Grants awarded to tribes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota

Capital News Service
LANSING — Native American tribes will be able to survey and protect plants and wildlife in Michigan, protect bats from logging and place sturgeon in school aquariums as part of a recent round of federal grants. The Tribal Wildlife Grants program was established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003. More than $68 million has gone to tribes since then, said Christie Deloria, the agency’s Native American liaison for Michigan. This year, $5 million was awarded to 29 tribes, three from Great Lakes states. In Michigan, the Saginaw Chippewa tribe based in Mt.

Dark sky preserves could boost tourism

Capital News Service
LANSING — A new law designating dark sky preserves in Michigan is expected to pull visitors from all over the world, advocates say. “It was a natural fit,” said Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle. Pettalia was behind the law meant to protect northern Michigan state parks from artificial light pollution. “It’s such a neat experience to witness celestial happenings all around you,” Pettalia said. The law specifies Rockport State Recreation Area, in Alpena and Presque Isle counties, Negwegon State Park in Alpena and Alcona counties, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park in Presque Isle County.

Michigan's cougar controversy continues

Capital News Service
LANSING — Everybody knows that there aren’t any cougars in Michigan. These big cats were hunted to extinction in the state in the early 1900s and despite 34 recent sightings reported in the Upper Peninsula, it’s safe to say that the cats aren’t back to stay yet. Right? According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), that’s true. “They were found in most of Michigan at one time,” said DNR wildlife management specialist Kevin Swanson.

Artificial Reefs

Capital News Service
LANSING — Artificial reefs in all five Great Lakes and some of their tributaries are intended to improve sport-fishing, enhance fish habitats and reduce the impact of current and waves. But it’s uncertain whether they’ve been as successful as hoped in achieving those goals, according to a new study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Service’s Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor. The problem is a shortage of long-term monitoring data on the region’s expanding number of artificial reefs. “Artificial reefs have been proven to attract fish and increase catch rates in recreational fisheries, but the ability of reefs to increase fish abundance is not well documented in freshwater and marine systems,” according to the study in the “Journal of Great Lakes Research.”
Among the reefs cited in the study are those near the Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman, J.H. Campbell Power Plant in Ludington, Hamilton Reef in Muskegon and ones in Thunder Bay and Port Huron. Some research shows increased spawning and fish feeding success, the study said, and sometimes the deposition of fish eggs has been greater on artificial than natural reefs.

Feds study bat protection but loggers disagree

Capital News Service
LANSING— A fight over logging restrictions is delaying federal protection of the northern long-eared bat, a Great Lakes species already decimated in the American Northeast. A decision on whether to list the bat as endangered or threatened has been pushed back to April. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has federal jurisdiction over protected species, is using the extra time to respond to the unexpected controversy, said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist and a bat disease specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. Endangered means a species is at high risk of extinction in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Under federal law, a threatened species “is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”

Forest industry officials worry a federal listing will hinder logging.

Wetland restoration snags millions for two projects

Capital News Service
LANSING – Two federal grants of $1 million each will help restore wetlands and migratory bird habitats in Michigan. The projects include work on water control and distribution structures in the Saginaw Bay area, Southeast Michigan and the Lake Michigan area. Tom Melius, Midwest regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said, “Wetlands in the upper Midwest not only serve as indicators of water quality for our communities, but also serve as the breeding and resting grounds for hundreds of species.”
More than 3 million waterfowl annually migrate through or breed in the Great Lakes region, many in the corridor that extends from Saginaw Bay to western Lake Erie, including Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. The corridor has vital breeding grounds for mallards and wood ducks, as well as American black ducks, redheads, shovelers and blue-winged teal.

Scary invaders threaten Great Lakes, environmentalists warn

Capital News Service
LANSING– Beware the Northern snakehead. Beware the inland silverside. And beware a host of other invasive species poised to devastate the Great Lakes. That’s the fear, as a recent report recommends spending billions to separate the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes to stop the spread of Asian carp. But according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, there are 36 other “high-risk invasive species” that might migrate through Chicago waterways and have the potential to wreak ruin on native ecosystems.

Of these 39 species, 10 could migrate into the Great Lakes from the Mississippi, potentially causing huge environmental damage, the agency said.