Sand Dune Developer & Beekeepers’ Favorite Invasive

  • Spotted knapweed, or star thistle, is a favorite of bees. Some beekeepers say star thistle honey puts Northern Michigan on the map. (Photo by Flickr user JanetandPhil)

Next month a federal judge in Kalamazoo will hear arguments in a case that pits Saugatuck Township against a billionaire looking to develop his property that includes coastal dunes along Lake Michigan. Lindsey Smith reports.

Aubrey McClendon wants to build a marina, condos, houses, and a golf course. Jim Bruinsma represents him.

“We contend that we have been unfairly singled out for unique zoning restrictions, really unfair procedures.”

Bruinsma alleges township officials are biased against his client. That’s why McClendon is going to court instead of asking for a zoning change first.

Saugatuck Township’s attorney Craig Noland says he needs to go through the same process as everyone else.

“The township has not done anything illegal. It is prepared to make decisions on the record and in an open and transparent manner.”

The hearing is set for March 7th. For The Environment Report, I’m Lindsey Smith.


This is the Environment Report.

Researchers from Michigan State University are trying to control an invasive plant called spotted knapweed.
They’ve released two foreign beetles that eat the plant on small plots of state land.

Knapweed spreads a carpet of purple flowers over old farm fields and alongside roads in mid-summer.

But as Bob Allen reports, beekeepers rely on those flowers for making honey:

Spotted knapweed tends to dominate any landscape where it takes hold.
Its roots send out a chemical substance that kills nearby plants.

But researchers in several states think they’ve found a way to keep it in check.
They’ve released two species of tiny European weevils.

One attacks knapweed’s roots, the other eats its seeds.

Doug Landis is a bug specialist at Michigan State University.
He says in some test plots the bugs have knocked knapweed back as much as 80%.

“These insects don’t eliminate knapweed. But they can reduce its density to the point where it becomes a more manageable part of the plant community.”

Knapweed is found in every county in Michigan but especially in sandy soils.
And land managers want to get rid of it because it crowds out native wildflowers and grasses that supply food and shelter to a wide variety of insects, birds and other wildlife.

But beekeepers say the plant has a lot of value for them.
They even have a more poetic name for it… star thistle.

And they say it produces a light, mild, pleasant tasting honey that puts northern Michigan on the map.

“It’s one of the best honeys in the country.”

Kirk Jones runs Sleeping Bear Apiary in Benzie County.

He says his star thistle honey is in demand in stores and restaurants across the country.
And it’s the only source of surplus nectar available for his bees late in the season.

“And without that source of nectar to make honey we wouldn’t be able to keep bees here. And then there would be a spin-off of not having a robust bee population for everybody…to pollinate their flowers to make food.”

Part of the MSU research is to replace star thistle with a mix of native wildflowers.

And Doug Landis at Michigan State thinks it won’t hurt the bee business if some fraction of knapweed is replaced.

“I believe consumers would be very happy to buy a native Michigan wildflower honey whether it says star thistle on it or not.”

But beekeeper Kirk Jones doubts that wildflowers will ever be abundant enough to replace the nectar flow of star thistle.

He says the plant has adapted here for more than a hundred years and it doesn’t makes sense to interfere with that balance now.

“There may be good intentions. But I think it’s probably of dubious value to try to return old farmland to some point in time in the past.”

But researchers say it likely will take a decade or more for the weevils to control knapweed on a few of the thousands of acres covered with the plant.

For the Environment Report, I’m Bob Allen.

Industrial Boilers & New Report on Oil and Gas Pipelines

  • The Au Sable River. (Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency appears to have missed
yesterday’s court-ordered deadline to issue a new rule regulating industrial boilers. There are about 60 boilers in Michigan which provide power for chemical plants and paper mills. As Tracy Samilton reports, the rule is likely to become a political football – when it is issued:

Mike Garfield of the Ecology Center says boilers release lead, mercury, and fine particulates – just like their larger cousins, coal-burning power plants. He says pollution scrubbing equipment on the boilers could save lives.

“The EPA has calculated the new pollution control requirements will prevent nearly 5,000 deaths a year.”

But industry lobbyists said the expense of the equipment will mean lost manufacturing jobs. A group of U.S. Senators says they’re planning to draft a bill to give the EPA more time to improve the rule, so it protects public health without hurting the economy.

