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Stay cool pool without chlorine 

HEA-Stay-cool-pool

Saltwater pool is a healthy alternative

(BPT) – As summer temperatures rise, backyard and neighborhood pools become more attractive for old and young alike. The one thing most folks don’t like, however, is the smell of the chlorine or how it burns your eyes or feels on your skin once you get out of the water. The chlorine is there to help keep the water clean and clear, and most pools require a lot of regular maintenance to maintain the proper levels.

Saltwater pools, however, offer a better way to enjoy a dip without the smell or feeling of chlorine. They work by converting salt to chlorine using an electrolytic converter. This produces the same type of bacteria-killing chlorine found in a traditional pool, but in a radically different fashion.

How saltwater pools work

Instead of dumping a bunch of chemical chlorine all at one time and letting it dissipate until more is needed, a saltwater pool adds chlorine to the water at a constant rate. This displaces the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine, while maintaining the right amount at all times.

As the water exits the converter and enters the pool, the sanitizing chlorine eventually reverts back to salt, and the process repeats itself, conserving salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced. However new salt does need to be added occasionally as salt levels can drop due to splash-out, rain, and filter back-washing. Pool owners still should test weekly for pH and chlorine, and monthly for other water balance factors.

Lower maintenance, less expensive

The other good news for home owners and pool managers is that saltwater pools require far less maintenance than traditional pools and are much less expensive to maintain as pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United States have already made the switch. The initial construction and installation of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater can pay off quickly.

The technology for a saltwater pool was first developed in Australia in the 1960s, and today, more than 80 percent of all pools Down Under use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are salt water, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.

Some may be concerned about the effect of salt on pool equipment, construction materials, decks and surrounding structures. However, the actual amount of salt used is very low, less than .01 as salty as sea water. You may be able to barely taste the salt in the pool, but much less so than you can taste and feel the chlorine in a standard pool. When pools are properly constructed and normal maintenance is followed, saltwater has no effect on pool finishes, equipment and decks.

To learn more about saltwater pools and other uses for salt, visit saltinstitute.org.

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Community shows outpouring of support for teen with cancer

 

Fundraiser Aug. 23 to help with treatments

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

By Judy Reed

The greater Cedar Springs community and beyond has wrapped its arms around the family of a local teen with a rare brain tumor, and the alternative cancer treatment they are working so hard to help raise funds for is showing signs of working—something that conventional cancer treatment did not do. In fact, the latest MRI on 15-year-old Brison Ricker shows that the tumor has shrunk to 1/3 the size it was previously.

It’s definitely a miracle—especially when you find out that Brison’s parents—Brian and Kim Ricker, of Nelson Township, were told less than two months ago by their conventional oncologist to take Brison home and call in hospice because he didn’t have long to live.

Before symptoms began last fall, Brison was a happy, well-liked and athletic teen, who loved riding dirt bikes with his younger brother Preston, and playing soccer. According to Kim, Brison raced motocross and supercross, and came in second place in the state for the two classes he raced in. He also was on the Varsity soccer team as a freshman, and voted offensive player of the year.

His symptoms started around Thanksgiving time with dizziness. “He’s extremely active, so I told him to drink enough water, not to get dehydrated,” explained Kim. The symptoms continued and progressed to blurred vision and seeing double, so she made an appointment with their pediatrician after the first of the year. “They said it was an eye issue and sent us to an eye doctor, who prescribed him glasses. “We got those and they didn’t work,” said Kim. “I had a feeling they wouldn’t. I suspected it was something major.”

Kim asked the pediatrician to schedule an MRI to see what was going on, but he didn’t think it was anything major. “I had to fight with him about it. I finally said I’m taking him to the ER to get an MRI then, and he said o.k.” Brison had the MRI and they got the diagnosis on January 22: the MRI showed a rare and deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (DIPG), which is nearly always fatal and lacks an effective treatment, according to Stanford University.

According to a news article from Stanford’s medicine news, DIPG affects 200-400 school-aged children in the United States each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent; half of patients die within nine months of diagnosis. Radiation gives only a temporary reprieve from the tumor’s growth. In addition, it is inoperable. It grows through the brain stem, where breathing and heartbeat are controlled, “with the healthy and diseased cells tangled like two colors of wool knitted together,” said Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Stanford.

