1/31/12

In the news: Physical barriers could be effective in stopping Asian carp

A new report by the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative has identified the possibility of incorporating permanent physical barriers to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes system.

From the Great Lakes Commission:
“The three separation alternatives include a down-river single barrier between the confluence of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Cal-Sag Channel and the Lockport Lock; a mid-system alternative of four barriers on CAWS branches between Lockport and Lake Michigan; and a near-lake alternative of up to five barriers closest to the lakeshore. All three include measures to improve the CAWS’s role in flood management, wastewater treatment and maritime transportation, as well as stopping the interbasin movement of aquatic invasive species.” Read more here.

1/27/12

In the news: Greening yards to protect Lake Michigan

From The Times:
A workshop for residents to help green their yards and protect Lake Michigan will be presented from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 11. Location has not yet been determined.
Save the Dunes and partners will hold a free workshop to help residents in Northwest Indiana's Lake Michigan watershed to make simple changes on their property to protect Lake Michigan. Work days will be held late in the spring where participants get hands-on experience helping each other install practices. Each participant is expected to adopt at least two new "best practices" for water quality, such as phosphorus-free fertilizer, rain gardens, rain barrels, and many others. Participants will receive a free soil test, a rain garden manual, and a small stipend that must be put toward a best practice. Lunch will be provided. Read more.

1/26/12

Forecasting the fate of Lake Michigan storms

University of Illinois atmospheric scientist David Kristovich tested a mobile sounding system that might help predict the fate of storms that move across Lake Michigan. This system measures temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure.

“The Great Lakes make it difficult to predict summer weather. One problem weather forecasters face is determining what will happen when massive storms reach one side of the lake. It is hard to figure out if those storms will make it across to the other side and cause severe weather,” Kristovich said. “We don’t have a lot of information. On the lake, we don’t have people taking observations all over the place like we do on land.”

The device they used is called a rawinsonde, which is attached to a weather balloon with a parachute. Because the system is connected to a balloon, researchers were also able to record the wind direction and speed.

Kristovich said having a test run for the device was critical for ironing out issues for future projects.

This study is one of many funded as development of "seed" grants for researchers, either to begin start-up studies that may grow into larger work, or to complete ongoing projects. This project and others are highlighted in our latest issue of our newsletter, The Helm.


1/23/12

State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference seeks report feedback

Last year’s SOLEC was very successful, offering some very useful feedback about conditions in the Great Lakes-basin ecosystem and how to present and communicate that information in the future.

Over 50 draft indicator reports were made available electronically to attendees at SOLEC 2011 in Erie, Pennsylvania, and these reports will be used to develop the main presentations at SOLEC that will be available online soon.

We are inviting SOLEC participants, indicator authors, and any other interested parties to read, review, and provide substantive comments on any or all of the reports until January 31, 2012. The draft indicator reports can be found here.

The SOLEC Steering Committee also recognized eight success story projects that exemplified strong commitment to improving the environment within the Great Lakes basin at the conference. The project summaries for those recognized projects are available here.

Congratulations to these recipients and all nominated projects.

For more information, send an email to SOLEC@ec.gc.ca.

1/20/12

IISG in the news: Focal Point projects promote interdisciplinary research

IISG Director Brian Miller and geneticist Michael Plewa enlisted a team of five graduate students to develop strategies to combat the global water crisis. From the University of Illinois New Bureau:
All groundbreaking, earth-changing, multidisciplinary research has something in common: a starting point.

And the UI Graduate College’s Focal Point grant program has been providing that starting point for the past three years.

According to Debasish Dutta, the dean of the Graduate College, the program is designed to team faculty members and graduate students from sometimes far-flung disciplines with the hopes that together they’ll find a mutual spark leading to the next paradigm-shifting discovery.

“This is something that is normally done by faculty members,” Dutta said, “but we wanted to have graduate students be involved from the formation itself. It’s a huge advantage to them because they’ll have to do that as they become faculty members.” Read more.

1/13/12

New York, just like we pictured it

In the middle of the crazy marketing world of Times Square, an important message comes through--Don't Flush Medicine! Here are two images from 42nd Street in New York City.

Since late December 2011 Sea Grant and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are informing audiences on the issue of medicine disposal on the CBS JumboTron “Super Screen.” The 15-second spot will run through March 31 about 18 times every day or about every 80 minutes. The screen is located on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues in Times Square Plaza.

This opportunity came about as a result of the publicity related to the partnership between NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program and the AVMA, which was officially established in November in a Memorandum of Understanding. Illlinois-Indiana Sea Grant is conducting the MOU on behalf of National Sea Grant on the issue of medications dispensed for animals as well as people.
Visit unwantedmeds.org to see the PSA and learn some sensible disposal options for unused medicine or contact Laura Kammin for more information on medicine collection programs.

1/12/12

IISG seeks your feedback for our future plans

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is conducting a needs assessment survey in advance of our strategic planning process. We would like to know what you think the outreach and research priorities are for our two-state region.

Please take a few minutes to let us know what you think by visiting Survey Monkey before January 24.

The survey is short – just ten questions. Your participation is voluntary and your responses will be anonymous.

As always, if you have thoughts or comments about our program, we want to hear from you. If you have comments that don’t fit in this survey or want to talk to someone personally, please visit our website to find the right person, or contact us at 217-333-0045 or iisg@illinois.edu and we will direct you to the right place.

