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Archive | Outdoors

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

*OUT-Nature niche Ruby throat hummer65By Ranger Steve Mueller

 
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird claimed the backyard, sugar water feeder, garden, and surrounding woodland for the summer. It is a joy to sit on the back porch and watch it hover at the feeder and to sometimes see it perch for a drink. Soon it will head south for wintering grounds in Central America. They return to breeding grounds starting in April and begin leaving during August. Place feeders out early and keep them filled through September or into October. Migrating hummers may stop for lunch.

Hummingbirds are unable to walk. Their short legs are only good for perching on branches. Other movement is by amazing wing power. It is reported by Michigan Audubon that they beat wings 53 times a second. It is only a blur to my eyes.

In the backyard I planted an ash tree about 30 years ago. It has provided a good perching for many birds. Its open canopy allows filtered light to pass and does not create deep shade. Birds have found it good for gleaning insects from among the foliage. Unfortunately the exotic Emerald Ash Borer beetle grubs are killing it. It is making a valiant effort to stay alive but the canopy is sparse with branches almost bare.

The hummingbird chooses perches high in the tree and darts to the feeder. It flies in an arc when departing for unknown places in the woods. I glance into the tree every time I venture outside and often see the bird. Hummingbirds are not tolerant of others wanting to visit a feeder. Males especially dive toward other hummers that come to drink sugar water.

The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird has what appears to be a black throat until sunlight turns it to glistening ruby. Even its green back shines with brilliance in sunlight. Its tiny body is about the size of the large grasshopper or cicada. The long slightly down curved bill is nearly as long as the body.

One time I was able to watch a mother incubate two tiny miniature jellybean sized eggs. Other times when young were present, the parent feed them frequently. I watched the long thin bill enter the baby mouths and penetrated all the way to the stomach. It seemed as if the mother was going to pierce a hole in her young. She knows how to feed and care for young. My help with care giving is not welcome but I provide healthy habitat where they find wildflowers, sugar water, and have nesting trees. Food, water, shelter, with appropriate living space are my contribution.

The yard is a mix of open sunny areas with wildflowers, shrubland, and mature trees. Somewhere among tree branches, a nest is woven from spider silk, dandelion or thistle down, and lichens that camouflage the nest. The tiny nest is placed on top of an outer branch. Usually the nest is toward the end of the branch and is only as wide as the branch or slightly wider. Two eggs are laid in the tiny cup and fill its minute space. Hummingbirds have let me know when I am near a nest. When walking, a mother has come and hovered near me and it alerted me to look about. Their irritation with my presence helped me find and observe nests on several occasions.

No nests have been seen at Ody Brook. I suspect the nests are constructed high in a tree. Hummingbirds have a special nature niche that brings joy to my life.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

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Fishing on the surface for summer Bluegill? 

Jared Collins with a decent bluegill caught on the surface.

Jared Collins with a decent bluegill caught on the surface.

By Jack Payne

 

The day was hot and sticky and darn right uncomfortable to me. Hot humid weather is not for me. I can put on extra clothes but I am limited to how much I can remove. Two good things: one, we were on the water and two, this summer these type of days have been in short supply!

Most summer days you will find me fishing the deep water. But, given the right conditions, I will surface fish until my heart is content. We just enjoyed a few good days of this type of fishing. In many of my articles, I talk about a short window when the big gills will feed on the surface.

Very low light conditions, especially when the surface is glass smooth, is perfect for surface feeding fish. These fish give away their location with the small dimples and rings on the surface. At times you might see a hundred or more on the surface.

Normally the best locations will be found over deep water and downwind from a nice weedbed. Lakes with a nice marl bottom appear to have a larger insect hatch and thus more surface activity. Sometimes this will be in 20 feet of water and other days perhaps 40 feet of water.

Another pattern exists and is rarely used or found. We found it out of sheer frustration. Bluegills most frequently will stay above the thermocline. Any moderate priced graph will show the thermocline.

During our last muggy hot spell, we were on our favorite bluegill lake having minimal luck in the deep water. We graphed few fish, no large schools and a handful of bottom hugging fish. Out of frustration we threw out a slip bobber with a floating spider and a very small split shot.

