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Tag Archive | "prevention"

Public lands are Earth Day’s unsung heroes


Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Pollution prevention, water filtration among the natural benefits

Want to celebrate an Earth Day hero? Look no further than the nearest parcel of state-managed public land in any corner of Michigan.

Last weekend we celebrated Earth Day, and it’s a good time to appreciate our state-managed public lands for all they do to enhance quality of life in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources manages 4.6 million acres of land for the public’s use and enjoyment, including state forests, game areas, recreation areas and parks. Aside from the high-value cultural, recreational and economic opportunities they provide, Michigan’s public lands have enormous impact on the quality of our environment and natural resources.

The lands reduce air pollution, protect water quality, provide flood retention and offer critical wildlife habitat. Like true heroes, they do their jobs without fanfare.

“People usually associate public lands with outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking or hunting,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “But they may not realize the tremendous natural benefits these spaces provide. Their contributions to the health of Michigan’s environment, natural resources and citizens are many. That’s why proper management of these valued public lands is so critical.”

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Ways in which public lands improve our environment, natural resources and even public health include:

Pollution prevention. Forests and wetlands on public lands benefit the environment by serving as natural “purifiers.” For example, trees help reduce air pollution by absorbing pollutants and increasing oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Wetlands play a vital role by filtering pollutants from surface runoff, and breaking down fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into less harmful substances.

Improved water quality.

Tree roots hold soil together and soak up moisture, which enhances water quality and prevents erosion. In addition to filtering pollutants, wetlands improve water quality by recharging groundwater supplies when connected to underground aquifers. They also contribute to natural nutrient and water cycles.

Storm water management.

In natural landscapes like forests, the soil absorbs water and pollutants resulting from runoff from hard surfaces such as driveways and parking lots. This is especially important in reducing flooding.

Wildlife habitat.

Fields, forests, waterways and wetlands provide Michigan’s wildlife with the vibrant ecosystems they need to thrive.

Better health.

Nature plays a huge role in the physical and emotional health of Michiganders. The ability of trees and grasslands to filter air pollution reduces negative health effects on people with respiratory ailments. Plus, state-managed public lands—offering trails, boat launches, campgrounds and other outdoor recreation options—provide any number of opportunities for exercise and fitness. Of course, trees, lakes and rivers offer calming effects that are emotionally gratifying as well.

Good stewardship.

Michigan’s public lands promote good environmental stewardship. They allow for initiatives such as Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, which provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities through the world-class management of the state’s seven premier Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas. The DNR also is pursuing an innovative wetland mitigation program that harnesses public lands to help offset the loss of wetlands.

“We’re a cleaner, healthier Michigan because of our public lands,” Creagh said. “So much of what they do for us happens without notice. But Earth Day provides a good opportunity to appreciate all our state-managed public lands do for the citizens of Michigan.”

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Wildfire season is here


This wildfire started a house on fire in Nelson Township 5 years ago last week.

This wildfire started a house on fire in Nelson Township 5 years ago last week.

Wildfire prevention week April 20-26

 

Most of Michigan’s wildfires occur in the spring – April, May and June. According to the Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for wildland fire protection on 30 million acres of state and private land, April is when wildfires start becoming a problem. During the state’s annual observance of Wildfire Prevention Week, April 20-26, the DNR reminds the public about the dangers of wildfires.

“One out of three wildfires in Michigan is caused by someone burning debris who did not take proper precautions or obtain a burn permit,” said Paul Kollmeyer, resource protection manager within the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “Many people look outside and think the snow and spring rains have taken the edge off the wildfire danger.”

That’s not the case, Kollmeyer said.

“The dried leaves, needles and brown grass from last year are still there. When the weather is warm, folks want to get out and clean up their yards. They don’t realize that all it takes is one strong wind gust catching an ember to ignite a wildfire.”

Kollmeyer said this is why planning is so vital before a match is even lit.
A person is required to get a burn permit prior to burning brush and debris in Michigan. Residents in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula can obtain a free burn permit by www.michigan.gov/burnpermit. Residents in southern Michigan should contact their local fire department or township office to see if burning is permitted in their area.

In addition to obtaining a burn permit, the DNR recommends people take the following steps to reduce the risk of wildfire to their home and property:

Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.

Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity.

Remove fuel within 3 to 5 feet of your home’s foundation and out-buildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.

Remove dead vegetation surrounding your home, within the 30- to 100-foot area.

Wildfire can spread to tree tops. If you have large trees on your property, prune them so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.

Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Chip or mulch these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.

When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained.

Landscape with native and less flammable plants. For more information about making fire wise landscaping choices, visit www.firewise.msu.edu.

“Be safe and smart when it comes to fire,” Kollmeyer said. “Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”

For more tips in safeguarding your home and property from wildfire risk, www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.

 

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Poison prevention means keep out of reach for pets, too


Doctors from Michigan Veterinary Specialists are encouraging people to also remember their pets during National Poison Prevention Week.

National Poison Prevention Week started Sunday and runs through Saturday. The purpose is to create awareness and prevent injury or death due to poisoning.

“While many precautions are taken to prevent humans from being exposed to toxins, it is equally important to remember to take precautions for pets,” said Dr. Sayra Reyes, senior emergency clinician at Michigan Veterinary Specialists. “A good way to do this is to know what types of items can be toxic to pets.”

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the top 10 pet toxins of 2012 were:

Prescription human medications

Insecticides

Over-the-counter human medications

Veterinary products and medications

Household products

People food

Chocolate

Plants

Rodenticides

Lawn and garden products

Additionally, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, raisins, the sugar substitute xylitol, and raw or undercooked food can create major problems for pets.

While rodenticides may not be intended for pets, they are designed to attract animals. Should pets encounter these indiscriminate poisons, the condition is life-threatening and the pet must be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Antifreeze is another toxic substance pets are often attracted to due to its sweet taste. If ingested, pets can almost certainly die if the condition is left untreated.

If a pet does ingest something that may be toxic, make sure to bring the label or packaging of the substance with you to your veterinarian. For example, there are different types of rodenticides with different forms of treatment. It’s important for veterinarians to know what substance they are treating for.

“Most importantly, if you believe your pet has gotten into something that may be toxic, get him or her to your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian immediately,” said Dr. Reyes. “Time can ultimately be the difference between life and death.”

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Colon cancer: awareness and screen are key to prevention


Spectrum Health United Hospital hosts free informational events

Knowledge and action have become important tools in reducing the incidence of colon cancer, which is the focus of National Colon Cancer Month in March.

On Wednesday, March 9, Spectrum Health United Hospital is hosting two complimentary community health talks with the focus of:  Colon Cancer: Be Informed, Take Action. Sessions are scheduled for 1:00-2:00pm and 6:30-7:30pm. Both sessions will take place at Spectrum Health United Hospital’s Conference Center located within the hospital.  Refreshments will be provided.

Presenter Dr. Theodor Asgeirsson will focus on answering questions such as:
•    What is colorectal cancer?
•    What are the risk factors?
•    How often should I be screened?
•    Can colon cancer be prevented?
•    What treatment plans and options are available?

Dr. Asgeirsson joined the medical staff of Spectrum Health United Hospital in June 2010. He specializes in a wide variety of digestive disorders including colon and rectal cancer and screening, proctology, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. He has extensive experience in minimally invasive colon and rectal surgery. Dr. Asgeirsson is board certified in general surgery.

Community Health Talks are free to attend, but registration is required. To register please call: 616.225.6822 or register online at spectrum-health.org/colon-cancer-seminar-1.

When registering, please identify which session you will be attending.

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