7/31/13

Sustainable communities intern helps Indiana protect natural resources

As summer begins to wind down, so do IISG’s summer internships. For John Saltanovitz, though, working as an intern at Purdue University’s Sustainable Communities Extension Program is just the beginning. With a summer full of hands-on outreach experience under his belt, John plans to pursue a career as an environmental engineer so he can continue to help communities and organizations better use and conserve natural resources. 

Many of the issues surrounding community sustainability—such as land use planning, pollution prevention, and water conservation—were not new to John when he started working with IISG’s Kara Salazar earlier this summer. As a senior working towards a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science and a life-long resident of Northwest Indiana, he was even familiar with some outreach efforts already underway in the Lake Michigan region. His summer internship gave him a chance to apply what he has learned over the years and work firsthand with communities. 

“We hear a lot about sustainability in our classes and talk about what needs to be done” said John. “This internship gave me a chance to do something instead of just talk it. It’s really exciting to be working on things that you always said you wanted to do.” 

Much of his summer efforts went towards developing a guide for conducting “green” meetings and events. At the heart of the guide is a checklist of best practices that advise anyone planning or managing events, helping them make sustainable decisions. Some of these best practices include relying on public transportation, composting leftover food, and reducing waste. Throughout his internship, John worked directly with Purdue Extension educators and specialists, the guide’s primary audience, to determine what information they needed and develop the checklist. The Best Practices Guide for Green Meetings and Events will soon be sent to Purdue Agriculture Communications for peer review and editing before publishing the finalized version through Extension. 

In addition to his work on the guide, John helped develop a new Purdue Master Gardener advanced training program for rain gardeners, provided content on education strategies for the Tipping Points and Indicators Project, contributed information to the new Sustainable Communities website, and led outreach activities at the IISG booth during the Wabash Riverfest in West Lafayette. He was also involved in planning for IAGLR, and joined three other IISG interns as a volunteer during the week-long conference.

“Through his enthusiasm, detailed work, and dedication, John has truly helped to advance new program offerings and education materials that will support sustainability programs in communities state-wide,” said Kara. “I look forward to continuing to work with John as we complete the peer review and editing process for the Best Practices Guide for Green Meetings and Events publication.”

7/30/13

IISG shares proper disposal message at 2013 AVMA Convention

Last week the Windy City hosted thousands of veterinarians attending the 2013 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant was also in attendance to share information about the importance of properly disposing of unused medicines, both in the clinic and at home.

IISG and the AVMA co-developed a set of five simple medication management steps for veterinarians to share with their clients: 1) use as directed, 2) store out of reach of kids and pets, 3) don’t share, 4) don’t flush down the drain or toilet, and 5) take expired or unwanted meds to a take-back program. Many of the 310 vets and vet techs that IISG spoke with at the convention were familiar with these messages, and several of them mentioned that they have the brochures available in their waiting rooms.

For the vets less familiar with the topic, Laura Kammin and Susan Boehme held a two-hour continuing education workshop to bring them up to speed. And Corrie Layfield staffed the IISG booth over the course of the 3-day event to share resources and speak directly with attendees about what medicine disposal information, if any, they already share with clients.
IISG staffers talked with veterinarians from 30 states as well as Peru, Korea, Japan, Canada, and Italy about how they can provide proper medicine storage, use, and disposal information to their clients. Laura also networked with staff from several Colleges of Veterinary Medicine to offer information and materials for future veterinarians.
For additional information about the importance of safe and proper medicine disposal, visit www.UnwantedMeds.org, and follow Unwanted Meds on Twitter.

