News and Events

Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Consortium Conference

Event Date: 10/12/2017
End Date: 10/13/2017

Michigan Sea Grant announces two Knauss Fellowship finalists

In 2018, Washington, D.C., will gain two more Michiganders. Michigan Sea Grant is pleased to announce that two candidates from Michigan have been selected as finalists for the 2018 Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. This prestigious fellowship places graduate students from around the nation with host organizations in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. Knauss Fellows get an up-close-and-personal look at the processes and offices that guide U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resource use and policies.

Interested graduate students submit applications through their nearest Sea Grant program, which forwards a selection of candidates to the National Sea Grant Office. Out of 128 applications forwarded by Sea Grant programs in 2017, 67 finalists have been selected.

Janet Hsiao

Both of Michigan’s Knauss Fellowship finalists hail from Michigan State University (MSU) graduate programs. Janet Hsiao will soon finish her M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2013. While at MSU, she has worked with Dana Infante to study the interactions of landscape, coastal habitats, and ecological communities. Janet is no stranger to Washington, D.C., having interned there at the Trust for Public Land in 2014.

Lisa Peterson

The second finalist, Lisa Peterson, is pursuing her Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU. Prior to this program, she received her B.S. and M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife, also at MSU. She has been working with Mike Jones to study yellow perch stocking in Lake Erie.

Now that the Knauss finalists have been selected, all 67 will congregate in Washington, D.C., this November for Placement Week. Through a process one former Fellow describes as “grueling,” finalists will meet with representatives from an array of prospective host offices in the legislative and executive branches. Previous Knauss Fellows from Michigan have worked in various offices within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Senate.

After the finalists and hosts have selected each other, the finalists will be granted Fellow status and prepare to begin their year-long fellowships in February 2018.

Knauss Fellows from Michigan — along with recipients of other Michigan Sea Grant-related fellowships — contribute to a blog that captures their experiences, insights, and takeaways. Read posts from current and previous fellows here. Learn more about Michigan Sea Grant’s graduate fellowship opportunities here.

This entry was posted in News.

May, June showers bring higher Great Lake water levels for summer 2017

Great Lake levels are up with Lake Ontario reaching an all-time high.

Lake Ontario reached an all-time record high in May 2017, resulting in impacts to coastal homeowners and more. High Water Event, New York. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs

Lake Ontario reached an all-time record high in May 2017, resulting in impacts to coastal homeowners and more. High Water Event, New York. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs

Have you seen the news on high lake levels on Lake Ontario? Lake Ontario reached all-time record highs in May 2017, resulting in significant coastal community, road, infrastructure and homeowner impacts. Currently the weekly Lake Ontario levels show Lake Ontario is about 30 inches higher than this time last year and 28” above the long term average in June. Colleagues with New York Sea Grant Extension are aiding in this crisis, using a scientific survey to determine impacts of the high water levels. The large rise can be attributed to very high precipitation on the basin, getting almost double the average precipitation as normal.

Back in Michigan, significant rain storms happened in late June 2017, particularly impacting the Saginaw Bay area. The United States Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Lakes Michigan-Huron rose a full 6 inches from April to May during the spring rise and had above average water supplies coming into the system. Lakes Michigan-Huron are forecast to be on the high side of average, about 15 inches above the long term average.

Lake Superior also rose about 6 inches during seasonal rise in May, being about 8 inches above the long term average and about 2” higher than in 2016. Precipitation and net basin supply was above average, with outflows above average through the St. Marys River.

Lake Erie is about 19” above its long term average and 9” above May 2016 levels and the most recent predictions are that it has reached the peak water level for 2017 and will decline about 3” over the next month.

As we head further into summer 2017, visitors to the beaches and boat launch ramps will notice these somewhat higher lake levels. Other great tools to check lake levels include the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory’s  online Great Lakes Water Level Dashboard.

It is amazing to think back of just about 5 years ago to the fall/winter of 2012/2013. Lake Michigan/Huron actually reached the record low level ever recorded in January 2013, in close to 100 years of accurate measurements. The strong rebound from these record lows is unprecedented in our history of measurements.

