Nov. 17, 2017 – CNS Budget

Nov. 17, 2017 — Week 11

To: CNS Editors

From: David Poulson and Sheila Schimpf

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

For other matters, contact Dave Poulson:

Editors note that next week we are moving our package Tuesday afternoon for your use over the long Thanksgiving weekend.


Here is your file:


WOOD: A construction technique that makes wood so strong it could replace steel and concrete as building materials for skyscrapers and other large buildings could bring new markets for Michigan trees, fight climate change and produce new jobs. Michigan has the trees, but the state needs a production plant and savvy architects and builders to take advantage of the fledgling industry, experts say. By Jack Nissen. ATTENTION BUSINESS EDITORS. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, BIG RAPIDS, CADILLAC, CHEBOYGAN, GLADWIN, PETOSKEY, LAKE COUNTY, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CRAWFORD COUNTY, COEANA, ALCONA, MONTMORENCY, TRAVERSE CITY AND ALL POINTS

w/WoodPhoto: Cross-laminated timber panels. Source: Open access journal Sustainability

STATESLOGANS: You must be living in a cave if you haven’t heard of Michigan’s ubiquitous “Pure Michigan” tourism slogan by now. But how about “Honest-to-Goodness” or “Find It Here” or “Pursue Your Happiness” or “When you’re having fun, we’re having fun?” These are some of the sloganized weaponry used by states in the Great Lakes region battling for many billions of dollars of tourism revenue. By Kaley Fech. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

DOGSLED: Michigan winters are going to the dogs as sled riding and racing climb in popularity. We talk to operators of dogsled riding operations throughout  the Upper and Northern Lower peninsulas.  By Carl Stoddard. FOR CADILLAC, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, CHEBOYGAN, CADILLAC, CRAWFORD COUNTY, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY AND ALL POINTS.

W/ DOGSLEDPHOTO.  A sled dog team runs through the snow in Cadillac. Credit: Pure Michigan

FLEXROUTE: An experiment moving traffic on the shoulders of one of Michigan’s busiest highways could lead to similar uses elsewhere as the state highway agency seeks to save money, ease congestion and improve safety. By Stephen Olschansky. FOR ALL POINTS.

KESTRELS&CHERRIES: Research done in Leelanau County finds that nest boxes can boost breeding pairs of American kestrels — sparrowhawks — a raptor species that’s in decline. More kestrels would be good news for cherry growers because the birds, the smallest of North American falcons, feed on critters such as voles and robins that damage cherry crops. Michigan is the country’s top tart cherry producer and fourth-largest sweet cherry producer. Apple and grape crops may benefit from more kestrels, and similar research is underway for Western Michigan blueberries. We also talk to the Audubon Society and an MSU horticultural research expert. By Eric Freedman. FOR LEELANAU, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, GREENVILLE, HOLLAND, OCEANA, BIG RAPIDS, CADILLAC & ALL POINTS.

W/ KESTRELS&CHERRIESPHOTO: American Kestrel. Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

EYES:  Nelson Edwards decided to see the world. As a result, he helps the rest of the world see.  While studying optometry at Ferris State, Edwards joined Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity an organization with a mission to provide eye care in developing countries. From Haiti to Kenya, he’s been on more than three dozen humanitarian missions so far. We also talk to the advisor to the group’s student chapter at Ferris. By Casey Hull. FOR BIG RAPIDS, LAKE COUNTY, GREENVILLE, CADILLAC & ALL POINTS.

Shoulder test near Ann Arbor could come to a highway near you

Capital News Service

LANSING — An experiment allowing Michigan drivers for the first time to legally drive on a highway shoulder could lead to similar efforts across the state.

Advocates say that the use of advanced technology could prevent accidents, ease congestion and save millions of dollars in construction costs statewide.

Drivers were recently allowed to drive on the shoulder of a stretch of U.S. 23 during rush hour, an option labeled a flex route.

It is the first of its kind in the state and is essentially an initial experiment, said Kari Arend, a media representative for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

“We will be watching it closely to see how it operates and hopefully eventually adding it to other locations across the state,” Arend said.

Among them is a stretch of Interstate 96 in Oakland County and U.S. 131 near Grand Rapids, places officials say have high congestion similar to U.S. 23.

Savings from the use of the highway’s existing paved shoulder instead of building larger highways can reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Arend said

The U.S. 23 flex route opens up the highway’s inside shoulders between M-14 and M-36. That’s  roughly north of Ann Arbor and through Whitmore Lake, one of the state’s most highly congested highway stretches.

The shoulder is open only 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Motorists are alerted of its availability by overhead signs.

Green arrows mean the shoulder is open. A red “X” marks its closure. Yellow arrows alert drivers to merge to avoid traffic accidents. Other signals alert drivers of speed limits.

The flex route also opens during traffic accidents to allow traffic to more easily bypass them.  