For the Environment Report, I’m Tracy Samilton.


This is the Environment Report.

The Anglers of the Au Sable has a new report that details the group’s concerns over oil and gas pipelines in northern Michigan. They’re especially worried about protecting the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers.

Read the report

A related Environment Report story

Enbridge website about the Kalamazoo River spill


John Bebow is with the Anglers group. He says they started investigating pipelines after the major oil spill last summer in the Kalamazoo River. A pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Partners broke… and spilled more than 800,000 gallons into the river.

“And we quickly determined an even bigger pipeline owned by the same company flows under the Au Sable and its tributaries numerous times.”

That pipeline is called Line 5. It’s the largest oil pipeline in the Midwest… and it goes through the very heart of the Au Sable watershed. The report notes that Line 5 carries as much as 22 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids beneath the Au Sable River every day.

John Bebow calls the Au Sable a world class trout stream. He says if there were an oil spill… it would be devastating.

“The Au Sable River is a major magnet for tourism and recreation. It is a river life up there.”

Bebow says they have serious concerns about a potential oil spill. But he says his group’s been surprised at how responsive Enbridge has been.

He says the company is planning to put in a new remote controlled valve on Line 5 that would help stop the flow of oil into the river in the case of a spill. Bebow says Enbridge is also running mock disaster exercises on Line 5.

The Anglers group also investigated natural gas pipelines in Michigan. They’re worried if there was a big rupture and it ignited, it could start a devastating forest fire. The Anglers report notes that the state of Michigan has just six inspectors to oversee 65,000 miles of pipelines.

Here’s where the Anglers ran into trouble. They wanted to find out the condition of the pipelines in northern Michigan where the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers flow. So, they filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Michigan Public Service Commission. The commission regulates natural gas pipelines within the state.

“They asked us for almost $14,000 in order to fully review all of the natural gas pipelines in northern Michigan. A regulatory agency oughta have their records in a format that wouldn’t require $14,000 of staff time in order to review so they would be publicly available.”

The Anglers group filed a second – more narrowly defined – request. The commission said that would cost $889 dollars. The Anglers group is planning to pay that. But that’s only going to give them a limited picture of the condition of natural gas pipelines.

The report came out on President’s Day – and neither Enbridge nor the Michigan Public Service Commission were reachable for comment.

I’m Rebecca Williams.

Report: Tar Sands Oil Boosts Pipeline Risks

  • A map of current and proposed oil pipelines carrying raw tar sands oil in the U.S. and Canada. (From the report: Tar Sands Pipelines Safety Risks)

An oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Partners broke last summer. It spilled more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River.

A new report warns a corrosive type of oil flowing through pipelines in Michigan might lead to more spills.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz is with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She’s one of the report’s authors.

She says the pipeline that broke last summer was carrying raw tar sands oil. It’s also called diluted bitumen.

“Diluted bitumen or the raw tar sands oil is more acidic, it’s more corrosive, it’s very thick so you need high pressure and heat to have it go through a pipe.”

Enbridge did not agree to be recorded for this story. But in an email statement, an Enbridge spokesperson said there can be several different types of crude oil in any of their pipelines at any given time.

Read the report

Response to the report from the Alberta government

NRDC response to the Alberta government


And that the type of crude oil that leaked at Marshall was from the Cold Lake area of Western Canada… which is classified as heavy crude.

The NRDC’s Susan Casey-Lefkowitz says Enbridge has called tar sands oil by other names in the past.

“In the very first news reports about the Enbridge break, the head of Enbridge himself was denying that this was diluted bitumen, and yet the reports very clearly stated this was oil from the Cold Lake region, where that’s what they produce, they produce raw tar sands oil there. And it’s been since shown in court documents that that’s indeed what this was.”

She says raw tar sands oil is being transported through U.S. pipelines from tar sands mines in Alberta, Canada. She says Canadian refineries are reaching capacity… so oil companies are bringing more raw tar sands oil to U.S. refineries.

“And really what you’ve got is a U.S. pipeline system that was not built and was not regulated for anything other than conventional oil. And when you start putting material into it that is more corrosive and has very different characteristics, it’s not really something our pipelines are prepared for.”