7/29/13

We're proud of our successes in protecting Lake Michigan

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant's work each year touches on a variety of critical water concerns, but the common goal is protecting and preserving Lake Michigan. Each year we look back at some of our successes from the previous year as a way to guide continuing efforts. Below are just a few of the highlights from last year, and you can read about several more of them here

IISG helps keep over 12,000 pounds of medicine out of local water
Research shows that pharmaceuticals impact water quality—the water we drink, bathe in, and use for recreation. Using the toilet or trash to dispose of medicine can put people, animals, and the environment at risk. To address this issue, in 2012 Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant partnered with law enforcement agencies and community groups to start 17 permanent medicine collection programs. IISG also assisted with single day collection events in six communities and helped promote the fall DEA collection program in 11 communities. IISG helped organize and promote these programs, wrote press releases, provided brochures, and purchased locked medicine collection boxes. As a result of these efforts, over 12,000 pounds of pills were properly disposed of through 17 permanent collection programs and six single-day events. The medicine was destroyed using high-heat incineration, reducing the potential for diversion or accidental poisonings and keeping the chemicals from polluting local water. 
30 Illinois communities implement green infrastructure projects
In light of climate change predictions that indicate bigger storms and more flooding, managing urban stormwater will become increasingly critical in northeastern Illinois and throughout the state. But planning and implementing effective, forward-looking infrastructure can help protect communities and allow them to adapt to changing weather conditions. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant was funded by Illinois EPA to study the standards and costs of green infrastructure as a possible replacement or supplement to conventional urban stormwater infrastructure. The study found that, on average, green infrastructure practices are just as effective as conventional stormwater infrastructure, and are less expensive. In 2012, the Illinois General Assembly established a $5 million discretionary fund to support green infrastructure projects in communities around the state, a strong start to helping these areas plan and prepare for potential weather extremes.

7/26/13

In the news: U.S. House panel suggests significant cuts to Great Lakes programs

A House panel has suggested some deep cuts to Great Lakes programs including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, but a number of congressional members are ready to oppose such cuts and continue the restoration and protection work on each of the Lakes.

From Crain's Detroit Business:
"Federal programs designed to make headway on some of the Great Lakes' most longstanding ecological problems, from harbors caked with toxic sludge to the threat of an Asian carp attack, would lose about 80 percent of their funding under a spending plan approved Tuesday by a Republican-controlled U.S. House panel…

After an initial $475 million in 2009, the restoration initiative has gotten about $300 million a year, although this year's total has fallen to $285 million because of across-the-board cuts. The subcommittee bill would slash the 2014 allocation to just $60 million.

The Great Lakes region historically has received about one-third of the money in the federal loan fund for sewer repairs. Sewer overflows cause local officials to order beach closings each year because of E. coli bacteria contamination. The bill would reduce the fund from just over $1 billion this year to $250 million in 2014...

The restoration initiative has pumped about $1.3 billion into projects across the eight-state region that have helped scrape away contaminated harbor sediments, restored wildlife habitat and sought to curb runoff that causes harmful algae. It also has supported efforts to ward off an invasion by the dreaded Asian carp, which compete with native species for food."
Read the complete article at the link above for more information about Great Lakes programs and their funding.

7/24/13

In the news: Illinois senators help strengthen the state's Asian carp prevention efforts

Senators Mark Kirk (R) and Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois recently passed an amendment that would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from moving critical invasive species prevention functions out of their current Chicago location .

From CBC News:
"An amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill has passed and prevents the removal of critical functions and staff from the District Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago. The Windy City is home of the frontline fight against Asian carp entering the Great Lakes.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk and Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat, proposed the amendment after U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to move Chicago district office functions to Detroit.
The senators believe the move, had it been made, would have potentially affected more than 200 employees who oversee projects such as Asian carp electric barriers and Chicago locks and dams designed to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes."
Read the complete article at the link above to learn more. 

7/23/13

Grand Calumet restoration open house going on this afternoon and evening

The U.S. EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Indiana DNR, and Indiana Department of Environmental Management will host an open house this afternoon and evening to discuss the remediation and restoration work being done on the Grand Calumet River. The Grand Calumet is one of the Great Lakes Legacy Act restoration projects, and is being restored after being designated as an area of concern due to legacy pollutants that impact the ecology and wildlife of the river. 

The open house this evening will feature posters and other information on recent work and ongoing restoration and remediation. All are welcome to stop by between 3:00pm and 7:00pm today at the East Chicago Library, 1008 West Chicago Ave, East Chicago, IN. 

IISG’s Caitie McCoy will have FAQ sheets for visitors who wish to learn more about the project. Additionally, a recently produced video explaining the project scope and its positive impacts will be shown. 