If you have any questions about your rights as a participant in this study, please contact the University of Illinois Institutional Review Board at 217-333-2670 (collect calls will be accepted if you identify yourself as a research participant) or via email at irb@illinois.edu

1/11/12

Recreation reduces Karner blue butterfly

Purdue University ecologist Patrick Zollner studied how people walking on nature trails can affect the reproduction habits of the Karner blue butterfly, which is a federally endangered species.

Resource managers are under increasing pressure to implement strategies that address the negative effects of outdoor recreational activities on wildlife. The study shows that human recreation can disrupt the breeding patterns of Karner blue butterflies, as well as other species.

Using a simulation model, the project found that significantly fewer eggs are laid by Karner blue butterfly females in sites at the Indiana Dunes National Park that are 10-15 meters from the trail. Plants that are farthest away have the most eggs. Zollner suggests that habitat patches be at least 25 meters from the trail.

“Depending on the circumstances, about 17 percent of the females are only laying half of their potential eggs because of human dis¬turbance,” Zollner said.

Zollner has studied how traffic affects Indiana wildlife and has submitted a proposal to study how the Huron-Manistee National Forest equestrian population impacts Karner blue butterflies.

This study is one of many funded as development of "seed" grants for researchers, either to begin start-up studies that may grow into larger work, or to complete ongoing projects.

This project and others are highlighted in our latest issue of our newsletter, The Helm. You can  also read the complete study (PDF).


1/9/12

Latest issue of "The Helm," IISG's newsletter, now available online

The latest edition of The Helm, our newsletter, is now available. Each issue highlights some of IISG's work to improve, study, and protect the waterways of Illinois and Indiana, especially southern Lake Michigan.This issue includes several research project results, including one that reveals a variety of pharmaceuticals in Lake Michigan.

Ensuring safe and healthy waterways for everyone is an ongoing process, and one that you can help with. To find out how, view the latest issue of The Helm, visit our website for ongoing projects and initiatives, and follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest developments.

Enjoy this issue of The Helm and check back for future issues.

1/5/12

IISG in the News: Asian Carp marketing summit yielding results

IISG's Asian Carp Marketing Summit in September of 2010 played a significant role in bringing jobs and invasive species solutions to Illinois, as highlighted in one of The Telegraph's Top 10 local stories of 2011. Read the full article (and browse the other top local news items) here.

The summit brought together representatives from restaurants, commercial fishing, processing and related businesses, as well as agencies and academic institutions to discuss ways to address the potential threat that Asian carp pose to the Illinois River and the Great Lakes. You can download  the  proceedings from the summit here.

1/4/12

The 'Do Not Flush Medicine' message goes Big Apple


Times Square—some call it the crossroads of the world. Annually, over 450 million people pass through this historic and dazzling site.

Since late December 2011 (which included the world famous New Year’s Eve celebration that attracts many, many thousands) Sea Grant and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are informing audiences on the issue of medicine disposal on the CBS JumboTron “Super Screen.” The 15-second spot will run through March 31 about 18 times every day or about every 80 minutes. The screen is located on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues in Times Square Plaza.

The public service announcement is raising awareness on the importance of not flushing unused medicine. Audiences are informed that medicines can contaminate lakes, rivers and drinking water, posing a threat to people, animals, and the environment.

video
This opportunity came about as a result of the publicity related to the partnership between NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program and the AVMA, which was officially established in November in a Memorandum of Understanding. Illlinois-Indiana Sea Grant is conducting the MOU on behalf of National Sea Grant on the issue of medications dispensed for animals as well as people.

Visit unwantedmeds.org to learn some sensible disposal options for unused medicine or contact Laura Kammin for more information on medicine collection programs.

Chicago students learn proper medicine disposal thru Earth Force partnership

IISG education team members Robin Goettel and Terri Hallesy partnered with the Field Museum’s Earth Force Program to work with students and teachers on raising awareness within the Calumet region about the proper disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Earth Force engages 7th and 8th grade Chicago Public School students in action projects that address environmental issues in their community.

Windy City Earth Force coordinator Angie Viands invited Terri and Robin to visit classrooms on December 8 and 9 to offer students important information about the pharmaceutical and personal care product disposal issue, and to help teachers and students develop successful community projects. By talking with students about the problems that pharmaceutical and personal care products can create if not properly disposed of, they will be able to develop community-based information projects that will be showcased at a youth summit on May 18, coordinated by Earth Force.
 
Participating teachers included Mr. Neely, George Pullman Elementary; Ms. McNeal, Black Elementary School; Ms. Millner, Bennett Elementary; and Ms. Whitehead, Medgar Evers Elementary. Ms. McNeal’s students are members of an after-school science club, while the other teachers instructed formal science classes.



Terri and Robin provided an overview on the medicine disposal issue, then engaged the students in a Jeopardy game, a vocabulary word scramble game, and a marble labyrinth game called Get Rid of Stuff Sensibly. Activities were selected from IISG’s Medicine Chest, “It’s What You Can’t See” education tabloid from PA Sea Grant, and other curriculum materials.


Photos:  
1) Ms. Millner’s students learn about medicine disposal by reading the new Great Lakes Sea Grant education tabloid, “It’s what you can’t see…Learn about hidden chemicals in your water.”
2) Environmental science club members at Black Elementary are fascinated play the GROSS marble game and learn about properly disposing of household items.
3) Ms. Whitehead's students research unwanted medicines and personal care products to solve a word scramble activity.

This “Undo the Chemical Brew” education project is funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Check out the latest information on www.unwantedmeds.org.

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