Budget cuts, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and binge eating fish: this week in environmental news

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By Alyssa Kobylarek, MNA intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news stories related to conservation and the environment from around the state and country. Here is some of what happened this week in environmental news:

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A mother whale and her calf. Photo courtesy of Youtube.

Drone Captures Stunning Birds’-eye Video of Dolphin Superpod (National Geographic): The captain of a whale watching boat sent his camera into the sky to capture thousands of dolphins in the waters off of California’s coast, as well as a mother and baby whale.

Congress passes bill to protect Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes as wilderness area (The Washington Post): On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to protect 32,500 acres of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Senate approved the bill last June and President Obama is expected to sign it. This is the first wilderness bill approved by Congress since 2009.

Rains from 2013, snow and ice cover from this winter bring Great Lakes to more normal levels (mlive): A year ago, we saw the lowest water level recorded for Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The low level conditions have been reversed due to spring floods in 2013, wet conditions and this winter’s large amount of snow. There are issues associated with the high rise in water levels, like spring flooding, which is going to be a high threat in Southern Michigan. Even though we have seen a rebound from the record lows, officials are not ready to declare the low water crisis over.

Wind turbines are threatening migratory birds. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Wind turbines are threatening migratory birds. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Ohio wind turbine shutdown raises issue of migratory bird safety (Great Lakes Echo): Officials at the Camp Perry National Guard base in northern Ohio announced that they will suspend plans to build a wind turbine after complaints about it interfering with local migratory birds. Activist groups claim that the turbine would be too close to the birds’ path and could cause harm to them.

Wood loss from climate change turning fish into binge-eaters, says researcher (Great Lakes Echo): Low lake levels and wood loss are causing some fish to binge until they run out of food. Jereme Gaeta, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said woody habitat is great for foraging and it is a place for algae to grow and bugs to live. The result of the lowering levels of water is predator fish gorge themselves on prey fish who get caught in the open waters.

President Barack Obama’s budget seeks cuts in Great Lakes program (mlive): President Obama is proposing a spending cut for a program that deals with some of the Great Lakes’ most urgent threats. The proposal requests $275 million for the initiative.The program has funded projects across the eight-state region to help clean up issues involved with the lakes.

 

Toxic fish, contaminants in West Virginia and insecticides in otters: this week in environmental news

By Alyssa Kobylarek, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news stories related to conservation and the environment from around the country. Here is some of what happened this week in environmental news:

A North American river otter. Photo by Ken Thomas via Wikimedia Commons

A North American river otter. Photo by Ken Thomas via Wikimedia Commons

Review panel questions US plan to take gray wolf off endangered list (the guardian): There was a setback on the proposal to lift protection for gray wolves in the U.S. Federal wildlife officials want to remove the animals from the endangered species list across the lower 48 states. A peer review panel said that the government was relying on unsettled science and their claim that the Northeast and Midwest were home to a separate species of wolf, making gray wolf recovery in those areas unnecessary.

Record levels of banned insecticide found in Illinois otters (Great Lakes Echo): A study published in the journal “Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety” found high levels of chemical compounds in 23 otters in Illinois, the most troubling one being dieldrin. Dieldrin, which has been a banned insecticide since 1978, is linked to neurological, behavioral  and immune suppression problems in wildlife.

Michigan’s widespread toxic fish problem redefines ‘catch and release’ (mlive): Mercury and toxic PCBs (chemicals used for coolants in transformers) emitted in the atmosphere rain down on Michigan’s lakes which contaminate wildlife and pose a threat to people if they consume too much fish. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has drafted plans for reducing the levels of these contaminants. This will require cutting global PCB emissions by 94 percent and getting there could take 50 years.

Obama in East Lansing: His signature will change face of food stamp and farm program (mlive): President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill in East Lansing on Friday and it will have major impacts on Michigan farmers, researchers, rural communities and those who rely on food stamps. It will ensure that tart cherry growers have crop insurance and expands it to many other specialty crop growers that had to previously take low interest loans. The bill cuts about $1.7 billion a year from current spending levels.

More contaminant troubles for West Virginia (Environmental News Network): One month after the chemical spill in West Virginia that tainted the drinking water, another disaster occurred. 100,000 gallons of coal slurry, a waste fluid produced by washing coal with water and other chemicals, poured into the stream. Officials are trying hard to contain the spill so it does not affect the Kanawha River.