2/28/13

Clean Marina program and guidebook coming to Illinois soon

Just in time for boating season this year, marinas in Illinois will join a state-wide program that empowers boaters and marina personnel to prevent pollution from entering rivers and lakes. The Illinois Clean Marina program will provide marinas with basic “how to” information, training, and on-site support for reducing pollution common in boating and marina activities.

To help marinas join the volunteer program, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, along with Illinois DNR and the Chicago Park District, is developing a Clean Marina Guidebook outlining simple best management practices on a broad range of topics, from marina construction to vessel maintenance and waste disposal. 

Many of these BMPs are easy and affordable, such as watering plants deeply but infrequently, using the minimum amount of antifreeze necessary for certain equipment, and encouraging boaters to share and make use of excess paint rather than storing or disposing of it improperly. Other recommendations will help new or expanding marinas develop environmentally-friendly sites from the beginning, such as directions on dock location and construction scheduling to ensure that nearby habitats are protected. 

Additionally, some BMPs will help marina personnel educate and train boaters on what they can do to protect and improve the state’s water quality. 

In addition, the Clean Marina Guidebook will include important information on state and federal laws and permit programs related to marina activities. 

With the launching of the program and guidebook, Illinois will become the sixth state in the Great Lake’s region to implement a Clean Marina program, joining Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in a regional effort to protect the Great Lakes and local waterways.
  
For examples of some of the best practices that will appear in the Illinois Clean Marina Guidebook, view the Great Lakes Clean Marina BMP guide (PDF).

2/27/13

In the news: Oil could be transported in Great Lakes barges again soon

Due to the restricted capacity of pipelines to move oil out of wells in North Dakota and Canada, a refinery in Superior may soon build a "crude oil transfer dock."

From the Superior Telegram:

“Despite concerns about potential environmental catastrophe, Calumet seems well on its way to moving oil out of the Twin Ports by boat.

Calumet will seek permits and do preliminary work this year and would conduct dredging, dock, pipeline and storage construction in 2014 and be ready to ship oil by March 2015.

It’s estimated that, because of the small size of the supply pipeline, the terminal could fill a single tanker or barge about once every three or four days.”
The article goes on to describe the history of oil being moved in large container ships across the Great Lakes, as well as the constraints presented by other methods (rail car, pipeline, etc.).

Despite concerns about potential environmental catastrophe, Calumet seems well on its way to moving oil out of the Twin Ports by boat.
Calumet will seek permits and do preliminary work this year and would conduct dredging, dock, pipeline and storage construction in 2014 and be ready to ship oil by March 2015.
It’s estimated that, because of the small size of the supply pipeline, the terminal could fill a single tanker or barge about once every three or four days.
- See more at: http://www.superiortelegram.com/event/article/id/259640/publisher_ID/36/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GLINnews+%28GLIN+Daily+News%29#sthash.o4h87E3C.dpuf
Despite concerns about potential environmental catastrophe, Calumet seems well on its way to moving oil out of the Twin Ports by boat.
Calumet will seek permits and do preliminary work this year and would conduct dredging, dock, pipeline and storage construction in 2014 and be ready to ship oil by March 2015.
It’s estimated that, because of the small size of the supply pipeline, the terminal could fill a single tanker or barge about once every three or four days.
- See more at: http://www.superiortelegram.com/event/article/id/259640/publisher_ID/36/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GLINnews+%28GLIN+Daily+News%29#sthash.o4h87E3C.dpuf
Despite concerns about potential environmental catastrophe, Calumet seems well on its way to moving oil out of the Twin Ports by boat.
Calumet will seek permits and do preliminary work this year and would conduct dredging, dock, pipeline and storage construction in 2014 and be ready to ship oil by March 2015.
It’s estimated that, because of the small size of the supply pipeline, the terminal could fill a single tanker or barge about once every three or four days.
- See more at: http://www.superiortelegram.com/event/article/id/259640/publisher_ID/36/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GLINnews+%28GLIN+Daily+News%29#sthash.o4h87E3C.dpuf
Despite concerns about potential environmental catastrophe, Calumet seems well on its way to moving oil out of the Twin Ports by boat.
Calumet will seek permits and do preliminary work this year and would conduct dredging, dock, pipeline and storage construction in 2014 and be ready to ship oil by March 2015.
It’s estimated that, because of the small size of the supply pipeline, the terminal could fill a single tanker or barge about once every three or four days.
- See more at: http://www.superiortelegram.com/event/article/id/259640/publisher_ID/36/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GLINnews+%28GLIN+Daily+News%29#sthash.o4h87E3C.dpuf

2/26/13

In the news: Illinois taking the lead on fracking regulations and standards

The State of Illinois may be the first to establish strong rules to protect water and create safety standards for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations. 

