Fishing for plastic, algae threats and California’s drought policies: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

A University of Michigan research scientist and her research assistant sift through debris from the water. Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Echo.

A University of Michigan research scientist and her research assistant sift through debris from the water. Photo 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:

Researchers troll for plastic on Great Lakes fishing boat (Great Lakes Echo): Captain David Brooks of the Nancy K boat headed out to Lake St. Clair in pursuit of catching bits of plastic in the water. His curiosity was piqued by the fact that a sweater he owned was made of plastic and bits of plastic washed down the drain when he cleaned it. His intention with the plastic hunt in the water was to find out how harmful these bits of plastic can really be to the environment.

Bracing for Lake Erie algae threats to drinking water (Great Lakes Echo): The 2011 all-time high record of the algae blooms in Lake Erie was followed up by a close second high in 2013. Scientists and government organizations are becoming more concerned about the dangers posed by the toxic algae crowding the lake. Researchers take a closer look at the water, algae and problems surrounding it.

California approves forceful steps amid drought (New York Times): State officials have moved forward with implementing harsh repercussions for over-using water. Citizens could be fined $500 per day for simply washing a car or watering a garden. Still, convincing urban residents of the seriousness of the drought has been a difficult task.

3-D images captured with help from a panda, California condor pair and a dugong,.

3-D images captured with help from a panda, California condor pair and a dugong,.

Animals live in 3-D, now scientists do, too (Conservation Magazine): Finding animals’ home ranges have been part of recent studies. These home ranges would help scientists study animals and their habitats and employing 3-D mechanisms has helped them to get a closer look at animal life.

Still poison: Lead bullets remain a big problem for birds (Conservation Magazine): The Bipartisan Sportsman Act of 2014 may have given different parties a chance to unite in support, but would have had other implications for birds during hunting season. The bill would have called for an exemption for lead ammunition and fishing tackle from “longstanding regulations.” Recent studies have shown a growing issue with lead poisoning leading to the death of birds.



Parking lots, 20-pound fish and a Michigan trailblazer: This week in environmental news

By Annie Perry, MNA Intern

Each Friday, MNA highlights environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here are five of this week’s stories on nature and the environment:

Renovations to a parking lot near Lake St. Clair will help cut down on pollution in the lake. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Huge ‘green’ parking lot will reduce Lake St. Clair pollution (Macomb Daily): Macomb County officials have wrestled with the pollution problems in Lake St. Clair for 20 years and concluded that a major cause of this pollution is rainwater that runs off streets and parking lots into the lake. A $3.3 million project to substantially alter a 42-acre parking lot, located within 100 feet of Lake St. Clair, will break ground on May 9 and make the parking lot more environmentally friendly. Half of the parking lot will be reconstructed and will combine parking spaces with ponds, swales, grassy areas, trees and shrubs. Stormwater will be diverted into those areas, rather than into the lake. The other half of the lot will receive a new “seal coat” on the asphalt.

20 Pounds? Not Too Bad, for an Extinct Fish (The New York Times): Last year, fisherman Matt Ceccarelli caught and released a 24-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout—a trout once believed to have gone extinct. The Lahontan cutthroat trout has been the focus of an “intense and improbable” federal and tribal effort to restore it to its home waters at Pyramid Lake in Nevada after the lake’s strain was declared extinct in the mid-1940s. In 2006, federal officials began stocking Pyramid Lake with Pilot Peak cutthroats, which have an exact DNA match to the cutthroats once found in Pyramid Lake. The fish is making an apparent comeback—since November, dozens of anglers have reported catching cutthroats.

Wet spring offers some relief for low Great Lakes levels, experts say (The Detroit News): The wet weather Michigan’s been having may boost water levels in the Great Lakes, but experts are uncertain by how much the levels will rise or how long it will last. Runoff from melting snow and rain showers typically causes the lake levels to rise in the spring, and Lakes Michigan and Huron have risen 6 inches this month. However, Keith Kompoltowicz from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that the lakes need several more wet winters and springs to return to their normal levels.

Veteran hopes to boost economy, fitness by blazing Michigan trail (Great Lakes Echo): Chris Hillier of Taylor, Mich., was recognized Thursday as a nominee for the Governor’s Fitness Award for Veteran of the Year. This award honors a military veteran who goes “above and beyond” to promote healthy lifestyles in the state. Hillier has hiked more than 6,000 miles since 2011, mostly across Michigan, and is starting a 924-mile hike that will take him from Belle Isle in Southeast Michigan to Ironwood in the Western Upper Peninsula. This route was proposed by Gov. Snyder last November and “connects existing pathways with new trails to showcase Michigan’s waterways, diverse forests, and unique animals.” This new trail could boost local economies and establish Michigan as the top trail state in the country.

Earth Month: 12 intriguing environmental books (USA TODAY): Wendy Koch, USA TODAY’s environment and energy reporter, shares 12 new books about the environment in celebration of Earth Month.