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.

Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference

Event Date: 9/12/2018
End Date: 9/13/2018

Travel to Beaver Island to explore online opportunities for expanding the heritage trail network across Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

By Brandon Schroeder

Poster describing Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Conference to be held on Beaver Island, Sept. 12-13, 2018.

The 2018 Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference heads to Beaver Island, Mich., for a heritage experience, and also conversation toward expanding fisheries heritage trail partnerships across Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

Beaver Island Historical Society in collaboration with Central Michigan University Biological StationMichigan Sea GrantMichigan State University Extension, and other network partners will host the annual conference Sept. 12-13, 2018. This conference is a great opportunity for networking, sharing information and resources, and gaining new ideas linking our valuable Great Lakes fisheries with historic preservation, heritage tourism, education, and other community development efforts.

Explore technology and online opportunities

Does your community you have a local fisheries business, maritime museum or historic site, fisheries exhibit or educational materials, or even fisheries events or experiences? Would you like to share your community’s fisheries heritage stories and opportunities in more accessible ways? This year’s conference will serve to unveil a new Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail website; and explore technology and online opportunities to better connect local fisheries heritage among Great Lakes-wide audiences. Participants will learn to archive, share and connect work in their local communities, museums, and libraries with others across the state.

Explore fisheries heritage and Great Lakes science

The networking picnic, which kicks off the conference festivities on Sept. 12, 2018, is always a highlight. We will take a tour of Beaver Island Historical Society’s maritime museum, which includes a wealth of fisheries heritage artifacts, images, and stories; along with a visit to the CMU Biological Station. The following day (Sept. 13, 2018) will feature an educational conference with presentations and discussion centered on promoting fisheries heritage in connection with tourism, historic preservation and Great Lakes education goals.

This two-day conference will offer:

  • Conference kick-offand networking reception at 1 p.m. Sept. 12, 2018, with an afternoon picnic (provided) and guided tours of fisheries heritage and Great Lakes science partners and programs on Beaver Island.
  • Business meeting for the Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Consortium (open to all) will be held following dinner on Sep. 12, 2018. Participants are invited to assist in planning for this statewide network. This Great Lakes fisheries network works to benefit local museum programs and the work of fisheries organizations, promote Great Lakes literacy, enhance coastal tourism development opportunities, foster educational connections, and support community development efforts.
  • Conference educational sessions begin 9 a.m. Sept. 13, 2018, in the James Gillingham Academic Center. Learn from panel presenters, and share your own ideas and experiences that can help bring fisheries heritage stories to life. Learn how to use a new Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail website and resource in advancing your local work.

Register online to attend

  • Visit the conference website to register online. This educational program is open to all those interested in promoting maritime heritage tourism and Great Lakes stewardship. Please register by Friday, Sept. 7.
  • Registration is $50 ($30 for students) and includes picnic lunch and guided tours of Beaver Island on Sept. 12; and participation in educational conference sessions with lunch provided on Sept. 13.
  • Lodging is provided onsite at the CMU Biological Station for $76 (1 night) or $84 (2 nights) – payment and arrangements for lodging are included this year as part of registration process.
  • Travel to Beaver Island (from Charlevoix) includes ferry and flying options. Beaver Island Ferry runs on Sept. 12th (11:30 a.m. departure) and gets you to the Island on time for conference kick-off (NOTE: ferry returns on Sept. 14th – so those choosing ferry option should plan for an extra day). Flights are also available via Fresh Air Aviation and Island Airways.

For additional information about this educational program contact Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant Extension (schroe45@msu.edu, 989-354-9885).

Farmers needed to test EnviroImpact tool

With the tool, farmers can better determine when to apply manure as a fertilizer source with lower runoff risks.

By Meaghan Gass and Erica Rogers

Farm machinery shown in a field spreading manure. Utilizing manure as a fertilizer source can be a cost-effective way for farmers to meet crop nutrient needs, and with effective application, be environmentally sustainable. Photo: Beth Ferry, MSU Extension

Utilizing manure as a fertilizer source can be a cost-effective way for farmers to meet crop nutrient needs, and with effective application, be environmentally sustainable. Photo: Beth Ferry, MSU Extension

Are you a farmer applying manure to your farm fields? Then your help is needed to test the Michigan EnviroImpact tool.

The MI EnviroImpact tool is a decision-support tool for short-term manure application planning that shows daily runoff risks across Michigan. The tool’s runoff risk forecast comes from real-time precipitation and temperature forecasts, which are combined with snow melt, soil moisture, and landscape characteristics in order to forecast runoff events. With the tool, farmers can better determine when to apply manure as a fertilizer source with lower runoff risks.

