Sept. 15, 2017 – CNS Budget

Sept. 15, 2017 — Week 2

To: CNS Editors

From: David Poulson and Sheila Schimpf

http://news.jrn.msu.edu/capitalnewsservice/

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Tony Cepak at (517) 803-6841 or  cepak@msu.edu.

For other matters, contact Dave Poulson: poulsondavid@gmail.com;

Here is your file:

MARINEPATROL: State funding for county sheriff deputies to patrol lakes and rivers has dropped over the past decade with the decline in the boater registrations that support them. But at the same time the county marine patrols are rescuing an increasing number of canoers and kayakers – who don’t have to register their craft and support the service. That’s leading to calls to register the increasingly popular craft. We talk to DNR and sheriffs in Mackinac, Marquette and Huron counties. By Kaley Fech. FOR MARQUETTE, ST. IGNACE, MANISTEE, CADILLAC, BAY MILLS AND ALL POINTS.

OPIOIDCRISIS: A drug is saving the lives of hundreds of Michigan opioid addicts. But experts say it’s no solution for the epidemic sweeping the state and that it may even encourage further drug use among addicts. We talk to the Ingham County sheriff, the Department of Corrections and health experts from U-M and Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health. By Jack Nissen. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, METRO TIMES AND ALL POINTS.

SECONDARYROADPATROL: Speeding may be less risky business for Michigan drivers — officers are issuing fewer citations each year. But the drop is costing county sheriffs’ departments thousands of dollars each year that fund patrols of the state’s back roads and investigations into vehicle crashes. We hear from the Sheriffs’ Association and Office of Highway Safety Planning. By Stephen Olschanski. FOR ALL POINTS.

MTARVON: You won’t find Mount Arvon listed in many Michigan tour books, despite the peak’s lofty status as the highest point in Michigan. But these days, Mount Arvon is getting more attention from tourists and the just plain curious willing to climb Michigan’s most prominent peak. It also is attracting a national convention of mountain climbers in 2019. By Carl Stoddard. FOR MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, ST. IGNACE, SAULT STE.MARIE AND ALL POINTS.

w/MOUNTARVONSIGN: Mount Arvon is Michigan’s tallest spot. Credit: Baraga County Convention & Visitors Bureau

CLIMATECHANGE:

A new study shows that people who have been affected by weather extremes have polarized perceptions of climate change: some are more concerned and some are more dubious. It found that people who spend more time outdoors are more concerned about climate change. We talk to a Michigan State University professor of agricultural, food and resource economics; the author of the study, a former grad student at MSU; and a national expert on climate change at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change. By Jack Nissen. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, LEELANAU & ALL POINTS.

SUSTAINABILITY: MSU faculty and grad students explore sustainability in the Cadillac-Traverse City-Leelanau Peninsula area, including a trail system linking Northwest Michigan communities, a small-scale organic vegetable farm that supplies local restaurants with fresh produce, citizen-scientists alert for invasive aquatics, apple researchers and critics of an oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.  Commentary by Eric Freedman. FOR CADILLAC, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, PETOSKEY, CHEBOYGAN, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, BIG RAPIDS & ALL POINTS.

           w/SUSTAINABILITYPHOTO1: Seining for Great Lakes fishes with the Cerulean Center at Maple Bay Natural Area. Credit: Shari L. Dann

           w/SUSTAINABILITYPHOTO2: Nic Theisen discusses growing organic vegetables at Loma Farm near Traverse City. Credit: Eric Freedman

 

Police cite fewer speeders, costing counties patrol dollars

By STEPHEN OLSCHANSKI
Capital News Service

LANSING — Speeding might be less risky  for drivers in Michigan as police officers are issuing fewer citations annually.

But that drop is costing county sheriffs’ departments thousands of dollars each year for patrolling the state’s back roads and to investigate crashes.

The program, known as secondary road patrol, is a state program of traffic enforcement and crash investigation on non-main roads in the counties, including parts of national and state parks.