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

The news of Brison’s tumor was devastating for the family. “There’s not words to describe how it felt. We were horrified. Our whole world was crashing down,” shared Kim. She said she also questioned God about it. But Brison’s faith and the support of family and friends helped keep them steady. “He has handled it like a champ. We get strength from him. He has a very strong faith, as do we. And, as soon as we found out, our room was filled with friends from church who came to pray. It helped our focus to be on God’s word and not what the doctors are telling us; to focus on God’s promises and not the diagnosis,” explained Kim.

A Gofundme page was set up for donations, and Team Brison (you can find them on Facebook) began putting together numerous fundraising events to help the family. And people began to pray.

Brison first underwent radiation, and did several alternative treatments at home to help fight the cancer, including eating a strict, healthy, organic diet. Kim said they wanted to go to the Burzynski clinic in Texas in March, when Brison’s radiation was done, because they offered an alternative treatment that had had some success with patients. But she said that the oncologist recommended against it, because he said he had seen people do that and waste their money.

The cost for the first month of treatment down there would be $30,000, and it would be a minimum of $17,000 per month after that. None of it would be covered by insurance. Not to mention the loss of income they would suffer. Faced with that and the fact that the oncologist recommended against it, they didn’t go.

But Brison continued to deteriorate. He lost 25 pounds, and his liver was under stress. The steroids he was on for inflammation broke down his muscle and skin and contributed to fatigue. By the end of April, he needed help to stand, sit, and walk. And his tumor had grown 6mm bigger, and there was swelling in his brain. He continued on steroids and the alternative treatments he was receiving locally.

On June 18, Brison went to the ER because his symptoms were progressing, and had another MRI. The news was devastating—his tumor had doubled in size from just six weeks before and was spreading to other parts of his brain. “The doctors say there are no clinical trials available anywhere for him and there is nothing left that they can do for him, and sent us home to cherish the precious time we have together. They suggested that we call Hospice and said at the rate the tumor is growing they believe his time is very limited,” wrote Kim in a Gofundme update on June 19.
“We went home and called the Burzynski Clinic right away,” said Kim. She researched a few other clinics, but the Burzynksi Clinic was the only one that had any success with treating that type of tumor. And Kim was able to talk with the mother of a 14-year-old that had been treated there, which helped them make their decision. “We prayed about it and felt this is where God was leading us,” she wrote. Additional gene-targeting meds were going to add another $40,000 to the cost, and they didn’t know how they were going to be able to keep the treatments going, but they trusted God and went.

They originally thought they would be there a month, but came back a bit sooner. Some additional new meds the clinic wanted to start him on wouldn’t have been covered there, but the oncologist here agreed to work with them and offered to give them to Brison here, which meant they would be covered by insurance. They still, however, have thousands and thousands of dollars in expenses to be met for other meds.

On Thursday, August 8, they received some amazing news: not only was the tumor one-third the size it was, but it was dying from the inside out. His oncologist here was surprised. “He said he’d never seen any results like this, that basically we were in a gray area of medicine from a regular oncologist’s point of view, because they hadn’t seen this combination of treatments before,” said Kim.

She also spoke with Dr. Burzynski this week, and he wants to continue with the treatment and get an MRI in four weeks. “There is some controversy between the doctors on how treatment will go moving forward but we’ll work it out,” she said. “The main thing is Brison had great results. He is tired and worn, but holding steady. Steady is good. If he was not on this treatment, he would not be with us.”

Kim said that the family has been overwhelmed with the support that they have received, even from people they don’t know. Brison is in awe of it all, especially the little notes or gifts he gets from people. She hopes people will continue to show Brison how much they care about him. “He thinks those gifts and notes are pretty awesome,” she said.

One of the ways their faith in God has helped them through this, is to see how it has affected other people. “A ton of people have said how our faith has strengthened them. It’s amazing to see how through all this we are touching and encouraging people and making their faith stronger,” remarked Kim.

