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.

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.

Scientists have created a vegan burger that bleeds like beef. It’s called the Impossible Burger and its creators argue it’s better for the planet. But there are some questions about the substance the company uses.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Thousands of miles of forest roads will soon open to off road vehicles in northern Lower Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder signed a law last year permitting ORVs on all Lower Peninsula forest roads, except those closed by the state. Around 6,300 miles of roads will open on January 1. 

Jack Boyd

A doe with chronic wasting disease has been found at a deer farm in Mecosta County. The fatal, neurological disease can be found in deer, elk and moose.

The number of deer thought to be infected with CWD tripled this fall, bringing the tally to 30 cases. Seventeen suspected cases were found in Montcalm County around hunting season. The deer farm's infected doe is the northernmost confirmed case so far. 

Jack Boyd

Cases of chronic wasting disease have been slowly increasing among deer in Michigan. Before hunting season this fall, there were nine cases of the disease. Now that number has risen to 30 suspected cases.

Native plants are better for birds than non-native plants.

That’s the main finding of a study on chickadees and the caterpillars they eat.

Michigan Tech University

A wildlife researcher suspects Isle Royale National Park may be down to just one wolf. The island used to have a pack of significant population of grey timber wolves, but the population has dwindled to just two in recent years in part because of inbreeding.

The oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac will be shut down during bad storms. That’s just one of the agreements reached in a deal announced last week by the state of Michigan and the Canadian oil transport company Enbridge.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDY VIDEO

The state of Michigan is imposing some new conditions on the operation of a controversial oil and gas pipeline. The actions include replacing a portion of Enbridge’s Line 5 that runs beneath the St. Clair River. 

The new line will be in a tunnel beneath the riverbed. The state will also look at doing the same thing with the portion of the line that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. 

Sam Corden

It could be a more productive year for deer hunters in Michigan. The state Department of Natural Resources projects the deer harvest will go up this year compared to 2016, due to a milder winter. 

The silky strands made by spiders are prized for their strength and suppleness. Now, scientists in the Great Lakes region are using technology to reproduce spider silk. And there's a wide range of users – from the Army to a famous British fashion designer.

CREDIT STEVEN DEPOLO/FLICKR - HTTPS://WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/STEVENDEPOLO/5233546650

Swiss company Nestle has been criticized for its plan to take more water out of northern Michigan. Opponents say the company wants to take too much water from the area – and an increase in pumping will degrade streams and wetlands. But the company denies the allegations.

University of Michigan

The state of Michigan will sponsor a new analysis of the risks posed by an oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. 

In June, the state cancelled a contract with a firm doing a previous risk study, when it learned one of the firm’s researchers was also working on a project for Enbridge – the company that operates Line 5. 

Conservation Resource Alliance

The Boardman River Dam is gone. The river is flowing freely through an area that used to be a pond. It’s the second of three dams to be removed in a multiyear, multimillion-dollar project to return the waterway to a more natural state.

Invasive or not? A Great Lakes Puzzle

Aug 23, 2017
Central Michigan University

Around the Great Lakes, millions of dollars are spent to fight invasive species like Asian carp. They cause a lot of damage. But when scientists discover a new animal or plant in the region, it’s not always clear if it’s harmful - or helpful.

That debate has begun over a shrimp.

The bloody red shrimp is roughly the size of a pencil eraser. They came to the Great Lakes around 2006, hitching a ride in the ballast water of cargo ships from the Black Sea.

Since then, they’ve worked their way into all of the Great Lakes except Superior.

Steven Depolo/Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5233546650

Water has been a dominant topic in Michigan politics in recent years, from the Flint water crisis to the controversy over the oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

There’s another water debate going on in northern Michigan. The Swiss company Nestle wants to boost the amount of water it pumps from a well in Osceola County, south of Cadillac. The water would be bottled under the company’s brand Ice Mountain. 

Local leaders and Native American groups are fiercely opposed to the increase, and the effort has been tied up at the state and local level. 

 


NOAA

President Trump proposed ending a popular Great Lakes restoration program earlier this year. Michigan lawmakers from both parties criticized the idea. 

Now a U.S. House committee has released a bill that would keep federal dollars flowing to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for the next budget year. 

David Cassleman

State officials want hunters to shoot more deer in northeastern Lower Michigan – a lot more. Infected deer in this area spread a disease called bovine tuberculosis. It can kill cows, and it can be passed to people through unpasteurized milk.

Cheyna Roth

New public meetings began Thursday about the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. Several state agencies and the authors of a report suggesting alternatives to the pipeline gave a presentation and took questions. 

 The pipeline sends oil and natural gas across sections of lower and upper Michigan and under the Straits of Mackinac.

State officials want hunters to shoot more deer in northeastern lower Michigan.

Infected deer in the area spread a disease called bovine tuberculosis. It can kill cows, and it can be passed to people through unpasteurized dairy products.

Pages