MI EnviroImpact Tool Website Screen Shot

Reducing risk of runoff

Nutrients found in manure and commercial fertilizers, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, can enter rivers and streams as runoff, and in Michigan, almost all of our waterways flow to the Great Lakes. When it rains, these nutrients have the potential to wash into nearby waterways, which can cause an excess of nutrients and lead to algae overgrowth, or harmful algal blooms. These algal blooms can have a big impact on the Great Lakes watershed as they consume oxygen that fish need to survive and can affect the quality of drinking water. With manure application planning, farmers are able reduce the risk of nutrient runoff and help better protect the Great Lakes.

Manure application is just one source of harmful algal blooms, but with proper planning, farmers can help keep applied manure nutrients on their fields and reduce runoff entering the Great Lakes.

Pilot program seeks farmers to help

Currently, tool developers are recruiting farmers to pilot the MI EnviroImpact tool. If you are interested in piloting the tool and sharing a testimonial, please contact Erica Rogers (email: roger392@msu.edu; Phone: 989-875-5233, ext. 5296). Farmer input and feedback could be used in promotional materials to highlight the tool and how farmers can use it as a decision support tool to reduce runoff risk.

The Michigan EnviroImpact Tool was developed in partnership with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration National Weather ServiceMichigan Department of Agriculture and Rural DevelopmentMichigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance ProgramMichigan State University Institute of Water ResearchMichigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension. The tool is part of a regional effort to improve runoff risk decision support tools in the Great Lakes basin supported by the Environmental Protection AgencyGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative, and National Weather Service North Central River Forecast Center.

Free Webinar: Coastal Storm Hazards

Event Date: 7/11/2018

Free webinar series: Improving awareness of coastal storm hazards, stormwater runoff, and risk reduction strategies

Decision makers and planners – check out these free webinars to gain information about how to better support your community when facing extreme storms and flooding.

By Meaghan Gass

Water is shown covering a road. Road closed sign warns drivers not to enter the roadway.

In June 2017, the Saginaw Bay region faced a storm that caused major flooding to roads, homes, businesses and agriculture. A state of emergency was declared in Bay, Isabella and Midland counties. Extreme storms, like this June event, can also contribute to issues like erosion, runoff pollution, infrastructure instability and crop damage. Communities in the Saginaw Bay watershed are especially susceptible to these issues due to the area’s land-use patterns and topography.

Often, we focus on responding to these emergencies, yet it is equally important to invest in preparing before the storm. Prior to this particular storm, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant and other local Saginaw Bay organizations partnered to improve community resiliency, which in this instance refers to a community’s ability to adapt to and recover quickly from extreme storms. Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Storms Program, decision-makers across the Saginaw Bay watershed’s 22 counties participated in a 2015 survey to explore views of extreme storms and their local impacts. The results of the surveys are summarized in this report along with outreach actions to improve community resiliency.

Using the survey results as a guide for resources needed, Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant are hosting a series of three FREE webinars to support decision makers and planners in addressing and developing resiliency related to extreme storms and flooding in the Saginaw Bay region. Visit http://bit.ly/ResilientSaginawBay to register for the webinar series. These webinars will be recorded, but attending the live webinar is encouraged in order to address any questions directly with the experts.

All of the webinars will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Upcoming dates and topics include:

June 20: NOAA Digital Coast Partnership: Using data to support community resiliency

Learn about the NOAA Digital Coast Partnership and how the available data and tools help communities address coastal issues.

June 27: Extreme Storms and Hazard Mitigation Strategies

Explore different types of hazards, including extreme storms and flooding, and mitigation planning efforts that support community resilience.

July 11: National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System

Find out more about the NFIP’s Community Rating System, where communities can reduce flood insurance premiums for local property owners by completing flood protection activities.

If you have any questions or accessibility needs, please contact Meaghan Gass (Email: gassmeag@msu.edu | Phone: 989-895-4026 ext. 5).

Huron-Michigan Predator Diet Study gears up for summer

Student researchers at MSU are busy analyzing the contents of fish stomachs collected by Great Lakes anglers.

The fish diet study team gathers in the MSU fish research lab, including (back from left) Nick Green, Mark Hamlyn, Nick Yeager, Dr. Dan O’Keefe, Dr, Brian Roth, Brok Lamorandier, (front from left) Katie Kierczynski, Jasmine Czajka. Photo: Katelyn Brolick

The fish diet study team gathers in the MSU fish research lab, including (back from left) Nick Green, Mark Hamlyn, Nick Yeager, Dr. Dan O’Keefe, Dr, Brian Roth, Brok Lamorandier, (front from left) Katie Kierczynski, Jasmine Czajka. Photo: Katelyn Brolick

Future Spartan already building MSU network through underwater robotics, science career exploration

Alpena High School student assisting sturgeon science team in capturing video, data in the Black River.