And she says this puts the Great Lakes region at an increased risk that another spill will happen.

The official cause of the Kalamazoo River spill is still under investigation.

In an email statement, an Enbridge spokesperson said tar sands oil is no different from oil transported by other crude oil pipelines. And that their oil pipelines meet all Canadian and U.S. regulations. The spokesperson said the company has quote: “an intensive ongoing pipeline maintenance program.”

This is the Environment Report.

Like most Michigan cites, Grand Rapids’ budget is leaving little room for the extras in life. But Lindsey Smith reports they’re still finding ways to fund the creation of new parks:

Grand Rapids’ director of parks and recreation, Jay Steffen, was excited to address city commission this week.

“When I get up and talk about this park I’m reminded of a song by Joni Mitchell, where she said ‘paved over paradise to put up a parking lot.’ Well we hope to bring paradise back. (laughs)

The city wants to take a 2-and-a-half-acre-parking lot and turn it into, as Jay says, paradise. Pleasant Park would have a rain garden, native shrubs and trees… in a neighborhood that’s one of the most densely populated, with the least amount of green space. That’s why they’re targeting it.

Mayor George Heartwell told city commissioners not to let the $800,000 price tag discourage them.

“We’ve been nothing if not inventive in pulling together resources from the community.”

They’re applying for federal grants usually reserved for low income housing improvements for the park. Nearby neighborhood associations are collecting private donations. The city decides next month if it’ll apply for state grants too.

For the Environment Report, I’m Lindsey Smith.

And that’s the Environment Report for today. I’m Rebecca Williams.

Funding Cuts to Great Lakes Restoration?

  • The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative provides money for habitat restoration, keeping invasive species out of the Lakes, and cleaning up polluted areas. (Photo by Rebecca Williams)

Members of Congress are still going over President Obama’s 2012 budget.

In it, the President calls for major cuts to a program for Great Lakes restoration. It’s called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The goal is to restore habitat… clean up pollution… and keep new invasive species out of the Lakes.

Initially, President Obama requested $475 million for the program. He got that under a democratic Congress. Now he wants to cut $125 million out of next year’s budget.

Jeff Skelding is the campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

What would these funding cuts mean for Great Lakes restoration?

More about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

A related news story


Skelding: The problems that are out there that need to be solved are going to get more expensive with delay.

RW: And how is the money being used right now, on the ground?

JS: Yeah, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is really a historic program because the bulk of new funding that it provided is actually going to on the ground projects in the water and on the land. And these are things like habitat restoration projects, projects to address invasive species, and to clean up toxic sediments, and those are three of the leading ecological challenges in the Great Lakes.

RW: So when this program was first announced, it was something pretty remarkable, right? I mean we’d been seeing cleanup and restoration efforts in the Great Lakes region pretty much stalled for decades.

JS: Yeah, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is probably the most historic restoration program ever enacted by Congress for the Great Lakes. Each year, the Great Lakes does receive programmatic funding at levels that have been up and down over the decades, but never before have we seen such an injection of this kind of investment and that’s why it’s so critical that the Congress and the Great Lakes Congressional delegation maximize funding in this budget making process right now.

RW: A lot of people in Michigan are expecting big cuts at the state level here this week. How would Michigan be affected if this federal funding for Great Lakes projects is cut?

JS: It’s a bad news story when the state is struggling the way it is like the state of Michigan. And that just emphasizes even more that assistance is needed and that assistance needs to come from the federal government in the form of funding in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the state of Michigan has a huge stake in this. They need their share of that funding to insure that restoration activities proceed forward under severely challenging economic times in the state of Michigan.

RW: How likely do you think it is that Congress will move ahead with these cuts proposed by the President?

JS: Well, the one thing about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is because of the nature of the program, federal funding to clean up the Great Lakes, and to help the economy, it’s really a bi-partisan issue. We have really received great support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Great Lakes Congressional delegation. So that gives us hope as we stare down the significant cuts that are happening across the federal budget. So in some ways we feel like because of the nature of the program, we do have a bit of a step up because we’ve got bi-partisan support, and I think our message that this program benefits the economy of the region, we think that can continue to resonate on both sides of the aisle, and we’re going to work with both the Senate and the House as best we can to get that number to go up and not down.

Jeff Skelding is the campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. Thanks very much for your time!

