of colors can be seen in this 40-acre sanctuary consisting of southern hardwood swamp, emergent marsh and southern hardwood forest. It is in this sanctuary where over 150 plant species can be found. Some notable plants are Michigan holly, several types of bedstraws and sedges.

8. Twin Waterfalls Plant Preserve in Alger County

Photo by Mike Zajczenko

Twin Waterfalls boasts great beauty in its falls themselves, as well as unique plants. Some plants found in this sanctuary are twisted stalk and American milletgrass. The milletgrass is known for being 5 feet in height and a foot-long panicle. The Munising Formation is also an interesting sight — a large sandstone wall made of a variety of colors.

9. Phillips Family Memorial Nature Sanctuary in Van Buren County

IMG_0614

Photo by Nancy Goodrich.

This sanctuary is unique because of its coastal marsh habitat. Along with coastal marsh, it is also composed of southern mesic forest. Some trees to look out for are hardwoods, red maple, pin oak and black cherry.

 10. Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary in Genesee County

Photo via MNA archives.

Photo via MNA archives.

This nature sanctuary is an interweb of pine groves and hardwood forests. Visitors can choose between several different trails to discover the variety of trees in the sanctuary. Some trees to look out for are oak, elm and ash.

 

We want to explore Michigan with you! Download the Fall 2014 edition of Discover Michigan Nature or check out the online calendar of events and join us in the field!

Greenhouse gasses, birds and some fall color: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories from around the state and country related to conservation and the environment. Here is a brief overview of what happened this week in environmental news:

Where ice once capped the Sermeq Avangnardleq glacier in Greenland, vast expanses of the Arctic Ocean are now clear. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks (The New York Times): According to a draft of a major United Nations report, growth of greenhouse gas emissions has raised the risk of severe impacts over the coming decades. The report also states higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain, and other climate extremes are likely to intensify unless something is done to control emissions.

The 1,300 bird species facing extinction signal threats to human health (National Geographic News): Globally, one in eight bird species are threatened with extinction, and many others are in worrying decline. Habitat loss has been a factor in bird species’ decline for decades, but new threats to the environment, including certain chemicals, may threaten birds as well as humans.

Wolf hunt can proceed after Michigan House vote (Detroit Free Press): Michigan legislature voted Wednesday to support a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula, by a 65-54 vote. But, voters will still see two anti-wolf hunt proposals on the ballot in November. If voters pass those proposals, a hunt won’t occur in 2014.

Bare Bluff. Photo: Bob Stefko/Midwest Living

Legends of the Fall: Autumn Getaway to Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula (Midwest Living): Midwest Living profiles the Keweenaw Peninsula in a feature that includes stunning photography of some MNA favorites like Grinnell Memorial Nature Sanctuary at Bare Bluff! Also worth a look – Midwest Living‘s 30 Great Midwest Spots to See Fall Color (it’s no surprise that the Keweenaw tops this list as well!)