News and Events

Happy Birthday Detroit: The 313 Turns 313 Years Old!

The city of Detroit and the Detroit River have experienced a great deal of environmental change in the last 313 years. Then, like now, it’s impassioned citizens and groups that work to help make the city and the river great.

Early Detroit

On July 24, 1701, Antoine Laumet de LaMothe Cadillac established the City of Detroit with permission from French King Louis XIV. When first established, the French trading outpost was called Fort-Pontchartrain du Détroit. Today, some of us who live in metro Detroit often refer to the city by its area code, 313. While much has changed in the last 313 years, some things are still very similar. Detroit is still a place with impassioned people who are working hard to make Detroit a great place to live, work and play.

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Marinas and Harbors Workshop: Spring Lake/Grand Haven

Event Date: 8/5/2014

Changing Water Levels, Stormwater Volumes and Updates to Clean Marina Program


Because the Great Lakes are important to you and your business, you are invited to learn more about current issues for marinas and harbors in Michigan.

Join us for a workshop among peers to discuss fluctuating water levels and increased stormwater volumes and to learn about the Michigan Clean Marina Program. The meeting is set for the Spring Lake District Library in Spring Lake, Michigan near the lovely shores of Lake Michigan.

Michigan Sea Grant-hosted workshop — open and free to anyone interested in learning more about coastal resilience and sustainability practices from a harbor/marina point of view.

3:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 5

Spring Lake District Library
123 E. Exchange Street
Spring Lake, MI 49456

Free, but registration requested. REGISTER HERE


  • Lows, Runoff and Rebound in 2013/14: Great Lakes Levels Update
  • Stormwater Management at your Facility (best practices and peer-to-peer discussion)
  • Best practices to Increase Resiliency to Changing Environmental Conditions (infrastructure, dredging, planning)
  • Overview of the Clean Marina program
  • Discussion

Refreshments will be provided.

Join the MBIA meeting:
The marinas and harbors workshop will be followed by the southwest regional Michigan Boating Industries Association meeting at 6 p.m. at Bil-Mar Restaurant
1223 S. Harbor Dr.
Grand Haven, Mich. 49417
4 miles/10-minute drive from the Spring Lake District Library.

The workshop is free, but we do ask that you register in advance. If you have any questions, contact Amy Samples at (734) 647-0766 or

Workshop Series

This event is part of the 2014 Michigan Clean Marina Workshop Series, a collaboration of Michigan Sea Grant and the MBIA. Workshops are currently being scheduled in coastal communities around the state.

The series is supported by the Michigan Coastal Management Program and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Office of the Great Lakes.

All events are free and open to the public.

Take a Great Lakes Class at the U-M Biological Station

Event Date: 8/20/2014
End Date: 8/24/2014

The University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) offers adults the chance to be students again! Participants may sign up for one of three mini-courses: Art in Nature, Fungi or Great Lakes Oceanography. Each class runs from Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 20-24.

  • Great Lakes Oceanography is a rare opportunity to learn about water quality, invasive species and Great Lakes ecology from three entertaining and enthusiastic experts. Gary Fahnenstiel, Tom Nalepa and Dave Schwab will teach the class on board NOAA Research Vessel Laurentian. All three men are Scientists Emeriti from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who are currently staff at the University of Michigan Water Center. Their respective areas of study are aquatic biology, invasive species, and hydrodynamics. Class participants will visit several locations in Lake Huron and the Mackinaw Straits. Along the way, they will use equipment and presentations from Fahnenstiel, Nalepa and Schwab to study the health of our region’s most vital natural resource.
  • Art in Nature is for visual artists at any skill level. Instructor Ann Singsaas will provide demonstrations and inspiration in plein-air sketching, simple watercolor painting techniques, and the elements of design. Students will learn to keep a field sketchbook, take visual notes and capture both the detail and the broader essence of the natural world on paper. Working on location and in the studio, students will learn to sketch or paint with minimal equipment, providing a new way to document travels. Singsaas has degrees in both biology and art and advanced study in painting. She shows her artwork in the Midwest is represented by several galleries in Wisconsin.
  • Fungi provides an in-depth look at nature’s recyclers. Local teacher and guide Marilynn Smith will use lectures and field trips to teach the structure, reproduction and ecology of fungi. Participants will also learn about the many uses humans have for fungi, beyond food. Smith has used her graduate training in mycology in the education and medical fields.

Course participants may commute or live at the Station, located on Douglas Lake, and eat in the  dining hall.

“Our mini-courses provide people from across age groups wonderful opportunities to experience ‘North Woods’ environments and biota from new and interesting perspectives,” says UMBS Director Knute Nadelhoffer.

More details and registration available on the UMBS website.

Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast for 2014

NOAA and its research partners predict that western Lake Erie will have a significant bloom of cyanobacteria, a toxic blue-green algae, during the 2014 bloom season in late summer. However, the predicted bloom is expected to be smaller than last year’s intense bloom, and considerably less than the record-setting 2011 bloom. Bloom impacts will vary across the lake’s western basin and are classified by an estimate of both its concentration and how far it spreads.

