Preventing wildfires by setting them

Seventy-five years after Smokey Bear’s emergence as the poster-animal for wildfire suppression, federal and state land managers in the U.P. are taking a different tack by deliberately setting fires to burn off fuel. They say prescribed burns also provide environmental benefits to plants and wildlife and help train firefighters to battle blazes. We talk to DNR and Forest Service experts. By Leigh Anne Tiffany.

Fighting invasive species on one island led to plan for all

Researchers recently laid out a strategy to show people how to rid Great Lakes islands of invasive plants and animals. “We always felt that the state wasn’t going to ride in on a white horse and solve all of our problems because we are in the middle of Lake Michigan,” said Pamela Grassmick, who started a grassroots educational campaign to treat invasive species on northern Beaver Island. It inspired scientists to develop a defense against invasive species that can be replicated at other islands. Michigan has 1,709 islands, but 14 comprise 90% of the state’s entire island area. By Helen Korneffel.

Local tourists spots voice concerns over Pure Michigan cut

Governor Gretchen Whitmer cut the proposed $37.5 million budget from the 2020 state budget. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, MEDC, tells Focal Point News, “Governor Whitmer and the MEDC remain committed to the Pure Michigan Campaign and the positive impact it has had on the tourism industry in Michigan.” They continued to say the cut is a “recognition that the Legislature cannot continue to pass record-high budgets for Pure Michigan while funding for other economic development initiatives is cut to record lows.” Greg Taucher, an advertising professor at Michigan State, said you can’t just turn off the lights on Pure Michigan. “I think that if Michigan killed their tourism campaign, they’d be in a deficit position,” he said.

Foster Coffee Company opens up in East Lansing

A small coffee stand at a farmers market has grown into three stores around Michigan, including the newest one in downtown East Lansing. Co-founders of Foster Coffee Company, Nicholas Pidek and Johnathon Moore, started testing coffee recipes and catering events in 2014. “John and I met in high school, we became really good friends, started a band together,” said Pidek. They opened their first retail space on South Washington Street in downtown Owosso with the vision to create a better community. “When we looked at our downtown, we said, ‘Hey, the only way we’re going to do this, the only way this works, is if we work with other businesses, non-profits and civic entities to really help elevate the whole community,” Pidek said.

Watch Focal Point: General Motors Strike, East Lansing rent increase and more

On this edition of Focal Point News, General Motors workers are on strike for equal benefits. Also, students moving into the newest East Lansing sky rise, The Hub, experienced some unexpected complications. Plus, East Lansing and Ann Arbor were listed in the top ten for fastests growing rent. 

In sports, Michigan State football had a homecoming date with Indiana last week, with a high scoring affair between the two teams. 

In entertainment, Spider Man is set to return to the big screen. 

These stories and more on Focal Point. 

Which of the Great Lakes states is the happiest?

Michigan comes in next to the bottom in the region in a recent study ranking the happiness of people in each state. The 5.6 million residents of Minnesota are the happiest in the Great Lakes region, according to a recent nationwide ranking by WalletHub, a personal finance website. Ohio ranks as unhappiest in the region, just one spot below Michigan. Ranking number three nationwide, Minnesota also holds the highest national score as the safest state and the second-highest in the rate of volunteerism. By Indri Maulidar.

Is Southeast Michigan the freshwater capital of the world?

A new book makes the case for recognizing Southeast Michigan as “the freshwater capital of the world.” We talk to the author, who works for an environmental group in Traverse City, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which proposed the book. Success stories include the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and the resurgent Detroit waterfront. By Eric Freedman.