Mountain lions, a wildlife council and invasive stink bugs: this week in environmental news

By Sally Zimmerman, 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:

Mountain lion. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mountain lion. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Are mountain lions going urban? (Mother Nature Network): Due to excessive hunting and habitat destruction, mountain lions are now making their home in urban areas of the United States, such as Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Researchers say the mountain lions are traveling long distances across the U.S. to find homes. Mountain lions are on the endangered list and were all but extinct in 2011. Since then, they have made a slight comeback.

Michigan lawmakers propose wildlife council to promote hunting, fishing (Great Lakes Echo): Lawmakers want to create a bill that would finance a new wildlife council, headed by the Michigan Wildlife Management Public Education Fund. This council would educate the public on the importance of wildlife management and licensed hunters. The Department of Natural Resources estimates $1.6 million will be collected from hunting and fishing license increases, which will cover the cost to create the council.

Invasive stink bugs swarm across the U.S. (Mother Nature Network): The brown marmorated stink bugs, arriving from Asia, are overshadowing stink bugs native to the U.S. The bug that once bred in only southern Pennsylvania now breeds in 15 states and exists in about 25 more. Chuck Ingels of the Cooperative Extension office in Sacramento calls them the “worst invasive pests we’ve ever had in California.” Besides their stench, the brown marmorated stink bug destroys commercial crops. In 2010 alone, they caused $37 million in damage to Mid-Atlantic apple farms.

Lyons Dam on borrowed time: Endangered species discovery complicates removal project (MLive): The Lyons Dam was set to be removed until biologists from Central Michigan University discovered an endangered species downstream of the dam, the snuffbox mussel. These mussels were added to the endangered species list in 2012 when there was a 62% population decrease. They must be relocated before the dam can be removed. State and federal officials will have to decide where to relocate the mussels, and they would likely not begin this process until next summer.

No cure in sight for loon-killing botulism (Great Lakes Echo): An avian botulism outbreak in northern Michigan has killed more than 1,000 loons. Tom Cooley, a Department of Natural Resources disease lab biologist and pathologist said there is an estimated loon population of 2,000. Conditions in the water make a breeding ground for the bacteria. Scientists believe the loon’s predation on infected fish is causing a rise in deaths. There are no known solutions to stop the botulism from infecting loons.

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Bid on Items to Benefit Conservation

Bid on a VIP wine tasting at Chateau Chantal! (Photo via Chateau Chantal)

Bid on a VIP wine tasting at Chateau Chantal! (Photo via Chateau Chantal)

On Friday, October 18, MNA will host the Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing.

This year’s event includes a special silent auction to benefit MNA’s conservation initiatives! Join us to learn about MNA’s efforts, honor special volunteers, and mingle with fellow MNA supporters.

Silent auction items include:

Week-Long Getaway in Northern Michigan

Enjoy a week on Mullet Lake in northern Michigan in a vacation home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a field stone fireplace, ping-pong room, deck and dock. This house sleeps up to 10 people and is a beautiful retreat!

VIP Wine Tasting Experience for Six People

Enjoy a personal tour of the Chateau Chantal winery, an explanation of the winemaking process, and a personal wine tasting with a wine educator. See stunning views of the Old Mission Peninsula and explore the Old World Inn!

Bid on a sea kayak tour in Copper Harbor!  Photo: Ryan Holt

Bid on a sea kayak tour in Copper Harbor! (Photo: Ryan Holt)

Copper Harbor Sea Kayak Tour 

Explore Copper Harbor by kayak! This package includes two tickets for a two-and-a-half hour kayak exploration on Lake Superior, surrounding Copper Harbor. The tour includes kayak instruction, all equipment, and a professional guide.

Great Lakes Stone Shoreline Mirror

Artist Casey Williams uses stone he personally collects from Michigan’s Great Lakes to create beautiful functional stone products. Surrounded by stone from the Great Lakes, this mirror would make a beautiful addition to any room!

‘Ruin and Recovery’ Signed by Award-Winning Author Dave Dempsey

This copy of Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader is signed by author Dave Dempsey, named Michigan Author of the Year in 2009.

Enamel on Copper Nature Sculptures

These beautiful sculptures are original designs, hand enameled by highly skilled artisans using traditional tools and techniques. This set of two sculptures is a unique interpretation of nature’s beauty.

Download the Auction Preview Guide for a complete list of available items! 

Purchase your tickets for the Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner today! Visit the MNA website or contact Danielle Cooke at 866-223-2231 or dcooke@michigannature.org. Seating is limited, so reserve your spot soon!

The Kirtland’s warbler, Portage Creek cleanup and melting glaciers: this week in environmental news

By Sally Zimmerman, 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:

The Kirtland's warbler. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Kirtland’s warbler. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Kirtland’s warbler grant boosts effort to end endangerment (Great Lakes Echo): A federal grant of $170,000 is going toward planting two million jack pine seedlings in Northeast Michigan. This is the only habitat the Kirtland’s warbler can nest in. The effort to save the Kirtland’s warbler has been going on for 40 years. The habitat in Northeast Michigan contains 98% of the species’ population, spanning across the top of the Lower Peninsula and into the Upper Peninsula. There is even a possibility that the bird will be taken off the endangered species list.

