Tuesday, March 31, 2009

High Country Pathway Bridges Reopen

High Country Pathway thumbnail map
High Country Pathway- click for larger image

a news release of the Michigan DNR

The Department of Natural Resources today announced the two footbridges that service the High Country Pathway in the Pigeon River Country State Forest have been repaired and are now open just in time for spring hiking.

The repaired footbridges are over the Black River, located in Charlton Township North, Section 1, Otsego County, and over the Pigeon River located in Nunda Township, Section 16, Cheboygan County. These repairs were funded with $35,453 from the State's Recreation Improvement Fund.

The 3.7-mile temporary detour around the Black River footbridge and the 7.5-mile temporary detour for the Pigeon River footbridge will be removed, and users can now use the original trail route and bridge crossings.

Users are reminded that the North Spur of the Shore to Shore Trail is closed to mountain bike use in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. Mountain bike use was previously allowed on the detour, but now that repairs are complete mountain bike restrictions have resumed. The High Country Pathway loop is open to bicycles.

See Pigeon River Country Association
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Monday, March 30, 2009

Ludington Man Runs 100 mi /mo for 25 Years

Kim Halladay
Kim Halladay (photo from West Shore Community College)
based on a news article in the Ludington Daily News,"Milestone met," by Patti Klevorn, Mar 29, 2009

Kim Halladay quietly reached a lifetime goal this week. As he was running beside Ludington Daily News reporter, Patti Klevorn, she asked him just where on that run he would pass that milestone. "About a block back," Halladay replied without breaking stride.

Usually six days a week, accompanied by a golden retriever, Kim runs the streets and parks of Ludington. On this day, his wife Jeanie was waiting for him, offering a hug and congratulations.

Years ago, with a PhD in social work and a Master’s in public administration, Kim decided that he would need to do something physical to counteract the sedentary career he was heading for in the mental health field. So he began to run. After a while, he realized that he had established a regular pattern and made a decision to run at least 100 miles a month for the next 25 years.

For 23 years, he served as executive director at West Michigan Community Mental Health, and now teaches classes for Central Michigan University, and Western Michigan. He enjoys helping people prepare for retirement.

In a double reference to both running and life, he added, "Not every minute of every day is a walk in the sun with a gentle breeze at your back. It’s persistence during the challenging times that ultimately allows one to attain important results." His actual average came in at 113 miles per month.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Update on Eagle Release

Due to the snow and wind the release of the bald eagle by Braveheart Raptor Rescue has been rescheduled for next Sunday, April 5. The time is 2 pm, at the corner of Brye and Washington Roads, Pentwater.

See Eagle Release, for the full, original story.
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Lowell Area Trailway Fund at $360K

Lowell Trailway Map
Lowell Trailway Map

based on a news article at WZZM TV 13 , "Funds for Lowell trail beginning to come in," Mar 28, 2009

Half of the $1.5 million dollars need to build the Lowell Area Trailway will need to come from donations. At the Lowell Community Expo the leaders announced that they are well on their way. $360,000 has been raised to date.

The three-mile trail will connect several well-used locations in the city of Lowell and the surrounding area. The first phase of the trail will connect Lowell High School and the nature center with Creekside Park, Cherry Creek Elementary and downtown Lowell.

Congressman Vern Ehlers was on hand for the announcement and praised the community for it's successful efforts. The trail is planned to be a multi-use recreation trail linking Vergennes Township and Lowell Township with the City of Lowell. The proposed trail will make extensive use of public land to connect schools and parks within the communities.

Half of the money will come from state and federal grants. Leaders hope half will come from donations; the other half from state and federal grants.

See Lowell Area Trailway for full maps
See Lowell to Ionia Rail Trail Connection
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Land&Water Conservation Funding Gets Boost

a news release of The Trust for Public Land

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar hosted a community forum on the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at City Park in New Orleans on March 18 after opening an offshore oil and gas lease sale that will support land conservation efforts.

The Trust for Public Land applauded Salazar's leadership in improving the LWCF, saying that it is the federal government's premier tool for preserving land.

"Money flows into the fund from federal offshore oil and gas leases, just like those which were sold this morning," said Larry Schmidt, director of TPL's program in Louisiana. "But even though $900 million goes into the fund every year, a far smaller percentage of that money has been spent annually for its intended purpose - to conserve land around America.

"We note that President Obama has proposed increasing LWCF spending next year and he has called for full funding - $900 million - by 2014," he said. "TPL and more than 50 other organizations around the country have joined together to support the effort by you and President Obama to increase the use of LWCF."

