Sierra club on sustainable agriculture, global warming impacts on economy and polluted beaches: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

Sierra club launches sustainable agriculture testimonials, Western Michigan University student project (MLive): Western Michigan University senior Erin Denay has been working on a project in collaboration with the Sierra Club asking Michiganders at farmer’s markets their thoughts on buying food from local farmers. Denay created a series of one-minute video testimonials to address the topic of local farming.

Innovative farm energy projects clash with Wisconsin policy (Great Lakes Echo): Central Wisconsin’s farming area has been known to produce a lot of waste with its methods of farming. Now New Chester Dairy and Brakebush Brothers are collaborating with New Energy North America to eliminate their waste and turn it into usable energy.

 

Graphic by the NRDC, courtesy of the Huffington Post.

Graphic by the NRDC, courtesy of the Huffington Post.

1 in 10 U.S. beaches so polluted they’re not safe for swimming, report says (Huffington Post): The Natural Resources Defense Council produced findings that one in 10 beaches in the U.S. are unsafe for swimmers due to pollution according to their 24th annual report.The organization collected water samples from 3,500 beaches and tested them according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s newer more health-conscious standards.

Global warming takes toll on U.S. economy, not just environment (Nature World News): The economic future of the U.S. economy seems bleak if climate change continues at its current rate, and could cost hundreds of billions of dollars by 2100. The U.S. has already been hit with several tropical storms, rising sea levels, droughts and flooding, already incurring costs which will continue to rise.

 

Photo courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Western  snowpack could plummet this century (Conservation Magazine): Snowfall on lower elevation mountain peaks in the American west will change to rainfall in the next few decades, according to projections. The rainfall could drastically change how water supply reaches farmers who are used to snowpack accumulation for their water supply.

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Species spotlight: piping plover

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

As Michigan tourists pack up their bags and head for beaches in the north, they should keep an eye out this summer for the endangered piping plover.

The piping plover population has significantly declined in the Great Lakes areas because of recreational beach development and tourism.

piping plover

The piping plover stands atop shells in sand in shallow, flowing water.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

The piping plover is a sand bird which nests in North America in the Great Plains, along the coasts of the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

The piping plover is sandy in color on top with a white underbelly. The plover also has a black band around its neck and a black crown on its head. Its legs are orange but fade to yellow in the winter.

Piping plovers prefer to make their habitat in sandy areas such as dunes, gravel beaches and sand bars.

Sites where the piping plover is most commonly found are Texas, Louisiana and Florida because of the high concentration recorded in those areas. Out of a total of 1,372 breeding pairs, only 32 have appeared in Michigan.

This bird has been classified as endangered since 1986 — it is endangered in the Great Lakes area and threatened in other North American regions.

The plover feeds on wet sand, in any nearby areas it can find: algal flats, shorelines of streams, ephemeral ponds and lagoons to name a few.

They utilize small sand dunes for protection from hot and stormy weather.

Breeding begins in March and extends through mid-May, with the piping plover laying three or four eggs in a shallow, camouflaged nest of pebbles and shells. Both parents are involved in prenatal care of the eggs, each sitting atop them to keep them warm. After the eggs hatch, both parents feed the chicks until they are able to take flight.

The chicks will fly after 30 days and starting in July through October, they will take off on their journey.

An unscathed habitat is a necessity to ensure hatch-lings will be able to survive and make it to migrating season. Unfortunately, land development and tourism has deterred the piping plover population from using Michigan beaches as its habitat.

 

Collaboration on the Great Lakes front, climate change, solar power and wolves: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

Cherryland Solar Panel

Cherryland’s solar array. Photo courtesy of the Great Lakes Echo.

Community solar coming of age in Michigan (Great Lakes Echo): Cherryland Electric Cooperative’s 224-panel solar array in Grand Traverse County in Northern Michigan just celebrated its first anniversary.  The Solar Up North Alliance Community Solar Project helped introduce this project which launched on Earth Day 2013 and could be a catalyst for future solar energy projects in the state.

Great Lakes mayors flex muscle on oil, climate change (Great Lakes Echo): Mayors of Great Lakes areas have come together from the U.S. and Canada to discuss oil transportation. Citing the Kalamazoo river oil spill incident and the Lac-Megantic, Quebec train accident and explosion resulting in 47 deaths, the major part of their discussion was these events and taking future actions. 

Don’t Poison me! A big win for baby owls (like this one) and other wildlife (Huffington Post): Alicia Hermance chronicles the rescue of a fallen spotted owl and its recovery in her blog post. She also highlights the dangers of rat poisons. Rat poisons are easily available at hardware stores and if placed outside, owls are at risk of getting sick from consuming the poison.

