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.

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.

What happens to my lake water quality monitoring data in a world of big data?

Citizen scientists collect valuable information to be used by researchers, policy-makers and natural resources managers.

Iowa State University student field technicians sample a lake in Iowa for the state's water quality monitoring program. Photo: Daniel Kendall, Iowa State University, Agriculture Communications

Iowa State University student field technicians sample a lake in Iowa for the state’s water quality monitoring program. Photo: Daniel Kendall, Iowa State University, Agriculture Communications

Michigan has a lot of inland lakes: 6,531 lakes 10 acres or larger, 2,649 are isolated with no streams flowing into or out of them, and the rest have some kind of stream flowing out or in, with all of them draining to the Great Lakes basin (Soranno et al. 2017). Residents of Michigan, especially those who live on lakes, are curious about the quality of water and food webs of their inland lakes. Because of their interest, residents often participate in opportunities such as Michigan State University Extension’s Introduction to Lakes Online educational program, volunteer water quality monitoring programs such as MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, or aquatic habitat improvement projects using Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ inland lake habitat viewer.

With all this lake monitoring data, one might ask…what happens to it? The data are used in a variety of ways. A team of researchers led by MSU professors Patricia Soranno and Kendra Spence Cheruvelil recently published findings from a big data project funded by the National Science Foundation that combined lake water quality monitoring data from 17 Midwestern and Northeastern states. This effort produced the lake multi-scaled geospatial and temporal database called LAGOS-NE, and is the first effort so far to combine water quality data from thousands of lakes and their surrounding landscapes. Large-scale data on a variety of lake water quality and landscape parameters helps advance freshwater conservation in an era of rapidly changing conditions. A large percentage of the data in this database was collected by citizen volunteers who play a critical role in ensuring our important freshwater resources are monitored.

LAGOS-NE is a publically accessible database that is available for informing research, policy, and management. Researchers might use the database to explore shifting patterns in species distribution or drivers of lake change. Policy-makers might use results from the database to inform lake specific nutrient standards or a dashboard of ecosystem services. Natural resource managers might use the database to prioritize areas for habitat conservation initiatives. 

The next time you enjoy fishing, swimming, or boating on any of the 50,000 mid-western or northeastern inland lakes, think about how big data and citizens have joined forces with computer sciences and aquatic ecology. If you do not already participate in a volunteer monitoring programs, consider making 2018 your year to contribute local water quality data. In addition to providing information about the local waterways important to Michigan, these data are also important for global freshwater sciences.

Registration is open for MSU Extension’s next Introduction to Lakes Online session. The class will be held Jan. 23–March 9, 2018. Registration deadline is Jan. 16, 2018. 

Sea Grant Seeks Proposals for Aquaculture Research

Event Date: 12/15/2017
End Date: 3/30/2018

The NOAA National Sea Grant College Program 2018 Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes National Aquaculture Initiative federal funding opportunity is now open. 

Depending on appropriations, NOAA Sea Grant expects to have available a total of $7,000,000 to $11,500,000 across fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020 as part of the Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative (NAI). This federal funding competition is designed to foster the expansion of a sustainable U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes aquaculture sector by addressing one or more of the following priorities:

  • Supporting the development of emerging systems or technologies that will advance aquaculture in the U.S., including projects that will help stimulate aquaculture production by nascent industries.
  • Developing and implementing actionable methods of communicating accurate, science-based messages and information about the benefits and risks of U.S. marine aquaculture to the public. And
  • Increasing the resiliency of aquaculture systems to natural hazards and changing conditions.
Complete proposals are due from eligible parties to Sea Grant programs on March 2, 2018 at 5 p.m. local time. 
 
Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to their Sea Grant Program one to two months prior to the Sea Grant program application deadline to receive guidance regarding proposal development and discuss their proposed project(s). 
 
Proposals from Sea Grant programs are due in grants.gov by March 30, 2018
 
Please refer to the FFO for all planning and formal guidance. 
 

Bird Counts across Michigan

Event Date: 12/14/2017
End Date: 1/5/2018

The longest running citizen science project in the world celebrates its 118th year.