Within 2-3 seconds we had a fish on. Once we realized that the fish were riding high we switched gears. On each of our rods we placed a Missile Casting Float from Stopper Lures. These are plastic missile shaped floats that are deadly with a fly in the spring time.

These floats have an eye on both ends. Your main line ties onto one end and a dropper or leader line on the other end. The key is in keeping the leader line as long as possible but still a few inches shorter than the length of your rod. This makes casting much easier and keeps distance between the float and your offering.

On the business end we used either a Hot Leg Spider, a Black Gnat fly or an Ice Spider or an Ice Ant. The ice jigs are winter teardrops with either rubber legs or hand tied feather hackle. The two jigs are preferred if the fish are hitting best say down 1-3 feet from the surface. They sink very slowly!

The first two are used on pure surface feeding fish. Simply cast out and reel in the slack so that your line to the float is tight. Let it set for a few seconds and start twitching it in. Move it in 6-12 inches at a time and let it rest for a few seconds.

The flies will stay on the surface and look like a bug skittering across the surface. The ice flies look like some type of plankton or water insects rising up and down. If you wish you can add a spike or a wax worm. We first go without any bait and add if the situation calls for it.

When you find a school of fish you can bet that they will be within 100 yards of the same location the next day. Maybe 200 yards if the wind changes. Only after a hard wind or during a cold front will the fish change up drastically.

Rafts and docks are a great location for surface fish. Just remember that these are private property so avoid walking on them or fishing them when the owner is using them. The best docks sit close to the water and I like the old rafts that have cobwebs hanging off of them.

Fishing with a missile float is much easier for kids. They like the visual sight of the float. The floats come in clear and in two high visibility colors. It is a system that can be used for much of the open water season.

 

 

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EarthTalk®

 

Isle Royale Guest House for Rock Harbor Lodge. From rockharborlodge.com.

Isle Royale Guest House for Rock Harbor Lodge. From rockharborlodge.com.

E – The Environmental Magazine

 

Dear EarthTalk: Where are some good “eco-travel” destinations right here in the continental U.S. that I can consider for a family vacation?    

– Janet Devino, Brooklyn, NY

Many of us are looking to green our lifestyles today and this commitment to Mother Earth can also include how and where we travel. And those of us looking to take a vacation that benefits instead of harms the natural environment no longer have to travel to the ends of the Earth to do so. In the so-called “Lower 48,” many resorts and destinations work hard to minimize their impact on the environment.

One example is California’s Costanoa, where guests can use tented bungalows—safari-style canvas tents with hardwood floors, heaters and real beds with high thread-count sheets—as base camps for exploring the surrounding 30,000 acres of state parks and wildlife preserves. Grilling stations for cooking as well as bathrooms with showers are scattered around the grounds so guests can take care of worldly concerns. Interested guests should think ahead as the bungalows book up a year or more in advance.

In Washington State, eco-tourists should check out the Rolling Huts, a series of small mobile cabins designed by modern architect Tom Kundig and situated in a field alongside the rushing Methow River amid one of the nation’s best networks of cross-country ski and mountain biking trails. The “huts” sleep up to four and are heated with wood-burning fireplaces, while the adjacent restaurant Kelly’s serves up local organic fare with panache. If you aren’t lucky enough to score one of the six huts, you can always rough it in the canvas platform tents down a footpath and a world away from the everyday hubbub.

If a more refined form of green is your thing, try San Francisco’s Orchard Garden Hotel, designed from the ground up to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status. Among other green touches, the hotel’s guestrooms feature keycard-based energy control system, eco-friendly bath products, and decor utilizing natural woods and fabrics.

Another option is the Rock Harbor Lodge on remote Isle Royale on Michigan’s Lake Superior. Accessible by boat or seaplane only, the lodge offers direct access to the 893 square-mile island wilderness that is America’s least visited national park—where wolves, moose, loons, beaver, fox and other wildlife rule. The lodge rents boats, kayaks and canoes and offers guided fishing and sightseeing tours. Given its northerly location and lack of light pollution, the lodge also serves up free viewing of the Northern Lights.