Virginia and Minnesota have similar systems that have been successful, Arend said. MDOT looked at these states to see what could be feasible in Michigan.

Police say they hope they improve safety.

“We’re hoping there’s going to be less crashes because traffic is going to flow better,” said State Police Lt. Mario Gonzales of the Brighton post.

Stop-and-go traffic at these times leads to more rear-end collisions, especially when it slows down quickly during rush hour, Gonzales said.

“With these flex lanes, when they’re open, traffic is not going to have those choke points and that’s going to flow better and hopefully reduce those rear end collisions,” Gonzales said.

That would be helpful.

Almost 30 percent of all Michigan crashes occur on state and federal highways, according to the Office of Highway Safety Planning. And there were slightly more than 83,000 rear-end collisions in the state last year, according to the crash data.

Why not keep the shoulders open all the time?

It has to do with the definition of a shoulder, Arends said, because it’s not a “true lane.”,” Arend said.

To add a third lane, the state would have to widen the road and add a shoulder too, costing millions more.

The flex route is part of a $92-million update of roads and bridges along U.S. 23. Without it, the cost of improvements would be close to $200 million, Arend said.

The biggest concern for police is educating people on the rules of the lane.

Drivers could still drive in the flex route at all times, though Gonzales said police would be monitoring the route more heavily. Drivers who pull into the shoulder during noon rush hour times could be at risk if another driver were to use the shoulder illegally.

Illegal use of the route falls under illegal lane use and would put two points on a driver’s record and a $135 ticket if the driver is caught.

Quick! Michigan in two words! Minnesota in three!

Capital News Service

LANSING — “Pure Michigan.” “Honest-to-Goodness.” “Find It Here.”

Can you name the state that goes with each slogan?

That first one and “Only in Minnesota” are quite clear about the states they represent. Less obvious state slogans from the Great Lakes region include “Are you up for Amazing?” and “Pursue Your Happiness.”

No matter the phrase, all state slogans seek to attract tourists.

“Tourism had a $20 billion impact on our state’s economy in 2016,” said Lisa Marshall, the communications director for Travel Wisconsin

Michigan officials boast of a similar $20 billion tourist industry, second only to manufacturing.

And in Minnesota tourism was valued at $14.4 billion in 2015, according to Alyssa Hayes, a public information officer for Explore Minnesota.

State tourism officials use slogans to make their state stand out as they compete for the same tourists.

“Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota have a lot of the same tourist products,” said Marshall. “So we want to be different. Who are we compared to Michigan? Who are we compared to Minnesota?”

In Wisconsin the answer  is supper clubs, Marshall said. Supper clubs are a class of restaurants all their own in Wisconsin, widely known as the place to go for a great atmosphere, delicious prime rib and a brandy old fashioned.

“We did an ad campaign last year that was based on supper clubs,” Marshall said. “We have hundreds of them, and that’s something that’s really iconic to Wisconsin.”

Some states embrace their slogan.

When the Pure Michigan campaign was launched in 2006, the state was going through a recession, and a lot of the news coming out of the state was negative, Grinnell said. The campaign helped change people’s perception of Michigan.

“Pure Michigan became a point of pride for the state in a time when we really needed that,” Grinnell said. “The entire state has really embraced the Pure Michigan campaign.”

The campaign was a collaboration between the advertising agency McCann Detroit and the staff at Travel Michigan, Grinnell said. It was the result of research that was done to understand how people felt about Michigan.

Other states use slogans that are more transient. A recent article in State Legislatures magazine reported Wisconsin’s slogan as “When you’re having fun, we’re having fun.” But Marshall says that’s not the case.

“We don’t really do slogans,” Marshall said. “We had a lot of slogans before 2011 and we kept changing them. A new tourism secretary came in 2011, and she thought we were sloganed out.”

Instead, Wisconsin uses taglines in advertising that change from year to year, Marshall said. This year’s tagline is “When you’re having fun, we’re having fun.”

The slogan is only one piece of the the state’s overall brand.

“Our brand is the brand of fun,” Marshall said. “People come here because they want to have fun. When you come here, you’re free to be yourself and have fun.”

Pennsylvania’s brand is the pursuit of happiness.

“The slogan is simply the public moniker for our brand,” Hemming said. “Our brand says that in Pennsylvania, a vacation or getaway is an active, self-styled adventure – a pursuit. Visitors of all ages can choose from an unrivaled collection of opportunities to explore, discover and experience.”

It’s a concept that also applies to “Pure Michigan,” Grinnell said.

“It really is the overall brand for the state,” she said. “I think it has become so emblematic of Michigan and so recognizable outside of the state that it’s almost a shorthand way to talk about Michigan.”

Nearly half of visitors to Pennsylvania arrive within one week of seeing a tourism brand advertisement for the state, said Emily Hemming, account director at Tierney, the agency that does advertising for Pennsylvania tourism.

