Michigan behind other states in wood use innovation

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING – Michigan is lagging far behind states on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts in exploring innovative markets and uses for wood products and wood energy, experts say.

And with Michigan’s abundant forestlands, identifying and developing new uses has major implications for the economy and employment across the state, not only in the north.

spawningreef

Counties with commercial forests Source: Michigan Biomaterials Initiative.


“People think of the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula as Michigan’s woodbasket, but there are a heck of a lot of trees that grow south of Clare, and a lot of them are dead or dying,” said Warren Suchovski, a logger and forestland owner in Stephenson, Menominee County.
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Warming climate opens door to new forest pests

By JESSICA BATANIAN

Capital News Service

LANSING – The mimosa webworm was nowhere to be found on honeylocusts at Michigan State University 20 years ago.

mimosa webworm

Credit: Joe Boggs, via Buckeye Yard and Garden Online

But within the past decade, warming temperatures made the campus an appealing home for this destructive bug.

“It was the canary in the coal mine,” said Deborah McCullough, an MSU entomologist who witnessed the honeylocusts disappear from campus as temperatures warmed and the mimosa webworm moved north into Michigan.

It’s a phenomenon not confined to webworms and honeylocusts as the Earth’s temperature rises and the variability of climate increases, experts say.

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Projects protect U.P.’s coaster brook trout

By CELESTE BOTT

Capital News Service

LANSING – Removing sand from the Salmon Trout River in Marquette County has helped protect the spawning sites of coaster brook trout, according to researchers.

Photo credit: Casey Huckins, Michigan Technological University

Coaster brook trout. Photo credit: Casey Huckins, Michigan Technological University

A sand collector was installed upstream last spring to intercept sediment before it reached the endangered trout’s spawning habitat, according to a report from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Marquette Fisheries Research Station.

The machine pumps sand out of the river, preventing it from covering stream-bottom rocks where the majority of coasters spawn.
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Spring brings fish stocking, regulation changes

By EDITH ZHOU

Capital News Service

LANSING – This year’s fishing season is starting on the wheels of stocking trucks, new regulations and programs to attract more participants.

Fish stocking at Red Cedar River. Source: Department of Natural Resources

Fish stocking at Red Cedar River. Source: Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said its $9 million program is stocking 19 million fish – 370 tons – including eight trout and salmon species and four cool-water species, including walleye and muskellunge.

This year, DNR’s fish-stocking vehicles will travel nearly 138,000 miles to more than 700 spots around the state.
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Research values Great Lakes wetlands to blunt climate change

By MATTHEW CIMITILE

Capital News Service

LANSING — Long valued for biological diversity and flood control, Great Lakes coastal wetlands are now seen as a tool to suck up and store excess carbon dioxide.

It’s an important function as researchers seek to blunt climate change caused by that greenhouse gas.

Wooded swamp in Michigan. Source: Department of National Resources.

Michigan wooded swamp. Source: Department of National Resources.

There are more than 535,000 acres of coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes basin, according to the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium.
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Medicaid expansion would increase vets’ health options

By MICHAEL GERSTEIN

Capital News Service

LANSING — While the Legislature wrestles with a recent House decision not to expand state health care for poor families through the Medicaid program, experts say roughly 20,000 veterans will also be left uninsured if the decision sticks.

“They’re going to be left out in the cold,” said Jan Hudson, a health care policy analyst for the Michigan League for Public Policy, which does research and advocacy regarding social issues like poverty, education and health.

The House recently rejected Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to expand Medicaid coverage despite available federal funding for the program.
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More courts use cameras to charge distant prisoners

By CELESTE BOTT

Capital News Service

LANSING – Macomb County is partnering with the state to expand its video arraignment technology to other jurisdictions, reducing the need to transport criminals from jails to courtrooms.

Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said that video arraignment of defendants who are being held outside county borders is safer and cost-effective.

“Using interactive video conference technology will help us save money, operate more efficiently and improve security at the court,” Wickersham said.
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Sturgeon studies examine spawning, bring science to school

By MATTHEW HALL

Capital News Service

LANSING — Researchers at Black Lake are studying threats to sturgeon and using their findings to teach biology to students from kindergarten through high school.

A young sturgeon. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A young sturgeon. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Among the questions being examined at the 10,130-acre lake in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties is why the prehistoric fish hasn’t reproduced in the wild as much as scientists would like.

There are some working hypotheses, said Edward Baker, one of the lead investigators on the project. One is theory is that the habitat isn’t ideal for sturgeon.
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High price tag of college draws concern, ideas

By CELESTE BOTT

Capital News Service

LANSING – A statewide discussion is underway on how students pay for tuition at public, private and community colleges.

College affordability, an ongoing subject of debate, gained considerable momentum when President Barack Obama highlighted the topic while speaking at the University of Michigan last year.

And a State of the State Survey from Michigan State University found that while 95 percent of residents believe a college education is “very important” for success, affordability is a barrier for many.
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Green jobs grow again after dip

By KYLE CAMPBELL

Capital New Service

LANSING — After losing 3 percent of its “green” jobs a year earlier, Michigan became one of the fastest-growing states for environmental employment last year.

According to Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national organization of business leaders, Michigan was among the top 10 states for environmental job growth in 2012, adding 19 projects and about 3,700 jobs. That brings the total to more than 86,000.

The report was a sign of good things to come not just in Michigan, but nationwide, said Hugh McDiarmid Jr., communications director of the Michigan Environment Council, a coalition of conservationist groups. The Environmental Entrepreneurs report estimated an increase of 110,000 green jobs throughout the U.S.
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