Scientists team up to track fish


Capital News Service

LANSING — Biologists and scientists have teamed up to track fish across the Great Lakes using sound—a literal Great Lakes echo.

It’s like the world’s biggest game of Marco Polo, but with fish.

The Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation Systems, or GLATOS, is a network of researchers sharing fish-tracking data from across the Great Lakes basin.

Acoustic telemetry tracks fish by surgically inserting a tracker into them before releasing them back into the water. As the fish travels, it emits an audible ping that can be picked up by markers placed in bodies of water across the region. Continue reading

Seeking ‘Eureka!’ cries to solve environmental problems


Capital News Service

LANSING — The state’s $1 million incentive for anyone who comes up with a new and innovative solution to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great part of a trend in using cash incentives to crowdsource and solve natural resource problems.

For instance, Michigan State University recently sponsored a challenge to redesign water foundations. The winning team won $15,000.

“The students are innovative and energetic and we were very excited to support student team learning and effort through problem solving,” said Professor Joan Rose, an MSU expert in water quality and public health safety.

Another example: The Michigan Design Council has sponsored contests for K-12 students to develop products to better enjoy the state’s water and winter. Continue reading

Invasive species gang up on native crayfish


Capital News Service

LANSING — Invasive species in the Great Lakes are ganging up against native species.

A new study looking into invasive zebra and quagga mussels’ relationship with invasive rusty crayfish illustrates how the harm they cause together can be greater than either of them alone.

“What we found was that these invasive crayfish are really good at exploiting the resources provided by the (invasive) mussels,” said Mael Glon, who worked on this research while pursuing a master’s degree at Central Michigan University. “I don’t just mean eating them, because they are eating them, but they’re also eating what grows from what’s filtered from the mussels.”

The study was a collaboration between Central Michigan University (CMU) and Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. It tested how the presence of the invasive mussels affected the growth and activity of both the invasive rusty crayfish and the native virile crayfish. The study funded by Michigan Sea Grant found that the mussels’ presence led to increased growth and activity of the invasive crayfish, but not the native ones. Continue reading

Detroit architect honored in new book


Capital News Service

LANSING — Admirers of architect Wirt Rowland finally have the biography they were looking for. It was a long time coming.

Rowland was arguably the premier skyscraper architect of the early 20th century. He designed prominent buildings around the country for years. Yet his name is hardly known outside of architectural circles, and no one had bothered to write a book about the man.

That’s what struck Michael G. Smith of Bloomfield Hills and led him to write the just-released, “Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture” (Wayne State University Press, $44.99).

The tome is comprehensive and meticulously detailed as Smith explores the rise of Rowland through the ranks of the architectural world and his work in Detroit. Despite his lack of training, Rowland earned a position in the city as an apprentice draftsman in 1901. Four years later, he was the lead designer for the two largest construction projects in Michigan. He went on to work for some of the most prominent architectural firms in the city, designing five of Detroit’s 16 prominent skyscrapers Continue reading

Two species – one to preserve, one to control – challenge dam removal


Capital News Service

LANSING — A proposed dam removal along the Grand River faces significant delays due to its potential to disrupt river ecosystems. The environmental risks involve the fate of two species: sea lamprey and snuffbox mussels.

One needs to be kept out while the other needs to be protected.

The Sixth Street Dam in downtown Grand Rapids was installed in the mid-1800s to help ship milled logs downstream by controlling the water’s height and flow. It drowned the river’s naturally occurring rapids, allowing logs to float over them.

Eventually log transportation no longer relied on the river, but the dam remained.

Years of inadequate maintenance began to pose a hazard to kayakers and swimmers. In 2013, firefighters rescued two kayakers after the bumped against the dam and capsized. This and other accidents motivated city and state agencies to get the removal process going in earnest. Continue reading

Capital News Service Bonus Budget – May 5

Bonus Week, May 5, 2017

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks, Eric Freedman and Sheila Schimpf

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

For other issues contact Perry Parks,, (517) 388-8627 or Eric Freedman,

THIS IS BONUS WEEK: Here is our end-of-the-semester file of stories that you may not have had space for in the past few months but remain timely.

SUMMER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS PACKAGES: Again this summer, CNS plans to move three packages – in June, July and August — of Michigan environmental stories in partnership with Great Lakes Echo.

Here is your file:

(New story) DEERDISEASE: As the Department of Natural Resources expands educational efforts about chronic wasting disease, a bipartisan bill to raise awareness and prevent spread of the disease is moving through the House. The bill would increase the fine for importing deer carcasses or parts into the state, to $500-$2,000 from the current  $50-$500. The goals are both to reduce the likelihood that chronic wasting disease will spread among Michigan deer and to raise awareness about the seriousness of the problem. The bill unanimously passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in late April. A Marquette representative is the main sponsor. We also speak with DNR officials and an Iron Mountain lawmaker. By Laina Stebbins. FOR ALL POINTS

LAWYERLAWMAKERS: Legislators work every day to make and amend laws, but how many have a background in the field? Thirteen lawmakers — of 148 in both House and Senate — have worked as lawyers, according to the Michigan State Bar. That accounts for less than 10 percent of the state Legislature. It’s a slight drop from 17 lawyer-legislators in 2013-14, and 22 a decade ago. A Shelby Township representative is one of the 13 lawyers in the current session, and he believes more lawyers should be roaming the Capitol. We talk with him, a non-lawyer lawmaker and a law professor. By Laura Bohannon. FOR ALL POINTS.

