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community weblog - [ Environment ]

Eric Sharp: Good, bad news on lampreys

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While lamprey numbers have been reduced by 90% in the other Great Lakes, they remain high in Lake Erie. Lampreys clamp onto fish, using a tongue like a file to bore into fish and live off their blood and body fluids.

Tests of chemical signals called pheromones prove they can trick sea lampreys to avoid streams that offer good spawning habitat and lure them to streams where baby lampreys won't survive.

"It's hard to see any good news when it comes to invasive species, but the sea lamprey is one case where we're winning the battle," Dr. Marc Gaden said this week during a briefing on new lamprey control efforts by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and other agencies.

That's the good news.

The not-so-good news, at least in the short run, is what the scientists learned when they tried a full-count press on the handful of rivers and creeks that were thought to produce most of the lampreys in Lake Erie.



Animals  Environment  

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Politicians flounder while Asian carp spawn a threat

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Should the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins be separated, even if the work costs as much as $9.5 billion? You bet.

Will it happen? Probably not.

A new engineering analysis shows that such a massive task could be completed for the price of some big-city road and tunnel projects. Yet it remains doubtful the Obama Administration and the President's home state of Illinois have the political will to get behind such a plan.

The study was done to light a fire under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has given itself until 2015 to develop options for the Chicago Area Waterway System. more...



Environment  

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Lake St. Clair levels high now, but won't last, official says

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There will be higher water levels than last year around Lake St. Clair this spring, but boaters and other water lovers shouldn't think that will last.

The lakes will be about the same depth as last year by summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts.

Boaters and anglers who might be expecting low lake levels because of the lack of snowfall will be pleasantly surprised in early spring to find the lake higher than last year.

Those higher-than-last-year levels in lakes St. Clair and Erie in spring are more of a false positive than a real promise of deeper water, said Keith Kompoltowicz, a Corps of Engineers meteorologist. more...



Environment  Other  

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BoatUS Asks: If Not Ethanol, Why Not Butanol?

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ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 6, 2012 -- With its ability to attract moisture and clog fuel filters, it's no wonder America's boaters have not been thrilled with ethanol in gasoline, which today is most commonly found as a 10% blend and known as E10 at the gas pump. America's desire for renewable fuels is growing, but recent Department of Energy tests on boat engines showed that increasing the amount of ethanol to 15% doesn't work for boats. While higher ethanol content has been approved by the EPA for 2001 and newer cars and light trucks, E15 is not legal to use in boats and other gas-powered equipment. more

Environment  Other  



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Chicago water sampling shows high levels of lead

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In a new round of water testing by the Environmental Protection Agency, half of the 29 Chicago homes visited yielded at least one sample containing more than 15 parts per billion of lead, a level that can trigger regulatory action if detected during routine screening.

Agency officials said the results will help regulators evaluate whether the 20-year-old procedures used nationwide to test homes' tap water for lead should be updated.  more...



Environment  

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Underwater guns, traps, aim to shake up Great Lakes invaders

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Nestled in the northwest corner of the Lower Peninsula, the Grand Traverse Bay has experienced declining native fish populations for decades. And all-too-common perpetrators are largely to blame — aquatic invaders.

But a new federal and state partnership seeks to bolster the bay’s native fish populations. Officials will use traps and seismic guns to clear rusty crayfish and round gobies from spawning reefs, where they hang out and eat fish eggs. more...



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Quagga mussels least known, most dangerous invader

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The little-known quagga mussel is taking over vast stretches of the Great Lakes, dramatically reducing populations of game and commercial fish and presenting a much more immediate danger to lake ecology than its more famous cousin — the zebra mussel — ever did.

In fact, the quagga mussel is outcompeting and replacing the zebra mussel.

“Without question, the quagga mussel represents the greatest threat to the Great Lakes of any invasive species,” said Tom Nalepa, an emeritus research biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor and recognized expert on the invader. more...


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Grant Award for Innovative Technology May Help Native Fish in Grand Traverse Bay

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After decades of fewer native fish in Grand Traverse Bay, important species like lake trout, whitefish, and lake herring may have a fighting chance to increase their numbers, thanks to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant recently awarded to a partnership led by The Nature Conservancy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Central Michigan University, U.S. Geological Survey and Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.  more...