Schmidt said that "TPL has joined this coalition - and is rallying behind your leadership - because the Land and Water Conservation Fund has protected some of the most iconic and important lands in the nation, from the Everglades, to the Rockies, to the Florida and California coastlines. And it has also protected places which tell the story of America, such as Civil War battlefields, and the Martin Luther King Jr. site in Atlanta."

Since 1964, LWCF has protected millions of acres by adding them to America's national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, national trails, state and local parks, and other protected lands. In recent years, however, precipitous declines in annual funding through the program have led to an enormous backlog of priority conservation properties, and to incompatible and often devastating development within these otherwise protected public assets.

"One of the places we at TPL, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, have protected is just a few miles east of here," Schmidt pointed out. "Last year, we added more than 2,000 acres of wetlands to the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. The money to do that came from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Our work at Bayou Sauvage is an example of all the good which can be done if the federal government is a consistent partner."

Schmidt said Salazar's announcement at City Park showcases the real need for full funding of LWCF. "As a native of New Orleans, I know how important this park is to the people who live here. It was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina and rebuilding it is a major statement about our belief in the future of New Orleans. It has been - and is - a place of major investment in conservation, and is a real demonstration of the need for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1965 to meet the nation's growing desire to preserve natural areas, culturally and historically significant landmarks, and outdoor recreational opportunities. LWCF funding has been low and unpredictable over the program's forty-four year history, approaching the full funding level of $900 million only twice. In the past ten years, program funding has followed a dramatic decline while demand for these funds to protect our nation's most treasured natural, cultural, and recreation areas has skyrocketed.

See Lowell to Ionia Rail Trail Connection
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Man Skis Across Michigan for His Mother-In-Law

Knut Hill
Knut Hill (photo from WHTM TV)
based on a news article from the Detroit Free Press, "Michigan ski trip nets $11,000, by Dan Cortez, Mar 23, 2009

Knut Hill, age 34, has been spending several days each week this winter crossing the state on skis. His goal has been to raise money for a bone marrow transplant for his mother-in-law, Margy Davis, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Hill skied from Oscoda to Empire, mostly following the Shore-to-Shore Horse Trail. His trip totaled about 200 miles.

Davis has myelodysplastic syndrome, an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer. The bone marrow can be taken from Hill's wife, Davis' daughter. But the procedure costs $300,000 and the insurance will cover only 2/3 of that. So Hill is endeavoring to raise the remaining $100,000. His ski adventure brought in about $11,000.

Hill skied about 20 miles per day, sometimes spending as much as 8 hours on the skis. He stayed at cabins along the way that belong to friends or family members. "I only found one other guy who had done it," he said.

At the web site documenting his goal, Knut has listed the reasons for taking on such an unusual challenge. The top three are
  1. To call attention to Margy's enormous financial burden for her life-saving bone marrow transplant.
  2. Because the trail markers along the Shore to Shore Trail are BLUE, Margy's favorite color.
  3. Because like Margy's battle with cancer, crossing Michigan on foot in the winter is a long, tough journey that requires strength and endurance.

For more about Margy and Kurt's adventure, see Transplant for Margy
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eagle Release Set for March 29, Pentwater

juvenile eagle
this juvenile eagle will be released by Braveheart Raptor Rescue (photo from WZZM-TV)
based on a news article from WZZM-13 TV

Sue Stamy's Braveheart Raptor Rehabilitation Center will release a juvenile bald eagle into the wild this Sunday. The eagle was near death from lead poisoning when it was brought to Stamy on January 25. The young raptor is about one year old. Lead poisoning is a common problem in birds who eat fish because of the use of lead sinkers. Just this past December, two eagles brought to Sue with lead poisoning both died.

Braveheart Center is located in a rural area near Twin Lake, Michigan. There Stamy rehabilitates owls, eagles, hawks and other large birds who have been injured. Some don't make it. Others are poor candidates for release and live on, serving educational purposes. But Sue is most happy when she can send a bird back to live in its natural habitat.

Those wishing to celebrate the success story of this eagle may attend the release party. Meet at 2 pm, Sunday, March 29, at the Driftwood Golf Course. The address is 3902 Washington Road, (at the corner of Washington and Brye, east of US-31 at Exit 158) in Pentwater, Mich. If the weather is bad, the release will be moved to the following Sunday, April 5th.

See information about theBraveheart Rehabilitation Center
Read Encountering a Great Horned Owl for another story about Sue Stamy's work
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks to Meet March 25

a news release of Michigan DNR

The Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks (CCMSP) will meet on Wednesday, March 25, at the MSU Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, located at 4125 Beaumont Rd. in Lansing.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m., with a brief introduction by the chair and public comment, followed by an update and discussion regarding long-term sustainable funding for the Michigan state parks system led by the Finance Subcommittee chair.

