Michigan Water School: Traverse City

Event Date: 9/17/2018
End Date: 9/18/2018


September 17 & 18, 2018, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Local, State and Tribal elected and appointed officials and staff wanting to gain access to resources and knowledge about water management are encouraged to attend this workshop!


  • Factors that impact Michigan water
  • The Blue Economy
  • Fiscal benefits of water management
  • Incorporating water into local planning and placemaking
  • Risk assessment approaches n Resources to help address water problems
  • Water policy at the federal, tribal, state, and local levels

Certificate upon completion of two-day session. Partial scholarships available thanks to funding from the Erb Family Foundation.

LOCATION: Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station
6686 S Center Hwy, Traverse City, MI

REGISTER: https://events.anr.msu.edu/waterschool09172018
$175 (Includes materials and lunch each day)


Lake Sturgeon Reintroduction in the Saginaw Bay Watershed

Event Date: 8/31/2018

Join local, state, and federal partners on Friday, August 31 at 1:30 p.m.
in the first reintroduction of juvenile sturgeon into the Cass River.

Participants may have the opportunity to help with the release. Come be part of this historic event at the Gunzenhausen Street Walkway (parking is adjacent) in Frankenmuth.


Meaghan Gass
Michigan Sea Grant
Extension Educator
(989) 895-4026 ext. 5

Saginaw Bay Resiliency Summit

Event Date: 8/15/2018

The Saginaw Bay Resiliency Summit will take place from 10am to 3pm on August 15 at the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center in Frankenmuth.

The free summit will explore the impact of extreme storms and flooding in the Saginaw Bay region and look at strategies for resilience. Decision makers, planners, residents, and other interested partners are encouraged to attend.

Topics include hazard mitigation strategies, green infrastructure, and more. Summit keynote speaker, Mike Sobocinski from the Michigan State Police, will share information about hazard mitigation planning in the context of the Saginaw Bay watershed. There also will be time for networking over the provided lunch. 

Summit venue:

Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center
3775 S. Reese Road
Frankenmuth, MI 48734

For questions or accessibility needs, contact:

Meaghan Gass at gassmeag@msu.edu or (989) 895-4026 ext. 5

Please share the Saginaw Bay Resiliency Summit opportunity with your networks.

2018 Freshwater Summit

Event Date: 10/26/2018

Michigan Sea Grant and its partners invite you to attend the 11th annual Freshwater Summit. The summit is a great place for environmental professionals and engaged citizens to network and to focus on current issues facing the Great Lakes region. 

This year the Freshwater Summit will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 26, 2018, at the Hagerty Center, 715 E. Front Street, Traverse City.

Topics for 2018 will include:

  • Great Lakes lake levels and the impact of their rapid rebound
  • Bringing the science of coastal change and resilience to the local level
  • More accurately measuring the impacts of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 
  • And additional topics surrounding our freshwater resources

Registration information will be available soon.

The Freshwater Summit is a product of the Freshwater Roundtable and is organized by The Watershed Center, Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, Michigan Sea Grant Extension, Great Lakes Environmental Center, Inland Seas Education Association, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, and the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Mark your calendars and save the date!

Get ready to celebrate Earth Day

Saginaw Bay region hosting hands-on activities on April 21, 2018 to celebrate Earth Day.

Litter cleanups are an easy way to protect our Great Lakes, promote healthy ecosystems and celebrate Earth Day. Photo: Stephanie Gandulla

Litter cleanups are an easy way to protect our Great Lakes, promote healthy ecosystems and celebrate Earth Day. Photo: Stephanie Gandulla

Earth Day celebrates our planet’s natural resources each year on April 22. First celebrated in 1970 with the support of Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Earth Day signals the launch of the modern environmental movement. From hosting events to raise community awareness about environmental issues to leading stewardship efforts, there are many ways to celebrate. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has a list of Earth Day activities around the state, and in the Saginaw Bay region, community members have many opportunities.

  • At 8:30 a.m. April 21, 2018, Bay City residents can participate in Ed Golson’s 24th Annual Compost Event, where they can pick up compost at a site under Vet’s Bridge. Compost has many gardening benefits and is an efficient way to break down organic waste. Participants must bring their own shovel and container for this self-serve event. At 9 a.m., there will be two litter cleanups hosted at Golson Park (Boat Launch) and the River Walk & Rail Trail (800 John F. Kennedy Dr.). For more information on these opportunities, please visit Bay City’s Earth Day event page.
  • Bay County Extension 4-H Tech Wizards also have an event this year in partnership with the City Market. Participating the Earth Day Bag Project, 4-H members will learn about the impact of single-use plastics on our Great Lakes and ocean and will share the information with the public by decorating paper grocery bags. The decorated bags will be given to customers April 21 at the City Market to raise awareness about the importance of refusing to single use. 
  • Volunteers also are welcome to join U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 21, in Saginaw for an Earth Day Clean-up. Participants will tally litter found, and by removing the debris, they will help improve habitat for the migratory waterfowl.
  • The Children’s Zoo in Saginaw is also hosting an Earth Day event as their season opener from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21. There will be games and activities with the support of the Mid Michigan Waste Authority. The first 400 people with a recyclable beverage container will receive free admission.
  • In Midland, the 13th Annual Earth Day Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 at the Midland Center for the Arts. Co-sponsored by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, the American Chemical Society – Midland Section and Midland Recyclers, this free event offers hands-on activities connecting to the theme, “Dive into Water Chemistry.”