It was funded solely by state grant general fund from 1979 to 1992. But now it is self-funded by the surcharge added to fines generated by traffic citations issued by all police. Partial allocation from the general fund continued from 1992 until 2003 when it  was completely eliminated

The average number of  citations issued per deputy has decreased from 582 in 2006 to 444 in 2016, according to a report by Michigan’s Office of Highway Safety Planning.. That resulted in a loss of nearly $3 million to the secondary road patrol program during the past 10 years.

“The two are intertwined,” said Blaine Koops, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. “The number of citations equals the amount revenue that’s generated.”

There may be multiple reasons for the decrease in citations, Koops said. But more compassionate officers may be among them.

“Part of it is the whole demeanor of the new police officers,” Koops said. “Number one is more compassionate police officers as far as looking at an individual and their individual circumstances but also their looking at their job differently.”

Koops said more officers are looking at their jobs as more community-based as the people they serve are also the people they live among.

Other reasons for the decrease in citations  have to do with changing road environments. Barriers dividing the freeways have made it more difficult for officers to catch violators.

“If they’re tracking opposite direction traffic, they cannot go through the median to track that vehicle,” Koops said. “If indeed they’re going to track that vehicle, they have to go to the next emergency exchange in the middle of the road which can be several miles away.”

Officers are also more cognizant of being filmed or having to use body cameras which may make them less likely to ticket speeders.

The decrease in funding has led also to a decrease in secondary road patrol deputies funded through the program, taking officers off the road. At the program’s’ inception in 1979, 287 officers were funded by the secondary road patrol funds. Now approximately 126 officers are funded through the program.

That shifted costs to local government. The number of county-funded officers has increased from 1,123 in 1979 to approximately 2,184 in 2016.

“There’s just not enough money to put the deputies on the road,” Koops said. “That money is spent really as far as a funding source to augment the general fund that a county puts into traffic enforcement.”

Eighty-eight percent of the program’s expenditures, or about $11.8 million,  are spent on personnel costs. Each deputy costs approximately $97,258.04 including salary, fringes, vehicles and equipment.

The decrease in funds to the program has no quick solution,  Koops said.

“Truthfully, right now there is no solution,” he said.

Decline in boat registrations creating a lack of funding for marine patrols

By KALEY FECH
Capital News Service

LANSING — Over the past decade, state funding for the marine divisions of sheriffs’ offices in Michigan has dwindled with the decline in the number of registered boats.

At the same time, the number of unregistered canoes and kayaks has increased, leading to calls for the owners of those craft to also be required to pay the registration fees that support rescues and other boating programs

“We’ve experienced a dramatic decrease in funding,” said Mackinac County Sheriff Scott Strait. “It’s roughly one-third of what it was 10 years ago.”  

Marine divisions offer boater safety classes, patrol waterways and conduct search-and- rescue missions on the water, including areas of the Great Lakes.

The  Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers Marine Safety grants to county sheriff departments for marine patrol divisions. The grant money comes from boat registration fees.

However, a decline in registered boats has led to a decrease in the grant money vailable, and sheriffs’ offices across the state are feeling the effects, said Blaine Koops, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association.

In 2007, there were 827,869 registered boats in Michigan. By 2012, there were only 800,793. Last year that number dropped to 790,425, according to the DNR.

The amount available for Marine Safety grants is decreasing with the decline in registered boats. In 2007, it  was about $3.5 million. In 2012, it fell to about $2.8 million.  In 2016, it was about $2.2 million, according to the DNR.

“Funding here is roughly half of what it was when I first started,” said Sgt. Eric Decker, from the Marquette County special operations division. “Ten to 15 years ago, grant money was somewhere between $30,000 and $35,000. It’s now down to between $17,000 and $20,000.”

In the past, the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office used funds from the DNR grant to purchase new equipment, but he said the lack of funding is now forcing the county to make some tough decisions.

