Some states and Native American tribes in the Upper Midwest
say they’re looking forward to taking over management of their gray wolf population. That’s if a new federal plan to de-list the wolf as an endangered or threatened species becomes law. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Some states and Native American tribes in the Upper Midwest say they’re
looking forward to taking over management of their gray wolf
population. That’s if a new federal plan to de-list the wolf as an
endangered or threatened species becomes law. The GLRC’s Chuck
The federal government says the grey wolf population in Minnesota,
Michigan and Wisconsin combined is roughly 4,000. That’s large enough
for the Interior Department to recommend letting the states take over management
of the wolves. State or tribal officials could eventually allow
individuals to get permits to shoot wolves that are killing livestock.
Or, the states could even propose wolf hunting seasons. But a group
that has worked to increase the number of gray wolves across the U.S.
wants no hunting allowed.
Nina Fascione is with Defenders of Wildlife.
“This is a population that’s still fragile, even if it is technically
recovered under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.”
The Interior Department says it would take a close look at wolf kill
projections before going along with any hunting plan. Public hearings
on the proposal to de-list the gray wolf as endangered or threatened
will take place this spring.
Public interest groups say, on average, more than 850
billion gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage is dumped into U.S. waterways each year. Notifying the public of these events is sporadic, but one city has started to tell the public of when—and where—overflows occur. The GLRC’s Christina Shockley reports:
Public interest groups say, on average, more than 850 billion gallons of
untreated or partially treated sewage is dumped into U.S. waterways each
year. Notifying the public of these events is sporadic, but one city has
started to tell the public of when — and where — overflows occur. The
GLRC’s Christina Shockley reports:
Federal guidelines say officials need to notify the public of sewage
overflows, but the rules are vague… and sometimes not followed.
Kevin Shafer is executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan
Sewage District. In a somewhat unusual move, it’s set up an online
map of area waterways that will highlight where, exactly, sewage is
dumped into the water.
Shafer says, in the past, specific information wasn’t so easy to get.
“We would notify the Public Health Department and then they would
notify everyone that there’d been an overflow. We never really
pinpointed the location, unless someone from the media or general public
Shafer says people should avoid areas where overflows have occurred
because of bacteria and viruses that could be in the water.
Meanwhile, some states in the Great Lakes region are working on
updating notification requirements about sewage overflows.
Sidewalks don’t go a lot of the places we’d like to walk. So people do what people have always done: cut through empty lots… or woods… or across railways. A lot of these pathways, worn down by use, never seem to make it onto maps. The GLRC’s Jennifer Guerra reports one group thinks they ought to be mapped… and their stories told:
Sidewalks don’t go a lot of the places we’d like to walk. So people do
what people have always done: cut through empty lots… or woods… or
across railways. A lot of these pathways, worn down by use, never
seems to make it onto maps. The GLRC’s Jennifer Guerra reports one
group thinks they ought to be mapped… and their stories told:
When Hilary Ramsden moved to Detroit from England, she thought the
best way to explore the city was to bike it.
“And I was run off road by cars, and people shouted and screamed at me.
So I decided to cycle on sidewalk but then I noticed sidewalks came to
end, and started singing little paths.”
Ramsden points to a little ribbon of dirt that run thru a neighbor’s yard
or cut through a vacant lot…
“And I noticed there was a whole network of these paths through the
city. So I started exploring them!”
Soon Ramsden’s co-worker, Erika Block, starts tagging along on the
walks, and since none of the trials they want to take are listed on any
maps, the two just start wandering:
“And then we started thinking about mapping and what’s really
represented on traditional maps and what’s missing.”
Block thinks of maps as a kind of storytelling. So if the short cuts and
gravel paths that people take aren’t listed on a map, then the stories of the
people who use them aren’t being told. So Block and Ramsden – who
run a theatre company in the city – decided to turn their walks into a performance
art piece of sorts. It’s called The Walking Project.
