Month: November 2013

Program connects young people to Lake Superior

Joan Vinette appreciates Lake Superior, and she wants others who live near its shores to appreciate it, too. Vinette, a Michigan State University Extension educator in Alger County, developed the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program 13 years ago in response to what she saw as a disconnect between area youths and the vast natural resource in their midst.

The Life of Lake Superior Youth Program is open to children ages 9 to 14, as well as their parents and grandparents. The program offers them the opportunity to explore their community and appreciate local arts, natural resources, history, culture, recreation, and careers relevant to those who live in proximity to the lake’s shoreline.

Vinette, who serves as the program coordinator, says the programs blend education and recreation. Some of the more popular workshops, Vinette says, have been “Those that get kids out on the water: kayaking, fishing, sailing, boat tours, and going to Grand Island.”

For more information about the program can be obtained here.
Read more of the article here.

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Jackfish, Terrace Bay, Schreiber Illustrated History

On November 19th in Terrace Bay, EcoSuperior representative Jamie Saunders gave a presentation entitled, “Jackfish, Terrace Bay, Schreiber Illustrated Industrial History.” This presentation was researched and developed by Bill Skrepichuk for EcoSuperior Environmental Programs of Thunder Bay. To view the presentation given by Jamie Saunders click here. To view more information about Jackfish, Terrace Bay and Schreiber history click here.

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Nipigon Bay PAC Meeting – December 11

Wetlands, Nipigon R. Mouth
Wetlands, Nipigon River Mouth. Photo by PAC Chair Dave Crawford

The next meeting of the Public Advisory Committee to the Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan will take place December 11th, 2013 from 7 p.m. till 9 p.m. at the Red Rock Recreation Centre (39 Brompton Rd.) More information including the agenda and complete meeting information package can be found here. The general public is welcome to attend and there is no charge.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Excess Nutrients and Undesirable Algae
  • Aesthetics
  • Secondary treatment for municipal wastewater in Red Rock
  • Stormwater management in Nipigon.


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Superior Islands Stone:
The Story of the Nepigon River Bridge
November 21/2013

Nipigon River Bridge
Click the photo to view in full size. CPR Bridge crossing the Nepigon River, constructed on foundations of stone quarried from islands in Nepigon Bay, Lake Superior. Photo credit: National Archives of Canada

7:00 – 9:00 P.M., Thursday, November 21st

St. Mary’s Anglican Church, 20 Second Ave., Nipigon Ontario

*CLICK HERE to view the November 17th Chronicle – Journal article about this presentation.*

Discover the construction history of the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) at the Nepigon River bridge crossing and its unique and interesting connection to Lake Superior and the Nipigon Bay community. Various quarries located on islands throughout Nipigon Bay were used to provide stone to construct the bridge during the 1880s, but not without many challenges and complications. Mr. Bill Skrepichuk, a local Lake Superior enthusiast, will depict these events using vintage and current images in hopes of increasing knowledge and appreciation for early construction activities around Nipigon Bay and along the north shore of Lake Superior. This rich story will ignite passion and excitement for our local area history and improve our cultural connection to Lake Superior.

The event is free of charge and includes refreshments and light snacks, even fish. For more information, call the Lakehead University Remedial Action Plan office at 807.343.8514.

This event is part of our “Lake Superior Evening” series. Several Lake Superior Evenings have been held in Thunder Bay. This is the first Lake Superior Evening to be held in the Nipigon/Red Rock area. These events are meant to increase the already strong “connect” between the people of our region and the largest of the Great Lakes. Previous Lake Superior evenings have brought to life information about Lake Superior light houses, shipwrecks, commercial fishing, economics, art, music and photography.

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Great Lakes Sustainability Fund 2014/2015 Application

Deadline for submissions: January 3, 2014 at 5 p.m. EST

The Government of Canada encourages action towards the shared vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. The Great Lakes Sustainability Fund (GLSF), administered by Environment Canada, is mandated to deliver federal responsibilities to restore degraded Canadian Areas of Concern (AOCs) in the Great Lakes Basin.

The purpose of the 2014/15 Call for Proposals is to solicit project proposals that will contribute towards the completion of necessary actions identified in the AOC’s most current Remedial Action Plan (RAP). With this in mind, please demonstrate clearly how your proposed project will contribute to the restoration of BUIs or address delisting targets for your AOC.

