Tag Archives: asian carp

Asian carp going viral

Our Michigan State University Extension educators write regular articles for our website, and we often find that their superb content gets a lot of attention from the public. Recently, we’ve had an article go practically viral very quickly after it was posted on Feb. 24. Dan O’Keefe’s article, “Asian Carp Being Eaten by Native Fish, New Studies Find,” quickly passed the 1,000-visit mark, and it is currently the most-read article on the MSU Extension website at 7,791 page views in less than a month.

Within days of the article’s publication, it exceeded even the traffic of the home page of the MSU Extension website. Adding to the traffic, the article was featured in Blue Water Satellite, an e-newsletter that focuses on Great Lakes issues. The biggest push of traffic came from Facebook, however, with more than 5,000 visits so far to the article directly. This post has attracted a lot of cumulative attention due to the timely nature of the study, the well-researched content, and the sharing on social networks that our friends and partners have done for us.

Great job, Dan!

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Filed under MSUE News

Life of Lake Superior Youth Program continues to educate with “workshops on the move”

Eleven years ago, Michigan State University Extension developed the format for the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program. And eleven years later, it continues to maintain enhanced new programming each year.

 The Life of Lake Superior Youth Program brings children, aged 9 to 14, and adults together to explore their community and appreciate the opportunities that exist nearby in the arts, natural resources, history, culture, recreation and careers, which have relevance for children living along the Lake Superior shoreline. The option to have a parent or grandparent participate with their children in every activity is one of the distinctive features of the program. This year, 51 youth participated along with 15 parents/grandparents.

 Presented by MSU Extension in Alger County, the 2011 program took place on four days and four different sites in July. A series of “workshops on the move” included:

 July 7: Attendees received sailing instructions then sailed in Munising Bay. Staff members from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, part of the National Park Service, gave a demonstration in the Bayshore Marina in Munising on personal flotation devices.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay, July 7, 2011. Photo by Alana Herzog.

 
Park rangers demonstrate personal flotation devices.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore chief ranger T.C. Colyer, assisted by park ranger Bill Smith, demonstrates personal flotation devices to participants of the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program, July 7, 2011, at Bayshore Marina. Photo by Birch Smith.

 July 13: Participants learned about geomorphology (which I’m told is the study of landforms), sport fishing and logging at Kingston Plains and Kingston Lake. As part of the fishing experience, Ron Kinnunen, Sea Grant senior district Extension educator, brought a collection of aquatic invasive specimens. He talked about fish anatomy while dissecting a Lake Superior whitefish. Kids were particularly enthralled with a large stuffed and mounted Asian Carp that he brought along. Incidentally, Ron helped design the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program at its onset and has contributed every year by teaching something related to his current Sea Grant research.

 July 19: Attendees helped plant 5,000 native wildflower plugs as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s work to restore native plants at Grand Island National Recreation Area. At another site, one of the island resident’s summer home, youth went on an exploration hike and did card loom weaving, incorporating birch bark, leaves, grasses and driftwood.

 July 27: Participants paddled a 24-foot voyageur canoe in Munising Bay, learned about the area’s history at the Alger Heritage Museum, did a re-enactment skit at the fur traders’ cabin and watched a blacksmith demonstration.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe on Munising Bay, July 27, 2011. Photo by Jude Holloway.

 The event closed with an evening family fish boil celebration at the Alger Heritage Center, July 27.

 Healthy meals and snacks are part of each day of the program. Vicki Ballas, MSU Extension SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) program associate, designed the “Captain Nutrition” component. In the past, healthy meals and snacks were always a critical part of the program. But when Vicki joined the Alger County staff, her creativity and interest in kids and nutrition, led to making the meal something the kids would be involved in preparing. All foods served are those that youth easily could teach their families to make at home. And before each meal or snack time, Vicki teaches them what they are preparing, including all food groups and making half their plates fruits and vegetables. The Captain Nutrition component of the last three years has truly enhanced the overall program.

 Since 2000, MSU Extension has partnered with more than 35 community services and their professional and technical staff to deliver unique workshops each summer. About 40 adult volunteers annually provide their services as presenters, mentors or community partners. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service actively participate in program planning as well as hosting Life of Lake Superior activities.

 Joan Vinette, MSU Extension educator in Alger County, attributes the program’s success to its dedicated volunteers and collaborators.

 Joan says, “It takes an intense effort to bring together all the logistics. But the rewards are in watching kids (together with peers or a parent or grandparent) enjoying outdoor learning at different venues that highlight natural features unique to Alger County. Youth get to experience recreational opportunities, scientific research, economics, cultural heritage and art that influence life along the shore of Lake Superior.”

 Visit the Life of Lake Superior Facebook page to view many more photos and some videos.

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Fishing for solutions

I’ve spent the past two Fridays attending legislative public meetings in coastal communities on lakes Huron and Michigan to learn more about the threats posed by invasive species to the Great Lakes. The meetings resulted from a discussion with Rep. Holly Hughes of Muskegon earlier this year, in which she asked what Michigan State University Extension could do to help inform the public about the potential threats of silver carp and bighead carp if they were to become established in the Great Lakes. These and several other species, including grass carp and black carp, are commonly referred to as Asian carp species.

 Silver carp, bighead carp and grass carp have established large populations in the Illinois River. This has dramatically altered the entire Illinois River ecosystem, devastating populations of once abundant native species that had been the basis of commercial and recreational fisheries. The silver carp pose a safety risk given their habit of leaping out of the water as boats pass by, occasionally striking boat occupants and causing injury. A constructed channel connects the headwaters of the Illinois River with the Chicago River and Calumet River, which drain into Lake Michigan. With those connections, there is a high likelihood that the Asian carp species may move into Lake Michigan, and if they become established in the Great Lakes, they could dramatically alter the dynamics of the lake ecosystems and perhaps disrupt the valuable fisheries we have in our lakes and rivers.

 In the public meetings, Dan O’Keefe, Sea Grant Extension educator in Ottawa County, led off the presentations with a very thorough and up-to-date summary of the status and potential threats of these species if they become established in the Great Lakes. He was followed by Dave Clapp, fisheries research biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, who explained the plan that MDNR has developed to prevent and if necessary to respond to potential introduction of these invasive species to Michigan waters.

 What is most striking from participating in all four of the sessions is that the most reliable solution we have is one that is very difficult to achieve: never allow the Asian carp species into the Great Lakes. Prevention is by far the most certain way of managing the risk these species pose, and prevention requires actions by everyone. After boating elsewhere, boaters need to be sure they clean and check their boats, trailers and other equipment before bringing them back into Michigan waters to be sure they aren’t bringing along aquatic hitchhikers. Managers of waters that may allow for fish to swim into the Great Lakes can install and operate preventive measures such as the use of physical barriers or electric weirs to prevent fish from entering the Great Lakes.

 I was pleased to see the public respond to this challenge as they realized that there is no simple answer, no silver bullet, either to prevent the introduction of these species or to remove them if they become established. When your best solution is an informed public that is motivated to do the right thing, it will take a lot of meetings and other communication efforts to ensure that we benefit from best practices. Thanks to Dan and Dave for their willingness to spend a few Fridays informing concerned Michigan residents about these important matters.

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Filed under natural resources