MI Invasive Species, Poweshiek Skipperlings, and Bees: this week in environmental news

Michigan Invasive Species (MI.gov): Does your work take you to several outdoor sites in one day? Do you fish or hunt at different locations in the same week? If so, your actions could be considered high-risk for spreading species around the state. Want to learn more? Take a few minutes to watch this new video that briefly explains the best ways to look for and remove invasive species.

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Poweshiek skipperling. Photo: Erik Runquist/Minnesota Zoo.

The Poweshiek Skipperling: A Prairie Butterfly on the Brink (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species): Poweshiek skipperlings are small butterflies that live only in native prairies that have never been plowed, which makes them vulnerable. Until recently, the species (Oarisma poweshiek) was one of the most common prairie-obligate skipper in the Midwest. Yet, in the last decade, surveyors observed an abrupt and rapid decline in the species, and population after population began to vanish. Despite extensive surveys, the skipperling appears to exist in critically low numbers at just a handful of sites scattered between Wisconsin, Michigan, and Manitoba.

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The proposed trail. Image: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Trail segment installed at Sleeping Bear (Great Lakes Echo): A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held recently for a new segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The trail will eventually run 27 miles from Empire northeast about halfway up the Leelanau Peninsula. To limit environmental impact, the trail follows existing utility corridors, abandoned roads and a narrow gauge railroad. That minimizes its impact on forested areas and wetlands. Boardwalks are built with helical piles, a more environmentally friendly alternative to cement foundations. Instead of digging up landscape and pouring permanent cement, the piles screw directly into the ground and can be unscrewed if needed.

MSU researcher: more wild bee habitat would benefit growers (Great Lakes Echo): For farmers across Michigan and the country, pollination is essential for making their crops grow. For years now, they’ve kept a close eye on a key pollinator, bees, mainly because their numbers have been declining. Listen to the podcast with Rufus Isaacs, a professor of entomology at MSU, to learn more.

U.P. Land Protection, Dark Skies Preserves, and Forests: this week in environmental news

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The Upper Peninsula’s Pilgrim River passing through Houghton County. Photo: Joe Kaplan

1,300 acres of wild Michigan land protected from development (mlive): A new state conservation easement is putting nearly 1,300 acres of copper country land and 3.5 miles of the Pilgrim River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula under protection from development. In addition to protecting the recreational values of the land, this project also protects wildlife habitat and ensures sustainable timber management continues on the property. The forested land provides habitat for wildlife like black bears, white-tailed deer, bald eagles, fisher, pine marten, mink, and otter. It also functions as a stopover for migrating raptors and songbirds crossing Lake Superior in the spring and fall.

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Dark sky parks offer premium stargazing opportunities. Photo: Beth Anne Eckerle

Michigan expands dark skies preserves (Great Lakes Echo): A new law was created to protect northern Michigan state parks from artificial light pollution. The law specifies Rockport State Recreation Area, in Alpena and Presque Isle counties, Negwegon State Park in Alpena and Alcona counties, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park in Presque Isle County, among a few other State Parks. The designation promotes stargazing and night photography in the parks, while giving an edge to Michigan tourism. People travel all over the world, like birders, to see dark sky parks.

Invasive species threaten Michigan forests (Great Lakes Echo): The Department of Natural Resources forest report has some forestry experts worried about Michigan’s future ecological well-being. Pests such as the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid bug and the spruce budworm, combined with the warming climate, threaten several tree and animal species. Many efforts are in place to combat hemlock wooly adelgid, such as the state performing aerial surveys of 20 million forested acres and numerous ground surveys to detect disease and insect infestations.

Private companies operate at Sleeping Bear (Record Eagle): Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s landscapes and waterways call out to the inner explorer – and also to private commercial companies. From yoga classes to scattering ashes, 21 businesses use the park to offer experiences and services that the park cannot. Businesses promote the park – the more people interested in nature, the more support natural areas will get.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, gray wolves, and invasive species: this week in environmental news

sleeping bear dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Living Lab: Science a constant at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Record-Eagle): More than 30 scientific studies take place within the park at any given time. Some studies include topics such as tree generation, tree disease, and the impact of deer on vegetation. The public is able to learn about the studies taking place by attending Research Rendezvous talks, which are presented by scientists themselves. The talks are free and take place at Sleeping Bear’s Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire.