Priority for GLSF funding will be given to those proposals that directly address projects/priority actions in the current RAP Stage 2/Stage 2 Update Reports and Implementation Work Plans for the AOC your are applying under.

Project proposals should be no more than 12 pages in length and should clearly address the current implementation work plan/Stage 2 reports for the AOC. One hard copy and one electronic copy of each proposal are to submitted to the address listed in the attached cover letter by January 3, 2014 at 5 p.m. EST.

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Conclusions from the MN Conference on Climate Adaptation Astounding

The 1st ever Minnesota Conference on Climate Adaptation took place last Thursday at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Predictions on the future of Minnesota over the next 50 to 100 years were presented and shocked quite a few people which included the complete disappearance of Minnesota’s prized pine and spruce forest as well as an average temperature increase of approximately 5-10 degrees by 2100.

Read more in the article from Paul Huttner from Minnesota Public Radio.

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Saginaw Bay Reptile and Amphibian Survey Uncovers High-Quality Habitat

The culmination of a multi-year survey of reptiles and amphibians in preserves and public lands bordering Saginaw Bay has revealed some sites where high-quality coastal habitats support healthy populations of diverse species. Yet, extensive stands of the invasive common reed, Phragmites australis, have effectively barred these animals from other areas. Twenty sites on the Saginaw Bay coast and islands were surveyed in the course of the project, and 27 species of reptiles and amphibians were documented. The surveys were conducted by Herpetological Resource and Management in the 2011-2013 field seasons, and sponsored by the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy with partial funding from Coastal Zone Management grants.
The survey results provide an indirect measure of coastal habitat conditions. Biologists consider amphibians and reptiles – which they refer to as “herpetofauna” or “herps” – to be barometers of environmental health. Because most species are highly sensitive to pollutants and habitat degradation and fragmentation, the abundance and variety of herps in an area tend to reflect the general health of the local ecosystem. For example, SBLC’s Sand Point Nature Preserve in Huron County encompasses 225 contiguous acres of high-quality upland forest, sand dunes, vernal pools, and coastal marsh, and hosts at least 16 species of reptiles and amphibians, the highest number recorded at a survey site. In contrast, professional herpetologists found only a handful of species at many sites overrun with Phragmites or other invasive plants, or degraded and diminished by adjacent land uses.
SBLC plans to use the data and recommendations contained in the survey report to inform its future land protection and preserve management strategies. The report also offers communities and public land managers along the Saginaw Bay coast information relevant to land use planning, conservation planning, and habitat restoration and stewardship. The full report, Phase II Status Assessment of Herpetofauna in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, is available for viewing and downloading on the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program website at
An additional outcome of this project was the launch of a new Michigan Herp Atlas Project website,, where the public can enter their observations of Michigan reptiles and amphibians. All types of observations are requested, including information on common species such as garter snakes and observations of road kill, as long as the species can be identified. The website allows users to upload digital image files as part of the observation record, and a link to Google Earth helps to pinpoint the observation location. Users must register on the website to enter observation data, but all data is protected and people may enter data while maintaining their anonymity. Website visitors can also view non-sensitive information from the observations database, searchable by county or species. A smartphone application has also been developed and is available through the website.
For additional information on the Michigan Herp Atlas contact Lori Sargent, Michigan Herp Atlas Project Coordinator, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, at or David Mifsud, Herp Atlas Administrator,
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AOC Deer Lake in Michigan on its way to delisting

The Deer Lake Area of Concern in Ishpenming, Michigan and the associated Partridge Creek are on their way to being delisted as Areas of Concern after 3 years and approximately 8 million dollars. With assistance from the US EPA, the City of Ishpenming has completed a creek rehabilitation project, which consisted of rerouting the creek and adding trees.  In addition, mercury pollution from the local mine has been stopped from flowing into Deer Lake and declines in mercury levels in fish have already begun.

For more information, see the news report from ABC10.

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Michigan’s “Blue Economy” Means Almost One Million Jobs

In a white paper published last week by the Michigan Economic Centre, defines the potential for Michigan “Blue Economy” – saving water, using it smarter in the communities, cleaning and providing public access to our lakes and rivers that make beautiful places to live, work, and recreate.