For more information about coastal restoration projects like this, visit our coastal restoration page, and find out about other areas of concern at the EPA’s website.

7/22/13

Great Lakes Social Science Network offering coding training tomorrow

The Great Lakes Social Science Network will be offering a training tomorrow from 12:00 to 1:30p.m. Central Time on coding qualitative data.

GLSSN trainings are designed to offer skill development and training on important practices related to understanding the needs and attitudes of community members and stakeholders. These social science practices have applications internally for organizations, and can be useful in developing and improving published research.

Tomorrow's training, "Coding Qualitative Data," will provide an overview of qualitative analysis, a step-by-step guide, and a group activity on coding to put the lesson into practice (utilizing data from the Weather Ready Nation social science research).

To participate in the training, sign in as a guest to https://epa.connectsolutions.com/coding/ and call: 877-226-9607 (Code: 1329185478).

For further information, contact IISG's Caitie McCoy.

7/19/13

In the news: Low water levels in the Great Lakes have wide-reaching consequences

Beyond the visible problems created by low water levels in the Great Lakes, including difficulties for marina operators and boaters, one very important issue might not be as evident - electricity generation.

From Midwest Energy News:
"Michigan’s Cloverland Electric Cooperative knew it had a problem last year. Output at its hydroelectric plant at Sault Sainte Marie kept dropping dramatically before bouncing back up.

'We experienced about a 60-80 percent drop in the plant’s output,' says Phil Schmitigal, Cloverland’s Director of Generation.
The problem wasn’t inside the 36-megawatt plant, but outside in the St. Mary’s River, which connects Lake Superior with the lower Great Lakes. Cloverland’s plant draws river water in from a 2-1/4 mile long canal that runs from near Ashmun Bay on the west to downstream of the Sabin Lock on the east.
Lower levels in Lake Superior reduced the canal’s water allocation from the International Joint Commission. The lower lake levels also reduced the river’s level at Cloverland’s discharge area. Low water levels there were letting air into the system. As a result, the plant’s underwater turbines couldn’t run properly.
Read the complete article at the link above to learn more about how Great Lakes water levels affect power plants throughout the Midwest.

7/18/13

In the news: Gary, IN moving forward with green stormwater infrastructure

Good water management news out of northwest Indiana as the city of Gary is continuing work on a project that would safeguard a local lagoon and better manage the city's stormwater.

From The Post-Tribune:
"The Gary Storm Water Management District board took action Monday that continues work on a pilot project aimed at reducing the amount of stormwater flowing into the city’s sewer system and safeguarding the lagoon at Marquette Park.

The board approved an agreement with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, which won a $351,073 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in January…
Lauren Riga, the city’s director of Green Urbanism and Environmental Affairs, said the pilot will focus on best stormwater practices in the Miller area and grow from there."
Read the complete article at the link above, and learn more about planning that factors stormwater into it at the Local Decision Maker, an online tool for Indiana communities to assist in comprehensive planning.

7/17/13

New climate adaptation toolkit helps municipalities

To help municipalities develop strategies that address possible climate change effects on infrastructure and communities, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has created the Climate Adaptation Guidebook for Municipalities in the Chicago Region

The guidebook serves as a toolkit of sorts to help planners, administrators, and others formulate comprehensive plans and responses to current and future effects resulting from a changing climate. The guidebook addresses a number of water related issues and vulnerabilities, including flood protection and mitigation, meeting drinking water needs, and more. 

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s extension climatologist Molly Woloszyn assisted in the creation of the toolkit, specifically in drafting the guidebook’s Primary Impacts of Climate Change in the Chicago Region appendix (PDF), along with the Illinois State Climatologist Office and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The section reviews the state of scientific knowledge regarding climate change in northeastern Illinois with a particular focus on variables of interest to municipalities. The section offers information on several anticipated impacts from changing climate conditions, including periods of heavy rain and corresponding flooding, increased drought conditions, weather variability that can affect utilities, and additional concerns. 