DRIVERLESSCAR: As Michigan accelerates toward leadership in emerging driverless car technology, industry experts say its workforce needs to catch up. Gov. Snyder signed legislation approving the sale and use of autonomous vehicles when they’re ready. But analysts note significant gaps in skills among workers who could be developing driverless technology. They call for big changes in education and training programs to fill looming jobs that haven’t been fully created yet. We talk with a member of the state’s autonomous vehicle task force, a robotics educator at the University of Michigan and a workforce development manager in Oakland County. By Chao Yan. FOR ALL POINTS

MICHIGANVACCINATIONPUSH: Michigan recently launched a campaign to encourage vaccinations. So far, the program has been well received by members of the medical community, although there is some dispute as to why people don’t get vaccinated in the first place. As Michigan hopes to improve its standing in immunization rates, members of the campaign, local health centers, and physician associations chime in on how to do so. By Isaac Constans. FOR ALL POINTS.

AGINGDAMS: Roads and bridges aren’t Michigan’s only infrastructure problem. Less visible – but just as hazardous if not properly maintained – are the state’s 2,600 dams. Just as deteriorating roads and bridges can cause significant damage, aging dams in high-hazard locations have the potential to do great harm to the environment and to human life. The Otsego Township Dam on the Kalamazoo River is one. Officials at DEQ and DNR say keeping up with these aging dams is a cost and logistical nightmare. By Laina Stebbins. For ALL POINTS

RELIGIOUSFREEDOM: Some religious leaders are questioning the necessity of a House bill aimed at further protecting their First Amendment rights. The bill would allow ministers, clerics and other religious practitioners to refuse to marry couples who violate their religious beliefs. We talk to the bill co-sponsor from Potterville, a youth pastor from Three Rivers, a rabbi from Kalamazoo and the executive director of a Kalamazoo LGBT resource center. By Caitlin Taylor. FOR ALL POINTS.

MIDWIFELICENSING: Midwife associations were pleased when Gov. Rick Snyder signed new midwife licensing legislation into law at the beginning of the year. The law requires midwives to apply for a license with the newly created Michigan Board of Licensed Midwifery, operating through the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. We talk to LARA, president of Michigan Midwives Association, vice president of Friends of Michigan Midwives, president of the Michigan Affiliate of American College of Nurse-Midwives and a health policy nurse from Dorr Township. By Caitlin Taylor. FOR ALL POINTS.

PUREMICHIGAN: Long before “Pure Michigan” lured tourists and vacationers Up North, images of pristine forests and sparkling streams were doing the same thing — even if what they would see was neither pure nor pristine. The current Pure Michigan campaign echoes themes used by railroad and steamship companies and tourism promoters in the 1800s to entice urban dwellers, who arrived to a landscape changed dramatically by lumbering, mining and agriculture, a new study says. However, environmental devastation also helped create demand for environmental protection in the Northern Lower Peninsula and U.P. We talk to the author, who grew up in Grand Rapids, and to a historian at Northern Michigan University’s Center for U.P. Studies. By Eric Freedman. FOR ALL POINTS.

Wildlife officials, lawmakers fight deer-killing disease

Capital News Service

LANSING — As the  Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expands educational outreach about chronic wasting disease, a bipartisan bill to raise awareness and prevent spread of the disease is moving through the state House.

The bill would increase the fine for importing deer carcasses or parts into the state, from the current range of $50-$500 to a new range of $500-$2,000. The goals of the increased penalty are both to reduce the likelihood that chronic wasting disease will spread among Michigan deer and to raise awareness about the seriousness of the problem.

The bill unanimously passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in late April. Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, is the main sponsor, as well as the committee’s minority vice-chair. Continue reading

Bills would eliminate concealed-carry regulations

Capital News Service

LANSING — Some lawmakers are working to remove the licensing requirement for concealed pistol carriers.

Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, has introduced bills to eliminate concealed pistol license, or CPL, laws.

Cole said he doesn’t want to make it easier to obtain a gun or loosen those regulations, but he wants to ensure that “law-abiding citizens” don’t need to jump through hoops to carry a concealed pistol for self-defense.

“The idea is to promote constitutional freedom,” Cole said. Continue reading

Bill seeks to reduce penalty of expired concealed pistol license

Capital News Service

LANSING — People with concealed pistols could avoid felony charges for expired licenses under a bill introduced by Rep. Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron.

Under current law, anyone with an expired concealed pistol license who still carries his or her concealed weapon could be charged with a felony, even if it’s only been a few days since the license expired, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he was inspired to introduce the bill after hearing about a staffer’s friend who faced such a charge because of a recently expired icense during a routine traffic stop.

The bill would reduce that felony to a civil misdemeanor with a $330 fine if someone’s license has been expired for six months or less. Continue reading

Pro-immigrant groups to rally on May Day

Capital News Service

LANSING — On May Day, workers and immigrants across Michigan will rally to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Under the slogan “Rise up,” the Michigan effort is a part of national action across 200 cities on Monday, May 1. The seven Michigan cities scheduled to participate are Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac, Battle Creek and Rochester.

The action in Michigan is primarily sponsored by Michigan United, a statewide civil rights organization. Other pro-immigrant groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Michigan Muslim Community Council and Emerge USA, are also supporting the event. Continue reading