Tag Archives: mdeq

M4-HYCC testifies before Senate committee

We talk often about how our Michigan State UniversityExtension4-H Youth Development Program creates the leaders of tomorrow. But often, 4-H’ers don’t wait till they’re all grown up to use those leadership skills to make a difference. That was obvious when a group of 19 members of the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council (M4-HYCC) gave a presentation before the Michigan Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes on April 24.

The council is a leadership and confidence-building opportunity for teens who get a chance to explore solutions to environmental issues and provide a voice in state government public policy-making. Each year, members of M4-HYCC select and research a current environmental issue that affects the entire state. They spend about three months researching, which includes interviewing people, listening to presentations, and studying books and articles on the issue. The research concludes with a presentation before the state Senate.

Members of the M4-HYCC , a Michigan Senate Committee and a staff member pose for a photo after the council testified before the committee April 24, 2014, in Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson

Members of the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council and the Michigan Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes as well as a staff member pose for a photo after the council testified before the committee on improving the regulations related to home heating oil storage tanks April 24, 2014, in Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson

This year, the group’s research and presentation focused on home heating oil tanks. The council recommended expanding the regulations of PA 207 to include a broader jurisdiction over the tanks. It suggested that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) be given the ability to ticket inadequate home heating oil tanks and supporting structures. It also suggested that education and training in proper inspection and fuel tank maintenance for fuel distributors be enhanced.

The senators expressed appreciation for all the hard work the 4-H’ers put into the project. They were impressed and spent time talking individually with them after the hearing ended.

“I thought the senators seemed surprised that home heating oil tanks in Michigan are largely unregulated,” said Extension educator Darren Bagley who coordinates the program.

The teen council members have been responsible for influencing the legislature in the past. In 2008, their testimony helped pass Senate Bill 152 and 362, which reduces the amounts of phosphorus permitted in dishwasher and laundry detergents. In 2003, their recommendations led to an introduction of a bill that directed the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to include special information about marine fuel spills in its boating safety course. Members also testified for a bill introduced in 2000 that promoted the development of the Michigan heritage water trail program. The bill was passed in 2002.

4-H member Dakota Hewlett, an MSU freshman who has been with the council since he was 13, provided leadership. Mallory Ramelis from Mackinac County took leadership for the presentation, and Samantha Ellison from Tuscola County took leadership for the paper.

Extension educator Insa Raymond acted as advisor, and Sam Owens (Midland County) and Paula Ramelis (Mackinac County) served as volunteer advisors.

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Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership’s 2nd Annual Shoreline and Shallows Conference a success

I’m always happy to showcase our many successes in this blog and email. The increased attendance at the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) 2nd Annual Shoreline and Shallows Conference – from last year’s attendance of 94 to this year’s 152 participants – was just one of the measures of the event’s success. Fifty-one of this year’s participants were Certified Natural Shoreline Professionals gaining continuing education units through the MNSP. The intent of the certification program is to promote the use of green landscaping technologies and bioengineered erosion control on inland lakes. Lake management professionals, educators and lakefront property owners also participated in the conference.

 The conference took place during Agriculture and Natural Resources Week (ANR Week) March 7 in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

 Jane Herbert, Michigan State University Extension senior water resource educator, and John Skubinna of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), who facilitates the MNSP, served on the conference planning committee chaired by Lois Wolfson, outreach specialist in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Institute of Water Research and MSU Extension.

 The conference focused on lakeshore restoration and the effect of climate change on plant selection and performance. The event featured various experts in the field including Dr. Mary Blickenderfer of the University of Minnesota Extension.

 Jane said, “The annual Shoreline and Shallows Conference is MNSP’s chance to bring in out-of-state experts – providing MDEQ and Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff, and others, an opportunity to learn more about what’s happening with natural shoreline restoration around the country.”

 Sponsors of the conference included MNSP; MDEQ, Water Resources Division; MSU Institute of Water Research; MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute; Cardno JFNew; Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, Inc.; and the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society.

 MSU Extension provides leadership to the MNSP’s educational programming. MNSP is a public/private partnership and includes MSU Extension, the MDEQ, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology, MSU Department of Horticulture, industry representatives, trade associations, other academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.

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