“We haven’t been able to replace equipment,” Decker said. “We have an aging boat, but we haven’t been able to replace it because grant money has gone down. It’s now looking like the county will purchase the boat and will put off getting a new patrol car for another year.”

An increasing problem counties are seeing is the number of calls they receive from canoers and kayakers in distress.

“We’re seeing major issues with kayaks,” said Kelly Hanson, the Huron County dheriff. “We’ve been called out over 70 times this year for kayak rescues.”

In Michigan, canoes and kayaks do not have to be registered. When users call for help, they are using marine division resources without contributing to the funding, Strait said.

Strait said his office is receiving a growing number of calls from kayakers, especially in the Straits of Mackinac. Deckersaid Marquette County is also getting more calls involving kayakers in trouble.

All three sheriffs say that  requiring canoes and kayaks to be registered would improve the funding situation.

They’re not alone.

“This is something we’ve wanted to see happen for years,” said Mark Miltner, vice president of Michigan Association of Paddlesport Providers and owner of Pine River Paddlesports Center in Wellston, about halfway between Manistee and Cadillac.

“The number of people who own personal crafts is increasing, and they’re not always experienced,” he said. “Sheriff marine divisions are getting called out more and more to do search and rescues.”

Decker said the drop in funding  means fewer deputies on the water.

It’s a concern that Hanson shares.

“At one time we had a marine patrol seven days a week,” he said. “Now we just have a weekend patrol.”

Reviving addicts doesn’t cure them, sheriffs say

By JACK NISSEN
Capital News Service

LANSING — Drugs save the lives of some of Michigan’s opioid addicts, but they can’t solve the epidemic sweeping the state and nation.

Most Michigan police are equipped to revive people from an opioid overdose with the drug Narcan. But experts say it hasn’t done anything to help curb the addiction crisis. In fact, it may even falsely reassure addicts that they can continue their risky behavior.

“The dispensing of Narcan has nothing to do with getting anybody better,” said Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth. “It just saves their life. And we’ve had multiple instances where three or four hours later, we’re going back on the same person and administering Narcan again.”

Narcan, a nasal spray that restores breathing to patients overdosed on opioids or heroin, has been key to saving lives. For instance, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office says it has saved  more than 100 people  this year. Ingham County sheriff officials say they’ve administered it more than 150 times this year.

Statewide figures show the number of deaths due to opioid and heroin has risen, from 99 in 1999 to 1,689 deaths in 2016.

Coupled with the increase in deaths is an increase in use and in questions about a limit on how many times Narcan should be used. Middletown, Ohio, spent $2 million responding to overdoses, prompting a member of its city council to propose a cap on how often someone can be given Narcan.

It’s not a popular solution in Michigan.

“We don’t get to say no, never mind, you’ve had 10 or eight chances and are capped for the night and we’re not coming,” Wriggelsworth said.

Some heroin and opioid addicts carry around their own Narcan in case they overdose by accident—or on purpose.

“They’re called Lazarus parties,” Wriggelsworth said, “where they take heroin to the tune of almost dying and then they have Narcan there to bring their buddies back.”

Narcan may save lives, but it’s not a solution to addiction, said Chad Brummett, director of Clinical Research with the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan.

Some experts disagree that proposed legislation that would limit how often someone can be revived with Narcan is the best solution.

“I frankly don’t understand the rationale behind this,” Brummett said. “I think the people proposing that legislation would be better off to focus on things like increasing access to care, addiction treatment, because this is a disease, it’s not a choice.”

Narcan is donated to law enforcement by community health agencies. A kit with two nasal spray units, a face shield used when giving cardiopulmonary respiration, gloves and information on addiction treatment costs $75. The kits are paid for with funds to the agencies provided by block grants from the federal government to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Another drug also used to combat addiction is Vivitrol.

The  Department of Corrections recently began using it to block the desire to take opiates, while giving users little feel of euphoria if they relapse.