The right call on climate change (Huffington Post): U.S. Representative Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) of California’s 24th District discusses her views on how the new EPA regulations can improve American health, climate change and create clean energy jobs. “By 2030, the EPA plan will cut carbon emissions by 30 percent nationwide, dropping totals below 2005 levels,” Capps wrote in her blog post.

wolf map

A map showing the ratio of wolf to coyote throughout Yellowstone and Riding Mountain National Parks. Photo courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Reintroducing wolves is only effective at large scales (Conservation Magazine): The eradication of wolves in the U.S. has greatly effected the ecological carnivorous system –– usually wolves feed on coyotes, who feed on red foxes. Since wolves have severely decreased in numbers, coyotes have increased, preying on more red foxes. Scientists have been experimenting with ratios of wolves to coyotes throughout North America to study its effects on the ecosystem.

Great Lakes Commons charter targets shared waters concept (Great Lakes Echo): The Great Lakes Commons is a group with a vision to unite all those regions governing the lakes to come together and form a mutual protection and care plan. They officially introduced their social charter on Thursday. “The charter will gather the beliefs and commitments of the different peoples of the bio-region, and by doing this, we will be asserting the legitimacy of these ideas and our role in shaping the governance for our lakes,” Alicia Bradley said. Bradley is co-directer of the Milwaukee Water Commons and a leader of the Great Lakes Commons effort.

 

Brockway Mountain Challenge Yields Success

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

An autumn view from Brockway Mountain. Photo by J. Haara.

An autumn view from Brockway Mountain. Photo by J. Haara.

In only seven months, MNA has been able to surpass its fundraising goal in order to protect more of Brockway Mountain, adjacent to the James H. Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary in Keweenaw County.

In 2013, Eagle Harbor Township protected 320 acres of Brockway Mountain near the Klipfel Nature Sanctuary. Brockway Mountain is one of MNA’s top conservation priorities, and MNA learned of an opportunity to protect an additional 77 acres adjacent to this addition shortly after the acquisition.

MNA was able to raise $150,000, to protect the additional acres on Brockway Mountain. MNA had until December 2014 to meet this goal, but has been able to surpass it thanks to dedicated members and donors, including a special matching challenge grant by Donald and Karen Stearns. The organization has extended an invitation for the public to attend a meeting on June 21 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. and a hike atop Brockway Mountain at the Klipfel Nature Sanctuary afterward.

The meeting will be held at the Eagle Harbor Community Center in Eagle Harbor, Mich. Lunch will be provided at the meeting and guests can RSVP by contacting Danielle Cooke at (866) 223-2231 or dcooke@michigannature.org.

Stewards and volunteers work together to maintain the Klipfel Nature Sanctuary. Photo via MNA archives.

Stewards and volunteers work together to maintain the Klipfel Nature Sanctuary. Photo via MNA archives.

The Klipfel Nature Sanctuary currently sits atop the bluff of Brockway Mountain and boasts a scenic coastal drive allowing for easy access to the area and an outstanding view of scenery and Lake Superior. Keweenaw’s harsh winds make the semi-alpine habitat an inhospitable climate for many plants but creates a unique ecological environment where sedges, grasses and wildflowers grow.

In the springtime, Brockway Mountain is a great place to bird-watch as the raptors make their way to their Canadian breeding sites. These birds can be observed in flight close along the cliffs, a distance much shorter than normally observed.

MNA continues to extend protection to Brockway Mountain, whose drive has been described as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the United States. MNA has been successful thanks to many generous donations and will be able to continue preservation of Brockway Mountain’s legacy of beautiful vistas and unique ecological composition.

 

Wildfires, hound hunting and snake encounters: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Fire blazes in Marquette County. Photo via Michigan Department of Natural Resources courtesy of Great Lakes Echo.

Fire blazes in Marquette County. Photo via Michigan Department of Natural Resources courtesy of Great Lakes Echo.

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

Above average number of wildfires predicted by summer’s end (Great Lakes Echo): Despite Michigan’s decline in wildfires down to 86 so far in 2014 from a record high of 315 in 2012. according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the latter half of the year may prove to have higher than average numbers of wildfires.

Hunting hounds attack a wounded coyote. Photo courtesy of MLive.

Hunting hounds attack a wounded coyote. Photo courtesy of MLive.

Video in coyote killing raises questions about ethics and the future of wolf hunting in Michigan (MLive): After the discovery of a brutal video of hound dogs attacking a wounded coyote in Gogebic County, policies on how hound dogs can be used during hunting come into question. Although using these hunting dogs are not allowed when pursuing wolves, they are still allowed for other animals, leaving them vulnerable to hunting hound attacks. Legislators are reviewing the film as evidence in a case to determine the legality of hound use in the particular situation.

