Ancient crop gets high tech boost

By QUINN ZIMMERMAN
Capital News Service

LANSING — An ancient and culturally significant crop is getting a boost from modern technology. Wild rice, or manoomin, has declined significantly in recent years, but drones are helping one Michigan tribe restore it. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi has found drones to be effective at monitoring wild rice beds in the St. Joseph River basin. The aircraft are essential to wild rice restoration efforts, said John Rodman, the director of environmental relations for the Nottawaseppi in Southwest Michigan.

Recording lures lovestruck birds to woods

By KALEY FECH
Capital News Service

LANSING — While Michigan’s efforts to restore a popular but endangered songbird succeeded by doubling its goal, nearby Wisconsin is experimenting with a new way of increasing its population. Every day the love song of a Kirtland’s warbler calls throughout the Bayfield County Forest in northwestern Wisconsin. But it isn’t coming from a bird. It’s a recording created to lure the endangered species to the forest. “We had a handful of birds on the landscape, but none of them was finding each other,” said Nick Anich a conservation biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

WATCH: 20 killed in limo crash, hurricane update, and an alligator in Lake Michigan

20 people died in a limousine crash involving an unlicensed driver. Hurricane Michael escalates to a category 4 and touches down in the Florida panhandle. A four-foot-long alligator was found in Lake Michigan by a surprised fisherman. In Iowa, a man was charged with domestic violence after abusing three of his pet dogs. The Detroit Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers 31-23.

Land conservancies protect natural areas across Michigan

By NICK KIPPER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Thousands of acres of endless trees and undisturbed waters belong to one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets. The 26 land conservancies spread out in every region of the state protect natural land from development and give residents an escape into nature. Conservancies acquire land either donated by property owners or purchased through grants and fundraising efforts.   

Heart of the Lakes, a statewide organization that represents the majority of Michigan’s 26 land conservancies, found in its 2017 survey that their members control 638,317 acres. There has been no recent change in the number of conservancies throughout the state, but there has been a steady expansion of already established lands, increasing by at least 10,000 acres every year since 2013.

State natural resource program raises salmon, sells surplus

By KALEY FECH
Capital News Service

LANSING – Each fall, many Chinook and coho salmon make their way from the Great Lakes to their birth streams to spawn and die. But some end up on people’s dinner plates. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains weirs along several rivers that block the fish and allow for the collection of the fish’s eggs and sperm to help more spawn survive. A weir is an obstruction that is placed across a river and used to catch fish. “The weirs are used to bring the fish into a facility where we can do an egg take to help supplement natural reproduction,” said Aaron Switzer, the manager of the DNR’s Northern Lower Peninsula hatcheries.

Residents are asked to be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly, an invasive pest that could make its way to Michigan.

Use app to be on the lookout for invaders threatening Michigan

A sap-sucking insect and a fast-growing flower could threaten Michigan plants. They’re the latest invasive species identified as potential threats to the state. Environmental officials are encouraging people to us an app to report sightings of the spotted lantern fly and the Japanese chaff flower. By Kaley Fech.

Are common species worthy of conservation?

What happens when saving the few – in this case, a small number of plants or animals in a species at high risk of extinction – may harm the many – here, members of more common species? That’s a real problem as conservation experts and public land agencies wrestle with how to allocate scarce funds for habitat protection. A new study by scientists from the Nature Conservancy’s Michigan chapter and three universities says tradeoffs are necessary, based on their research of about 35 species of native migratory fish – some extremely rare, some extremely common — in the 1,833 largest tributaries of the Great Lakes.

Firefighting chemical linked to water safety concerns

While health agencies statewide investigate the link between contaminated drinking water and a firefighting foam, use of the substance remains legal. The chemical, known as PFAS, is linked to contamination at Gerald R. Ford International Airport and Camp Grayling. Firefighters say alternative foams aren’t as effective.