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.

Dead Fish Good Sign For Anglers, Not Swimmers

Jul 17, 2013

Just in time for peak travel season dead fish have been washing ashore on parts of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Kevin Skerl, the chief of natural resources at the lakeshore, says it’s not a big concern.

“This is something that happens every year. It’s just a question of if the conditions are such that the dead fish are showing up on beaches where people are,” says Skerl

Oil Pipeline Spurs Rally At Straits

Jul 12, 2013

Environmental groups want an oil pipeline company to replace a sixty-year-old line that runs under the Straits of Mackinaw. They’re holding a rally at the Straits this Sunday.

Beth Wallace with the National Wildlife Federation says there have been leaks in other sections of line 5, not in the part that runs under the Straits.

“You know this pipeline is not spill proof. And an expansion of a sixty year old pipeline that runs through some of the most sensitive areas in the world is not the direction that we should be going,” Wallace says. 

New Restrictions Possible For Informal Shooting Range

Jun 10, 2013
Laura Herberg

Michigan has a handful of informal gun ranges located on state land. There’s one on the outskirts of Traverse City that’s been around since the sixties. It’s future is now uncertain as area residents are raising issues of noise and safety.

A Place To Relax
Just south of Traverse city, not too far from the Boardman River and along a dirt road there’s a field with a steep embankment perfect for catching bullets.  It’s clear why this section of state land is used as a shooting range.

A new kind of community garden officially opened with a ribbon cutting today near Traverse City. It’s a solar energy garden funded by customers who lease solar panels from Cherryland Electric Cooperative.

The SUN Alliance, is the first of its kind in Michigan. Electric customers can buy a share in a solar project that’s installed and maintained by the company.

The co-op already has installed the first array of 80 panels on its property and 80 more customers are on a list waiting for panels to arrive for a second array.

Five Michigan Indian tribes have decided to challenge the state’s decision to hold a wolf hunt in the western Upper Peninsula this coming fall.

The tribes of the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority say the state did not consult with them in a meaningful way before establishing a gray wolf season, and that’s required by a 2007 consent decree.                                                            

Aaron Payment, chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, says the wolf is sacred in tribal culture and the hunting season disrespects that.

A referendum on wolf hunting in Michigan will be on the November 2014 ballot, but the vote will not stop a wolf hunting season in the Upper Peninsula scheduled for this fall.

Petitions to let voters decide whether the law should remain on the books were certified Wednesday by a state elections panel. The “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” ballot campaign says allowing the gray wolf to be hunted could return it to the endangered species list.

Recently we reported how native fish are doing really well in one of the Great Lakes. The fish involved are not exactly well known species. But there is one that’s a household name in lakeshore communities and its success is sparking some scientific debate.

A fish with a cult following
Food and travel writers who visit The Cove seldom forget to mention the Chubby Mary. It’s a Bloody Mary with smoked chub in it. Mario Batali even put a photo of the cocktail on Bon Appetit’s website along with his endorsement.

U. P. Wolf Hunt Coming This November

May 10, 2013

There will be a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula this fall. Hunting will be allowed in three separate zones beginning November 15th.

The state Natural Resources Commission approved the hunt Thursday. State officials hope 43 wolves will be killed in the hunt.

Until recently the Gray Wolf was listed as an endangered species, but state officials say numbers have grown dramatically since the year 2000. A total of 658 of the animals were counted in the U.P. this winter. Some have complained that's lead to an increase in attacks on livestock and pets.

A state House committee has approved a measure that would change how hunting is managed in Michigan, and bypass a referendum on wolf hunting if it’s on the ballot next year.

Two questions dominated the hearing on the bill: whether hunting is an appropriate part of plans to manage wolves in the Upper Peninsula, and whether the Legislature should approve a new law to allow wolf hunts before the referendum.

It might surprise you to hear that some native fish are doing really well in one of the Great Lakes. For years now, we’ve heard bad news about the lakes. Most of it has to do with invasive species getting into the lakes and wrecking the food web. One writer memorably called it a slow-moving underwater wildfire.The recent swing in the other direction is so dramatic scientists are a bit puzzled and can’t explain what’s happening.

Regime shift?

Wolf Hunt Opponents Say They Have Enough Signatures For A Statewide Vote

Mar 27, 2013

People fighting a proposed wolf hunt in Michigan delivered a quarter million petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office this morning. The petition calls for a statewide vote on the law authorizing the wolf hunt.

Jill Fritz, director of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign, says she’s optimistic state officials will validate enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. If that happens, the vote would not be until November 2014, but any decision to approve a wolf hunt would be put on hold until after the vote.

Bad News for Isle Royale Wolves

Mar 26, 2013

A new report says the wolf population on Isle Royale is in dire straits. Researchers could find no evidence in their winter survey that any pups were born last year.

It’s the first time in 40 years that wolves failed to reproduce.

John Vucetich says the small population is so inbred that the remaining eight animals either won’t or can’t produce offspring.

