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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.
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.
Saginaw Bay region hosting hands-on activities on April 21, 2018 to celebrate Earth Day.
By Meaghan Gass
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.
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.”
Presentations include updates on several important fish issues, public encouraged to attend and provide input.
By Elliot Nelson
Do you like to fish on Lake Superior and want to know what others are catching on the lake? Do you want to hear how industrial pollutants from long ago are impacting fish habitat today? Are you looking to tour a world class research facility? The Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop on April 30, 2018, will offer answers to these questions and more.
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.
Paintings reveal the hidden life beneath the beautiful inland seas.
By Cindy Hudson
The exhibit “Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle” will be at the Grand Rapids Art Museum through April 29, 2018. Below a detail of a lake trout from the “Forces of Change” panel. Photos: Cindy Hudson | Michigan Sea Grant
If you love the waters and creatures of the Great Lakes, you won’t want to miss the chance to see the Alexis Rockman:The Great Lakes Cycle exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. But don’t delay — the magnificent art exhibit is nearing the end of its three-month run and will only be in town through April 29, 2018. After that Michiganders will have to wait until 2020 for the paintings to return to the state.
The art museum commissioned the artist to research and create five mural-sized paintings depicting the past, present, and future of the Great Lakes. Over the course of four years, Rockman traveled the Great Lakes region, met with scientists and other experts, and created this special display. Included in the exhibit are murals, watercolors, and field drawings.
Rockman’s five mural-sized paintings are filled with information and detail. His paintings have been described as “visual essays” and indeed tell a story which invokes wonder, appreciation, and also apprehension for the future of these critical waters. It’s an important story for all of us to learn and know.
A critical resource
The Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, and their connecting channels — form the largest surface fresh water system on earth. Environmental stewardship, sustainable economic development, and responsible use of the Great Lakes are crucial components of keeping the lakes and the region vibrant. Rockman’s exhibit challenges viewers to remember how actions and decisions often have ripple effects on the lakes. Several of the large panels can be “read” from left to right, telling the evolutionary story and showing scientific and cultural timelines. Reading these paintings, one can’t help but wonder what’s next for these important waters and be challenged to be a better steward of them for future generations.
For the museum visitor, drawing keys help tell the story and identify each element contained in the large panels. The museum has also created a Great Lakes bingo game to capture the imagination of children and adults, but also impart facts and knowledge. Playing the game encourages real study of the individual elements of the panels.
The watercolors and field study drawings are magnificent as well. In the field studies, Rockman has included sand, dirt, and other elements he collected during his travels around the region. For example, his Common Snapping Turtle includes sand from Pictured Rocks, and his rendering of a wood duck includes sand from the Cuyahoga River.
Book a bonus you won’t want to miss
To add to the experience of viewing Rockman’s paintings, be sure to pick up a copy of the exhibition catalogue, which was published by the art museum in association with Michigan State University Press. The book’s essays, descriptions, and beautiful photographs make it a perfect way to enhance — and remember — the experience of standing in front of one of Rockman’s beautiful paintings. The catalogue was written by Dana Friis-Hansen, director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, with contributions by Jeff Alexander and Thyrza Nichols Goodeve. One suggestion would be to order and read the book first, then see the exhibit. At the very least, grab one at the museum store to study at leisure. The book also includes the detailed keys that explain each element of the large panels.
After leaving Grand Rapids, the exhibit will tour the Great Lakes region. The tour schedule will wrap up back in Michigan in 2020 with its visit to the Flint Institute of Arts. For more information, visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s website at www.artmuseumgr.org or contact Visitor Services at (616) 831-1000 or email@example.com.
New report details results from information volunteer anglers provide.
By Dan O’Keefe
Anglers are keen observers of the aquatic environment. The Salmon Ambassadors program provides Lake Michigan and Lake Huron anglers with a way to share their observations on wild and stocked salmon. Thanks to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Mass Marking Program, Chinook salmon stocked in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have been marked with an adipose clip since 2011. This means that anglers can identify stocked fish by looking for a clipped adipose fin. The contribution of wild fish to the catch (% Wild) can then be calculated.
Volunteers with the Salmon Ambassadors program measured each and every Chinook salmon caught during the course of the fishing season and checked for fin clips. At the end of each season, volunteers provided their data to Michigan Sea Grant along with answering a few questions about their season. Since 2014, 81 volunteers have provided a complete data set for at least one season.
A new fact sheet details results from the past four years. Here are a few highlights:
Volunteers provided useful data on 8,474 Chinook salmon.
Fishing satisfaction has been on the rise since 2015.
% Wild was consistently higher in Michigan than in Wisconsin.
% Wild increased each month from May to September in northern Michigan ports on Lake Michigan due to the return of wild fish to natal streams.
In southern Wisconsin and northern Lake Huron, % Wild was lowest in September due to the return of mature stocked fish to stocking sites.