Celebrating our Earth and its natural resources does not need to be limited to just Earth Day. Here are some daily practices that reduce waste and also protect our Great Lakes and oceans. Using the NOAA Marine Debris Tracker Application or the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program, community members can organize their own litter cleanups, where they also collect citizen science data. Communities can help reduce marine debris by raising awareness about the common types of litter found locally.

Town Hall on Aquatic Invasive Species

Event Date: 4/26/2018

University of Toledo/NOAA Research Team Host Town Hall on invasive species prevention in the Great Lakes

The public is invited to a town hall meeting 8 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the WGTE studio, 1270 S. Detroit Ave. in Toledo, OH. 

The town-hall panel of experts includes representatives from the Toledo Zoo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Maumee Bait and Tackle and Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. 

Rochelle Sturtevant, Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS) Program Manager is a panelist.

Bay Mills Community College to partner with MSU Extension to perform Great Lakes research

College to use $216K grant to study contaminants, biodiversity in their local waters.

Bay Mills Community College was awarded $216K to help fund research of Waishkey Bay. Photo: Bay Mills Community College

Bay Mills Community College was awarded $216K to help fund research of Waishkey Bay. Photo: Bay Mills Community College

Looking out over the pristine headwaters of the Upper Saint Mary’s River, the main campus of the Bay Mills Community College (BMCC) is located between the sole outlet of Lake Superior and Waishkey (Waiska) Bay in the heart of the Bay Mills Indian Community. The Bay is an important recreational and cultural resource for members of the Bay Mills Indian Community and its neighbors, as well as for the many tourists who visit the area.

BMCC recently was awarded $216K to help fund research of Waishkey Bay. BMCC’s project will study contaminants in the Bay, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and micro plastics. The project will also study the biodiversity of the bay including surveying all mussel species present. Mussels, like clams and oysters, are good indicators of a water bodies health and many mussels in Michigan are threatened or endangered. ­­­

The project will engage the students at BMCC in assisting with the research as well as several partner organizations. These partners include Lake Superior State University’s Environmental Analysis Lab and Wayne State University’s Lumigen Instrument Center, which will be performing chemical analysis on samples collected. Bay Mills Indian Community’s Biological Services Department will assist with training and sample collection and Michigan Sea Grant, a program of Michigan State University Extension and the University of Michigan will serve as coordinators for education and outreach to the local community.

The incredible snowy owl has shown up this winter in large numbers across the Great Lakes

A unique project, called SNOWStorm, was started to help learn more about these majestic birds by placing transmitters on the birds.

Recently, seasoned bird banders Chris Neri and Nova Mackentley banded a coastal snowy owl on the shores of Lake Superior. Photo: Chris Neri

Recently, seasoned bird banders Chris Neri and Nova Mackentley banded a coastal snowy owl on the shores of Lake Superior. Photo: Chris Neri

The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a most striking bird. With a stark white body accented by black or brown markings and piercing yellow eyes it makes for a visually stunning bird. Female snowy owls are slightly larger than males and have a wingspan of 4.25 feet to 4.75ft and a weight of 4.5-5 pounds making them the heaviest owl in all of north America, and one of the largest owls in the world.

The snowy owl spends its summers far north in the arctic tundra. They build nests on the ground (one of only a few ground nesting owls) as there are little to no trees at these latitudes. They raise their young on a diet made up almost exclusively of small mammals called lemmings. They are adapted well to diurnal (daytime) hunting as there is almost 24 hours of daylight in the summer of these far northern locations.

Irruption years

Some snowy owls won’t migrate and will spend the winter in the same territory they summer in, while others migrate short to mid-distances finding open fields throughout Canada or the northern United States. In some winters snowy owls will show up in large numbers throughout a large portion of the lower 48 states. These years are known as irruption years, and while it is not entirely clear why irruptions happen, it is thought it may happen when lemming populations are high equating to lots of healthy baby snowy owls.