Asian Carp Or Silverfin?

Mar 21, 2013

One of the strategies to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes is to eat the ones living in the Mississippi River. But finding a market for millions of pound of carp is not a simple matter. It will take more than a name change. We brought a few chefs together at The Great Lakes Culinary Institute to see what they could do with the fish. Hear about that and why harvesting an invasive species isn’t always a wise management strategy.

There’s a hearing this week in Lansing on legislation that would stop the state from setting aside hundreds of acres strictly for the purpose of nurturing native plants and animals.

Opponents and supporters of the legislation packed a hearing last week on the measure.

“To do away with that designation, to me, is a big step backwards in the protection of what makes Michigan ‘Pure Michigan,’” says Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren.

Lakes Michigan and Huron are at their lowest level in decades. And there is growing pressure to raise the water level with some kind of structure in the St. Clair River. The international commission that manages the Great Lakes is expected to respond to that pressure in February. A report submitted to the commission discourages the idea. This week on Points North we’ll hear about the debate over fixing the water level on Lakes Michigan and Huron.

American Indian tribes of Michigan are part of a coalition that’s looking to reverse a new law that allows for a wolf-hunting season in the Upper Peninsula. The coalition, unveiled Tuesday, is trying to put a referendum on the 2014 ballot.

Aaron Payment, chair of the Sault Sainte Marie (soo saynt MAH’-ree) Tribe of Chippewa Indians, says a wolf hunt would be an affront to tribal culture.

The City of Waukesha, Wisconsin says it has nowhere else to go for water but to the Great Lakes. This week, it submitted an application to take 10 million gallons a day, on average, from Lake Michigan. But first it would have to meet a number of strict requirements that all eight Great Lakes states have agreed to.

Exception to Ban

The states hammered out a ban on water diversions over several years and the governors signed it and the Congress ratified it five years ago.

A group that wants to ban hydraulic fracturing in Michigan says the state didn’t follow its own rules in disposing fluid from wells that were fracked. Millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals is used to get oil and gas out of deep shale wells.

Ban Michigan Fracking has learned that some wastewater from those wells was spread on public roads. And this was done close to a lake and in a campground near the Mackinaw Bridge last summer.

An animal welfare group has the green light to start collecting signatures in its attempt to stop a new law opening Michigan to a wolf hunt. A state board Thursday approved petitions drafted by the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

The group’s attorney, Michael Hodge, says there’s no evidence that wolves are a problem in the Upper Peninsula.

“So it’s a hunting season for trophy hunters who want to kill an animal that just basically reappeared in the state of Michigan in recent years,” he says.

Some household toilet water in Grand Traverse County may not be reaching the county septage treatment plant, according to some data unearthed by local officials. Already some recording errors are apparent, but the data makes some officials wonder if a few waterfront homeowners may be pouring sewage into nearby lakes and rivers. If intentional, that would likely be criminal.

Larry McGahey / USFWS Headquarters/Flickr

A new ballot campaign seeks to overturn a state law that opens the door to a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. The campaign Keep Michigan Wolves Protected will appear before a state elections board Thursday to get its petition approved for circulation.

State wildlife officials in January will start considering whether to establish a wolf hunt in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill last week that recognizes the gray wolf as a game species in the state.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission is set to explore the possibility of a hunt at their next meeting. But a final decision is likely to take several months.

“There will be a lot of opportunity for public comment, for consultation with tribal governments, and for all kinds of interaction before any decisions are made,” says DNR spokesperson Ed Golder.

Legislation that could allow a limited wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula cleared the state House during this last week of the lame duck session. The Legislature has adjourned for the year.

It’s now up to Governor Rick Snyder to sign the bill into law.

“This is an animal that just came off the endangered species list,” says state Representative Jeff Irwin. The Democrat from Ann Arbor voted against the change. “The (wolf) populations are not even healthy or even abundant, and I don’t think it’s the right time to talk about shooting wolves in northern Michigan.”

A group from Manistee County dedicated to preserving old trees is planting redwoods and sequoias in Oregon this week. The trees cloned by the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in Copemish include clones of a coastal redwood with a trunk 35 feet in diameter.

The group's founder David Milarch says this project is meant to be a solution to global climate change. That's because sequoias and redwoods take so much carbon out of the atmosphere. Milarch says these trees grow fast and ancient redwoods can reach a total weight of 1,000 tons.

State Needs to Justify Wolf Hunt

Dec 4, 2012
Larry McGahey / USFWS Headquarters

The Michigan legislature is moving closer to allow a hunting season for gray wolves. There are around 700 wolves in the Upper Peninsula.

If the legislature makes the wolf a game species, then wildlife officials will still have to justify that a hunt is necessary. And that it won’t harm wolf recovery.

Must Meet State Goal
Under state law, there can’t be a recreational wolf hunt for any old reason. Wildlife officials would have to show that a hunt is warranted. And that it would meet the goal of reducing wolf-human conflicts.