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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sea Lamprey Treatment Scheduled for Pere Marquette

sea lamprey mouth
sea lamprey (photo by jhy)

based on a news article in the Oceana Herald Journal, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Every three to five years the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service treats infected Great Lakes tributaries with lampricides to control the devastating populations of sea lamprey. Larvae burrow in the mud of stream bottoms and, if not eliminated, grow to the adults that parasitize and kill fish.

Permits from the State of Michigan have been issued for treatment of the Pere Marquette River, to be completed between July 29 and August 7. A firm date cannot be established ahead of time because application depends upon weather and local stream conditions.

The lampricides used will be Lampricid and Bayluscide. These have been tested as posing no risk to humans at the concentration levels used for treatment. However, it is advised to minimize unnecessary exposure. There is some risk to certain fish, insects and broadleaf plants. Confined bait or other animals in the river should be moved because there is greater risk to crowded populations. In addition, no river water may be used for irrigation for a period of 24 hours following treatment.

Monitoring will be carefully conducted. Dye may be observed in the river as streamflow is gauged.

For further information, call 1-800-472-9212.

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See Pheromones May Aid in Controlling Sea Lamprey
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Irons Couple Rides 1200 Miles in Tandem

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entering North Dakota (photo courtesy of Loren Bach)

by Joan H. Young

Dave Martus and Loren Bach, a couple from Irons, Michigan, have ridden a tandem bicycle from the Pacific Ocean to the Badlands of North Dakota. Their specially built Viewpoint Bicycle allowed Dave to ride upright in the rear, while Loren's front position was recumbent. Following the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route, they began in Anacortes, Washington. From there, they crossed Idaho and Montana, entering North Dakota and ending at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. The trip took them months of planning, and about six weeks on the road.

Climbing the mountain passes was more difficult than they expected, especially Rainy Pass. Dave and Loren had ridden over 800 miles near home, on the tandem bike, in preparation for the trip. "But there's just no place in Michigan to prepare for the mountains," Dave said. "You ride uphill for an entire day at a time." They said it was especially discouraging in the Cascades. "You'd think you were almost to the top and the road would dip down into a small valley. Then you'd have to climb out of that again."

But another day, they rode with a tail wind all day long, covering 90 miles, their best day.

Loren said, "One of the best parts was how good people were to us. Everywhere we went folks asked if there was anything we needed, or if they could help us." She explained that on their last day of riding they were completely out of food, Dave had a shoulder that was really bothering him- not helped by even prescription level pain medication, and they were just too tired to continue. They agreed that if someone offered them a ride, they would take it. A long discussion of their options resulted in the decision to return home.

They made some good friends along the way, as well as some amazing memories.

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typical camp setup (photo courtesy of Loren Bach)

As I chatted with them, Dave's eyes lit up while telling about a chance meeting with the inventor of their unusual bicycle. They saw a vehicle stop, and then realized a man was walking back toward them. He had seen the bike, and wanted to talk with someone who was actually using the design. And yet, the bicycle itself may have contributed to their problems. The frame is heavy for a touring bike, to support the front seat. With panniers, the rig weighed about 80 pounds, a significant amount of weight to move around.

The couple pedaled over 1200 miles.

Despite this accomplishment, it was a bittersweet moment when they stepped off the S.S. Badger last night in Ludington. Their original plan was to ride coast to coast. But, as we all know, sometimes plans have to be changed. Plagued with inflamed tendons and an injured shoulder, the couple reluctantly agreed that they needed to accept what they were able to accomplish, and come home to heal.

"We're going to pick up our dogs, tomorrow," Loren said. "We've really missed them."


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Celebrate Surfacing of PM Trail Saturday

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new Baldwin Trailhead and surfaced Pere Marquette Rail Trail where it crossed Norway St.(photo by jhy)

by Joan H. Young

This Saturday, July 26, come to Baldwin to celebrate the official opening of the newly surfaced Pere Marquette Rail Trail between Baldwin and Reed City. For too many years, this section of the trail has been more of a trial, with heavy weed growth and a poor surface for bicycling. The new trailhead was deserted today, but there should be plenty of action this weekend.

