environment

Property owners along the Lake Michigan shoreline are worried about the rapid erosion caused by high water levels on the lake.
Gary Langley, FAA certified sUAS pilot / Interlochen Public Radio

As Lake Michigan water levels remain at a near record high, more and more shoreline is being eaten away everyday. Large trees are sliding down steep banks into the water, wooden staircases are being torn out and property owners are panicking. As the fall storm season approaches, some worry their homes will be next.


A half-century ago, within the span of two years, three of America’s rivers caught fire. One of them was in Michigan. Those fires ignited the environmental movement. 

On this date, October 9th, 50 years ago, the Rouge River caught fire. 

Three more wolves were brought to Isle Royal recently, bringing the total population on the island to 17.
Phyllis Green / National Park Service

Three wolves found a new home at Isle Royale National Park — a remote island cluster on Lake Superior by the Upper Peninsula — bringing the island’s wolf population to 17.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow visited Traverse City on Thursday to tout her plan to extend funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initiative has funded almost 900 projects in the northwest lower Michigan region, she says.

Earlier this month, Stabenow, D-Mich., introduced bipartisan-supported legislation that would renew funding for the initiative that expires next year. Her proposal would also increase the current budget by about 60 percent over the next seven years.

Creative Commons

 

Michigan is home to twice as many sand dunes as previously thought.

A researcher says maps done in the 80s only accounted for large dunes, usually found along a lakeshore, but a new map shows there are over 230,000 acres of dunes in the state.

Michigan State University’s Geography Chair Alan Arbogast says he looked at remotely sensed imagery, aerial photos, topographic maps and went on field visits to complete the map.

Taylor Wizner

 

Tubing down a river on a hot summer day is one of Michigan’s most popular pastimes. But after years of alcohol-fueled floats, the National Forest Service banned alcohol on the Au Sable, Manistee and Pine rivers.

 

The Forest Service has since backed off that ban due to public outcry. In its place, conservation officers have pledged to educate river users and ramp up law enforcement.

 

Now the question is, will it work?

 

Relaxing on the river

Bronte Cook/Interlochen Public Radio

The Huron-Manistee national forest covers nearly one million acres of land in northern Michigan - including the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness area, one of the most popular wilderness recreation sites in the region.

Nate Peeters, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Forest Service, says trails at the Nordhouse Dunes are really busy during the summer months; and while people are encouraged to use the wilderness as a resource, this presents unique problems. 

According to Peters, littering is one of the biggest human-based problems in the area.

Creative Commons

Michigan's Attorney General joined 20 other state Attorneys General this week to call on Congress to pass legislation tightening restrictions on PFAs. 

 

PFAs, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals that have been found across the state and are linked to health problems including cancer.

 

In June, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel submitted a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency calling for tighter PFAs restrictions. Now, she's asking for federal legislation. 

 

Wikimedia Commons

Environmentalists are calling for Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club to remove golf balls from Lake Michigan. Arcadia Bluffs is a popular course north of Manistee.

PFAS are toxic chemicals that don’t really break down, so they can remain in the environment and in people for a long time.
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / FLICKR

Over the past few years, Michiganders have become all too familiar with a class of chemicals known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. They’re toxic chemicals that have been found in water and land across the state.


Creative Commons

The Petoskey City Council unanimously approved a city-wide energy plan on Monday. It sets a goal of 100% renewable energy city-wide by 2035.

The plan is to replace fossil fuels with solar, wind and hydro-power to supply electricity for all Petoskey residents and businesses. 

Petoskey Mayor John Murphy says the city's investments in coal plants will terminate by 2030.

"We're moving away from coal, moving away from fracking and going into total renewable energy," he said. "It's going to be good for generations to come." 

Volunteers count frogs for annual DNR survey

Jun 13, 2019
Creative Commons

Frogs and toads are highly sensitive to habitat degradation, and that makes them a good barometer for environmental health.

Every year volunteers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources do a listening survey to determine which species of frogs and toads are present and how abundant they are.

 

Volunteer Kathy Gray's survey route is on Old Mission Peninsula.

