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community weblog - [ Environment ]

Wind turbines cause concern

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The erection of one, and possibly two, new wind turbines near the shores of Lake Erie in Erie Township have raised the hackles of some community members and visitors, who say the turbines may threaten the well-being of migrating birds, bats and the Ottawa County tourism business.  more...


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Ice not all it's cracked up to be

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“Thick and blue, tried and true; thin and crispy, way too risky.”

Ice fishermen have long resorted to this saying when evaluating whether it’s safe to venture onto a frozen lake or pond. An easier saying to remember, however, is simply “when in doubt, don’t go out.”

After a week of the coldest temperatures north central Ohio has seen in four years, ponds, lakes and even some rivers and streams appear to have frozen nicely.  more...



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Forecaster explains stunning NASA satellite image of lake effect snow blowing into West Michigan

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Parts of West Michigan were buried under up to a foot of snow over a four-day period of lake-effect snowfall, and NASA caught a unique glimpse of the storm.

The space agency's Terra satellite this week snapped several breath-taking images of Michigan as a winter storm barreled down on much of the state.

The awesome image from Tuesday, Jan. 22, shows swirling bands of clouds laden with lake-effect blowing into West Michigan.  more...



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Ohio solar project hit with setback while Ontario boosts renewable power

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U.S., the Canadian province of Ontario announced that it will shut down its last coal-fired power plants by the end of 2013, a year ahead of schedule.

The two events are a stark contrast in how bordering nations pursue an advanced energy economy as the debate about climate change continues following record-setting extreme weather in 2012.

In Ontario, a transition to renewables is being funded with a tariff charge to ratepayers. But in Ohio, under the state’s renewable energy standards, boosting renewable power is a gradual mandate with a cost cap for passed-on charges.  more...



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Cosmetics ingredient tainting state lakes

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An antibacterial widely used in soaps and cosmetics that mostly goes down the drain is slowly converting to toxins at the bottom of many of Minnesota's lakes and rivers.

A new analysis of sediment in eight lakes and rivers used by municipal wastewater treatment plants found that amounts of the antibacterialial triclosan and the toxins it forms have been steadily increasing since it was first used in Dial soap in the 1960s.

The research by scientists at the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota is the first to show how pervasive the contaminant has become in tiny lakes and giant rivers, and that the same is likely true across the country.  more...



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Asian carp won’t be stopped by commercial fishing

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Stopping Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes is not the only Asian carp research going on with the invasive species.
 
Dr. Brian Roth of Michigan State University and his colleagues looked at areas where the carp are established and whether commercial fishing could eradicate them over time.   more...


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Waiting For Dredging, Great Lakes Ports Close As Water Drops

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Shipping companies are making a case to Congress for more money to dredge Great Lakes ports and waterways. With water levels near a record low, ports are losing the battle against sediment.

Picture a football field with dirt piled a mile and a half high. That’s how much the backlog of dredging is in the Great Lakes. Lake Carriers Association Vice-President Glen Neckvasil says the Army Corps of Engineers has had enough money to keep pace with sediment in only six of the last 25 years. He says this means lakers are sailing with light loads: “... extremely so. Right now, looking at the end of December there, ships — that if the water levels were high, it could carry 72,000 tons of cargo — were carrying less than 61,000 tons.” more...


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Canada’s first centre dedicated to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water to open in Saint John, NB

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Canada’s waterways will have a stronger voice in 2013, with the creation of a new water-oriented arts and education facility in the nation’s oldest city. Inspired by the work of Waterkeepers and other grassroots, community-oriented organizations, the centre will promote swimmable, drinkable, fishable water through community-building, information sharing, research, and leadership development.  more...


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Trying to predict the future of the Great Lakes

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The Great Lakes are incredibly complex. There are just a lot of moving parts.

A new project is taking on a giant task... to try to predict the future of the Great Lakes and what we might want the region to look like.

21 research institutions from the U.S. and Canada are collaborating on the Great Lakes Futures Project

It’s not just a classroom exercise.  Along with researchers and grad students, government officials from the U.S. and Canada are involved, and so are industry and environmental groups.  more...



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Concerns rise as lakes fall

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According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data, Lake Michigan reached a record average low water level of 576.07 feet above sea level this month. The previous low was 576.1 feet in 1965.

“Is there any water?” said Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash, who also serves as president of the Spring Lake Lake Board. “At my dock, the water is way past the dock. I’ve never seen it like that.”

Nash noted that the decrease in water levels has an impact on the local economy, as every inch of water lost results in increased shipping costs.  more...



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Health Of Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River Topic Of 'Public Eye'

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When it comes to the overall health of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario is the worst.

That's what a three-year study found performed by the Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping project.

It's the topic of Friday's Public Eye on WPBS-TV.

The map takes data from more than 30 different pollutants, or stressors, that are in the Great Lakes, like invasive species, algae and run-offs from farms.  more...




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After 20 years, Maumee Bay starts to freeze again

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Oregon Councilwoman Sandy Bihn, who is also Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper, said winter activities on Maumee Bay once enjoyed by residents are now returning, thanks to cooler temperatures and less heated water being discharged from FirstEnergy’s power plant on Bay Shore Road.

“Most of the Oregon shoreline along Maumee Bay is freezing - at least for now.  What a treat,” said Bihn. “We may be able to once again skate, ice fish, etc.” 

When Bihn’s family moved to their current home on Bay Shore Road in 1987, the ice on the bay was thick.

“We were able to go out on the ice and walk along the shoreline on ice.  It was great,” she said.  “But all of a sudden, we couldn’t do it anymore.”  more...



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Michigan mussels disappear within a child’s lifetime

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An entire group of native organisms is dying off in the lakes and rivers of the Great Lakes region, and  children are noticing.

They are native freshwater mussels, those interesting and long-lived “clams” that lie partly buried in the water bottom.

“It’s kind of sad. They’re part of the lake, part of my life,” said 15-year old Tabitha Sutterfield of Dansville, Mich. As a little girl, she spent many an hour on family vacations following the mussels’ meandering trails through the sand in Houghton Lake, Michigan’s largest inland lake, and then scooping up the native mussels.  more...



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Cold weather means start of Coast Guard icebreaking

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Operation Coal Shovel, as the Coast Guard calls its ice-clearing operations in the southern lakes, didn't take place last winter because it was so mild, Coast Guard officials said. The project is carried out in southern Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
 
No icebreaking operations have been carried out in Lake Erie yet because there hasn't been enough ice, said Levi Read, public affairs specialist with the Ninth Coast Guard District office in Cleveland.
 
"Most of the ice is up north," he said.
 
Last year's decision not to carry out Operation Coal Shovel was unusual, and a testament to how mild the winter was, Read said.  more...


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Bass tournament could generate millions in tourism revenue

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The committee organizing events around the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament expects the event this year could have an economic impact on the St. Lawrence River Valley of $1.5 million to $2 million.
 
“This tournament could be the greatest tourism-generating event our area has ever seen,” said event coordinator Deanna Shampine. “It has the potential to draw thousands of tourists to St. Lawrence County.”
 
The Bassmaster Elite Series gathers the world’s 100 best professional anglers to compete in eight tournaments in different locales throughout the year. The Bassmaster Elite Series St. Lawrence River Showdown will be Aug. 8 to 11.  more...


Environment  Fishing  

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