Woodsman, place that limb under water in a pond or a lake

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – Low lake levels and wood loss are causing some fish to binge until they run out of food, according to recent research.

Photo: Lake Superior State University.

Photo: Lake Superior State University.

Jereme Gaeta, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied the relationship between bass and perch, predator and prey, as dropping water levels altered the habitat offered by submerged trees and wood.

Fallen trees and wood create a coarse woody habitat submerged in lakes.

“Woody habitat is great for many species of fish in terms of foraging for food,” Gaeta said. “It’s a place for algae to grow and bugs to live.”

Trees in lakes can also provide shelter. But when levels drop and the lake shrinks, trees that were once submerged can end up entirely on the shore.

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Authors “Canvas Detroit” for art’s impact on the urban environment

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

A street mural from Hygienic Dress League. Photo: Flickr/CC

A street mural from Hygienic Dress League. Photo: Flickr/CC

LANSING — In “Canvas Detroit,” a new book from Wayne State University Press, Nichole Christian and Julie Pincus profile the Motor City’s brightest and most diverse up-and-coming street artists.

From murals on boulevards to grass sculptures, their work can actively improve the urban environment and shine a light on previously ignored and abandoned cityscapes, the authors say.

Detroit is a city that needs “problem solving,” Christian says, and art won’t solve it all. But the city is fostering a wickedly creative atmosphere that is ripe for revitalization.

In a recent interview, Christian explained the importance of street art and how it can revitalize a city.

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Michigan rollout of low-income health care exceeds expectations

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – In only three weeks the state’s Medicaid expansion program that gives health coverage to low-income residents is almost halfway to its yearly signup goal.

The Healthy Michigan program started enrolling low-income residents for comprehensive health coverage on April 1. By April 21, nearly 140,000 people had signed up for the plan – 43 percent of the 320,000 people the state hoped would enroll by the end of the year.

Coverage under Healthy Michigan provides all services required by federal standards, such as emergency services, maternity care and mental health treatment.

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Getting a job after 55 may require ‘Shifting Gears’

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – If you’re 55 or older and hunting for a job, good luck. Michigan is one of the worst states for your employment prospects.

Governing Magazine recently reported data showing nationwide employment-to-population ratios, a common economic measure of what proportion of a state’s eligible working-age population is employed.

Michigan is the third worst in the nation for older workers, just behind Arkansas and West Virginia, at 32.3 percent of residents 55 and older employed.

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Ecologist James Ludwig discusses the “Dismal State of the Great Lakes”

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING — In his new book, “The Dismal State of the Great Lakes,” ecologist James Ludwig explains his personal and professional journey in realizing the extensive damage that has been done to the Great Lakes.

A portrait of Ludwig and his cross-billed cormorant. Photo courtesy of James Ludwig.

A portrait of Ludwig and his cross-billed cormorant. Photo courtesy of James Ludwig.

Ludwig, 72, spent the majority of his career studying chemical pollution of the Great Lakes and its effects on birds. In the 1980s, he gained notoriety for raising a cormorant named Cosmos, whose bill had genetic damage linked to pollutants.

Ludwig used the bird to communicate the hazards of chemical pollution to a variety of audiences, including members of Congress. Ludwig, originally from Port Huron, now lives in Canada where he writes and remains active in Great Lakes ecological matters.

In an interview recently, Ludwig spoke about the challenges of fostering ecological concern in the public and the governmental channels that environmental restoration must travel.

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Science class is all about a salmon named Salami

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING — After solving the crisis of dwindling bee populations in West Michigan, and illustrating a Great Lakes ecological issue through stop-animation… how about creating an original music video to promote local geology?

Seventh grader Elijah Soerens’ “Salami the Salmon,” in his natural habitat. See video below. Photo courtesy of Ted Malefyt.

Seventh grader Elijah Soerens’ “Salami the Salmon,” in his natural habitat. See video below. Photo courtesy of Ted Malefyt.

All in a day’s work – or really, an academic year – for your average seventh-grader at Hamilton Middle School in Hamilton.

Instead of wading through graded homework and exam review sheets, Hamilton’s seventh-grade science curriculum is comprised almost entirely of creative, collaborative projects.

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Efforts increase to allow joint adoption by unmarried couples in Michigan

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – A bill in the legislature, public support and an expected federal ruling may soon tip the balance in favor of unmarried couples looking to adopt children together.

Such second parent adoptions can involve heterosexual unmarried couples but most cases involve same-sex couples, who cannot legally marry in Michigan.

Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, sponsored a bill in January to explicitly allow unmarried couples to become joint parents.

“If the only adoptive parent becomes incapacitated or passes away, the child goes back into foster care instead of with the only other parent they’ve known,” Irwin said. “It undermines the other parent’s right to make medical and financial decisions.”

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Debate looms over dividing state surplus

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – Tax cuts or a tax rebate? Pensions or a bailout for Detroit?

While there isn’t a simple way to get lawmakers to agree about what to do with an expected $971 million surplus in state revenue, economists have a simple message:

Don’t get too excited.

“The amount involved is quite small relative to the whole budget,” said Doug Roberts, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University. “It won’t have a major impact either way. It’s all psychological.”

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Master Gardeners prepping for ’14

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – Anita Callender’s garden is her refuge.

“My garden is a Valium,” she said. “It is a tranquilizer. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

As the coordinator for the Western Wayne County Extension Office’s Master Gardner Volunteer Program, Callender is looking forward to January, which marks the program’s 35th year in Michigan – and another year for her to pass on her love of gardening.

The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a gardening and horticulture education program across the U.S. and Canada, for people of all ages and experience levels. Volunteers attend a series of research-based classes for 45 hours, then complete community service projects to become certified.

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Typhoon victims got less, still need international aid

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – When Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda, devastated the Philippines last month, Americans sprang into action.

Just not as many as expected, according to a national report.

Compared to other recent international disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 tsunami in Japan, fewer Americans paid attention to news of the typhoon and are donating to relief efforts, according to the Pew Research Center report.

At least over 55 percent of Americans reported “very closely” following the earthquake in Haiti and tsunamis in Japan and the Indian Ocean. Only 32 percent of Americans report following Typhoon Haiyan. That has translated into low numbers of donations – with only 14 percent of Americans reporting they have donated so far.

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