Liz Thomson works with Doug Larson from the lake sturgeon science team at MSU to install underwater cameras in the Black River. Courtesy photo

Liz Thomson works with Doug Larson from the lake sturgeon science team at MSU to install underwater cameras in the Black River. Courtesy photo

High school is a good time to explore career opportunities—an idea that one Alpena High School student has taken to heart. Liz Thomson soon will be a proud student of Michigan State University. However even before attending MSU, she has combined on-the-job career exploration with networking at the college.

This past year (and upcoming summer), Thomson has worked for Michigan Sea Grant and gained experience that cross-connects her passion for underwater robotics with an interest in future science careers. Along the way she has found many opportunities for fun and to add engaging learning, leadership, and career experiences to her resume.

Dr. Kim Scribner and Doug Larson lead a lake sturgeon research team from MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. They are embarking on a new citizen science project to track movement of spawning sturgeon along with other fish species in the Black River (Cheboygan River Watershed). Thomson is contributing to the project.

The MSU sturgeon science team is installing cameras above the water to capture video of the variety of large fish migrating in the Black River during the springtime sturgeon spawning season. Thomson explored underwater video options and also helped install an underwater camera which will be used help to verify species identification in video data collected during this project. Her project reflects a career exploration opportunity supported by the Michigan Sea Grant and a recently funded Great Lakes NOAA B-WET grant supporting meaningful watershed education experiences for youth across northeast Michigan.

Thomson has fostered her expertise in applying underwater technology toward science through her leadership with the Alpena 4-H Underwater Robotics club and involvement with NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s MATE Underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) competition.

She has been part of several underwater robotics teams who have built and successfully competed across the state and nation. She also has been involved in a variety of hands-on Great Lakes and natural resource learning experiences in elementary, middle and high school through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI). The initiative is a regional place-based education network and partnership for which MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant provide leadership.

Photo shows Liz Thomson who is the subject of the story

With this new project, Thomson is able to explore careers in Great Lakes and natural resources, and support research designed to better connect citizens with stewardship of the state-threatened lake sturgeon.

While employed by Michigan Sea Grant, Thomson has supported Great Lakes educational programs in northeast Michigan ranging from fisheries science to youth education projects. “Michigan Sea Grant has given me lots of great connections and networking opportunities from the lake sturgeon project and from the NEMIGLSI network,” Thompson said. “Working with the Sea Grant staff has allowed me to develop my skills with data entry and summarizing evaluations and surveys.”

Beyond this in-the-water project, Thomson has been working with a local Sturgeon for Tomorrow Chapter and educators from the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service to adapt their sturgeon education program for Great Lakes educator audiences. This summer she hopes to pilot some adapted educational activities with teachers – and data collected through this sturgeon citizen science project will be integrated as part of these adapted lessons.

Videos address Lake Michigan fisheries management, prey fish, and mass marking

In case you missed the South Haven Fisheries Workshop, videos recap presentations on the state of Lake Michigan fisheries.

Videos address Lake Michigan fisheries management, prey fish, and mass marking

On April 19 the Southern Lake Michigan Regional Fisheries Workshop was hosted by Michigan Sea Grant in conjunction with South Haven Steelheaders. This annual event draws local South Haven anglers in addition to big lake fishing enthusiasts from around southwest Michigan.

The evening meeting featured a brief update on Sea Grant activities including the Huron-Michigan Diet Study and other citizen scienceprograms, followed by three presentations that are now available on the Michigan Sea Grant YouTube channel. The evening concluded with two presentations on cisco (similar to those offered at the Ludington workshop) and a short discussion on the topic of cisco management options.

The latest video presentations focus on recent developments in Lake Michigan fisheries management and the latest results from forage fish monitoring and mass marking.

Lake Michigan Management Plan

Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin Coordinator with Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), discussed the DNR’s Lake Michigan Management Plan and the public process that accompanied development of the plan, which was approved in January.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • invasive species prevention
  • improvement of habitat connectivity in rivers that feed into Lake Michigan
  • maintaining predator-prey balance

The plan strives to maintain a diverse fishery focused primarily on Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead with additional opportunities for other species. Marketing the lake’s excellent fishing opportunities with products like the new Roadmap to Lake Michigan Fishing is also a priority. See the video for more details and Jay’s overview of stocking options for 2019 (beginning at 16:17).

Forage Fish Monitoring

Chuck Madenjian, Research Fishery Biologist with U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center, gave an update on forage fish abundance in Lake Michigan. This is always a topic of interest to anglers because salmon and trout depend on alewife and other forage fish for food. Total forage fish biomass (as estimated from bottom trawls) was the fourth lowest recorded since 1973. Hydroacoustic and midwater trawl sampling showed that the 2017 alewife year-class was relatively weak, but better than the very poor 2013 and 2014 year-classes. See the video for discussion of differences between sampling gears and more details on prey fish distribution around the lake.