Thanks to the efforts of some folks from Baldwin, particularly Pam Simmons (owner of the Pamela Tripp Gallery), those miles have now been surfaced with a packed, crushed limestone which will provide a stable surface for bicycling and walking.

The official ribbon cutting will take place at 1 pm. Festivities will follow with drawings to win bicycle accessories, bike decorations for kids, and a safety training presented by the Lake County Sheriff's Department. Several organizations will have information tables about local history and recreation opportunities, including the Forest Service with Smokey the Bear.

A 5.5 mile fun ride to the Idlewild Historic and Cultural Center is planned. Healthy snacks will be provided.

In the evening, there is a soul/blues concert at the Wenger Pavilion in Baldwin featuring Freddie Cunningham and Root Doctor.

The new trailhead is located between 8th and 9th Streets, and Cedar and Norway. Meet there for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The improvements to these 17 miles of trail include the crushed limestone surface, improving drainage, providing access to the roadside park on US 10 (which has latrines), improving or building trailheads at both Baldwin and Reed City, and installing accessible benches along the trail.

This project was funded with a combination of a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant and an MDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant.


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Monday, July 21, 2014

GOTC- New Horizons, Seeking Advertisers

Joan Young, creator of Get Off The Couch, and Janice Sciba, new advertising manager
Joan Young, creator of Get Off The Couch, and Janice Sciba, new advertising manager

by Joan H. Young

Get Off The Couch is pleased to announce that Janice Sciba of Manistee will be joining Joan Young in a revived effort to improve and promote both this news blog and the web site Get Off The Couch. The site continues to be popular with people who are seeking information about locations in western Michigan for quiet recreation. However, in recent years, a lack of revenue has prevented me from keeping the site updated. Get Off The Couch was founded in 1997, with major web site revisions in 2006 and 2010.

Today, Janice Sciba accepted the position of Advertising Manager, and she will be seeking local businesses that want to promote their goods and services to a targeted audience. "I'm passionate about quiet outdoor recreation," Sciba said, as she chatted with me this morning. "I'm sure we can make this a viable business venture."

First things first! Most of the pages need some minor updating of contact info and some cosmetic fixes. Secondly, one of the best features of the site, the way it was envisioned, is that the information be kept current. That is not the case right now. I'll be revisiting every location to be sure things are up-to-date.

After that... there's plenty of room for expansion. There are many locations not yet included, even in the four counties I've attempted to cover: Mason, Manistee, Lake, and Oceana. Greater flexibility for printing maps is on the horizon. Then... who knows.

One thing is certain. People have continued to use Get Off The Couch, even with slightly outdated info, because in many cases, it is the only source of information about small local recreation locations.

As we get back up to speed, we'll be doing a lot more promotion. And you'll see regular postings on this blog again about quiet outdoor recreation in Michigan, general outdoor health tips, tech "stuff," and more.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sites Added to Getoffthecouch.info

Gales' Pond map
Gale's Pond

by jhy

Recently four additional locations for quiet outdoor recreation have been added to the main Get Off The Couch website.

Get Off The Couch was developed to give people detailed information on places to go for quiet sport and enjoyment in Mason, Manistee, Oceana and Lake Counties in Michigan. Since it generates very little income (many businesses which offer services for low-impact recreation have not yet appreciated the value of the internet), the site grows slowly.

Yet, it is still my dream to offer complete information, and to keep it updated.

In Oceana County, Gale's Pond is found just east of Hart. This is a little-known gem, with a lot of high-quality plant material around the small pond. A half-mile trail encircles the water. There is a small picnic area.

The hiking opportunity can be extended by walking around the corner on a dirt road and adding the 3/8 mile of trail in Doolittle Memorial Forest.

The two additional locations are in Manistee County.

