Wetlands mitigation may get cheaper for local governments

By CHAO YAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — A new partnership of state and local agencies is working to set aside state land to make it easier for public entities with expansion needs to fulfill wetlands replacement requirements.

Because wetlands play a vital role in the health of the state’s environment and its tourism economy, the Wetlands Protection Act requires damage to wetlands that happens under a permit be compensated by creating a wetland someplace else.

The Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance (MMWA) is developing a wetlands mitigation bank system using Department of Natural Resources (DNR) property as bank sites.

“By us using state-owned lands, we are saving on the purchase of lands for the development sites and restoration sites,” Stephen Shine, the wetland mitigation bank administrator for the DNR, said. “And we are creating an added benefit for those state-owned lands by enhancing recreational opportunities for a whole variety of enthusiasts — everything from birdwatchers, people who like to hike, hunters.” Continue reading

Porcupine Mountains drilling raises environmental concern

By NATASHA BLAKELY

Capital News Service

LANSING — Fierce public reaction greeted the news that a copper company had a use permit to drill at the west edge of one of Michigan’s most remote state parks.

Orvana Resources U.S. Corp.—a subsidiary of Highland Copper—is doing exploratory drilling near Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the western Upper Peninsula. It’s not producing copper, but many members of the public aren’t happy with what it may mean.

“It’s a wild state park to begin with, and having industrial activity there is a shame,” said Steve Garske, a board member of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition Mining Action Group. “It seems like mining companies keep targeting areas that are important to the state.” Continue reading

Poet researched Great Lakes’ wrecks for new collection

By KATE HABREL

Capital News Service

LANSING — A 200-pound ship’s radiator interrupted a funeral in 1922 when it plunged from the sky and into the Falk Undertaking Parlors on Military Street in Port Huron.

It came from the Omar D. Conger, a ship blown to pieces when its boiler exploded while docked at Port Huron.

“That part is accurate! It happened! And that’s just bizarre!” said poet Cindy Hunter Morgan, an assistant professor of creative writing at Michigan State University. “When I read that, I thought, I’ve got to build a poem around that.”

And she did. From that poem: Continue reading

Cemeteries protect biodiversity amidst death

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Four white-tailed deer graze atop a rise, oblivious to Jay P Lee and GW Palen, and other folks named Stowell and Whitehead and Slayton and Potter interred there. It’s afternoon — an uncommon feeding time for deer that usually prefer dawn and dusk — on a fall day at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing.

The deer browse amongst the graves, apparently unperturbed by the writer, photographer, and ecologist walking at the foot of their hill, discussing varieties of lichen on tombstones, the food value of non-native honeysuckle for wildlife and the evils of invasive buckthorn.

The ecologist is Brian Klatt, director of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and we’re exploring the cemetery, which was farmland until 1873. It sits at the intersection of two busy roads about three miles from the classic white-dome state Capitol and backs into the floodplain of Sycamore Creek. Continue reading

Bills would allow citizens to dine out with their dog

By CAITLIN TAYLOR

Capital News Service

LANSING — When dining out for dinner, who always seems to be missing? The lonely four-legged friend at home.

Bills proposed in the House and Senate are aiming to change this. Dogs would be allowed to dine with their owners at restaurants with outdoor patios.

As a pet owner, Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, who re-introduced the bill in the Senate, said she understands the desire to spend time with your dog after working all day.

She also said there are people who like to travel in Michigan with their pets, but find it difficult when it comes time for a meal. Continue reading

Behind that romantic stand of pines, a history of abuse

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — 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 tourists would see was neither pure nor pristine.

While the state’s slick tourism campaigns of the recent decades are familiar, people might not know that they hark back to post-Civil War advertising that romanticized the state’s nature “and gave it the transcendent qualities that remain in tourists’ imaginations today,” according to a recent study.

The study by Camden Burd, who grew up in Grand Rapids and spent summer vacations on Green Lake in Interlochen, dates the current “Pure Michigan” theme to a 2008 rebranding of the state’s tourism industry. Continue reading

Course for 5K goes over and under airport runway

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Runners, lace up. In October, you’ll get the chance to race on an actual airport runway, and maybe duck under a 747.

Talk about creative land use. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport recently announced plans for a 5K race on Saturday, Oct. 7.

“It’s a bucket list-type thing,” said Tara Hernandez, the director of marketing and communications at the airport.

Post-9/11, people probably didn’t think they’d have opportunities to do stuff like that, she said. Continue reading

Bill would extend domestic violence protections to pets

By CAITLIN TAYLOR
Capital News Service

LANSING — Americans take pride in treating their pets like members of the family, animal advocate Beatrice Friedlander says.

Usually this means lounging on the couch with the cat or slipping the dog scraps of food from the dinner table. But in dysfunctional or violent families, Friedlander said, animals that are treated like members of the family can become victims too.

Between 71 and 83 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their partners also abused or killed the family pet, according to the Humane Society of the U.S.

To increase protections for pets in abusive homes, Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, introduced an amendment to the state’s domestic violence law. The bill would classify harm or attempted harm to a household animal as domestic violence, and it would use state funding for further animal protections. Continue reading

March 3, 2017 CNS Budget

March 3, 2017

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks, Eric Freedman and Sheila Schimpf

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

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Pechulano Ali, (517) 940-2313, pechulan@msu.edu.

For other issues contact Perry Parks, perryrobertparks@gmail.com, (517) 388-8627.

MICHIGAN JOURNALISM HALL OF FAME AHEAD: The annual induction dinner begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 9, at MSU’s Kellogg Center. This year’s inductees are: Patricia Anstett (Detroit Free Press);  Steven Cain (South Lyon Herald/Whitmore Lake News, Grand Haven Daily Tribune, Ypsilanti Press, Detroit News and Ann Arbor News); John Gallagher (Detroit Free Press); David Gilkey (National Public Radio and Detroit Free Press); and Mary Kramer (Crain’s Detroit Business, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Ann Arbor News, Kalamazoo Gazette, Buffalo Courier-Express and Greenwich Time in Connecticut).

Make online reservations at http://j-school.jrn.msu.edu/halloffame/. For more information, call Kareen at 517-353-6431.

SPRING BREAK AHEAD: There will be no CNS file on Friday, March 10, because of the MSU spring break. Regular files will resume on Friday, March 17. Continue reading

Debates persist on best way to assess schools

By LAINA STEBBINS

Capital News Service

LANSING — What’s the best way to measure school performance?

Standardized testing? Which tests? How often?

Michigan is awash in contentious disputes over whether to repeal the basis for its standardized tests (Michigan’s Common Core standards), questions about the Common Core-based testing system, threats to close low-performing schools, the possibility of cuts in federal education funding and debates about the very effectiveness of statewide standardized testing

Education experts remain at odds over what educational success in Michigan would look like, how to best measure that success and how to achieve it.

Tim Webster, superintendent of Reed City Area Schools, said there needs to be better consensus on testing policies and priorities about which assessments schools should focus on. Continue reading