Latest Northern Michigan News

Interlochen Public Radio connects you to the stories, people and places of northern Michigan.

Outdoors: Federation squirrels

Jul 3, 2020

The rodents that thrive in dry sandy fields at Interlochen are called thirteen-lined ground squirrels. At least, that’s what we call them now.

Around Independence Day, I like to recall their original common name: federation squirrels.

These grasslands creatures have thirteen stripes, alternating dark and light, that are interspersed with little dots that look rather like stars.

Outdoors: The river of the Saw Beaks

Jul 2, 2020

The Little Betsie River connects the two lakes at Interlochen. Then the Betsie River flows from Green Lake to Lake Michigan.

They were named for a duck: a merganser.

Early maps of Lake Michigan bear names given by the French. They called the Betsie "la Reviere du Bec-Scie," or "the River of the Saw Beaks."

The French called mergansers “saw beaks” because of the serrations on the ducks’ narrow  bills. These sawtooth edges aid the birds in capturing and holding onto the slippery fish that make up the bulk of their diet.

Outdoors: Loons' breath control

Jul 1, 2020

At Interlochen, breath control is a big deal. 

Singers, wind players, actors and dancers all have to deal with the basic need to have enough breath to produce their art.

Our beloved loons have breath control under control.  These remarkable birds can dive and stay under water for about three minutes, maybe more. And that is while undergoing strenuous exercise!

You can watch them disappear beneath the surface, but it is anybody’s guess where they might resurface.

Outdoors: Countersinging birds

Jun 30, 2020

I love antiphonal music! 

The ethereal back and forth of double choirs in European cathedrals. The African American call and response form in jazz and gospel music.  And my personal  favorite: several brass choirs  stationed around the sides of Kresge Auditorium echoing back and forth through the hall and into the mall.

The dawn chorus at Interlochen is rather like antiphonal music. Birds take turns singing.   

Outdoors: The flowers that bloom in the spring

Jun 29, 2020
CC BY-SA 4.0

Have you ever noticed how often singers sing about nature?

Take Gilbert and Sullivan.  Librettist Sir William Schwenk Gilbert was remarkably knowledgeable in matters "vegetable, animal and mineral."

For example, in "The Mikado," Nanki Poo and Koko, addressing the shade intolerance of woodland wildflowers, sing,  “The flowers that bloom in the spring / tra la / breathe promise of merry sunshine.”

Audio Guide to Summer: June 26

Jun 26, 2020
Margot Wynkoop

Fireflies are out and have been spotted in northern Michigan this week. The best place to see fireflies is in tall grass where there is little other light.  The flashing lights are a signal to attract mates. 

Fireflies are carnivores.  In their larval state they eat slugs and snails, so they’re good for your garden and your lawn.

Audio Guide to Spring: June 19

Jun 19, 2020
Cheryl Bartz

It’s time for snapping turtles to lay their eggs.  Snapping turtles are easy to identify because of their large size, the spikes on their tail and their strong, muscular legs.  It’s now peak nesting season for snappers and other Michigan turtles. That’s a pretty good time to see them actually.  Jim Harding, a retired Wildlife Outreach Specialist for the Michigan State University Museum, says they need to move into the open to lay their eggs. 

"Sunset Station" in Arcadia Township has been devestated by high waters from Lake Michigan pounding its shoreline.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels in the Great Lakes are really high right now. Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie are all breaking records and creating all sorts of problems for communities on their shores.

Pandemic Stories: Racing the coronavirus

Jun 17, 2020
Kris Kruid

Kris Kruid was halfway across the world and had to race the coronavirus to get back to her home in Honor.  Borders were slamming shut behind her. She was in 13 airports in 8 days.  She told her story to Red Pine Radio producer Cheryl Bartz.

“I was in Botswana on a trip we’d been planning for a year to go on safari and then go see the great apes," she recalls. "Then my traveling companion turned on her phone and saw the news about borders closing. So then we had to get out.  South Africa was closing, and Kenya had already closed."

Taylor Wizner

 

In the early days of the pandemic Munson Healthcare administrators were in a flurry of panic.