Nature-inspired art exhibit opens Saturday at U-M (Detroit Free Press): The art exhibit “Forest & Tree – a Multitude of Gifts”, featuring nature-inspired works, is opening this weekend at the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The exhibit, displaying works from nearly 70 artists, runs through January 3.

Scientists call for continuing Great Lakes wolf protections (Upper Michigans Source): Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region should not yet be removed from the federal endangered species list, a group of scientists and scholars say, disagreeing with colleagues who said the population has rebounded sufficiently. The scientists contend the wolves still meet the legal definition of endangered species and need to continue to follow state management plans.

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Scientists say gray wolves should remain on the endangered species list.

New invasive species discovered in Michigan rivers (The Arenac County Independent): The Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that two new aquatic invasive species have been detected in Michigan. Rock snot and the New Zealand mud snail have only been found in one river each.

School’s out for summer: fun activities for kids

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

The final bell has rung and students of all ages have rushed out the door to greet the warm summer season.

There are plenty of fun outdoor activities to do while enjoying Michigan’s lush foliage from now through September that can be great for kids of all ages and their families.

Here are some entertaining activities to keep healthy and energized during summer break:

MNA members and stewards gather at the Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary in Mackinac County to take pictures. Photo by Marianne Glosenger.

MNA members and stewards gather at the Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary in Mackinac County to take pictures. Photo by Marianne Glosenger.

Plan your visit to an MNA sanctuary near you

MNA has over 170 nature sanctuaries in both peninsulas throughout the Great Lakes State. Each sanctuary is unique with its own type of habitat and fauna. Visiting a sanctuary is a great way to explore Michigan’s nature and learn about native plants and animals. There are also several opportunities to volunteer to preserve native plants and animals with the upcoming volunteer days in different sanctuaries.

When planning your visit to an MNA nature sanctuary remember that only foot travel is permitted so leave bikes and motorized vehicles at home. Remember to be respectful of the plants in the sanctuary and do not pull plants or collect seeds. Also remember to stay on trails and, if guided by a steward, remain close. More detailed information about sanctuary visitation policies can be found here.

Find out about upcoming events here. Visitors may also bring cameras and take photos but are asked to be aware to not accidentally harm plants or animals. Here’s your chance to showcase those photography skills and enter the MNA photo contest, submissions due August 1.

A view of Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark.

A view of Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark.

Visit parks

Michigan has many local parks which can provide an array of fun activities. For those living in the metro-Detroit area, Huron-Clinton Metroparks offer several opportunities to get out and have fun. One notable park is Kensington Metropark, located in Milford Township. Kensington offers nature trails, a biking/walking 8-mile loop, play-scapes, a farm center, boating, golfing, swimming and water slides. Click here for more details on pricing and permit fees.

For a statewide searchable listing of parks across Michigan, check out the Pure Michigan website.

Join an outdoor recreational sports team

For something fun to commit to, joining a sports team can be fun and beneficial for health. Baseball, softball, soccer and other outdoor sports might be offered in summer leagues locally. Check local websites to find out more information. Arranging just-for-fun groups to play in parks or other public areas can be fun too.

Go for a swim

Sometimes the only way to beat the heat is to take a dip. Michigan offers many lakes and public pools for residents to cool off in the hot summer season. Making a visit to one of the Great Lakes is also fun for the whole family. Be sure you check for open public beach spots. Also take note of beaches with or without lifeguards. Make sure to take proper precautions like water-wings and supervision for small children. Check out Pure Michigan’s guide for the Great Lakes here.

Explore Michigan’s history

The coast of Mackinac Island, a motor-vehicle-free spot. Photo courtesy of missionpoint.com.

The coast of Mackinac Island, a motor-vehicle-free spot. Photo courtesy of missionpoint.com.

There are many different parts of Michigan with rich histories and stories behind them. Planning a visit to local areas or museums can be fun and educational. Here are some fun, popular places to check out:

On your visit to any lake, park or nature sanctuary make sure you abide by their individual rules and respect the nature around you.