While many snowy owls eat mostly small mammals and hunt in open fields, a fair number of snowy owls become coastal in the winter months. The owls will set up territories on sandy beaches, rocky seawalls and even ice pack and ice shelves. These birds will subsist on a diet that is made up much more of waterfowl like ducks and grebes. Some snowy owls in coastal areas of Canada have even been documented diving into water and catching fish in similar ways to osprey. Some of the best coastal areas to find snowy owls are in the Great Lakes. Lake St. Clair, Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan are many locations where you can find coastal snowy owls along the beach or edge of the ice.

Project SNOWStorm

The last massive irruption year was in the winter of 2013-2014. Not much was known about snowy owl irruptions or their life cycle in general, and so a unique project was started to help learn more about these majestic birds. The project is called project SNOWStorm, and involves trained experts placing transmitters on the birds. These special locators are solar powered and use cell towers to transmit the exact location of the birds. Even when out of cell range, the transmitters store location information and will transmit once the bird is back in cell range. It appears that 2017-2018 is another sizable irruption year. Recently, seasoned bird banders Chris Neri and Nova Mackentley banded a coastal snowy owl on the shores of Lake Superior. The bird was banded right on the shores of Whitefish Point Michigan and you can track the progress of this bird, nicknamed Gichigami, on the project SNOWStorm website.  Hopefully this and other birds banded will help us learn more about these majestic creatures so they can be protected for many years to come.

If you want to see a snowy owl in Michigan in typical open field habitat, there’s no better place then Chippewa county in the eastern Upper Peninsula.  Explore the winter birding map at www.northhuronbirding.com to learn about some of their favorite habitats. This map was made by Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension and describes how you can find the best winter birding in all of Michigan including snowy owls, pine grosbeaks, snow buntings and many other winter specialties. To find the most recent sightings of snowy owls in your area you can check out eBird, a citizen science project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Anyone can create an account and upload their bird sightings. And anyone can access their data explore tools, like this map of snowy owl sightings

If you see a snowy…

If you are lucky enough to find a snowy owl, it is very important to enjoy these birds without disturbing them. Keep a safe distance from the bird and don’t do anything to disrupt them. If you are in your car when you find one, stay in it as it will act as a blind. If you are on foot take note of the owl raises its head or body or swivels, it’s head towards you. These are signs the bird is nervous, and you should back away slowly and keep your hands lowered. Learn more about snowy owl etiquette and what you can do to help protect these special creatures.

New invasive species volunteer stewardship program coming to Michigan

National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Part 4: Michigan Sea Grant receives funding to start program for paddlers.

The Paddling Detection, Reporting and Public Awareness Program will be conducted statewide on and around 12 established Michigan water trails. Map Credit: Land Information Access Association

The Paddling Detection, Reporting and Public Awareness Program will be conducted statewide on and around 12 established Michigan water trails. Map Credit: Land Information Access Association

National Invasive Species Week 2018 is Feb. 26 to March 2. Invasive species are plants, animals, and other organisms that are not traditionally found in a given location (in this case the Great Lakes) AND they have a negative impact of some kind, whether ecological, economic, social, and/or a public health threat. To increase awareness of Michigan’s invasive species, Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant are publishing a series of articles featuring resources and programs in our state working on invasive species issues.

Today’s article features the “Michigan Invasive Species Paddling Detection, Reporting and Public Awareness Program” a new initiative funded by the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program.

Fastest-growing outdoor activity

According to recent studies by the Outdoor Industry Association, paddlesports are among the fastest-growing outdoor activities in the United States, and that enthusiasm is reflected in a rapidly developing system of water trails all over Michigan. Along with fantastic recreational opportunities, the increased availability and use of water trails also brings challenges including concerns over the possibility of these activities becoming a more prevalent vector for the introduction or spread of invasive species.

Invasive species can be hitchikers

Many aquatic invasive species (AIS) are spread through movement of boats between impacted areas and non-impacted areas. Much has been done in Michigan to educate motorized boaters on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by properly cleaning, draining and drying motorized boats. A network of volunteer inspectors also exists for motorized boat launch locations throughout the state. However, less effort has been put into non-motorized boater education and outreach. While some paddlers may encounter these volunteer inspectors, these interactions are serendipitous. This new program will be a targeted education and outreach campaign for paddlers to “adopt” stretches of a water trail to detect and report aquatic invasive species, helping to fill the current void in paddler engagement and helping to prevent the introduction and/or slow the spread of invasive species from recreational paddling activities.

Water trail users are key

The new AIS Paddling Stewardship Program aims to help water trail users identify and map invasive species along sections of at least 12 water trails throughout Michigan. It will also offer education on best practices for preventing the introduction or spread of invasive species through paddlesport activities.

