New Michigan Sea Grant book offers a self-guided tour of 22 Belle Isle locations, their stories and history.
By Mary Bohling
Book cover shows an aerial view of Belle Isle, a state park located in the Detroit River between the US and Canada. The guidebook reveals the unique aspects of how the island has evolved over time, from early English settlement to the connection to New York’s Central Park and today as Michigan’s 102nd State Park.
Belle Isle Park is a beautiful island park in the Detroit River – and one of my favorite places. The island is owned by the City of Detroit and managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a state park. The island also has a lot of history and interesting stories to tell:
Did you know that the island was once known as Pig or Hog Island, as early settlers used to bring their hogs out to the island for the summer?
Did you know that Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest public aquarium in North America?
Did you know that the Art Deco lighthouse on the island was designed by well-known Detroit architect Albert Kahn and has been lit since it began operating in 1930?
A book is born
For several years I gave tours around the island using information gleaned from a variety of sources. Those tours included colorful stories of rumored Speakeasies and prominent Detroiters, architectural roots of various buildings and habitat restoration projects I have assisted with. I soon realized that I either needed to make giving tours a full-time job or find a different way to share this information! I decided I couldn’t give up my day job as a Michigan State University Extension educator with Michigan Sea Grant — thus came this book, “Beautiful Belle Isle: Detroit’s Unique Urban Park.”
Guidebook features 22 sites
This self-guided tour book features 22 sites of historical, cultural and ecological significance on the island. Readers can learn history and stories about this beautiful 982-acre park located between the United States and Canada. The guidebook reveals the unique aspects of how the island has evolved over time, from early English settlement to the connection to New York’s Central Park and today as Michigan’s 102nd State Park.
Many people contributed photos, content, editing, design and much more to make this guidebook a reality. Printing of the book was funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The book will be available to use with bike and kayak rentals at the island and is printed on water resistant paper. It is also available for purchase on the Michigan Sea Grant website for $12. Hopefully by using this guidebook, visitors will come to love the history, stories and the island as much as I do.
Charter fishing on Lake Huron picked up steam in 2017 while other lakes held strong.
By Daniel O’Keefe
Charter fishing catch and effort statistics from 2017 are now available from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Charter Boat Reporting Program. Each year, the economic impact of charter fishing is calculated by Michigan Sea Grant based on the number of fishing trips that charter captains report to the DNR.
Despite the many problems that challenge the future of Great Lakes fisheries, charter fishing continues to provide an important component of coastal tourism. In fact, the economic impact of tourism generated by charter fishing in Michigan rose to $25.4 million in 2017. This represents a 4.5 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 after adjusting for inflation.
Lake Michigan holds steady
The Lake Michigan fishery has experienced a lot of uncertainty in recent years, but the lake’s charter fishing industry has been remarkably steady since the late 1990s. Fluctuations in charter fishing effort (and resulting economic impacts) have not been closely linked to catch rates, in part because fishing success has ranged from good to fantastic since Chinook salmon recovered from a bacterial kidney disease (BKD) epidemic in the mid-1990s.
In 2017, charter captains logged 12,122 fishing trips in Michigan waters of Lake Michigan, generating tourism that created over $7 million in personal income and over 322,000 employment hours. This was very similar to the economic impact of 11,791 trips reported in 2016, and reflects the continued high level of interest in charter fishing for salmon and trout.
Lake Michigan offers anglers a variety of trout and salmon species, but Chinook salmon are often considered the premier gamefish. Charter fishing produced an average of 2.1 Chinooks per trip in 2017, which is similar to catch rates in 2015 and 2016. Prior to 2013, Chinook salmon targeted catch rates were much higher (up to 7.4 per charter trip) but fishing effort and economic impacts were similar.
Catch rates are calculated by the Michigan DNR, and these rates represent the number of Chinooks caught per trip targeting salmon and trout of all species. These targeted catch rates are used to exclude incidental salmon catches taken by anglers fishing for walleye, bass, or other fish that are targeted using different gear or methods.
The resurgence of Lake Huron
Much of the angst surrounding declining Chinook salmon catch rates on Lake Michigan is related to the crash of Lake Huron’s salmon fishery in 2004. After Chinook salmon targeted catch rates fell from 2.4 fish per charter trip in 2004 to 1.2 fish per trip in 2005 the Lake Huron charter fishery was cut in half.