From the Associated Press
"If approved by lawmakers, participants say, the rules would be the nation's strictest. The Illinois model might also offer a template to other states seeking to carve out a middle ground between energy companies that would like free rein and environmental groups that want to ban the practice entirely.
‘The fact that Illinois got there,’ was significant, said Brian Petty, executive vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs at the International Association of Drilling Contractors. ‘Anytime you can bring the lion and lamb to the table, it's a good thing. But it's so highly politicized in lot of places’ that compromise could be difficult.
Fracking uses a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to crack and hold open thick rock formations, releasing trapped oil and gas. Combined with horizontal drilling, it allows access to formerly out-of-reach deposits and has allowed drillers to move closer to populated areas."
Read the complete post at the link above.

*This post was corrected March 12th, 2013 to cite the complete Associated Press article

2/25/13

Lawn to Lake workshop scheduled for March 6

Spring is almost here, and now is the perfect time to prepare for the upcoming gardening and landscaping season. Part of that preparation for landscapers, park managers, and other interested professionals should include natural lawn care, and  a training workshop is scheduled for March 6 at Milwaukee Area Technical College. 

From the information page
"Workshop attendees will learn how to cultivate healthy soils, the building block of a sustainable landscape, manage community and client expectations, and understand the costs of using an organic approach. Attendees will also gain a deeper understanding of the environmental and health impacts associated with conventional landscape management practices. The workshop will place a strong focus on sustainable nutrient use in addition to ways in which to control weeds naturally."
Registration is open now at the link above. 

The Lawn to Lake program and these workshops are part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

2/22/13

IISG team brings AIS info to hundreds at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, and Travel Show


Danielle Hilbrich from the IISG aquatic invasive species (AIS) outreach team attended the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, and Travel Show at the Indiana State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis, IN, February 15-17. Danielle teamed up with the Indiana DNR to host a booth and educate recreational water users about the dangers posed by invasive species. Danielle talked with more than 800 attendees about AIS, and handed out hundreds of stickers and brochures. Many show attendees regularly boat on lakes infested with invasive species and were aware of problems that Zebra Mussels, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Hydrilla, and other invasive species can cause for aquatic ecosystems.

Attendees were educated about the proper techniques to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, which include these simple steps: INSPECT and REMOVE any aquatic plants or animals from boats and recreational equipment, DRAIN all water from equipment, DISPOSE of unwanted live bait or fish into the trash, DRY equipment thoroughly, and never release organisms from one waterbody to another. One show-goer was surprised to find out that dumping bait in the trash was a way to prevent the spread of invasive species, and several others were glad to learn just how easy it could be to help keep these species from spreading to other waterways. 

For more information on aquatic invasive species or the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign please visit IISG’s Stop Aquatic Hitchhiker’s page at or www.protectyourwaters.net.

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant AIS outreach team is part of the Illinois Natural History Survey Lake Michigan Biological Station.

2/21/13

Students still have time to apply for IISG summer internships

Undergraduate students with an interest in water issues and environmental studies are encouraged to apply for one of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant's summer internships. 

From the announcement
"Successful applicants will spend 12 weeks working closely with a Sea Grant specialist on issues affecting the Great Lakes. Internships include research, communications and outreach components. Applicants will also have the opportunity to participate in activities outside of their specific internship duties.

For 2013, internships are available in the following areas:
 - Sustainable Communities
 - Aquatic Invasive Species (2 positions)
 - Human Dimensions of Natural Resources
 - Coastal Tourism for Lake Michigan
 - River Restoration Database
 - Great Lakes Education"
Click the link above for full details on the application and schedule. The deadline for applications is March 11.

2/20/13

In the news: The economic impacts of low Great Lakes levels

Concern over the historic low levels of Lakes Michigan and Huron includes worries about a number of areas affect - including economic impacts. 

From fishing to boating to general tourism, towns and cities throughout the Great Lakes could see a range of negative outcomes due to the low levels, as this video report from Chicago's WTTW details.



