August 2017, CNS Budget

Aug. 16, 2017

To: CNS Editors

From: Eric Freedman & Dave Poulson

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Tony Cepak at (517) 803-6841 or

For other questions or problems, contact Eric Freedman,; (517) 355-4729 (office) or (517) 256-3873 (cell).

3rd SUMMER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS PACKAGES: This is the third of this summer’s three regular monthly packages of Michigan environmental stories for CNS members, in partnership with Great Lakes Echo. Our regular weekly files will begin in September.

Here is your file:

PISCESPORN: Lake trout make noise in bed, and that discovery may help scientists and fisheries managers monitor spawning and improve Great Lakes spawning habitats. Much of the research was done near Drummond Island. MSU researchers were part of the study. We interview experts from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hammond Bay Biological Station in Millersburg and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. By Carin Tunney. FOR ALCONA, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, SAULT ST. MARIE, BAY MILLS, MARQUETTE, HOLLAND, LUDINGTON, OCEANA, MANISTEE, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRIGNS, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU & ALL POINTS.

w/ PISCESPORNPHOTO: U.S. Geological Survey researcher Greg Kennedy installs monitoring equipment at a lake trout bed near Drummond Island. Credit: Nick Johnson.

BROCKWAYMOUNTAIN: One of America’s most beautiful roads — Brockway Mountain Drive on the UP’s Keweenaw Peninsula — has just landed a parking spot on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. Keweenaw County built the road in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression in an effort to lure “automobile tourism” — and it still does — and create jobs. By Eric Freedman. FOR MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, SAULT STE. MARIE, ST. IGNACE, CHEBOYGAN & ALL POINTS.

w/BROCKWAYMOUNTAINPHOTO1: Scenic Brockway Mountain Drive. Credit: Wikipedia.

w/BROCKWAYMOUNTAINPHOTO2: Scenic Brockway Mountain Drive. Credit: Copper Harbor Improvement Association.

DRIVINGSTUDY: A new University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study finds driving is on the rise in American cities at a greater rate than the growth in U.S. population, while the gap between urban and rural driving has widened. We also talk to a Lansing transportation official. By Jack Nissen. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE & ALL POINTS.

BOWFISHING: Many anglers consider carp to be a “trash fish,” but fly fishing for carp is popular in northern Michigan. This year though, guides have cancelled trips and lost thousands of dollars because they can’t find the fish in Grand Traverse Bay and elsewhere. Some blame another growing sport: bowfishing. By Max Johnston. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU & ALL POINTS.

w/BOWFISHINGPHOTO1: Sam James catches a carp in East Grand Traverse Bay. Credit: Max Johnston.

w/BOWFISHINGPHOTO2: Dave McCool catches a carp in West Grand Traverse Bay. Credit: Dave McCool.

NEWRECORD: “The Road We Build,” a new album by Stephen Jones, a Central Michigan University history professor, highlights environmental and contemporrary social themes. They include the Flint water crisis, mining industry changes on the Marquette Range, the abandonment of housing in places like his own city of Detroit and the anti-pipeline protests at Standing Rock.


w/NEWRECORDPHOTO: Cover of new album “The Road We Build.” Credit: Stephen Jones.



Anglers target bowfishing for carp decrease


Capital News Service

LANSING — Many people consider carp to be a “trash fish,” but fly fishing for carp is popular in northern Michigan. This year though, guides have cancelled trips and lost thousands of dollars because they can’t find the fish.

Some blame another growing sport: bowfishing.

When carp spawn in Grand Traverse Bay, their backs actually protrude from the water like a shark because there are so many packed in shallow waters.

But 15 years ago, no one seriously fished for carp in Michigan.

Carp are a popular game fish in Europe, so local angler Dave McCool gave it a shot and noticed how much fun it was. McCool says carp are smart and they put up a fight, so eventually it caught on.

“Once I got a trout fisherman, who always turned his nose up at carp, to hook a carp, and then take off and take out 150 yards of line, that started to change the perception,” McCool says.

McCool normally leads about 20 carp fishing trips a year for $400 each.

But this year something changed. McCool says the fish were nearly impossible to find and he cancelled almost half of his trips.

“This is probably the most difficult year that I’ve had in the 15 years doing it,” McCool says.

McCool says he doesn’t know why the carp are gone, but another guide on Grand Traverse Bay, Brian Pitser, has an idea: bowfishing.

“When I find fish with holes in them, or just dumped, and broken arrows, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why fish didn’t ever come back in there,” Pitser said.

Local bow angler Sam James took me out bowfishing for this story.

“What you’re on right now is a custom built elevated platform, on a 17-foot boat, with a couple thousand watts of lights that are being powered by a generator,” James says.