Although Lake Huron’s charter industry was never as large as Lake Michigan’s, the impact of lost tourism and fishing opportunities was devastating to many coastal communities. From 2006 to 2015, Lake Huron captains logged fewer than 2,000 charter trips per year, but in 2016 things started looking up. Fishing effort rose to 2,154 trips in 2016 – just below the long-term average of 2,176 (1990-2017). In 2017, Lake Huron rose above this long-term average for the first time since 2004 with 2,548 trips logged.
The economic impact of Lake Huron charter fishing has increased by roughly 45 percent since 2015. In 2017, charter fishing generated tourism that created over 90,000 employment hours and $1.2 million in personal income for coastal communities on Lake Huron. When adjusted for inflation, this looks more like the good old days than the “collapsed fishery” we have heard so much about.
There are some big differences between today’s Lake Huron charter fishery and the fishery of 2002, though. For one thing, Chinook salmon remain scarce in most of the lake for most of the year. In fact, anglers targeting salmon and trout caught fewer than one Chinook for every two trips taken in 2017. The resurgence in Lake Huron’s fishery is not due to any recovery of Chinook salmon, but solid lake trout fishing, phenomenal walleye catch rates (over 25 fish caught per charter trip targeting walleye), and changing regulations on Saginaw Bay may have had positive impacts. Saginaw Bay now accounts for 41 percent of charter fishing effort on Lake Huron, up from a low of around 8 percent in 2005.
Since 2015, anglers on Saginaw Bay have been able to keep up to eight walleye per day, and the minimum size limit was reduced from 15 to 13 inches. The long term biological goal is, in part, to reduce the number of walleye preying on yellow perch. Historically, yellow perch have been extremely important in drawing anglers to Great Lakes fisheries so this could be an additional boon in years to come.
While things do seem to be looking up on Lake Huron, it is also possible that 2017 was just an exceptionally good year relative to the “new normal.” It would be premature to assume that other species have effectively filled in the gap left by the loss of Chinook salmon, but results from last year’s charter season are definitely encouraging. Anecdotal reports from the 2018 season suggest that fishing effort and harvest may be a bit lower on Saginaw Bay because of high winds that result in cancelled trips and warm water that caused walleye to leave the bay earlier than usual.
Other waters continue to offer world class fishing
Although salmon get a lot of attention when it comes to charter fishing, many Michigan waters offer incredible fishing opportunities for other species. Lake Erie provides fast fishing for walleye, with 2017 being no exception. Lake Superior’s vast expanse of cold water attracts lake trout anglers. Some Superior charter captains offer trips that focus on casting or jigging, which offers a fun alternative to trolling methods used in most Great Lakes lake trout waters. The St. Mary’s River hosts a run of Atlantic salmon, which is renowned for its tendency to jump repeatedly when hooked. Atlantics are also starting to show up regularly in northern and southern Lake Huron due to expanded stocking.
Detroit may be the largest urban center in Michigan, but it also provides some of the fastest fishing around. The St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River offer catch-and-release charter fishing options on some of the best smallmouth bass and musky waters in the world. The musky is known as the “fish of 10,000 casts” but in 2017 charter fishing in Lake St. Clair produced an average of 2.7 fish per trip. Charter trips targeting bass on Lake St. Clair produced over 25 fish per trip in 2017. Yellow perch and walleye also provide great fishing for charter anglers who prefer to keep their catch. The Detroit River is a hotspot for walleye in the spring, and walleye charters harvested an average of 16 fish per trip in 2017.
No matter where you are in Michigan, quality charter fishing is never very far from your doorstep.
A Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Training Course that is being coordinated by Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission will be held December 4-6, 2018 at Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley, Michigan. All fish processors are required to take this training if they are not currently certified.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) consists of identifying safety hazards, determining where they occur, monitoring these points and recording the results. HACCP involves day-to-day monitoring of critical control points by production employees. The Seafood HACCP regulation that is enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is based on the belief that commercial fish processors can understand the food safety hazards of their products and take reasonable steps to control them. Commercial fish processors are required either to obtain formal training for one or more of their own employees or to hire trained independent contractors to perform the HACCP functions.
The HACCP regulation requires processors to keep extensive records of processing and sanitation at their facilities. At times, questions arise as to whether someone needs training in Seafood HACCP. The Seafood HACCP regulation defines processing as handling, storing, preparing, heading, eviscerating, shucking, freezing, changing into different market forms, manufacturing, preserving, packing, labeling, dockside unloading, or holding fish or fishery products.
The regulation does not apply to the harvest or transport of fishery products. It also does not apply to practices such as heading, eviscerating or freezing intended solely to prepare fish for holding on a harvest vessel. Retail establishments are also exempt from the Seafood HACCP regulation.