The committee then will receive brief updates and reports on various parks and recreation programs, motor vehicle permits and camping reservations, performance indicators and financial reports, and various land, policy and legislative issues that affect the state parks and recreation system.

The meeting is scheduled to adjourn promptly at 11:30 a.m.

The Citizens Committee for Michigan State Parks is an advisory group created by Public Act 392 of 2004 to address issues concerning state parks and recreation areas, including planning for long-term sustainable funding for Michigan's state park system.

For information about this meeting, persons needing accommodations to attend this meeting, or persons wishing to provide public comment on any state park-related issue, contact the DNR Parks and Recreation Division at (517) 335-4827

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Monday, March 23, 2009

AFFEW Plans Earth Day Event for Ludington

AFFEW logo
from the AFFEW web site

AFFEW (A Few Friends for the Environment of the World) is planning an Earth Day event, April 16 and 18, in Ludington. All events will be at the new Ludington Center for the Arts building on South Harrison Street, one block from downtown.

Thursday evening, April 16, Jamie Cross will speak on Great Lakes restoration and Adopt-a-Beach program.

The bulk of the offerings are on Saturday, April 18. Speakers and activities are scheduled throughout the day, and booths from a number of organizations with interests in ecological topics will be set up for the entire time.

Speakers are:
10:30-11:30 AM Rebecca Fox - Eco Art
12:00-2:00 PM Peggy Malnati - Rain Gardens and Organic Lawn Care
2:00-3:00 PM Ray Dereske - Solar/Wind for the Home
3:00-4:00 PM Tom Karas - Michigan Green Energy Update
4:00-5:00 PM Pete DeBoer - West Michigan Nature Conservancy

AFFEW was formed in 1990 and serves Mason County through environmental education, recycling and hazardous waste collection programs, and the popular beach clean-up program.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Read A Summer Odyssey the Origin of the Great Western Trail

cover of A Summer Odyssey
from HikingPress

Over the course of a long, hard summer, two men hiked in the Rockies from Canada to Mexico. The journey through Idaho, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico would change their lives and help create a new national trail.

This is their story...

Twenty-nine-year-old James Mayberger, of New York, launches the greatest journey of his life when he attempts to conquer the Great Western Trail in five grueling months of backpacking. His companion is Simon Cordial, an Englishman with an equally adventurous spirit. With only bare necessities on their backs they embark upon the unprecedented 2,400-mile journey through mountains and deserts from Canada to Mexico. In this vivid account that pits Man against Nature, they experience the physical, emotional, and psychological extremes of the human condition.

A Summer Odyssey: Forging America's Great Western Trail is now available as either an electronic book (E-book) or trade paperback. Both formats include over one hundred color photographs of the actual trek.

Little, Brown and Company writes, "It is wonderfully written, and it serves as both an education in the wilderness, a sort of "Back to Basics," Emersonian notion of Romanticism, as well as an education in self-discipline, self-sacrifice, and on the most basic level, friendship." ,

Either in e-book or paperback format, A Summer Odyssey is available at The first two chapters can be read for free!

See HikingPress
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Extremity Games for those with Limb Loss or Difference

kiteboarder Sean Reyngoudt competing in the 2007 Extremity Games
kiteboarder Sean Reyngoudt competing in the 2007 Extremity Games (photo from
information from the Extremity Games web site

Extremity Games are high-performance sports competitions for people living with limb loss or limb difference. The first ever Extremity Games was held in 2006 with over 500 participants.

For 2009, athletes will compete at various venues in eastern Michigan . The games will be held July 9-11. Events include skateboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, wakeboarding, mountain biking and Moto-X.

The Games allows participants to demonstrate skill, persistence and passion while competing for cash and other prizes - proving There’s No Replacement for the Competitive Spirit™.

Individuals, 13 years and older, living with limb loss or limb difference are eligible to compete. There is a $50 entrance fee per athlete. There is no fee for spectators other than what may be charged to enter a particular venue. The skateboarding is held at South Street Skate Park, Rochester, MI, the rock climbing at Planet Rock, Pontiac, the water events at Buell Lake, Clio, and the bicycling and Moto-X in Michigan's thumb at Millington. Registration for all events is now open.

Founding sponsor College Park Industries has been pleased at the response. In 2007, Extremity Events Network, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation was founded to establish a neutral framework, in which all orthotic and prosthetic manufacturers and professionals, as well as outside industry sponsors, can comfortably contribute and get involved in sports.

See Extremity Games
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Fish Cleaning Station Planned for Holland State Park Boating Access Site

a news release of Michigan DNR

The Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division is partnering with the Big Red Foundation to construct a fish cleaning station at the Lake Macatawa boating access site in Holland State Park. The fish cleaning station will be a 20-foot-square building with a cleaning table located in the center of the building. The building will be ADA accessible and open to the public. Funding for this project is being provided by the Big Red Foundation with a matching grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust.