The guidebook is one part of northeastern Illinois’ comprehensive plan GO TO 2040, which addresses environmental impacts, energy efficiency, transportation needs, and other areas of concern for growing municipal populations in the coming years.

7/16/13

Teachers tackle Great Lakes science and take lessons back to their classes

“Thank you for providing an awesome, informative, and very educational workshop,” said one teacher after last month’s B-WET field experience. “It was extremely helpful to me and, as a result, I feel very confident in addressing my students regarding the Great Lakes, knowing that now I have a plethora of resources, information, lessons, etc. at my disposal.”

All of the attendees at this year’s B-WET Field Experiences for Watershed Educators workshop shared similar positive feedback on the experience, and were genuinely excited at the opportunity to expand their science lessons. IISG’s education team led last month’s four-day training for teachers in Illinois and Indiana, where participants gained new hands-on skills and knowledge from invited speakers to take back to their classrooms. 

Teachers got to see a number of practices in action, including habitat restoration at Cowles Bog, a remediated and revitalized Roxana Marsh, water quality testing at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum pond, and more. They also got their hands dirty planting native species and performing a beach cleanup. 

The workshop was designed explicitly to provide educators with a way to connect classroom concepts and scientific principles with real-world examples of watershed stewardship in action. Teachers engaged in fieldwork and collaborated with participating agency and organization educators who shared their program examples. As a result, teachers will be able to offer their students information that complements their science curricula. Additionally, the workshop gave them a chance to brainstorm new activities and lessons they could use with their students this fall.

Terri Hallesy, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant education specialist explained, “As a result of this workshop, students will develop awareness and understanding about these critical environmental watershed issues based on the teachers’ new understandings. Educators will bring this increased confidence to their students to help excite them about engaging in Great Lakes stewardship.”

Added Rafael Rosa, Vice President of Education at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, “What I was most impressed with was the enthusiasm of the teachers the program attracted. They asked great questions and more importantly were very open to sharing ideas and working with one another. I think I learned as much from them as they did from me.”

Funding was provided through a grant from the NOAA B-WET education program (linked above), and the workshop was made possible with assistance from Indiana Dunes State Park, the Great Lakes Research and Education Center at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Alliance for the Great Lakes. 

For information about upcoming workshops and teacher opportunities, visit our Education page. To learn more about education programs throughout the U.S., visit the Sea Grant Education Network. And learn more about Great Lakes education and literacy initiatives at the Center for Great Lakes Literacy.

7/15/13

In the news: Great Lakes under growing pressure as water needs grow

The Great Lakes, a source of freshwater for millions in American and Canada, will likely see increased stress as the water is needed for a growing population and a changing climate.

From The Toledo Blade:
"The Lakes’ usage has drawn more attention in recent years from politicians and legal scholars, such as those who attend the University of Toledo College of Law’s renowned Great Lakes water-law conference each fall. They have stated on numerous occasions that Great Lakes water-management laws pale in comparison to those of the American Southwest, where political battles over water rights have been fought for decades.

Scholars believe this region’s legal framework is evolving into a stronger one as water controversies and more political battles heat up, as evidenced by intense negotiations that resulted in the Great Lakes region’s first binding water-management compact.

The Great Lakes region has traditionally been less irrigated than others. But that too is changing.
Michigan and Ohio have had an uptick in irrigation permits the past two years, largely a result of the 2012 drought and concerns over weather becoming more unpredictable because of climate change."
Read the complete article at the link above, which includes additional information about areas of the U.S. that are already experiencing water shortages or similar issues in the future.

7/12/13

IISG asks water gardeners' help in preventing the spread of invasive species

Greg Hitzroth, IISG’s organisms in trade outreach specialist, recently attended both the Northern Midwest Zen Nippon Airinkai Koi Club Show and the Indiana Koi and Water Garden Club Show to speak directly with water gardeners about making the right choices to prevent selecting and spreading invasive species. 

The overall message he shared with the attendees was that even common plants associated with water gardens can quickly become “aquatic invaders” under the right conditions. Aquatic invaders are plants and animals that cause ecologic and economic harm once established in public waterways, and removing them can be very expensive and often impossible. One way that aquatic invaders are introduced or spread into public waters is through the intentional or unintentional release of species from water gardens and koi ponds. 