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) were common in western Lake Erie between the 1960s and 1980s. After a lapse of nearly 20 years, blooms have been steadily increasing over the past decade. Since 2008, NOAA has issued weekly HAB bulletins for western Lake Erie through the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to give warnings of bloom development. Also, this marks the third time NOAA has issued an annual outlook for western Lake Erie.

Learn More:

Extension Educator Mary Bohling Wins Gold Award

Southeast Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling brought home a gold award for a poster detailing restoration efforts along the Huron-Erie Corridor. Bohling was recognized by the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals (ANREP) at the recent biennial conference in Sacramento, California for her poster titled Creating Sustainable Fish Communities through Habitat Restoration in the Huron-to-Erie Corridor. Her entry was selected from among 57 academic poster entries.

The ANREP Conference poster contest recognizes excellence in scholarship, design and presentation of academic posters. Posters are judged against five criteria: content, evidence of scholarship, graphics and design, evaluation strategies, and conclusions/future directions.

See the Poster

Bohling, along with others from Michigan Sea Grant, USGS-Great Lakes Science Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, worked on the habitat restoration project.

The ANREP is a national association of Cooperative Extension Service professionals, working in environmental education, fisheries, forestry, wood sciences, range, recreation, waste management, water, wildlife and related disciplines.

Special Funding Opportunity: Lake Michigan Food Web RFP

Event Date: 7/18/2014

The Illinois-Indiana and Michigan Sea Grant programs have launched a joint call for small research projects related to Lake Michigan food webs. During the Great Lakes Regional Research Information Network – Lake Michigan food web workshops, participants identified data gaps and research priorities to help understand changes to Lake Michigan food webs.

Details at a glance:

  • Researchers may request up to $50,000 of federal (Sea Grant) funds and must demonstrate at least 50 percent match.
  • Funding will be provided for one year beginning February 1, 2015, or the date of the award, and projects should be completed by March 1, 2016.
  • We anticipate funding 2-4 Illinois/Indiana-based projects and 1 Michigan-based project.
  • Letters of intent should be submitted by July 18, 2014, with full proposals due on August 11, 2014.
  • See: Full RFP

Research projects that explore the following will be given priority:

  • The microbial food web, including responses of higher trophic levels to the microbial food web.
  • Nutrient transfer nearshore-to-offshore (and offshore-to-nearshore) by physical processes and/or organism movement (e.g., fish).
  • Food web differences across Lake Michigan regions or habitats (e.g., rocky vs. sandy substrate, relative importance of nearshore habitat to broader lake processes).
  • Relative importance of different carbon or phosphorus sources to the food web (e.g. picoplankton, bacteria, Cladophora).

Field sampling for proposed projects should take place during the 2015 season in conjunction with the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) field year on Lake Michigan. To best integrate the results from these projects with broader sampling efforts, proposed projects must demonstrate plans for collaboration with at least one federal agency participating in CSMI sampling.

For example, collaboration could be: requesting time on research vessels in order to complete proposed sampling; conducting sampling at the same or complementary spatial locations; conducting sampling at similar times of year; and/or ensuring that laboratory or modeling studies will complement field efforts.

Questions? Contact Catherine Riseng at (734) 936-3622 or

Boosting Native Fish in St. Clair River


sturgeon mouth

DNR representatives showing off the unusual mouth of lake sturgeon before returning it to the water.

July 1, 2014

Contact: Elizabeth LaPorte at or (734) 647-0767

ANN ARBOR– Construction of two new fish-spawning reefs is about to begin in the St. Clair River northeast of Detroit, the latest chapter in a decade-plus effort to restore native species such as lake sturgeon, walleye and lake whitefish.

The new reefs will be built this summer and fall at two locations on the St. Clair. The goal of the University of Michigan-led project is to boost fish populations by providing river-bottom rock structures suitable for spawning.

The crevice-filled rock beds are designed to mimic the natural limestone reefs that existed before the rivers connecting lakes Huron and Erie were dredged and blasted to create shipping canals, and before an increased flow of sediments into the system from agricultural and urban runoff.

Spawning reef projects throughout the corridor.

Spawning reef projects throughout the corridor.

Construction of the Harts Light Reef is scheduled to begin this week and is expected to last eight to 12 weeks. The site is adjacent to East China, between St. Clair and Marine City. Work at the Pointe Aux Chenes site, which is between Algonac and Russell Island, will likely begin in September and is expected to last six to eight weeks.

The $3.5 million project is funded by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and is a follow-up to rock reefs built in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers in 2004, 2008 and 2012. The habitat-restoration project is led by U-M in collaboration with various local, state, federal and private partners.

Over the years, the reef builders have experimented with rocks of different type, shape and size. They discovered that the location of the reef within the river channel is more important than the kind of rock.

Deep, swift-flowing waters seem to work best, tempting the target fish species while keeping the rocks free of silt, algae and mussels. Also, the rocks must be piled deep enough to form crevices that protect eggs from being washed downstream or consumed by predator fish.

The reefs built in the Middle Channel of the St. Clair River in 2012 have attracted spawning lake sturgeon for two consecutive years, an indication that the reef builders have hit upon the right recipe, said project leader Jennifer Read, deputy director of the U-M Water Center at the Graham Sustainability Institute.