While Brison received good news about his tumor, he is not out of the woods and will need more treatment, which means continuing expenses for the family, and they can only continue the treatments with your help. Another fundraiser has been set for August 23 at Cedar Springs High School at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds will go to benefit Brison. Speakers are Tracey Casey-Arnold, founder/CEO of W.I.T. Wellness Consulting, founder of WIT Ministry and Whatever it Takes Radio Network; and Matt Lehr, former NFL football player, NPC Super Heavy Weight and GASP athlete, and NPC Texas Judge. Arnold will speak about using faith to help win in life; Lehr will speak about overcoming adversities. Tickets are $25 each, with the option to donate more. They ask that you please purchase tickets ahead of time at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/brison-ricker-fundraiser-event-with-tracey-arnold-and-matt-lehr-tickets-26959235800. Or go to eventbrite.com and search for Brison Ricker.

For info on this and other fundraisers for Brison, search for the Team Brison page on Facebook.

To donate directly to Brison, visit https://www.gofundme.com/brisonricker or send a check to Brison Ricker, 5370 Dio Dr., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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West Michigan Hawks call it quits

Three-year-old Libby Walla led the team onto the field to start the last home game they played on July 23. They raised $933 to help in her fight against periventricular leukomalasia.

Three-year-old Libby Walla led the team onto the field to start the last home game they played on July 23. They raised $933 to help in her fight against periventricular leukomalasia.

By Shae Brophy

In a surprising announcement, West Michigan Hawks owner David Lange has confirmed that the team has ceased operations after losing several players. Due to this, the team did not play in their scheduled playoff game on August 13 against the Battle Creek Coyotes. Their playoff spot was filled by the Lima Warriors.

“This stems beyond the issues that the Hawks had,” said Lange. “This is an issue with semi pro football in general. There are a lot of issues at this level that I do not find acceptable. Some examples include owners allowing their players to drink on alcohol free grounds; (players/coaches) starting fights with no consequence; players fighting with other players, refs, coaches, owners etc. These are only a few things out of many that cross my mind or that have happened. It was my dream and passion to not only put on a great family event, but to help those in need in the process. It takes a collective effort from all teams involved to make these things happen, and I do not feel that we can successfully do that, as there are only a handful of semi pro teams who aspire to do the same.”

The Hawks had a two-year run in the Minor League Football Alliance, which saw them win the league’s “Organization of the Year” award in 2015, the team’s first year of existence. The team won their first four games of the 2016 season, before dropping their last four to close out the regular season.

Over the course of their two years, the team was able to raise funds and awareness for numerous causes, including Brison Ricker (16 year old battling a brain tumor; Libby Walla (3-year-old battling Charlie Finch (who passed away in an auto accident); and Alan Beamer (suf periventricular leukomalasia); Shae Brophy (brain tumor); Stephanie Cornwell (breast cancer); the family of fering from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease).

“I’d like to sincerely thank every single person who helped with the organization over the last two years,” said Lange. “Everyone from those who ran the concession stands at our home games, to those who ran the chains during the games. Josh Morris, who controlled the audio/music at home games; Shae Brophy, who announced our home games; Scott Fuller, who painted the field for us before each game; Friends of Skinner Field for allowing us to play at their facility; all of our sponsors; the Cedar Springs Fire Department and medical response team; all the players who stuck it out until the very end; and coaches Rashaad Powell and Michael Henderson. And, last but most definitely not least, the fans/community. Without the support of the fans and the community, none of what we accomplished would have been possible.”

Lange has a unique appreciation for the game of football, and plans to continue getting valuable experience in the realm of coaching. “I am all about progression,” he said. “I will continue to learn the game of football, and continue to coach at the youth level until another progression opportunity arises. When one door closes another opens. I aspire to inspire.”

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Solon Market’s Pet Daze Expo 

 

Kids and animals alike enjoyed Solon Market’s Pet Daze Expo last Saturday, August 13. Photos courtesy of Rachaelyn’s Photography.

Kids and animals alike enjoyed Solon Market’s Pet Daze Expo last Saturday, August 13.
Photos courtesy of Rachaelyn’s Photography.