“The economic and job benefits of reclaiming and enjoying our natural waterways, which mark Michigan as a very special place to live, work and run a business, are already tremendous,” said John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center.  “We are also beginning to see the economic impact of Michigan firms, entrepreneurs and research institutions participating in the fast-growing global water technology sector, predicted to reach $1 trillion a year by 2020,  and providing the talent and innovations to solve global freshwater sustainability issues right here in Michigan.”

The paper was commissioned by the Governor’s Office of the Great Lakes as part of the development of an overall state water-strategy, and as a baseline report to launch the “Growing Michigan’s Blue Economy” Initiative. The initiative is designed to accelerate the growth of Michigan’s water-based economy. The Michigan Economic Center and Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute are leading the initiative with support from a C.S. Mott Foundation grant.

Austin defines the “Blue Economy” as the ways Michigan’s natural water assets, emerging water education and research centers, and technology-based businesses provide jobs and economic development benefits.

“Blue Economy” Benefits – how water matters for economic growth:

·        Conduit for Commerce: shipping, freight/commercial traffic and warehousing are responsible for over 65,000 Michigan jobs and $3.3 billion in annual wages.

·        Water-dependent businesses:  Michigan already has 660,000 jobs and $49 billion in annual wages linked to water–dependent farming, manufacturing, mining and energy production.

·        Quality of Life and Place: 3,000-plus miles of Great Lakes freshwater coast; 11,000 inland lakes, hundreds of rivers, and wetlands – if clean and publicly accessible –translates into recreation, tourism, increased property values and local economic development in adjoining areas.  Boater’s spending is $3.9 billion in Michigan, contributing to over 50,000 jobs.   Michigan anglers contribute $2 billion annually. Coastal tourism from birding to beach visits is responsible for 57,000 jobs and $955 million in earnings every year.  Recreation and tourism spending around inland lakes and rivers has not been estimated, but is likely at least a similar amount. We do know the small, but fast-growing Michigan canoe and kayaking industry already contributes $140 million a year to the economy.  Macomb counties “Blue Economy Initiative”, Grand Rapids Grand River re-development projects, the Huron River’s RiverUP! Program, along with many other community-based initiatives focusing on re-purposing of natural water features are vital parts of community place-making efforts and local economic development programs.

·        Great Lakes Restoration: Michigan’s $163 million dollars in federal Great Lakes Restoration projects, leveraging additional state and local dollars is leading to direct employment and long-term economic benefits calculated at anywhere from $3 to $1 return (Brookings Study of Great Lakes Restoration Impacts), to $6.6 to $1 return on investment (Grand Valley State University Study of the economic impact of Muskegon Harbor clean-up)

·        Emerging Water Technology Businesses:  MEDC estimates there are over 350 emerging water-technology based firms in Michigan, beginning to exploit a nearly $1 trillion dollar growing global market for water cleaning, conservation, restoration, monitoring, infrastructure-building, and engineering work. These range from big manufacturing firms like Dow Chemical (water filtering), Cascade Engineering (water cleaning), to growing service firms like Limnotech (ecosystem engineering)—all working on a global basis.

·        Water research and education centers: Michigan’s universities and colleges are growing their programs in water research, and ecosystem management – from University of Michigan’s new Water Center; Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, MSU’s Center for Water Science, Macomb and Northwestern Michigan Community College water-programs – all are attracting new students and top talent, millions in research dollars, and contributing to new business creation. Grand Valley State Water Resources Institute and its growth alone are responsible for $3 million dollars to the local Muskegon area economy.

“Economic growth will be a cornerstone of Michigan’s Water Strategy. We must harness our state’s unique capacity for innovation amid these vital natural resources,” said Jon Allan, Director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. “Understanding the elements of the ‘Blue Economy’ and how we might fuel it sustainably is essential to our state’s future.”

“As we work with the network of water innovators in Michigan, we will better understand how Michigan communities, education institutions, and firms are working to grow the “Blue Economy” and how public and private leaders, the state, philanthropic and other stakeholders can support enhanced efforts,” said Austin.  “We hope see more communities build on their natural water assets and more businesses and entrepreneurs get into the “Blue Economy” game.”

For more information on the Michigan Economic Center and the “Blue Economy” please visit the initiative’s website at

To view the complete white page document on the proposed Michigan “Blue Economy” – see link White Paper on Michigan’s “Blue Economy”

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