Prevention is the best and most cost-effective way to keep aquatic invaders from spreading, and the gardeners and landscapers heard about a number of methods at the shows. 

The first way to keep these species from spreading is to avoid buying and using them at all. Instead, Greg recommended purchasing native species and avoiding known invasives like those on identified by Reuben Keller of Loyola University Chicago and Christa Gants and David Lodge of University or Notre Dame in their article (PDF). The Chicago Botanic Garden’s website has a list of invasive species and alternatives that are not invasive or environmentally threatening to help guide gardeners’ purchase. 

Additionally, simple steps like finding appropriate alternatives to releasing these species (including trading, returning them to retailers, or properly disposing of them) can have a profound effect in keeping aquatic invaders from establishing in other areas. 

Greg will be presenting this information at other upcoming shows and events, including this weekend’s Midwest Koi and Pond Show, and looks forward to providing information about preventing aquatic invaders to gardeners and hobbyists throughout the season. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is creating a number of educational materials about preventing these species from spreading, and more information about those will be posted soon.

7/10/13

Teachers and scientists give high marks to IISG’s Educator Day at IAGLR 2013

From Robin Goettel, IISG associate director for education:
Scientists and teachers had a unique opportunity to interact, network, and connect research with education during The Center for Great Lakes Literacy’s Educator Day at last month’s IAGLR 2013 conference in West Lafayette, Indiana. Among the many goals of the IISG-coordinated session, providing opportunities for teachers to share their science education needs with researchers and identifying ways to incorporate the latest Great Lakes research into their lesson plans were high priorities.  
The exchange of ideas was not only productive, but was a welcome and highly valued experience for all of the participants. The feedback received from both researchers and educators was outstanding, and offered a number of suggestions to guide another session like this in the future. 
Said one teacher of the event, “I was impressed! My experience with IAGLR exceeded my expectations. I was hoping to simply gather more information to 'grow' my Great Lakes curriculum. However, I was able to network with other teachers and scientists which I found so much more valuable than walking away with a stack of Great Lakes lesson plans.” 
Another educator was grateful for the opportunity to meet and talk to working researchers. “I am very thankful for the chance to interact with professionals in the field. Not only does attending scientific conferences refresh learned concepts, but allows for new learning, insight, and expansion of awareness. It also provided fresh ideas for project-based learning and the opportunity to network with potential collaborators.” 
The participating scientists were also glad to brainstorm ways that their work could be incorporated into classroom lessons.
“I always enjoy talking with teachers who are ‘in the trenches’ with younger students. They are faced with a different set of challenges (and opportunities) than we have at the college level. It was nice to hear that there are current efforts to better integrate math and science. It was also interesting to hear what teachers introduce in their classrooms to motivate and engage students in STEM areas.” 
Educator Day at this year’s conference was made possible by Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s new Center for Great Lakes Literacy Project, which you can learn more about here. And to find out about additional educational opportunities in the future, visit our education page.

7/9/13

In the news: Cyclists take in Lake Michigan's beauty by biking around it for charity

A group of cyclists, including four from the Chicago area, are taking part in an excursion to see one of the Great Lakes in its entirety - by cycling around Lake Michigan.

From RedEye Chicago:
"The team will pedal nearly 1,000 miles during their 13-day trip, visiting churches and community groups to rally support for their cause along the way. 

The tour will benefit two education-based causes: Chicago’s By The Hand Club and supporting Venture’s community center in Southeast Asia, which offers educational support to underprivileged children… 
Ben Skoda and two other co-leaders will take turns driving a 15 passenger van that's equipped with a trailer to hold the rider’s equipment. The drivers will go ahead of the bikers, pick up groceries and set up a lunch stop at that day’s halfway point."
Read more about the tour at the complete article linked above.

7/8/13

Teachers from Great Lakes states begin a week of hands-on research on Lake Ontario

Fifteen educators took to the water yesterday for the annual Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop. Scheduled for this week (July 7-13), the workshop offers teachers an opportunity to sail aboard the Lake Guardian on Lake Ontario, conducting a variety of experiments and research processes. This hands-on experience, combined with collaborative meetings with their fellow teachers, will allow each participant to take new information and approaches back to their classrooms. 