N-Pet-Daze-Expo-red-haired-girlA chorus of joyful voices greeted Market-goers as they entered the community room at Solon Township’s Dog Daze Pet Expo Saturday, August 13. Humane Society of West Michigan led the choir with six puppies who were excited to be there. Excitement was the general consensus among the canine crowd, as they mingled while their people browsed exhibits, watched demos and stayed to watch and participate in the popular Pet Show.

Many people and their pets braved the weather to attend and forever homes were found for several of the animals, including five of WMHS’s six pups. The fundraiser garnered over $200.00 for area rescues and non-profit services and served to educate the public and bring awareness to animal needs, as well as highlight pet-related services. Kids who entered the Pet Show received bags of gifts donated by area businesses. Three lucky winners received pet beds and gift cards, donated by another business.

Kent County Sherriff’s Deputy Dekorte and his canine partner, Ritzey, a goldador, demonstrated their skills in arson detection and stayed to answer questions related to their duties. The Sheriff’s department is looking to add six dogs to their unit including a therapy dog. Donations can be made by accessing the following link:  http://www.trafficsquad.com/#!k9/c66d3

For more on the Expo, check out Solon Market’s facebook page and to see photos of the event.

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Vote: Designated driver

West MiN-Drive-sober-or-get-pulled-overchigan agencies participate in stepped up enforcement

 

This election year, selecting a designated driver is a vote to get home safe as police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police (MSP) in west Michigan will be conducting extra drunk driving patrols across the state to locate and arrest drunk drivers.

The stepped up enforcement is part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign Aug. 18-Sept. 5.  The initiative includes the Labor Day holiday period, a popular Michigan travel time.

“Motorists who choose to drive drunk endanger everyone on the roadway. In 2015 Michigan saw a drastic increase in alcohol- and drug-involved fatalities,” said Michael L. Prince, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) director. “The extra officers participating in this enforcement effort will send a clear message: if you drive drunk you will be arrested.”

According to information released by the MSP Criminal Justice Information Center this spring, alcohol-involved fatalities were up 28 percent, from 236 in 2014 to 303 in 2015. Drug-involved fatal crashes spiked 19 percent, up from 150 in 2014 to 179 in 2015.

During last year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement, officers arrested 351 drunk drivers and issued 2,630 seat belt and child restraint citations. Fifteen people died in 12 traffic crashes during the 2015 Labor Day holiday period, a significant increase from six fatalities during the 2014 Labor Day holiday. Nearly two-thirds of the 2015 Labor Day holiday cashes involved alcohol.

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher.

Grant-funded drunk driving enforcement is part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.

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Set the Stage for Success

SCH-Success

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Tips for a smooth transition back to school

(Family Features)

For parents putting bright-eyed students on the bus for the very first time and for seasoned moms and dads who know the drill inside and out, gearing up for another year of school is a process. The shopping extravaganzas, trips to the doctor for physicals, endless forms and paperwork all culminate in a single moment: the first day back to school.

Often, it’s this first day (or days) that set the tone for the school year to come. Help your child feel prepared and confident to tackle whatever the school year brings with these tips for a successful start.

Plan well-balanced meals:

Summer break brings a lax approach to many aspects of life, and healthy eating is often one of them. However, nutrition plays an important role in overall development and countless studies show correlation between academic performance and good nutrition. As the school year approaches, work at creating healthy menus. If hectic scheduling makes it difficult to get well-balanced meals in lunchboxes and on the dinner table through the week, allocate a portion of the weekend for a family prep session.

Reinstate bedtimes:

Easing back into earlier bedtimes will make things smoother for everyone when the alarms start ringing on early school day mornings. Well before the start of school, gradually back off more time each night – in 15-minute increments, for example – to get kids back in bed early enough to capture at least 10 hours of sleep, the amount recommended for school-aged children and adolescents by the National Institutes of Health.

Get creative to boost enthusiasm:

Part of the fun of heading back to the classroom is a shiny new set of supplies. Build your kids’ excitement by letting them select the tools they’ll use to bring home good grades, like pens and pencils. Despite a keyboard and touchscreen-driven world, sales of color-focused products like felt-tip markers, porous (fine line) pens and colored pencils are on the rise.

