Environment

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it’s found a deer in Meridian Township that’s tested positive for chronic wasting disease.  It’s the first reported case of the disease in the state since 2008, and the very first time it has occurred in a wild deer population. Chronic wasting disease is not harmful to humans, but is always fatal to deer.

MI fracking foes pursue ban through ballot proposal

May 27, 2015
http://www.letsbanfracking.org/

For the third time in recent years, opponents of hydraulic fracturing are organizing to end the practice in Michigan. The Committee to Ban Fracking, based in Charlevoix, has begun a ballot campaign hoping to put a ban before voters in next years general election.

http://www.fijiabroad.com/

Say the words “climate change,” and the first thing that might come to mind is melting polar ice caps. That’s an accurate image, but of course, climate change affects the entire planet. Scientists say the rising tides from all that melting ice have to go somewhere, and some Michigan State University students are watching one remote part of the world that’s starting to see some effects.

Satellite image of Great Lakes
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

At the end of each month, we check in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. This month, some of the biggest environmental stories had to do with energy and how we transport it across the Great Lakes region.

Courtesy MSU Today

Earlier this week, Valerie Brader, an attorney and former senior policy adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder, assumed her role as executive director of the new Michigan Agency for Energy. Brader will be the top energy adviser to Snyder and state department leaders. Snyder created the agency by executive order in March after setting it as a priority in January’s State of the State address.

Flickr - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

The alewife was once the scourge of the Great Lakes. The small, silver herring made its way into the basin through the St. Lawrence River in the late 19th century and proceeded to wreak havoc on the ecosystem. If you were around the region in the 1960s, you might remember the stench of thousands of dead alewives washing up on Great Lakes beaches. Now, scientists are concerned with a decline in the population of this invasive species and how the shrinking numbers of alewives could impact their main predator, the popular Chinook salmon.

Energy analyst: MI electricity debate needs re-focusing

May 12, 2015

In the coming year, nine of Michigan’s coal-fired power plants are scheduled to retire. That has environmentalists and renewable energy advocates cheering. And the state’s two major utilities, Consumer’s Energy and DTE, say they are ready to invest in a more sustainable energy future. But first, the companies say, Michigan has to return to a fully regulated electricity market.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

There’s no shortage of talk in Michigan about renewable energy sources. But despite all our efforts to go green, our state is still very dependent on fossil fuels. Recently, a Traverse City-based oil and gas company has been looking at an area in and around the city of Mason as a possible drilling site.

Do April flowers bring May showers?

May 8, 2015
Courtesy University of Michigan College of Engineering

Think about an everyday substance like pollen. There’s lots of it floating around right now. It’s probably on your car windows. Botanists think of pollen’s role in the world as helping propagate new plants. Allergists think of pollen’s role as being something that causes sneezing.

Christopher N. Hull

Dozens of bird lovers have journeyed to Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo recently to view the area’s first nesting bald eagles in decades. The nest sits in a large tree in a marshy area in the middle of the Red Cedar river. What’s the likelihood that the birds could make that area a permanent home? Biologist Christopher Hull has his doubts. He has vield the nest and the eagles a number of times, and he thinks the eagles may be in the process of abandoning the nest now.

State challenges MI commuters not to drive solo

May 6, 2015

State officials and other stakeholders are asking Michigan commuters a question: do you drive to work alone? If so,  they want to remind you of options that could not only reduce air pollution, but lower your gas budget and benefit your health. Governor Rick Snyder has declared May Commuter Challenge Month. Part of the effort is aimed at the many drive alone commuters that you see on the state’s roads every day.

Dr. Andrew Hoffman is the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. His new book "How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate" examines ways in which non-scientific views shape opinion on the subject of global climate shifts.

Ashley Wick

Along with the spring tulips and early morning birds, you might have also started to notice a few butterflies now that the weather has warmed up. Michigan is home to over 150 species of butterflies, from swallowtails to monarchs. And that means that  soon, volunteer monitors will be out in full force for the annual state butterfly survey.

Courtesy Harris Nature Center

From March Madness to April showers, the signs of spring have been making their arrival in Michigan these past few weeks. You’ve probably also noticed a few more bird songs accompanying those first rays of morning light. Bird enthusiasts such as Harris Nature Center bird naturalist Clare Bratton have been venturing out more and more lately, binoculars at the ready.

Satellite image of Great Lakes
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

At the end of each month, Current State checks in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we’re focusing on agriculture and water across the country, from California to the Great Lakes.

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