“These numbers prove that advertising the Pennsylvania tourism brand in neighboring states and in the commonwealth leads directly and immediately to increased travel to Pennsylvania,” she said.

One of the big ways states use their slogans for marketing is through social media.

“On Instagram, #puremichigan is the most used tourism marketing hashtag,” Grinnell said. “Over 4 million people have used that.”

And Minnesota has engaged in the hashtag war that enlists “scroll-stopping” images.

“Residents and visitors alike use #OnlyinMN on social media for Minnesota travel inspiration,” Hayes said. “#OnlyinMN has nearly 700,000 uses to date.”

It’s not about the words when it comes to a slogan, it’s about the feeling people get when they see them, say those in the business of marketing states.

“Our brand is not about the words ‘Pure Michigan’ as much as the emotions the campaign evokes,” Grinnell said. “We don’t have a hard sell. We don’t say plan your vacation in Michigan. It’s all about the memories, the moments, the emotions you will feel in Michigan, and that has proven to be very very powerful.”

And those other Great Lakes slogans? Here’s the key:

“Pure Michigan”

“Find it Here”

New York
“I ❤ New York”

“Pursue Your Happiness”


“Are you up for Amazing?”

“Only in Minnesota”

“When you’re having fun, we’re having fun.” (but only for 2017)

New ways with wood open up building opportunities

Capital News Service

LANSING — Steel and concrete would be the classic choices for building a large new laboratory planned at Michigan State University.

But experts in the university’s forestry department are asking, “Why not wood?”

They’re not the only ones with that question as builders nationwide push to build high rises, college laboratories and other large buildings with a construction material typically seen in houses. It’s a trend that could bring new markets for Michigan trees, fight climate change and produce new jobs, experts say.

“We have a tremendous amount of resources here,” said Jon Fosgitt, a member of the Forest Stewards Guild in Michigan. “The challenge is understanding the construction style, but also creating the infrastructure here in the state. We’ve got the resources here and that’s a Michigan-made story.”

Building with wood isn’t new. But a hot new construction technique called cross-laminated timber—CLT, for short—makes it possible to build large buildings out of wood. It’s constructed by bonding several layers of wood panels in alternating directions. The result is a material strong enough to build skyscrapers.

It’s fire resistant as well, said David Neumann, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forest marketing specialist. “It has the same strength as concrete, when designed properly.”

Michigan has the trees. But there’s more to it than that to put them to work.

“Here’s the challenge with cross-laminated timber- there’s only two plants in the U.S. that construct it and they are both on the western side of the country,” Fosgitt said. It doesn’t make sense to construct the materials, then ship them across the country when we have all of those resources right here, he said.

One solution is to build a plant here, but even as interest in using cross laminated timber construction grows, it’ll take time for the industry to grow with it.

“I think it’s been taken up quite quickly, considering that there wasn’t even manufacturing in the US recently,” said Jennifer Cover, the president of WoodWorks. “We’re actually seeing it take off at an exponential rate. It’s quite incredible.”

WoodWorks is a nonprofit organization funded by the wood industry and  offers free education and design assistance related to non-residential and multi-family wood buildings.

Even so, the only large construction project considering the use of cross-laminated timber in the state is on Michigan State’s campus.

While the technique is recognized by the 2015 International Building Code, a model that addresses safety and health concerns of buildings, it’s still not the industry standard.

Fosgitt does anticipates a stronger emphasis on training people to build with wood, especially in Michigan.

In fact, one of the strongest drivers for more wood buildings is an environmental one. Wood products store atmospheric carbon, a greenhouse gas that warms the planet. Concrete and steel do not. According to the Journal of Sustainable Forestry, substituting wood could prevent 14 to 31 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.

“Obviously the environmental benefits are good because climate change is real,” Fosgitt said. “This is part of a natural solution to climate change.”

Fears of a fire hazard may make wood a less popular choice. But cross-laminated timber doesn’t burn like normal wood because it’s so dense. It also has a faster installation process than concrete or steel, Cover said.

It’s particularly popular on the West Coast due to its flexibility and ability to withstand earthquakes, Fosgitt said. The first all-wood high rise was approved in Portland, Oregon, last June.

While Michigan has no structures built from cross-laminated timber, it does have the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, the largest wooden dome in the world. Construction started in 1989 and used large laminated beams, said the university’s associate athletic director, Carl Bammert. It opened in 1991.

The DNR has teamed up with WoodWorks to help train more Michigan builders and architects.

The organization also offers assistance on other wood-building techniques that have been around for longer, like timber that’s put together with nails and glue.

It hosted training sessions for architects and engineers in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor in September. The next step is to get more cros- laminated timber for Michigan builders to work with.

“In the long run, what we’d like to get is a facility to make some of these products out of Michigan wood,” said Richard Bowman, the director of government relations at the Nature Conservancy in Michigan.