In an effort to follow and respond to trends, Zebra Pen continues to introduce products that allow for personal expression, whether in the ink color chosen for notes or the barrel design to complement your kids’ style.

We’re conscious of the influx of technology in the school, but still see the importance of writing instruments in the school environment. There is a great deal of pen or pencil and paper activity in the classroom and we have focused on providing products that meet the needs of teachers and students alike,” said Ken Newman, Director of Marketing at Zebra Pen.

Our Sarasa retractable gel pen, which comes in 14 vibrant colors, boasts one of the fastest drying inks on the market. And for those looking to express style through design, consider a Z-Grip Plus ballpoint pen, featuring our smoothest ballpoint ink and a fashion-friendly barrel design, or perhaps a traditional Z-Grip ballpoint with a floral or animal pattern. For the younger writer whose world of writing is confined mostly to pencil, the Cadoozles line of No. 2 and colored mechanical pencils offers functionality and fun.”

There are options for every stage of a student’s development, whether they are a beginner, intermediate or have progressed toward the end of their academic careers. A complete selection can be found online at ZebraPen.com.

Explore outside of academics:

Developing interests outside the classroom builds confidence and character, teaches discipline and may help reveal hidden passions or talents that translate into future scholarships or career choices. Now is an ideal time to explore the options available in your community and complete necessary registrations as many extra-curricular activities are closely linked to the traditional school calendar.

Follow the paper trail:

The volume of paperwork associated with sending a child to school can be overwhelming. From registration forms and emergency contact sheets to physicals and immunization records, the list goes on and on. Keep on track with a list of all the materials you’re responsible for completing, along with special notes for those that require visits to the doctor’s office or other appointments.

Take a tour:

Especially for new students, but even for experienced kids, spend some time getting familiar with the school before the big day. Seeing the bus drop-off location, classroom, bathrooms, cafeteria and any other major features ahead of time can help soothe jitters and lets you proactively answer worries or questions about how those first days may unfold.

Establish a transition tradition:

Celebrate the end of summer and the fresh start ahead by creating a special family tradition. It may be a final backyard campout for the season or a scrapbooking project that captures memories from the summer and describes goals for the school year. The time together to talk about what lies ahead can help get the family geared up for a successful school year.

Express Personality with Style

SCH-Success-suppliesEncouraging your child to develop his or her own unique personality can be tough with social “rules” and official policies that determine dress code, supplies and more. When you get down to it, though, there are dozens of ways to let kids explore personal expression without breaking any rules or subjecting them to unwanted attention.

Accessories: Even at schools with uniforms or dress codes, there is some latitude when it comes to accessorizing. Dress codes vary, but many allow flexibility in things such as socks, shoes, hair bows and jewelry.

School supplies: Let kids choose their own writing implements as a personal statement of self-expression, which is especially important to middle and high school students. With so many options, it’s easy to bypass the basic bargain selection and choose from an array of new designs and creative features, such as those offered by Zebra Pen.

Personal space: For younger students, the area designated as a student’s own may be limited to a backpack or storage cubby. For older kids, there’s an entire locker to consider. Customizing these personal areas lets kids assert a clear stamp of individuality. Photos, artwork and treasured mementoes bring these personal spaces to life.

 

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Nongame Wildlife Fund helps aid comeback success stories

 

Most of us recognize the American robin. With its cheery song bringing a welcome sign of spring, these red-breasted birds are a common sight in Michigan; so familiar and appreciated, in fact, that the robin was named the state bird in 1931.

But there was a time after World War II when robins had become less common due to the damaging effects of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) and other pesticides.

Fortunately, robin populations bounced back after DDT use was banned in the United State in 1972. However, many other nongame species—meaning wildlife that isn’t hunted—have needed, and continue to need, help to protect them from becoming rare or even extinct. That’s where the Nongame Wildlife Fund comes in.

Mechanics and administration

The fund, which is coordinated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division, assists with the division’s goals by identifying, protecting, managing and restoring Michigan’s biological diversity.