2/19/13

In the news: Weather may not be the only cause for low lake levels

Last summer's drought certainly had a significant impact on water levels in the Great Lakes, with Lake Michigan seeing record lows. But the weather, while a serious contributing factor, may not be the only reason why some of the lakes are so low. 

From the Chicago Sun-Times
"One cause that's overlooked - which also affects rivers and lakes throughout the Midwest - is a sharp increase in the number of wells that are being dug, says Robert Glennon, regents' professor and Morris K. Udall professor of law and public policy at the University of Arizona.

'There has been an explosion of ground water wells throughout the state [of Illinois],' says Glennon, author of the 2009 book Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It. 'You've got record high corn prices, terrible drought and high cost of farmland. All of those things have been leading toward drilling of new wells.'"
Click the link above to read the complete article, and visit one of our previous blog posts for further potential causes of these low water levels.

2/18/13

IISG’s Caitie McCoy presents Great Lakes progress at international conference

IISG's Caitie McCoy attended the Seventh International Conference on Remediation of Contaminated Sediments last week to present her community outreach work with the Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA). The conference traditionally features environmental scientists and engineers, but that is changing. "We are starting to see more attention paid to community engagement at these types of conferences," Caitie tells us. "Technical project managers realize that projects are easier to implement when the community understands and supports the work, and so they're eager to learn from professionals who specialize in community engagement and stakeholder involvement." 

Caitie presented a poster on her educational program in northwest Indiana, which taught students about the GLLA sediment cleanup at Roxana Marsh on the Grand Calumet River. Instead of presenting a typical scientific poster full of text and graphs, Caitie displayed a mural that her fourth grade students made to represent the Roxana Marsh ecosystem.

"Some of my colleagues were a bit skeptical about me presenting a fourth grade mural to a bunch of technical folks, but I'm not afraid to shake things up," Caitie said. "I wanted to use something eye-catching that would draw people's attention toward my poster." And it worked. Caitie was visited non-stop during the session and talked to more than 100 conference attendees about her program. When asked if she thought her poster made an impact, Caitie replied, "I would never have dreamed that someday engineers would be asking me how to replicate my educational program at their sites, so I take that as a big success." 


Caitie will expand her programming throughout the Grand Calumet River community in 2013, as the Legacy program begins another phase of dredging this summer.

2/15/13

In the news: Study shows pharmaceutical contamination threatens fish populations

People are just beginning to understand the link between improper disposal of pharmaceuticals and the environmental and human health effects they can have. Our Unwanted Meds website offers a great deal of information about the need to properly dispose of medicine, and recent studies are demonstrating the potential dangers. 

From The Huffington Post
"The Associated Press first reported in 2008 that the drinking water of at least 51 million Americans carries low concentrations of many common drugs. The findings were based on questionnaires sent to water utilities, which reported the presence of antibiotics, sedatives, sex hormones and other drugs.


The news reports led to congressional hearings and legislation, more water testing and more public disclosure. To this day, though, there are no mandatory U.S. limits on pharmaceuticals in waterways."
Read more about the complete study at the link above, and visit our Unwanted Meds site for more information about proper disposal, collection events, and even how to start a medicine collection in your area. 

2/14/13

Share some Great Lakes love this Valentine's Day

We love the Great Lakes year round, and so should you. But what better day to show your love for the Great Lakes than on Valentine's day? 

The Sierra Club's Great Lakes program has been asking people to show their love for the Great Lakes by sharing pictures of themselves visiting the Lakes with their sign. You can see some examples and read more about them on their Great Lakes Blog. And you can check out some pictures and more on their Facebook page.

As we inch closer to spring and think about getting to spend even more time on the Lakes, you can find a number of ways to get involved in helping protect their beauty and protect the environment at the same time. Visit the Great Lakes Forever site for a number of suggestions on how you can be involved in helping the Great Lakes out, and links to even more resources and options.

No Valentine's Day would be complete without a gift for someone special. There are plenty of options out there to share your love of the Great Lakes (like this t-shirt as just one example). Or choose one of your favorite Lake Michigan photos from our photo collection to send as a Valentine. 

And of course you can always help spread the word about Lake Michigan issues and some of the important work being done to keep the Great Lakes great by sharing our Facebook and Twitter pages, and this blog.  

