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community weblog - [ Environment ]

BWCAW burn plan falls behind

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Has it simply been a lucky stretch of timely rain, careful campers and humid conditions that's caused a tenfold reduction in burned acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?

Or has global climate change come home to rest?

At least two Canadian studies and U.S. Forest Service statistics show that the southern boreal forest region of northern Minnesota and southern Canada is becoming a warmer and damper place, with enough additional summer moisture to dramatically reduce forest fires.

Although a warming atmosphere is expected to increase overall wildfires on the continent -- 46 percent across Canada, mostly in the west, according to one study -- the impact on the eastern boreal forests near the Great Lakes could be the opposite.  more...

 



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U.S. Steel is fined for pollution

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ECORSE -- In a move to help clean the air in Metro Detroit, U.S. Steel agreed with the state Monday to pay a $950,000 fine for its emission of small solids into the air Downriver and to install new pollution control equipment.

U.S. Steel also will make $200,000 in improvements to its property on the lower Detroit River, destroying old concrete shipping docks and returning the shoreline to its natural state, under the agreement announced by state Director of Environmental Quality Steven Chester.   more...

 



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Marquette Township considers riparian buffer to protect Lake Superior

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MARQUETTE - Lake Superior serves as a model for the other Great Lakes with its pristine waters. Those living on its shores would love to keep it that way, but to what extent each person, business or government should be accountable is a matter of individual interpretation.

"Absolutely, no question about it. Lake Superior serves as a model for the other Great Lakes. As you travel south down the system the water quality drops off," said Paul Bertram, EPA environmental scientist aboard the Lake Guardian, a research vessel that has studied Great Lakes water quality over the last two decades.

Officials with the Central Lake Superior Watershed Partnership have been hanging blue door knob leaflets on Marquette Township residents' homes informing them of "stream-friendly gardening and landscaping practices." Last week, township residents and officials met to discuss the possibility of considering ordinances to enforce environmentally friendly practices.  more...

 



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RADIOACTIVE DUMP SITE CLOSE TO THE GREAT LAKES?

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In Canada, just across Lake Huron from Michigan, a small town is offering to be the home of Canada's first permanent dump site for radioactive material. The proposed site is a mile from Lake Huron. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Mary Ann Colihan reports on the town's work to get the site and the concerns about putting it close to one of the Great Lakes:

Right now, Canada has nowhere to permanently store its low-level and intermediate-level nuclear waste. This waste is NOT spent nuclear fuel from power plants. It’s contaminated material that’s been exposed to radioactive substances. It could be anything from the protective clothing workers wear at nuclear power plants to parts from reactors, anything that’s been exposed to radioactivity. The Ontario town of Kincardine - located about 250 miles north of Detroit - has proposed that it be the site of a nuclear waste dump.

So why would a beach town want a nuclear dump?   more...

The Woman's Legacy site has more on this issue

Ontario Power Generation's site on the hosting agreement with Kincardine

The EPA's definition of low-level radioactive waste



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  • canada has done a great job in chemical valley now this cant they figure out tha...more
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Another suburb seals water deal

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A year ago, Tittabawassee Township Supervisor Kenneth A. Kasper was protesting "an absolutely ludicrous" 161 percent increase in Saginaw city water rates and was threatening legal action.

Monday, he had words of praise after the City Council approved a water supply contract that will help continue housing development -- possibly with some commercial projects -- in the Freeland area.

City Manager Cecil A. Collins Jr. and consultant Andre R. Borrello arranged the details during the past few weeks.   more...

 



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Board delays decision on groundwater ordinance

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Action on Muskegon Township's controversial proposed groundwater ordinance was tabled Monday until March 7, although one of the township's polluters improved on its earlier offer, hoping to get the new rules passed.

Township board members unanimously agreed they need more time to get advice from their attorney, Douglas Hughes, regarding the ordinance's legal ramifications.

If adopted, the new rules would end reliance on wells for drinking or irrigation and force connections to municipal water in two areas where petroleum products already have polluted groundwater or are suspected of doing so. Those two areas are both sides of Laketon Avenue between Dangl and Sheridan and a small amount of property along Apple Avenue just east of U.S. 31. Other areas could be added later if the rules pass.   more...

 



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Water-supply worries filter down

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Oconomowoc - A largely untapped source of radium-free water flows beneath the sprawling 1,500-acre Pabst Farms development, and as more of the porous soil of the former fertile farmland is covered in concrete, measures to protect the water source will be put to the test.

The Pabst Farms area, with an aquifer that nearly reaches the surface instead of being 1,000 or more feet deep as in cities to the east, could become crucial to solving the water woes facing communities with illegal levels of radioactive radium in their water supplies and failing wells. Waukesha already has identified that aquifer as a potential water source should its plan to tap Lake Michigan fail.   more...

 



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Musical idea may help out lakes

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Protecting the Great Lakes can feel like homework: Care to explain the Great Lakes Charter Annex to the class? Or summarize research on benthic macroinvertebrates?

Didn't think so.

So let's make it fun: Annual Great Lakes Aid music concerts, patterned after the hugely successful Live Aid and Farm Aid events, are in the works, organizers announced this weekend.

If they can pull it off (no sure thing) the shows will feature big-name headliners, donate millions of dollars in proceeds to Great Lakes environmental efforts and rotate among port cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo.