The Nongame Wildlife Fund is responsible for initiating, developing and implementing critical projects vital to the needs of Michigan’s endangered, threatened and nongame animals, plants and their habitats.

Since its inception, the Nongame Wildlife Fund has raised nearly $24 million in support of critical projects for nongame species, which includes more than 80 percent of Michigan’s wildlife.

“The fund aims not only to restore populations of endangered and threatened species but to maintain present populations of animals and plants and to promote appreciation of Michigan’s nongame wildlife,” said Hannah Schauer, a DNR wildlife technician.

Funds have been raised for these important management efforts through voluntary check-off contributions on state income tax forms (the check-off ended when the fund reached $6 million, as dictated by state law), sales of the wildlife habitat specialty license plates and direct donations.

Another component of this approach has been the Living Resources Patch program. Proceeds from the sale of these patches also are directed to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

For more than 40 years, the patch program has raised awareness of Michigan’s nongame wildlife species. The 2016-2017 Living Resources Patch, which will be the final one issued in the series, features the American robin.

“The state bird seemed fitting for the final patch, since 2016 is also the centennial for the Migratory Bird Treaty, which has benefited the robin, as well as many other nongame bird species,” Schauer said.

American robin patches, along with several previous years’ patches, are available for purchase on the Michigan e-store website.

Kirtland’s warbler

The effort to bolster Michigan’s nongame wildlife has yielded some notable progress over the last few decades.

One of the most significant success stories—and one that’s unique to Michigan—stars a rare songbird called the Kirtland’s warbler, one of the original species to be listed as part of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Visitors come from all over the world to see these birds, which nest in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, a few sites in Wisconsin and Ontario, and nowhere else on Earth.

The DNR and many partners manage the specific type of jack pine habitat that the Kirtland’s warbler requires by logging, burning, seeding and replanting on a rotational basis.

Trees aren’t cut down until they’re mature and large enough to be economically valuable, which helps maintain nesting habitat for the warblers while supporting the commercial harvest of jack pine.

Several million jack pine seedlings are planted each year. The birds have specific nesting requirements which include reliance on young jack pine trees.

“The population of the rarest warbler in North America has increased dramatically through management and protection of more than 150,000 acres of jack pine habitat in Michigan,” said Dan Kennedy, DNR threatened and endangered species specialist.

The annual Kirtland’s warbler census, which tallies the number of singing males, has shown a significant increase in the species’ population over the last 40 years, from approximately 200 singing males in 1972 to 2,300 this year.

“The recovery of the Kirtland’s warbler is a real success story for endangered species management,” Kennedy said. “This conservation effort has benefited Michigan’s economy, including jobs associated with tourism and timber products, and helped conserve our biological legacy.”

Michigan’s osprey population, once threatened, is making a comeback with support from the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

Michigan’s osprey population, once threatened, is making a comeback with support from the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

Osprey

Many of Michigan’s nongame wildlife conservation victories involve birds, more specifically birds of prey. One notable example is the osprey.

Once nearly absent from much of Michigan due to the effects of DDT, other pesticides and habitat loss, Michigan’s osprey population is making a comeback thanks in part to the DNR’s osprey reintroduction program.

Started in 2008 and supported by the Nongame Wildlife Fund, this reintroduction program removed chicks from active nests in northern Michigan and reared them in man-made towers in southern Michigan, a process called “hacking.”

In 2015, at least 60 active nests were identified in southern Michigan – a substantial increase from the single active nest reported in 2002.

“Each year we have new nests, and we have already exceeded our original goal of 30 active nests by 2020,” said Julie Oakes, a DNR wildlife biologist. “We have been able to remove ospreys from the threatened species list to a species of special concern and restore their numbers in Michigan.”

The DNR and several partner organizations monitor the revitalization of this species by outfitting osprey chicks with “backpack” GPS telemetry units and tracking their movements and migration patterns.

Anyone can follow along and find out where the birds have been by looking at the Michigan Osprey website, www.michiganosprey.org.

Falcons and eagles

Peregrine falcons, which had been virtually eradicated from eastern North America at one time, today are successfully nesting atop places like urban buildings and bridges.