James leads bowfishing trips for Thundering Aspens, a hunting and fishing club in Mesick.

It’s about 10 p.m. and we’re on East Grand Traverse Bay. A lot of bowfishing is done at night, when water is calmer and fish are easier to spot. When we get to shallow waters, his partner cuts the engine and turns on the LED lights placed around the boat. They shoot out a bright white light that illuminates everything in a 10-foot radius.

James stands on the platform with his bow at the ready. He points out some smaller fish, then sees a carp. He nocks his bow, fires and reels in the wire attached to his arrow.

The carp he pulls in is about 2 feet long, with goldish brown scales, and weighs 6 or 7 pounds. Sam aimed well, and he got the fish in the head.

The whole ordeal is over in about 20 seconds. The folks at Thundering Aspens will use that fish for fertilizer on their property.

Overall, it’s a quiet night and he pulls in only three fish. He says it was busier a couple of weeks ago.

“During the spawn, our average was about 80 a night,” James says.

He knows bow anglers have been accused of killing off all the carp. He says he saw plenty of fish this year, but holds back from shooting because of anglers in the area.

“We might see schools of carp and think ‘Oh, that’d be great’ but that’s where that guy fly fishes,” James says. “We’re just respectful about it.”

Getting rid of carp

The Department of Natural Resources says there’s no direct link between bowfishing and low numbers of carp in Grand Traverse Bay. Scott Heintzleman – a fisheries biologist for the DNR – says a lot of environmental factors like rising water levels could make the carp go to new areas.

But the DNR wants to see fewer carp. Heintzelman says they are an invasive fish that cause problems in the bay.

“They get sediment moving around and smother other fishes’ eggs, and then it hurts other native species to that lake,” Heintzelman says. “We generally encourage people to take as many as they can.”

Heintzelman says the DNR isn’t reconsidering that rule any time soon. So bow fisherman can keep filling their boats with dead carp, but that’s not making them any friends.

Bill Truscott has been bowfishing for 10 years. Truscott says he’s been harassed when he’s on the water, sometimes even with his kids on board.

“We’ll have people cast their lines into your boat, and start cussing, hollering, swearing, threatening us,” Truscott says. “It’s fairly common to have firework mortars shot at you.”

Fly anglers say they’re waiting to see if carp come back next year. If not, they’re going to the DNR to push for a change to the rules on carp, and bowfishing.

Max Johnston produced this story under a partnership between Interlochen Public Radio and Great Lakes Echo.



New folk album explores environmental issues


Capital News Service

LANSING — Stephen Jones didn’t initially set out to put together an album of songs about modern life in Midwestern America.

But that is exactly what he did.

Jones is a retired journalist and current history professor at Central Michigan University. He’s also been a songwriter since high school.

His most recent record, “The Road We Build,” features songs that capture moments of his experience living in the Midwest. They also discuss contemporary social events.

The title comes from the first song on the album.

“That song kind of captured an idea that I was interested in,” Jones said. “To one extent or another, nearly all these songs embodied this idea of, ‘the world is what we make it.’”

Jones sings and plays acoustic guitar throughout the album. He is joined by his friend George Brown on guitar, upright bass and synthesizer. Dan Hazlett, who recorded and mixed the record, also provides instrumental backing.

The result is folk music that captures moods both energetic and contemplative.

Jones’s previous records were made up of strike songs, some of them parodies of existing music. In 1999, he wrote a song called “Marquette Range,” inspired by a conversation he had with a miner in the Upper Peninsula.

“That song is not his precise words, but it’s my recollection of the essence of our conversation,” Jones said. “It was sort of a quantum leap over the other songs that I’d written before. That was the first what I would call ‘real’ song that I wrote.”

“Marquette Range” became a songwriting springboard. It was picked up by folk singer Lee Murdock and featured in his album “Standing at the Wheel.” It was also the first time Jones said he felt he captured a moment of his experience in the world.

The rest of “The Road We Build” came in bits and pieces. As the years went by, Jones kept composing as the world around him kept changing.

Every song tells a unique story. “Marquette Range” expresses a miner’s struggle to support his family as the mining industry changes. From the song:

“A few more years, I’ve heard them say, they’ll shut it down and move away,

Kicking us aside like dogs with mange

Played-out hearts upon this Marquette Range.”

Many of the other tracks also discuss current events through a personal perspective. “Standing with Standing Rock” came from Jones’s experience going to the protests about the Dakota Access Pipeline at North Dakota’s Standing Rock Indian Reservation in November 2016.

His time there gave him an appreciation for the effort to peacefully protect both the water and the rights of the indigenous people, Jones said. The song developed out of what he saw and heard there.