“We don’t have extensive knowledge of Vivitrol and its impact on prisons because it’s so new,” Anita Lloyd, the agency’s communications director, wrote in an email. “But if this medication can be used to treat addiction, and can be successfully managed as part of a larger treatment program—without a safety risk to staff or inmates—that’s a good thing.”

An injection of Vivitrol costs $1,000, requires 14 days of being clean ahead of time and is taken once a month.

Meanwhile, experts are predicting a long road ahead before the opiate crisis gets better.

“While prescribing of opioids has started to decrease, our prescribing still so far outpaces what is reasonable,” Brummett said. “Some are predicting it’ll get worse until 2020 or 2021.”

And it’s no longer just prescribed painkillers, he said. Heroin use has risen, while use of newer synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil, which are said to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine, have also increased.

Moves by some of the 10 regional health networks that assist law enforcement by donating Narcan are beginning to think of how further to assist addicts.

“We understood from the very beginning, as part of the training we provide, that officers not only use the medicine to revive, but provide information as well,” said Achilles Malta,a  substance abuse expert with the Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health, “either to family members of the individual or the individual themselves.”

Beyond making education more available, Malta wants overdosed patients to have someone there to help them as soon as they are revived, while also letting family know about other resources in the community.

Perceptions of climate change more polarized, study shows

By JACK NISSEN
Capital News Service

LANSING — For those who don’t remember the 2013-2014 winter, it was a season of icy wrath unleashed by the polar vortex.

Well, it appears memories of ice and record-low temperatures weren’t the only things it left behind. A new study shows memories of that event by people in the Grand Traverse Bay region may have impacted what they think of climate change.

Their views are a little different than the national average, according to a recently published article in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

A survey revealed more people in that region are alarmed or concerned by climate change than the national average. But it also found more people are doubtful or dismissive about climate change than the national average.

Statisticians call a result like this—where a graph showing the data has two peaks separated by a valley—a bimodal distribution. Typically, graphs would have just one peak.

So why do these numbers look different than the national surveys?

“It’s possible that we found that bimodal distribution because of the time of the study,” said Patricia Norris, an agricultural, food and resource economics professor at Michigan State University.

It was conducted in the summer of 2014, after the polar vortex brought with it record low temperatures in the Great Lakes region, including wind chill temperatures in Michigan below minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of how fresh the subfreezing temperatures and frozen lakes were in the minds of those surveyed, it was a frequent point of discussion and served as potential bias in the study, Norris said.

How much was the winter of 2013-2014 on the mind of those surveyed? Many of them discussed the bay freezing over and colder temperatures taking place, Norris said.

The study used “Global Warming’s Six Americas”—a survey that identifies six attitudes held by Americans when thinking about climate change: Alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful and dismissive.

The Grand Traverse Bay region was chosen because of how close it is to the Lake Michigan coast.

Researchers focused on a coastal community because compared to other places, people tend to be more sensitive to little fluctuations in the climate, said Brockton Feltman, author of the study and a former master’s candidate with the MSU Department of Community and Sustainability.

While the extreme winter event may have thrown a curveball in the results, the study confirmed other hypotheses, Norris said.

Norris and Feltman predicted that respondents with less education would care less about climate change and that those that spent more time outside would care more. Both proved to be true.

The connection between being outside and caring more about climate change is the most interesting takeaway, said Edward Maibach, the director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change and one of the authors of the study that developed the “Six Americas” used to characterize it.

“This makes perfect sense, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has actually found this before,” he wrote in an email. “It is consistent with other literature about the role of personal experience in convincing people of the reality of global warming, but it is a distinct, useful and interesting finding.”

This information can help us connect with people, depending on how they feel about climate change, Norris said.

Maibach said the study could lead to a long term change in perception.

“It is useful in the sense that lots of folks feel that Americans—especially our kids— don’t spend enough time outdoors,” Maibach said. “If encouraging them to spend more time in outdoor activities, which is good for them in many ways, also makes them more likely to become engaged in the problem of climate change, all the better.”