By working directly with paddling groups and other volunteers, and by using proven and established campaigns and tools such as the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program; Clean. Drain. Dry.; Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!; and the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) smartphone app, we can provide new opportunities to assist in monitoring and reporting the presence of invasive species in areas that may otherwise go unmonitored. In addition, through educational signage, videos and a volunteer-based public awareness program, we can provide greater awareness about how to limit the introduction and spread of invasive species among paddlers as well as non-paddlers.

A yellow kayak is seen beached on the side of the lake near a pier. A stand of invasive purple loosestrife is nearby.

Program materials, training resources and volunteer tool kits will be developed in 2018 and paddling workshops will be offered beginning in the spring of 2019.

Those interested in enrolling in the 2019 training workshops should send their name and city of residence to Mary Bohling at bohling@msu.edu who will notify them when workshops in their area are scheduled.

Read the entire 2018 National Invasive Species Awareness Week series

Additional Invasive Species Resources

GLANSIS: A ‘one-stop shop’ for information on aquatic invaders

National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Part 2: The Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System provides profiles, maps, and further reading for scientists and citizens alike.

Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS) map shows the number of nonindigenous species by Great Lakes watershed.

Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS) map shows the number of nonindigenous species by Great Lakes watershed.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week this year is Feb. 26 to March 2, 2018. The goal is to draw attention to invasive species and what individuals can do to stop the spread and introduction of them. This effort is sponsored by a diverse set of partners from across the country. To increase awareness of Michigan’s invasive species, Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant are publishing a series of articles featuring resources and programs in our state working on invasive species issues.

This article features the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS) which provides profiles, maps, and further reading for scientists and citizens alike.

Aquatic invasive species have been a serious problem for the Great Lakes since the 1800s. By the mid-1990s, the Great Lakes were facing an invasion rate of nearly two new species every year. Across the globe, hundreds of species seemed to be on the move, and information about them was changing on a daily basis. In late 2002, Dr. Dave Reid of NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) realized the need for a “one-stop” comprehensive database on aquatic nonindigenous species in the Great Lakes. Funding was secured, Dr. David Raikow was brought on to develop and manage the fledgling database, and in 2005, GLANSIS—the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System—was launched with basic information and bibliographies on 139 established nonindigenous species.

Numbers keep growing

As of 2018, 187 aquatic nonindigenous species are established in the Great Lakes, where many of them negatively impact environmental, economic, and human health. These introduced animals, plants, and microorganisms can disrupt food webs, outcompete native species, clog waterways, and even transmit parasites and disease. The ability to accurately identify these species, track their spread, and access information about how to control them is a necessity for environmental researchers and resource managers.

GLANSIS is designed to meet these needs and more. Hosted by GLERL and currently funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the database provides identification and management information, maps of sightings, and reference material for more than 250 nonindigenous and watchlist species in the Great Lakes basin. A partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database enables GLANSIS to provide a seamless interface with their database of reports for the inland lakes. The list generator search feature allows users to look up information by scientific and common names, taxonomic groups, and specific lakes and their drainages to generate species lists and access information about each species. Another tool, the map explorer, displays all sightings of a chosen species on habitat map layers provided by the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework (GLAHF). The map explorer also allows users to quickly map sightings of selected “hot button” species like grass carp and rusty crayfish with a single click.

Who can use GLANSIS?

While GLANSIS was originally designed for use by scientists and environmental managers, this publicly-accessible tool can be used by teachers, students, anglers, property owners, and anyone who wants to learn more about invasive species in the Great Lakes. Citizens and stakeholders can help protect their local waterways by learning how to recognize, report, and stop the spread of aquatic invaders.

  • Are you a science teacher building a lesson plan on invasive species? Use the GLANSIS search portal to generate a list of species in your local waterway.
  • A student researching a chosen species for a class assignment? Check out the non-technical profiles produced by Indiana-Illinois Sea Grant to learn more about your species in plain language or access our glossary to help you understand technical reports.
  • A lake association member? Download the list of invasives for your lake (and nearby lakes, so you know what to watch for.) 
  • A researcher interested in how habitat type affects patterns of invasion? Use the map explorer to find species sightings, download them to your own GIS or use GLAHF’s habitat layers for better insight on how environmental conditions might influence their spread.
  • A property owner, fisherman or beachgoer who has found something unusual? Report your finding to us.
  • An undergraduate or graduate student looking for a project idea? Check profiles for what we don’t know or where there are gaps in the current state of the science.

To use GLANSIS and learn more about nonindigenous aquatic species in waterways near you, explore the website at https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/glansis/.

For assistance in using the database or suggestions for additional information that GLANSIS should provide, contact Rochelle.Sturtevant@noaa.gov or Erika.Lower@noaa.gov.

Read the entire 2018 National Invasive Species Awareness Week series

Additional Invasive Species Resources