 

Deer penalties, osprey nests and gypsy moth removal: 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 state and country. Here is some of what happened this week in environmental news:

New state law stiffens penalties for poaching deer, especially bucks with trophy-sized racks (mlive): A new state law designed to deter poaching deer is in effect in Michigan. The new law makes changes to the fines and restitution payments for poaching deer. This law should help curb poaching in Jackson County where big bucks are known to be present.

Gypsy moths defoliate trees and impact Ohio's timber industry. Photo courtesy of WIkimedia Commons

Gypsy moths defoliate trees and impact Ohio’s timber industry. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ohio’s Department of Agriculture to treat Gypsy Moth (Great Lakes Echo): Parts of Ohio will be treated to slow the spread of the gypsy moth in early spring. Fifty-one counties are under gypsy moth quarantine due to the attacks on more than 300 types of trees and shrubs. Gypsy moths have a negative impact on Ohio’s forestry and defoliate trees. The two approaches to suppress the population are mating distribution and the use of BT, which is a bacterium used to control moth caterpillars.

President Obama signs Sleeping Bear Dunes wilderness legislation into law (mlive): On Thursday, President Obama signed the bill to designate 32,557 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as wilderness under the National Wilderness Preservation System. This is the first wilderness protection bill to pass both chambers since 2009, and is the result of years of planning.

Joseph Sax, Who Pioneered Environmental Law, Dies at 78 (The New York Times): Joseph Sax, who helped shape environmental law in the United States and fueled the environmental movement, died Sunday in California. He emerged in 1970 as one of the most prominent of a new breed of lawyers focusing exclusively on the environment. He wrote Michigan’s environmental act, which became law in 1970 and was used in nearly 300 federal and state decisions between 1997 and 2008.

Ospreys often make their nests on cellular and utility towers which obstruct access. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ospreys often make their nests on cellular and utility towers which obstruct access. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Experts warn against osprey nest removal (Great Lakes Echo): Osprey nest in tall objects and commonly are found in cellular and utility towers. But the nests obstruct access to the towers and lines and utility workers often move them so they can work. Osprey, though, use the same nests for up to 10 years. Protection for the birds is lenient and if there are no birds or eggs in the nest, it is legal to remove it, but companies are doing what they can to help protect them.

 

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.

 

Farm bill, drops in Monarch migration and invasive species: this week in environmental news

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A Monarch Butterfly. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By Alyssa Kobylarek, MNA Intern

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

Monarch butterflies drop, migration may disappear (The Washington Post): The number of Monarch butterflies that migrate to Mexico from the United States in the winter is at a record low since 1993, experts say. There are a number of reasons that could be the cause, but the believed main culprit is herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops that are leading to the killing of milkweed, the butterfly’s main food source. This years extreme weather patterns are also playing a significant role.

White Lake to be first Area of Concern in Michigan removed from list this summer (mlive): White Lake should be removed from the Great Lakes Area of Concern list by the summer of 2014 due to efforts to bring awareness and routine cleanups to the lake and surrounding areas. White Lake would become the first of 14 lakes of concern in Michigan to be removed from the list. Efforts included cleaning up the shoreline to make the lake more ascetically pleasing and removing drinking water pollution.

Sleeping Bear bill likely headed to House floor (record eagle): Legislation has been introduced to protect 32,500 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as a wilderness area, which is important to northern Michigan’s tourism industry and conservation. The bill has made its way closer to reaching the U.S House of Representatives this past week.

Farm bill heads to vote; US Sen. Debbie Stabenow talks about how it could affect Michigan (mlive): A five-year farm bill was announced that will extend crop insurance for apple and tart cherry farmers in Michigan. The frost that occurred in 2012 destroyed 90 percent of the states crops and the new bill will allow disaster assistance for farmers who were affected by this. Also, when farmers sign up, they are agreeing to adopt better conservation practices to benefit the land and the Great Lakes.

Cold spells may kill some but not worst invasive bugs (Great Lakes Echo): A recent study found that this severe winter we are experiencing may lead to the death of some invasive species of insects. The emerald ash borer, though, seems unaffected. The storms happened later in the winter resulting in animals acclimating to the weather and the cooler temperatures so they become less affected. MSU professor Deborah McCullough hopes that the cold will kill off other harmful species that are less immune to the weather like the mimosa webworm.