Fosquitt said that iIf the mass timber industry were to make its way to Michigan, it would put more pressure on the forest resource. But, because Michigan harvests only a fraction of its annual growth, the industry can be managed sustainably.

“And when a building is made from natural products, it smells great too.”

Meanwhile, the newest wall covered by ivy at MSU may not necessarily be brick or concrete.

“MSU has been considering using CLT and other engineered wood products for the new building that is planned,” Richard Kobe, the chair of the university’s forestry department, wrote in an email.

Dog sleddding is big again in snowy Michigan

Capital News Service

LANSING — Winter is going to the dogs in Michigan. And that’s not a bad thing.

Mushers around the state that offer dog sledding, for a couple of hours or a couple of days, report increasing business. At many places, guests can ride in the sled or drive it.

Several dog sled operators say visitors come from all over the world to mush through Michigan.

“We’ve expanded again this year,” said Tasha Stielstra, who with her husband, Ed, owns Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Racing & Adventures in McMillan, about 15 miles west of Newberry in the Upper Peninsula.

The couple started raising dogs for dog sledding 20 years ago. About five years later they began offering sled rides to visitors, she said.

Nature’s Kennel offers half-day, full-day and overnight trips. A half-day ride is $100 per person or $250 for a sled, she said. It costs more if you want to learn to drive your own team.

“Any passengers ride with one of our guides,” Tasha Stielstra said. Visitors who want to drive their own team don’t take passengers along, she said.

Some visitors stay overnight at Nature’s Kennel’s “Musher’s Village,” which has a yurt, cabin, cook shack and sauna, she said.

The business has 140 dogs available for winter tours and another 40 for competitive dog sled racing, she said.

All dogs on the tours have raced or will race in the future, she said.

“We’re growing a lot. We’re booked or nearly booked for the year,” Stielstra said. Visitors come from all over the Midwest, and she recently booked a couple from Australia.

Dog sled rides are available from mid-December until the end of March.

Jackie and Jim Winkowski, owners of Snowy Plains Kennel in Gwinn, a few miles south of Marquette, became involved in dog sled racing more than 20 years ago. Within a year or so, they began offering sled rides to others.

“Really quickly, it became fun to share it with other people,” Jackie Winkowski said.

They turned the rides into a business about seven or eight years ago but opted to keep the operation small, she said. They have about a dozen dogs and typically can accommodate groups of one to four people at a time.

“We’re about as busy as we want to be,” Jackie Winkowski said.

Most rides at Snowy Plains are one to six miles long. A 6-mile ride for one person is $120, while shorter rides for a family of four total $160.

She has had visitors from as far away as South America, she said.

“It keeps everything new to see other people experience it for the first time,” she said. People come from across the nation to do this.

Treetops Resort offers dog sled rides along trails on its Masterpiece golf course on designated weekends, said Kevin McKinley, director of golf and ski operations at the resort, a few miles east of downtown Gaylord.

The resort began offering the dog sled rides six years ago, and the rides have become increasingly popular, McKinley said.

“If people have an inkling they want to do it, they should make reservations in advance,” he said. Reservations are available online or by phone. A 2-mile ride is $50 for one rider or $70 for two..

“It’s really a cool experience,” McKinley said of his own ride on a dog sled. “What surprised me is the power of the dogs. The power is just unbelievable.”

Kim Darst, owner of Husky Haven Kennels, has offered sled dog experiences for the past four years in Shingleton, a few miles east of Munising.

She offers half-day trips, mornings and afternoons, along a 10-mile course. Husky Haven has 43 dogs and five sleds.

“We get a lot of families,” Darst said. “That’s normally what we do.”

For $125 per adult, visitors can ride in a sled or drive one, Darst said.

Shemhadar Kennels, about 10 miles west of Cadillac, has seen a big jump in dog sled rides in the past few years, said Gina Dewey, who owns the business with her husband, Tim.

“We get people from all over the world — China, Germany, Japan,” Gina Dewey said.

Shemhadar takes one adult at a time on a 3- or 4-mile ride. That person can ride or can drive the team with help from someone at the kennel, she said. The cost is $150 for one person, she said. A second rider is $50 additional.

Gina Dewey said they take part in dog sled races all over Michigan, and the snow can be spotty.

“We probably haven’t had a good racing year in three years,” she said.

But she predicted the snowier weather would return this year.

“I think it’ll swing back around,” she said.

At most dog sled operations in Michigan, visitors meet the dogs, learn how sled teams operate and maybe warm up with some hot chocolate.

People interested in dog sledding but prefer to keep their feet on the ground might want to check out the sport of dog sled racing.

Three races will start from the Marquette area in mid-February:

  • The 230-mile UP200 dog sled race kicks off Feb. 16 in Marquette.