For a great scenic view, one of the best in the Lower Peninsula, stop off at the Arcadia Bluffs overlook on the Manistee/Benzie County line off M-22. There is an observation platform to climb (plus a fully accessible level with good views too), and a telescopic viewer in the summer.

Magoon Creek map
Magoon Creek
Another wonderful area, with a number of ecosystems, hiking, swimming, and picnic opportunities is Magoon Creek. Located just south of Manistee, there are 1.5 miles of trail and over 40 interpreted locations.

All information is free of charge, and based on personal visits to the sites. The date of my last visit is always shown on the page, giving a user some idea of how accurate it may be.

If you have a product or service related to quiet recreation, and would like to advertise, there are many levels of commitment available. In addition, non-profit organizations with similar interests can advertise for a minimum of $10 per year.

Feel free to look the site over, and contact me at events@getoffthecouch.info




These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Quiet Water Symposium 2012

quiet waters symposium

from Quiet Water Symposium

Each year, on the first Saturday of March, the Quiet Waters Symposium is held in conjunction with the Michigan State University's Agriculture and Natural Resources Week. The location is the MSU Campus, in the Pavilion for Livestock and Agriculture Education, 4301 Farm Lane Rd, East Lansing, MI.

The Quiet Water Symposium celebrates non-motorized outdoor recreation and a shared concern for our Great Lakes Environment.

At the Symposium visitors will find presentations by world famous authors, photographers, and expedition travelers. Other presentations may cover skills, safety, local and distant destinations. There may be presentations on bicycling, sailing, diving, and history.

This year's main speakers are Cliff Jacobson- "Canoeing the Boundary Waters in Style," Kevin Callan- "How to be a Happy Camper," and "The Best Canoe Routes in Ontario," and Gary & Joanie McGuffin- "Journey into the Heart of the Boreal."

Many other workshops, seminars and demonstrations will also be running throughout. Topics include outfitting, taking a dog camping, boat building, and travel programs from other outdoor adventures.

wooden kayak
In 2011, over 1400 people enjoyed the day. It's a great deal for only $10, a little gas and lunch money.

Date: Saturday, March 3, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Admission: Adults $10.00 Students (with ID) $5.00 - under 12 Free



See Quiet Water Symposium
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Hammock Campers Rendevouz at Ludington State Park

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camper Vince poses by his hammock (photo by jhy)

by JHY

Twenty hardy fellows converged on Ludington State Park this weekend for a weekend of camping, hiking, and fun. They are all members of hammockforums.net, a meeting place for people who want to discuss all things related to sleeping in hammocks.

These are not your summer string hammocks, hung semi-permanently near a cabin. These hammocks are medium to high tech creations made for easy hanging, packing, and carrying. What's high-tech about a hammock you ask? The fabric (waterproof, breatheable, lightweight), the pattern (stability, comfort, ease of entrance and exit), the accessories (hanging straps, zippers, cords, quilts).

In fact, discussing and looking at the merits of each other's gear is one of the popular activities at such outings. And this activity is not limited to the hammocks. Two men wore traditional wool coat-shirts they had made, and another demonstrated a handmade laser-cut, collapsible wood-burning backpacker stove.

About twice a year there is a regional campout. These happen somewhat spontaneously as a result of conversations on the forum. There's no official restriction on who can attend. One camper this weekend was from Indiana, and another from Chicago.

campfire coffee
campfire breakfast (photo by jhy)
Eggs and sausages were hot and waiting for me when I arrived. Some guys were getting ready to explore the park trails. I sampled a dense and delicious pemmican bread baked and brought by one of the men.

Women are welcome to participate, and there are usually a few, but this particular weekend none were in attendance.

A couple of the participants even had tents, and were not being run out of the group on a rail. If you are looking for a group that likes to get out regularly, the folks at hammockforums are eager to welcome you.

(A longer article should appear in the Outdoor section of the Ludington Daily News on March 3.)