Once a week they pick out a section of Detroit and walk it. To track their
route, they use a handheld Global Positioning System device. They also
bring along digital cameras to snap pictures and record conversations
they have with people. Eventually, the photos, recordings and GPS tracks will
all be uploaded to a computer and transformed into a sort of 3-D digital map.
“And so a representation of place is going to be more than just lines and
dots and symbols on a map, it hopefully will become the video, and audio, and drawings
and conversations that people bring to it.”
And that’s really what these walks are about for Hilary Ramsden…
“…oh look at path here…this is a great shortcut. Is there a story here?
Tons of stories here, but no one walking here to ask at the moment. I’d
be interested in talking to someone.”
About twenty minutes into the walk, we cut across a gravelly path that
runs through a small field. There, we run into a homeless man. The
minute Block and Ramsden say hello, the man starts talking. About
himself, about the path and about the field we’re standing in…
(Sound of talking)
Block and Ramsden snap pictures and record everything he’s saying.
Their hope is to one day have it all linked to a virtual map that places this
man and his image on this particular Detroit dirt path, and because Block
recorded their conversation, his story will become a part of the map, too:
“People will ultimately be able to drag and drop images to build their own maps
of these places that tell different stories. And I think people are fascinated by
other people’s stories, and I think that ultimately the more we know of other
people’s stories the less afraid we become and the more comfortable it becomes.”
Block admits that the technology for creating such a map is at least two
years off. But in the meantime, she and Ramsdon will continue to walk
around and record the stories of those who choose to travel off the beaten
path. In hopes that maybe one day they’ll have a map to call their own.
The emerald ash borer is destroying millions of ash trees in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of
One of America’s favorite shade trees is being killed by the millions. A tiny invasive insect is to blame. The emerald ash borer has dealt an unexpected blow to cities, homeowners and industries that work with ash trees. The GLRC’s Rebecca Williams reports… the ash borer has been especially devastating to the nursery industry:
One of America’s favorite shade trees is being killed by the millions. A
tiny invasive insect is to blame. The emerald ash borer has dealt an
unexpected blow to cities, homeowners and industries that work with ash
trees. The GLRC’s Rebecca Williams reports… the ash borer has been
especially devastating to the nursery industry:
Everybody thought ash trees were perfect. That’s because they’re great
shade trees, they grow fast, they turn yellow and red and purple in the
fall. Ash trees were the go-to tree for a lot of cities after Dutch elm
disease killed off most of the nation’s elm trees 30 years ago. Scientists
thought ash trees were pretty much invincible to pests.
Then… the emerald ash borer hitched a ride to the States in cargo from
China… and changed everything.
“We couldn’t believe it. It’s like We were stunned, you know, wait a minute,
this is something we can’t even sell anymore.”
Amy Camido is a certified nurseryman. She sells trees and shrubs at Ray
Wiegand’s Nursery. It’s a large nursery outside of Detroit… close to
where the ash borer was first discovered in 2002. In 2003, Michigan
officials banned the sale of all ash trees. That meant nurseries had to cut
down and chip or burn all of their ash tree stock.
“Gosh, when they told us we couldn’t sell them anymore, it was like, pick
them up and put them in the bio-grinder, they were gone. These trees,
they weren’t even trees that were infested.”
Camido says Weigand’s Nursery destroyed 6-thousand trees. That cost
them a half million dollars. She says the nursery lost out on three fronts.
They grew ash trees and they sold them to homeowners and landscapers.
Ray Weigand says the nursery… like many around here… lost a third of
“Once you lose it you lose it. It’s hard to make money up in any
industry. We just plant other products and hope that they bloom out and
people like them.”
Weigand says now… instead of selling lots of the same type of tree…
they’ll have to plant many different species to hedge their bets. Nurseries
also want the federal government to compensate them for their losses,
but that’s looking unlikely. Congress continues to slash funding for
fighting the emerald ash borer… and states are not putting up any extra
Nursery groups say the beetle should be a national priority… because it’s
not just a Midwest issue.