Interested persons desiring additional information about the project are invited to a public meeting, Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at the Holland Fish and Game Club, located at 10840 Chicago Drive in Zeeland. For more information about this project, contact Joe Strach at (517) 641-4903, ext. 227.

Individuals attending the meeting are requested to refrain from using heavily scented personal care products in order to enhance accessibility for everyone. Persons with disabilities needing accommodations for the meeting should contact Strach at number listed above.

See Holland State Park
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Future for Traverse City's Hickory Hills Ski Area?

young snowboarder at Hickory Hills, Traverse City, Michigan
young snowboarder at Hickory Hills (photo from
based on a TV 7&4 News story, "Hickory Hills Future, by Marc Schollett, Mar 19, 2009

For 58 years Hickory Hills Ski area has been open for family fun in Traverse City, Michigan. But some things may need to change for it to see season 59, because Hickory Hills is owned and run by the city.

The Citizen's Operational and Financial Analysis Committee (COFAC) has recommended cost-cutting measures to the city. And the truth is that the city subsidizes the ski area to the tune of about $130,000 a year.

Hickory Hills is not a destination ski area for downhillers. But "it's a great little area, for people just starting out for families," offered Lauren Vaughn, of the Traverse City Parks and Recreation department. Supporters say that it's a great place to take your kids at a time of year when there are fewer things for young people to do.

Actually, this was a good year financially for the ski area. They made $17 thousand dollars more than ever, but it still leaves a large shortfall for the city to pick up. COFAC has recommended that the city give Hickory a goal and a deadline.

Some people believe that COFAC wants the city to close Hickory, while others think that they are advising only that the deficit to operate the ski area be reduced.

Comments on the original news item are, to this point, all in favor of keeping Hickory Hills open. Brennen M said, "Hickory is very popular not only in the winter time, but throughout the whole year! Once the snow melts Frisbee Golf season starts! Not to mention it is a good place for walking, running, and biking. It would be a shame if we could no longer golf there, it is a fun and beautiful course!"

See Hickory Hills Ski Area
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

First Annual West Michigan Birding Festival

West Michigan Birding Festival
from the Birding Festival web site

Ludington will host the first annual West Michigan Birding Festival, May 15-17, 2009. Event organizer Judy Bach is excited to be able to offer such a quality schedule for the first ever such local event.

The weekend will be a special opportunity for beginning and advanced birders to get an up-close look at migrating birds, such as the endangered piping plover. Interactive programs and field trips guided by expert naturalists and biologists are being offered.

Some of the seminars on the schedule are:
  • Bird Calls and Identification
  • All About Loons
  • Shorebird Identification
  • Dragonflies and Damselflies
  • Bald Eagle Program for Children
  • Many More

Field trips are planned throughout the weekend to familiar locations such as Ludington State Park, but also to less well known spots such as Gale's Pond and the Pere Marquette Marsh.

Children are welcome. There will be a special bald eagle presentation specifically for younger birdwatchers.

Key evening speakers are Bob Brockwell, "Identifying Birds by Sight and Sound," and Dave Dister, "Birding Adventures around the U.S."

Registration is extremely reasonable. The reservation fee is $10 per adult for reservations received by May 10, 2009. The reservation fee for children up to the age of 12 is $1 and teens, ages 13-18, is $5. The registration fee will enable you to attend as many seminars and field trips as you chose, but does not include transportation. Participants should seek their own lodging and meals but suggestions are offered on the web site.

See West Michigan Birding Festival
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Clean Those Bluebird Houses!

eastern bluebird
eastern bluebird (photo by JHY)
compiled from several sources

Georgia Donovan, President of the Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League wrote in their March newsletter: "As spring nears, it’s time for cleaning. Those of you who know me well of course realize that I’m not talking about my house; I’m talking about cleaning out the birdhouses. Yes, it’s time to send the mice packing and advertise for bluebirds and swallows. Along the bluebird trail I had the satisfaction of cleaning 10 houses, without once stirring up the dust in my own. (My mom’s in Florida so I can say that.) Those bluebirds and chickadees are making big plans and you can be a part of it!"

And the bluebirds are back! They have been in Scottville for over a week. Make a bluebird box or two and help keep Mason County populated with bright flashes of blue.

Bluebird boxes can be mounted on poles, fence posts, utility poles or trees. Ideally the bottom of the nest box should be 5 feet above the ground and not easily reached by predators. For plans to build boxes and more complete information about placement follow the links below.