See Hammock Forum
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Wireless Bicycle Brakes? Yup

wireless bicycle brake
Holger Hermanns, computer science professor at Saarland University, confirmed the reliability of his wireless bicycle brake through mathematical calculations. (photo by Angelika Klein)

from Saarland University

Seems a little silly right? To replace a simple cable with electronics which can fail just as easily?

Although the wireless braking system has been created for a bicycle, the idea is to apply the technology to much larger systems, such as trains and airplanes. Professor Holger Hermanns of Saarland University, Homberg, Germany, has developed the technology, and has chosen a safer transportation method, bicycles, to test his prototypes.

On a bicycle, to brake with the wireless brake, a cyclist needs only clench the rubber grip on the right handle. The more tightly the grip is clenched, the harder the disk brake on the front wheel works. It seems as if a ghost hand is in play, but a combination of several electronic components enables the braking. Integrated in the rubber grip is a pressure sensor, which activates a sender if a specified pressure threshold is crossed. The sender is integrated in a blue plastic box which is the size of a cigarette packet and is attached to the handlebar. Its radio signals are sent to a receiver attached at the end of the bicycle's fork. The receiver forwards the signal to an actuator, transforming the radio signal into the mechanical power by which the disk brake is activated. The electrical energy is supplied by a battery, which is also attached to the bicycle's fork. To enhance reliability, there are additional senders attached to the bicycle. These repeatedly send the same signal.

Its current configuration enables the cruiser bike to brake within 250 milliseconds. This means that at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour, the cyclist has to react two meters before reaching the dangerous situation. But the Saarland University computer scientists are not satisfied with just this functionality. "It is not difficult to integrate an anti-lock braking system and traction control. That takes only a few adjustments," Hermanns explains.

So, you probably shouldn't look for this at your local bike shop, but it's an interesting concept.



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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Missauke County Dogs Die of Blastomycosis

x-ray of dog lungs with blastomycosis
Chest X-ray from a dog with blastomycosis, (Photo from Univ. of Georgia Dept. of Anatomy and Radiology)

compiled from several sources

Two Missauke County dogs have died from the fungal infection Blastomycosis. The fungus is inhaled as dogs walk through forest litter. The organism responsible is a fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis.

Dogs and humans seem to be most susceptible, but cats and horses may also become infected. Since it depends upon exposure to the fungus, it is found only where the fungus grows. Cases are most often reported in the valleys of the major US rivers, the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio. It has also been documented in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

The fungus requires wet, sandy, acidic soils rich in organic matter and in close proximity to water. Sadly, West Michigan sounds like a perfect location.

Large dog breeds, and most often males, are most likely to become infected. No reason for this disparity has been determined, although it may be simply due to the likelihood of those dogs roaming more.

Once a dog is infected, symptoms are diffuse, and only specific tests can determine if the problem is Blastomycosis. Watch for coughing, difficulty breathing, depression, skin lesions (like large pimples), and eye irritation. An exact diagnosis can only be made by a veterinarian who is looking for this specific problem. Since it is rare in Michigan, vets may not be looking for it.

The treatment is usually large doses of Amphotericin B, which almost always causes some degree of kidney failure. An alternative is Itraconazole, also effective and safer, but more expensive.

Blastomycosis is a serious disease, and its appearance in Michigan, near Lake City, is not good news.



See Veterinary Clinical Pathology
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Historic Pavilion at Onaway SP Burns

Onaway State Park Fire
pavilion after the fire(photo from 9&10 News)

from TV 9&10 and other sources

A fire yesterday at Onaway State Park, in Presque Isle County, burned so thoroughly that it may never be determined what caused the blaze. The 90-year-old structure was part of an historic district within the park.

The pavilion had been rented and used on Saturday, but connecting the fire definitively with that event is unlikely. The structure had burned to the ground before firefighters could reach the scene.