Great, thank you.

That’s the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.

Partial Ban on Hunting & Snowmobiling in National Forest?

  • The Huron-Manistee National Forest. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

The U.S. Forest Service has to consider making 70,000 acres off limits to firearm hunting and snowmobiling in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. That’s about seven percent of the Huron-Manistee.

It’s doing this because the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Service to do so… and that’s because of a lawsuit brought by a guy named Kurt Meister.

Meister is an attorney, representing himself in the case. He’s trying to get areas that are already designated as non-motorized set aside for quiet recreation.

“There ought to be some place in the forest where you can go cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing or kayaking or hiking or ride your horse without having to listen to the noise of other people and the guns and machines they use.”

This week, the Michigan House and Senate are discussing three resolutions. Those resolutions express opposition to any potential ban on hunting and snowmobiling in the Huron-Manistee. The resolutions couldn’t stop the federal agency – but it’s basically a show of hands against a ban.

How to comment on this issue

A related Environment Report story

More from the MUCC

Kurt Meister’s website


Dave Nyberg is with Michigan United Conservation Clubs. He says his group encouraged lawmakers to draft the resolutions.

“Hunters are about quiet recreation as well and they enjoy quiet secluded parts of the forest for the purposes of hunting just as much as a non-hunter might enjoy them.”

Nyberg is worried the Court decision could set a precedent to limit hunters’ access to public land.

“There’s a surge of anti-hunting organizations and sentiment across the country that are just basically trying to eliminate our rights to hunt, fish and trap on public lands and it’s unacceptable.”

The Forest Service is now re-tooling its plan for the Huron-Manistee. They either have to include Kurt Meister’s suggestions or prove to the Court why his ideas won’t work.

Kurt Meister says he doesn’t want to ban gun hunting and snowmobiling altogether – but he doesn’t think they should be allowed in all parts of the National Forest.

“I have never advocated the ban of hunting, the ban of snowmobiles, the ban of ORVs throughout the forest because the forest is required to be managed for multiple use. And I firmly support that position because I think there ought to be a place for everyone to enjoy whatever it is they like to do somewhere in the forest.”

The Forest Service has been holding public hearings around the state on this issue. The public comment period closes tomorrow.


This is the Environment Report.

The City of Grand Rapids is working to revive its urban forest. This week, the committee in charge of the effort reported good progress on the city’s goals. Lindsey Smith reports:

Two years ago, Grand Rapids adopted a new plan to take better care of the city’s trees. They’re also hoping to add more trees.

The committee in charge of the effort values the 61,000 trees within the city’s boundaries at $71 million.

Dottie Clune is the committee chair. She says the numbers are based on all the benefits trees provide. They capture storm water runoff, increase property values, improve air quality, and reduce energy needs.

“We know that for every dollar we spent on the municipal urban forestry program we received $3.60 in benefits. That’s a pretty good return on investment.”

Clune argues the importance of trees is often overlooked – particularly these days when cities have such tight budgets.

In 2010, more than 1,500 trees were planted in Grand Rapids. This year they’re working to add a wider variety of native tress. The hope is to better protect their urban forest against pests and disease.

For The Environment Report, I’m Lindsey Smith.

Suing the State & National Bike Routes

  • The Au Sable River. (Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways)

A case that pinpoints a key issue in Michigan’s water law could come back before the state Supreme Court.

The office of Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked the court to rehear the Anglers of the Au Sable case.

As Bob Allen reports, at issue is whether citizen groups can take state agencies to court to protect the environment:

The Anglers group won their suit in the lower court to protect one of the state’s prime trout streams.

The Department of Environmental Quality had given Merit Energy permission to pump more than a million gallons a day of treated wastewater into a creek at the headwaters of the Au Sable River.

The Court of Appeals upheld the ruling against the oil company but exempted the Department of Environmental Quality from the lawsuit.

The Appeals Court said the issuing of a permit doesn’t cause harm to the environment. It’s the person with the permit that could do that.

So Anglers asked the Michigan Supreme Court to review that part of the ruling.

And in December the high court overturned the lower court and said state agencies that issue permits that result in harm can be named in a citizen suit.

The Court upheld clear language in the Michigan Environmental Protection Act that says any person can bring suit to protect the environment.