Hikers have a new Michigan favorite: Mount Arvon

By CARL STODDARD
Capital News Service

LANSING — You won’t find Mount Arvon listed in many Michigan tour books, despite the peak’s lofty status as the highest point in the state. And until a few decades ago, it wasn’t even recognized as Michigan’s top spot.

But these days, Mount Arvon in the western Upper Peninsula is getting more attention from tourists and the just plain curious willing to climb Michigan’s most prominent peak. It also is attracting a national convention of mountain climbers in 2019.

Tracey Barrett hikes to the summit nearly a dozen times a year.

“It’s a cool place to go,” said Barrett, director of the Baraga County Convention & Visitors Bureau in L’Anse. “There’s a view of Lake Superior and Point Abbaye. It’s really pretty, really remote.”

Mount  Arvon, which is in L’Anse Township, is a 27-mile drive east from the village of L’Anse, Barrett said, and “years ago, there was hardly a road” to the peak.

The road going up the mountain has been improved, she said, and a parking lot near the top was added in 2012. But the road is not plowed in the winter, which can come early in the U.P. So once the snow flies, only visitors on snowshoes or snowmobiles can reach the top, she said.

From the parking lot, it takes just a few minutes to hike to the top of Mount Arvon. Once there, visitors can sign a notebook to verify they reached the summit.

Back in L’Anse, people who have conquered Mount Arvon can pick up a certificate of achievement at the Baraga Visitors & Convention Bureau office, she said.

Barrett says her office also hands out magnets and stickers from the national Highpointers Club, a group that promotes climbing to the highest point in every state.

Each year, the club holds an annual convention in a different part of the country, said Tim Webb,the  president of the Highpointers Club.

The club divided the country into four geographical regions and rotates its annual convention sites through those regions, Webb said.

Club members voted to gather near Mount Arvon in 2019, he said.

“The exact dates are not set for this convention yet. However the traditional timing for our conventions is the third weekend in July,” said Webb, who expects the gathering to draw 200 to 250 attendees.

This year, the Highpointers www.highpointers.org met in Massachusetts. Next year, the group plans to gather in Arkansas.

Webb said he has climbed Mount Arvon twice, first in the summer of 1997. He returned in 2007, this time with his wife, son and daughter.

Some people who come to climb Mount Arvon  stay at nearby campgrounds or a lodging facility in L’Anse or Baraga, Barrett said.

An increasing number of visitors to the Baraga Lakeside Inn are using it as their base camp for their climb to the top of the mountain, said Lori Thomas, who works at the front desk of the 68-room hotel on the shore of Lake Superior.

The visitors are from all over the country, including California, and many stay for a few days, said Thomas, who said she has climbed Mount Arvon several times.

Although the peak is open to the public, it is on private land owned by the Weyerhaeuser Co., with headquarters in the state of Washington, said Kristine Rice, the L’Anse Township’s treasurer.

There is no way to count exactly how many people climb Mount Arvon each year, said Tom Nemacheck, executive director of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association in Iron Mountain.

“But traffic is definitely up. There’s a lot more people asking about going up there,” Nemacheck said.

He said he also is seeing more interest in another Michigan peak, the 1,400-foot Mount Zion near Ironwood.

From the top of Mount Zion, Nemacheck said, there is a “terrific view” that includes Lake Superior and the Black River valley, with its multiple waterfalls.

According to the state’s Pure Michigan website, Mount Arvon rises 1,979 feet above sea level and is part of the Huron Mountains range.

“When you reach the parking lot you are within 300 feet from the top,” the website says. “After you sign in at the register, to the north of the top there is a short walk to a panoramic view of Lake Superior.”

For many years, nearby Mount Curwood, named for author and Owosso native James Oliver Curwood, was considered the highest point in the state. But a new survey in 1982 determined that Mt. Arvon was taller — by 1 foot.

Up north, sustainability is everywhere

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service  

LANSING — What do a trail system linking Northwest Michigan communities, a small-scale organic vegetable farm that supplies local restaurants with fresh produce, citizen-scientists alert for invasive aquatics, apple researchers and critics of an oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac have in common?