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Michigan's scenic Deer Lake almost off pollution list

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ISHPEMING -- On a clear winter day, the only sound on the shores of Deer Lake is that of a screaming hawk. Snow weighs down the boughs of majestic pines and the blue water sparkles.

Deer Lake is making a big comeback.

Except for prominent signs warning that the fish here are not safe to eat, no one would know that for decades, this has been one of the most heavily polluted spots in the Great Lakes. Its waters were once full of mercury from two mines. Raw sewage dumped into nearby sewers ended up in the lake, creating nasty algae blooms. Eagles and other wildlife stayed away or couldn't reproduce.  more...



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Water levels rising

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Water levels in the Lakes Michigan-Huron basin are up from last year but remain about 9 inches below the historic average.

Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said it's been more than a decade since water levels in the lakes were above the long-term average of 578.4 feet.

The basin averaged a level of 577.6 feet in December, a seven-inch increase from the same time a year ago, Kompoltowicz said. The wet fall and early winter helped keep the water levels up during the usual seasonal decline, he said.  more...



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Rains raise Great Lakes water levels, but lack of ice is a concern

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Wet weather could push Great Lakes water levels up from last year, but some fear those gains could evaporate because of unseasonably warm weather.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its six-month forecast Wednesday calling for above-average levels on the lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario. By February, levels could be way up in Lake St. Clair — nearly 20 inches because of last year's ice jam, said Keith Kompoltowicz, a corps meteorologist.

That's good news for recreational boaters, but it could be short-lived. Some fear that gains from the region's second-wettest year in 131 years could be offset because it's almost January and the lakes still lack much ice. Temperatures in December were 3.6 degrees above average.  more...



Environment  Other  

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US destroying 434K lake trout for 'rock snot' fear

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MONTPELIER, Vt. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is disposing of 434,000 lake trout from a Bethel fish hatchery because of fears that stocking them in the Great Lakes could spread the invasive algae known as "rock snot."

Officials tried to find alternative locations where the 4-inch fingerlings could be stocked into waters already contaminated with the algae, known more formally as didymo, including lakes in Vermont and New Hampshire, but none could be found, said Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Terri Edwards.   more...



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Lake Erie’s tiny new invader

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A tiny invader would have slipped into Lake Erie unnoticed if not for biologist Patrick Hudson.

He checked for the parasitic copepod in September and found it on the second fish he sampled.

he species, Neoergasilus japonicus, has been in Michigan’s Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron since 1994. It hooks onto fish fins and eats organic material off their scales.

The animal is as long as a dime is wide and doesn’t draw much attention, Hudson said. “As long as it doesn’t impact some sort of fishery in the Great Lakes or cause some compounding of water intake, like zebra mussels, it’s probably of no interest for most people.”  more...



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Algae danger grows in Lake Erie

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State environmental officials say that Lake Erie’s toxic algae blooms have never been worse and warn that fish and billions of dollars in tourism revenue are at risk.

The level of phosphorus, which feeds algae blooms, is above safe levels in nearly every section of the lake, according to a report presented yesterday by Roger Knight, Lake Erie program administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“The trends are moving in the wrong direction no matter where on the lake you go,” Knight said at a meeting of the Lake Erie Commission in Columbus. “We are way above targets.” more...



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Harbormaster: Commercial boats can no longer access St. Joseph Harbor

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SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. - Saint Joseph Harbormaster Larry LaValley said Thursday commercial boats can no longer navigate the Saint Joseph Harbor. A buildup of sand is too high for ships to enter the channel. "It's highly unlikely a boat could ever come through with this amount of water," said LaValley.

The problem was first discovered December 6th when the Manitowoc, a ship carrying more than 12 thousand pounds of limestone got stuck in the bottom of the channel and was diverted to another port. “In the last week there’ve been two boats diverted out of the Saint Joseph Harbor,” said LaValley. The other boat he said was headed to LaFarge, a commercial dock in the harbor. more...


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