Fewer forest fires, a wolf hunt battle, and a scenic drive: this week in environmental news

Here’s a quick rundown of some of what happened this week in environmental news in Michigan and around the globe:

Gov. Snyder likely to tackle energy and water issues in next term (Michigan Radio): In a post-election discussion with Michigan Radio, James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council expects that energy will be a big issue for Gov. Snyder as federal regulations for clean energy will come into play. Snyder is also expected to unveil a water strategy in the next six months.

Battlefront on wolf hunt likely to shift to court (Detroit Free Press): Voters Tuesday rejected two proposals that would have affirmed the National Resources Commission’s ability to name wolves and other animals as game eligible for hunting. This will impact a state law change last August that gives the commission that authority. The decision will likely next go before a judge.

Wet weather douses forest fires (Great Lakes Echo): Michigan has had an unusually small number of wildfires this year, likely due to the an unusually large amount of rain. According to Scott Heather, assistant chief of DNR’s Forest Resources Division, this season resulted in the fewest wildfires he’d seen in his 37-year career. The largest fire the DNR responded to was about 150 acres. Typically, there is at least one fire that is 1,000 acres or more. This is a stark contrast to 2012, which saw the Duck Lake Fire spread 11 miles and burn over 21,000 acres.

Keweenaw Peninsula highway makes magazine list of ‘Best Scenic Roads’ (MLive): The November 2014 issue of Country Magazine ranked the UP’s U.S. 41 among the top 10 most picturesque drives in the U.S. in a special section highlighting unique byways. MNA members who have visited one of MNA’s 15 Keweenaw Peninsula nature sanctuaries are likely very familiar with this beautiful drive.

A 2001 photo provided by the C.S. Mott Foundation shows a waterfall on the Keweenaw Penisula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (MLive file photo)

Fall foliage, Great Lakes restoration, and wolves: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news related to conservation and the environment from around the state and country. Here is a bit of what happened this week in environmental news:

The 10 best fall foliage trips in the U.S. (Huffington Post): The Huffington Post lists ten places to see America’s awe-inspiring fall beauty. It’s no surprise that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula makes the list.

Good fall color is showing “halfway up the Keweenaw Peninsula” on Sept. 22, 2014. (Courtesy: Mlive commenter jeltez42)

Michigan fall colors: Trees are changing fast with one part of Michigan near peak fall color (MLive): Speaking of fall foliage, MLive reports that parts of the western Upper Peninsula may be reaching peak fall color in just a few days. The U.P is expected to peak next week, and the northern Lower Peninsula should peak during the second week of October. Southern Michigan should peak during mid-October.This year’s fall color seems to be pacing about a week ahead of normal.

EPA unveils second phase of plan to reverse Great Lakes damage (The New York Times): On Wednesday, the federal government revealed a plan for efforts to restore the Great Lakes. The plan includes cleaning up 10 contaminated rivers and harbors and an increased course of attack on poisonous algae blooms. The program will also include an attempt to buffer the lakes against the effects of climate change.

Heirs to Rockefeller fortune divest from fossil fuels over climate change (The Guardian): This week, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune withdrew their funds from fossil fuel investments. Rockefellers included, more than 800 global investors have pledged to withdraw a total of $50 billion from fossil fuel investments over the next five years. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund controls approximately $860 million in assets, 7% of which are invested in fossil fuels.

Want to hunt Michigan wolves? You’ll have to wait until at least 2015 (Detroit Free Press): The Natural Resources Commission will not schedule a hunt of gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula for 2014. There are two proposals concerning wolf hunts on the November ballot, and the NRC says that the vote is happening too late in the year for the organization to have the authority to schedule a hunt in 2014.

 

Greenhouse gasses, birds and some fall color: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories from around the state and country related to conservation and the environment. Here is a brief overview of what happened this week in environmental news:

Where ice once capped the Sermeq Avangnardleq glacier in Greenland, vast expanses of the Arctic Ocean are now clear. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks (The New York Times): According to a draft of a major United Nations report, growth of greenhouse gas emissions has raised the risk of severe impacts over the coming decades. The report also states higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain, and other climate extremes are likely to intensify unless something is done to control emissions.

The 1,300 bird species facing extinction signal threats to human health (National Geographic News): Globally, one in eight bird species are threatened with extinction, and many others are in worrying decline. Habitat loss has been a factor in bird species’ decline for decades, but new threats to the environment, including certain chemicals, may threaten birds as well as humans.

