Lake symposium, Muskegon bear, and carp testing: this week in environmental news

By Allison Raeck, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA shares recent environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here’s some of what happened this week in environmental and nature news:

Students, Teachers Gather at Tech to Learn About Lake Superior (Michigan Tech News): Michigan Technological University will hold its 10th Biennial Lake Superior Symposium this weekend, drawing an expected 200 students and teachers in grades 7-12. The gathering will feature 50 presenters, covering topics such as student stewardship initiatives and conservation issues in the Lake Superior area. The goal of the four-day event is to teach attendees about the Great Lakes watersheds, inspiring them to apply this knowledge in their various communities. The program is made possible by the work of Joan Chadde, longtime MNA steward and volunteer, as well as input from other MTU staff members and Great Lakes organizations.

Muskegon bear may have found his way home, spotted swimming north (mlive): A young black bear seen around Muskegon appears to be headed home, according to DNR officials. After swimming south across Muskegon Lake, “Muskegon bear” was first spotted around Great Lakes Marina early Monday morning and later settled near the Muskegon Lakeshore Trail. Officials closed the bike trail, avoided the use of tranquilizers, and advised onlookers to leave the bear alone. After a day of attention from media representatives and local spectators, the bear reportedly returned to the lake and swam back northward.

Great Lakes Water quality improved but there are still issues, report says (JSOnline): Rapid ice cover reduction and excessive nutrients are growing problems in the Great Lakes, even in the midst of a federal restoration program. Though assessments of the water’s chemical health show mostly positive results, some data reveals an increase in toxic chemicals over the past decade. This could be caused by ballast water discharges from foreign freighters, which were not addressed in the Clean Water Act of 1972. The International Joint Commission suggests that both U.S. and Canadian governments look into creating a structure to reduce the flow of the St. Clair River as a possible solution.

Blind birdwatchers learn to see by hearing sounds (CBS News): Donna Posont, field director for Opportunities for the Blind in Dearborn, has developed a new approach to bird identification: “birding by ear.” Posont teaches blind students to memorize various bird calls in the classroom, which they are later able to identify in the wild. Bird watching becomes bird listening, allowing the blind to recognize birds without seeing them at all. Posont hopes the activity will not only connect the students to the outdoors but also provide them with a sense of confidence.

Grand tested for Asian carp (Grand Haven Tribune): A portable lab was established on the Odawa/Battle Point Launch in Grand Haven Township on Wednesday as part of a federal invasive species monitoring program. Officials took water samples from the Grand River, searching for environmental Asian carp DNA. Though there is currently no indication of the species in Lake Michigan, Asian carp pose a large threat to the Great Lakes. The purpose of the monitoring program is to gather baseline data, hoping to remain one step ahead of a potential invasion.

April’s heavy rains pushed billions of gallons of sewage into Michigan waterways (mlive): Recent heavy rains have revealed that Michigan’s sewage system may be a larger issue than expected. April rains overwhelmed sewer systems, releasing approximately 1.5 billion gallons of partially treated and raw sewage into lakes and streams. The leakage was likely a result of Michigan’s “combined” sewage systems, which carry both sewage and stormwater to treatment plants. This issue has led to a call for increased state funding for sanitary and storm sewers.

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