Mark Teffeau is with the American Nursery and Landscape Association.
He says the borer’s hurt sales of ash trees nationwide.
“Right now it’s a buyer’s market. The ash prices have basically plummeted
to the point that I know growers who have realized there’s no market for
these trees and then they’re pulling them up and destroying them. Either
that or trying to sell them at reduced prices in places where ash borer isn’t
The only state that’s banned all sales of ash trees is Michigan, but the ash
borer has also infested trees in Ohio and Indiana. Those states have not
completely banned sales of ash. Instead, they’re restricting sales from
infested areas. Officials in those states say some nurseries are still able
to sell ash trees… but not a lot of people are buying them.
Nursery groups are putting pressure on state and federal officials to keep
the ash borer contained. The beetle only moves about a half mile a year
on its own, but people help it spread a lot farther… by moving firewood
infested with the beetle. Just one piece of infested firewood can start a
Patricia Lockwood is the ash borer policy director for Michigan. She
says states are getting the message out that moving firewood spreads the
“We’re continually on a daily basis outreaching through schools,through the
libraries, we are doing billboards, public service announcements. We
really are outreaching to a tremendous amount of individuals. We never
do enough but we’re doing the best with the resources that we have.”
But even though there are laws against moving firewood, critics say
those messages are not getting through to everyone. Nurseryman Amy
Camido says people don’t seem to care about the ash borer until it affects
“Just as recent as last summer, last fall, people were bringing in branches
and saying, you know this tree isn’t looking as good as it should and I’d
say, ‘you know it’s an ash tree?’ and they’d go, ‘Yeah, so?’ and I say
‘you know about the emerald ash borer problem?’ ‘Nooo…’ ‘Like, how
can you not know? How can you not know??”
Camido says she hopes people in the rest of the country can be spared
losing their ash trees, but she’s not feeling very optimistic these days.
Scientists say a lot’s at stake if the ash borer isn’t stopped. They say if
the beetle spreads throughout the country, more than 8 billion ash trees
will be killed, and they say nurseries, the timber industry and taxpayers
will foot the bill for those losses… running in the hundreds of billions of
Environmental groups say they’ve reached a landmark deal with auto and steel makers and the EPA that could prevent tons of mercury from getting into the environment in the future. The GLRC’s Tracy Samilton reports:
Environmental groups say they’ve reached a landmark deal with auto
and steel makers and the EPA that could prevent tons of mercury from
getting into the environment in the future. The GLRC’s Tracy Samilton
The auto industry completely phased out mercury switches in lights and
antilock breaks in 2002, but as many as 60 million of the devices could
still be on the road today.
When a car is finally scrapped and melted down at the steel mill, the
mercury is released into the air. Auto makers and steel plants have
tentatively agreed to share the cost of a national retrieval program to
remove mercury switches from vehicles before they’re recycled.
The Ecology Center was instrumental in brokering the deal. The Center
says the program could potentially reduce overall mercury pollution by
ten percent, and keep 80 tons of mercury out of the environment. The
deal is expected to be finalized within a few weeks.
A major city is about to become the first in the nation to generate energy from dog poop. Yes, you heard that right… dog poop. The GLRC’s Tamara Keith reports:
A major city is about to become the first in the nation to generate energy
from dog poop. Yes, you heard that right…dog poop. The GLRC’s
Tamara Keith reports:
A recent study by the city of San Francisco found that nearly 4-percent
of all the trash picked up from people’s homes is animal waste. Yuck.
And while most, would gladly leave that stinky issue alone… San
Francisco officials see it as an opportunity.
The city’s garbage company is launching a pilot project. They’re
planning to collect the waste and then put it in a methane digester. As
the waste breaks down, it will produce gas that can be burned to power
an electricity generating turbine.