“It is one of the top 12-dog, mid-distance races in the Midwest, as well as being an Iditarod qualifier,” according to the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association.

The annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, which is run in March, is about 1,000 miles long.

  • In Marquette, the 90-mile Midnight Run also will start Feb. 16, according to the U.P. association’s website.
  • The 26-mile Jack Pine 30 race will begin Feb. 17 in Gwinn.

“We’re seeing a resurgence in interest” in dog sledding, said Anna Dravland, director of community relations and event marketing at Travel Marquette, which is part of the Marquette County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Dravland said 8,000 to 10,000 visitors typically show up to watch the sled dog teams race.

“It’s the most amazing experience watching them go,” she said.

Kestrels thrive in cherry orchards, and return favor

Capital News Service

LANSING — New homes may help save a declining bird species and, at the same time, protect economically vital cherry crops from orchard-damaging enemies.

That’s the conclusion of scientists who placed nest boxes in Leelanau County cherry orchards in an effort to support more breeding populations of the American kestrel.

The kestrel — or sparrowhawk — is the smallest, most colorful and most common falcon in North America but faces “significant and widespread population declines,” according to the researchers. They describe it as “a species of conservation concern.”

The population of kestrels is declining about 1 percent a year nationally and in Michigan, said Rachelle Roake, the conservation science coordinator for the Michigan Audubon Society.

“They’re not doing that great,” although they’re not listed as a threatened or endangered species, Roake said.

Major factors in that decline include development that removes natural nesting cavities and snags, as well as climate change-related habitat loss on migration routes and in wintering grounds, according to researchers Catherine Lindell and Megan Shave of Michigan State University’s Department of Integrative Biology. They published their nest box findings in two new studies.

The shrinking number of kestrels is bad news for Michigan tart and sweet cherry growers whose crops are vulnerable to the grasshoppers, meadow voles and robins that kestrels like to chow down on. They also scare away robins, cedar waxwings and other fruit-loving birds, Lindell said.

Other crops, including apples, benefit as well from the presence of kestrels, she said. For example, voles eat the bark of young cherry and other fruit trees, killing them.

Nikki Rothwell, coordinator of MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station near Traverse City, said it’s tough for cherry and grape growers to keep fruit-eating birds out. They’ve tried a variety of measures including balloons, sprays, nets and squawk boxes, all of which have major weaknesses.

The nest box project was “pretty neat” research,” Rothwell said. “It offers growers something they can do, something proactive.”

Lindell said sweet cherries are kestrels’ prime beneficiaries because they ripen at the same time as kestrels are nesting. Kestrels in Northern Michigan later migrate, usually to the southern United States.

Cherries are big business in Michigan, which leads the country in producing Montmorency tart cherries and ranks 4th in sweet cherry production, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Overall, the state accounts for 70-75 percent of Montmorency tart cherries and 20 percent of sweet cherries production nationally.

As for filling the birds’ menu, the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology says, “Hunting for insects and other small prey in open territory, kestrels perch on wires or poles, or hover facing into the wind, flapping and adjusting their long tails to stay in place.”

The MSU scientists installed 23 nest boxes in 2012-2015 next to or within cherry orchards on the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas. Many were placed near the pastures, open fields and row crops where kestrels like to hunt.

The entrances faded southeastward to encourage kestrel occupancy and the survival of hatchlings.

The researchers monitored the boxes with pole-mounted cameras and opened the boxes to count eggs, hatchlings and fledglings.

Lindell said a similar nest box study is underway at blueberry farms in Western Michigan.

In Leelanau County, kestrels laid eggs in all 23 boxes and had “consistently high reproductive rates, indicating that the orchards and surrounding areas provide suitable habitat for successful kestrel breeding and fledgling production,” one of their new studies said.

“The results suggest that orchard nest boxes have the potential to sustain or increase the breeding kestrel population in the region while increasing kestrel predation of crop-damaging prey in and around cherry orchards,” the study in the Journal of Raptor Research said.

Their other study, published in the journal PLOS One, said, “Our results could encourage additional farmers to install and maintain nest boxes in fruit-growing regions where agricultural practices create open hunting habitat for kestrels.”

There were a few failures as well. Eggs in several boxes were abandoned because of competition from European starlings or another reason, and nestlings in a fourth box were killed by unknown assailants in a nighttime attack.

Meanwhile, cherry growers face other problems that kestrels can’t solve, according to Rothwell. For example, deer browse on trees, and bucks can kill trees by rubbing up against them. A fungal pathogen called cherry leaf spot can be devastating as well.