For another type of domestic eco-travel experience, sign up for a trip with Earthwatch, a nonprofit that sends citizen-scientists on environmental research trips with leading scientists. Some of the group’s upcoming Lower 48 trips include exploring Boston’s urban forest, researching the causes and effects of rising tides in South Carolina and uncovering the mysteries of ancient Colorado.

Of course, there are many other ways to indulge in eco-travel without leaving the continental U.S. A simple Internet search for eco-travel and a specific region will surely yield plenty of worthy options for places to go to get away from that computer screen and interact directly with the natural world.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

 

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Kent County Youth Fair

KCYF-header-webKent County Youth Fair and fair grounds 225 South Hudson Lowell, MI 49331

616-897-6050

Daily Audacious Hoops; Performances daily at 1 PM, 4 PM & 7 PM., Saturday 1 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM & 7 PM. The Audacious Hoopers are a professional hula hoop dance troupe specializing in high energy, dynamic performances that elevate simple plastic circles into a compelling art form. Handcrafted hula hoops will be available for purchase. Next to children’s barnyard

Daily Back by popular demand, Chainsaw Carving! Take a log, a chainsaw and a very talented artist and what do you get? Beautiful works of art! Watch them be carved, if you like one you can bid on it our silent auction. South Entrance

Daily 1-5 PM, 6-10 PM Bingo Bingo Tent

Daily Meijer Children’s Barn Yard Kids young and old will love checking out the cute animals. By Entrance

Daily Exhibitor Show & Tell Tent By Children’s Barnyard

Daily Draft Horse & Tractor Shuttles Parking Lots

Friday August 1

10 AM Dog Showmanship, Obedience & Rally Klackle Orchards, 11466 W. Carson City Rd, Greenville MI.

Saturday August 1

10 AM-3 PM Still Exhibit Judging Free Entertainment Tent

Sunday August 3

2:30 PM Explorer Recognition (Special thanks to the 4H Council)Free Entertainment Tent

4:30 PM-6:30 PM Pork DinnerEvent Tent

6:30 PM Opening Ceremony and Royal Court CoronationFree Entertainment Tent

7 PM Goat Team Fitting Reath Barn

Monday August 4 – Heros’ Day

All Day Heroes’ park free! Active military, Veterans, Fire, Police and EMT’s show your ID at the gate for free parking

TodayMichigan Association of Veterinary Medicine – Science, Animals, Medicine and YOU!Children’s Barnyard

9 AM Horse Judging: Fitting & Showing Horse Arena

9 AM-1 PM Off Road Vehicle Safety Class – Presented by: Kent County Sheriff Dept.; The class is free, but please register at www.kcfg.org, Seating is limited. King Building

9:30 AM Goat Judging: Showmanship Breed and Market Classes Costume Contest follows Reath Barn

Noon-2 PM Youth Talent Contest Registration,  Free Entertainment Tent

1-4 PM Michigan Blood Center Blood Drive – Get on the bus! Please call 1-866-MIBLOOD to make an appointment or stop in at the bus! South Entrance

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1 PM Cavy Breed & Showmanship Rabbit Tent

2 PM Horse Judging: Grand & Reserve Showmanship Horse Arena

3 PM Horse Explorers: Explorer Fitting & Showing Horse Arena

3:30 PM Horse Explorers: Explorer 7 & 8 Year Old Riding Pattern Horse Arena

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Horse Judging: Horseless Showmanship Horse Arena

5 PM Antique tractor pull weigh in Track

5 PM-Close Carnival Rides Open Midway/Carnival

5 PM Rabbit Breed Judging Rabbit Tent

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

5 PM Rabbit Breed Judging Rabbit Tent

6 PM Swine Showmanship Reath Barn

6 PM Horse Judging: Senior/Horsemasters Presentations Horse Arena

6:30 PM Youth Fashion Show Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Antique tractor pull: Open event Track