This summer season is well upon us and it will be interesting to see if levels follow the typical pattern of seasonal decline or if strong precipitation drives them further up. No matter what, be careful in all your water access – swim with flotation devices; be extra careful at launch ramps; and enjoy the dynamic coast of these freshwater seas.

Alpena students learn while caring for island habitats of local community park

Elementary students tackle critical Great Lakes and natural resource conservation issues, enhance their community, and enjoy a little hands-on learning along the way.

Students review debris they recovered at Rotary Island

DenBleyker and students review debris they picked up at the island.

With the sun shining and just a short walk from school, a class of energetic students recently crossed the bridge over the Thunder Bay River to Rotary Island in Alpena, Mich. These third graders from Lincoln Elementary, Alpena Public Schools were on their way to finalize a series of environmental studies and stewardship projects. This field trip culminated a year-long study inspired by their teacher Tina DenBleyker, who has opened her classroom doors into the community to enhance student learning through hands-on environmental studies.

Applying creative place-based stewardship education (PBSE) strategies, DenBleyker engages students through hands-on community connections and environmental experiences. At the heart of their project was Rotary Island – which students ‘adopted’ and in doing so built a mutually benefiting relationship with their local Alpena Rotary Club. Supported through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) network, this Lincoln Elementary educator and student team connected with community and conservation partners, including the Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of Alpena, Huron Pines AmeriCorpsMichigan State University ExtensionMichigan Sea GrantNOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuaryand U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

This project illustrates a great example of how PBSE strategies enhance learning and foster community connections through environmental stewardship studies; resulting in:

  • An engaging educational opportunity. Learning about life cycles is one example of a science learning goal for third grade students in Michigan; and what better way to learn about life cycles than exploring local monarch butterflies and their milkweed habitats. Reading and writing was another significant goal in this project both as students prepared for their projects and also as they reflected and wrote about their science explorations and findings. Students also gained valuable life skills working in teams, communicating with community partners, and leadership in implementing their projects.
  • Watershed studies resulting in environmental stewardship. Students are conducting litter pickups, planting native pollinator gardens, and a variety of other efforts that enhance and beautify this island and public park. For example, the students pick up litter and tally the items found while accomplishing marine debris monitoring and prevention goals promoted by the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program and NOAA Marine Debris program. While picking up the litter, students identified issues with fishing line – addressing this issue by partnering with Michigan Sea Grant to build and install monofilament recycling bins on the Island. Finally, their monarch lifecycle studies led to learning about pollinators and an eventual partnership with USFWS to plan and plant a native pollinator garden on the island.
  • Valued community connections and contributions. Throughout the year students met and expanded their relationship with the local Alpena Rotary Club who own and manage the island. Mary Dunckel (also an MSU Extension Educator in Alpena County) provides leadership for Rotary Club, which welcomed and supports this school partnership on the island. Students learned more about the island and ways they could help when interviewing Rotarian Patrick Heraghty (Director of Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan). This partnership benefits school improvement goals and provides a community enhancement opportunity.
Alpena Elementary School students show off their completed monofilament recycling station – one of two installed on Rotary Island. Photo: Tina DenBleyker.

Alpena Elementary School students show off their completed monofilament recycling station – one of two installed on Rotary Island. Photo: Tina DenBleyker.

DenBleyker’s vision and planning for this stewardship project started last summer during the Lake Huron PBSE Summer Teacher Institute, a training sponsored by the NEMGLSI network and Sea Grant Center for Great Lakes Literacy. Here she learned about place-based stewardship education strategies; connected and traded ideas with other teachers, Great Lakes scientists and a variety of community partners; and gained resources in support of her work. DenBleyker jumped straight into PBSE programming with her students last fall with visits to the island – leveraging new partners and opportunities, navigating challenges, and celebrating successes. She shared her reflections as a new teacher getting started in PBSE during the 2017 NEMIGLSI Regional Networking Meeting. This summer she will share her experiences with new teachers as a lead teacher mentor during the very same Lake Huron PBSE Summer Teacher Institute. This year’s Institute is scheduled for August 14-18, 2017, in Alpena, and teachers interested can learn more and submit applications online. Applications are due July 27.

Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension serve in providing leadership for the NEMIGLSI network, which is part of a larger, statewide network and partnership, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI). Established in 2007 with funding from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the GLSI supports place-based stewardship education in schools and communities across Michigan. Partnerships are invaluable in our endeavor to support stewardship of our Great Lakes and natural resources. Through the NEMIGLSI network, and applied place-based education strategies, our educator partners are addressing critical Great Lakes issues.

Thunder Bay International Film Festival- Student Film Competition

The 2018 theme is #SanctuariesAre

Develop a film explaining what Sanctuaries mean to you.

The Thunder Bay International Film Festival (TBIFF) is an annual celebration of ocean and Great Lakes inspired films produced in partnership with the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival.

As part of Thunder Bay International Film Festival, the NEMIGLSI network and Friend’s of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary host a STUDENT FILM COMPETITION. Students (Kindergarten-12th grade) are eligible to enter individually or as a team, and there is NO entry fee for the competition.

Thunder Bay International Film Festival flyer

Michigan Sea Grant storm project seeks to help communities prepare for future extreme storms

Mid-Michigan’s 2017 storm reminiscent of the 1986 Great Flood.

Flooded houses are shown in Bangor Township

Flooded houses are shown in Bangor Township. Photo: Kip Cronk | Michigan Sea Grant

On June 22 and 23, 2017 mid-Michigan was hit by a large rain event. The storm dropped 7.29 inches of rain in Mount Pleasant, 6 inches in Midland, and 3.08 inches in Bay City.

Pictures of damage in Bay, Isabella, Saginaw, and Midland counties show flooded roads, washed out culverts, damaged bridges, flooded homes, businesses, and flooded agricultural fields. Bay, Isabella and Midland counties were declared states of emergency allowing them to receive help from the state. The damages from this storm are as yet, unknown, but the 1986 Flood in the Saginaw Bay area caused about $500 million in damages.

Michigan Sea Grant and its partners have been working on a project to bring heightened awareness of extreme storms and to provide information to communities on preparing for such storms. While these suggestions are too late to help with this severe storm, there are actions communities might consider for the future in order to lessen the effects of extreme storms.

Preserve wetlands

One of the crucial functions of a wetland area is to hold excess water during storm events and let it go slowly, usually through evaporation or flowing down into the ground water table. Wetlands can hold a lot of water and that can mitigate storm impacts. This Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Wetlands Map Viewer helps identify wetland areas around the state­­.

Green infrastructure

Many developments are designed with hard materials that rain quickly runs off from and into rivers and combined storm sewers. One way to help mitigate the impact of extreme storms is to hold water on our properties in productive ways, sort of like wetlands. Rain gardens, bioswales (similar to rain gardens but designed to handle a larger amount of water), permeable pavers, green roofs, and green spaces are all ways that communities can help hold back water and reduce runoff. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a website with information to developing green infrastructure.

Protect floodplains

Rivers and streams can only hold so much water until the water flows over the bank and into an area’s natural floodplain. Leaving floodplains undeveloped is one way to store this water. Development in these areas removes the floodplain space and that water must go somewhere, which increases the impact elsewhere.

Properly construct culverts, bridges

During extreme storm events culverts and bridges are often damaged as they may not be large enough to withstand for the water overflow. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has a minor permit category for large culverts that require the structure to be built to several specific criteria including spanning a minimum of bankfull width.

Flood Insurance

Many people don’t realize they may need flood insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides insurance to property owners and also encourages communities to adopt floodplain management regulations.

House surrounded by water

The Saginaw Bay watershed is particularly vulnerable to storm hazards because of the region’s unique topography and land-use patterns. A complex network made up of 7,000 miles of rivers and streams, the Saginaw Bay watershed drains roughly 15 percent of the state of Michigan. This massive watershed includes both urban and agricultural lands. Because the watershed covers such a large flat area, extreme storm impacts are quickly magnified. Communities within the Saginaw Bay watershed face a major challenge in adapting to increased frequency and intensity of storm events. The website 1986flood.com shows the impact this storm had on the area and offers additional ways to prepare for extreme storms.

Having some of these infrastructure designs and practices in place may not be enough to stop the impact of a 7-inch rain event, but it could help mitigate the impacts during storm events. Michigan Sea Grant plans to continue outreach and education and will be providing webinars and a workshop in the fall of 2017 to help communities assess their coastal storm resiliency planning needs.