Nov. 10, 2017 – CNS Budget

Nov. 10, 2017 — Week 10

To: CNS Editors

From: David Poulson and Sheila Schimpf

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

For other matters, contact Dave Poulson:

Here is your file:

SNOWMOBILE:  Warm weather and a cool economy mean fewer snowmobile riders on state trails — and less money in the pockets of those who rely on them. There were 283,884 snowmobiles registered in Michigan in October, down from 2007 when there were 390,168. Lack of snow, a slow economic recovery and expensive machines have depressed numbers. Local retailers say that rentals are increasing. We  hear from a Calumet store, DNR and the Michigan Snowmobile Association. By Carl Stoddard. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, ST. IGNACE, BAY MILLS, CHEBOYGAN, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY AND ALL POINTS.

w/SNOWMOBILE-TABLE: By the numbers, snowmobile registrations in Michigan

w/SNOWMOOBILE-GRAPHIC: Michigan Snowmobile Registrations

FOODFORSCHOOLS: More Michigan students can enjoy local fruits and vegetables with the expansion of a Traverse City program that supports buying them. The state program pays certain schools 10 cents a meal to buy local food. It has served 3.8 million meals and is expanding to include 32 school districts. By Jingjing Nie. FOR ALL POINTS. EDITORS NOTE: CNS SCHOOLS NOW IN THE PROGRAM INCLUDE HARBOR SPRINGS PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT, PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY AREA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, HOLLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS, GLEN LAKE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, KALEVA NORMAN DICKSON SCHOOL DISTRICT


STORMWATER: Communitiess are looking to use more trees to act as urban umbrellas to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff expected to increase as the climate changes. When rainwater falls on impervious surfaces such as parking lots, rooftops and roads, it sweeps contaminants into lakes and rivers. A leafy strategy slows the flow and helps put some of that moisture into the air, experts say. Projects are for Traverse City, Elk Rapids, Bellaire, Kingsley, Northport, Kalkaska, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and other communities. By Kaley Fech. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, HARBOR SPRINGS, LEELANAU AND ALL POINTS.

LANDCAP: Some counties are unhappy about public land purchases and so a proposed bill would grant local governments more power when DNR buys land, while also making sure the state pays its tax bill on time. Critics say the bill restricts statewide land management decisions. Counties with more than 40 percent of state land: Crawford, Dickinson, Cheboygan, Luce, Roscommon and Kalkaska. We talk to a senator from Escanaba, U.P. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Association of Counties, DNR and Michigan Environmental Council By Jack Nissen. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, CRAWFORD COUNTY, CHEBOYGAN, BAY MILLS AND ALL POINTS

RECOUNT: Losers of Michigan elections would have to suffer narrow losses and pay more to qualify for a recount under legislation proposed in the wake of a Green Party challenge to the state’s presidential election. Sponsors are from Park Township and Sherman Township. The Ottawa County clerk opines. By Stephen Olschanski. FOR HOLLAND, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS AND ALL POINTS.

UPBOOKS: Two new books shed light on U.P. identity and culture. One is about Yooper dialect and the other an anthology of U.P. writings, including poetry and songs. We interview the authors, one a Grand Valley State professor and the other a writer raised near Marquette. By Steven Maier. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, ST. IGNACE, BAY MILLS, CHEBOYGAN, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

           w/UPPHOTO1: “Yooper Talk” cover. Credit: University of Wisconsin Press.

           w/UPPHOTO2: “And Here” cover: Credit: Michigan State University Press.

Bills would make recounts harder in lopsided votes

Capital News Service

LANSING — Losers of Michigan elections would get a recount of the votes only in close races that they have a reasonable chance of winning under a bill proposed in the Legislature.

Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, hopes to tighten Michigan law after Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed for a recount in Michigan even though she lost the election by more than 2 million votes.

The legislation would change Michigan recount law to say that a candidate must have a reasonable chance of winning. Currently, the law allows any candidate to file for a recount.

Rep. Aaron Miller, R-Sherman Township, cosponsored the bill and said the decision to craft it was because of Stein and the hassle the recount presented to local clerks.

“Everybody agrees it was a nightmare, it was unneeded, it was a lot of work for nothing no matter what side they were on,” Miller said. “It was just a logistical nightmare.”

Miller said the bill would add another hurdle before a candidate could consider filing a recount.

“Just preventing something that was unreasonable from happening in the future was the goal of this legislation,” Miller said.

The recount filed by Stein was allowed after the Board of State Canvassers voted 2-2 that it  should take place. Attorney General Bill Schuette had asked the Michigan Supreme Court to block the recount because he felt it would cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

The state Court of Appeals later ruled the recount should not take place. It was stopped by a federal judge three days after the recount began.

The bill passed  the House 98-10 and referred it to the Senate’s Elections and Government Reform Committee.

The Michigan Association of County Clerks did not take a position on the bill, said Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck, who sits on the association’s legislative committee. He said he understands the need for clarifying language.

The bill does not change how election clerks administer recounts, he said.

“We certainly process a recount petition filing and move forward with the recount process the same as we always have,” Roebuck said.

The bill could benefit clerks as it sets a standard of what constitutes a candidate with a legitimate gripe about an election, Roebuck said.