7 PM Youth Talent Contest – Contest open to kids 19 or under on January 1st, 2014. Cash prizes. Note you must sign up between noon and 2 pm to take part in the contest. Free Entertainment Tent

7:30 PM Horse Judging: Contesting: Down & Back; Poles Horse Arena

Tuesday August 5 – Reading for Rides Day 

Today Michigan Association of Veterinary Medicine – Science, Animals, Medicine and YOU! Children’s Barnyard

8 AM Horse Judging: Jumping Horse Arena

9 AM Poultry Judging Poultry Barn

9 AM Swine Judging: Market Class Explorer Showmanship Following Reath Barn

9 AM-2 PM Boating Safety Class- Presented by: Kent County Sheriff Department; The class is free, but please register at www.kcfg.org, Seating is limited. King Building

10 AM-11 AM Grand Parents Coffee and Donuts Community Tent

Noon Horse Judging: Hunter Hack Horse Arena

Noon-4 PM Reading for Rides – Go to www.kcyf.org to print your registration form. Midway/Carnival

12:30 PM Performing Arts Vocal & Instrumental: Registration Free Entertainment Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM Performing Arts Vocal & Instrumental Judging Free Entertainment Tent

Noon-4 PM Free Blood Pressure Check Event Tent

1:30 PM Horse Judging: Hunt Seat Ground Poles Horse Arena

2 PM Cattle Fitting Clinic, Team Fitting Contest Beef Arena

2 PM-3 PM Grand Parents Coffee and Donuts Community Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides Open: Wristband Ride Special $18.00. $3.00 off Carnival coupon available at many locations in Kent County or visit http://kcyf.org to print coupon; Carnival coupon is good for Tuesday ONLY. Midway/Carnival

3:30 PM Horse Judging: Hunter Hack Horse Arena

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Dog Agility Registration Football Field

4 PM Goat Trail Class Reath Barn

4 PM Horse Judging: Bareback Horse Arena

4:30 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Construction King Building

4:30 PM Dog Agility Judging Football Field

5 PM Rabbit Judging: Showmanship Rabbit Tent

5:30 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Parade Midway to Horse Barns/Arena

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

6 PM Team Tractor Pull 4-person teams will pull a tractor and race against the clock. In front of the Free Entertainment Tent

6 PM Horse Judging: Saddle Seat Pattern Horse Arena

6 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Jumping Practice Arena

7 PM Horse Judging: Pleasure: Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat, Western Horse Arena

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Draft Horse DemonstrationTrack

7 PM Club KCYF with the Mid-west Dueling Pianos Free Entertainment Tent

 

Wednesday August 6 – Community Day 

Today Local non-profits join us at fair from 3 PM to 7 PM

8 AM Beef Steer Market Classes Beef Arena

8 AM Horse Judging: Hunt Seat & Dressage Seat Equitation Horse Arena

8:30 AM-10 AM Performing Arts: Storytelling, Puppetry & Theater Judging Free Entertainment Tent

9 AM Goat Milking Contest Goat Barn

9 AM Dairy Market Judging: Showmanship, Market, Explorer Reath Barn

10:30 AM-12 Noon Performing Arts: Dance and other evaluations Free Entertainment Tent

11 AM Horse Judging: Hunt Seat, Western & Saddle Seat Riding Patterns Horse Arena

12:30 PM-2 PM Performing Arts: Clown Judging Free Entertainment Tent

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1 PM Feeder Beef Judging & Beef Breed Heifer Show (time approx. following lunch break) Beef Arena

2 PM Rabbit & Cavy Individual Quiz Bowl and Breed Identification Rabbit Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

3 PM-7 PM Visit local kid oriented non-profits Main Street

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Horse Judging: Saddle Seat Pattern & Equitation Horse Arena

4 PM Sheep Judging: Market, Showmanship & Breed Reath Barn

5 PM Dodge ball Tournament! Teams of 5 will work their way to the top! Get more rules and entry form at http://kcyf.org Football Field

5 PM Alpaca Obstacle Course Football Field

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

6 PM Rabbit & Cavy Costume Class & Adult Showmanship Rabbit Tent

6:30 PM Horse Explorers: Explorer Stick Horse Keyhole Event Practice Arena

7 PM The Brian Randall Band – come on down for some great rocking country music. Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Horse Judging: Contesting: Speed & Action; Keyhole Horse Arena