Wolf hunt can proceed after Michigan House vote (Detroit Free Press): Michigan legislature voted Wednesday to support a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula, by a 65-54 vote. But, voters will still see two anti-wolf hunt proposals on the ballot in November. If voters pass those proposals, a hunt won’t occur in 2014.

Bare Bluff. Photo: Bob Stefko/Midwest Living

Legends of the Fall: Autumn Getaway to Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula (Midwest Living): Midwest Living profiles the Keweenaw Peninsula in a feature that includes stunning photography of some MNA favorites like Grinnell Memorial Nature Sanctuary at Bare Bluff! Also worth a look – Midwest Living‘s 30 Great Midwest Spots to See Fall Color (it’s no surprise that the Keweenaw tops this list as well!)

Great Lakes levels, deep-sea coral and an ‘incomplete’ grade: this week in environmental news

Each week, the Michigan Nature Association gathers news stories from around the state and country related to conservation, nature, and environmental issues. Here is a peek at what happened this week in environmental news:

Smoother sailing as Great Lakes levels continue their rebound (Detroit Free Press): After last winter’s record snowfall and a rainy spring, Great Lakes levels are recovering faster than they have in decades. All of the Great Lakes with the exception of Lakes Huron and Michigan are above their long-term average depths going back to 1918.

Great Lakes water levels have rebounded significantly. Photo via Detroit Free Press.

 

Reaching Deep: BP oil spill had big impact on deep-sea coral (Conservation Magazine): A new study finds that deep-water coral communities were affected by the BP oil spill, even at large distances from the wellhead itself.

State Senate approves measure that would cancel wolf hunt ballot measure (WKZO): The Michigan State Senate has approved a measure that could nullify items on the November ballot that will ask voters to ban wolf hunts in Michigan. Conservation officials say they hope the House will take up the issue later this month.

Environmental group gives MI Legislature an ‘incomplete’ grade (WKAR): The Michigan League of Conservation Voters recently graded the slate legislature on performance in the 2013-2014 session, giving legislators an “incomplete” for the environmental score.

Ohio farmers point to algae law loophole (Great Lakes Echo): Farm groups in Ohio and environmentalists say a new state law that will certify fertilizer doesn’t go far enough to reduce phosphorous run-off into Lake Erie.

Wolf hunt, recycling rates and ‘metabarcoding’: this week in environmental news

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:

A grey wolf. Photo from MNA Archives

A grey wolf. Photo from MNA Archives

Animal rights advocates launch new petition to drive halt to wolf hunting (Detroit Free Press): Animal rights advocates launched a petition drive on Monday to repeal the law that would give control over setting wolf hunts to the Natural Resources Commission. Passed in May, the law bypassed a petition drive mounted by activists last year that would have put a halt to a hunt of grey wolves in the Upper Peninsula. If the petition drive is successful, voters will face two ballot issues on wolves in November.

Michigan’s recycling rate is lowest in Great Lakes region (WKAR):Michigan’s recycling rate is just 20 percent, 10 percent lower than the regional average. Governor Rick Snyder is hoping to change that. In 2012, he identified increasing recycling rates as a priority for his administration.

How ‘insect soup’ DNA could help conservation efforts (Mother Nature Network): Researchers are turning to a method known as “metabarcoding” for identifying endangered insect species across the globe. The process involves identifying species from fragments of DNA in a single bulk sample, such as an “insect soup” or various crushed bugs. Though it may seem strange, researchers believe metabarcoding could allow could enable scientists to identify endangered insects that would otherwise go unnoticed across various regions and continents.

Vigilant residents take on lake invaders with hot water (Great Lakes Echo): The Glen Lake Association is doing its part to fight against invasive species with its boat-wash program in the northwestern Lower Peninsula. The boat wash station uses a warm-water spray to clean the hull and flush the engine of boats that have been in another lake. The program began in 1994 and efforts seem to be paying off; Big and Little Glen lakes are nearly invasives-free.

Climate change alters apples’ flavor (Conservation Magazine): A new study reports that Fuji apples are becoming softer and sweeter as a result of global warming. Scientists studied the apples from 1970 to 2010 and found that the annual average air temperature at the site increased by 0.31 to 0.34 degrees Celsius. Over that same time period, the apples’ acid level and firmness dropped.