In a similar vein, “The Albatross” looks at the Flint water crisis through a unique lens.

The song is an homage to poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” In it, Coleridge tells the story of an old sailor who, after killing an albatross, watches his crewmates die. His only chance at redemption is to tell other people what he did — and warn them against repeating his mistakes.

“It struck me that ‘water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink’ was what Flint was about,” Jones said. “This tremendous injustice that had been done to the people of Flint, especially the children, who are more susceptible than anybody to the impact of lead contamination.”

The track “The Andersons Don’t Live Here Any More” describes how many families lost their homes when the housing bubble burst in 2008.

Jones saw houses vacated and payments rising in his own Detroit neighborhood. It’s only now starting to bounce back, he said.

Each song is inspired from a different event. Trying to single one out is, according to Jones, like asking a parent which of their children is their favorite.

But it’s what he calls the “moral dimension” that binds the record together.

“There really is only one lesson to learn in life: pay attention,” Jones said. “Everything else is just context. I’m trying to let the experience of the world bounce off me in a way where it can lead somebody to think about things in a different way, or see an angle they hadn’t considered.”

“The Road We Build” is available for digital download from Amazon and Spotify.

Kate Habrel writes for Great Lakes Echo.

Driving trends shifting gears


Capital News Service

LANSING — Where are Americans driving? Researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute analyzed data from the Federal Highway Administration, and the results are in:

City driving is rising, and it’s risen high.

Researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak found a 33-percent rise in city driving over the past 17 years. This mirrors a 19-percent growth in the U.S. population.

The study found a widening gap between urban and rural driving, with rural driving falling by 12 percent since 2000. This dramatic growth in urban driving and decrease in rural driving left the professors in disbelief.

“We were a little surprised at the big difference and that they didn’t mirror each other,” said Schoettle, a project manager with the institute. “You had a much bigger increase in urban driving during the time we looked at than the decrease in rural.”

It isn’t that everyone who stopped driving on rural roads began driving on urban roads. Those who spent a lot of time driving in cities were actually driving more than they used to.

The study attributed some of the increase in urban driving to the growth in the country’s population. However, as the study notes, this factor alone can’t fully account for the divergent patterns in city and country driving.  

“Basically, after the first few years, there was a big separation where urban driving started to accelerate and take off — rural driving slowly decreased little by little each year,” Schoettle said.

One reason for the divergence in driving was the rise in gas prices.

In 2003, when gas prices made a permanent jump to the mid-$2-per-gallon range, the divide in rural and urban miles began to split. While a price like that now feels normal, 15 years ago it was thought to be high.

“Rural drivers have to go a lot further, so they start to combine trips,” Schoettle said. “They may decide not to drive somewhere because of the distance they have to drive.”

The study’s graph of driving trends has some noticeable dips and peaks. In 2008, both urban and rural driving trends dropped. This was due to the economic recession at the time.

“I expect at some point, there will be a leveling out of rural driving. There has to be a minimal amount of driving for work and business in those areas,” Schoettle said.

“The separation between urban and rural was so wide, it’s not likely to ever come back together at this point.”

Other factors at play are the 2000 and 2010 censuses. With urban areas in the country growing, both censuses led the Federal Highway Administration to reclassify many roads in those areas.

The Federal Highway Administration classifies roadways by their proximity to urban and rural areas. Urban boundaries are defined as “areas of high population density and urban land use resulting in a representation of the ‘urban footprint.’” Rural areas are all territory, population and housing units located outside of urban boundaries.

All roads contained within or outside of those boundaries are classified as urban or rural respectively.

And when the census calls for reclassification, almost every reclassified road becomes urban.

“It’s very rare for any roads to change from urban back to rural,” Schoettle said.

With such a dramatic shift in direction for drivers, the numbers could act as a guide for how traffic engineers in growing cities like Minneapolis or Chicago prepare for the future. For cities that haven’t seen much change in their population, the growing numbers may not change how they do their work.

For example: “Lansing’s population hasn’t seen any big changes in population, so there hasn’t been any change in how much drivers are using our roads,” said Andrew Kilpatrick, a transportation engineer with the city of Lansing.

So if those numbers are true, that would make sense, Kilpatrick said. “I’m sure for bigger cities that have a growing population it would look a lot different.”

Rural and urban transportation agencies seeing shifting driving trends should build for what is ahead, Schoettle said. That means if you’re rural, design for a suburban road. If you’re suburban, design for an urban road.

Pisces porn: Could the sounds of spawning lure lake trout?


Capital News Service

LANSING — Lake trout make noise in bed, according to new research by Great Lakes scientists.