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Draft Horse Pull (Using Barnyard Rules) Track

 

Thursday August 7 – Agriculture Day 

8 AM Horse Judging: Dressage Tests Horse Arena

8 AM Beef Showmanship Beef Arena

9 AM -11 AM Goat Quiz Bowl Free Entertainment Tent

10 AM Rabbit & Cavy Explorer Rabbit Tent

Noon Horse Judging: Equitation: Dressage Seat; Western; Gymkhana Horse Arena

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1-5 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

1 PM-3 PM Youth Variety Show Free Entertainment Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

2 PM Livestock Sale: Small Animals followed by the Sale of Champions Reath Barn

3:30 PM Livestock Sale Sale Order: Swine, Sheep, Feeder Calf, Gallon of Milk, Beef followed by the Sale of Champions, Buyers dinner  Reath Barn

4 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

4 PM Horse Judging: Reining Horse Arena

6-10 PM Bingo, Sponsored by Lowell Moose Lodge Bingo Tent

6:30 PM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Reining Event Practice Arena

7 PM-9:45 PM West Michigan Bluegrass Music Association Presents Steam Powered Blue Grass & The Patchwork Band Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Horse Judging: Reining Horse Arena

7 PM Extrication Demonstration: Presented by: Lowell Fire Dept. Next to Foreman Building

7 PM Horse Judging: Contesting: Flag; Cloverleaf Horse Arena

 

Friday August 8 – Handi-Capable Day

Today Flush Tank Check the schedule on Main Street to see who will be getting dunked.

8 AM Horse Judging: Trail Horse Arena

10 AM Dairy Showmanship Classes Dairy Type Classes immediately following Reath Barn

11 AM Rabbit Agility & Cavy Obstacle Course Rabbit Tent

11:30 AM Horse Explorers: Stick Horse Trail Event Horse Arena

11 AM-2 PM Handi Capable Day – Carnival Rides & Luncheon for Special Needs Individuals. Lunch is from 11 AM to 1 PM, rides are from Noon to 2 PM. Attending is free but please register at www.kcyf.org so we can get a head count for lunch. King Building & Carnival

1-5 PM Bingo, Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

1 PM Horse Judging: Grand & Reserve Equitation Horse Arena

2 PM Goat Parent “Fun bowl” Class Rabbit Tent

2 PM-Close Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

2 PM-4 PM Teen Leadership Judging Event Tent

2:30 PM Tractor Driving Judging Track

3 PM Alpaca Showmanship (including Explorers) Reath Barn

3 PM Horse Judging: Versatility Horse Arena

4 PMAudacious Hoops South Entrance

6-10 PM Bingo,  Bingo Tent

6 PM Horse Explorer Stick Horse Team Games Horse Arena

6 PM Cow Pie Bingo Ticket Sales Beef Barn

6:30 PM-10:30 PM Country Karaoke With Diva Productions Free Entertainment Tent

6:30 PM Horse Judging: Team Performance Games Horse Arena

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

7 PM Extrication Demonstration Presented by: Lowell Fire Dept. Next to Foreman Building

7 PM Cow Pie Bingo, Silent Auction Beef Arena

8 PM-11 PM Family Line Dance with Lia’s Line Dancing & Dance MovesReath Barn

 

Saturday August 9 – Meijer Kids Day & Dollar Day

All Day Scavenger Hunt Get your official scavenger hunt page at guest services or print it here. Everyone who completes the hunt will be put into a drawing to win one of several bicycles. Sponsored by “Fry Guy”! All Over

9 AM-Noon $1 parking with 3 or more non-perishable food items from 9 AM to Noon, they will be donated to the food pantry at F.R.O.M.

Noon-6 PMLook for $1 food specials through out the fairgrounds. Food vendors will have $1 specials, carnival rides just $1 each from noon to 6 PM !