All are part of a drive for environmental sustainability and all involve some form of community engagement.

As Michigan State University’s Knight Chair in Environmental Journalism, I was part of a recent Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project (SMEP) study tour in the Cadillac-Traverse City-Leelanau Peninsula area.

Other study tour participants were doctoral students and faculty from a range of departments:  Community Sustainability; Philosophy; Fisheries & Wildlife; Journalism; Planning, Design & Construction; and Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics — including grad students from Togo, South Korea and Colombia. All are involved in researching some aspect of sustainability in Michigan.

Endowed by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, SMEP “serves as a catalyst and convener of interdisciplinary dialogue and research around existing and emerging sustainability topics and has invested considerable resources in exploring the implications of sustainability particularly for the future of Michigan.”

Last year the group examined environmental justice and sustainability in Detroit. This time the geographic focus was more rural and agricultural: Traverse City, the largest city in Northwest Michigan but with fewer than 16,000 year-round residents.

We began at the Department of Natural Resources’ Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac. There, amid exhibits about hunting, fishing and wildlife in the state, a DNR interpreter explained the importance of Michigan’s hunting tradition, and the revenue that fishing and hunting licenses generate to support natural resources management and protection.

The next day we went to TART — the nonprofit Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails network — to learn about the community-rooted initiative that promotes outdoor recreation, furthers sustainable transportation and connects trail users with each other and with nature.

“We don’t want to own the trails. We want the community to own the trails,” TART’s Brian Beauchamp told us. “People often fight us on new trails,” Beauchamp, outreach and program director, said, but often discover that the trails increase their property values — and often use the trails themselves.

We met with experts from two environmental nonprofit organizations, For Love of Water (FLOW) and the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, to discuss such issues as the safety of the controversial Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. FLOW’s Dave Dempsey and Groundwork’s Jim Lively explained how groups like theirs are partnering with tribal governments and businesses in an effort to force the state to close the pipeline.

We headed into the field at the Maple Bay Natural Area, a 450-acre Grand Traverse County Park, with fisheries biologist Steve Hensler and forestry expert Jessica Simons of the Cerulean Center and scientist-educator Jeanie Williams of the Inland Seas Education Association. There our focus was biodiversity and the role of citizen-scientists in gathering environmental data such as plant populations and invasive species.

Amidst lapping waves, low sand dunes, water-smoothed rocks and soaring gulls, our fieldwork included helping Hensler to identify hundreds of tiny fish caught in a seine, alert not only for invasives but also for native fish that aren’t usually found in the East Arm of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay.

We also learned from them about BioBlitz, their two-day effort last year by volunteer amateurs and scientists to inventory as many plants and animals as possible at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

At Michigan State University’s Northern Michigan Horticulture Research Center in Leelanau County, researchers serve farmers and growers in its five-county — Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau, Grand Traverse and  Antrim — that produce nearly half of the U.S. tart cherry crop and 83 percent of the state’s sweet cherry crop. The center is also a key player in research about other fruits, especially apples and grapes.

Center coordinator Nikki Rothwell talked about the importance of building relationships between growers and researchers and about recognizing the potentially deadly impact of climate change and extreme weather — such as late frosts and drought — on fruit crops. She emphasized the need to understand the economics of farming and the pressures of development in Northwest Michigan.

We headed to Shady Lane Cellars, a boutique winery in Suttons Bay, to tour the vineyard with vineyard manager Andy Fles and the wine-making facility with winemaker Kasey Wierzba. From there it was to Loma Farm, an organic vegetable and flower farm near Traverse City, to learn from co-owner Nic Theisen about marketing locally, paying employees fairly, environmental sustainability and respecting the land.

Overall, it was evident how diverse aspects of sustainability in Northwest Michigan are, from vineyards to shoreline dunes, from organic leeks to the oil and natural gas pipeline under Straits of Mackinac, from worker wages to outdoor recreation.