And before you diss Fuhrman for shooting his mouth off without having even a single singer or venue lined up, know this: He's got Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committed as a partner, a steering committee of people from national and regional conservation groups, and $10,000 in seed money donated last month by the Cleveland-based Gund Foundation.  more...

 



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Clinton River swims in fish

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP -- The much-maligned, coffee-colored Clinton River, known more for bacteria pollution and logjams, is becoming a hot spot for trout and salmon fishing.

The state Department of Natural Resources will stock 25,000 steelhead trout in the Clinton this spring, a 40 percent increase from the 15,000 young trout released into the stream last year.

About the time the fish are put in the stream at River Bend Park in Shelby Township in March is when state fish biologists expect another school of 2-foot long steelhead will begin migrating from Lake Huron up the Clinton.

If that isn't enough, anglers can also go after brown trout and Chinook salmon in the upper reaches of the Clinton in Shelby Township, Sterling Heights and Rochester, where the water is far superior to the contaminated area in the lower stretches of the stream.   more...

 



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Lakes cleanup cash offered

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The health of sediment in Great Lakes harbors and connecting rivers -- given a failing grade in a recent federal biological report card -- would get $50 million in cleanup money next year under the president's proposed budget being unveiled today.

But whether funding for the Great Lakes Legacy Act survives intact amid the hand-to-hand combat of congressional budget infighting is doubtful. Last year's $45-million proposal was halved after Congress got through with it. The previous year, $15 million was cut to $10 million.

So although the 5-year Legacy Act authorized $270 million, only $82.5 million will have been approved in its first three years even if a Pollyanna scenario pans out and the proposal is untouched.   more...

 



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THIRSTY CITY WAITS FOR WATER DIVERSION LAW

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Great Lakes governors and their counterparts in Canada are working on a legal agreement called Annex 2001. The document will determine how water from the Great Lakes will be used and who gets to use it. Controversy has already erupted over the possibility of one city's bid for the water. The city is looking toward the completed Annex for guidance. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Christina Shockley reports:

Dan Duchniak says he’s an environmentalist.

“We have the low-flow showerheads in our house, we have the low-flow faucets, we have the high-efficiency washers and dryers, our kids know about those, you know, they think they’re fun.”   more...

The Council of Great Lakes Governors' site on the Annex 2001 Agreement

A related GLRC story about potential benefits of Annex 2001

Read the counterpoint to the story above

 



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Poisoned Eggs

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Scientists wonder how flame retarding chemicals get into bird eggs around the Great Lakes.

For three decades, scientists in Canada have studied the eggs of herring gulls in the Great Lakes to look for different types of chemical contamination. They do this to get an idea of what chemicals might be affecting Great Lakes wildlife. They're finding high levels of chemicals known as PBDEs.

Chip Weseloh is the head of wildlife toxicology for the Ontario region of the Canadian Wildlife Service. He says most chemical compounds in the bird eggs have been going down. For example, he says DDT and PCBs have been in decline since the mid-1970s. But one family of chemicals is on the rise. They're the polybrominated diphenyl ethers -- the PBDEs.   more...

 



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Foundation seeks Supreme Court review of Michigan wetland case

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- Property rights advocates are renewing their crusade on behalf of a Michigan landowner who could go to prison and pay millions of dollars in fines for illegally filling wetlands.

The Pacific Legal Foundation recently filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the case of John A. Rapanos, a Midland developer whose feud with regulators goes back to the late 1980s.

The foundation wants the court to use the case to narrow the federal government's jurisdiction over wetlands not adjacent to navigable water bodies -- an invitation the justices declined a year ago.   more...

 



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Nature Conservancy of Canada

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For over 40 years, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has been working to protect Canada’s most threatened natural habitats and the endangered species that call them home.   more...

Located approximately one hour from the metropolis of Montreal, the Sutton Mountains are part of the majestic Appalachian Range which stretches from the Gaspé Peninsula to the State of Georgia. The core of the mountains is regarded as one of the few extensive wilderness areas remaining in Southern Quebec and is an essential wildlife corridor linking the Sutton Mountains with the Green Mountains in Vermont. Black Bear, Moose, Eastern Coyote, Fisher and Bobcat all move through this area sharing it with Red-shouldered Hawk, Bicknell’s Thrush and Wood Turtle, all species of Special Concern. This section of the Appalachians important populations of lung-less salamanders, including the highest concentrations of the Canadian population of Spring Salamanders.   more...

 



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Corps keeps river healthy

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ImageROCHESTER -- To most people it's just dirt. But to scientists and ecologists, the sediment along the Clinton River tells a story of the water's health and that of its many tiny inhabitants.

During the last 40 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dredged nearly 400,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river at a cost of more than $2 million.

The reason? Tremendous residential, industrial and retail development within the Clinton River Watershed has led to increasing levels of water and dirt flowing into the river from sources such as rooftops, paved roads and parking lots.

If left alone, this extra water and sediment would build up until sections of the river are full of dirt, a scenario that does not bode well for fish, animals or people who enjoy the beauty along the 80-mile river.

The river wanders across Oakland County from its headwaters in Springfield and Independence townships and across Macomb County and into Lake St. Clair.   more...

 



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