Southern Michigan ports did not seem to benefit from a large run of mature stocked fish in September, as we had originally expected.
In 2013, a 46 percent reduction in Lake Michigan stocking and a corresponding 84 percent drop in natural reproduction (according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) made for a very weak year-class. This translated into tough fishing in 2015 and 2016, when these fish would have been two and three years old, respectively. Salmon Ambassadors saw big changes in the size structure of their catches as a result. Although anglers felt the pain of tough salmon fishing, the reduction in predation was important for improving predator-prey balance and preventing the collapse of the alewife population.
Anglers and conservationists around Lake Michigan are now weighing in on options for cisco management. New videos and Sea Grant workshops provide a chance to learn more.
By Dan O’Keefe
The cisco (aka lake herring, Coregonus artedi) was one of the most abundant fish in Lake Michigan before unregulated commercial fishing, invasive species, and habitat degradation took their toll. By the mid-1960s, cisco were nearly wiped out. Most of their deepwater cousins also disappeared from the lake. Six out of seven native deepwater ciscoes are no longer found in Lake Michigan. The only deepwater cisco that still survives in Lake Michigan is the Bloater (Coregonus hoyi).
To confuse matters, not all cisco (Coregonus artedi) look and act the same. According to a recent monograph, there are different “minor forms” of the cisco species. Body depth and mouth shape vary somewhat from one minor form to the next, but the reasons for this variability are poorly understood. It comes down to a classic question of “nature vs. nurture.” At this point, we are unsure if different minor forms of cisco are different because of their genetic code (DNA) or because of the influence of their changing environment and ecological niche.
After all, Lake Michigan has changed dramatically since cisco crashed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, exotic alewife were taking over and native predators (lake trout) had been wiped out by invasive sea lamprey. With no predators to keep them in check, the small, silvery alewife boomed. Another invader, rainbow smelt, was also in the mix. Cisco populations suffered as alewife and rainbow smelt likely competed for food resources and preyed on the tiny pelagic cisco larvae.
Now Lake Michigan cisco are making a comeback. Populations are on the rise in Grand Traverse Bay and surrounding areas. Anglers are catching more cisco every year, and they are beginning to show up in unexpected places. Cisco have been present in seasonally fishable numbers in Charlevoix, Portage Lake, and Manistee in recent years. Occasional catches have been reported even farther south.
These cisco are not behaving like historic Lake Michigan cisco, though. Most notably, their diet now includes other fish such as alewife and round goby. Historically, Lake Michigan cisco mostly ate zooplankton and other small invertebrates. Cisco in present-day Lake Superior and Lake Ontario do the same, but for some reason our recovering Lake Michigan cisco population is different.
This has sparked an active debate among biologists and fishery managers over the past several years, and Great Lakes anglers and conservationists are now beginning to consider the issue, as well. At the recent Ludington Regional Fisheries Workshop hosted by Michigan Sea Grant, Chuck Bronte of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service gave an overview of the issue and management options that are now being considered. Possible options included stocking cisco in Lake Michigan using spawners from Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, or multiple sources. Details on all management options being considered are provided in the video below.
Jory Jonas of Michigan DNR also presented, providing an overview of the current status of Lake Michigan cisco. She highlighted research on cisco diet, habitat, and harvest trends along with pointing out how much we have to learn about these fascinating fish.
Anglers and Great Lakes conservationists in the audience at Ludington were given a chance to make statements regarding their thoughts on cisco. In case you missed that opportunity, cisco will be on the agenda again at the free Southern Lake Michigan Regional Fisheries Workshop, held at 7 p.m. April 19, 2018 at the Moose Lodge, 1025 Wells St., (see agenda,no registration necessary).
At the workshop, organizations and individuals will be given the opportunity to read prepared statements expressing their views, suggestions, or questions on cisco before a question and answer session with cisco experts.
The future for cisco in Lake Michigan is looking much brighter than it did a decade ago. Remnant fish are successfully reproducing, researchers are devoting time and energy to enhance our understanding, and managers are carefully weighing whether to take a more active role in restoration. Great Lakes stakeholders are also learning more about how important this fish once was to Lake Michigan’s ecology and fisheries.
The cisco is an amazingly adaptable, and useful, fish. It can feed on zooplankton, bottom-dwelling invertebrates, emerging insects, or small fish. It can be an excellent food source for a variety of predatory gamefish and also grows large enough to interest recreational anglers and commercial fishers. Cisco can be caught by ice fishing, fly casting, jigging, or trolling. Fresh cisco makes a memorable meal when baked, grilled, or sautéed. Commercial fishers often market smoked cisco, and Lake Superior cisco eggs (roe) are exported to Scandinavian countries where they are considered a delicacy.
Above all, the cisco is versatile. It can be many different things in many different circumstances. Attend the workshop on April 19 to learn more about the complex history and ecology of this unique fish.