See Peterson Bluebird Box Plans
See Bluebird Box Plans suitable for children to build
See Bluebirds Forever, for placement and mounting information
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Monday, March 16, 2009

State Park Funding Proposal Would Require No Special Plate

Michigan License Plate
based on a communication from the Field Coordinator of the Parks and Recreation Division of the DNR

Two Michigan Senate bills (388 and 389) have been introduced to provide a new funding mechanism for Parks and Recreation Division, Forest, Mineral and Fire Management Division as well as local parks and recreation agencies. We expect that the corresponding House bills should be assigned numbers very soon.

The bills were introduced on March 12, 2009. Over 100 citizens were present when Senator Birkholz, Senator Basham, Representative Warren and Representative Meekhof introduced the bill.

News reports on the proposal have resulted in some misinformation, and created a large amount of debate.

If the proposal is passed there will be no special sticker or license plate required. Any regular or specialty plate issued by the State of Michigan will be your entrance ticket to Michigan State Parks, Recreation Areas, and boating facilities.

When you register a non-commercial motor vehicle you will be asked if you want to pay a $10 fee for State Park entry. If you believe that you do not use the State Parks you do not have to pay the fee. You would still be able to enter a park even if you change your mind.

Out-of-state vehicles will still be charged an entry fee of $29 for an annual pass or $8 for a day pass.

A similar program has been in place in Montana, operated on the honor system, the same as this one would be. 70%-75% of Montana motorists choose to pay the fee. The Michigan Insurance Institute lists 9.6 million registered vehicles. If there was 60% participation that's $57.6 million of income for the parks. With sticker sales about $47 million per year is raised.

Park staff are being asked to be prepared to immediately answer how the extra money could be used locally. The proposal is citizen driven, and is not a DNR initiative.

See Bill Would Propose New Park Entrance Funding

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Stimulus Money May Give Little to Michigan State Parks

Ludington State Park Beach House
Ludington State Park Beach House (photo by sterk1)
based on a news article in the Lansing State Journal,"Must-do repairs top DNR to-do list, " by Kathy Barks Hoffman, Mar 2, 2009

"We have lots of shovel-ready" projects, Michigan DNR spokeswoman Mary Detloff said. "We just don't have any cash to shovel at it.

Most "shovel-ready" projects in Michigan State Parks are unlikely to see any stimulus funds. The DNR has a long list of projects that are ready to go, due to the huge backlog of funding and deferred maintenance. The wish list of projects that could be ready to go in 90 days included 586 proposals totaling $356.6 million. So far, only three DNR requests have made it to the final round for consideration by federal officials.

Highest on the DNR's list is probably the $1 million dollar replacement of a bridge at Warren Dunes SP that washed out last year. This has forced tourists to park and walk a mile to the beach. Most park visitors do not want that long of a walk.

22 million visitors pass through Michigan's 98 state parks and recreation areas annually and contribute $580 million to the state's economy. At ninety years of age Michigan has one of the oldest park systems, and one of the largest. The DNR says that it has $2 million to spend each year on infrastructure and major maintenance, but those actual expenses are closer to $38 million.

There will be no stimulus money at all for big-ticket projects such as rebuilding the historic beach house at Ludington State Park ($1 million needed) or replacing two leaking bath and shower buildings for campers at Holland State Park, plus upgrading the sewer and water lines that run to them ($800,000 per building).

The three Michigan projects that are being considered by federal officials include $3.8 million to control invasive species such as garlic mustard and glossy buckthorn on state and private lands; $403,000 to hire 10 forest fire officers for six months this year and next to fight wildfires; and $100,000 to close abandoned mine entrances on public lands.

It's not that those are not worthy projects, but there just isn't nearly enough money. Currently , camping fees cover about half of the parks budget, while motor vehicle fees cover about a quarter.

See Bill Will Propose New Park Entrance Funding
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bicycle Sales Mixed in 2008

from a report in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, March 1, 2009, Vol. 18, No. 3

"The good news for bicycle suppliers is that bikes sold better than cars last year. The bad news is that when gas crossed the $4/gallon threshhold in June, bike sales tanked"

Although sales dropped tremendously in the fourth quarter, for the entire year they rose 2% compared with 2007.

Bikes to be used on pavement are increasing in popularity and now account for 64% of the overall market. Bikes used on pavement probably accounts for even more of the sales because entry level mountain bikes, often used for commuting, were not included in that figure.

Hybrid sales climbed, and utility bikes are clearly the direction consumers are headed. This is evidenced by increased sales of accessories such as lights, fenders and racks. Comfort bike sales decreased, apparently migrating to the hybrids. Mountain bike sales declined.

Hybrid bikes can be used on or off road. They have medium width tires and flat handlebars. Comfort bikes are beginner's bikes with suspension seatposts and suspension forks, for a very soft ride.