Birders are all bundled up at Tahquamenon Falls in the winter. Photo: Elliot Nelson | Michigan Sea Grant

Birders are all bundled up at Tahquamenon Falls in the winter. Photo: Elliot Nelson | Michigan Sea Grant

In 1900, an ornithologist (aka bird scientist) named Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition, to count birds across the entire country. Conservation was in its early days, and Chapman was concerned about the decline in many of the bird species he loved. Frank Chapman’s idea was to collect data across the country on what birds were present and in what numbers to provide information on how bird populations were changing. Over the years this count, became known as the Christmas Bird Count. The count, which is organized by the National Audubon Society, has gained in popularity. In 1900, there were 24 counts from California to New York. Now there are over 2,500 counts ranging from Antarctica to Brazil to the farthest reaches of Alaska each year.

Fun and serious science

While counting the birds is a fun holiday tradition, the data collected is serious business. The data stored by the National Audubon Society is being used by ornithologists around the world for important research. The information collected in the counts can be used to track how bird populations are changing over time and how habitat changes can effect bird populations.

What is particularly unique about the Christmas Bird Counts is that they are run by volunteers with data collected by ordinary citizens from across the country. Anyone can volunteer to assist a particular count regardless of skill level.

Volunteers still needed

In Michigan there are around 65 counts that take place. Each count is organized on the local level by passionate volunteers or organizations such as Michigan AudubonThe Nature Conservancy and Michigan Sea Grant/Michigan State University Extension.

Each count is held on one day between December 14 and January 5. Many surveys take place during the weekend to attract the most participants and many counts are still looking for volunteers. If you are interested in participating in the Christmas Bird Count you can check out this interactive map to find the count closes to you. You can also contact the Michigan Audubon or one of their local chapters and they can help point you towards a count close to you. For more information on participating in a count read this Michigan Audubon article.

The holidays are a great time of year to get out and experience the outdoors. Why not contribute to science while you are at it?

New video shows anglers how to remove stomachs for fish diet study

Researchers are trying to learn more about what trout, salmon, and walleye are eating in lakes Huron and Michigan. Anglers can help by donating stomachs from their catch.

Fisheries scientists around Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are working on a project led by Dr. Brian Roth at Michigan State University to understand what, and how much, different species of fish are eating. Invasive species such as round goby have damaged the environment, but they also provide food for some gamefish. Quagga mussels have reduced the amount of food in open water areas, but they also provide a food source for round goby.

Last year, much debate focused on alewife, an open water baitfish. This new study should provide better information regarding how many alewife are being consumed by different species including Chinook salmon, coho salmon, Atlantic salmon, lake trout, steelhead, brown trout, and walleye. Some species, such as Chinook salmon, rarely switch to other food sources. On the other hand, fish such as lake trout, brown trout, and walleye readily switch to feeding on bottom-dwelling fish like round goby. Sometimes.

This comprehensive effort will attempt to figure out when and where certain gamefish take advantage of round goby, alewife, and other food sources including invertebrates like opossum shrimp and spiny water flea. In order to get an adequate number of fish from all seasons of the year and all regions of the two lakes, scientists are hoping anglers can pitch in and contribute stomachs for the study. 

How to participate

  • Watch this short video to learn how to collect stomachs. It is very important not to bias the study by collecting only full (or only empty) stomachs.
  • If you are collecting stomachs after a fishing trip, be sure to collect ALL stomachs from each species that you are collecting.
  • It is not necessary to collect stomachs from every fishing trip you take, but stomachs from 2-3 trips per month would be very helpful.

What, when, and where to collect

  • What: Stomachs from all trout and salmon species, and walleye.
  • When: Now through the end of the 2019 fishing season.
  • Where: All waters of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, including large bays like Saginaw Bay and Green Bay, but not including rivers or drowned rivermouth lakes.

What to focus on

Creel census clerks with Michigan DNR, biotechs funded by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and US Geological Survey biologists will be working to collect stomachs at access sites and in conjunction with major fishing tournaments. Anglers can help these agencies to fill in the gaps by contributing stomachs from less-common species, early- and late-season catches, and fish caught at night or in regions that do not get as much coverage by agency personnel.