8:30 AM Showmanship Sweepstakes Reath Barn

9 AM Horse Award Ceremony Free Entertainment Tent

9 AM Sidewalk Chalk Artist Richard Francisco, creates a masterpiece

Noon Sidewalk Chalk FunShow off your creative abilities and get some help from Richard Francisco! Next to the Foreman Building

Noon-6 PM Carnival Rides:$1 per ride from Noon to 6 PM! Special Food & Game Discounts Midway/Carnival

Noon-4 PM Disc Golf Fun! Football Field

Noon-11 PM Carnival Rides: Wristband Ride Special $18.00 Midway/Carnival

1-5 PM Balloon Animals and creations, by the Balloon Guys Picnic Area

1-5 PM Bingo,  Bingo Tent

1 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

2 PM Ice Cream Social – Free, While supplies last Midway

2 PM Project Animal Expo Learn about showing livestock at the Fair! Exhibitors from each livestock area will explain how they care for and show their animals Horse Arena

2 PM Alpaca Costume Classes Reath Barn

2:30 PM Field Day Mixer & Photo Booth Have fun and celebrate with team games! All kids are welcome to join the 3-Legged Race, Blind-Folded Wheel Barrow Race, Relay Obstacle Course Race and Tug of War! Horse Arena

3 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

3 PM Princess Tea Party King Building

3 PM Puff the Dragon Pedal Pull: Youth Classes Midway

5 PM-8 PM Release of horses Horse Arena

5 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

5 PM Dodge ball! *** NOTE: THE DODGE BALL TOURNAMENT HAS MOVED TO WEDNESDAY AUGUST 6TH AT 5 PM ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD *** Get more rules and entry form http://kcyf.org

6-10 PM Bingo  Bingo Tent

7 PM Off the Radar You will be amazed at this Cover/Christian Rock band made up of very talented young people. Opening for Off the Radar will be Maya Eaton with her original and cover songs and The Preservers with their classic rock covers and original tunes. Free Entertainment Tent

7 PM Audacious Hoops South Entrance

9 PM Release of breeding stock

9 PM Release of still exhibits

10 PM Release of market animals

11 PM Kent County Youth Fair Closes for 2014 Release of all other Exhibits

 

 

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EarthTalk®

Charles Moore, the captain who discovered an ocean trash gyre roughly the size of Texas swirling around in the ocean between Hawaii and California, told the Associated Press: “It’s like a toilet bowl that swirls but doesn’t flush.” Pictured: Some trash that made it back to shore, from where it should have never left. Photo by John Schneider.

Charles Moore, the captain who discovered an ocean trash gyre roughly the size of Texas swirling around in the ocean between Hawaii and California, told the Associated Press: “It’s like a toilet bowl that swirls but doesn’t flush.” Pictured: Some trash that made it back to shore, from where it should have never left. Photo by John Schneider.

E – The Environmental Magazine

 

Dear EarthTalk: Recent news coverage of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 reminded us all again of how much debris, including plastic, is in our oceans. To what extent is this a real problem that threatens ocean or human health?           – Margaret Ainsworth, Philadelphia, PA

The so-far in-vain search for Flight 370 has indeed stirred up interest in the growing problem of ocean debris as objects thought to possibly be plane parts have repeatedly turned out to be just floating trash.

“The ocean is like a plastic soup, bulked up with the croutons of these larger items,” Charles Moore, the captain who discovered an ocean trash gyre roughly the size of Texas swirling around in the deep ocean currents between Hawaii and California, told the Associated Press. “It’s like a toilet bowl that swirls but doesn’t flush,” he added. Moore’s “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is one of five such debris vortexes in the world’s oceans. Last April, searchers for MH370 stumbled onto the eastern edge of one of them in the Indian Ocean, at first mistaking some of the larger bobbing objects for airplane wreckage.

While this floating flotsam may be a time-wasting distraction for MH370 searchers, green leaders are worried about it for other reasons. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), trash and other ocean debris can cause direct harm to wildlife that ingests or gets caught in it and can break or suffocate coral reefs that are key habitat for many of the world’s marine species. Marine debris can also contribute to the movement of harmful invasive species that hitch rides from one body of water to another.