“Well, I do love the toads. I love the trilling toads," Gray says.

 

Map shows prescribed burn areas
National Parks Service

For the first time, the National Park Service will do a controlled burn at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Officials say they plan to start the fire in two forested regions covering about 900 acres in the Platte River District.

Micah Bell is a fire prevention educator with the Great Lakes Fire Management Zone. He says without fire as a disruptor, hardwood trees will outcompete the pines and alter the forest’s ecology.

 

Credit Coreene Smith

  Michigan recycling programs have been struggling since China stopped taking U.S. plastic materials last year.

 

But Emmet County recycles their products in-house, so they haven't been affected as much.

Jim Malewitz, the environmental reporter for Bridge Magazine, has been following their program. He says Emmet County pays to haul materials to its own recycling center, then collects revenue from recycled products. 

Larry Martin puts another arrow on his bow string at FPS Archery shop in Cadillac.
Dan Wanschura

 

Deer hunting is declining in Michigan. In the late 1990’s, almost 800,000 people were hunting deer in the state. Twenty years later, that number has dropped by around 25 percent.

A new ban on deer baiting is likely to further that trend. 

But the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the ban is necessary for the long-term health of the state’s deer herd.


Wikimedia Commons

Anglers across Michigan won’t be able to catch as many perch. Right now they can get 50 per day but this spring it will be 25.

Randy Claramunt with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says perch populations have been declining for decades.

"There’s a lot of pressure on them in specific areas," Claramunt says. "So this … recognizes the value that yellow perch are to anglers in Michigan."

Claramunt says anglers pushed for the change because it may increase perch numbers. The new limit takes effect on April 1.

Northland College

If caretakers of the Great Lakes aren’t careful, thirsty people from all corners of the world could come calling for our abundant supply of fresh, clean water.

So warns Peter Annin’s book “The Great Lakes Water Wars," first published in 2006.

Water use in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest level in about 45 years.

But the U.S. Geological Survey found 12 states accounted for more than 50% of the total water withdrawals in the U.S. – and Michigan ranks 10th on that list.

Scientists are creating an experimental warning system for meteotsunamis in the Great Lakes.

Meteotsunamis are potentially dangerous waves that are driven by storms.

Eric Anderson is a physical oceanographer with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Meteotsunamis are a very particular kind of wave and we don’t yet have the ability to forecast when and where they’re going to occur,” he says.

Study: Droughts and heat waves happening at the same time

Aug 2, 2018

Dry months of the year have been getting hotter in large parts of the U.S.

Felicia Chiang is the lead author of a new study on droughts and climate change, from the University of California-Irvine.

“Essentially we found that droughts are warming faster than the average climate in the southern, the midwestern and the northeastern states of the U.S.,” she says.

EPA proposes new rule for asbestos

Aug 1, 2018

Asbestos is known to cause cancer. It’s banned for some uses in the U.S., but it’s not entirely banned.

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule, and new ways to evaluate the safety of asbestos.

Wind energy became popular because it can reduce the need for polluting coal and gas generated electricity. But, things are shifting now.

“The primary driver is economics,” said Stanley “Skip” Pruss with Five Lakes Energy, a consulting firm on sustainable energy.

Michigan is now just three weeks away from the primaries. In preparation, Stateside has invited the gubernatorial candidates back for one last chance to speak to you.

The first candidate in this last round of interviews is Abdul El-Sayed.

El-Sayed is 33 years old, and the former director of the Detroit Health Department.

There's nothing better during a Michigan summer than spending time at the Great Lakes.

Stateside asked you what questions you had about the state's freshwater seas, and we'll be bringing you answers all summer long. 

We'll start today with a question from listener Ted Bonarski in Grand Rapids. 

"Are there areas of the Lower Peninsula where the aquifer is filled with Lake Superior water, so that someone pumping up from a well was getting water that was chemically traceable to Lake Superior?" 

New tariffs are putting some Michigan newspapers and printers at risk of going out of business.

There’s more than a little irony in the fact that a state which built paper mills all over, no longer makes the kind of paper that newspapers use.

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