A greenhouse gas, a resurgence of lake trout and a new state park: this week in environmental news

Whitcomb Conservancy on Belle Isle. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Each Friday, MNA shares important environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here is some of what happened this week in conservation and nature news:

Newly discovered greenhouse gas ‘7,000 times more powerful than CO2’ (The Guardian): Researchers in Toronto have discovered the gas perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), which has been in use by the electrical industry since the mid-20th century. The chemical breaks all records for potential impacts on the climate, and is 7,000 times more powerful at warming the earth over a 100-year time span than carbon dioxide. Currently, there are only low concentrations of the gas in the atmosphere, but climatologists warn that PFTBA could have a very large impact on climate change if it grows.

Go lake trout! Native fish overcome seemingly ‘insurmountable’ challenges in Lake Huron (Michigan Radio): For nearly 40 years, biologists have been trying to reestablish a lake trout population by hatching the fish and placing them in Lake Huron. The stocked fish, however, could not reproduce until alewives disappeared. The trout were eating alewives which caused a vitamin deficiency in eggs and young fish. Now the alewives are being eaten by salmon, and it’s likely their population will not recover. The return of lake trout as a big predator may result in a more stable ecosystem in Lake Huron.

Early warning program battles frog bit, other invasive species (Great Lakes Echo): A DNR early warning program is preventing invasive European frog bit from destroying native aquatic plants. The program quickly assesses areas of infestation and examines the extent of damage. Crews from AmeriCorps and Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps are focusing on southeast Michigan have removed more than 1,500 pounds of frog bit from state waterways. Officials hope to keep the invasive from spreading elsewhere in Michigan.

Crews get busy cleaning up Belle Isle for new state-park status (Detroit Free Press): State and city officials, along with 40 companies, government groups and volunteer associations, have pledged that they’re “All in for Belle Isle”. The Detroit park is in the midst of a transition period after which the DNR will operate the 985-acre state park. Restoration efforts including brush removal, trail clearing, and repairs to picnic structures are already underway. The transition period ends on February 10, and after that entry into Belle Isle will require those in automobiles to have the $11 annual state recreation passport sticker. Pedestrians and bicyclists can enter the park at no charge.

Panel: Strong laws can help West Michigan environmental issues (Holland Sentinel): At Tuesday night’s “Great Michigan” Town Hall meeting in Holland, Mich., a panel discussed environmental issues facing west Michigan. According to Erica Bloom, Michigan League of Conservation Voters director in west Michigan, citizens need to raise environmental issues with legislators. MLCV is concerned with pending legislation that would reduce requirements for biodiversity and require nonprofits to open up land to all forms of recreation, including off-road vehicles.