Peregrine falcons, which had been virtually eradicated from eastern North America at one time, today are successfully nesting atop places like urban buildings and bridges.

Peregrine falcons and bald eagles—two other birds of prey whose populations were decimated by pesticides—also are on the upswing as a result of similar conservation efforts.

Peregrines, virtually eradicated from eastern North America by the middle of the 20th century, today are successfully nesting in urban centers of southern Michigan, on the most iconic bridges across the state and along the Upper Peninsula’s rocky Lake Superior shoreline.

In 2015, biologists recorded 33 active peregrine nests, which produced 73 wild chicks.

The bald eagle’s numbers declined dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s until there were fewer than 1,000 nesting eagles remaining in the U.S. by 1963. Today, the species has recovered to a point where its existence is no longer imperiled.

With over 800 active eagle nests in Michigan, eagles can be found in almost all of the state’s 83 counties.

Moose

 In an operation known as the “moose lift” in the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose via helicopter from Ontario, Canada, to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In an operation known as the “moose lift” in the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose via helicopter from Ontario, Canada, to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“Most of the mammal successes have been so successful that we have seasons on them: marten, fisher, deer and elk,” said Chris Hoving, adaptation specialist with the DNR Wildlife Division. “At one time, they were nongame, or at least not hunted.”

Although moose are not an example of a species that has rebounded to the point where it can be hunted, one memorable nongame endeavor was the reintroduction of the species to Michigan in the Upper Peninsula.

Native to Michigan, moose disappeared from the Lower Peninsula in the 1890s and only a few scattered individuals remained in the Upper Peninsula.

In the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose—using helicopters, in an operation remembered as the “moose lift”—from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, and released them in Marquette County.

A 2016 moose population survey estimates a population of 323 moose in the western U.P.

Reptiles and amphibians

As for reptiles and amphibians, collectively known as herpetofauna or “herps,” ongoing projects include the Michigan Herp Atlas, which aims to collect data about Michigan’s native amphibians and reptiles in order to document their distribution and changes in their populations statewide, and the annual spring volunteer frog and toad survey.

“We have collected a large, valuable data set to help us evaluate Michigan’s frog and toad populations,” said DNR nongame wildlife biologist Lori Sargent. “We’re now able to start watching trends and thinking about how to slow down some of the species’ declines and, hopefully, increase awareness of their plight so that conservation efforts will be enacted in the future.”

Distinctions

Schauer said it’s important to remember that not all nongame animals are threatened or endangered species, or even species of special concern.

“Nongame also includes animals that aren’t harvested but aren’t necessarily listed as special concern, threatened or endangered—a good example of that would be the American robin,” she said. “One of the primary goals of the Nongame Wildlife Fund is to keep these common species common.”

Pitch in

Want to help Michigan’s nongame wildlife? There are several ways to contribute: by purchasing a wildlife habitat license plate or Living Resources patch or by making a tax-deductible donation.

Learn more about the Nongame Wildlife Fund at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off on Nongame Wildlife Fund helps aid comeback success stories

CS Brewing Company honored again

 

BUS-CSBrewery-front-viewNamed #5 in top 10 new breweries in Michigan

The Cedar Springs Brewing Company continues to win accolades from loyal customers and critics alike. In May, customers voted it the best brewery in West Michigan. In June/July, customers nominated them for their fried chicken and MLive visited and named them as one of the best (#11 out of 52) in their search for Michigan’s best fried chicken, calling it absolutely delicious. And now, they’ve done it again, coming in at number five out of MLive’s top 10 new breweries in Michigan.

Customers nominated their favorite new breweries all across the state (from 2012 til now), and then MLive reporters Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez visited 30 finalists before making their decision on the top 10. When writing about Cedar Springs Brewing Company, they talked about how owner David Ringler learned to brew in Germany, and how his love for their country, traditions and traditional beers is infectious. They called his German beers excellent examples of classic styles, and called the Cedar Springs beer, CSIPA, a subtle, clean, quality beer. “The beers have nothing to hide behind, and don’t need to,” they wrote. “Their taste speaks volumes.”

