Kaley Fech is senior correspondent and assistant bureau chief for Capital News Service for fall 2018. She primary serves Traverse City Record Eagle, Cadillac News, Leelanau Enterprise, Lansing City Pulse, Oceana Herald-Journal, Harbor Light and Alcona County Review.
LANSING — More Michigan students than ever have access to fresh produce, thanks to a state farm-to-school program. The 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids and Farms program this year provided 135,000 children with locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. “I’m all about kids eating healthy food, and there’s nothing healthier than fresh produce that’s grown right in their home state,” said Diane Golzynski, the director of Health and Nutrition Services in the Department of Education. Grant-winning school districts purchase fresh fruits, vegetables or dried beans grown in Michigan. The schools report how many meals they served that contained the fresh produce.
LANSING — Michigan’s wine industry is thriving, with more than 125 wineries scattered across the state. Many have been successful in selling their products outside of Michigan. Some get their wines onto the shelves of stores in other states, while others ship products to customers living in other states. The international market, however, has been tough to crack. “Wines face a number of challenges internationally when compared with other alcoholic beverage products,” said Allie Fox VanDriel, the international marketing coordinator for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
LANSING — Relocating wolves to Isle Royale may only be a temporary solution to the island’s diminishing wolf population, according to a recent study. The population has declined rapidly in recent years. In 2010, 19 wolves lived on the island. By 2016, that number had dropped to two. The researchers used blood samples collected over the past 30 years to analyze the wolve’s DNA.
LANSING — This winter’s extreme weather could be the tipping point proponents of starting school before Labor Day need. Schools across the state cancelled classes, sometimes several days in a row, due to bad weather and extreme cold. Many of those schools did not have enough snow days built into the year and had to figure out how to make up that missed time. “You see schools going quite deep into the summer, and it’s going to be hard for them to keep those kids’ attention,” said Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland. “This is going to be a heavy lift, but I think this year with all the snow days we’ve had, it might make sense to say, you know what, we need a little bit more flexibility as we go forward.”
Johnson recently introduced a bill with bipartisan co-sponsors that would leave school start dates up to local school boards, allowing classes to begin before Labor Day.
LANSING — Crop-killing temperature swings, invasive species, harsh rains and water with poorly mixed nutrients are among the global warming threats to Michigan, scientists say. The climates of Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Traverse City and Montreal in 60 years could be similar to the current climate of Chester, Pennsylvania, according to a recent study by Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Robert Dunn of North Carolina State University.
Montreal could be as much as 17 degrees warmer during the winter; Toronto could feel more like New Jersey. While some of the predicted temperature increases could be on the high side, it’s not absolutely impossible to reach them, said Brent Lofgren, a physical scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor. “Most predictions are between 3 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit, as a global average,” he said.
LANSING – The red swamp crayfish can reproduce multiple times a year. Females can carry up to 900 eggs. That means rapid population growth and possibly trouble for the Great Lakes. The species is native to the Gulf Coast region of the United States and Mexico, but it has invaded Michigan inland waters and threatens the Great Lakes.
“This is a crayfish that when introduced outside of its native range has had big and well-documented negative effects on freshwater ecosystems,” said Eric Larson, an assistant professor in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Illinois.
LANSING – Energy waste reduction programs in Michigan are expected to save customers nearly $1.1 billion in utility costs, according to a recent report. The Public Service Commission report found that waste reduction programs in 2017 saved nearly 1.6 million megawatt hours of electricity and more than 5.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The programs help customers identify ways to conserve energy, such as tips for more efficient lighting, free pickup for recycling old appliances and cash rebates for installing energy-efficient appliances.
Electric companies and gas utilities spent more than $308 million on the programs, according to the report. “For every dollar spent on these programs, customers can expect $3.51 in savings,” said Nick Assendelft, the public information officer for the Public Service Commission.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – People all over the world are aware of the concept of climate change. But for many, that’s all it is – a concept. A recent study, published in Nature Communications, is aimed at showing the implications of climate change for millions of people. The study by Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Robert Dunn of North Carolina State University, predicts what the climate for 540 North American cities will be like in 60 years.
LANSING – Almost 24 percent of the waste disposed in Michigan landfills came from other states and Canada in 2018, according to a recent state report. Waste imported from Canada decreased by 7.6 percent, but that wasn’t enough to offset a 19 percent surge in discards from other states. Low disposal fees are a major reason so much waste is imported, said Christina Miller, a solid waste planning specialist with the Department of Environmental Quality. “We have properly planned our disposal capacity for many years,” she said. “By doing that, we have an increased amount of disposal capacity in the state.