Jim Olson, an attorney for the Anglers, says the decision upholds state environmental law that’s been in place for more than forty years.

“Permits that cause harm can be brought into Circuit Court and people can bring it out into the open and judges can make decisions so agencies can’t hide behind the cloak of bureaucracy.”

Since December, a conservative majority is back in control of the Supreme Court.

More from the Anglers of the Au Sable

A related Environment Report story

More about the national bike route system

Bike routes from MDOT

League of Michigan Bicyclists


And the state attorney general is now asking for a rehearing of the case.

In a motion to the Court, his office argues that Merit Energy had scrapped its plan to pump treated groundwater into Kolke Creek last spring, and the DEQ had withdrawn its permit.

So, the attorney general says, the case was moot because the matter had already been settled.

That was the main argument of Justice Robert Young, who dissented in December and is now Chief Justice.

But Angler’s attorney Jim Olson says both sides fully argued that point before the Supreme Court, and the Court made its decision fair and square.

For the Environment Report, I’m Bob Allen.

TAG: The Attorney General’s office and Merit Energy did not respond to our requests for comment in time for this report.


This is the Environment Report.

Organizers are making progress on designating two national bicycle routes through Michigan. They hope the routes will attract tourists to the state. Lindsey Smith reports:

A group of avid cyclists is working to designate bike routes sort of like the U.S. Department of Transportation designates interstate freeway systems. You can ride on two of these routes in Michigan already – they travel mostly along county roads.

Number 20 is an east-west route from Ludington to Marine City.

Number 35 is a north-south route that stretches for hundreds of miles along the Lake Michigan shore.

Kerry Irons is with Adventure Cycling, the non-profit that’s spearheading the effort.

“Nothing moves by at a high speed. You don’t have to get off and stare at the lake, you know get out of the car and stare at the lake, the lake is there for 400 miles. That’s the essence of bicycle touring and the driver behind this national network which is going to be a couple hundred thousand miles of established bicycle routes by the time it’s all done.”

Irons doesn’t expect the national network to be complete for another decade. But he does expect the state will sign off on route 35 this spring. Route 20 isn’t far behind… two-thirds of the approvals needed from local governments are in the bag.

For the Environment Report, I’m Lindsey Smith.

Oil & Gas Royalties for Parks – Or Roads?

  • Royalties from oil and gas development in Michigan currently go into the Natural Resources Trust Fund. That money is then used to buy land for parks, habitat, and create public access for recreation. (Photo by Rebecca Williams)

At the moment, oil and gas royalties in Michigan go into a trust fund for conservation. But that could change…

This is the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.

You might remember Governor Rick Snyder talking about something called the Natural Resources Trust Fund. Here he was in his State of the State address a couple weeks ago:

“I urge the prompt passage of a capital outlay bill that implements the recommendations of the Natural Resources Trust Fund.”

That trust fund has been around since 1976. It works like this: royalties from oil and gas development in Michigan go into the Natural Resources Trust Fund… and that money is used for improving wildlife habitat and parks, and it’s used to buy land for conservation. This year, more than $100 million is available for these projects.

But at a time when pretty much everything’s up on the chopping block… the future of that trust fund is in question.

More about the Natural Resources Trust Fund

An article in the Grand Rapids Press


Dave Agema is a Republican state representative from Grandville. He’s introduced legislation to divert oil and gas royalties away from the Trust Fund. In his proposal, 80% of oil and gas royalties would go into funds for the transportation sector… with the remaining 20% going into the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

James Clift is the policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council and he joins me now to talk about this.

First of all… the money in the Natural Resources Trust Fund is constitutionally protected, right? JC: It is. RW: So it would take a constitutional amendment to divert that royalty money away from the trust fund.

JC: Yes, this is a question that in theory would be placed on a future ballot so all the people of Michigan would have their say.

Okay so what’s the likelihood of Representative Agema’s proposal passing the Legislature?

JC: I think the likelihood is very small. I think the Trust Fund has provided for projects across the state, every corner of the state has obtained some of this trust fund money, either buying parkland or developing parkland, setting aside public land for hunting and fishing and other reasons. Providing public access for fishing access and things like that. It’s a very popular program and I think people are going to be very supportive of the way it’s spent currently.