John Kerry launches global effort to save world’s oceans ‘under siege’ (The Guardian): On Wednesday, John Kerry launched his new global effort to protect oceans from over-fishing and plastic pollution and climate change. Kerry plans to discuss the topic at the State Department two-day summit June 16 and 17. The State Department said Kerry’s conference will help global awareness of issues surrounding the earth’s oceans.

Road salt changes urban ecosystems in big ways (Conservation Magazine): During the winter, tons of salt is dumped along roads throughout the Midwest. Despite the usefulness of salt on icy roads to make it easier and safer for drivers, it ends up running off into soils on the side of the road and changing their chemical composition. The salt can also find its way to bodies of water, plants and animals, changing the way the ecosystem evolves.

DNR offers tips for residents encountering snakes (Michigan Department of Natural Resources): The DNR has released information to help residents who may encounter snakes this summer. Michigan has 17 species of snakes, 16 of which are completely harmless to humans. To avoid snake bites, the DNR suggests getting no closer than within 24 inches of a snake’s head. Residents are also asked to report any reptile or amphibian sightings to the Michigan Herp Atlas research project.

 

 

MNA and The Nature Conservancy to host hikes at Echo Lake

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

A view of Echo Lake. Photo by Andrew Bacon via MNA archives.

A view of Echo Lake. Photo by Andrew Bacon via MNA archives.

MNA in coordination with The Nature Conservancy will be hosting themed hikes throughout the summer at the Echo Lake Nature Preserve.

The hikes will be a series of events throughout the summer called Saturdays at Echo Lake. The events are free and open to the public.

Echo Lake Nature Preserve is a 480-acre sanctuary located in Marquette County in the Upper Peninsula.  The preserve is home to several diverse habitats. It is known for its 20-acre lake which is surrounded by mountains, bedrocks, wetlands, three small high-rock ponds, creeks and mix of deciduous and coniferous forest.

While there, visitors can expect to see incredible views while hiking on rocks and bluffs from the highest points of the bedrock areas. Some sights include: Hogsback Mountain, Little Presque Isle and Lake Superior. There will also be several migratory birds to look out for who only appear for the warm seasons in Michigan. The preserve has been relatively untouched for most its existence, boasting a high water quality and dense wooded areas which provide protection for large mammals in the winter season.

MNA has worked with The Nature Conservancy for several years helping with stewardship services to help maintain the land and preserve its natural heritage. MNA has a conservation easement over the property which helps provide it with more levels of conservation protection. The Nature Conservancy has also partnered with several other organizations and departments on the conservation of the preservation.

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Guests will meet at Moosewood Nature Center to carpool to the hikes. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Andrea at (906) 225-0399 ext. 4019 or echolake@tnc.org.

Project in UP halted, EPA limits emissions and blacklights save bats: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

Court upholds UP ethanol plant review but project likely dropped (Great Lakes Echo): A federal appeals court has upheld the decision to review a $100 million construction subsidy in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The U.S. Department of Energy declared the project to be void of significant harm to the environment. Despite this, recent mandates calling for the elimination of cellulosic ethanol and an investor backing out may have closed the project.

An East Lansing resident explores options in the East Lansing Food Co-op. Photo by Corey Damocles courtesy of The State News.

An East Lansing resident explores options in the East Lansing Food Co-op. Photo by Corey Damocles courtesy of The State News.

Local grocers specialize to thrive (The State News): The East Lansing Food Co-op, among other stores, have tried ways to make them stand out to customers. The co-op is different compared to other grocery stores and provides organic and locally grown food, something a little different than at the supermarket. Owner David Finet said the co-op works directly with its producers when buying products.

EPA releases much-anticipated limits on power plant emissions (Huffington Post): The Environmental Protection Agency announced one of its new mandates: a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030. “For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Twitter chat about new EPA carbon pollution regulations (New York Times): The New York Times hosted a Twitter question and answer session with environmental reporter Coral Davenport. Davenport had an exchange with those asking questions about the new EPA regulations and their effects on coal-producing states, among other topics.

A map tracking cases of white-nose syndrome. Map by Lindsey Hefferman, courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

A map tracking cases of white-nose syndrome. Map by Lindsey Hefferman, courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Scientists diagnose white-nose syndrome in bats using ultraviolet lights (Conservation Magazine): The white-nose syndrome is devastating to many hibernating bats. The disease comes from a fungus and infects bats as they hibernate and often kill them. A major guide for scientists to start tackling this disease is to find its location, although it is difficult to locate as testing bats for the disease calls for killing them.