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.

NASA

Monday morning’s low temperatures created a weather event in northern Michigan that you’re more likely to see in the Arctic Circle.

Pillars of light filled the sky early in the morning from a phenomenon called diamond dust. It’s a cloud formation made from ice crystals. 

Eric LaPaugh / Leelanau Adventures

There have been some reports of ice caves forming again on Lake Michigan this year – smaller than last year and not in the same spots. But Lt. Dan Schrader of the Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City says the ice on Lake Michigan is not the same as it was last year. He spent a lot of the day Friday flying around the region.

National Weather Service

UPDATED 6:50 pm

Gaylord hit 35 degrees below zero this morning, one of the coldest temperatures ever recorded there. A volunteer observer noted that temperature. The thermometer at Gaylord Regional Airport went down to minus 31, according to the National Weather Service.

Other cities set records for the day, including Traverse City at minus 22, two degrees colder than the previous record for February 20th.

Neither of those approach the coldest temperature ever recorded in Michigan.

Bitter weather is back and likely to stick around

Feb 17, 2015

Highs have been in the teens for the last couple days, but it’s just been a brief reprieve from the bitter cold that returns to northern Michigan overnight and for the next couple days.

“Thursday will be the colder of the two days, where some areas are not likely to get above zero for their daytime highs,” says John Boris, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord. He says the winds won’t be as bad as they were this past weekend, when the wind made it feel like 40-below in some parts of the region. But the winds will again be a major factor.

Bat not in the way of Cass Road bridge rebuild

Feb 16, 2015
New York Department of Environmental Conservation

A bridge south of Traverse City could be rebuilt starting next year, and it turns out a troubled species of bat will not get in the way. The federal government is still weighing whether to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered or threatened.

Some drivers thought this would be the year they’d see a two-lane replacement for the outdated, one-lane bridge on Cass Road. Grand Traverse County officials had said the long-eared bat’s federal protection could mean a year’s delay of the project.

  Weather is likely to be especially dangerous overnight in the Grand Traverse Bay region. Grand Traverse Emergency Management asks people to avoid driving or going out unprotected, especially after midnight tonight through mid-Saturday morning.

If there's no other choice, they say to plan ahead layer your clothes and place a small emergency kit, including extra clothes, hats, gloves and blankets in your car.

Snow and winds are expected to intensify overnight, says Andy Sullivan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord.

David Cassleman

Forests in Michigan are under threat – that’s what the state wrote in the report it published last week. There are diseases to worry about and invasive species like the ubiquitous emerald ash borer.

The state and federal governments spend millions in Michigan each year trying to contain these threats. 

But that effort is complicated because most forest land in the state is privately owned.


Spreading good news about clear cuts

Feb 5, 2015
Joe VanderMeulen

One of the problems in Michigan’s forests these days is there is not enough clear cutting. That might sound odd since clear cuts are usually thought of as a bad thing. But forests can get too old, at least from the perspective of migratory birds.

Once upon a time, wild fires created openings in the old growth forests, making way for new growth that provided the habitat for many types of wildlife. Today, well over half of Michigan’s forest lands are privately owned and no one wants uncontrolled fires. In fact, lots of folks want to protect all their trees.

There’s a new report card of sorts out on fish sold commercially from the Great Lakes.

It’s from Seafood Watch. That’s a program at Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

Smith Group JJR

Traverse City is moving forward with a plan to build a $9 million-dollar fishing pier out into Grand Traverse Bay but local fishing experts say the location of the pier – near the mouth of the Boardman River – is not an ideal place to fish.

Traverse City commissioners looked over the new pier design at their meeting last night. The document features colorful images of walleye, salmon, steelhead and smallmouth bass.

But fishing guide Ted Kramer told the commission the 500-foot pier is in the wrong spot for fishing.

Cass Road bridge still alive

Jan 22, 2015
Tom Carr

There may not be a “Bridge Out Ahead” sign for Traverse City drivers after all. County commissioners have backed off from a proposal to pull funding for a replacement to a Cass Road bridge.

The run-down, one-lane crossing is to be taken out when a connected dam is demolished next year. Some commissioners feel it is not worth the expense to replace, believing what is needed is a larger bridge just to the north.

Residents of northern Michigan got a surprise last summer. They found out some drilling for oil and gas can be done confidentially. That unnerved some people in Emmet County, who now want their local government to do something about it.

Spring came early in Michigan three years ago — very early — and fruit crops were later wiped out by frost. That has some researchers in Lansing asking if there's a way to delay the spring bloom in a warm year.

It's no secret what cause a cherry or apple blossom to come out in the spring — warmth. So if you want to slow down that process you just spray cold water on the tree.

Our environment laws in Michigan have become sharply more partisan in the past 14 years.

Deal would lower electricity rates in the Upper Peninsula

Jan 14, 2015
user: adamshoop / Flicker

Governor Rick Snyder has announced a preliminary agreement that would lower electricity rates in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Rates have jumped in the Upper Peninsula to subsidize an aging coal-fired power plant in Presque Isle, which lost its largest paying customer – a mining company.

The Michigan Historical Museum has a new collection of forestry artifacts from the early 1900s. The items belonged to Marcus Schaaf, an early pioneer in the reforestation of northern Michigan. The collection includes field instruments Schaaf used, like an old wooden dial compass and a 66-foot metal surveyor’s tape.

Ken Pott is field historian for the Michigan Department of Resources. IPR’s Aaron Selbig asked Pott about Marcus Schaaf’s place in Michigan history.

Oil and gas exploration could pick up near Traverse City and Manistee this year. Late last year, a company based in Colorado called Wyotex Drilling Ventures applied for permits to drill five wells in Manistee and Grand Traverse Counties.

It’s a small sign of life for an industry that has been on the decline in northern Michigan. If approved, the wells will be drilled into a formation called the A-1 Carbonate. That layer of the earth has produced a modest amount of oil and gas in Michigan. It’s been drilled in various parts of the state for more than 30 years.

Grayling Fish Hatchery

A federal business loan will help a trout farm expand production in Grayling. The development loan approved by the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce is for $210,000.

There will be no trial over a flash flood two years ago near Traverse City that happened as a dam along the Boardman River was being removed.

 

In October 2012, the deluge swamped homes, cottages and private bridges -- forcing mandatory evacuations and road closures. 

 

Thirteen property owners sued the contractors -- and local governments. At one time, they were said to be asking $6 million. Non-disclosure agreements were signed in some cases as part if the settlement.

 

Larry McGahey / USFWS Headquarters

State wildlife officials say they’re disappointed in a court decision that restores federal endangered species protections to the gray wolf in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

A federal judge ruled Friday that the wolf was improperly removed from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list. State wildlife officials say the decision not only blocks future wolf hunt seasons in Michigan, it denies farmers and dog owners the ability to kill wolves that threaten pets and livestock.

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