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community weblog - [ Environment ]

CSI: Invasives

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Great Lakes researchers are using new DNA techniques to track down and control the spread of invasive species.

The techniques are sort of like what you see on all those CSI television dramas where scientists analyze DNA left at the crime scene and use it to prosecute the culprits.

Well, not quite. Fiction is faster, the scientists say.

“What it does though, is it makes you jealous of how they’re able to solve crimes in an hour, because it doesn’t happen that way,” said Christopher Jerde, a professor at the Notre Dame, which is creating a basin-wide surveillance program. “That would be nice.”  more...



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Spring brings Great Lakes ships

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A ship enthusiast documents the 730-foot long Algoma Montrealais exiting the Soo Locks upbound Monday in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The shipping season on the Great Lakes started at midnight Monday with the reopening of the locks after winter maintenance.

The Great Lakes bulk carrier Paul R. Tregurtha opened the sailing season to Lake Superior on Monday when it passed through the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The 1,013-foot ship was headed to the port in Superior for a load of coal.

Also, five of the six ships berthed at Milwaukee over the winter have left the port to begin the sailing season. The first foreign ship is scheduled to arrive here next week with a load of steel from the Netherlands.  more...



Environment  Other  

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Funding cut jeopardizes beach testing

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The future of beach testing is uncertain this year. The Environmental Protection Agency yanked funds for the program.

That means beaches across the country and here in our area could be at risk, in turn leaving swimmers vulnerable.

Since 2003, Door County's health department has partnered with the DNR and UW-Oshkosh to test dozens of area beaches to ensure safe waters for swimmers.  more...


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Low Lake Levels: Don’t Fight Nature, Plan for It

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The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world’s available surface freshwater–enough to cover the continental United States with 10 feet of water if you turned them upside down. In many places along the lakes, you can stand on one side without seeing the shoreline on the other because they are so huge. It’s difficult to remember that you’re looking at an inland lake instead of an ocean. The vast lakes seem limitless, but are they?  more...


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Port Huron unveils possibilities for Lakeside Park

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The Port Huron Recreation Department unveiled the possible future of Lakeside Park on March 11.

Nancy Winzer, the city’s recreation department director, along with Pam Blough of PM Blough Inc. gave a presentation to the city council and displayed the proposed Master Plan for Lakeside Park.

The plan was developed after two public meetings were held and input was received from the community on the needs of the park’s future look. Included in the plan are ideas to bring the park up to date with the American Disabilities Act, along with features such as a new bathroom facility and concession stand. more...


Environment  Other  

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Busy beavers expanding their local territory

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Video of a beaver around the Rouge and Detroit rivers may be a sign that the animal is expanding its range here after being gone from the area for more than 75 years.

In 2008, when the first beaver was captured on video along the Detroit River closer to Lake St. Clair it grabbed international attention including comments from TV personalities Jay Leno and Regis Philbin.

In January, a beaver at DTE Energy's River Rouge power plant was seen on video in what is further evidence the beavers are back and that the Detroit River is cleaner, said John Hartig, manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge which runs south of the River Rouge along the waterfront. "It is one of the single most dramatic ecological recovery stories in North America. It's really neat and it is in our backyard," Hartig said Monday. The beaver is another sign the river has improved, he said, along with the return of lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, peregrine falcons, osprey and bald eagles.  more...



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Whitehall moves quickly to dredge city marina

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The City of Whitehall is expediting the dredging of its city marina in hopes it will be ready for the boating season.

The city is facing a crisis at its marina because of record low water levels in Lake Michigan and White Lake. Waters levels around the city marina�s docks are down to four feet.

Last Tuesday, the city council approved the expenditure of $7,500 for engineering of an expected $182,000 dredging program at the marina.

The council approved an engineering proposal by the firm, Prein&Newhof.

The city has applied for $182,000 in Emergency Dredging funds to remove 5,200 cubic yards of sediment and the grant has been tentatively approved pending legislative approval of the 2013 Emergency Dredging Plan. The $21 million plan to dredge 49 public owned harbors was approved by the Senate March 7. It was approved by the House Appropriations Committee last Wednesday.  more...



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Michigan boaters alert: Harbors, marinas would get dredging help under bills moving through Legislature

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Michigan lawmakers are advancing bills aimed at helping marinas and harbors tackle dredging projects needed because of declining Great Lakes water levels.

The bills voted on Thursday are part of a broad effort aimed at making more money available for dredging and making the permit process easier and faster.  more...



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MDCH releases report on drinking water wells after Kalamazoo River oil spill

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We’re rounding the corner on the three year anniversary of the Enbridge oil spill near Marshall.

The cleanup isn’t over yet and so far, more than a million gallons of thick tar sands oil have been cleaned up from the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek.

State officials have been looking at possible health risks from the spill.  more...



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Wisconsin Communities Prepare For Climate Change

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About a dozen communities in Wisconsin have created task forces to address regional symptoms of climate change — specifically, higher temperatures, more winter precipitation, and more droughts. more...


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Wild reproduction of fish on rise in Lake Huron

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Lake Huron faces a barrage of environmental stressors, including loss of aquatic habitat, climate change, ongoing coastal development, invasive species and the water quality threats posed by toxic chemicals and non-point pollution, that is, runoff from farms and cities.

Despite these challenges, there are signs that more and more species of native and desirable non-native fish are reproducing in the wild and that the fishery of the lake is increasingly diverse.  more...


Environment  Fishing  

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Lake Ontario's fishery continues to be in fine shape

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juskowsalmon.jpgLake Ontario’s fishery is in fine shape, according to several presentations given at Wednesday evening’s “State of Lake Ontario” meeting at the DEC’s training facility in Pulaski. Speakers from state Department of Environmental and U.S. Geological Survey staff covered everything from last year’s record-setting catches of chinook, coho and brown trout -- to the effort to re- introduce a bait fish, the deep-water cisco (also called a bloater).  more...


Environment  Fishing  

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Shrinking ice worries Great Lakes scientists

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ABOARD THE BRISTOL BAY, Mich. — The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay has battled pretty much everything the Great Lakes can think up — 14-foot swells that left even experienced guardsmen heaving in the head, stranded animals that floated too far out, barges stuck in shallow shores.

The one thing they don't see as much of — at least not anymore — is ice.  more...



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Red Cliff forced to dump explosives back into Lake Superior

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The good news is that there weren’t high levels of toxic substances or hazardous chemicals in any of the 25 barrels of military waste raised from the bottom of Lake Superior last summer.

Analysis of the barrels’ contents, nearby sediment and water samples show only background levels of chemicals, much as were found in similar recovery efforts in the 1990s.  more...



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Hundreds of water permit holders pumping more than allowed

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At a time when drought threatens state water supplies, scores of water permit holders in Minnesota are illegally using billions of gallons more water then they're entitled to.

Over the last six years, hundreds of individuals, businesses and even state government agencies have pumped more than their permit allows, according to state Department of Natural Resources records. But violators face few consequences for these misdemeanor violations. Even in a two-year drought, DNR officials admit they don't spend much time enforcing permit limits.more...



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