Another issue is that so much marine debris is comprised of plastic, much of which takes hundreds of years to break down and ends up in the digestive systems of everything from whales to plankton, including much of the seafood that ends up on our dinner plates.

The 2011 report, “Plastic Debris in the California Marine Ecosystem,” by the California Ocean Science Trust, California Ocean Protection Council and Sea Grant found that plastic debris in the ocean not only leaches some chemical pollutants that were added during manufacture but also absorbs and accumulates others. This includes many persistent organic pollutants (so-called POPs that have been used extensively for things like pest control, crop production and industrial manufacturing) from surrounding seawater and marine sediments. These POPs have been linked to population declines, diseases and behavioral or physical abnormalities in many wildlife species. Researchers are still not sure how these chemicals, as well as others (Bisphenol A, phthalates, phenanthrene, etc.) may affect marine ecosystems in the long run.

In the meantime, we can all play a role in reducing the amount of plastic and other debris that end up in our oceans. “The most effective way to stop plastic pollution in our oceans is to make sure it never reaches the water in the first place,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental non-profit. According to the group, individuals need to take care to recycle and never litter, while manufacturers should reducing packaging and design more of it to be fully recyclable. NRDC and others are also working on the legislative front to try to institutionalize such measures.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

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Catch of the Week

OUT-Catch-of-week-Winchel-webDylan Winchel, 9, the son of Brock and Kristen Winchel, caught this 10-inch bluegill at his grandma’s house on Lincoln Lake, on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Dylan is a student at Cedar View Elementary.

Congratulations, Dylan, you made the Post Catch of the Week!

It’s backget out those cameras!

It’s that time of year again when anglers big and small like to tell their fish tales! Send us a photo and story of your first, best, funniest, biggest, or even your smallest catch. Include your name, age, address, and phone number, along with the type and size of fish, and where caught.  We can’t wait to hear from you! Photos published as space allows. Photos/stories may be sent by email to news@cedarspringspost.com with Catch of the Week in the subject line, or mail to: Catch of the Week, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

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Newaygo Butterfly Count

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

 

The Newaygo Butterfly Count was held in the Manistee National Forest on July 11, 2014 between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thirty-two species with 221 individuals were observed. Table 1 lists butterflies and the number sighted for each species. There was a slight breeze with good sunlight during both morning and afternoon. The temperature was between 70 to 82 F. It is always a pleasant day to be exploring nature niches with others. Everyone notices things of interest to share from flowers, trees, birds, mammals, and more. Though our focus was butterflies, we take time to enjoy the natural wonders around us. Consider contacting me if you would to participate next year. Other counts in the area you might enjoy include the Allegan State Game Area, Muskegon State Game Area, and Rogue River State Game Area counts.

 

Rogue River Butterfly Count Sightings

Spicebush Swallowtail – 1

Cabbage White – 3

Clouded Sulphur -2

Orange Sulphur – 1

American Copper – 6

Coral Hairstreak – 26

Banded Hairstreak – 9

Edward’s Hairstreak – 9

Gray Hairstreak – 2

Eastern Tailed blue – 4

Karner Blue Butterfly – 9

Great Spangled Fritillary – 5

Aphrodite Fritillary – 1

Eastern Comma – 1

American Lady – 7

Red Admiral – 3

Red-spotted Purple – 3

Northern Pearly Eye – 2

Appalachian Brown – 20

Little Wood Satyr – 8

Common Wood Nymph – 30

Monarch – 6

Silver-spotted Skipper – 2

Tawny-edged Skipper – 2

Little Glassywing – 2

Northern Broken Dash – 29

Delaware Skipper – 3

Crossline Skipper – 2

Dion Skipper – 1

Least Skipper – 1

Dun – 21

 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

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One-stop shop for trail maps and information

Hikers, bicyclists, off-road vehicle users, horseback riders, and other trail enthusiasts can now more easily locate and enjoy the vast network of trails and other points of interest in northern Lower Michigan by using the interactive website upnorthtrails.org, recently launched by the Up North Trails Collaborative.

