Sustainable Small Harbors Webinar

Event Date: 5/8/2017

Michigan Sea Grant to host webinar about Sustainable Small Harbors project findings and next steps

On May 8 at 2–3:30 p.m. EDT, Michigan Sea Grant will host a webinar titled, “The Sustainable Small Harbors Project: Helping coastal communities re-imagine their waterfront.”

This webinar will provide an overview of the Sustainable Small Harbors project, an initiative to boost the long-term well-being of Michigan’s coastal communities. All people involved in coastal communities, both in and outside of Michigan, are invited to participate.

The Sustainable Small Harbors project arose in 2014 when many of Michigan’s small coastal communities were struggling to cope with fluctuating water levels, declining populations, and economic instability. The project research team (consisting of Lawrence Technological University, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., Veritas Economic Consulting, LLC, and David Larkin Knight, LLC) has assessed barriers preventing small harbor communities from becoming socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Members of the project research team along with personnel from Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension facilitated in-depth visioning workshops in six coastal communities to help community members identify potential growth areas for their waterfronts. By May 2017, the team will publish a guidebook to help other coastal communities analyze their own waterfront assets and develop strategies to bolster their long-term economic, social, and environmental stability.

“This effort empowers communities to overcome the burdens of their historic legacies,” says Jon Allan, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes. “The process engaged community members in constructive conversations to create a shared vision.”

The 90-minute webinar will provide an overview of the project’s history, major findings and outcomes, and future directions. Representatives from the cities of New Baltimore and Ontonagon will speak about their experiences with the project. The webinar will conclude with an open question-and-answer session.

Registration is required to participate in this webinar, scheduled for May 8, 2017, at 2–3:30 p.m. EDT. Please register at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with details about joining the webinar. Learn more about the project at:

Contact: Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant; (734) 647-0767, 

Seminar: Fish Spawning Reef Planning Techniques

Event Date: 5/15/2017


This seminar will be held in conjunction with the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) 2017 conference in Detroit. You do not need to register for IAGLR to participate.

A number of factors, including construction of shipping channels, land use changes and dams, have degraded rocky fish spawning habitat or made it inaccessible to native, migratory fish. One method for compensating for spawning habitat losses is to construct fish spawning reefs, essentially beds of loose rock placed on the river bottom that provide adequate protection and flow through the rocks for egg incubation. Though simple in concept, reef projects need to be carefully sited and designed to avoid accumulating sediment, attract desired fish and support young fish through the critical early life stages.

This team- taught seminar will share techniques developed through eight reef projects established in the St. Clair and Detroit River System over the past fifteen years. Specific topics will include: site assessment and selection, hydrodynamics and sedimentation concerns, reef design and construction strategies and monitoring of early life stages of fish.

One highlight of the workshop will be a practical lesson on river hydraulics and sediment transport and a hand-on exercise with free river modeling software, led by a scientist from the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Lab. This interactive seminar is open to all types of restoration practitioners, including professional engineers, project managers, researchers and anyone hoping to champion, design or monitor a constructed spawning reef in Great Lakes nearshore areas, connecting channels or larger rivers.

Date: Monday, May 15, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: IAGLR’s Great Lakes Research Conference, Cobo Center Room 258, 1 Washington Blvd, Detroit, Michigan
Continuing Education: Seminar participants will receive a certificate showing they completed 7 hours of continuing education suitable for professional license renewals.
Cost: $75 for professionals, $30 for students 
Registration deadline: 5:00 p.m., May 10, 2017
Cancellation: No refunds will be issued for cancellations after May 5.

For professionals ($75):

For students ($30):

For questions, contact:
Lynn Vaccaro
University of Michigan Water Center
(734) 763-0056

SCDRS Annual Meeting

Event Date: 3/2/2017

“Charting the Course for Action in the St. Clair-Detroit River System”

Thursday March 2, 2017

Weber’s Inn, Ann Arbor, Michigan

9:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST, Registration opens at 8:30 a.m.

On behalf of the St. Clair – Detroit River System (SCDRS) Initiative Steering Committee, I would like to invite you to join us at the 2017 Annual Meeting. The week of January 30th, which will include a draft agenda, registration information, the briefing book form and instructions, hotel information, and other relevant materials for your consideration and review before the Annual Meeting.

Agenda topics include:

  • Steering, Science & Monitoring, and Communications Committee updates
  • Priority Objectives, Indicators Status Update & Discussion on Fisheries, Habitat, AIS, Areas of Concern, Contaminants, and Nutrients

We are hoping to have participation from a variety of organizations and interests working in the SCDRS to continue to help inform our collective path moving forward. Registration will be limited to 50 attendees, so please plan to register early.

If your organization is interested in being a sponsor of the workshop, please contact Mary Bohling at

For more information on the SCDRS Initiative, see the website at:

Contact: Michelle Selzer
SCDRS Initiative Communications Subcommittee
Lake Erie Coordinator
Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
(517) 284-5050


Request for Pre-proposals

Event Date: 3/3/2017


Michigan Sea Grant is soliciting proposals for innovative research projects and graduate fellowships for the 2018-2020 funding period. Michigan Sea Grant sends out RFPs for research projects every two years. Michigan Sea Grant will support three types of research this funding cycle:

  • Integrated Assessment – Research that uses Integrated Assessment methods to address important social and ecological issues affecting the Great Lakes, up to $75,000 per year for two years.
  • Core Research – Basic core research on issues currently affecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, up to $100,000 per year for two years.
  • Graduate Student Research Fellowships – Graduate student (M.S. or Ph.D.) research fellowships for one or two years, up to $50,000 total per fellowship.

Funding for Integrated Assessment and Core Research will support two-year projects that begin February 1, 2018, and end by January 31, 2020. Fellowships may begin in 2018 (one or two year period) or 2019 (one year period).

Qualified researchers at accredited Michigan universities are eligible to be Principal Investigators on MISG-funded projects. Graduate fellowships will support a graduate student enrolled at an accredited Michigan university with support of a faculty member from that institution.

All proposals require a 50 percent non-federal match (one non-federal dollar for every two federal dollars requested). Funding is contingent upon NOAA approval and congressional appropriation of funds.

The deadline for Integrated Assessment and Core Research pre-proposals is 5 p.m. March 3, 2017 (EST).

Graduate Student Research Fellowship proposals are due by 5 p.m. on May 26, 2017. Funding decisions will be announced early September 2017.

For details on these opportunities, see:

Setting the record straight on alligator gar and Asian carp

Reintroduction of gar has nothing to do with Asian carp, Illinois DNR says

Researchers in Illinois used gastric lavage to flush stomach contents from young alligator gar to find out what the fish eats. Photo credit: Nathan Grider

Researchers in Illinois used gastric lavage to flush stomach contents from young alligator gar to find out what the fish eats. Photo credit: Nathan Grider

On May 31, 2016, the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to adopt a resolution urging the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to expedite the reintroduction of alligator gar and develop protections for all four native gar species. The Illinois House of Representatives had unanimously passed the same resolution three weeks earlier. This resolution specifically states that “alligator gar is our only native species capable of eating adult Asian carp.”

According to Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Chief of Fisheries Dan Stephenson, this statement is misleading. Under his leadership, IDNR moved to reinstate the stocking program in January of 2016 after a two-year hiatus. Stephenson states, “Our stockings have never had anything to do with Asian carp. We see this as an opportunity to bring back a native species from extirpation, add an apex predator and introduce a potentially very large sportfish for our anglers.”

Earlier reintroduction efforts in Illinois provided an opportunity to study young gar in floodplain lakes where they were stocked. From 2010 to 2013 a total of 6,000 alligator gar were stocked in Illinois, but of these only 1,500 were large enough (12-18 inches) to avoid predators and survive. That is a proverbial ‘drop in the bucket’ relative to Asian carp that are measured in terms of tons per river mile.

According to Stephenson, “It’s a numbers game and the alligator gar will never be found in the numbers to suppress the [Asian carp] population. In addition, the gape on an alligator gar, even a very large one, will not allow the fish to take very large prey. So for the first three months of the Asian carp’s life it would be susceptible to alligator gar predation but after that they are too large.”

Research on young gar stocked in Illinois supports this. Nathan Grider studied alligator gar diet as part of his thesis work at University of Illinois Springfield, under the direction of Dr. Michael Lemke. At Merwin Preserve, the only prey item found in 17 alligator gar stomachs was gizzard shad. Gizzard shad were the most abundant species at the preserve and Asian carp were extremely rare. Largemouth bass, crappies and various species of sunfish were common, but none of these popular gamefish were found in the stomachs of Illinois alligator gar.

Young alligator gar at Merwin Preserve in Illinois ate shad ranging from 4 to 10 inches long. Although gar in the Illinois study were not full-grown, earlier research from the Gulf Coast suggests that alligator gar in the 4 ½ to 7 foot range also prefer to eat fish that are only 8 to 12 ½ inches long. Grider, who now works for Illinois DNR, states that alligator gar, “would not turn down the opportunity eat an Asian carp of appropriate size, up to 12.5 inches or so. But the reality is that there will simply not be enough of them to put noticeable pressure on the dense Asian carp population in our expansive open river system and Asian carp can quickly outgrow their preferred prey size.”

There you have it. Alligator gar are not being stocked to save us from the advance of Asian carp, but perhaps all of this media attention will ultimately help people appreciate alligator gar for what they are. In the past they were seen as a threat to gamefish, but gar are native predators that typically prey on abundant non-game fish like shad.

Alligator gar also are impressive gamefish in their own right. As Stephenson puts it, “regardless of the Asian carp impact, the reintroduction of alligator gar is a great story.”

Creating a Vision for Ontonagon’s Waterfront

Event Date: 10/1/2015

Downtown Ontonagon from across the river

Downtown Ontonagon from across the river. Credit: ryangs (Flickr)

News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Joe Erickson
Ontonagon Village Manager
(906) 884-2305

[Ontonagon, Mich.] – Ontonagon has been selected as a case study community to develop a sustainable small harbor management strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities. In a six-month engagement process, a research and design team will engage the Ontonagon community in an exercise to identify opportunities to secure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of public waterfront facilities.

With help from local citizens, the project will develop an economic model and sustainability toolkit. This will include potential management strategies for small harbors in Michigan and assist communities with identifying planning objectives that help ensure a more secure future.

The project is supported by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, Department of Natural Resources, Lawrence Technological University, Michigan Sea Grant and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Benefits to Ontonagon

As one of four case study communities, Ontonagon will benefit from in-depth analysis and economic assessment — typically valued into the tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost. The assessment will shed light on barriers to financial sustainability and identify potential solutions, reducing dependence on declining external funding.

The project team will host an initial meeting and then a three-day public planning meeting, or “community design charrette,” to garner feedback, develop ideas and create a sustainable vision for Ontonagon’s waterfront. The research and design team will then compile community input to develop a harbor sustainability plan specific to Ontonagon, plus a case study on the process and outcomes to be used as part of the harbor sustainability toolkit. The toolkit will be shared to help other communities in Michigan move forward in drafting their own sustainable harbor and waterfront plans.

Share Your Vision

Developing a vision for a sustainable harbor requires input from a wide range of stakeholders, including landowners, waterfront users, planning officials and local citizens. To share your vision, attend upcoming public meetings to collaboratively develop a plan for Ontonagon’s waterfront.

The initial visioning meeting is scheduled for 6–8 p.m. Thursday, October 1, at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room (429 River Street, Ontonagon). Please enter the building from Spar Street. Those who attend the initial meeting will have the chance to weigh in on the future of Ontonagon’s waterfront and will help identify assets linked to existing or potential public waterfront uses and/or facilities. Discussion will include pedestrian access, harbor use and linking the waterfront to downtown and commercial areas.

In the community design charrette scheduled for November 5–7 at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room, participants will assess and prioritize design and planning options. The result will be a preliminary vision for the public waterfront as an asset to the community. The three-day design charrette will include small working groups (by invitation) and public sessions. A detailed agenda will be made available on the project website as the event date draws near. To learn more, visit:

Public Meetings for Sustainable Harbor Visioning

  • Initial Visioning Meeting
    Thursday, October 1, 6–8 p.m.
    Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room
  • Community Design Charrette
    November 5–7
    Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room

Additional Contacts

Amy Samples
Coastal Resilience Specialist
Michigan Sea Grant
(734) 647-0766

Dr. Donald Carpenter
Project Manager
Lawrence Technological University
(248) 204-2549

Joe Erickson
Ontonagon Village Manager
(906) 884-2305

Pentwater Community Design Charrette

Event Date: 4/17/2015
End Date: 4/19/2015

The trend of fluctuating water levels across the Great Lakes, particularly persistent low water levels in the past 10 years, combined with economic downturn have taken their toll on local waterfront communities. In addition, state and federal funding for public harbors is increasingly limited.

A research team funded through Michigan Sea Grant seeks to develop a sustainable small harbor management strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities.

The team is hosting charrettes (facilitated community planning sessions) in New Baltimore, Au Gres, Ontonagon and Pentwater. The communities will undergo a six-month engagement process with the research team. The research team will identify strategies to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability of Michigan’s harbor communities. This charrette will focus on the town of Pentwater.


What: Pentwater Community Design Charrette
When: April 17-19, 2015
Where: Pentwater Yacht Club
205 South Dover Street, Pentwater

Want to Learn More? Event Details


Get Involved!

If your community is interested in learning more about sustainable small harbor planning, please contact the research team. Also, the final toolkit and resources developed through this project will be available in 2016 to help guide planning.

If you would like to be involved or have questions about the project, contact Donald Carpenter at or by calling (248) 204-2549.

Now Hiring: MSG Seeks Program Coordinator

Event Date: 2/25/2015
End Date: 3/4/2015

To apply, see: MSG Program Coordinator, Job #107067

Michigan Sea Grant (MSG) 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 will be highly collaborative in their approach.

A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, MSG promotes knowledge of the Great Lakes through research, outreach and education. MSG is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs in coastal areas around the country. This position reports to the MSG Program Manager/Fiscal Officer.

Note: This is a one-year, term-limited appointment with the possibility of renewal contingent on funding.


  • Assist in preparing, writing, and formatting project plans, reports, grant proposals and other documents as needed.
  • Coordinate and prepare progress and final reports and news briefs.
  • Provide general support for grant projects as needed, including summarizing meetings, activities, and accomplishments, assisting with project coordination, and drafting new grant proposals.
  • Assist with MSG educators and extension specialists on promoting the use of educational resources and identifying cooperative efforts.
  • Assist with recruiting applicants for Graduate Fellowships.
  • Assist of project reporting process and draft research portion of annual reports.
  • Participate in and help organize meetings and conferences, as needed.
  • Communicate with stakeholders and partners.
  • Ensure regulatory and university policy compliance for special projects or ongoing programs.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • Some evening and weekend work is required for seminars and events.

Required Experience and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field e.g. environment policy, natural resource management, water related sciences or relevant work experience.
  • Ability to work independently and to meet a well-defined series of deadlines.
  • Excellent written and communication (oral, listening, presenting, and speaking) skills.
  • Detail-oriented with the ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines in a timely manner.
  • Strong computing skills including knowledge of Microsoft Office suite and Google apps, online research skills and general comfort with web-based systems.

Desired Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., environment policy, natural resource management, water related sciences) or relevant work experience.
  • A strong network within the relevant resource management, policy-making, university and/or Great Lakes industry/business communities.
  • 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

40 hours per week, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Michigan Sea Grant 2015 Request for Pre-proposals

Event Date: 3/6/2015

Michigan Sea Grant News Release Graphic

Michigan Sea Grant is soliciting three types of projects for the next research funding cycle, from 2016-2018. For the past several cycles, MSG has focused on Integrated Assessment projects. The 2015 call for proposals, however, includes two new opportunities. Core research, a more traditional approach to research, and graduate student research fellowships have been added to this RFP.

Pre-proposals and proposals are sought for the following topics:

  • Integrated Assessment – Research that uses integrated methods to address important social and ecological issues affecting the Great Lakes ecosystem and communities, up to $75,000 per year.
  • Core Research – Focused on issues currently affecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, up to $115,000 per year.
  • Graduate Student Research Fellowships – Funding for graduate students for one or two years, up to $80,000 per year.

For more details, see:

For the Integrated Assessments and the Core Research projects, pre-proposals are required. Only those selected during the pre-proposal stage are eligible to submit a full proposal.


The deadline for Integrated Assessment and Core Research pre-proposals is 5 p.m. March 6, 2015 (EST). Those who are invited to submit a full proposal will be contacted by Michigan Sea Grant by April 10. Full proposals are due by 5 p.m. on May 29, 2015. Projects begin in mid-2016.

Graduate Student Research Fellowship proposals are due by 5 p.m. on May 29, 2015. Fellowships begin in 2016 or 2017, as appropriate.


Researchers from any accredited university in the state of Michigan are eligible to apply as a principal investigator. However, project teams are not limited to university researchers or Michigan residents. Only those investigators who have submitted pre-proposals are eligible to submit full proposals.

Graduate fellowships will support a graduate student (M.S. or Ph.D.) enrolled at an accredited Michigan university with support of a faculty member from that institution and from an agency sponsor.

Questions about the RFP?

All questions related to this Request for Proposals — whether technical or content-related — should be submitted to the Michigan Sea Grant Research Program by emailing by
5 p.m. (Eastern) Friday, Jan. 30. Answers will be posted to the Michigan Sea Grant RFP web site on Feb. 13.

Impact: Sea Grant Research Sparks New Investment and Guides Business Decisions for Aquaculture

The following is one example of the impact Michigan Sea Grant has had throughout the state, region or beyond.

Although Michigan has the natural resources to be a leader in freshwater aquaculture, the industry has been relatively stagnant and has received little support from state agencies and private investors.

In 2012, Michigan Sea Grant began supporting an Integrated Assessment to evaluate the challenges and opportunities for aquaculture in Michigan. Led by a researcher from Michigan State University, the project has a diverse advisory committee that includes representatives from several state agencies, environmental groups, foundations and aquaculture businesses. The advisory committee has been meeting regularly to guide an analysis of potential seafood products and business models for aquaculture facilities.

Results: This collaborative research project has increased interest and established a solid working relationship among economic development, agriculture and environmental agencies in Michigan, which is already leading to new initiatives. For example, the project’s advisory committee has initiated a project to re-purpose unused industrial buildings for aquaculture in downtown Saginaw, Michigan.

Sea Grant research results are helping this group select the most suitable fish species and aquaculture system, and to develop a robust business and marketing plan. With advice from Sea Grant extension educators and researchers, a community foundation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have made financial investments to help three new aquaculture facilities begin operations in Saginaw by 2015.