The article included a note about bikes being made in Ghana of bamboo. One has been made that can carry up to 400 pounds of cargo.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Portion of Kalamazoo River Reopened for Public Use

new path of the Kalamazoo River around Plainwell Dam
the Kalamazoo River now flows freely past the previous site of Plainwell Dam
(from Kalamazoo River Webline)
compiled from several sources

The Michigan DNR has announced that a one and one-half mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River that had been closed in June of 2007 for the removal of PCB-contaminated sediments is now reopen to public use

The stretch between the city of Plainwell and the city of Otsego has been the site of remediation work to remove river sediments contaminated with PCBs. PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls, which are toxic organic pollutants.

The final activities on the river were completed in February. The old Plainwell Dam also was removed, and now the Kalamazoo River flows freely in its historical channel for the first time in more than 100 years.

Although LyondellBasell Industries, one of the two companies that had been paying for the work filed for bankruptcy last month, the $25 million cleanup of the section has been wrapped up. This leaves Georgia Pacific as the lone source of revenue for future cleanup projects scheduled both up and downstream.

The EPA, with help from Georgia Pacific, is continuing to try identify other companies that might have polluted the river with PCBs. The timeline for future work divides the river into annual project areas starting from the Plainwell Dam to Otsego City Dam in 2010 and ending with Lake Allegan Dam to Lake Michigan in 2015.

Some work will progress in spite of the reduced funding. Native vegetation, including shrubs, trees and grasses, will be planted along the renovated waterway near Plainwell this spring. A three-year water monitoring program along the 1.5-mile stretch has been instituted.

"With the cleanup complete and vegetation restoration underway, the public can once again enjoy this stretch of the river," said Sharon Hanshue, DNR Fisheries Habitat Unit supervisor.

See Michigan DNR, "Portion of Kalamazoo River Reopened to Public Use"
See Kalamazoo News, "Bankruptcy brings cleanup of Kalamazoo River nearly to a halt"
See Kalamazoo River Webline
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learn Frogs at Bear Creek

frog clip art
picture courtesy of Green Nature
a news release of Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club

Interested in frogs and toads of our area? Steve Lagerquist will talk about local species, their calls, ecology and behavior. The program is free and open to the public at the Spirit of the Woods Conservation Clubhouse on Bear Creek just west of Brethren off Coates Highway.

Lagerquist works with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. He holds a BS and MS in biology from Portland State University. His masters' study focused on the behavioral responses of bullfrogs to the calls of other frogs and toads.

Steve asks, "Did you know frogs and toads use muscles attached to their eyes to help them swallow their prey, or that they have to push, not suck, air into their lungs in order to breath? Find out what kind of frogs and toads we have in west Michigan."

Meeting is Monday, March 16, 7:30 pm at the Clubhouse, 3470 Rose Rd, Brethren, MI.

Contact the Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club at 3470 Rose Rd, Brethren, MI 49619-9752, (231) 477-5692
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Mason County May Get Bat Study Tower

Indiana Bat
Indiana Bat (photo by US Fish & Wildlife Service)
based on a news article in the Ludington Daily News, "Consumers seeking OK for bat study tower," by Brian Mulherin, Mar 10, 2009

Consumers Energy is seeking approval for a tower to record bat vocalizations in Riverton Township, Mason County. Dennis Marvin of CE said that they would be attempting to identify the endangered Indiana Bat. The tower would be fitted with an acoustical devise that measures frequencies of sound. In this way they can determine if the bats are in the area.

The Indiana Bat reaches the northern edge of its range in Manistee County. They have been observed at Tippy Dam, and in Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness.

Consumers Energy needs to conduct the study as part of an environmental impact analysis, because they hope to place wind turbines in the area. The Lake Michigan shoreline is prime real estate for wind power. But it is not known if the bats migrate through Mason County. There numbers here have never been counted.

Dr. Allen Kurta of Eastern Michigan University is serving as an advisor to Consumers Energy. So little is known about the bats because no banded or tagged bats have ever been returned. One theory is that the bats follow the shoreline.

Interestingly enough the bats are harmed most by wind turbines operating at low speeds. Only about half of bats killed by turbines are struck by the blades. The rest suffer hemorrhages in their lungs, apparently because of the pressure wave caused by the moving blades. Kurta said that this needs to be verified.

The bats are endangered due to habitat loss. Many of the caves that were natural homes to the Indiana Bats were developed as tourist attractions in the 1950s and 1960s. In many cases this raised the cave temperature just enough to make them unsuitable for the small bats.

Indiana Bat pairs only produce one or two young a year. This is a slow reproduction rate and wind turbines may kill more bats each year than are born.