New Canadian law will change rules for American boaters and anglers

Kayak event on the Detroit River

Kayak event on the Detroit River

Reporting to Canadian Customs no longer necessary under certain conditions.

Things are about to get easier for American boaters and anglers who venture into Canadian waters thanks to a new border enforcement law stemming from a bill drafted by Canadian Sen. Bob Runciman and recently signed by Governor General David Johnston. The House version was authored by House of Commons member Gordon Brown.

Bill S-233 received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017, meaning that American boaters and anglers will no longer be required to report to Canadian Customs as long as they do not leave their vessel, land, anchor, moor, or make contact with another conveyance in Canadian waters. However, the new law does require that boaters and anglers report to Canadian Customs if requested to do so by Customs agents. The change also means Canadians who venture into United States waters also do not have to contact Canadian Customs unless they leave their vessel, land, anchor, moor, or make contact with another conveyance in U.S. waters.

Prior to passage of the new law, American boaters and anglers were required to call Canadian Customs at (888) 226-7277 to check-in with their passport number, boat registration and express their intentions for entering Canadian waters and how long they anticipated being there.

“The reporting requirements were overly rigid, they were out of step with those facing Canadians who enter U.S. waters and they were hurting the economy of tourism-dependent border regions. And they didn’t do anything to enhance border security,” said Sen. Bob Runciman when asked why the rule change was important.

Although the new law makes it easier to boat and fish in Canadian waters, remember that valid fishing licenses are always required when fishing in U.S. and Canadian waters.

Additional information about Bill S-233 can be found on Sen. Runciman’s web­­site. The Royal Assent can be found on the Parliament of Canada website.

Detroit River Restoration Tour

Event Date: 8/17/2017

The Detroit River has seen its fair share of environmental challenges. Now, after years of dedicated restoration work, the Detroit River and its ecosystems are heading toward recovery.

On August 17, 2017, join the Friends of the Detroit River, Michigan Sea Grant, and our many partners as we celebrate the hard work and dedication of those who have helped shape a new future for the Detroit River. This is your opportunity to visit the habitat restoration sites of Grosse Ile and Belle Isle for an up close, behind the scenes, expert-guided tour.

Highlights of the event include:
10 am – Noon, Grosse Ile
  • Boat tour of Stony Island restoration site
  • Coffee and donuts provided
1:30 – 4:30, Belle Isle
  • Lunch and short program in Dossin Museum
  • Meet a live sturgeon
  • Bus tour of Belle Isle restoration sites including Lake Okonoka and Blue Heron Lagoon.
More information about restoration sites:

Space is limited. Reserve your spot today!

Registration: ow.ly/DiBq30cQDBf

Contact: Mary Bohling, (313) 410-9431, bohling@msu.edu

Hiring Program Coordinator

Event Date: 6/21/2017
End Date: 7/1/2017

Michigan Sea Grant (MISG) is seeking a motivated, organized, and outgoing individual with an understanding of Great Lakes and coastal issues to serve as a Program Coordinator. The right candidate will have a passion for sharing science-based information and be highly collaborative in their work. A combined effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, MISG promotes knowledge of the Great Lakes through research, outreach, and education. MISG is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs in coastal areas around the country.

See: Details and Apply

Responsibilities

  • Assist with administration of the MISG research program, including:
    • Developing biannual Request for Proposals (RFPs), assisting with proposal review and selection, and coordinating initial and mid-term research meetings.
    • Monitoring research projects through funded period with annual check-in calls and review of progress reports.
    • Coordinating peer review of draft reports, providing summary of reviews to Principal Investigators (PIs), and coordinating publication and promotion of final reports and resources.
    • Assisting with production of annual reports for research program.
    • Providing support and coordination as project liaison for research PIs.
  • Coordinate community outreach projects with Michigan Sea Grant Extension, including:
    • Assisting with preparation, writing, and formatting of project plans, reports, grant proposals, and other documents as needed.
    • Coordinating as project liaison with MISG Extension and communication staff.
    • Coordinating with local communities, including providing logistical support and community analysis.
    • Coordinating and preparing progress and final reports and news briefs.
  • Provide general support for grant projects as needed, including summarizing meetings, activities, and accomplishments, and assisting with project coordination.
  • In collaboration with the MISG team, assist with the development of pre- and full proposals depending on opportunities, research, recommend, and coordinate project team, coordinate and implement work plan, and publish and promote training resources.
  • Assist MISG Extension specialists with promoting the use of educational resources and identifying cooperative efforts.
  • Initiate communications with stakeholders and partners.
  • Provide logistical and administrative support for MISG seminars and events. (Note: Some evening and weekend work and attendance may be required for seminars and events.)
  • Additional duties as may be assigned.