Onaway State Park pavilion
pavilion section (photo from the Presque Isle County Advance)
Onaway State Park was created when the land was donated to the State of Michigan in 1920. It had previously been a county park named Indian Orchard. Native Americans, travelers and settlers throughout history used the area heavily. The park sits on a huge limestone shelf and development of the park was an engineering feat.

It has not been determined what will be done about the loss, but the park manager states that the public will have input.


See Onaway State Park
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Rockport Becomes Michigan's Newest State Park

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The old deep water dock at Rockport State Park in Michigan (photo by quiet solo pursuits)

a news release of Michigan DNR

State recreation officials announced that the "Rockport Property," previously managed as part of the state forest system, was transferred to the Parks and Recreation Division to become the newest state park in Michigan.

Rockport State Park offers many unique and special features. With 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron, north of Alpena, the property includes a deep-water protected harbor, an old limestone quarry of approximately 300 acres, a unique series of sinkholes, a dedicated Natural Area (Besser Natural Area), and a broad range of land types, vegetative cover, cultural resources and recreation opportunities. At the harbor, the Department has a boat launch facility, and there is a small park developed by Alpena Township on land leased from the State.

Future actions regarding Rockport State Park will be guided by the management plans for the park and with ongoing input from the NRTH Advisory Committee, which is currently engaged in forming a "Friends Group" for this park. Administration of the park will be handled by Harrisville State Park, and questions regarding its management can be directed to 989-724-5126.



See Quiet Solo Pursuits for more pictures
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Manistee Boy Scout Troop 167 Camps Out (A Lot!)

boys walking in woods
scouts explore off trail (photo by jhy)

by jhy

"How many campouts have you been on?" I asked 12-year-old Tyler.

"Fifteen," he answered casually. Clearly a seasoned veteran of the outdoors. His buddy, Blake, has only been on three, but he only joined Manistee's Boy Scout Troop 167 this past year.

I was quickly informed that the troop camps out once a month. In an era when even Boy Scouts often spend a lot of time on skills that are suited for the digital age, I was heartened to find a group that embraces the outdoor pursuits which are at the root of the Scouting movement.

With special permission from the Manistee National Forest, the group is allowed to camp at the Big M Ski Area each winter. (Camping is not generally allowed on the property). Since this wasn't a "Polar Bear" campout, the boys and their leaders were using the warming shelter. The wood stove had heated the building nicely, and when I arrived some scouts were cooking or eating breakfast, and others were rolling up their sleeping bags.

Some of the scouts would be completing requirements for their Camping merit badge, and others would make progress on the Wilderness Survival badge. I wondered if the survival skills required were really basic ones, and was told that some of the requirements are: to demonstrate three ways to start fire without matches, to be able to build an emergency shelter with little or no environmental impact, and to understand things like weather, signalling, and making decisions based on life-preserving priorities. Sounds like good stuff to me!

I also spoke with the oldest boy in the troop, 17-year-old Brian. He's a Life Scout, working toward Eagle. His project included collecting over a ton of food for the Salvation Army, and the troop is sorting and boxing it.

Expecting to hear that he'd been a member since Cub Scouts, it was interesting to learn that he joined at the Webelos level- for 10-year-olds. He just thought it would be something fun to do. Brian said that Scouting introduced him to what the outdoors has to offer. He'll be attending Michigan Tech next year with studies in Environmental Science and Plant Biotechnology. He credits Scouting for developing his interest in the natural world. He's also a member of the Order of the Arrow.

boys playing bananagrams
playing Bananagrams (photo by jhy)
After breakfast, some boys headed outside, while others enjoyed the warm shelter and played games or visited. The troop has 24 members, of which eight boys came on this campout. Usually, the participation is 14-16 members.

I came away encouraged to see young people comfortable in the outdoors, even in winter.

Led by Scoutmaster Klaus Kutschke, this active troop is looking for area girls who are interested in Adventure Scouting. At this level both boys and girls can participate.



See Polar Bears in Manistee
See BSA Troop 167
Contact Klaus at 723-7766

These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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