“I just think that’s good public policy in my personal opinion in terms of using taxpayer resources,” he said.

Fiscal analysis paired with the House bill said Stein would have paid $973,250 for a recount and the state would have paid almost $1.3 million.

Another bill introduced in the Senate would increase the cost candidates pay for recounts and save taxpayer money, Roebuck said. The bill recently passed the Senate and is now awaiting a vote by the House.

“From the clerk community, we kind of see that recount fee as a deterrent as well for someone who is truly not (aggrieved),” Roebuck said. “If you’ve lost by a significant margin, I think it would be difficult to reach the threshold of alleging that you truly could have won the election.

“I think that recount fee increase is sort of helpful for setting a standard as well for why a candidate would actually come to file,” he said.

A candidate who loses by more than 50 votes or 0.5 percent of the total votes now must pay $125 a precinct for a recount. The bill would require a candidate that lost by more than 75 votes or 5 percent of the total votes cast to pay $250 per precinct.

Miller said the Legislature almost tied the House and Senate bills together so he believes both should pass the opposite chamber easily. He also said he believes the governor will sign them into law.

Candidates who lose close elections shouldn’t be deterred from recounts, Roebuck said.

“We certainly want a candidate who has lost by a slim margin (to file a recount) and there’s a potential there for even a simple mistake to potentially overturn an election,” he said. “We want that candidate to be able to come to the table and make sure they have the right to a recount.”

New tool against pollution is ancient: tree canopies

Capital News Service

LANSING — Trees may be the answer for Michigan communities looking to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff.

For one thing, their leafy canopies work like an umbrella over the pavement, keeping rainwater from flowing across the ground and into larger bodies of water.

“Trees can reduce stormwater runoff in multiple ways,” said Heather Smith, Grand Traverse Baykeeper at the Watershed Center, Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City.

“Trees can capture rainfall in their canopies, which can later evaporate back into the atmosphere. The roots can help promote infiltration of stormwater and the roots can also trap sediments, nutrients and other pollutants.”

The Watershed Center is working to increase the tree canopy in five communities, including Elk Rapids, Bellaire, Kingsley, Northport and Kalkaska.

Other cities are also looking for help from this leafy strategy, including Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.

Grand Rapids has set a canopy cover goal of 40 percent, and the city is currently near 34 percent, according to Audrey Hughey, a geographic information systems specialist or Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

Just one sugar maple tree in Ann Arbor can capture 1,763 gallons of stormwater runoff in a year, according to the city’s website.

Stormwater runoff– rainwater that falls on impervious surfaces such as parking lots, rooftops and roads — is not soaked into the ground. Instead, it flows across the ground and ends up in lakes and other bodies of water.

“When it goes over impervious surfaces like roadways and rooftops, it’s going to pick up different pollutants that may not necessarily be visible to the eye but that are invariably there,” said Jennifer Buchanan, watershed projects director at the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey. “It’s coming from all kinds of different surfaces in the landscape.”

Both Buchanan and Smith said a changing climate is increasing the number and severity of rainstorms, resulting in larger amounts of stormwater runoff.

“The volume of water and the rate of runoff is an issue because it’s these big rushes of stormwater that are entering into lakes and streams,” Buchanan said. “We can’t do much about the weather, but what we can do is try to get the stormwater to soak into the ground as locally as possible.”

Smith said stormwater runoff is one of the leading causes of stormwater pollution.

“I think we’ve been thinking more about trees and other vegetation in managing stormwater in the last few decades as we realize that we can’t just pipe untreated water into the nearest lake or stream,” she said. “We need to start treating stormwater, using natural processes.”

As an area becomes more urban, the problem of stormwater runoff increases.

“As development increases, and the amount of impervious surfaces we have increases, the more stormwater becomes a problem,” said Tom Zimnicki, the agriculture policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council.

Tree canopies can  slow down rainwater and allow it to soak into the ground. Trees also hold a lot of rainwater in their leaves and bark, reducing the amount of water that reaches the ground.

“The best plants are deep-rooting plants,” said Buchanan. “Those deep roots help form channels in the soil, so they form little conduits for the stormwater to travel down into the soil. And the more root surface you have, the more nutrients that potentially can be removed.”

Smith said the positive impacts of tree canopies can be immediate and continue to increase as  trees mature.

Smith said all regions can benefit from maintaining a healthy tree canopy to help manage stormwater.

“We are encouraging individuals and communities to plant and retain a tree canopy,” she said. “We are working with our local municipalities to initiate tree planting campaigns and develop and amend ordinances that favor retaining trees or planting new trees.”

Some cities, like Petoskey, are focusing on other stormwater management practices, such as rain gardens.

With these various techniques, Hughey said she is optimistic progress will be made in reducing pollution from stormwater runoff.

