Earth Day, Crane Count, and Freshwater Turtles: this week in environmental news

Earth Day – April 22 (Earth Day Network): Happy Earth Day! We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action. In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues.

Annual Midwest Crane Count (International Crane Foundation): The Annual Midwest Crane Count is one of the largest citizen-based wildlife surveys in the world. One of the primary purposes of the Count is to monitor the abundance and distribution of cranes in the Upper Midwest. Each year in mid-April, over 2,000 volunteers travel to their local wetlands and favorite birding locations to participate in the Crane Count. This annual survey of Sandhill and Whooping Cranes spans over 90 counties in six states of the upper Midwest (Wisconsin and portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota).

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Sandhill Cranes, United States. Photo: John Ford

National Wildlife Refuges Help to Recover Threatened, Endangered Species in Michigan and Wisconsin (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Newsroom): The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Recovery Initiative is working with the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to help recover the threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid in Michigan. They will establish a population of threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid using plant orchid plugs in suitable habitat at the refuge. Staff will also manage an orchid population on private land near the refuge to harvest seed to supplement the planted plugs. Monitoring of the plugs and hand pollination of orchids on the private land will occur for three years, and results will be assessed to focus future recovery actions.

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Karner blue butterfly and eastern prairie fringed orchid. Photos: USFWS.

Metal heads and body burdens: Lake Michigan turtles can’t get the lead out (Great Lakes Echo): Painted and snapping turtles accumulate heavy metals in their tissues, according to a recent study in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Some of these medals come from local industries. Bearing the burdens of these metals could shorten turtle life spans and make them less fertile, although these impacts on painted and snapping turtles have not yet been measured. In fact, freshwater turtles have been a bit neglected by research. More research is needed before an ongoing metal monitoring program can be instilled.

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Brockway Mountain, Butterflies, and Natural Shorelines: this week in environmental news

Residents split over approved cell phone tower (ABC 10 News): The view of the majestic Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor will soon be changed forever. The FCC gave its stamp of approval for a new cell phone tower to be placed on top of the Mountain. Supporters say the 199 foot tower will provide Verizon customers in the area with cell phone service and most importantly, access to 911 service on a cell phone. Though the addition of cell service is welcomed by many residents of the area, a group opposed to the tower has been fighting to have it placed anywhere but on Brockway. They claim that Brockway Mountain belongs to everyone, and its purpose is to give people access to a beautiful, unspoiled view.

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A black swallowtail. Photo: Creative Commons

Buffs boost black swallowtail as best bet for state butterfly (Great Lakes Echo): The black swallowtail would flit over Michigan as the official butterfly of the state if recently proposed legislation is approved. The black swallowtail was picked since it is a fulltime Michigan resident. Designating the swallowtail as the state butterfly can lead to teaching opportunities. Butterflies are part of the nature food chain, they’re beautiful and pleasing to the eye, and they’re pollinators.

Workshop teaches about the importance of natural shorelines on inland lakes (MSU Extension): The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP), a diverse group of statewide partners including MSU Extension, MDEQ, and Michigan Lake & Stream Associations whose goals are to train contractors and landscape professionals who work at the water’s edge and educate lake residents about the importance of natural shorelines. They also provide demonstrations of shoreline landscapes that people can visit and encourage local and state policies that continue to promote local natural shoreline management. The Protecting Your Shoreline: A Workshop for Inland Lakefront Property Owners offers three separate trainings in April and May.

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Monarch butterfly with the Minneapolis skyline in the background. Photo: Kyle Daly/USFWS.

The Twin Cities of Minnesota Pledge to Help Monarch Butterflies (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Newsroom): The Twin Cities of Minnesota, and its communities, have recognized the importance of the monarch butterfly and all it stands for. Mayor Chris Coleman, of St. Paul, and Mayor Betsy Hodges, of Minneapolis, have joined forces to sign the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, making the Twin Cities the 100th locale nationwide to take the Pledge. The Pledge is a National Wildlife Federation campaign working to empower mayors and local government chief executives to help save the declining monarch butterfly.