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.

Contact

Meaghan Gass
Michigan Sea Grant
Extension Educator
gassmeag@msu.edu
(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.

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).

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.

Project F.I.S.H. training helps educators connect youth to fishing

Hands-on activities, games and practice develop fishing skills, encourage conservation.

Participants practice fish printing, or Gyotaku (a traditional Japanese method), before learning how to prepare fish. Photo: Mark Stephens, Michigan State University

Participants practice fish printing, or Gyotaku (a traditional Japanese method), before learning how to prepare fish. Photo: Mark Stephens, Michigan State University

Recently teachers, 4-H program coordinators, and informal educators gathered at Michigan State University to participate in Project F.I.S.H. (Friends Involved in Sportfishing Heritage) training, where they learned hands-on ways to get youth excited about fishing.

Over the course of two days, participants explored the aquatic food web, practiced tackle crafting and casting skills, played games and discussed fishing management and ethics. They also learned how to filet fish and discussed food safety issues through the Eat Safe Fish in Michigan program.

To support efforts following the training, each person received a spincast rod and reel, backyard bass game, tackle box, tackle crafting supplies, bluegill fish print mold, a natural resources stewardship project guide and the Project F.I.S.H. curriculum with instructions for more than 100 fishing education activities. They also receive access to the Bait Shop, an online store that offers educational fishing tools at a discounted rate.

Fishing makes connections

Project F.I.S.H. was launched in 1996 with support from MSUExtension, the Michigan Department of Natural ResourcesGreat Lakes Fishery Trust, and many volunteers. The program has trained more than 2,000 volunteers and through them impacted 200,000-plus youth. Not only do youth learn about sportsfishing, but they also connect to their local waterways and learn how important clean water and a healthy fishery is for our state. One popular event is the annual 4-H Fish Camp, organized by MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant and Project F.I.S.H. held in the Saginaw Bay region.

For those attending the training at MSU, painting with fish forms was a fun – and somewhat messy — way to practice handling rubbery fish before learning how to filet a real one. Participants decorated t-shirts and towels with fish prints, but students have also fish printed no sew t-shirt bags, which is a great way to refuse to single use and protect our Great Lakes from marine debris

Learn more about Project F.I.S.H.

To learn more about upcoming Project F.I.S.H opportunities, visit the events page or contact Mark Stephens, Project F.I.S.H. director, at steph143@msu.edu or (517) 432-2700. Project F.I.S.H. is currently supported by financial donations. If you would like to assist the program financially, please donate online at www.projectfish.org.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension welcomes new educator to Saginaw Bay region

Meaghan Gass excited to help build capacity, collaboration among groups in area.

Meaghan Gass works with students from Ella White Elementary School in Alpena, Mich. Gass will join Michigan Sea Grant as its Saginaw Bay region educator. Courtesy photo.

Meaghan Gass works with students from Ella White Elementary School in Alpena, Mich. Gass will join Michigan Sea Grant as its Saginaw Bay region educator. Courtesy photo.

Meaghan Gass will join Michigan Sea Grant as an educator located in the Saginaw Bay region. She is no stranger to Michigan, having spent the last three years with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI), first as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member and then on staff as the network coordinator based in Alpena. Through her position there she often worked closely with both Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant staff and programs.

“Through my work with the NEMIGLSI network, I partnered closely with Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant. Seeing what they are able to accomplish in Michigan is exciting,” said Gass. “I also learned more about what the Sea Grant network is doing across the Great Lakes. Engaging a variety of stakeholders and connecting Great Lakes research with communities are huge passions of mine, and I am excited these strategies are at the heart of Sea Grant’s mission.”

Gass will begin her new position on Feb. 5, 2018, and will divide her time between MSU Extension offices in Arenac and Bay counties. She will provide services in five counties including Arenac, Bay, Tuscola, Huron and Sanilac.

“Meaghan will be an excellent addition to our Sea Grant team,” said Dr. Heather Triezenberg, program coordinator. “We’re excited that she will continue the work we’ve been doing in that region to address Great Lakes, Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay issues.”

meaghan gass

Gass grew up in southern Illinois but loves living in northeast Michigan. “With all of opportunities for outdoor recreation, living close to Lake Huron has been fantastic. In the Saginaw Bay region, I look forward to collaborating with partners on water and coastal community resiliency issues that are key for the area.”

Mischelle Warner, MSU Extension district coordinator for seven counties in northeast Michigan, said having Gass located in Arenac County, as well as Bay, offers more accessibility for residents and communities. “We’re looking forward to having Meaghan with us in Arenac County. We know there are so many opportunities for programming and collaboration, plus, the county commissioners specifically requested support from MSU Extension in her expertise area for 2018 and beyond.”

Gass received her bachelor of arts degree from Illinois State University and her masters in political science from St. Louis University. Her research focused on water and river basin governance. As an undergrad she majored in political science and French and minored in Spanish.

While living in the Alpena area, Gass has quickly become a part of the community and served in several volunteer roles, including as a board member for Huron Pines, a 4-H Club Leader, and co-president of the Alpena County League of Women Voters. “It’s important to become part of the greater community,” she said.

“Meaghan’s work experience in northeast Michigan partnering with so many different organizations will lead to great connections, collaborations in the Saginaw Bay area,” said Dave Ivan, director of the MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute. “We are happy to have her join MSU Extension.”

Gass is looking forward to her upcoming move to Bay City and to begin building connections with individuals and groups in the area. “We need to work together to ensure protection of the Great Lakes. Collaboration is key. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and look forward to what we can achieve in the Bay area.