Fish processors who complete the course put themselves at a competitive advantage as they can then produce value added products such as smoked fish and caviar. Those completing the course will receive a Seafood Alliance HACCP Certificate issued through the Association of Food and Drug Officials that is recognized by agencies regulating fish processors.
Birds and mammals are usually the focus for wildlife watchers, but the fall salmon run provides spectacular fish-watching opportunities, too. Visit weirs and dams in west Michigan this fall or watch a new video to enjoy the spectacle.
By Daniel O’Keefe
Hunting and fishing get much of the attention when it comes to outdoor recreation, but a recent survey by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found that more Americans engage in wildlife watching than fishing and hunting combined. The survey found that 17 million people traveled for bird watching in 2016, while 4.3 million traveled to watch fish.
Of course, birds are usually much easier to observe in their natural environment than fish – but fall in west Michigan offers a chance to watch salmon as they jump barriers and congregate in clear, shallow water to spawn. The large fish are often easy to see in clear water, but polarized sunglasses can be helpful to cut through glare on the surface.
Rivers of the northwestern Lower Peninsula provide excellent opportunities to view salmon due to high quality habitat and a combination of natural reproduction and stocking. Smaller natural runs can be found in creeks scattered around the state, and stocking supports large runs of salmon in some rivers where spawning habitat is lacking. Some of the best locations for watching salmon are closed to fishing during the salmon run because fish are so abundant and vulnerable to fishing or illegal snagging (be sure to check the latest version of Michigan Fishing Guide for current regulations if you plan to fish at any of the following locations).
During their upstream migration, salmon encounter obstacles both natural and man-made. Weirs are removable man-made barriers that serve to block the passage of fish upstream at certain times of the year. Michigan Department of Natural Resourcesoperates several weirs, and some of the best fish watching opportunities in the state can be found below weirs on the Little Manistee River east of Stronach, Platte River near Honor, and Boardman River in Traverse City. Check links for driving directions and details for each location or click here to learn more about how and why weirs are operated.
Dams and fish ladders
Dams provide great opportunities for fish watching because they are often located in urban environments and are easily accessible to large numbers of people. Fish Ladder Park in Grand Rapids is one of the best places to view salmon beginning around Labor Day. Visitors can see salmon jumping at Sixth Street Dam on the Grand River and ascending a fish ladder that allows salmon to work their way upstream one small step at a time. Brenke Fish Ladder in Lansing is another option for viewing coho salmon in the Grand River later in the season (October and November). Other dams like Tippy Dam near Wellston, Homestead Dam near Benzonia, and Hamlin Dam at Ludington State Park are farther off the beaten path but provide great places to watch the salmon run in a more natural setting.
Clear creeks and gravelly rivers
Many river systems host large salmon runs. The Pere Marquette River, Manistee River, Betsie River, and Platte River all offer a good combination of clear, shallow water and public land with forested trails ideal for exploring. Paddling a canoe or kayak on these scenic rivers is always a treat, but late summer and early fall offer the added bonus of salmon viewing.
These rivers are also popular with salmon fishermen during much of the season, so crowding can be an issue and fish may avoid shallow water when fishing pressure is heavy. However, many smaller streams are closed to fishing during the peak of salmon spawning activity. Over 1,400 Michigan streams are classified as Type 1 streams by the Michigan DNR. These small creeks are closed to fishing after September 30 each year, and this makes them ideal for watching salmon spawn. Salmon are less wary when they are not concerned about hooks, and Type 1 streams offer the chance to get up close to salmon as they spawn over gravel beds in clear, shallow water.
To find a likely spot near you, start with streams outlined in green on the map of trout streams in your area. Not all Type 1 streams support salmon runs, but most gravel-bottomed Type 1 streams will host at least small numbers of fish if no downstream dams block their progress upstream. Some of the best places to look are small creeks that flow into larger rivers that are popular with salmon anglers.
Videos and webcams
If you can’t get out on the water, you can still watch Michigan salmon on webcams or YouTube. The Center for Freshwater Research and Education at Lake Superior State Universityhas a webcam in the St. Mary’s River, where viewers can watch Atlantic salmon returning to their stocking site. Another webcam is located in the fish ladder at Berrien Springs. Funding for the purchase and installation of this camera was provided by Evoke kayaks, and a crowdfunding campaign will begin in mid-August 2018, to support operation of the Berrien Springs fishcam.
Michigan Sea Grant also recently released a YouTube video with scenes from the salmon run. The video features underwater footage of salmon in many of the locations mentioned in this article and provides science-based interpretation of salmon behavior during the spawning run.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org, 989-354-9885).
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
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
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: email@example.com; 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.
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
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