See Indiana Bats Dying from Mysterious Mold
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bill Will Propose New Park Entrance Funding

basic facts received from Dr. Chuck Nelson, Dept. Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University

On Thursday March 12 at 10:30, in Rooms 402-3 of the Capitol (Lansing), a bill will be introduced to eliminate the requirements for residents to have state park and state boating access motor vehicle permits in exchange for a $10 fee on vehicle registration.

Nelson states that this proposal is great for trails as it will help fund state park rail trails, Michigan state forest pathways, trails within the traditional state park system and double available grant money each year for local park renovation and development.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. In one respect it will be great to not have to purchase a state park sticker as long as you have a Michigan license plate. On the other hand it will probably be argued that all trails funded should be multi-use since the money came from an indiscriminate public pool. My personal view, known to many of my readers, is that some trails should be multi-use, but that there is a real need for some trails to be designed for particular user groups.

At any rate, there is sure to be some good debate.

See Proposal would eliminate entrance fees for Michigan parks, increase vehicle registration by $10 and take a poll as to whether you like the idea or not.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jordan River Fish Hatchery to Receive Stimulus Money

Jordan River National Fish Hatchery
fish ponds at the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (photo by deemsterhood)
based on a news article from Connect Mid Michigan, "Fish hatchery funding," by Melissa Smith, Mar 7, 2009

The Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Antrim County, Michigan, will receive over $2.5 million dollars in stimulus money. "We're ecstatic to get some of this funding," says hatchery manager, Roger Gordon. He quickly pointed out that the facility has not been on any priority lists for funding recently and the money is sorely needed.

Almost half of the dollars will go towards the rehabilitation of a pollution abatement system. The mission of the hatchery is the restoration of the Great Lakes, and specifically to return lake trout to a sustainable population level.

The hatchery is under the direction of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service. The 116 acres of the facility include trout culture ponds. Each year approximately 1.85 to 2.0 million yearling lake trout are raised and 1.2 million released into Lakes Michigan and Huron.

Stimulus money will provide a new, 50 thousand square foot, lake trout culture building. $240 thousand will go for a geothermal heating project, and $100 thousand to design and install a micro-turbine energy system. The new energy system will eliminate the need for 6000 gallons of propane used annually.

Gordon says that the projects should aid the local economy as local contractors will be used to complete the work. All but the pollution abatement system are expected to be completed in 2009. "The lake trout is the poster child of the Great Lakes." says Gordon. The hatchery is open to the public seven days a week from from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

See Jordan River Fish Hatchery
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Monday, March 9, 2009

Scottville Riverside Park Prevails in Permit Suit

based on a news item in the Ludington Daily News

Improvements made at Scottville Riverside Park last year have been hotly contested by Jeff Henry, owner of Henry's Landing Campground just downstream on the opposite side of Scottville Road. On February 11, Administrative Law Judge Richard Lacasse ruled that the City acted properly. The judge stated both that the city was the proper applicant and that the permit had been processed properly.

At issue are two handicap accessible observation decks that were added at the edge of the Pere Marquette River. Henry claims that fill added to the site has changed the currents of the river, and that now he will need to add a seawall to stabilize the bank near his campground.

Amy Hansen, Scottville City Manager, said that she was pleased with the outcome. "We knew we did nothing wrong," she affirmed. She also stated that it was too bad that the situation came to this. It has already cost the city over $10,000 in legal fees.

Henry, on the other hand continues to maintain that the river has been altered. He wishes that the case had been studied in the spring rather than fall, when the water was higher. He has not decided whether to appeal.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mushing on the Baldwin Sweetwater Trail

Sweetwater Challenge in Baldwin

based on a news article in "Mushers go the distance on the Sweetwater Trail", by Howard Meyerson, Mar 7, 2009

Mushers from as far away as Delaware converged on Baldwin last weekend for the Sweetwater Challenge. The event was sponsored by the Michigan Dog Drivers Association. The 24-mile mushing trail was opened this winter after several years of construction.

One woman from Illinois said that she was trying races with a medium distance this year, and that was why she came. She had been doing sprints, which gave her about an hour on the trail with multiple hours driving. She said “I enjoy being out with my dogs. I want to run with them longer,' so I started doing mid-distances last year."

The Baldwin trail is designed to host 12, 17 or 24-mile races. Blaine Danley, the Michigan Dog Drivers Association president, said that people enjoy spending time with their dogs on the trail and there are few places where mushers can run long distances without encountering dangerous road crossings or snowmobile trails.

Deanna Clark, a veterinarian and skijorer from Madison, Wis., drove here for a chance to try the trail. Skijorers use a dog team to pull them on skis. She said, “This is one of the few races with long-distance skijoring. It's a novice race and a really friendly environment."

At 11 am Saturday the Challenge began. Starts were staggered by two minutes. The course through the National Forest is flagged, and there are manned stations where a tired or injured dog may be dropped off.