RW: If this were to pass, if voters decided they wanted to change the way the money was rolling in from royalties, what would happen?

JC: The concept behind it to begin with was these are royalties from one-time, non-renewable resources in Michigan, and therefore they should be spent in a way that benefits future generations: our children, our grandchildren. So that they can see the benefits of these one-time monies. I think what this proposal would do is say, hey, we’re going to use 20% of it for those long-term projects, but the other 80% of it we’re going to spent on our short-term needs. We’re going to build roads that we all know are going to crumble 10, 20 years from now and have to be replaced anyway, so it starts using these long-term revenues that we think should benefit everybody for future generations for very short-term needs and that’s where I think it’ll start running into trouble.

RW: Where are some of the places around Michigan that’ve gotten this trust fund money?

JC: It’s everywhere. I mean literally, every single county in the state has had parks, the land purchased and those parks developed. I know that recently there’s been a lot of attention in the Saugatuck Dunes area and trying to buy some of the available private land in order to expand that recreational opportunity on the west side of the state. In the city of Detroit you have the Centennial Park down on the riverfront. Trust fund money has been used for the development of that park. So from one coast to the other, from the southernmost part of the state to the tips of the UP, this money has been spent.

James Clift is the policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. Thank you very much!

JC: Thank you.

That’s the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.

No Rehab for Mute Swans?

  • A pair of mute swans. (Photo by Mary Hollinger, NESDIS/NODC biologist, NOAA)

You might recognize mute swans by their orange bill.

A lot of people love them.

But Michigan wildlife officials say there are too many mute swans in the state.

Barbara Avers is a waterfowl specialist with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. She says mute swans are not native to the U.S. – they were brought over from Europe in the 1800s. Basically – because they’re pretty.

“They’ve grown exponentially in Michigan. They’re kind of many times the bullies of the marsh.”

Avers says mute swans eat a huge amount of vegetation in lakes. They can push out native birds, such as the trumpeter swan. And she says mute swans can snap and charge at people.


“Routinely each year we get reports of mute swan attacks on land and kayakers people on jet skis people out fishing in a boat and what we see is as mute swan population grows so do the number of conflicts we see.”

She says since the 1960’s… state wildlife officials have been trying to control the birds. They’ve been destroying nests and eggs, and shooting the birds. But she says that hasn’t been enough, and the mute swan’s population has swelled to more than 15,000 in the state.

So… the DNRE is now proposing a change… one that’s making some people very angry.

The agency wants to make it illegal for people to rehabilitate injured mute swans.

Wildlife rehabilitators are typically volunteers. They have to get a license from the state in order to take in injured birds and mammals… nurse them back to health, and release them back to the wild.

If the DNRE’s proposal becomes law… rehabilitators would either have to leave the injured swan alone… or they could take it in but they would have to have it euthanized.

“I’m so disheartened, disenchanted and angry that I don’t feel like rehabilitating anything.”

Susanne Koschke has been rehabbing swans for 16 years. She says most of the injuries she’s seen on mute swans are caused by people.

“It’s telephone wires, it’s fish hooks, three pronged hooks that are really in the tongue. Sometimes in a cygnet’s belly.”

So – she says it wouldn’t be right to just let nature take its course. And she says mute swans have a right to be here.

“The swans, after about 200 years, they are a part of this country.”

Some rehabilitators also worry that they’ll lose the public’s trust.

Carol Akerloff rehabilitates birds in Washtenaw County. She says she gets a lot of calls from people who find birds tangled in fishing line.

“They bring birds to us, people come in almost in tears. And they’re almost embarrassed they’re caring about a bird, but this is something that’s alive. So we see them one at a time, whereas the DNR is looking at populations.”

Akerloff says she worries people won’t understand why she can’t help them with an injured swan.

The DNRE wants to reduce the mute swan population from about 15,000 birds to just 2,000.

The DNRE’s Barbara Avers says they want to make room for more native species such as the trumpeter swan and the common loon. But they don’t want to wipe out all of the mute swans either.

“You know, there certainly is a social value with mute swans, people love seeing this big beautiful bird on the lakes. At a low population level we think we can have mute swans on the landscape without causing these conflicts.”

The Natural Resources Commission is expected to vote on the DNRE’s proposal on February 10th.

That’s the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.