Think warm thoughts as spring approaches, and continue to show love and support for the Great Lakes. 

2/13/13

Sheboygan River dredging project reaches successful completion

The Sheboygan River, which was dubbed an “Area of Concern” in the 1980s for its high levels of environmental pollution and degradation, has just completed the final stages of a dredging project to clean and restore the river.

Approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sediment (equivalent to 15,000 dump trucks full) contaminated with PCBs and PAHs were removed from the river between August 2012 and early January 2013. As a result, river-goers will enjoy a deeper river with better navigation and access, and a cleaner habitat for fish and wildlife to thrive.

IISG’s Caitie McCoy worked with a local team throughout 2012 to provide information to stakeholders and the public on the project. She completed a study in March (PDF) with University of Illinois student Ada Morgan to learn how to communicate the sediment remediation project and its benefits to the public. The study helped the team tailor outreach products and messaging for everyone who uses and visits the river.

Work on the Sheboygan river will continue through 2013 to improve fish and wildlife habitats, both nearshore and underwater. "The dredging and habitat work are the last remaining actions necessary to take Sheboygan off a list of most polluted places in the Great Lakes," wrote Caitie. "This has been an enormous team effort by the U.S. EPA and their partners, and we can't thank the community enough for their support during the cleanup."

2/12/13

In the news: Frigid temps bring wintery scenes back to Lake Michigan

Low temperatures and more characteristic winter weather have turned parts of Lake Michigan into a frozen lunar landscape - perfect for some chilly but scenic photography.

From Michigan Live:
"What a difference one year can make.
Last year Lake Michigan was nearly ice-free. But cold weather in 2013 has brought a return to the ice formations typical to West Michigan's winter shoreline."
Visit the link above for a great gallery of scenic shots from the frozen lakefront.

2/11/13

What if everyone went for a dip in Lake Michigan?

Today's blog post features a fun bit of physics from Wired.com's science blog.

Writer Rhett Allain, professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, received an interesting question over Twitter - "What would happen if everyone on the planet jumped in the water?"


He writes:
"Let’s give a slightly refined version of the question.
'If everyone on Earth went for a swim at the same time in Lake Michigan, how high would the water level rise?'
I have two primary assumptions to start with. First, I will assume that during this time the volume of water in Lake Michigan will be constant. So if the people make the water level rise, the water level will indeed rise instead of pushing water into the other Great Lakes. Second, I will assume that all of the humans in the lake are floating. If they aren’t 'swimming' or touching the bottom, then it will be easier to calculate the rise in the water level."
Follow the link above for a fun Lake Michigan physics lesson.

2/8/13

In the news: Lake Michigan really is for the birds

The frigid waters of Lake Michigan during a Midwestern winter may not seem very inviting to us, but some species spend a great deal of time there. 

From Phys.org
"On Nov. 2, 2010, Mueller documented 25,555 long-tailed ducks in Lake Michigan. 

And on Jan. 20, 2011, 9,311 red-breasted mergansers were tallied. 

The data comes from the Lake Michigan Offshore Waterfowl and Waterbird Survey, a project initiated in 2009 by Mueller and Noel Cutright, both of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory in Belgium. 

The work is designed to increase the understanding of key offshore Lake Michigan bird habitats, many of which have been lightly studied."
Read more at the link above, including details about how the data they collect can help not only understand the presence and habitats of animals, but can guide safer development of energy production on the Great Lakes too.

2/7/13

IISG’s Kwamena Quagrainie promoted to new position

IISG’s Aquaculture Marketing Specialist Kwamena Quagrainie, who also directs the aquaculture economics and marketing program at Purdue University, was recently promoted to the position of Clinical Engagement Assistant Professor in Agricultural Economics. Dr. Quagrainie has been involved for many years in aquaculture marketing and outreach, helping numerous aquaculture operations get started or expand their business throughout the Midwest. He has also been involved in international efforts to promote and foster aquaculture operations throughout several African nations. 

The Clinical Engagement professorship emphasizes transfer of applied research results to aquaculture communities small and large. The goal of this position is to promote active engagement in a field, which is the type of work that Dr. Quagrainie has been directly involved in for many years now. This promotion will give him even more opportunities to bring his expertise to aquaculture producers--helping businesses and communities grow.

2/6/13

In the news: What pulled the drain plug on the Great Lakes?

