Trump’s budget cuts could devastate Great Lakes restoration

By LAINA STEBBINS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Eliminating the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative could lead to devastating natural and economic effects on coastal Michigan communities, defenders of the program said.

President Donald Trump has proposed killing the initiative, along with the Michigan Sea Grant and nearly a third of the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The possible elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has compelled Michigan lawmakers, environmentalists, scientists and business owners to make a case for the program.

“It has benefited Muskegon greatly, hugely. We’ve received millions in dollars in federal funding to clean up White Lake and Muskegon Lake,” said Bob Lukens, Muskegon County community development director. Continue reading

Great Lakes greatly stressed–Commentary

Research director Anthony Taabu-Munyaho of the Uganda National Fisheries Resources Research Institute. image: Eric Freedman

Research director Anthony Taabu-Munyaho of the Uganda National Fisheries Resources Research Institute. image: Eric Freedman

 

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — The future of the Great Lakes is imperiled, right?

Invasive species endangering native plants, animals and habitat?  Check.

Ag and industrial runoff of toxic chemicals causing pollution and disease?  Check.

Illegal fishing?  Check.

Micro-plastics showing up in the water?  Check.

Damage to fish spawning areas?  Check. Continue reading

Scientists worry about lake herring crash, say new restrictions may help

The lake herring, also called cisco, is similar to herring found in northern Europe used to make a popular caviar. Image: Peter Payette

The lake herring, also called cisco, is similar to herring found in northern Europe used to make a popular caviar. Image: Peter Payette

By SAM CORDEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Scientists have been worried about the lake herring population in Lake Superior recently. In fact, last year they warned it could be headed towards a collapse.

Lake Superior is the only Great Lake that still has a significant population of herring – or cisco as they’re commonly called.

This fall, new rules protecting herring took effect in Wisconsin and Minnesota and things appear more stable. But there may still be a big problem lying beneath the surface. Continue reading

New Soo Lock could prevent trillion-dollar crisis

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — The decades-long effort to build a new lock connecting Lakes Superior and Huron at Sault Ste. Marie is getting renewed state attention. Advocates hope it will also be taken up by President-elect Donald Trump because of his infrastructure campaign pledge.

But it will be at least another year before the next step, a cost-benefit analysis by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s so important,” said Linda Hoath, executive director of the Sault Area Visitor’s Convention and Bureau.

Not just for Michigan but for the whole region, she said.

The U.S. would lose $1.1 trillion if the existing lock capable of handling the biggest freighters breaks down for six months, according to a new report from Gov. Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission. That report cited information from the Department of Homeland Security and encouraged a replacement for the aging Poe Lock as a failsafe to the nation’s economy. Continue reading

Help butterflies: plant native prairie plants

By BECKY WILDT

Capital News Service

Native plants with deep roots thrive after prescribed burns every three years. Image: Jennifer Howell

Native plants with deep roots thrive after prescribed burns every three years. Image: Jennifer Howell

LANSING — In flower pots or 100-acre lots, native prairie plants are increasingly important to butterflies and wildlife because in the wild, the plants are threatened by invasive species and human development.

Only .01 percent of native prairie has been left unaltered in Michigan, according to Jennifer Howell, stewardship manager at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, a nature center near Hastings. The rest has been developed or turned into farmland. But now planting prairies is increasingly popular. Continue reading

Experts from Israel, Great Lakes compare big water

By MORGAN LINN

Capital News Service

wbigwaterphoto4

Lake Kinneret. Image: NASA Earth Observatory

LANSING — While Lake Michigan protectors are fighting a threatened carp invasion, managers in Israel are dumping them into the Sea of Galilee.

That’s just one of the differences in managing two of the world’s largest lakes that emerged during a recent conference between lake managers from Israel and the Great Lakes region.

The Sea of Galilee – or Lake Kinneret – and Lake Michigan differ greatly in size, but experts from both areas shared common experiences and found ways of learning from each other at the Michigan State University conference

Lake Kinneret, in northeast Israel, is only about 13 miles long by 8 miles wide but is the largest freshwater lake in Israel. Continue reading

Culling deer herd reduced chronic wasting disease

By CARIN TUNNEY

Capital News Service

Protruding ribs and hipbones are signs that a deer has chronic wasting disease. Image: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Protruding ribs and hipbones are signs that a deer has chronic wasting disease. Image: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

LANSING — Federal sharpshooters and more hunting permits that reduced the deer population helped fight chronic wasting disease among white-tailed deer, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports.

Results are in from the first-year management strategy for chronic wasting disease in Michigan. Wildlife officials confirmed the disease in the state’s wild deer herd in May 2015. Continue reading

Ban on baiting trout with chum stirs controversy

By MARIE ORTTENBURGER

Capital News Service

Lake Erie Steelhead. Image: Wikipedia Commons.

Lake Erie Steelhead. Image: Wikipedia Commons.

LANSING — Many anglers and guides are unhappy about the Natural Resources Commission’s new ban on scattering fish parts and eggs to lure fish on trout streams.

“It kind of drives me nuts,” said Chad Betts, owner of Betts Guide Service and Outfitters in Newaygo.
Known as chumming, the practice has long been controversial. Critics say it can cause disease and that it’s an unfair way to catch more fish.

But some anglers don’t think those are reasons enough to categorically ban the practice on trout streams, as the commission did in July. Continue reading

Great Lakes writer tackles tale of survival 50 years after Lake Huron shipwreck

By NATASHA BLAKELY
Capital News Service

schumacher-michael-336x224

Michael Schumacher

LANSING — Michael Schumacher was born and raised in Wisconsin and has been living right by the shore of Lake Michigan all of his life.

“The lake means a lot to me so I won’t take it for granted, ever,” said Schumacher, 62. “I tried to read a lot of the history, learn as much as I can. The more I can learn the better, and I’ve learned the five Great Lakes have separate personalities; they’re all different in their own way.”

He should know. Schumacher recently wrote “Torn in Two: The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man’s Survival on the Open Sea.” It is his 13th published book, and the fourth in his series on Great Lakes shipwrecks. Continue reading

Waters rise, gas prices drop and boats boom in summer 2016

By BRIDGET BUSH

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan boating boomed this summer as water levels reached near-record highs, gas prices stayed low and the weather invited people to cruise, said boating experts across the state.

New models helped increase boat shop traffic, said Nick Polan, executive director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association. Low interest rates made financing more feasible than in years following the 2008 recession.

That spurred sales in an industry known for owners who hold onto their boats for decades, Polan said. It was “the seventh consecutive year of expansion for the state’s marine economy.”
And it’s not just sales that are up. “Looper” traffic at his marina is up 200 percent compared to previous years, according to Mike Thoma, the harbor master of the Grand Haven Municipal Marina. A looper is a boater who embarks on the “Great Loop,” a 6,000 to 7,500 mile inland water trek that can take a year to complete. “The last week of August through the third week of September marks the usual timeframe for looper season in Western Michigan,” Thoma said. Continue reading