Mining in Mackinac, forest pests and reducing emissions: this week in environmental news

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA shares recent environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here’s some of what happened this week in environmental and nature news:

Caption. Photo by blah

Graymont Inc.’s plan to start mining in Mackinac. Photo by UpNorthLive

Limestone producer looks to build massive underground mine in the U.P. (Up North Live): The Canadian company, Graymont Inc., is one of the largest limestone producers in North America. The company wants to start mining in the Upper Peninsula by buying 10,000 acres of Mackinac County land that currently is owned by the Department of Natural Resources. The land will be divided up between an underground mine, surface mining and a processing plant. County residents have mixed reactions to the plan, claiming it will bring jobs, but also harm the environment. The DNR is accepting feedback for the next six weeks on the situation.

Climate change opens doors to forest pests new to Great Lakes (Great Lakes Echo): The changing climate will increase the frequency of droughts, increase the severity of snow/rain storms and make frosts occur later. These things will make trees more vulnerable to insects and disease. Insects such as the mimosa webworm and the hemlock woolly adelgid are a concern for the Great Lakes region. The mountain pine beetle, however, is the most dangerous because it could mean a higher risk of forest fires if the insect causes an increase in pine tree mortality.

Snuffing out smoke: West Michigan school bus drivers shut off engines to reduce emissions (MLive): Schools in West Michigan are taking steps toward reducing the amount of fumes that come out of their school buses by turning off the buses rather than letting them idle. Newer buses also have higher standards when it comes to harmful emissions. A recent USA Today story reported that soot levels in air samples at Cincinnati public elementary schools dropped after the schools implemented the change.

What America’s forests looked like before Europeans arrived (Mother Nature Network): Researchers know the landscape of America’s Northeastern forests are dramatically different today than they were 400 years ago, before European settlers arrived. Because of a rare fossil discovery in Pennsylvania, scientists were able to piece together the full story of America’s early forests. They are hoping that if they can identify fossil tree-leaf sites, it can help with forest restoration projects throughout the Northeastern United States.

Michigan’s feral swine numbers are dropping…or are they? (Great Lakes Echo): Wild pigs in Michigan are known to carry diseases, infect farm pigs and destroy land. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the number of feral swine in Michigan has dropped significantly. But, other groups are saying differently. The DNR’s report shows that less than ten feral swine were reported this year, whereas over 40 were reported last year. Mary Kelpinski, executive director of Michigan Pork Producers Association, said the problem is actually growing worse and they are having a hard time getting people to report sightings.

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July 14-15: Join MNA for an Exciting Weekend in Mackinac County

By Chelsea Richardson

Kayak the Les Cheneaux Islands

Join us for a kayak tour of the spectacular Les Cheneaux Islands

The second weekend in July will be a busy one in Mackinac County for MNA members.

On Saturday, July 14, the Michigan Nature Association is teaming up with Woods and Water Ecotours for a guided paddling excursion through the beautiful Les Cheneaux Islands.

The Les Cheneaux Islands lie east of the Mackinac Bridge along the northern shore of Lake Huron near Cedarville. The 36 island archipelago that makes up the Les Cheneaux Islands provides sheltered channels and bays within the straits of Mackinac.

Historically, these islands were used by Native Americans and French explorers to reach the straits of Mackinac. They have been designated by the Nature Conservancy as one of the last greatest places in the Western Hemisphere because of their pristine environment.

Participants will paddle the protected waters of this 36 island archipelago near Cedarville, exploring inner bays, beautiful boreal forests, wildflowers and freshwater marshes. The area has long been a popular summer escape for paddlers, with sailboats and summer cottages around the islands.

A certified kayak guide/instructor, all equipment and lunch are provided. No experience is necessary. For more information about the kayak trip, visit the MNA website.

Not too far from the Les Cheneaux Islands is MNA’s Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary. On July 15 at 1 p.m., the Odyssey Tour will visit this this beautiful sanctuary and hike its easy terrain while taking in all that Northern Michigan has to offer.

Purple Coneflower

A purple coneflower at Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Aaron Strouse

This sanctuary, once called the Purple Coneflower Plant Preserve, is one of only two places in Michigan where the purple coneflower can be found.

In a single day’s trip to the sanctuary, visitors have reported seeing blue-eyed grass, violets, evening primrose, St. John’s wort, and a number of orchids in addition to coneflower.  Bald eagles have been spotted on occasion, as well as evening grosbeak, sandhill cranes, deer, a red fox, and a large black bear.

For more information about the Odyssey Tour, see the Odyssey page on the MNA website.

We hope you’ll join us in Mackinac County during this fun-filled weekend! Give us a call at (866) 223-2231 if you have any questions.