Great Lakes levels have been significantly lower than average for months now, and much of the blame for the record or near-record lows was seen in last year's extensive drought. However, other possible causes for the continued low levels of the lakes are being investigated, including dredging and river bed mining.

From The Grand Haven Tribune

"Findings recently released by the Georgian Bay Association indicate the decline in levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron is tied to American and Canadian navigational channel dredging, river bed mining and shoreline alteration projects near Port Huron and Sarnia, Ontario.
The association's report says more than 2 billion gallons of water a day flows out of the St. Clair River — or more than 3,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. All of this water eventually ends up flowing over Niagara Falls and out to the Atlantic Ocean."
The article, linked above, goes on to discuss the struggle to find a middle ground between navigational needs and maintaining lake levels.

2/5/13

Celebrating 30 years of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant with 30 of our biggest milestones

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and 30 years of working to protect and preserve the beauty and resources of Lake Michigan. But what is some of that work? What are some of the things that IISG does to understand, restore, and celebrate our Great Lakes resources? 

We're glad you asked. Our latest publication features 30 milestone achievements selected from the last three decades, all detailing ways that we support our mission to improve and protect the southern Lake Michigan area.

Visit the link to download your own copy of our 30 milestones, or contact us if you would like print copies to share with. And here's to the next 30 years of keeping our Great Lakes great!

2/4/13

SeaPerch workshop brings underwater robotics to the classroom

SeaPerch, a program that brings underwater robotics to classrooms and demonstrates how they can be used for educational purposes, recently held a workshop at the University of Illinois Hydrosystems Laboratory. IISG’s Robin Goettel and Terri Hallesy were among the presenters and they shared a number of educational materials that teachers could combine with their classes' underwater robots. 

Thirteen Champaign-Urbana science teachers were in attendance to learn how to incorporate SeaPerch underwater robots into their classroom curricula. Coordinators from Naval Sea Systems Command – Crane STEM led the morning session to introduce the SeaPerch program, provide helpful tips for constructing the complimentary robot kit each teacher received, and discuss relevant resources for classroom use. Additional robots commonly deployed for scientific applications were also highlighted. 

Over lunch, participants interacted with U of I graduate students in engineering to discuss research topics and applications for their in-class lessons. Robin and Terri shared educational resources including two COSEE Great Lakes curriculum collections, Greatest of the Great Lakes: A Medley of Model Lessons, and a Fresh and Salt activity, “I, Robot, Can Do That!” 

During the afternoon session, a live demonstration of the SeaPerch robot was conducted and teachers had an opportunity to operate the SeaPerch robots in the large-scale laboratory facilities.

SeaPerch is a joint program of the Office of Naval Research and the AUVSI Foundation. Visit the SeaPerch homepage to learn more about bringing underwater robotics to the classroom, and for a calendar of upcoming workshops and events.

2/1/13

IISG’s Robin Goettel's years of service lead to U of I award

The University of Illinois’ College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences accepts nominations each year for an award that recognizes outstanding achievement by faculty and academic professionals in the college. 

The Paul A. Funk Recognition Award provides a personal award to the winner as well as funds for their department to use in support of their work benefiting natural resources and human environmental systems. 

This year, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Robin Goettel won the award for her extensive educational outreach work, including the creation of numerous curricula for science teachers and others. In particular, the Fresh and Salt curriculum, the Greatest of the Great Lakes collection of model lessons, and The Medicine Chest have helped to inform, engage, and education over 100,000 students about environmental science related to the Great Lakes. 

Robin isn't afraid to get totally immersed in her environmental education work either, as this excerpt from her nomination proves: 
"No description of Robin would be complete without a mention of Zelda the zebra mussel, a 'spokesmussel,' as Robin describes her. Zelda is a costume that Robin is not afraid to pull out at public events. While maybe not quite ready for Disneyworld, Zelda draws a crowd. People start with a laugh, are compelled to ask questions, and end up with a better understanding of invasive species for the unconventional approach."
Those examples don’t begin to touch on the work that Robin has engaged in throughout her many years with the program--from direct engagement with students of all grade levels, to educational displays at some of the Midwest’s biggest events, to forging partnerships with other environmental organizations to better educate, inform, and engage people in protecting and preserving natural resources.


Robin’s many years of work on environmental issues, and her dedication to fostering ever higher levels of science education for students of all ages, make her a terrific and very deserving choice for this award.

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