Among the fifteen participants on the cruise are teachers from Illinois, and two of them wrote in to tell us about what they hope to gain from this week’s experience on Lake Ontario. 

Alex Valencic, a fourth-grade teacher at Wiley Elementary school in Urbana, Illinois, looks to bring more information about the interactions between plants, animals, weather, and people to his students and his curricula.

“I’ve taught professionally for five years, first as a substitute teacher and then in my current position for the past two years. My teaching experience involves all of the core subjects, including mathematics, science, literacy, and social studies.

I first learned about the Lake Guardian workshop through a friend who works with the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. Some of the major topics of study for fourth graders in Illinois include learning about ecosystems, particularly how plants and animals interact with their environments, weather and global climate, and inquiry-based research. It is my hope that I’ll gain some ‘real-world’ experience studying these issues on Lake Ontario. I would like to integrate the topics into my science curriculum and challenge students to use the information about Lake Ontario to guide their study of Lake Michigan (the Great Lake that borders Illinois). While my students will not be able to go to the Great Lakes to experience the hands-on learning themselves, they will be able to use the resources gained during this workshop in their inquiry projects."

Jen Slivka, working in the Shedd Aquarium’s learning department, is looking forward to incorporating even more science-based information and research into the exhibits at the aquarium. 

“As a learning specialist, I have had the opportunity to coach teachers on inquiry-based science, create professional development sessions, and work closely with teachers on creating stewardship and citizen science programs. I feel very lucky to work with students and teachers of varying backgrounds and pass along my passion for science and education! 

Prior to joining the Shedd team, I taught first grade for five years in Plano, IL. My passion for science was ignited when I attended Aurora University to earn my Masters in Teacher Leadership and Elementary Math and Science. My experiences in my graduate work led me to apply for a program through Shedd, called Teacher Field Experience: Biology in the Bahamas. Through this program, I was able to dive deep into marine environments and scientific research, first in Shedd’s classroom, and then firsthand in the Bahamas aboard Shedd's research vessel, the R/V Coral Reef II. Through hands-on experience, I gained a greater understanding of data collection and analysis, how it applies to current scientific research and how to integrate it into my classroom curriculum. I quickly realized that teachers and educators can benefit greatly from unique professional development experiences and field work. My experiences on the Shedd’s research vessel created a desire in me to continue doing real, hands-on science, and inspire other educators to improve the science they do in their classroom. Last year I was fortunate enough to accept a learning specialist position at Shedd, which allows me the opportunity to connect with teachers all over the city of Chicago. 

The Lake Guardian Sea Grant opportunity came at a perfect time. Shedd Aquarium recently unveiled a renovation of our Local Waters exhibit, titled At Home on the Great Lakes. Since Shedd is committed to education and conservation of the Great Lakes, I am thrilled with the opportunity to be able to board a research vessel and explore ecology, geology, geography, weather, and human impacts on Lake Ontario. Even though I was born and raised in Illinois, I feel that I have a lot to learn about the crucial role that the Great Lakes play in our world. I am looking forward to building my knowledge base on the Great Lakes by receiving firsthand experiences on a working research vessel. I am most looking forward to gaining new resources and discovering stewardship opportunities for students and teachers. Once I return, the knowledge and experiences I gain will be shared with the learning department, and will help to shape future programming at Shedd.”

The teachers will also be live blogging from aboard the ship, and you can follow their posts and updates on the cruise blog.

7/5/13

In the news: Endangered mussels reintroduced in Illinois rivers doing well

Hundreds of endangered mussels originally residing in the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania have been relocated to the Vermillion river in Illinois over the last several years, and the project appears to be a great success.

From the Environmental Almanac:
"Over the past three years, scientists from the Illinois Natural History Survey have translocated hundreds of mussels from the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania (where they lived beneath a bridge slated for demolition) to sites on the Middle Fork and Salt Fork of the Vermilion River.