The collaborative, a partnership of more than 50 organizations and agencies led by the Northwest and Northeast Michigan Councils of Governments and Department of Natural Resources, designed the new website to connect the public with more than 5,300 miles of motorized and non-motorized trails in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The Up North Trails website allows users to search for trails based on type of use and/or location, and also serves as a source of information on trail systems throughout the state.

“There are more miles of trails in the northern Lower Peninsula than the distance from Anchorage to Miami,” said Kerry Wieber, DNR liaison to the Up North Trails Collaborative. “The website will help customers find information on all of these trails in one place, regardless of whether it is a state trail or managed by another organization or local unit of government.”

The user-friendly features of upnorthtrails.org include:

An interactive trails map that can be filtered for type of use and location

Detailed information about each individual trail, including any changes in type of use for specific segments of trail

Trailhead locations and points of interest near each trail

A mobile-friendly design, which is fully functional on tablets, mobile phones and other devices

“We wanted to give users a one-stop-shop for information about our trail systems,” said Denise Cline, GIS specialist for the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments. “Up North Trails is a valuable new tool for everyone looking to get outside in northern Michigan.”
The goal of the Up North Trails Collaborative in creating the new website was to promote northern Michigan’s abundance of trails to all user groups, driving recreational and economic activity in the region.
“Up North Trails is the first website of its kind in Michigan, providing information about all trail systems in the region, whether you are a bicyclist, snowmobiler, hiker or horseback rider,” said Matt McCauley, Director of Regional Planning and Community Development for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. “We hope it will provide a fun, engaging, and useful way for residents and visitors to locate new outdoor adventures.”
Up North Trails Collaborative member groups include the DNR, NEMCOG, NWMCOG, Top of Michigan Trails Council, Land Information Access Association (LIAA), Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails (TART Trails), Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and Cheboygan County.

The collaborative is supported financially by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Rotary Charities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information about the Up North Trails Collaborative, visit www.upnorthtrails.org and click on “About”.

 

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Celebrate 40 years of Michigan’s Endangered Species Act

 

OUT-Celebrate-40-years-Piping-Plover-webAt state parks Aug. 4-10

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Michigan’s Endangered Species Act, the important legislation that has been critical to the recovery of many different species. The Department of Natural Resources is celebrating this milestone with a week of programming in several of Michigan’s state parks.

Threatened and Endangered Species Week, running Aug. 4-10, will feature opportunities to learn more about some of Michigan’s threatened and endangered species through hikes, guided activities and much more. These fun, educational programs are great for the whole family.

On July 11, 1974, Gov. William Milliken signed the Endangered Species Act into law, and it took effect Sept. 1, 1974. The law has been immensely beneficial to the DNR and its conservation partners by enabling protection and management of rare species across the state.

Since the act was signed into law, the DNR has partnered with many other conservation organizations and federal agencies to help recover listed species. Important species that have been recovered and removed from the state’s threatened and endangered species list include the gray wolf, bald eagle, peregrine falcon and osprey.

Threatened and Endangered Species Week programs will be offered at many state parks and recreation areas around the state. To find a program near you, visit www.michigan.gov/natureprograms and click on “Threatened & Endangered Species Week August 4-10.”

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Weekly Fishing Tip: Time for Skamania!

OUT-Weekly-fishing-tip-original-web

Skamania are a strain of steelhead that run rivers in mid to late summer. When Lake Michigan turns over, typically after an east wind, cold water and Skamania can be found close to shore. Piers are a great place to target these summer steelhead. Try fishing alewife or shrimp under a bobber or cast orange Cleos and Kastmasters. St. Joseph, Grand Haven, Muskegon and Manistee piers are good choices.
Once Skamania enter the rivers, target the mouths of coldwater creeks with spinners or Hot-N-Tots. The St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand, Muskegon and Manistee rivers all get decent runs of summer steelhead. For more information on steelhead, check out their Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them page at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Click on fishing, then “fishing in Michigan,” then “Michigan fish and how to catch them.”

This tip was written by Jay Wesley, Southern Lake Michigan Management Unit manager in Plainwell.

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