Great Lakes Mass Marking Program

Matt Kornis of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service gave an update on the Great Lakes Mass Marking Program. Wild reproduction of Chinook salmon is estimated based on the ratio of stocked to wild Age 1 fish, so 2017 data were used to estimate production of 4.2 million wild Chinook salmon in 2016. This is about average for wild reproduction in recent history, and a big increase from the poor 2013 wild year-class (1.1 million) and 2015 wild year-class (2.2 million). See video for more results from salmon and lake trout tag recovery and diet studies for trout, salmon, and burbot.

The 2018 Southern Lake Michigan Fishery Workshop was a great chance to meet fisheries professionals and learn more about the status of gamefish and preyfish populations. Balancing predators and prey is a perennial topic at these workshops, and all three recorded presentations related to this theme.

2018 Summer Discovery Cruises

Event Date: 6/13/2018
End Date: 9/15/2018

What do shipwrecks, wetlands, fisheries, research and birds all have in common? Those are just some of the topics featured on board these fun, interesting, and educational boat trips.

Got fish? You will if you join one of our fisheries-themed cruises this summer! Photo: Steve Stewart, Michigan Sea Grant

Got fish? You will if you join one of our fisheries-themed cruises this summer! Photo: Steve Stewart, Michigan Sea Grant

The 2018 season of educational Summer Discovery Cruises begins June 14 as the education vessel Clinton sets sail from Lake Erie Metropark for the upper reaches of the Detroit River. This first cruise is a special 5-hour “Journey through the Straits” cruise, sailing north from Lake Erie through the entire length of the Detroit River. Starting within the boundary of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, we’ll pass Grosse Ile and Fighting Island, get a close look at the steel industry in River Rouge, see Historic Fort Wayne, cruise under the Ambassador Bridge, view Detroit’s incredible downtown waterfront up close, and pass to the west of Belle Isle before docking.

Following the Journey through the Straitsthe Clinton will sail on Lake St. Clair for two weeks in late June and July, operating out of the Lake St. Clair Metropark marina. The second half of the summer is spent on Lake Erie and the lower Detroit River.

Join us on the water for our 17th year of learning about the magnificent Great Lakes! There are more than 20 cruise themes to choose from this summer. Topics range from lighthouses, wildlife, shipwrecks, bootleggers and history, to fisheries, ecology, wetlands, habitat restoration and weather.

A new cruise added this year coincides with Macomb County’s bicentennial. This cruise – “200 Years Around Lake St. Clair” – will look back at what life was like around Lake St. Clair long ago. From the first people of the region to the European fur traders, explorers, and settlers, participants will learn how the natural history of Lake St. Clair influenced the human history and use of this magnificent lake.

Summer Discovery Cruises range from 2.5 to 5 hours on the water and range in price from $15-$35 per person. The cruises are a collaborative effort between Michigan State University ExtensionMichigan Sea Grant, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a number of program partners, including DTE Energy, Michigan DNR, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and the National Weather Service.

The 2018 Summer Discovery Cruises season begins June 14, with the final cruise offered Sept. 15. Registration is now open for both individuals (ages six and above) and for groups. For more information or to register, go to www.discoverycruises.org.

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.

Head to Houghton for a Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop on April 30, 2018

Event Date: 4/30/2018

Presentations include updates on several important fish issues, public encouraged to attend and provide input.

flyer describes locations and dates for annual fishery workshops

Michigan Sea Grant workshops are intended to inform the angling community and general public about fish populations and management. This year, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), our Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop will be held at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. The workshop will feature a variety of talks from the university and management agencies of the MDNR and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The talks will help anglers and the general public understand what research is taking place on the lake and how it is informing fisheries management decisions. There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers allowing anglers to give valuable input.

The workshop will be 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 30, 2018, at the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University. The address 100 Phoenix Drive, Houghton, MI 49931. Parking is free after 4 p.m. at the adjacent lot 31.

Presentations (see agenda) this year will include:

  • Buffalo Reef and Stamp Sands Updates – MDEQ and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
  • Coaster Brook Trout Population State – MI Tech Great Lakes Research Center
  • Lake Trout Status, Updates, and Isle Royale Populations – MDNR Fisheries Division
  • Ghost Nets – WI Sea Grant
  • Lake Superior Angler Creel Data –  MDNR Fisheries Division
  • MI Tech Great Lakes Research and Facility Tour – Great Lakes Research Center

The Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop is free and open to all interested participants. Registration is requested, but walk-ins are welcome. Register online.

Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to learn about what is happening with the Lake Superior Fisheries!