Jennifer Read, U-M Water Center

“These fish seek out rocky areas in clean, fast-flowing water. Unfortunately, most of that habitat type was removed when the shipping channels were created or has filled with silt from agriculture and construction in the watershed. But we’re gradually restoring it with these reefs,” Read said.

“A long-term goal of this team is to create enough fish-spawning habitat in the river so that we have really robust, self-sustaining populations of lake sturgeon, whitefish and walleye,” she said.

The latest spawning reefs will be made from broken limestone blocks 4 to 8 inches in diameter. That size seems to entice native fish while discouraging invasive species such as the sea lamprey and the round goby.

The limestone is from quarries in Bay Port and Ottawa Lake, Mich., and a crane with a GPS-guided clamshell shovel will precisely position the blocks on the river bottom. The work is being done by Faust Corp., a marine construction firm, along with SmithGroup JJR engineers and architects.

Both sets of reefs will be located in 30- to 50-foot waters and will not interfere with personal boats or freighters and will have no detectable effect on water flow or water levels.

The Harts Light Reef will be 3.8 acres: 1,007 feet long, 165 feet wide and 2 feet tall. The Pointe Aux Chenes Reef will be 1.5 acres: 605 feet long, 108 feet wide and 2 feet tall.

The lake sturgeon is the biggest fish in the Great Lakes, and the St. Clair River is home to the largest remaining population in those inland seas. They are classified as threatened or endangered in seven of the eight Great Lakes states.

Lake sturgeon can grow up to 7 feet in length and can weigh up to 300 pounds. Female sturgeon can live up to 80 years, while males live an average of 55 years.

Taken together, the Detroit River and St. Clair River reef-building projects represent the largest effort to date to restore a primitive, wild fish within a major urban area in the Great Lakes region.

The project’s core science team includes members from the University of Michigan (Water Center, Michigan Sea Grant), the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy and the St. Clair-Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow chapter are also collaborators.

Michigan Clean Marina Event – Lake St. Clair

Event Date: 7/15/2014


Join us to learn more about the program

You are invited to attend an overview of the Michigan Clean Marina Program at MacRay Harbor in Harrison Township, Michigan, on the shores of Lake St. Clair.

What: Michigan Clean Marina Workshop — open and free to any marina, small harbor or boatyard operator in Michigan.

When:  3:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 15

Where: MacRay Harbor
30675 North River Rd.
Harrison Township, MI  48045

Cost: Free, but registration requested.


  • Overview of the program
  • How to become a Certified Clean Marina and key certification steps
  • Clean Marina Classroom online training and new module
  • Questions and discussion

Stay for the MBIA meeting:
The Clean Marina meeting will be followed by the regional Michigan Boating Industries Association meeting at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

The workshop is free, but we do ask that you register in advance.

Click Here to Register



Michigan Sea Grant in the Media

757475p715EDNmainlaporte_paddleboardElizabeth LaPorte, Michigan Sea Grant Director of Communications and Education Services, was featured several times recently for her work with dangerous currents.

LaPorte and Ron Kinnunen, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator based in the Upper Peninsula, also hosted two workshops June 10 and 11 for natural resource professionals along the Lake Michigan coast.

Here are some media highlights:


Director of Michigan Sea Grant Jim Diana was also asked to comment on the state of aquaculture in Michigan, following the release of a draft plan to bolster Michigan’s fish growing economy.



Michigan Sea Grant Supports Waterfront Planning

Michigan’s extensive coastline includes many small harbors that face unique challenges. Although rural communities recognize the potential value of their harbors, they often struggle to evaluate development options, enact effective zoning, fund harbor maintenance and plan for climate change.

In five years, Michigan Sea Grant has initiated several projects to support waterfront revitalization, including starting a small harbor coalition, hosting a working waterfront conference, securing funding for and working closely with a NOAA Coastal Management fellow, and leading numerous workshops in coastal communities about smart growth, form-based zoning and water levels. These efforts involved close collaboration with state and university professionals and generated 11 case studies about working waterfronts.

In response, changes are being made at the state, local and federal levels. For example, Suttons Bay Township and Village participated in a Sea Grant workshop in 2010 about waterfront smart growth, which informed an innovative master planning effort that resulted in one of the few joint community plans in Michigan. They continue to collaborate with MSG to evaluate and promote form-based zoning. The successful work of Michigan’s Coastal Management fellow is continuing through two new grants to develop tools for redevelopment and climate issues. In addition, three state agencies agreed to collaboratively fund an Integrated Assessment about small harbor sustainability, which will be managed by MSG. Finally, increased federal funding for harbor maintenance has been approved by Congress.

MSG’s work supporting vital coastal areas has led to communities adopting best practices for waterfront development, a coastal management fellowship, an integrated research project and increased federal funding for harbor maintenance.

Partners include: Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State Housing and Development Authority, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Great Lakes Integrated Science Assessment, Village of Suttons Bay, Suttons Bay Township and Michigan State University Land Policy Institute.