Some ideas to focus on include:

  • early-season brown trout
  • Green Bay walleye
  • all species in northern Lake Michigan from Grand Traverse Bay north to Manistique
  • mid- to late-summer salmon and trout from St. Joseph north to Saugatuck

All species from all areas of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are appreciated, but these focus areas are particularly important because angler-submitted stomachs may make a critical difference in providing enough stomachs to meet sample size targets.

Materials for stomach collection include:

Data tags, list of freezer drop sites, video and full instructions are also available at www.michiganseagrant.org/diet.

Detroit River Restoration Tour

Event Date: 8/17/2017

The Detroit River has seen its fair share of environmental challenges. Now, after years of dedicated restoration work, the Detroit River and its ecosystems are heading toward recovery.

On August 17, 2017, join the Friends of the Detroit River, Michigan Sea Grant, and our many partners as we celebrate the hard work and dedication of those who have helped shape a new future for the Detroit River. This is your opportunity to visit the habitat restoration sites of Grosse Ile and Belle Isle for an up close, behind the scenes, expert-guided tour.

Highlights of the event include:
 
10 am – Noon, Grosse Ile
  • Boat tour of Stony Island restoration site
  • Coffee and donuts provided
1:30 – 4:30, Belle Isle
  • Lunch and short program in Dossin Museum
  • Meet a live sturgeon
  • Bus tour of Belle Isle restoration sites including Lake Okonoka and Blue Heron Lagoon.

Download the full agenda (PDF)

More information about restoration sites:

Space is limited. Reserve your spot today!

Registration: ow.ly/DiBq30cQDBf

Contact: Mary Bohling, (313) 410-9431, bohling@msu.edu

Hiring Program Coordinator

Event Date: 6/21/2017
End Date: 7/1/2017

Michigan Sea Grant (MISG) is seeking a motivated, organized, and outgoing individual with an understanding of Great Lakes and coastal issues to serve as a Program Coordinator. The right candidate will have a passion for sharing science-based information and be highly collaborative in their work. A combined effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, MISG promotes knowledge of the Great Lakes through research, outreach, and education. MISG is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs in coastal areas around the country.

See: Details and Apply

Responsibilities

  • Assist with administration of the MISG research program, including:
    • Developing biannual Request for Proposals (RFPs), assisting with proposal review and selection, and coordinating initial and mid-term research meetings.
    • Monitoring research projects through funded period with annual check-in calls and review of progress reports.
    • Coordinating peer review of draft reports, providing summary of reviews to Principal Investigators (PIs), and coordinating publication and promotion of final reports and resources.
    • Assisting with production of annual reports for research program.
    • Providing support and coordination as project liaison for research PIs.
  • Coordinate community outreach projects with Michigan Sea Grant Extension, including:
    • Assisting with preparation, writing, and formatting of project plans, reports, grant proposals, and other documents as needed.
    • Coordinating as project liaison with MISG Extension and communication staff.
    • Coordinating with local communities, including providing logistical support and community analysis.
    • Coordinating and preparing progress and final reports and news briefs.
  • Provide general support for grant projects as needed, including summarizing meetings, activities, and accomplishments, and assisting with project coordination.
  • In collaboration with the MISG team, assist with the development of pre- and full proposals depending on opportunities, research, recommend, and coordinate project team, coordinate and implement work plan, and publish and promote training resources.
  • Assist MISG Extension specialists with promoting the use of educational resources and identifying cooperative efforts.
  • Initiate communications with stakeholders and partners.
  • Provide logistical and administrative support for MISG seminars and events. (Note: Some evening and weekend work and attendance may be required for seminars and events.)
  • Additional duties as may be assigned.

Required Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., environment policy, natural resource management, water related sciences) and 1 – 3 years’ relevant work experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Ability to work independently and to meet a well-defined series of deadlines.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills.
  • A strong network within the relevant resource management, policy-making, university and/or Great Lakes industry/business communities.
  • Detail oriented with the ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines in a timely manner.
  • Strong computing skills, including Microsoft Office suite and Google apps, online research skills, and general comfort with web-based systems.

Desired Qualifications

  • Grant writing and grant management experience.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, with ability to work as a team member within established office structures.
  • Creative thinking and desire to contribute to a fun and inspired office environment.
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail.

Work Schedule

  • Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm.
  • Some evening and weekend attendance may be required for MISG seminars and events.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Regional network honors Michigan Sea Grant with awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

  • Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant Communications Lead, (734) 647-0767, rregist@umich.edu
  • Cindy Hudson, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Communications Manager, (517) 353-9723, hudsoncy@msu.edu

CLEVELAND – The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network recently honored the work of the Michigan Sea Grant team with several awards during its semi-annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. The network connects regional state Sea Grant programs and assists in coordinated efforts to solve problems and manage Great Lakes resources.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s mid-career award.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s mid-career award.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling of Detroit received a mid-career award noting her excellent work during her 11-year career. Bohling serves the urban Detroit area and works with diverse populations, coastal communities, nonprofit groups, businesses, researchers and politicians applying science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues.

Bohling actively assists nonprofit partners in the preparation and reporting of grants, including numerous successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants that have totaled nearly $30 million. Bohling is always looking for creative and interesting ways to get urban youth out on the water or bike trails, including helping to bring the Wilderness Inquiry Canoemobile to Detroit several times.

“Mary Bohling is an excellent extension educator who has strong interaction in her communities and with her colleagues. She is creative and has made — and continues to make — outstanding contributions to Michigan Sea Grant and our state,” said Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant Extension program leader.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Brandon Schroeder receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Distinguished Service Award.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Brandon Schroeder receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Distinguished Service Award.

Extension Educator Brandon Schroeder of Alpena was honored with a Distinguished Service Award. Schroeder has been with Michigan Sea Grant for 13 years and serves coastal counties, encompassing 230 miles of Lake Huron shoreline in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula. Brandon’s programming focuses on the changing Lake Huron fishery, coastal tourism and business development, and youth engagement in coastal community development and stewardship.

Schroeder’s leadership and involvement in many place-based education opportunities, 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, Center for Great Lakes Literacy, and fisheries workshops are just some of the ways he shares his expertise with stakeholders.

“His enthusiasm for his work, combined with a natural curiosity, broad knowledge base, and engaging approach to his work, combine in a way that is unique and extremely effective,” said co-worker Steve Stewart, a senior extension educator.

In addition to these individual awards, Michigan Sea Grant received the Network’s Great Lakes Outreach Programming Award for its Sustainable Small Harbors project.

The Sustainable Small Harbors project, funded by Michigan Sea Grant and a host of partners, aims to assist coastal communities in their planning efforts. The project has enabled six coastal communities with public harbors to do in-depth self-assessments, uncovering strengths and weaknesses related to their waterfront assets and to collaboratively envision their future.

The project has come at a time when harbor towns can capitalize on rebounding tourist dollars and a recovering state economy to make needed waterfront upgrades and add amenities that will increase their appeal to visitors. Team members customized and created highly interactive, public input-driven workshops, or charrettes — typically valued at tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost to the six case-study communities involved. The project brought together community decision-makers, harbor managers, infrastructure planners, boaters, business owners and others to come up with meaningful pathways for moving their communities forward.

“The economic and environmental health of small towns along Michigan’s coast is essential to strengthening the state’s economy and environment,” said Jim Diana, Michigan Sea Grant director. “If Michigan thrives, then the Great Lakes region as a whole benefits – and that’s why this program has been so important.”

Sustainable Small Harbor program team members Todd Marsee (left) and Mark Breederland accept the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Outreach Programming Award on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant.

Sustainable Small Harbor program team members Todd Marsee (left) and Mark Breederland accept the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Outreach Programming Award on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant.

Team members for the Sustainable Small Harbors project from Michigan Sea Grant included Mark Breederland, Catherine Riseng, Amy Samples and Todd Marsee. Don Carpenter from Lawrence Technological University was principal investigator. Other partners included:

Michigan State University Extension; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes; Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program; Michigan Development Corporation; Michigan State Housing Development Authority; Environmental Consulting and Technology, LLC; Veritas Environmental Consulting, LLC; David L. Knight, LLC; Edgewater Resources, LLC; Richard Neumann, architect; Constance Bodurow, designer.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.