The two species of mussels involved, clubshells and northern riffleshells, are both classified as ‘endangered’ by the federal government, and by dint of that status they are subjects of recovery plans coordinated by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Those plans call for them to be reestablished throughout their historical range, which includes Illinois…
During the day’s work, a total of 286 tagged mussels were located, just over half of the ones placed there. ‘That’s about what we would expect,’ explained Jeremy Tiemann, the Natural History Survey field biologist who is leading the translocation effort in Illinois. ‘Others may have been so close together or so deep the reader didn’t pick them up. It’s also possible some moved up or downstream a little ways.’"
Follow the link above to learn more about the project.

7/3/13

In the news: Cool water forecast for some 4th of July swims

If you're headed out to enjoy the weather and the outdoors this holiday weekend, you may want to balance swim time with some time on the beach as water temperatures look to be below average in some areas of Lake Michigan

From Michigan Live
"In contrast to air temperatures forecast in the 80s, Lake Michigan water won’t warm up in time for the Thursday holiday, according to the National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids.

Water temperatures in Lake Michigan are 10 to 15 degrees colder than they were this time in 2012 and 5 to 10 degrees colder than they were in 2011, according to meteorologist Evan Webb. He said it’s a product of the cool spring this year."
Water temperatures may be warmer or cooler at other points on the lake, and there are a number of sites to keep up to date on the conditions. If you're planning to spend your time near the waters around Michigan City, Indiana, for instance, you can get current and recent nearshore conditions from the buoy operated by Purdue University and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

However you spend time this holiday weekend, enjoy the sights and scenery safely.

7/2/13

Great Lakes video informs Congressional legislation

The new Sea Grant video, Revitalizing Local Waterfront Economies: The Great Lakes Legacy Act, welcomes people and partners to the benefits of restoring degraded rivers, harbors, and lakes. This week the video helped inform lawmakers in the U.S. Senate as they developed bipartisan legislation to protect and restore the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act was introduced by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, along with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

In addition to reauthorizing the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which provides support for communities to clean up waterways that are designated Areas of Concern (AOC) the United States and Canada, the new legislation would continue funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office.

The 10-minute video, produced by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Wisconsin Sea Grant, explores Great Lakes waterways blighted by decades of industrial discharges like heavy metals, oil, and chemicals such as PCBs and PAHs. The 2002 Great Lakes Legacy Act created an initiative to clean up contamination in these AOCs. There are currently 29 AOCs in the United States. The habitat, water, and sediment quality have become severely degraded at these sites.

The video informs anglers, boaters, residents, and local businesses of the benefits that can come from a remediated AOC through the Legacy Act. The procedures and successes are the result of strong partnerships among states, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and businesses. Under this voluntary, collaborative program, the EPA and its non-federal partners have allocated almost $400 million toward sediment remediation.

As of September 2012, the program has removed or capped 2.1 million cubic yards of degraded sediment. But more waterways need to be cleaned up, and community involvement is essential.

In the short time that it has been available, Revitalizing Local Waterfront Economies has more than 1,200 views. The video was funded by a grant from the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office.

To order a DVD copy, visit the Wisconsin Sea Grant products page or head to our Coastal Restoration products page.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Legacy Act at the EPA's GLLA webpage.

7/1/13

In the news: Illinois beach water showing signs of improvement

Illinois' beach fronts got a bit of good news last week as a recent report pointed to improving water conditions and reduced contamination. 

From The Chicago Tribune:
"The report compiles data on E. coli levels collected by local agencies and submitted to the U.S. EPA. E.coli, which can cause serious illnesses and infection, can be a predictor of other contaminants in the water, said Henry Henderson, Midwest director for NRDC.

Chicago's Montrose Dog Beach and Rainbow Beach were the most contaminated beaches along Illinois' Lake Michigan shoreline, according to the report. A variety of factors can change how a particular beach might test on any given day.

The study also found that Illinois' 65 Lake Michigan beaches saw a combined 334 closings and swimming advisory days last year, a decrease from 483 combined days in 2011. The majority of those closings and advisories were caused by unknown contamination sources, according to the report."
Read the complete article and more details about the report's findings for several Great Lakes area beaches at the link above.

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