Tag Archives: michigan department of environmental quality

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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MSU specialist leads volunteers in detecting invaders

A story in MSU Today titled “On the Lookout for Invasive Plants” features Dr. Jo Latimore. Dr. Latimore is an academic specialist in the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife with MSU Extension funding who contributes to the work of the Greening Michigan Institute. The article tells how she heads MSU’s part in the Michigan Clean Water Corps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, a statewide initiative of which MSU is an integral partner. The primary purpose of this cooperative program is to help citizen volunteers monitor indicators of water quality in their lakes and document changes in lake quality over time. Volunteers are trained to spot invasive weeds that grow beneath the water’s surface. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality uses the information for their work in removing invasive species from lakes. Read more in the article. Thanks to Jo for her leadership in building capacity among volunteers dedicated to stewardship of Michigan’s valued inland waters.

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Extension educational materials receive awards at ANREP conference

Several Michigan State University Extension educational materials received awards at the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (ANREP) biennial conference in Hendersonville, N.C., May 20–23.

 The publication Certified Natural Shoreline Professional Training Manual: Principles of Natural Landscaping and Erosion Control on Inland Lakes (MSUE Bulletin E3109) received a 2012 Gold Award in the category of Long Publications. Jane Herbert, senior Extension educator, served as the lead author and coordinating editor. Bob Schutzki, associate professor, and Mary Bohling, Extension educator, were contributing authors along with several members of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The manual was produced by ANR Communications.

 This attractive 140-page manual is used to train landscape professionals in how to design, construct and maintain environmentally sound inland lake landscapes. It’s a great example of how MSUE professionals work with their colleagues in the public and private sectors to address needs. This manual, and the certification training program in which it is used, are equipping landscape professionals to expand business services to include more lake-friendly tools and techniques to protect the quality of Michigan’s inland lakes.

 The Journal of Extension article “Conservation Education for Advancing Natural Resources Knowledge and Building Capacity for Volunteerism” received a 2011 Gold Award for a Refereed Journal Article. Co-authors were Shari Dann, associate professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; Shawn Riley, associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; and Heather Van Den Berg. Heather, a graduate assistant, was lead author.

 Senior Extension educator Dean Solomon’s conference poster “Public Deliberation Tools for Natural Resources Extension Professionals: A Case Study” received a 2012 Honorable Mention award.

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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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MSUE contributes to the award-winning Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT)

The Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) recently won two national awards. The application won the Outstanding Achievement Award for 2010 from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation. It also was one of four innovations to receive the State Program Innovation Award from the Environmental Council of States.

 What’s the WWAT? The WWAT is an application designed to estimate the likely impact of a water withdrawal on nearby streams and rivers. Use of the WWAT is required of anyone proposing to make a new or increased large quantity withdrawal (more than 70 gallons per minute) from Michigan waters, including all groundwater and surface water sources, prior to beginning the withdrawal.

 Why the WWAT? In coordination with the signing of the Great Lakes Compact, Michigan and the other Great Lakes states were charged with the mission of developing a statewide program to manage and regulate new and expanding large water withdrawals. Michigan responded by enacting new laws, several of which called for the development and use of a Water Withdrawal Assessment Process to manage large quantity water withdrawals. Using science as the basis for policy development, a team of scientists and agency personnel developed the process to assist individuals in determining if their proposed large capacity water withdrawal will likely cause an adverse resource impact to a nearby river or stream.

 Who’s responsible for the WWAT? That’s a complex question since so many people and organizations worked together to make the WWAT a reality. A number of individuals were associated with the development and “roll out” of the WWAT including members of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and scientists from the University of Michigan and others. A Legislated Ground Water Advisory Committee worked on this effort for several years. Our own Michigan State University Institute of Water Research (IWR) has played a key role in several steps of the legislation and assessment process. Prior to the legislation on the Water Withdrawal Assessment Process being passed, Jon Bartholic, director of the IWR, provided testimony to the state Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Policy committee and worked with Senator Patty Birkholz’s committee on public hearings throughout the state. Jeremiah Asher, IWR, created the Web-based tool. Following the development of the tool, David Lusch, senior research specialist, MSU Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Science and IWR, and Jeremiah Asher were the two main presenters at a series of workshops throughout the state. Lois Wolfson and Ruth Kline-Robach, Michigan State University Extension state water quality coordinators, organized and evaluated the meetings.

 Lyndon Kelley, MSU Extension, and Steve Miller, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, organized and presented another series of workshops. Dave Hamilton and Frank Ruswick, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Paul Seelbach, Department of Natural Resources, provided outside assistance for these workshops

 In addition, MSU Extension educators were hard at work presenting other educational meetings and programs. Roberta Dow held a meeting on the WWAT as part of the MAEAP Phase I. Lyndon Kelley and Christina Curell presented WWAT information as part of four separate Extension education programs. Others who held meetings on the tool included Terry Gibb and Bindu Bhakta.

Jane Herbert, MSU Extension at Kellogg Biological Station, and Luke Reese, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at MSU, organized a webinar with David Lusch as the speaker.
Paul Seelbach, formerly with Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Jane Herbert developed a bulletin of frequently asked questions (Extension Bulletin WQ60) concerning the Water Withdrawal Assessment Process, Considering Aquatic Ecosystems: The Basis for Michigan’s New Water Withdrawal Assessment Process.

So as you can see, it took a considerable team across multiple agencies and with a variety of expertise to make this award-winning process and application possible.

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