Robert Reed is a spokesman for Norcal Waste, the trash company.
“There’s literally 10 million tons of pet waste created annually in the
US, and it’s an edgy area of recycling. No one is doing anything about
Reed says he hopes San Francisco’s poop power program will be a
An email is spreading across the Internet warning about termites in mulch stockpiles from the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast. As the GLRC’s Tana Weingartner reports, the email is more rumor than fact:
An email is spreading across the Internet warning about termites in
mulch stockpiles from the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast. As the GLRC’s
Tana Weingartner reports, the email is more rumor than fact:
The email says Formosa termite infested trees downed by Hurricane
Katrina are being mulched and sold off by the state of Louisiana. The
writer warns the infected mulch could end up at your local big box
The Mulch and Soil Council’s Executive Director says that’s just “not
true.” Robert LaGasse says the well-monitored clean up operation and a
preexisting quarantine banning wood products from being shipped out of
the area are part of what keeps the termites from spreading.
“We’ve never had an infestation issue with termites in mulch, in bagged
LaGasse adds even if the mulch was shipped out of the region, the
chipping and grinding process along with the heat generated by the
mulch would be enough to kill any termite.
The Formosa termite has been a problem for parts of the South since it
was first brought into the country after World War II.
A recent ranking of the worst U.S. cities for respiratory infections is being called into question. The GLRC’s Erin Toner reports:
A recent ranking of the worst U.S. cities for respiratory infections is
being called into question. The GLRC’s Erin Toner reports:
The list was compiled by BestPlaces.net, and funded by the
pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis. It was based on the prevalence
of respiratory infections, prescriptions, and the rates of antibiotic
resistance. But one physician says the methodology might not give an accurate
Doctor Randolph Lipchik teaches at Medical College of Wisconsin. He
says the data is likely being skewed by the antibiotic resistance factor.
“Most respiratory tract infections, whether it’s sore throat, or an ear
infection or bronchitis, is viral, and antibiotics don’t treat that, and
antibiotics don’t prevent spread of those infections.”
Lipchik says it might be that hospitals in cities high on the list have a
high amount of resistant bacteria, making it look like they have more
trouble with infections than cities ranked better by Bestplaces.net.
A bill that would pre-empt states’ rights to label food is making its way through Congress. Most of the states’ Attorneys General have signed a petition opposing the law. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:
A bill that would pre-empt states’ rights to label food is making its way
through Congress. Most of the states’ Attorneys General have signed a
petition opposing the law. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:
The sponsor, Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, says the National
Uniformity for Food Act is an appropriate extension of national
standards protecting food. But if it becomes law it will prohibit states
from telling people about chemicals or additives approved by the FDA,
but likely to be of concern when you buy your groceries.
For example, in California any food that contains chemicals known to
cause cancer or birth defects is required to carry a label saying so.
Another additive – recently approved by the FDA – is carbon monoxide
to help keep the meat looking red. Labels warning about that would not
be allowed under the proposal.
37 state attorneys general have signed a petition opposing the law, saying
the states should be allowed to warn against such chemicals. Opponents
say the bill puts special interests in the food industry before public’s right
to know what’s in their food.
George Good encourages an ewe to come to her twin lambs. Spring
lambing was once a significant seasonal moment on the family farm which
often had a variety of livestock. Today, most farms specialize in only one
or two animals or crops. (photo by Lester Graham)
Raising sheep supplemented a farm family's income in years past.