The species commonly growl, snap, quiver and thump while spawning, the study found.

The report may cause a smirk, but researchers say the findings are serious.

“Peeping on spawning lake trout with a camera and microphone could be the premise of an interesting comedy skit, but also makes for interesting science that could help improve how fish populations are monitored,” said Nick Johnson, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hammond Bay Biological Station in Millersburg.

Scientists could potentially use the audio sounds to lure fish to spawning areas, Johnson said.

“If you walk down the street and hear a party going you might want to check it out,” he said. “There are historical reefs in the Great Lakes that are no longer being used for spawning. We may be able to play back the sounds of reproduction to lure in the trout and try to get them interested in spawning there.”

Johnson led a team that included researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Windsor and the University of Vermont. They recorded spawning lake trout with cameras and hydrophones, which are underwater microphones that detect the sounds of boats, waves and even the quietest fish.

Researchers also used scuba gear to observe the fish more directly.

“We basically peep on those lake trout,” Johnson said.

They tracked noises on spawning reefs and non-spawning areas in northern Lake Huron near Drummond Island and in Lake Champlain in Vermont.

The eavesdroppers heard snaps, growls and grunts in both locations along the spawning beds. Most sounds were made at night.

“It’s kind of cool to think about what is going on underwater as far as sound,” Johnson said. “We often look into the water and see things going on, so it is a new veil to lift when you put a hydrophone under the water … you can learn a lot about fish by listening and learning.”

Snaps were common before spawning, Johnson said. They may signal potential mates or tell other males to get away.

“It’s like a snap you would hear with your fingers and your teeth, and when we heard it in Drummond Island we believed it was related to fish being aggressive to each other or biting each other,” Johnson said.

He said growls occurred during spawning and are likely produced by the vibration of muscles during the act.

There were no visual indications of what created the thump sound, he said. But researchers think it could come from the gas bladder that helps a fish control its depth.

Although researchers already knew fish make noise, the exciting part of the new study is using video and audio recordings, which hadn’t been done before with lake trout, Johnson said.

“The sounds fish produce in the Great Lakes have been generally overlooked or understudied to this point,” he said. “I think the underwater soundscape of the Great Lakes will likely be researched more in the future.”

Hydrophones can be left on reefs throughout the winter, making them more versatile than gillnets used to study lake trout, Johnson said. They could eventually help pinpoint lake trout spawning locations on deep, offshore reefs that are difficult to access.

Johnson said understanding sounds associated with reproduction is vital.

“It’s something that is hard to talk to your family about sometimes, what my job is,” Johnson said. “But we have an interest in lake trout restoration in the Great Lakes and one of the challenges is how lake trout locate other fish to reproduce.”

The research was supported by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which oversees binational efforts to address Great Lakes’ ecological concerns and threats.

Lake trout research remains a major emphasis, said Marc Gaden, the commission’s communications director. They haven’t recovered from drastic declines in the mid-1900s when sea lamprey invaded the lakes. The species also suffered from commercial overfishing.

Lake trout have rebounded in Lake Superior and Lake Huron, but maintaining populations is a challenge in Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario, he said.

The population in Lake Erie remains steady, but there’s concern because many lake trout don’t reach reproductive age, which is about 7 years old.

Current threats include invasive zebra mussels that cause habitat loss and alewives that “gobble up lake trout eggs like popcorn,” Gaden said.  Scientists also believe trout become vitamin B1- deficient from eating alewives, which shortens their lifespan.

Monitoring reproductive sounds could lead to better ways to restore lake trout, Gaden said. “The point is that understanding life history and habits and behavior is really a key to making good, creative, innovative decisions about management and restoration. And the fishery commission supports that kind of research.”

The study appears in the “Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.”

Carin Tunney writes for Great Lakes Echo.


UP road lands on National Register of Historic Places


Capital News Service

LANSING — One of America’s most scenic stretches of road, Brockway Mountain Drive in the northwestern Upper Peninsula, is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Park Service recognized the 9-mile road built by the Keweenaw County Road Commission in 1933 for its historic importance in recreation, entertainment, transportation, social history and landscape architecture.

“Brockway Mountain Drive is unique in Michigan as a scenic highway built expressly as a scenic drive through rugged country to provide access to grand scenery for the public’s enjoyment,” according to the nomination.

The register is “the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation,” according to the National Park Service, which administers the federal program.

Brockway Mountain Drive runs between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Its nine overlooks “provide incomparable views of Lake Superior to the north and expansive, forested valleys and hills to the south,” the nomination said.