The top ten new Michigan breweries named by MLive were:

#10-One Well Brewing, Kalamazoo

#9-Territorial Brewing, Springfield

#8-Cognition Brewing, Ishpeming

#7-Tapistry Brewing, Bridgman

#6-Grand River Brewing, Jackson

#5-Cedar Springs Brewing Company, Cedar Springs

#4-Hop Lot Brewing Company, Suttons Bay

#3-Batch Brewing, Detroit

#2-Transient Artisan Ales, Bridgman

#1-Stormcloud Brewing Frankfort

Posted in Business, FeaturedComments Off on CS Brewing Company honored again

Is your lawn and garden bird-friendly?

BLOOM-Is-your-lawn_garden-bird-friendly

(StatePoint)

Birds are more than just beautiful visitors to your lawn and garden, they are an important component of a healthy local ecosystem.

Making your property a safe haven for birds will beautify your garden and is the right thing to do. Here are a few simple steps to take to keep birds safe.

Offer Food and Shelter

Many birds will simply be using your yard as a rest stop on a long migration. Keep this in mind and fill your yard with native species of trees, shrubs and flowers to provide shelter and food.

You can supplement this nourishment with strategically located bird feeders that will prevent birds from striking your home’s windows. Ideally, bird feeders should be located within three feet of a window or more than 30 feet from a window.

Prevent Bird Strikes

Ninety-eight million birds are killed annually in the U.S. when colliding with windows, according to Western EcoSystems Technology estimates. Stem the loss of life by exploiting the keen vision of birds.

“When windows are visible to birds, they will enjoy a safer migration,” says Spencer Schock, founder of WindowAlert, a company that offers decals and UV Liquid that is visible to birds but not people.

Products from WindowAlert are proven to effectively alter the flight path of birds and prevent window strikes. An easy weekend project to complete this season is applying decals to your home’s windows and using UV Liquid to fill the gaps in order to form a visual barrier for birds. The ultraviolet reflecting coating will look like etched glass to humans, but be quite visible to birds. The coating can fade over time, so remember to periodically replace decals. More best practices can be found at windowalert.com.

Limit Other Hazards

Pet cats can prove hazardous to birds. Keep cats inside or monitor their time outdoors in order to prevent attacks.

Promote a natural food source for birds by avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers that kill off the insects that birds need to thrive.

By taking a few important measures at home, you can create a haven for migratory birds right in your own backyard.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off on Is your lawn and garden bird-friendly?

River Rock Church hosts annual summer festival August 21 

ENT-River-rock-Festival

Entire community invited to free event with something for everyone 

On Sunday, August 21, River Rock Church will host their annual summer Festival event from 4-7 p.m. The event, which is completely free of charge, will take place on the grounds of River Rock Church at 6060 Belding Road, Rockford, Mich.

River Rock’s Festival event is an opportunity for the greater community to come together and simply have fun. What can you expect to do at Festival? Kids can enjoy inflatables, many kid’s games, face painting, pony rides, a petting zoo, a clown and more. But Festival isn’t just for kids! Adults who attend can listen to live music, play yard games, or sign up for a raffle drawing for prizes such as getaways to Double RR Ranch, local restaurant gift cards, a patio set and more! Plus, everyone can enjoy great food, grab a photo in the photo booth, have your caricature done by artist David Wodarek , be awed by local magician Alan Kazaam and reflect at the community prayer tent.

In 2015, River Rock welcomed approximately 900 people to Festival. And while a great turnout is expected, the true goal is to give back to the community.

“Since our beginning in 2000, River Rock Church has existed to prayerfully connect those in the greater Rockford community to Jesus and one another. We seek to do this in a variety of ways including worship services, serving opportunities inside and outside of our church, programming for all ages, and community outreach events like Festival,” said River Rock’s Senior Pastor, Jon Huizenga. “Festival is something we can give back to the community who has blessed our church in so many ways.”

For more information on River Rock’s Festival, visit www.riverrockcommunity.com or contact the church office at 616-874-0400.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, FeaturedComments Off on River Rock Church hosts annual summer festival August 21