Michigan Energy & Environment

IPR brings you the stories and sounds of nature Up North. Hear about our changing natural world, and the challenges northern Michigan faces with a growing economy and a fragile ecosystem.

Endangered plovers face new threat: snowy owls

3 hours ago
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new predator has emerged for piping plovers in the Great Lakes.

Snowy owls were recently seen eating plovers in several locations along the Great Lakes, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in lower Michigan and Vermilion Point in the Upper Peninsula.

Warm temperatures help cherry crop

Jun 19, 2018
Peter Payette

After a slow start to the growing season, cherry farmers are gearing up for the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City starting June 30.  Cherries are some of the first crops to bloom in Michigan, and officials say early spring weather can significantly impact their growth.

Until recently, if a home solar array produced more electricity than the house used, it would go through the meter onto the grid. Residents with solar power arrays got paid for that power at the same rate as the power company charged other residents.  Power that comes in/power that goes out: same price. This even exchange is called net metering.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Some members of the U.S. House of Representatives are meeting in northern Michigan on Monday to discuss lethal control of a fish-eating bird. 

University of Wisconsin

A large number of dead fish have been washing up on the shores of a lake near Gaylord. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the dead fish along Otsego Lake are adult white suckers that have died after spawning.

DNR biologist Dave Borgeson says fish die-offs happen in Michigan’s inland lakes every year, but this one is unusually large.

“There’s a lot more suckers this year,” says Borgeson. “I think it had to do with a late spring and then that really rapid warm up, which caused it to be a little more dramatic this year.”

Eleven years ago on a cold January day, volunteers for the Huron River Watershed Council, Rochelle Breitenbach and Mary Bajcz trudged through the snow and thicket to get to a pristine little stream that flows into the Huron River.

Dan Kennedy / Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Environmentalists will celebrate the return of the Kirtland’s warbler this weekend.

The small songbird has been on the brink of extinction since 1973. It was put on the endangered species list that same year.

David Cassleman

Thousands of households in Michigan generate their own electricity with solar panels. They’re reimbursed by utility companies for any extra power they put into the grid under a program called net metering. 

But under new rules, those customers are going to get less in return. 

 


Peter Payette

Plans for a mixed-use development next to the Meijer store in Acme Township may finally be moving forward. The 157-acre “Village at Grand Traverse” has been beset with problems since it was built by Acme Township.

Michigan’s economy would take a big hit from an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits, according to a new study.

A study by Michigan State University ecological economist Robert Richardson estimates Michigan’s economy would lose $6.3 billion if there’s a significant oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac.

The study is based on a scenario where more than 2 million gallons of crude oil leaks from the Enbridge Energy Line 5 pipeline.  

Traverse City is seeing the beginnings of a technology business ecosystem, including venture capital funding and eager talent looking to launch startups. This has the business community excited, but Traverse City is still not up to speed as a tech region. It’s missing one key component: ultrafast internet service.

Aaron Selbig

A state board recommends the State of Michigan buy 300 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline that’s currently owned by a sand mining company. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board of directors has voted to spend $7.5 million toward a new deal with Sargent Sand Company.

Sargent Sand has been mining sand on its property inside the borders of Ludington State Park since the 1930s. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has tried several times to buy the land back from the company but the deals have always fallen through.

Piping plovers are little shorebirds, and they're an endangered species in the Great Lakes region. But they’re making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts and even some heroics.

Aaron Selbig

CORRECTION 4/13: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the U.S. Coast Guard said damage to an electric transmission line under the Straits of Mackinac may have been caused by an "anchor strike." The Coast Guard says the leak may have been caused by "damage from vessel activity."

Governor Rick Snyder is asking Enbridge Energy to accelerate it’s decommissioning of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

Jack Boyd

State biologists are asking the public for help combating a fatal disease that threatens deer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is holding public hearings about chronic wasting disease (CWD) in April and May.

“CWD is one of the biggest threats – that we have long-term – to the sustainability of our deer herd,” says Chad Stewart, deer management specialist at the DNR.

Aaron Selbig

The U.S. Coast Guard has organized a command post in Mackinaw City to respond to a mineral oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac. Around 600 gallons of fluid leaked from underwater electrical lines west of the Mackinac Bridge earlier this week. 

 


At least 400 gallons of mineral oil have leaked into the Straits of Mackinac.

American Transmission Company operates power lines that deliver electricity between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The company called the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday night to inform them of a leak of dielectric fluid, which is used to insulate the electrical lines under the Straits.  

Michigan Sea Grant

A Great Lakes group wants paddlers to help in the fight against invasive species. 

Michigan Sea Grant – a group run by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University – is starting a program to teach kayakers and canoers to report aquatic invasive species found along waterways.   

NASA

As Great Lakes advocates lobby Congress this week, a new report details how the federal government and states plan to fight algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan targets phosphorus, the main cause of the blooms.  It summarizes agendas from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

People who live in Oscoda are concerned about foam containing toxic chemicals known as per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances – or PFAS – that keeps appearing on Van Etten Lake.

The serene lake in Northeast Michigan is surrounded by trees and houses. But it also has foamy stuff that looks like soap scum floating along its shores.

Residents are wondering why the state isn’t doing more about it.

DNR officials inspect the first fish speared during the 2018 Black Lake sturgeon fishing season. The female sturgeon weighed 45.8 pounds and was nearly five feet long.
Morgan Springer

 

It’s dawn on February 3 on Black Lake near Onaway. It's freezing cold and snowing lightly. A procession of big pickup trucks and snowmobiles drives across the ice toward villages of fishing shanties, specks in the hazy distance.

At least 14 communities in Michigan have water contaminated with a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

One of those sites, in West Michigan, has gotten a lot of attention recently. This month, the state abruptly announced a cleanup standard for PFAS.

But these chemicals have been a pollution problem in the state for years.

In Oscoda, some residents are wondering why remediation is taking so long.

U.S Army Corps of Engineers

State officials say they’ve reached a milestone in the effort to clean up the St. Mary’s River near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 

The state Office of the Great Lakes announced Wednesday that it’s lifting dredging restrictions for the river. 

There are about 32,000 islands in the Great Lakes. Most are uninhabited. But for those who live year-round on about 30 of them, it can be an isolating experience. Now, Great Lakes islanders are getting together to tackle some of the problems they have in common.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

State officials are holding a special deer hunt in Alpena County in early January. It’s an effort to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis in northeastern Lower Michigan.

 Chad Stewart with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says hunters can shoot antlerless deer only – and can only hunt on private land.

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