Today, most farms don't bother with small flocks because there's not enough
return for the time spent caring for the animals. (Photo by Lester Graham)
In a very few areas, raising sheep has become more popular
because immigrant Arab, Greek, and other Middle-Eastern people have created
new markets for lamb. (Photo by Lester Graham)
Even if you didn’t grow up on a farm, springtime seems to bring with it thoughts of baby chicks and spring lambs. But it’s not as common to find sheep on the farm today. Farming is different. The GLRC’s Lester Graham found some spring lambs… and a man who still thinks sheep have a place on the farm:
Even if you didn’t grow up on a farm, springtime seems to bring with it
thoughts of baby chicks and spring lambs. But it’s not as common to
find sheep on the farm today. Farming is different. The GLRC’s Lester
Graham found some spring lambs… and a man who still thinks sheep
have a place on the farm:
(Sound of lambs)
It’s chilly and it’s raining outside, but nestled in the straw, three newborn
lambs are snuggling for a little warmth in the barn. George Good is milking
their mother – in farm parlance she’s called a ewe. He’s inserted her teat
directly into a green Mountain Dew bottle. After getting a little of the
ewe’s first milk, he holds the plastic bottle up to the light to see if he’s
got enough. Then he twists on a screw top nipple and picks up a
newborn lamb. It’s weak, kind of floppy, too wobbly to stand on its
own, but it eagerly takes the nipple and the first milk – called colostrum.
“I’m gonna give these lambs a little bit of supplement, you know, to get
them started, about two to three ounces of colostrum so they’ve got some
strength to get up and go. It’s really rich, high energy, and this ewe –
anything she’s immune to, the anti-bodies are in that first milk. So that
gives that lamb a boost to get off and is really healthy.”
Good is dressed to ward off the chill of the day… insulated overalls, stocking cap
and a pale blue kerchief around his neck. His easy going, warm way of
talking belies his quickness as he nimbly picks up another lamb to give it
a bit of the first milk.
Sheep used to be common on family farms. That’s when farming meant
a balance of different kinds of livestock, crops and income, but that’s
pretty rare these days… and this isn’t a family farm. George Good is the
farm manager at the Michigan State University Sheep Teaching and Research Center,
but Good himself was raised on one of those family farms.
“You know, they used to milk a few cows, have a few laying hens, and a
flock of ewes that they’d lamb in the spring, and lambing in the spring,
that’s a good time because it’s just before they go to the crop, to do the
field work, see?”
The lambs were born in the spring, just before it really got busy. Then,
after the crops were planted, it was time to shear the sheep. The wool
meant income that came at a pretty good time. Farming used to be all
about timing. After going all winter with little to sell, spring offered a
chance for some income. Selling lambs for meat, selling wool, and then
raising different livestock to sell at different times of the year. Farmers
would grow hay and wheat to bring in money during the summer, tiding
the family over until the corn crop came in during the fall and with it
“And I can remember a lot of people telling me – old farmers – that their
flock of sheep really kind of helped to make the farm payments. They
may not have been necessarily focused largely on the flock of sheep, but
it was something that fit in, that was compatible, you know.”
But, today farms usually are not that diverse. They specialize. Livestock
farms often raise just one kind of animal. Hog farms with tens of
thousands of pigs. Cattle farms that concentrate the animals in feedlots.
Or farms that don’t raise livestock at all, just crops. Modern farms
count on the efficiencies of mass production rather than the balance of
the cycles of nature and husbandry.
Good says even sheep farms have to raise hundreds of sheep to make
enough money to support a family, but Good says sheep are great if
they’re thought of as they once were on traditional farms… as a little
“If you have a flock of sheep or a group of sheep it’s a great family
project. It’s something the wife and children can help, labor-wise, take
care of. They’re smaller. You got the wool crop. If you have some hilly
land or some rough area that you don’t farm, they graze it and you end
up with a nice product to sell. But, the family, the thing about sheep is
the family can really do a lot of the work, your children and your wife
and so on.”
Good notes that there’s been increased demand for lamb from growing
Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean populations in cities such as Detroit
and Toronto. Lamb prices are higher, making sheep worth the effort.
But then, Good seems to be partial to the animals. He gives you the
impression that nursing these lambs has to do with something more than
just profit and product. Maybe it’s just a reminder of how it used to be
on so many family farms.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.