 

 


Terry McMillan is a bestselling author known for her novels that feature female African American characters. Two of them, “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” were made into major motion pictures. Her latest book is “It’s Not All Downhill from Here.” Terry appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event. She spoke with Detroit’s director of arts and culture, Rochelle Riley. In the second half of our program today, we’ll hear a discussion with Scott Turow.

Audio Guide to Spring: June 12

Jun 12, 2020
Green frog photo
Baroness / Creative Commons

Green frogs

The rest of June is the peak time of year to hear green frogs calling.  “Green frog” is actually a species name.  These frogs might be green, yellow, olive or brown.

Kathy Gray, who volunteers with the Michigan DNR Frog and Toad Survey says, “it’s only the males who sing and they are trying to attract a female. That is how they sound. Like a banjo string. Just one kind-of-not-in-tune banjo string being plucked.”

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

White supremacists were behind rumors that a protest over the killing of George Floyd would turn violent, according to the Traverse City Police Chief.

“The ‘alt-right’ was saying they were ‘alt-left,’” Chief Jeff O’Brien told city commissioners Monday night.

Audio Guide to Spring: June 5

Jun 5, 2020
Captain-tucker CC

Monarch Butterflies are arriving in Michigan.  They overwinter in Mexico.  But it’s not actually the same monarch that arrives in Michigan that left Mexico. For some reason the monarch can make the trip from Michigan down to Mexico, but to return takes a few generations of butterflies.  So the one that arrives in Michigan might be the great great grandchild of the one that left Mexico.

Audio Guide to Spring: May 29

May 29, 2020
USDA NRCS Montana

It’s the peak of fawning season in Northern Michigan.

Steve Griffith, wildlife biologist with DNR, says right about now does are leaving their groups to find secluded places to give birth.  “As soon as the fawn can manage to walk, she’ll move them to a new spot and hide them.  And she’ll leave them for 8, 10, 12 hours at a time, feeding, but feeding close by, then she’ll come back and nurse. People think they’re abandoned. Very likely not the case. The mother is nearby.”

Max Johnston

U.S. tart cherry growers and processors narrowly voted to renew the Federal Marketing Order last week. The FMO passed with 53 percent of growers and 57 percent of processors in favor.

Audio Guide to Spring: May 22

May 22, 2020
Bill Erickson

On the Guide this week:

Kirtland’s Warblers will be showing up in the jack pine forests around Gaylord and Grayling this week.  There’s been good news about this bird in recent years. If you went back to 1971, there were just 167 pairs of Kirtland’s Warblers in the world.  In 2017, there were 2,000 pairs. That allowed it to be reclassified as a threatened species rather than an endangered species. 

Executive Office of the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says some rural regions of the state can partially re-open Friday, May 22 due to low COVID-19 infection rates. Restaurants and bars will be able operate at 50 percent seating capacity in the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Audio Guide to Spring: May 15

May 15, 2020
Bill Erickson

This week on the guide: 

This week is prime time for bird watching up north. You can see all kinds of colorful birds like Indigo Buntings, Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers and a whole range of warblers and they’re easier to see because the trees haven’t leafed out yet. 

Gretchen Carr

Life in northern Michigan relies on the water, land, forests and other natural wonders of the upper Great Lakes region.  IPR is committed to journalism that deepens our understanding of the natural world. That world is changing and our journalism needs to keep up. 

 

Audio Guide to Spring: May 8

May 8, 2020
Emily Cook

This week on the guide:

Early season trout fly fishing centers around the Hendrickson fly hatch that some call “The Gentlemen’s Hatch.”

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Several proposals on the ballot for Tuesday’s election passed in northern Michigan.

Here’s a list of unofficial results to ballot proposals:

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

On Tuesday, May 5 residents across Michigan will vote on local ballot proposals. Due to the coronavirus pandemic most voting will be done by mail, but there will be some in-person options for those who want or need it.

Cheryl Bartz

On the guide this week: the sky dance of woodcocks, the appetite and torpor of bats and the first spring flowering ephemerals.

 

 


Michigan House of Representatives

State House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona) is running for Antrim County Sheriff.

Cole has represented northern Michigan’s 105th district - which includes parts of Antrim, Otsego, Charlevoix, Montmorency and Oscoda counties - in the state house since 2014. 

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