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Newsletter - Monday 3/12/2012


Students on course with technical skills

On a morning that would otherwise be spent in class at Bradley Tech High School, nine teens were sanding, grinding, measuring and painting this week aboard the Great Lakes schooner the S/V Denis Sullivan, docked off Canal St. on the Menomonee River.

When times were good and grants were more generous, the tall ship wintered in southern Florida, but it's stayed in Milwaukee for the past three years.

A new program called Schooner Boatworks, supported by several grants and Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, has made the most of that situation for the past two years by allowing about 20 Bradley Tech students to work on the ship for 2 1/2 hours each Tuesday for 12 weeks during their second semester.  more...

DNR: Expect large numbers of bald eagles

Bald eagles are migrating back to Minnesota and may be seen in large numbers across parts of the state over the next few weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s definitely time for folks to keep their eyes out,” according to Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, DNR regional nongame wildlife specialist. “Usually we see these bigger pulses of migrating eagles a little later in March, but it appears that timing may be early for a lot of natural events this year due to the mild winter.”

Only two states, Florida and Alaska, have greater nesting populations of bald eagles than Minnesota. In 2005, researchers estimated there to be more than 1,300 active nests in the state.  more...

U.S. waterways crackdown makes waves with boaters

Local boaters and paddlers are frustrated by the spectre of another crackdown by U.S. customs officials, who are calling on them to phone in should they plan to cross into U.S. waters.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks, get-tough rules on boaters called for more documentation and notification prior to crossing the border of the Detroit River and Great Lakes waterways.

The past couple of years, the rules have been somewhat more relaxed as recreational boaters believed they could go back and forth into U.S. waters for fishing, paddling or travelling without first calling U.S. border authorities - as long as they did not touch down on shore, anchor or come into contact with an American boat.

Great Lakes ice down dramatically over 40 years

Winter ice cover on the Great Lakes has dropped dramatically over the past four decades, according to a new report. Peak ice has dropped by 71 percent on average, with Lake Michigan ice decreasing by even more.

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compared satellite photos going back to 1973. Jia Wang, an ice climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the changes are stark. In a year like 1979, ice covered about 94 percent of the lakes in the dead of winter. more...

Lake Michigan town fears losing historic ferry

On many a summer evening, Jim Fay joins dozens of onlookers on this tourist town's waterfront, exchanging friendly waves with passengers and crew members as the S.S. Badger chugs into the harbor after a 60-mile voyage across Lake Michigan from Manitowoc, Wis.

It's a cherished ritual in Ludington, and its days may be numbered.

The Badger, the nation's last working coal-fired steamship, is under orders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop dumping waste ash into the lake. Coal ash contains low concentrations of arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals, although it's not classified as hazardous. The ferry discharges more than 500 tons during a typical season from May to October, and operators say there's no quick fix.  more...

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