Required Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., environment policy, natural resource management, water related sciences) and 1 – 3 years’ relevant work experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Ability to work independently and to meet a well-defined series of deadlines.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills.
  • A strong network within the relevant resource management, policy-making, university and/or Great Lakes industry/business communities.
  • Detail oriented with the ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines in a timely manner.
  • Strong computing skills, including Microsoft Office suite and Google apps, online research skills, and general comfort with web-based systems.

Desired Qualifications

  • Grant writing and grant management experience.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, with ability to work as a team member within established office structures.
  • Creative thinking and desire to contribute to a fun and inspired office environment.
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail.

Work Schedule

  • Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm.
  • Some evening and weekend attendance may be required for MISG seminars and events.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Michigan Sea Grant receives John D. Dingell Friend of the Refuge Award

Michigan Sea Grant representatives Steve Stewart and Mary Bohling with John D. Dingell, Jr., IWRA Chairman Richard Micka, and Refuge Manager John Hartig.

Michigan Sea Grant representatives Steve Stewart and Mary Bohling with John D. Dingell, Jr., IWRA Chairman Richard Micka, and Refuge Manager John Hartig. Photo by Mark Messer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

  • Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant Communications Lead, (734) 647-0767, rregist@umich.edu
  • Cindy Hudson, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Communications Manager, (517) 353-9723, hudsoncy@msu.edu

The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance (IWRA) and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge recently honored the work of Michigan Sea Grant with the John D. Dingell Friend of the Refuge Award.

Michigan Sea Grant staff have been involved with both the IWRA and the Detroit River Refuge since they were organized. The IWRA recognized Michigan Sea Grant’s continued efforts in providing classroom and vessel-based education in southeast Michigan and their ongoing commitment to the mission of both the IWRA and the Refuge.

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge consists of nearly 6,000 acres of unique habitat, including islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands within an authorized boundary extending along 48 miles of shoreline. 

The IWRA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the mission and purposes of the Detroit Refuge, the only international refuge in North America. It provides many vital services to the Refuge, such as community outreach, education programs, habitat restoration, special events support, volunteer staff, advocacy, and fundraising.

“The Refuge is such a wonderful asset to the Detroit area,” said Mary Bohling, a Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator. Bohling also is a current board member and one of the original organizers of the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance. “The Alliance has been an important part of building fantastic partnerships to help protect, conserve, and manage the Refuge’s wildlife and habitats. As a Sea Grant educator, I’m very proud to have been a part of making this happen.”

Since 1991, more than 100,000 students and adults have participated in Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Education Program. In addition to classroom lessons, students, teachers, and adult chaperones board the schoolship Clinton to learn more about conservation and stewardship of our state’s Great Lakes and waterways. Soon students will be boarding the schoolship at the newly constructed fishing pier and boat dock in the Detroit Refuge Gateway. The accessible dock and fishing pier are expected to open in the fall of 2017.

“We’re honored to receive this John D. Dingell Jr. Award,” said Extension Educator Steve Stewart on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant. “We’re also looking forward to welcoming many more students on board the Clinton from the new dock at the Refuge Gateway. It is critical that students have the opportunity to experience and learn about these incredible water resources, and there is no better way to do that than on a schoolship. They will be our future decision-makers and the stewards of these incredible water resources.”

The award is named after former Michigan U.S. Congressman John D. Dingell Jr., who championed many conservation causes and legislation, and who supported the creation of the Detroit Refuge.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research, and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.