Kathy Bietau, Recreational Planner for the Forest Service, said the association is working with the forest service in the hopes of making the Sweetwater Challenge Trail a permanent, dedicated mushing trail. It would be the first in Michigan on public land. Currently, the trail is permitted by the forest service only for event use. It is not open for use at any other time.

Lower Michigan mushers are hopeful that there will soon be a backcountry trail closer than Michigan’s upper peninsula.

See Michigan Dog Drivers Association
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Michigan Log Cabin Day

log cabin sketch
from Log Cabin Crafts

The 23rd Annual Log Cabin Day in Michigan will be June 28, 2009. Festivals and Tours will be held at 100 locations. These will include historic, authentic cabins. Many are off the beaten track in picturesque locations. Some are preserved in pioneer villages. New log cabins may also be viewed.

On December 9, 1986, the Michigan Legislature passed a resolution proclaiming Log Cabin Day on June 28, 1987 for the Sesquicentennial. On that day there was a tour of seven Berrien County log cabins along with four other Log Cabin Day events in the state.

Because of public response, the Legislature passed a bill to make Log Cabin Day annual, signed by Gov. James J. Blanchard on June 15, 1989. As recorded in the Statutes of Michigan: "The last Sunday of June of each year shall be known as 'Log Cabin Day.' "

Michigan is the only state which has an annual statewide log cabin festival. Of the hundreds of log cabins which have been on the annual Log Cabin Day parade since 1987, at least seven were built before 1840.

The Log Cabin Society of Michigan was incorporated in 1988 to sponsor this event and to discover, preserve, and promote log cabins in Michigan. An award of merit was received in 1991 from the Historical Society of Michigan.

For a brochure with map, send $1.00 to: Log Cabin Society of Michigan, 3503 Rock Edwards Drive, Sodus, MI 49126-8700. Admission is usually free unless otherwise stated. Some cabins will be closed but can be seen from highway

A listing of the 100 cabins, their locations, and some additional information can be seen at the web site.

See Log Cabin Crafts
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Friday, March 6, 2009

DNR Welcomes Accessibility Input

alt text
based on a news release of Michigan DNR

The Michigan DNR Accessibility Advisory Council works to involve citizens in the planning and development process to ensure that DNR facilities, programs and projects are barrier-free and accessible to all users.

The Council (AAC) will meet on Monday, March 16, at the Michigan Manufactured Housing, Recreation Vehicles and Campground Association at 2222 Association Dr. in Okemos. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is open to the public.

Public appearances before the council will begin at 2:45 p.m. Persons wishing to give public comment should contact William Pemble at (517) 241-3725 or Persons also can contact Pemble at the meeting site to sign up for the public comment period.

The purpose of the AAC is to make recommendations relevant to accessibility to the DNR Director and department that provide advice and guidance on development, management and planning issues for opportunities to enjoy the natural resources available in the state. Also, the council recommends development of a broad variety of programs, facilities and services designed to make natural resources available to Michigan citizens and visitors.

The agenda for the meeting will be published online

See Michigan DNR under the Commissions, Boards & Committees menu

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See Get Off The Couch- Accessible Recreation

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No News Til Friday

My apologies, but I can't access the internet from my own computer till Friday, so there will be no new postings until then. Thanks for visiting.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Book: "If I Only Had an Angel"

dog sledding
Lori Layne says her experiences in sled dog races inspired her to write "If I Only Had an Angel."
based on a news release of the Grand Rapids Press, "Musher taps experiences on trail in writing children's book about faith," by Paul R. Kopenkosky, Mar 1, 2009

Lori Layne, Fremont's postmaster, has spent plenty of time supervising dogs as well as mail carriers. She says that there is something about how unpredictable dog sledding can be that inspires one to trust in God.

She has written "If I Only Had an Angel, " illustrated by J.D. Williams, (The WinePress Group, $12.99) to share that concept with young readers. The book is a poem about a girl who races dog sleds and who asks God to help her persevere.

Layne recounted times when she was uncertain about venturing on ice with her dogs, or wondering if that last encounter with a tree really caused only a bad bruise, or did a bone break?

Layne said, the "book attempts to answer why she and others are drawn to the loneliness of long-distance racing, despite these uncertainties. You're out there for a long period of time and really can take that deep breath and know God is with you and take it all in,"

Layne began racing after her husband gave her a Husky for Christmas in 1996. She eventually acquired 40 dogs and raced in the Midwest and Alaska before retiring in 2003. Her example was the late Susan Butcher, four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

"Guiding a team of determined huskies over a frozen lake and spending solitary nights in a star-lit forest teaches one about divine trust," concludes Lori.

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