PCB cleanup in Portage Creek near Kalamazoo River done, ahead of schedule and millions under budget (MLive): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has worked to remove all the polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from Portage Creek. The project ended earlier than anticipated and way under budget. Other areas of the Kalamazoo River Superfund will begin to be cleaned up with the extra time and money. The EPA removed almost 19,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment.

Yosemite’s largest ice mass is melting fast (LA Times): Scientists believe Lyell Glacier in Yosemite National Park will be gone in 20 years. This glacier is a key source of water in the park and has shrunk 62% over the past 10 years. Lyell has also lost 120 vertical feet of ice. The big question is what will happen to ecological systems surrounding the shrinking and vanishing glaciers. Ken MacLeod, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Missouri, said the earth will eventually become ice-free if carbon dioxide levels continue to rise.

Extend California’s new earthquake early warning system, says scientist (Mother Nature Network): California will be the first state to get an earthquake early warning system, which is designed to detect the first strong pulse of an earthquake. This new system will cost about $80 million to build in California and run for five years. If the system was extended north to Oregon and Washington, it would cost an additional $120 million. These west coast states are in danger of magnitude-9.0 earthquakes from the Cascadia subduction zone.

Mercury will rise in Pacific fish, study finds (Mother Nature Network): Researchers from Michigan and Hawaii have studied how mercury ends up in species of North Pacific fish for years. They have discovered that mercury levels in these fish is likely to continue rising for decades. Researchers found that the mercury first traveled by air, and then entered the oceans when it rained. These findings could help efforts to curb mercury emissions.

Richard W. Holzman Award Recipients Announced

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarlier this week, MNA announced the recipients of the Volunteer of the Year and Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award. At the 2013 Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner, MNA will also present the Richard W. Holzman Award.

The Richard W. Holzman Award was established in 2010 to recognize and thank volunteers who have selflessly served MNA over an extended period of time, typically in a variety of roles including service as a Trustee. Holzman Award recipients are selected by the President after consultation with the Board of Trustees and senior staff.

The award is named for Richard W. “Dick” Holzman, who served 14  years as MNA President, longer than any other President, and 20 years as an MNA Director or Trustee.

MNA announced last week that this year’s Holzman Award will be given to Stephen M. Kelley and Stanley Hugh Kuchta at the 2013 Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner.

Kelley has been an MNA member and supporter since 1979. He has held multiple leadership positions, including four years as President and more than eight years on the Board. In addition to his work with MNA, Kelley is a practicing environmental, contract and litigation attorney.

Kuchta is a field scientist and plant specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture. His insights have assisted MNA greatly with the identification and protection of threatened flora and fauna in MNA sanctuaries. Kuchta has been active in MNA for many years and currently chairs the Sanctuary Committee. He also serves as a steward.

Join MNA on Friday, October 18 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center to recognize the individuals who dedicate so much to help protect Michigan’s natural heritage. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will also feature a silent auction to benefit MNA’s conservation initiatives. All are welcome!

To purchase $30 tickets, contact Danielle Cooke at (866) 223-2231 or dcooke@michigannature.org. Tickets are also available on the MNA website.

MNA to honor outstanding volunteers at Volunteer & Donor Recognition Dinner

A festive group at a past Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner.

A festive group at a past Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner.

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Join the Michigan Nature Association for a night of good food and great fellowship as we honor those who have given their time and effort through the years to help conserve the natural beauty of Michigan. MNA is holding the 2013 Volunteer & Donor Recognition Dinner on October 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing. MNA will present several awards, including the Volunteer of the Year Award and the Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award at the event.

The Volunteer of the Year Award is given to volunteers who devote many hours to MNA by attending workdays, completing file analysis, monitoring sanctuaries and volunteering in less than ideal weather conditions. This year’s Volunteer of the Year Award recipients are Bill McEachern, Barbara Mead, Mike Roys and Peter and Jill Pietila.

Charlie Eshbach, winner of this year's Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award

Charlie Eshbach, winner of this year’s Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award

The Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award is given to exemplary volunteers who have contributed to MNA over a minimum of 10 years. This year, the award is being given to Charles Eshbach for his service and dedication to preserving nature sanctuaries over the past 40 years.

Along with honoring these extraordinary volunteers, the event will also feature a silent auction that will benefit MNA’s conservation actions. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on big-ticket items, such as a sea kayak tour for two people and a weeklong stay at a cottage up north.

Everyone is welcome to attend the dinner. Tickets are $30, and can be purchased by calling (866) 223-2231, or emailing dcooke@michigannature.org. The deadline to RSVP is October 11. Reserve your seat today to be part of this special event!