“With combined efforts of increased trees, rain gardens and other runoff diversion efforts, hopefully we will see significant improvements in coming years,” said Hughey.

Buchanan said stormwater management is the responsibility of both citizens and local governments.

“I think the more we can do as citizens as far as personal properties having the trees using more of those kinds of techniques is important, she said “I think it really has to be a combination of efforts between individuals and governments.”

In Grand Rapids, residents work with the city to improve the tree canopies.

“Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has over 90 certified citizen foresters that are in the city and trained to look at the canopy and promote trees in their neighborhoods,” said Hughey. “We realize as a city and an organization that climate change will affect us in the future and we are doing our best now to plan and plant for a more sustainable and resilient city. “

Bill would let some counties veto state land purchases

Capital News Service

LANSING — Counties with lots of public land are looking to take some control over state land purchases.

A pending bill would grant local governments more power when the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) buys land, while also making sure the state pays its tax bill on time.

The proposed change is in response to the local governments that are upset the state has too much control over northern Michigan land, said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, a cosponsor of the bill.

“I always hear the reason the state wants to own the land is so you and I can enjoy the land,” he said. “Yet in my area, far too often, land was gated up or fenced off and access was cut off.”

Critics say the bill restricts statewide land management decisions.

Casperson worries it’s too difficult for people to buy land from the state. The Michigan Association of Counties, which supports the bill, wants counties to be able to veto state purchases. And groups like the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance take issue with how the DNR allocates land.

“If conservation is the wise use of resources that benefits the most people for the longest time, then that’s not what is happening,” said Dale McNamee, the former president of the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Parts of the bill guarantee sportsmen they will have land where to hunt.”

McNamee says the DNR often doesn’t take advantage of public land by prohibiting mining, fishing and hunting. The alliance promotes recreational experiences and encourages conservation of natural resources in the area, he said.

Under the bill, counties with more than 40 percent of their land owned by the state would have approval power over any additional state land purchase in their county. As of 2016, six counties fit that description: Cheboygan, Crawford, Dickinson, Kalkaska, Luce and Roscommon. Of the almost 4.6 million acres the DNR owns, 85 percent is north of the Mason-Arenac line, an invisible line that stretches across counties north of the Thumb.  

The Michigan Environmental Council opposes several parts of the bill.

“Our issue with that is these are statewide land management decisions that are supported by a lot of people,” said Sean Hammond, the council’s deputy policy director. “This would allow a single county to hold up a statewide land management decision. We think that’s not the appropriate way to make these decisions.”

The council disagrees with restricting the DNR’s purchasing power if the state isn’t current on payments it makes in lieu of taxes. When the state buys land, not only is the county getting money for the initial purchase, but to offset the property taxes it isn’t receiving, the state pays what are called Payments In Lieu of Taxes or PILT.

If the state fell behind on these payments, the bill would allow a cap on how much land the DNR could purchase would go into effect. The council disagrees with this because, while the DNR purchases land, the payments are appropriated by the Legislature, not the department itself.

“We’re questioning why we need to tie those together when they are completely separate entities,” Hammond said.

While payments have been late in the past, the DNR says the state doesn’t usually miss PILT payments.

Both the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs oppose the bill.

Sponsors hope to improve local business opportunities impeded by public land ownership, Casperson said. In 2014, Oswald’s Bear Ranch, a big money-maker for Luce County, was looking to purchase land held by the DNR.

Instead, the business had to buy 160 acres the state wanted, then swap it for the land it preferred, which took years, Casperson said. More than half the county is owned by the state.

“When we can’t even help little businesses like this and there is so much economic turmoil in the region, it’s really unfortunate,” Casperson said. “There may be benefits to the state owning public land, but not through the local economy.”

That’s where the environmental council sees it differently.

The philosophy behind these bills is the state has too much public land and that doesn’t help the economy, Hammond said.

“Well, we see it the other way. We see tourism and recreation growing at huge rates. Trail running, mountain biking, birding, these are all industries that are growing, and where’s the best place to do them? On the state’s public land.”

The DNR says the  legislationl wouldn’t have much effect on the way it does business, because it  already uses many of the practices the bill mandates.

“We recognize there was justifiable concern that the DNR was making decisions about local land ownership without fully considering the interests or needs of local government officials,” said Ed Golder, the DNR’s public information officer. “So we’ve changed that engagement model.”

When a new land strategy was developed in 2013, DNR director Keith Creagh met with many northern county officials to gauge how they felt about how the government uses public land.

Since then, it’s become standard practice to seek approval from local governments and to seek agreement on the footprint of state-managed public land, Golder said.

It’s a practice that officials with the Michigan Association of Counties say they appreciate.

“We support the bill and we support the DNR working with counties,” said Deena Bosworth, the director of governmental affairs at the association.  “This bill codifies the relationship they have been working on for years now.”

The bill passed the Senate in mid-October and has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee.