12/23/09

In the news: EPA Releases First-Ever Baseline Study of U.S. Lakes

From the U.S. EPA:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released its most comprehensive study of the nation’s lakes to date. The draft study, which rated the condition of 56 percent of the lakes in the United States as good and the remainder as fair or poor, marked the first time EPA and its partners used a nationally consistent approach to survey the ecological and water quality of lakes. A total of 1,028 lakes were randomly sampled during 2007 by states, tribes and EPA.

“This survey serves as a first step in evaluating the success of efforts to protect, preserve, and restore the quality of our nation’s lakes,” said Peter Silva, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “Future surveys will be able to track changes in lake water quality over time and advance our understanding of important regional and national patterns in lake water quality.”

The National Lakes Assessment reveals that the remaining lakes are in fair or poor condition. Degraded lakeshore habitat, rated “poor” in 36 percent of lakes, was the most significant of the problems assessed. Removal of trees and shrubs and construction of docks, marinas, homes and other structures along shorelines all contribute to degraded lakeshore habitat.

Nitrogen and phosphorous are found at high levels in 20 percent of lakes. Excess levels of these nutrients contribute to algae blooms, weed growth, reduced water clarity, and other lake problems. EPA is very concerned about the adverse impacts of nutrients on aquatic life, drinking water and recreation. The agency will continue to work with states to address water quality issues through effective nutrient management.

The survey included a comparison to a subset of lakes with wastewater impacts that were sampled in the 1970s. It finds that 75 percent show either improvements or no change in phosphorus levels. This suggests that the nation’s investments in wastewater treatment and other pollution control activities are working despite population increases across the country.

The results of this study describe the target population of the nation’s lakes as a whole and are not applicable to a particular lake. Sampling for the National Rivers and Streams Assessment is underway, and results from this two-year study are expected to be available in 2011.


12/22/09

In the news: Suit on Invasive Carp and Great Lakes

From the New York Times:
Michigan asked the United States Supreme Court on Monday to sever a century-old connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system to prevent Asian carp from invading the lakes and endangering their $7 billion fishery.

The Michigan attorney general, Mike Cox, filed the lawsuit against Illinois, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. They operate the canals and other waterways that link Lake Michigan and the Mississippi system. Read more.


12/17/09

Asian Carp and the Health of the Great Lakes

IISG's Pat Charlebois and John Epifanio discussed Asian carp and the Great Lakes on Champaign-Urbana's NPR station, WILL-AM, this morning on the Focus 580 program. You can listen or download it here.

12/16/09

In the news: Climate change blamed for Great Lakes decline

From the Globe and Mail:
The water levels of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have been falling steadily compared with those on Lake Erie, and no one knew why.

But a major report financed by the U.S. and Canadian governments suggests an answer: The fingerprints of climate change are starting to be found in the Great Lakes, the world's largest body of fresh water, causing a discernible drop in their levels.

The report, released Tuesday, estimated that Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have fallen about a quarter metre relative to Lake Erie since the early 1960s, with 40 to 74 per cent of the reduction due to recent changes in precipitation patterns and temperatures. Read more.


12/15/09

In the news: salmon spawning in sewage plant

From the Environment Report:
You might not expect much good environmental news to come from sewage plants, but, believe it or not, there is some on occasion. And in one case, (in East Chicago, Indiana) that good news even involves thriving salmon. Listen to the story.


12/14/09

IISG in the news: Your mission, if you choose to accept it ...

From the Herald News:
Anglers and boaters are being asked to do their part to help reduce the Asian carp population by catching and eating them. Their meat is considered a delicacy in Asia.

"People who spend time out on the lakes and rivers are usually the first to spot new species," said Pat Charlebois, an aquatic invasive specialist for the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant in Urbana. "Now that it is almost certain that the carp are beyond the barrier, officials are really counting on their help in reporting any sightings." Read more.


12/9/09

All hands on deck in the fight to stop Asian carp


Now that Asian carp DNA has been detected beyond the electric barrier—a mere seven miles from Lake Michigan—it’s even more important for anglers and boaters to watch out for these species and help reduce their numbers.

These fish pose a considerable risk for the health of Lake Michigan and all the Great Lakes. Both bighead and silver carp, known as Asian carp, feed on plankton which is the base of the aquatic food chain. “They can compete directly with native organisms including mussels, all young fishes and some adult fish,” said Pat Charlebois, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant aquatic invasives specialist.

So far, the fish haven't actually been seen beyond the barrier--only water samples taken from various sites in the Chicago waterways have tested positive for their DNA. And, during the recent deliberate fish kill in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, one Asian carp was found downstream of the barrier site.

“People who spend time out on lakes and rivers are usually the first to spot new species,” said Charlebois. “To know with certainty whether the carp are beyond the barrier, we are really counting on their help in reporting any sightings.”

Asian carp have noteworthy differences from other carp species in terms of appearance. The key to recognizing them is their extremely low set eyes and their scales, which are much smaller than other carp. And while it has been reported that the Asian carp can grow to as much as 60 pounds in Midwest waters, most of these fish are likely to be much smaller than that.

If you think you’ve caught an Asian carp in Chicago area waters, it’s important to report this to Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (847-242-6440), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (309-968-7531) or the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (317-234-3883). Note the exact location and if possible, freeze the specimen in a sealed plastic bag.

If you are fishing downstream of the barrier where Asian carp are plentiful, you can do your part to reduce their numbers by catching and cooking them. “At this point, we don’t know how the carp got to where they are in the Chicago waterways,” said Charlebois. “There are a number of possibilities. However, we can lessen their desire to move to less crowded areas such as Lake Michigan, by reducing their downstream numbers.”

Because Asian carp are filter feeders, traditional fishing methods don’t work. “In our research we found that the most successful ways to catch Asian carp are by bowfishing, using landing nets to catch jumping carp, which I'm not recommending because of safety concerns, and by snagging using trotlines, jigs or dough balls,” explained Charlebois.

On the plus side, Asian carp meat is tasty, surprisingly, so keep your catch. “They taste like cod,” said Charlebois. “You can cook them a number of different ways and use some great recipes.”

For more information on catching, cleaning and cooking Asian carp, visit www.iiseagrant.org/asiancarp. There, you can also order the Bighead and Silver Carp WATCH card, which provides general characteristics of Asian carp, including both photographs and drawings. For a free copy, contact Susan White. For more information on Asian carp management, visit Asian Carp Management.

12/8/09

Local success stories: unwanted medicine collection programs

At the 2009 Governor's Conference on the Management of the Illinois River System in October, several IISG specialists presented a talk titled Strategies for Sustainable Unwanted Medicine Collection Programs: in Communities, in the Classroom and Beyond as part of a session about community action success stories. The article from the conference proceedings is now available.

In their session, Beth Hinchey Malloy, Great Lakes ecosystem health specialist, and Robin Goettel, associate director for education, discussed the work that has been done related to unwanted medicine collection programs. They highlighted the Sea Grant tool kit—Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community and IISG’s partnership with the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2), which is a component of the program’s new education initiative. Coming soon for high school teachers and other educators is The Medicine Chest: A Collection of Safe Disposal Curriculum Activities and Education Resources.

12/7/09

In the news: Redrawing the American City

From the NRDC's onEarth:
On a warm, sunny day in July, I took a ride to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago. By coincidence, it happened to be just a few days after the city's most distinctive landmark was officially renamed. It's now called the Willis Tower, for a London-based insurance company that acquired the naming rights. I had come to Chicago to contemplate urban sprawl, so the timing seemed symbolic: Sears began to lay plans for the tower in the 1960s and built it in the early 1970s, back when major corporations still saw our historic city centers as the real seats of power. But that would change, and by 1989 Sears was planning to build a sprawling, 786-acre office park some 33 miles northwest of downtown, in a suburb called Hoffman Estates. Read more.


12/4/09

In the news: Killer carp: In hiding or just a big fish tale?

From the Detroit Free Press:
As cleanup and Asian carp-searching efforts continued after a massive poisoning in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on Thursday, officials said they had found a lone Asian carp among the 200,000 pounds of dead fish.

The bighead carp, nearly 22 inches long, was found just above the lock and dam at Lockport.

That's one of many spots where DNA testing since July has shown the presence of carp.

The find is important because it established that the DNA testing is correct. That same testing has shown that there are carp just below an even more critical lock, the O'Brien lock, 7 miles from Lake Michigan.

A biologist who tested the poison on carp said Thursday that the fact that more carp weren't showing up dead in the canal wasn't surprising, since his tests showed they would sink to the bottom. Read more and watch video.


12/3/09

In the news: Thousands of dead fish scooped from canal in carp-kill effort

From the Chicago Tribune:
Fisheries biologists were combing the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal this afternoon for dead fish as the state eradicates the invasive Asian carp outside Romeoville.

Boaters are scooping the fish off the surface of the water with hand nets and deploying drag nets to collect fish by the thousands. Officials can't say whether any of the tens of thousands of fish believed to have been collected so far are the dreaded Asian carp, a voracious species of fish that biologists are trying to keep out of the Great Lakes. Read more and see photos.


12/2/09

IISG in the news: Spreading word to halt spread of discarded drugs

From a Pentagraph editorial:
Like a pebble dropped in a lake, sending ripples far beyond the starting point, the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal program started by teachers and students at Pontiac Township High School, continues to spread its impact across the country.

It’s a fitting metaphor for a program designed to protect the safety and quality of our drinking water.

The key message behind the program is that improper disposal of old drugs — flushing them down the toilet or down a drain — can lead to contamination of water supplies. Throwing them in the trash could lead to them falling in the wrong hands.

But, without an active Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal program — the P2D2 program — consumers have few options. Read more.


12/1/09

Public Meeting for Grand Calumet River Clean Up

On Thursday, December 3, 3:00-7:00 pm, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office will hold an open house to provide the public an opportunity to meet with EPA and Indiana representatives one-on-one about the cleanup of contaminated sediment in a section of the West Branch of the Grand Calumet River.

The first phase of the cleanup will begin in December 2009 and extend from Columbia to Calumet avenues. This is an opportunity to learn what to expect during the project, such as the cleanup process, transportation routes, air monitoring and the location of fencing.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and federal trustees are partnering with EPA to restore this neighborhood resource. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is providing additional support.

This is a Great Lakes Legacy Act project.

The meeting will take place at the Hammond Public Library, 564 State Street.

11/30/09

In the news: More bad news (plus a glimmer of hope) about Asian carp

From the Detroit Free Press:
Scientists at the Department of Natural Resources Lake Huron research laboratory have spent decades trying to figure out how to cope with destructive exotic invaders from alewives to zebra mussels.

So when it became obvious last week that a federal effort to keep two species of Asian carp out of the Great lakes is on the verge of failure, lab chief James Johnson asked a very pertinent question: Could filter-feeders like silver and bighead carp eat the abundant cladophora algae that has covered thousands of square miles of the lakes? Read more.


11/23/09

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Request for Proposals

From the U.S. EPA:
This Request For Proposals (RFP) [PDF 583Kb, 79 pages] solicits proposals from eligible entities for grants and cooperative agreements to be awarded pursuant to a portion of the $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative included in Public Law 111-88, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 which is in furtherance of President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (the “Initiative”) announced in February 2009. Read more.

11/20/09

In the news: New eDNA Monitoring Results Spurs Rapid Response Action

From the Army Corp of Engineers:
On November 17, the University of Notre Dame notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that some water samples, taken from the area between the electric barriers and Lake Michigan on September 23 and October 1, tested positive for the presence of Asian carp. The positive samples were from an area about one mile south of the O'Brien Lock, approximately 8 miles from Lake Michigan.

As part of its ongoing Asian carp monitoring program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to work with the university to use eDNA genetic testing of water samples to monitor the presence of bighead and silver carp in Chicago area waterways.

"Keeping Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan remains the focus and goal of the IDNR and the Rapid Response Work Group. We will continue to work with the group and our partners on how best to address this new issue and move forward with achieving our overall goal," said IDNR Assistant Director John Rogner.

The multi-agency rapid response team is working to develop appropriate courses of action based on this new information. Initial response actions will include focusing Asian carp eDNA sampling and other monitoring efforts on areas upstream of the barrier to gather near real-time data on the current location of Asian carp to aid the Rapid Response team in their planning efforts.

The Rapid Response Work Group is finalizing plans to apply rotenone to a section of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in early December as part of a scheduled fish barrier maintenance shut down.

“Scheduled barrier maintenance will proceed as planned,” said Major General John W. Peabody, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. “This new information reinforces the importance of preventing any further intrusion of the Asian carp via the largest pathway, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.”

Additional information about the recent sampling efforts is available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' website.

Additional information about Asian carp and the Rapid Response Work Group members is at www.asiancarp.org/rapidresponse.

In the news: Asian carp may have breached barrier

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The decade-old battle to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes might be over.

New research shows the fish likely have made it past the $9 million electric fish barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a source familiar with the situation told the Journal Sentinel late Thursday.

The barrier is considered the last chance to stop the super-sized fish that can upend entire ecosystems, and recent environmental DNA tests showed that the carp had advanced to within a mile of the barrier. Read more.


11/18/09

In the news: Indiana Dunes threatened by climate change, report warns

From the Chicago Tribune:
About a decade ago, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore had one of the country's largest populations of the Karner blue butterfly. The nickel-size insects feasted on the national park's bountiful wild lupine and relied on northwest Indiana's heavy snowfall to protect its eggs in winter for spring hatching.

But the butterfly's population has declined in recent years, and some researchers are pointing to, among other things, warmer winters, less snowfall and other weather-related changes threatening the wild lupine.

The Karner blue's predicament is one of many listed in a report released last month naming the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore among 25 national parks in the United States endangered by climate change. Read more.


11/17/09

In the news: Chicago canal to be poisoned to stop Asian carp

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A practical battalion of state and federal fishery workers will soon be dispatched to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in a drastic attempt to keep Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan.

Early next month, more than 200 people are expected to participate in a two-day, $1.5 million project to poison nearly 6 miles of canal just southwest of Chicago. The idea is for biologists to temporarily kill the river so a new electric fish barrier can be briefly shut down for maintenance. Read more.


11/16/09

IISG goes back to Indiana for unwanted medicine collection program workshop

When people's prescriptions change, their drugs expire or are no longer needed, these medicines are typically flushed or thrown away. A 2008 Associated Press investigation found pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas.

Illinois-Indian Sea Grant has developed a series of toolkits and initiatives to help communities, schools and individuals develop and promote programs for safe disposal of unwanted medicine.

This Thursday, November 19, over 110 local waste managers and others are registered to take part in a one-day workshop on developing collection programs for unwanted medicines in Indianapolis. This workshop will provide information and tools for community unwanted medicine collection programs, as well as for pharmacies and medical facilities to safely manage unwanted medicines. Presenters will focus on alternatives to flushing, including best practices from solid waste facilities in Indiana and surrounding states.

Topics to be discussed include: why unwanted medicine disposal is a problem, wastewater treatment issues, unwanted medication handling and disposal, and an update on legislation regarding unwanted medicine collection and disposal.

This is the third workshop on this topic that IISG has sponsored in Indianapolis in the past several years. This workshop is also sponsored by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Indiana Board of Pharmacy, the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance, the Indiana Household Hazardous Waste Task Force, and Eli Lilly.

For more information on the tool kit, visit Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community or contact IISG’s Beth Hinchey Malloy or Susan Boehme.

In the news: Leasing water system could be a risky move for Chicago

From the Chicago Tribune:
Mayor Richard Daley says any part of city government is up for grabs if the price is right.

But if he is tempted to dangle Chicago's vast water system as his next lease deal, he might want to first consult Atlanta, which is still smarting from a botched experiment with privatizing a big-city water supply.

Or the mayor could look someplace closer to home, like Bolingbrook, one of dozens of suburbs and downstate communities furious about steep rate increases imposed by a private water operator.

Daley is searching for more jackpots as his administration draws heavily on the money it reaped from leasing parking meters and the Chicago Skyway to ease the city through the recession. The mayor recently told the Tribune editorial board that he has met with consultants who outlined new privatization deals, but he would not provide details. Read more.


11/13/09

In the news: Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across US

From Science Daily:
Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb. Read more.


11/4/09

In the news: Marquette Greenway takes big step forward

From the Post-Tribune:
It may not have been the biggest news of last week, but it likely will have a longer-lasting impact on Northwest Indiana than any other story.

What we are talking about is the unveiling of the 9.65-mile trail that will connect the east and west halves of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Lakeshore Connector is a vital link in the 50-mile Marquette Greenway trail that will run from the Illinois border to the Michigan state line. Read more.


11/2/09

In the News: New insights into pesticide for invasives

From the Traverse City Record Eagle:
Great Lakes officials are trying to beat back the voracious Asian carp at the gates of Lake Michigan, while still wrangling with another nasty invader that snuck in at least 90 years ago.

Sea lampreys, eel-like parasitic fish native to the Atlantic Ocean, use a mouthful of teeth and a bony tongue to latch onto and scrape through fish flesh.

Scientists debate whether the lamprey is native to Lake Ontario, where it was discovered in 1835. But it invaded Lake Erie by 1921 and spread throughout the Great Lakes, reaching Lake Superior in 1938, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Now researchers have new insights on a pesticide used against lampreys for 60 years. Their findings could help fishery managers kill more lampreys with less money and less poison in Great Lakes streams. Read more.


In the News: Nudging Recycling From Less Waste to None

From the New York Times:
At Yellowstone National Park, the clear soda cups and white utensils are not your typical cafe-counter garbage. Made of plant-based plastics, they dissolve magically when heated for more than a few minutes.

At Ecco, a popular restaurant in Atlanta, waiters no longer scrape food scraps into the trash bin. Uneaten morsels are dumped into five-gallon pails and taken to a compost heap out back.

And at eight of its North American plants, Honda is recycling so diligently that the factories have gotten rid of their trash Dumpsters altogether.

Across the nation, an antigarbage strategy known as “zero waste” is moving from the fringes to the mainstream, taking hold in school cafeterias, national parks, restaurants, stadiums and corporations. Read more.


10/30/09

In the News: Obama EPA adviser on Great Lakes says climate change will dictate restoration efforts

From the Metro-Cleveland:






Cameron Davis, Great Lakes 'czar' for the Obama administration, said today that climate change will drive future clean-up efforts on the lakes.
"I look at the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as a climate change adaptation effort," Davis said in Cleveland this afternoon at a press briefing at the Great Lakes Science Center prior to the final public hearing of the a federal task force on oceans and the Great Lakes. "Everything that we're trying to do -- we, meaning the EPA and its 15 federal partners -- is designed to address the kind of stressors that we're likely to see coming to the Great Lakes as a result of climate change." Read more.

10/29/09

In the News: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative clears congressional conference committee

From the Great Lakes Commission:
One of the most ambitious environmental restoration efforts ever proposed for the Great Lakes appears imminent following the emergence from a House-Senate conference committee of legislation providing $475 million for a comprehensive Great Lakes restoration and protection initiative.

“We call on the House and Senate to approve, and the President to sign into law, the conference committee report. Our region is well prepared and ready to get to work cleaning up polluted hot spots and restoring recreational opportunities that are vital to local economies,” said Great Lakes Commission Chairman Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was proposed by President Barack Obama in his 2010 budget to focus on the most critical environmental concerns facing the Great Lakes, including invasive species, toxic sediments, nonpoint source pollutants and wildlife habitat loss. Following passage by the House at the $475 million funding level sought by President Obama, the measure was approved by the Senate at $400 million. A conference committee announced agreement yesterday on $475 million to support the first year of the Initiative. Read more.


10/27/09

In the News: Freshwater species making comeback in Great Lakes region

From the Toledo Blade:
The mighty lake sturgeon - an odd-looking North American fish that has been on Earth no fewer than 150 million years and that coexisted with dinosaurs for at least 85 million years - is making a comeback in the Great Lakes region after nearly going extinct in the early 1900s. Read more.


10/23/09

Bringing more local fish to a market near you


Kwamena Quagrainie, IISG aquaculture marketing specialist, has been awarded $60,000 by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to help fish farmers develop new marketing strategies. He will assess the preferences for fresh-on-ice fish at ethnic markets, traditional meat and fish markets, and independent grocery stores. He will also study processor purchase requirements of wild-caught fish from the Great Lakes. The goal of this project is to encourage processing of farmed fish and aid the development of marketing strategies that integrate fresh farm-raised fish products into existing fresh seafood markets in Chicago and the larger region.

10/21/09

In the News: Obama's EPA cracks down, orders more tests for BP refinery

From the Chicago Tribune:
The Obama administration is cracking down on BP as the oil company overhauls its massive refinery in northwest Indiana, one of the largest sources of air pollution in the Chicago area.

In response to a petition from environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday ordered Indiana regulators to revamp a new operating permit for the Midwest's biggest refinery. The groups, along with elected officials in Illinois, contend Indiana had allowed the oil giant to avoid stringent requirements under the federal Clean Air Act. Read more.


10/15/09

Zelda and Helga Put in an Appearance at Midwest Teachers Conference


IISG education specialists are offering two workshop presentations as part of the Midwest Environmental Education Conference that is taking place October 14-17 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Illinois.

Robin Goettel
and Terri Hallesy will join with Natalie Carroll, Purdue University Extension and Madonna Weese, University of Illinois Extension, to discuss “Students as Stewards for Change: Informing Their Community about Proper Disposal of Unwanted Medicines.” Goettel and Hallesy will also have some fun discussing costumes characters as learning tools in the workshop “Zelda Meets Helga on the Aquatic View” in which a “spokesmussel” and invasive hydrilla tell stories of their population explosion in the Midwest and southern regions.

For more information about the conference, visit the conference website.

10/13/09

Invasive Hydroid May Strain Food Source of Young Fish


As if Lake Michigan fish don’t have enough competition for resources. An Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant study has found that the diet of an invasive freshwater hydroid includes organisms that are an important food source for young-of-the-year and bottom-dwelling fish.

Cordylophora caspia typically eats larval zebra and quagga mussels,” said Nadine Folino-Rorem, Wheaton College biologist. “However, when those sources are not readily available, the hydroid can feed on other invertebrates, which potentially affects prey availability for fish.” Folino-Rorem, along with Martin Berg, a Loyola University Chicago biologist, studied the distribution and diet of C. caspia in Lake Michigan.

The hydroid lives in freshwater and brackish or slightly salty habitats. The freshwater colonial hydroid is native to the Caspian and Black Seas. C. caspia colonies consist of several polyps or individuals approximately one millimeter long that are interconnected by their gastrovascular cavities. Colonies grow on hard surfaces; in southern Lake Michigan, C. caspia can be found in harbors on rocks, piers, pilings, and on clusters of zebra and quagga mussels.

The researchers found C. caspia in all eight Chicago harbors sampled as well as at two offshore sites. In fact, the population of the freshwater hydroid is growing in Lake Michigan. Folino-Rorem speculates that this may be due in part to street salts washing into the lake and changing water quality. “C. caspia thrives in higher salinity,” she explained.

The researchers also found that the freshwater hydroid can eat organisms—chironomids-- that are two to three times its size. “This was often accomplished by working together,” said Folino-Rorem. “When one polyp gets a hold of a chironomid, the organism can continue to thrash about until another polyp latches onto it too. The two polyps engulf the chironomid, sometimes meeting in the middle.”

C. caspia is limited in its range due to its need to colonize on hard surfaces—Lake Michigan’s muddy bottom does not provide a hospitable habitat. However, the recent spread of quagga mussels may increase the amount of available substrate for attachment. Unlike zebra mussels, quagga mussels can colonize the soft, muddy bottoms found in deeper areas. According to Tom Nalepa, a NOAA biologist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, 99 percent of what his team finds when sampling offshore in southern Lake Michigan waters is quagga mussels.

“They are more efficient than zebra mussels in using food resources,” he said. “And they tolerate cooler temperatures. We found that the number of quagga mussels in deep and in shallow waters far exceeds zebra mussel numbers even at their peak.”

For C. caspia, the spread of quagga mussels may prove beneficial in terms of expanding their range to offshore waters. For fish populations, this may prove to be more bad news.

10/12/09

IDEM offers free unwanted medicines workshop

Due to advances in medical technology, more people are using medication to maintain their health and vitality, but for many reasons, entire prescriptions are not always entirely consumed.

Because their disposal is becoming an environmental, public safety, and criminal concern, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and other organizations are facilitating a free, unwanted medicines workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, at the IUPUI Campus Center in Indianapolis. Registration deadline is Nov. 12, 2009.

“Public health, natural resource and environmental experts have determined that flushing unwanted medicines is no longer an acceptable practice,” said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. “Many medicines pass through wastewater treatment facilities and septic systems, ending up in streams, lakes and groundwater. We want to help educate collection sites about how to properly dispose of the pharmaceuticals.”

This workshop will provide information and tools for community unwanted medicine collection programs, as well as for pharmacies and medical facilities to safely manage unwanted medicines. Presenters will focus on alternatives to flushing, including best practices from solid waste facilities in Indiana and surrounding states.

Topics to be discussed include: why unwanted medicine disposal is a problem, wastewater treatment issues, unwanted medication handling and disposal, and an update on legislation regarding unwanted medicine collection and disposal.

In addition to IDEM, sponsors include: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program, Indiana Board of Pharmacy, Indiana Household Hazardous Waste Task Force, Indiana Pharmacists Alliance and Eli Lilly.

For more information, contact IDEM’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Technical Assistance at 1-800-988-7901, e-mail: kbrier@idem.in.gov or sboggs@idem.in.gov, or visit the IDEM web site.

10/5/09

In the News: Climate change report details impact on Indiana Dunes

From the Post-Tribune:
Climate change could increase the number of invasive species at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, limit the number of trout and salmon, and reduce the opportunity to snow shoe at the park, according to a report released Thursday by two environmental groups.

As the Post-Tribune reported Wednesday, the report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization says climate change is a threat to the park's diverse ecosystem. The report ranks the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as one of the 25 national parks most threatened by climate change. Read more.


9/30/09

In the News: More effort needed to control sewer overflow

From the Post-Tribune:
A large amount of stimulus funding should be spent on improving infrastructure to avoid millions of gallons of sewage overflowing into the Great Lakes, a new report says.

The biennial report, released Monday by the International Joint Commission, assesses how much progress has been made toward achieving the American-Canadian commission's goal of reducing and preventing pollution from municipal sources into the Great Lakes. Read more.


9/29/09

Fair Brings Together Green Opportunities


Terri Hallesy, IISG education specialist, helped a Green Fair visitor play the game Get Rid of Stuff Sensibly in Catigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois on Saturday, September 26. Several hundred visitors to the IISG booth found information on better ways to get rid of medicine, electronic equipment, aquarium fish, and more.

The first annual Green Fair, sponsored by Catigny Park and School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education or SCARCE, provided an opportunity for visitors to drop off recyclable items, to learn about green opportunities, and to have fun.

9/28/09

New medicine drop off box installed at Illinois State Police Headquarters in LaSalle County


Illinois Valley Community Hospital worked with the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2) to initiate a new medicine collection program at the Illinois State Police Headquarters in LaSalle County. Residents can drop off their unwanted medicines at the station using a new medicine drop box. The drop box was installed at a ceremony at the police headquarters on September 23, 2009. IISG purchased the drop box for the station.

Pictured by the box are: (back row left to right)--State Senator Gary Dahl; City of La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove; La Salle Police Chief Rob Uranich, Tommy Hobbs, CEO Illinois Valley Community Hospital; Captain Roach, Chief of State Police District 17; Ashleigh Scholle, student at Area Career Center located at La Salle Peru Township High School; Jennifer Sines,pharmacist Illinois Valley Community Hospital; Deb Parisot, graphic arts teacher at the Area Career Center; Trooper Craig Graham, State Police District 17.

9/22/09

SOLEC Report Focused on Nearshore Conditions

Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are pleased to release the Nearshore Areas of the Great Lakes 2009 Report. This report describes the current state of nearshore area environmental conditions and changes in nearshore areas of the Great Lakes since 1996, and it suggests management implications related to nearshore issues.

Nearshore areas of the Great Lakes are important because this is where land-based activities can impact water quality and where humans generally interact with the Great Lakes.

The report includes information on the issues of botulism, harmful algae blooms, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), and shoreline development, among other stressors. Experts in the United States and Canada contributed the chapters for this report, which was prepared for the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) 2008.

At the link above, you can read or download the full report or the State of the Great Lakes Highlights.

9/21/09

Purdue’s Green Week: Smart Growth for Communities

On September 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Bob McCormick, IISG Planning with POWER project leader, will give a talk titled “Smart Growth for Communities” as part of Purdue University’s Green Week. McCormick will introduce the ten principles of smart growth and how they can be implemented in Indiana. He will also discuss examples of ongoing smart growth in Indiana.

The larger topic for the evening is sustainable land use, so in addition to McCormick’s talk, Brent Ladd, learning and engagement coordinator in Purdue University's Center for the Environment at Discovery Park, will discuss “Permaculture Design for the Home.” He will present the basic concepts behind permaculture and provide examples of how this approach can create a more sustainable home and backyard environment.

These talks will take place in the Elm Room, on the second floor of the West Lafayette Library.

9/17/09

Purdue, West Lafayette Go Green


On Wednesday, September 16, a “Drug Drop” took place at the Farmer’s Market in West Lafayette, Indiana. This event was organized by the West Lafayette Go Greener Commission. More than a barrelful of medicine was collected from the general public and was taken from the premises by local police for proper disposal. IISG provided informational brochures on the environmental impacts of flushing medicines to this event. We also supplied organizers with pill boxes for distribution that remind people not to flush medicine.

On September 24, IISG’s specialists Susan Boehme and Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy will deliver an evening workshop presentation as part of Purdue University’s Green Week Festival. The workshop is entitled “The Problem of Unwanted Medicines: Environmental Impacts of Unwanted Medicines and Best Disposal Practices” and in addition to Boehme and Hinchey Malloy, features presentations by Marisol SepĂșlveda, Purdue associate professor, and Dawn Boston from the Wildcat Creek Solid Waste Management District.

Purdue University is sponsoring Green Week on September 15-19 to raise environmental awareness on campus and in the greater Lafayette community. Each day will focus on one aspect of preserving the environment and practicing conservation. There will be opportunities for students, faculty and staff, and community members to participate throughout the week.

9/15/09

In the News: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering

From the New York Times:
Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.

In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system. Read more.

This link also provides a way to search data on more than 200,000 facilities around the nation permitted to discharge pollutants. Just choose a state and put in your zip code.

9/10/09

In the News: Asian carp misery spreads to barge operators

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
The leaping Asian carp have long been a problem for recreational boaters plying waters infested by the species, which was accidentally unleashed two decades ago during government sewage treatment experiments in Arkansas.

Now the misery has spread to commercial barge operators near Chicago.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday it will end a subsidy that provides an extra tow boat for barges moving through a new carp barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Read more.


9/8/09

In the News: Half of Fish Consumed Globally Is Now Raised on Farms, Study Finds

From Science Daily:
Aquaculture, once a fledgling industry, now accounts for 50 percent of the fish consumed globally, according to a new report by an international team of researchers. And while the industry is more efficient than ever, it is also putting a significant strain on marine resources by consuming large amounts of feed made from wild fish harvested from the sea, the authors conclude. Their findings are published in the Sept. 7 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Read more.


In the News: Utility denies damaging park with Bailly water

From the Post-Tribune:
Northern Indiana Public Service Co. is in hot water with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore because of a warm water discharge from the Bailly Generating Station.

The discharge has eroded away 500 feet of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore shoreline along with beach and wildlife habitat over a quarter mile. It also heats up the lake water. Read more.


9/3/09

IISG at the Farm Progress Show


Brian Miller, IISG director, was interviewed on September 2 at the Illinois Farm Progress Show for WCIA-TV, a Champaign-Urbana CBS affiliate. He talked about the program and focused on several recent impacts including the 2008 Earth Day project with U.S. EPA. Over 25 Great Lakes communities held collection events and over four million pills and four million pounds of ewaste were collected and disposed of properly. Miller also talks about the Local Decision Maker project, a GIS-based web tool that helps local communities incorporate natural resources intro the comprehensive planning process. The video is here.

8/31/09

Seminar Looks to Northwest Indiana Environmental Past, Present and Future

The Great Lakes and northwest Indiana landscapes will provide the backdrop for a Coast Week seminar at Purdue University Calumet. On Thursday, September 10, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Mark Reshkin will discuss the region’s geology and the history of human settlements, bringing the story up to today’s environmental concerns related to water. This talk is free and open to the public.

The seminar will touch on lake levels, climate change, water quality and quantity concerns, as well as ways that some environmental issues are being addressed. “In the end, I hope to convey that right now we are in a time of great problems, but also in a time of great opportunities,” said Reshkin, an Indiana University Northwest (IUN) professor emeritus of geology and public and environmental affairs. “With the Great Lakes initiative and other investments in the region, we can affect great change, but communities will need to work together in ways they haven’t in the past.”

In addition to his position at IUN, Reshkin has engaged in research for the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. He was also a senior scientist and chief of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Science Division.

The seminar is sponsored by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and Purdue University Calumet. It is part of “Coast Week 2009: Discover Your Coast,” which is organized by the Lake Michigan Coastal Program, and takes place during the week of September 5-13. Coast Week features a wide variety of events to celebrate the diversity and splendor of the Lake Michigan Coastal Region.

“Wherever your interests lie, I’m sure there is an activity or two during Coast Week that you’ll find interesting and exciting,” commented Leslie Dorworth, IISG aquatic ecology specialist.

Mark Reshkin’s seminar will take place in the Student Union and Library Building on the Purdue University Calumet campus. If you would like more information, contact Dorworth at 219-989-2726 or dorworth@calumet.purdue.edu

8/26/09

In the news: Enviros warn of weed-killer in water

From the Post-Tribune:
A common weed killer used on lawns and farm fields is wreaking havoc on wildlife and possibly human health, according to a report released by a national environmental group Monday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's report on the pesticide atrazine in rivers and drinking water shows Indiana is one of five states where contamination was most severe. Read more.


8/21/09

IISG at the Illinois State Fair





Our new exhibit Getting Rid of Stuff Sensibly is on display in Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair, which runs through Sunday. While the marble game is fun and informative for kids, adults can learn some sensible ways for disposing of medicine, old computers, and more. Plus we are handing out mailing envelopes for old cell phones and pill boxes with the message "Don't flush pills."

8/18/09

Boats,nets, fish and Lake Michigan research


Children attending the "Boats, Nets, Fish and Lake Michigan Research" event hosted by IISG, the Illinois Natural History Survey and COSEE Great Lakes learned about the different organisms that inhabit the lake and the various sampling equipment used by scientists. In this photo, Shelley Berlincourt, Sea Grant summer intern, shows the children how to use a zooplankton net to collect tiny organisms in the water column.

This Science Saturday event, which took place last month, was part of Science Chicago, a yearlong Museum of Science and Industry initiative that aims to establish the crucial value of science and math in its residents. The final Science Chicago event will be a Lab Fest in Millennium Park on August 21. (Photo above courtesy of Steve Lichti.)

8/17/09

Teachers educate IISG about classroom plants and animals


Aquatic invasive species make their way into our waters through a variety of means. One is through classroom specimens that end up released into local rivers and lakes when the class work is done.

"Live Plants and Animals in the Classroom: Developing Teacher-Based Solutions” is the name of a focus group meeting that was held on August 12 at the Chicago Zoological Society's Brookfield Zoo. Ten educators representing elementary, middle, and high schools in Illinois and Indiana, as well as two school librarians and a zoo educator participated in the discussion.

This event is one important component of a grant from NOAA-Sea Grant coordinated by the Oregon Sea Grant Program. The goal of the project is to develop appropriate solutions that will help prevent new introductions of organisms into local waterways. Wei Ying Wong, Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Connecticut College, facilitated the four-hour focus group discussion. Several IISG staff members planned and attended this event--Robin Goettel, associate director for education, Terri Hallesy, education specialist, Pat Charlebois, aquatic invasives specialist and Kristin TePas, aquatic invasive extension associate. Lanis Petrik, senior education specialist at the Brookfield Zoo, arranged for the room, lunch, and our conference equipment.

The goal of the focus group was to obtain input from educators who use live organisms in their classrooms. These educators shared perspectives on ways that they use live species in the classroom and why they feel they are important in helping students learn. They also discussed where they get their organisms and their concerns about using live species in the classroom such as how do deal with long-term care and disposal.

Many of the educators expressed concern with the option of euthanizing these animals after use. The focus group concluded with an interesting discussion about what types of resources on invasive species would be helpful to them, what might lead them to use the resources, and how IISG and others can best reach out to teachers and students regarding information about invasive species as they relate to live organisms used in the classroom.

Here are a couple quotes from two participants:

"I am an elementary general teacher and I want to learn more. We don’t have a science specialist coming to our bi-lingual school. It’s difficult to go in depth into something as valuable as science. It can become an overwhelming issue."

"I am amazed at how much I do not know! Glad to know there are other teachers out there that are better versed, but there is still a lot that they need to know."

8/14/09

Come Find Sea Grant at the Illinois State Fair



Let's all go to the fair!
As the Illinois State Fair kicks off today, IISG introduces a new exhibit, Getting Rid of Stuff Sensibly, or GROSS, as we've come to call it.

This exhibit informs audiences of all ages about environmentally wise ways to recycle, reuse, or dispose of medicines, electronics, fish and aquatic plants and more. For the kids, the exhibit includes a colorful marble game that provides a fun way to think through getting rid of stuff.

For those who take part in our exhibit, we have complimentary pill box cases and mini-frisbees--both made from recycled plastic--that have useful information on them. We will also have free mailing envelopes for recycling old cell phones.

Look for us in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources tent in Conservation World. (Photo above courtesy of creativecommons.org.)

8/13/09

New Study on Green Infrastructure to Assess Stormwater Management

Green roof tops are sprouting up around Chicago. But what is the most useful way to incorporate green infrastructure into urban settings? Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) Environmental Planning Specialist Martin Jaffe recently received a $300,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to assess the use of green infrastructure for urban stormwater management in Illinois.

Green infrastructure is a growing movement toward sustainable, environmentally-friendly approaches to land use planning. Popular practices include rain gardens, permeable pavements, and green roofs, which seek to maximize on natural resources while maintaining environmental health. Jaffe’s team will be collecting data and monitoring the performance of such practices in urban environments.

"This study should help state officials decide which green infrastructure proposals ought to be funded and which should be given lower priority, based on the proven effectiveness of the various best management practices in different settings," said Jaffe, who is also an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jaffe’s results will also be used by IISG to develop a plan to inform local officials, municipal engineers, and planners about the proper role of green infrastructure in urban stormwater management.

The 18-month grant is the result of recent legislation, mandating a statewide study of green infrastructure in Illinois. Jaffe’s co-principal investigators will be studying the effect of wetlands in various landscapes on pollution control.

This study also coincidentally comes on the heels of a rise in flood peaks in Chicago metropolitan areas, due to growing urbanization, as documented by IISG-funded research by Momcilo Markus, Illinois State Water Survey.

“We are not focused on urban flood peaks,” Jaffe said. “However, flood peaks have a complex relationship to green infrastructure. Some green infrastructure best management practices, such as wetlands, can provide flood storage, and practices encouraging infiltration and on-site storage can potentially reduce such peaks through minimizing runoff to surface waters.”

The study’s consultants include Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, who will be examining the legal standards of green infrastructure in urban stormwater management and whether measures used in the study will be transferable to downstate rural counties and small towns.

8/10/09

In the News: Carp detected near barrier

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Asian carp are on the move north and are likely within about 10 miles of an electric barrier designed to keep the giant filter feeders from invading the Great Lakes.

A new type of DNA testing indicated last week that silver carp had cleared one of the last physical obstacles standing between the fish and Lake Michigan, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

For several years, the northern migration of the silver carp, which can grow to 50 pounds, had stalled in a pool just above the Dresden Island Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River southwest of Joliet, Ill. - about 20 miles downstream from the barrier.

Now it looks like they have cleared the upstream Brandon Road Lock and Dam, leaving only about 10 river miles and one navigational lock between the fish and the barrier - the last line of defense for the Great Lakes. Read more.


8/4/09

In the News: Critics say little change since BP permit issued

From the Post-Tribune:
It's been two years since the Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued the controversial water permit for BP Whiting, allowing the refinery to increase pollution into Lake Michigan.

An independent report by Indiana University professor Jim Barnes concluded that unclear state laws on when, and by how much, a facility can increase its discharges into Lake Michigan led to the controversy over the permit.

But critics say the problems Barnes pointed out have yet to be resolved.

"I'm really concerned, based on the history in Indiana, that as the rules exist now, BP could happen again," said Brad Klein, attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago. Read more.


7/28/09

IISG Wins Water Resource Education and Public Service Award

IISG was presented with a 2009 Education and Public Service Award from the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago in July. This award is given by UCOWR in recognition of individuals, groups or agencies that have made significant contributions to increased public awareness of water resources development, use or management.

IISG was recognized for the program’s efforts regarding natural resource issues facing the greater Chicago metropolitan region, including water supply. Despite the fact that Chicago sits on the plentiful resource of Lake Michigan, the region is facing a growing population and a water supply that is limited, both legally and practically.

Throughout the decade, IISG has supported and informed efforts to develop regional plans regarding water supply and other natural resource issues facing the region. For example, in 2001 IISG helped the Tri-State Wingspread Accord get off the ground. The accord brought together planning agencies from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin to address issues on a larger scale. Through this agreement, water supply planning can take place on a watershed or aquifer basis, which often extends beyond state lines. Since then, Michigan has joined the accord, and the group continues to make historic efforts to address future coastal resource needs.

Last year, in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the University of Illinois Extension, IISG hired a water resource economist to oversee the economic analysis to support the development and implementation of a sustainable water use and supply plan for the Chicago region. Margaret Schneemann is examining the costs and benefits of the water supply planning process, including conservation options, and is developing an optimal water pricing schedule for the region.

“We are very proud that our contributions to water resource education have been recognized by UCOWR,” said Brian Miller, IISG director. “Addressing water quantity and quality issues in the region requires a team effort that includes partnerships with agencies and organizations. Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of working with great partners.”

UCOWR consists of over 90 member universities and organizations throughout the world. UCOWR's goals include: facilitating water-related education at all levels; promoting meaningful research and technology transfer on contemporary and emerging water resources issues; compiling and disseminating information on water problems and solutions; and informing the public about water issues with the objective of promoting informed decisions at all levels of society. Member institutions engage in education, research, public service, international activities, and information support for policy development related to water resources.

7/24/09

Play Nab the Aquatic Invader! in Humboldt Park

IISG is in Humboldt Park today as part of a Science Chicago Labfest. Visitors to the park can play "Nab the Aquatic Invader!" and learn about Great Lakes invasive species.

Science Chicago is a year-long celebration organized by the Museum of Science and Industry. Here's how the website describes Labfests:
LabFests! will take place in local parks, neighborhood libraries and fab locations all across the region all summer long. Get your "wow" on and get into it with hands-on science fun featuring interactive demonstrations, crafts projects, science and environmental activities with some of the region's most popular museums, institutions and after school science organizations.

Today's event in Humboldt Park runs from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, including a map, click here.

7/20/09

In the News: Great Lakes water levels rebound after long slump

From the Associated Press:
Great Lakes water levels are rebounding after a decade-long slump that hammered the maritime industry and even fed conspiracy theories about plots to drain the inland seas that make up nearly one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water.

The three biggest lakes — Superior, Huron and Michigan — have risen steadily since fall 2007, when for a couple of months Superior's levels were the lowest on record and the others nearly so. Erie, shallowest of the lakes, actually exceeded its long-term average in June. So did Lake Ontario, although its level is determined more by artificial structures than nature. Read more.


JULY 2009 – PRE-PROPOSAL REQUEST FOR GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH SUPPORT

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program Graduate Research & Outreach
Support Pre-Proposals


Program Description: The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program (IISG) has limited discretionary funds to support ongoing Graduate Student research in promising areas of research and outreach projects. For 2009, the IISG is especially interested in investing in graduate student research programs that would improve thesis or dissertation projects. Those projects that have a focus in one of our nine topic areas identified in our strategic plan are especially encouraged (please visit our Topics page for more information on our topic areas). The topics include:

• Aquaculture
• Aquatic Invasive Species
• Coastal Restoration
• Fish Consumption
• Great Lakes Health (especially Lake Michigan)
• Land Use Planning
• Pharmaceutical Disposal
• Water Quality
• Water Supply


We anticipate awarding Graduate Student support to 2-4 projects at $6,000 depending on how well projects align with our objectives, project need and rigor, the potential for project impact, and the degree to which the funds will improve the student’s research. Selected pre-proposals meeting award criteria will be invited to submit full documentation through appropriate institutional mechanisms (i.e., appropriate institutional grants and contract office). Funding is intended for improvement of the project and will be provided for one year from date of award and must be completed by September, 30 2010.

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled in an educational or research institution of higher learning within Illinois or Indiana is eligible. Funds are not to be used to cover stipend, tuition, or fees.

Pre-proposal Submission: For full consideration, pre-proposals should be submitted by COB, August 7, 2009 to iisg@illinois.edu. Please indicate “2009 Graduate Student Research Support” on the subject line. Required forms are available on request or by visiting here. Attach only required documents for program pre-proposal consideration including:

1) 90-2 Project Summary Form - This form will serve as the project preproposal. A description of the Form 90-2 is available: Guidelines for 90-2. The student’s pre-proposal should outline a) description of the problem addressed by his/her research project - preferably tied to a specific IISG Strategic Objective; b) a description of the impact of the problem; c) a non-technical description of the methods to address the problem; d) expected results and project area impacts; and anticipated date of graduation.. Not all fields requested at the top of the Program Summary form are applicable to program development funding, therefore, only fill out the items for which are appropriate. For questions, contact, John Epifanio, IISG research coordinator at epifanio@illinois.edu or call 217-244-6916. The Project Summary Form should not exceed 4 pages in length. Please email all forms or documents in PDF File format.

2) 90-4 Budget Form (Required format). A description of the Form 90-4 and an Excel format budget worksheet are available here. Note that for Graduate Student Research Support, there is no matching requirement; however, the budget should include negotiated federal indirect cost rates.

3) Graduate student bio-sketch – Include a maximum 2-page bio-sketch or CV for the student highlighting applicable experiences and demonstrating excellence.

4) Graduate program transcripts – an unofficial copy is acceptable pending selection.

5) Letter of support – Include a letter of support from the student’s major advisor or Department chair/head certifying the student is in good standing, his/her status (i.e., date of thesis or dissertation proposal accepted or anticipated), and other sources of project support.

Final Reporting Requirements (Deliverables):
Upon completion of the funding, the student in cooperation with his/her advisor is required to submit a Final Project Report within 30 days of the award’s conclusion or by October 30, 2010.

Final reports should include the following information:
• Description of the research project’s accomplishments including: significant research findings; publications, presentations at conferences, and workshops; general impacts of the research; and,
• Description of how the funds improved the dissertation or thesis project. Questions regarding eligibility or pre-proposal requirements may be directed to the IISG research coordinator at epifanio@illinois.edu or by phone at 217-244-6916.

7/13/09

JULY 2009 – REQUEST FOR PRE-PROPOSALS

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program Research & Outreach
Development and Capacity Building Pre-Proposals


Program Description: The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program (IISG) has limited discretionary funds for the initial development of promising areas of research and outreach projects. For 2009, IISG is especially interested in investing in research programs that would benefit from “seed” funds for preliminary data collection that will be used to submit expanded proposals to other funding sources. Those projects that have a focus in one of our nine core topic areas (visit the IISG Topics page for more information on these core topic areas). The topics include:

• Aquaculture
• Aquatic Invasive Species
• Coastal Restoration
• Fish Consumption
• Great Lakes Health (especially Lake Michigan)
• Land Use Planning
• Pharmaceutical Disposal
• Water Quality
• Water Supply

We anticipate awarding funding to 3-6 projects at < $10,000 depending on how well projects meet our objectives, potential for growth, project need and rigor, and level of funding requested. Selected pre-proposals meeting award criteria will be invited to submit full documentation through appropriate institutional mechanisms (i.e., appropriate institutional grants and contract office). Funding will be provided for one year from date of award and must be completed by September 30, 2010.

Eligibility: Project Investigators from educational or research institutions in Illinois or Indiana are eligible.

Pre-proposal Submission: For full consideration, pre-proposals should be submitted by COB August 5, 2009 to iisg@illinois.edu. Please indicate “2009 Development Pre-Proposal” on the subject line. Required forms are available on request or by visiting here. Attach only required documents for pre-proposal consideration including:

1) 90-2 Project Summary Form (your completed 90-2 will serve as your project pre-proposal). A description and copy of the Form 90-2 are available here.
The completed project summary form should detail a) the problem (or critical informational uncertainty) to be addressed by the project tied to a specific IISG Strategic Objective; b) impact of the problem; c) methods to address the problem; and, d) expected results and project area impacts. Not all fields requested at the top of the Program Summary form are applicable to program development funding, therefore, only fill out the items which are appropriate. For questions, contact John Epifanio, IISG research coordinator, at epifanio@illinois.edu or call 217-244-6916. The Project Summary Form should not exceed 4 pages in length. Please email all forms and documents in PDF file format.

2) 90-4 Budget Form - 90-4.doc (Required format).
A description of the Form 90-4 and an Excel format budget worksheet are available here. Note: for program development proposals, there are no matching requirements; however, investigators should budget for the negotiated federal indirect cost rates for their home institutions.

3) Investigator bio-sketch – Include a maximum 2-page bio-sketch or CV for each investigator demonstrating sufficient expertise and a history of sponsored-project completion, including publication.

Key Project Deliverables – all development projects should:
1) Result in an expanded proposal submitted to a funding agency & based on data/information generated from the project award. Development funds can be used to collect pilot data, assemble a research team, support writing and proposal development efforts; or,
2) Complete a final needed step to bring former research to publication, completion, or to realize impact and/or implementation of past research.

Final Reporting Requirements – All project investigators are required to submit a Final Project Report within 30 days of the project’s conclusion or by October 31, 2010.

Final Project Reports should include the following information:
• Program accomplishments including significant research findings; accomplishments such as proposals submitted, students supported, publications, presentations at conferences, workshops, and collaborations formed; and, impacts resulting from the project.
• Future/planned activities that will result from this development project including research, publications, workshops, dollars leveraged, and students to be supported.
• Development projects resulting in the submission of an expanded proposal to appropriate funding source(s) should describe information or data generated by the IISG
Development award and describe the proposal submitted including the source and the level of funding requested.
• Additional reporting information is available here.

Questions regarding eligibility or pre-proposal requirements may be directed to the IISG research coordinator at epifanio@illinois.edu or by phone at 217-244-6916.

7/10/09

In the News: PCBs, dioxins make Great Lakes fish a risk to eat, conservation group says

From the Globe and Mail:
Anglers may be getting more than a trophy fish when they land a big one from the Great Lakes.

They could be catching fish that are so loaded with mercury, PCBs and dioxins that they aren't safe to eat or should be consumed only in moderation, according to a new study being released today by Environmental Defence, a conservation group.

The study reviewed the trend in consumption advisories, or recommendations on whether it is safe to eat various species of fish - issued by Ontario's Ministry of Environment and covering 13 different regions of the Great Lakes since 2005.

"The results are discouraging. While there have been some modest improvements in the last two years, a fifth of the 2009 advisories examined in this report were for zero consumption levels, meaning it is not safe to eat such fish at all. This is unacceptable, from recreational, economic, and human health perspectives," the study said. Read more.


7/8/09

New AIS Playing Cards Wins Apex Award


IISG’s Nab the Aquatic Invader Playing Cards has won a 2009 APEX Award for Publication Excellence in One–of-a-kind Environmental Publications. The award goes to Robin Goettel, Terri Hallesy and Susan White of IISG, along with Dave Brenner of the University of Michigan.

The playing cards are based on invasive aquatic species characters developed for the Nab the Aquatic Invader website. The cards are designed to introduce 4-10th grade students to AIS in a fun way, with games such as “Invader Hide and Seek,” “Exotic Species Recall” and “The Lonely Police Chief.”

If you would like to learn more about the playing cards, visit the IISG website here.

7/7/09

In the News: 700,000 tons of waste waits for landfill

From the Post-Tribune:
For years, ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor has been stockpiling a massive 700,000 tons of dark gray, acidic, steel-making waste directly on the soil on the company's property -- less than 500 feet from Lake Michigan.

The waste pile is 500 feet long. Its height dwarfs even large semi trucks driving by. Such waste typically contains heavy metals such as lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic. Read more.


6/24/09

Water pricing strategies discussed at upcoming conference

Margaret Schneemann’s on-going water pricing study responds to a popular misconception about water supply in northeast Illinois.

“The perception in the southern Lake Michigan region is that water supply is unlimited, which is not the case,” said Schneemann, IISG water resource economist. On the contrary, water demand in the area is projected to increase by as much as 64 percent by 2050.

Schneemann will be discussing conservation pricing strategies as well as her study at the 2009 Universities Council on Water Resources/National Institutes for Water Resources Annual Conference.

The conference brings together water supply planners from across the state to explore ways to improve urban water management.

Schneemann is leading a study on current residential rate structures, based on findings from almost 300 water systems (serving populations over 1,000). “Conservation-oriented pricing would alter the incentives available to water suppliers and users and would make potentially harmful decisions more costly to pursue.” Schneemann said.

Schneemann will be speaking at the conference on Thursday, July 9, at 8:30 a.m. The conference, which takes place July 7-9, will be held in downtown Chicago at the Marriot Courtyard Hotel.

6/22/09

Hot off the press: Here's our latest issue of the HELM

The latest issue of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s newsletter is now available online. You can find the HELM on our website here.

Here are some headlines from this issue:

• IISG Fosters Community Stewardship through University Students
• Sea Grant AIS Website Selected for Smithsonian Kiosk
• Woud you please pass the Asian Carp?
• Sea Grant Foster New Aquaculture Markets in Ghana, Kenya

6/19/09

Indiana Teacher Workshop on Unwanted Medicine

Youth as Agents for Change: Informing communities about proper disposal of unwanted medicines and other toxic materials

When: Mon. June 22; 10am-3pm
Where: Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center Chesterton, Indiana (Directions will be provided upon registration.)

Prescription drug use is on the rise. When medicines expire, people often flush or throw them away. This can contaminate waterways, harming fish and other aquatic wildlife. Learn about how high school-aged students are serving as important agents for change in people’s habits to improve the quality of our waters. Find out how these projects are used to inform adult members of their communities about critical action steps to protect our waterways, reduce medicine poisoning in young children, and reduce identification theft. Join us, and learn how you can get involved by adopting this model in your classroom and community.

• Learn how to incorporate unwanted medicine and household hazardous waste (HHW) disposal into your curriculum.
• Talk with an environmental science teacher from Pontiac High School, Illinois that has already incorporated an expired meds disposal program at his school in conjunction with a civics teacher: www.p2d2program.org
• Gain ideas from Sea Grant educators about best approaches to help students develop community stewardship projects.
• Participate in fun, interactive activities to take back to your classroom provided by the Recycling District.
• Curriculum, activities and correlated State Standards will be provided!

Registration required. To register call or email Deanna Garner: 219-465-3694 or dgreenwood.rwrd@yahoo.com. Continuing credits available.

Primary focus will be for middle and high school and informal teachers; but all are invited and can benefit from this fun & educational workshop.

This workshop is a partnership of the Recycling & Waste Reduction of Porter County and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program.

6/11/09

Science Saturday Brings Together People, Lake

There’s a whole other world living and growing alongside Chicago’s busy streets in Lake Michigan. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) have teamed up to help acquaint local residents with this world as a part of the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Science Saturdays.”

“We hope to expose the public to some of the organisms living in the lake, how we sample them, what types of questions we are trying to answer, and what the answers mean for the management of the lake,” said IISG aquatic invasives specialist Pat Charlebois.

The tour—directed towards those aged seven and up—will be held on Saturday, July 18, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. It will take place at North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, where researchers from the Lake Michigan Biological Station, an INHS field station, will lead a shore-based exploration of aquatic life in Lake Michigan. Participants will have an opportunity to learn about—and at some stages touch—the invertebrates and offshore and nearshore fishes that inhabit the lake.

Science Saturdays are a part of a yearlong initiative, called Science Chicago, aiming to establish the crucial value of science and math in its residents. The museum initiative “brings together more than 140 of the area’s leading academic, scientific, corporate, and non-profit institutions to host thousands of programs that provide hands-on learning, spur thoughtful debate, and build enthusiasm for the pursuit of cutting-edge science.”

IISG, as a part of its on-going efforts to educate the public about water issues in the region, is organizing the Lake Michigan event. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase the lake and the work that researchers at the Lake Michigan Biological Station are doing to understand more about it,” said Charlebois.

All Science Saturday tours require advance registration; tickets cost $7 per tour. For more information on Science Saturday events visit the Science Saturday webpage.

6/10/09

IISG in the News: Invasive creatures spread to Fox River, Chain O’ Lakes

From the Northwest Herald:
Local waters might seem clearer to the naked eye, but the reason behind it could disrupt the food chain and eventually the fish supply.

Zebra mussels, which are spreading throughout the Chain O’ Lakes and the Fox River, filter through a liter of plankton-filled water a day each as they go, said Pat Charlebois, aquatic invasive specialist with the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant program.

But those plankton, which fog the water, are needed to serve as the base of the food chain.

“[Zebra mussels] are bad,” Charlebois said. “Because they’re removing particles from the water, some people think the water becomes clearer. Lake Michigan is clearer now, but that is because there’s no food.” Read more.


6/9/09

IISG Website Featured in Year of Science 2009

Nab the Aquatic Invader!, an educational website about aquatic invasive species, is featured this month on the Fun Zone page of the Year of Science 2009 website.

Year of Science 2009 is a 12-month celebration of how science works, why science matters, and who scientists are. It is led by participants in the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), a grassroots network composed of more than 400 participating organizations representing universities, scientific societies, science centers and museums, government agencies, advocacy groups, media, educators, businesses and industry—formed in response to recent concerns about national scientific literacy.

COPUS, which began with a grant from the National Science Foundation, has grown to be an inclusive endeavor spurring communication and collaboration in the scientific community while shining the spotlight on science throughout the year. Major sponsors include the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the University of California, Museum of Paleontology, the Geological Society of America, and the National Science Teachers Association.

Nab the Aquatic Invader! is featured as part of this month’s “Ocean and Water” theme. The web site was created by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant along with Sea Grant programs in New York, Louisiana, Connecticut, and Oregon to provide the latest information about aquatic invasive species through colorful characters and a crime-solving theme. Since its inception, the project has expanded to include species from coastal regions around the country.

"The site is clever and fun, but it’s also rich with curriculum for teachers, ideas for stewardship projects, and creative educational activities for students and other online audiences," said Robin Goettel, IISG associate director for education.
In addition to visiting the Fun Zone, on this month on the Year of Science website you can meet scientists, including Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Research, enter a contest to name a newly-found jellyfish, and learn ways to get involved in protecting our oceans.

Upcoming Year of Science 2009 themes include “Astronomy” in July, “Weather and Climate” in August, and “Biodiversity and Conservation” in September.

6/5/09

NOAA and National Park Service Urge Beach-Goers to Break the Grip of the Rip

With summer vacation on the horizon, NOAA and the National Park Service are alerting beach-goers to the threat of rip currents and how to prevent drowning from their strong and potentially fatal grip.

Rip currents are the leading surf hazard, claiming more than 100 lives per year nationally. For that reason, NOAA and NPS are teaming up to sponsor Rip Current Awareness Week, June 7-13, with the theme Break the Grip of the Rip®.

Rip currents are narrow channels of fast-moving water that pull swimmers away from the shore. Moving at speeds of up to eight feet per second, rip currents are surprisingly strong and swift. They account for more than 80 percent of the tens of thousands of rescues performed by beach lifeguards in the United States annually.

"Before going into the water, check the rip current outlook, swim on guarded beaches and know how to escape a rip current's grip," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Doing so can save your life.”

If you are caught in a rip current, swim in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore. Swimmers who try to swim against a rip current straight back to shore often fail to overcome its strength, risking exhaustion and drowning.

“Every year, more than 75 million visitors come to swim, fish, snorkel, scuba dive, boat and enjoy the wildlife and majestic scenery in the coastal areas of our National Park System,” said Dan Wenk, acting director of the National Park Service. “The National Park Service has a long partnership with NOAA and its National Weather Service to enhance our ability to provide visitors with the latest information on water safety.”

Rip currents can form at all surf beaches so keep these safety tips in mind:
• Check for surf zone forecasts at NOAA's National Weather Service Rip Current Safety.
• Look for signs and flags posted to warn about rip currents;
• Do not swim against a rip current;
• Escape rip currents by swimming in a direction following the shoreline until you are free of the rip current;
• Never swim alone.

“Sea Grant and the National Weather Service have placed rip current signs in English and Spanish on ocean and Great Lakes beaches throughout the nation to warn swimmers of the dangers posed by this hazard. It is critical that all beach-goers know how to identify a rip current, and that they know what to do if they are caught in one,” said Leon M. Cammen, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

Break the Grip of the Rip is a registered trademark of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Here are some links for more information:
NOAA's homepage
NOAA Rip Current information
NOAA Sea Grant
National Park Service

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