One of them, West Bluff Overlook, stands about 725 feet above the surface of Lake Superior “and offers Brockway Mountain Drive’s widest panoramic views.” It’s also the place where the Skytop Inn gift shop operated from 1935 until 2013. The building has been razed.

“Its construction during the Depression era represents a concerted, and successful, effort to initiate a much-needed public works project, develop the local tourism industry, and provide relief to the unemployed,” the nomination said. The Depression hit Keweenaw County hard with copper mine closings, subsistence farming and high unemployment, and unemployed miners accounted for many of the hundreds of workers on the road project.

Before Brockway Mountain Drive, most of the county’s roads were used for logging, mining and military purposes, and the improving transportation for the less-populated northeastern reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula “was not a priority during the first decades of the twentieth century, as the Keweenaw Central Railroad provided adequate passenger and freight service to the area.”

The economic hardships of the Depression sparked a push to develop opportunities for automobile tourism. And it worked. For example, between June 16 and June 30, 1939, about 9,800 cars entered the Keweenaw Peninsula through the village of Ahmeek.

“Since opening in 1934, Brockway Mountain Drive has been a leading attraction for visitors to the Keweenaw Peninsula, offering unparalleled views of the picturesque region of Michigan,” the nomination said. “The scenic road, together with two other Depression-era projects, Lakeshore Drive and the Keweenaw Mountain Resort and Lodge, helped Keweenaw County to diversify its economy and emerge from its dependence on mining.”

The road is open only seasonally, and Gregg Patrick, the road commission’s engineer manager, said traffic is busiest in the fall.

Use can spike at 1,000 vehicles a day, but at other times it’s 200 or fewer vehicles, Patrick said.

Property bordering the road includes mountain biking and hiking trails, as well as nature sanctuaries.


July 2017, CNS Budget

To: CNS Editors

From: Eric Freedman & Dave Poulson

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Pechulano Ali, (517) 940-2313,

For other questions or problems, contact Eric Freedman,; (517) 355-4729.

2nd SUMMER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS PACKAGES: This is thesecond of the summer’s three regular monthly packages of Michigan environmental stories for CNS members, in partnership with Great Lakes Echo.

Here is your file:

LAKESMUSIC: A Lansing couple’s forthcoming vinyl album, “Fair Mitten (New Songs of the Historic Great Lakes Basin),” pays homage to Michigan’s history and natural beauty. One song describes what the Michigan Territory was like during the War of 1812, ranging from beer to from trading. They were also inspired by a map of the Grand Rapids-Indiana railroad line because the idea of traveling from Indiana to Michigan by railroad to go fishing captured their imaginations. By Kate Habrel. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE & ALL POINTS. Continue reading

Study warns fish lovers of multiple chemicals


Capital News Service

LANSING — A new study questions whether public health advice on eating Great Lakes fish is restrictive enough.

Ken Drouillard, a professor at the University of Windsor, looked at whether the Great Lakes region recommends sufficient restrictions on monthly meals of sport fish.

The results are in, and while they say no, they weren’t as restrictive as Drouillard expected.

Consumption advisories are used to limit human exposure to harmful substances that fish may contain.

Drouillard found that 60 percent of advisories would provide more restrictive advice under a method that takes into account multiple chemicals in a fish. That’s contrary to the current practice of basing fish advisories on just a single contaminant, according to the study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives. Continue reading

New album combines Great Lakes music, Michigan history


Capital News Service

LANSING — What do you get when you combine Great Lakes history, folk music and Michigan musicians? In this case, Brandon and Bethany Foote’s upcoming vinyl album.

Yes, vinyl.

“A lot of people are listening to music online, so I thought one way to get a physical product in people’s hands that they might get excited about is through vinyl,” Brandon Foote said. “I think that analog experience is still important. And I think there’s a big human element that’s missing when we start only using these digital devices for this stuff.”

The husband and wife duo are two halves of Gifts or Creatures, a band that since 2010 has produced three albums blending folk music with folklore. Their songs cover everything from how the Great Lakes’ landscape has changed to how people of different backgrounds form relationships with the area. Continue reading

Lawmakers want to shoot down Chinese lanterns


Capital News Service

LANSING — Americans celebrate holidays by sending things up.

But popular Chinese sky lanterns can kill livestock, strangle wildlife and cause fires, experts say.

Sky lanterns are made of paper, cloth and string. They use wires or bamboo for support. So-called fuel cells made of cardboard and wax allow them to float when lit.

They can soar more than a thousand feet and travel for more than a mile, depending on winds.

And that makes them dangerous, said Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights.

Yanez, a former firefighter, has proposed legislation to roll back the state’s fireworks law and prohibit the lanterns. They’re already illegal in 29 states, including Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Continue reading