Climbing Melting Ice

  • Neale Batra rappels down a frozen waterfall. The rope is anchored to trees at the top of the climb. Credit: Meg Cramer/Michigan Radio

The Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore is a special place for Midwestern ice climbing. Every February, hundreds of climbers meet in Munising for Michigan Ice Fest. That’s because the Lake Superior shoreline has one of the highest concentrations of accessible ice climbs in North America. Meg Cramer went to visit the climbing crowd and brings us this story:

That’s Bryan DeAugustine. Usually, he’s a middle school principal. But this weekend, he’s a volunteer instructor at Michigan Ice Fest.

“Ice climbing is like solving a puzzle and doing gymnastics at the same time. So it’s a nice marriage of your mind and your body. You have to really be focused and balanced. It’s just a fun way to spend the day outdoors.”

Ice climbers wear metal cleats strapped to their boots. In each hand, they carry an ice tool that looks like a small pick axe. They swing, chop, and kick their way up vertical ice.

It’s a lot less dangerous than you might think. Everyone uses ropes and harnesses. Still, advanced climbers often give this advice: don’t fall.

Lada Pistek is about to climb up a 40 foot tall pillar of ice. During the summer, it’s a small creek that drops off a ledge in the forest. Now it’s a thick, frozen column. It’s hollow, and water is still dripping through it. When you look into the pillar from the top, you can see all the way down to the creek bed below. It’s exhilarating.

“When we found this place, we got like, we were amazed. It’s so quiet. Not so many people here. It just touched us.”

(forest sounds)

Along the Lake Superior shoreline, porous sandstone cliffs sweat groundwater. It slowly freezes into thick sheets. Curtains of ice drop off ledges into the lake—and people climb them, lowering 250 feet down to the ice shelf and climbing back out.

Here’s Bryan DeAugustine.

“It creates a pretty fragile environment in some ways. We’re really careful with the rock and we have a great relationship with the national park service. They let us climb here and… it just… there’s ice everywhere. Every cliff band that you encounter can find ice formed on it.”

(dripping water)

But that’s not so true this winter—which has been unusually warm by Munising’s standards.

Lake Superior still hasn’t frozen. Free floating blocks of ice crowd the shore.

Every climb is melting.

But people come anyway – hundreds of them. That’s because Michigan Ice Fest is a once-a-year opportunity for the climbing community to hang out and talk shop.

Bill Smith is a National Lakeshore park ranger. He says the climbing crowd is a good thing for Munising.

“I think they enjoy it for the economic boost that it gives. I know some of the establishments have a long running relationship with the ice climbing community. And it’s a big bonus. Great crowd. A lot of fun, I like harassing them.”

At night, Ice Fest participants get together, drink beer, and watch slideshows.

Everybody gets pretty nerdy about it.

For Bryan DeAugustine, that sense of community is one of the best things about the Munising ice climbing scene.

“It’s a sense of belonging, people who understand each other and are pretty positive about life. It’s just really fun and if you want to try this sport, the UP is the place to come. And come to Munising, Michigan to give it a try.”

For the Environment Report, I’m Meg Cramer.

Republican Presidential Candidates & Environment

  • The four remaining GOP contenders at last month's debate in Florida. (Screen grab from video /

The Republican candidates for president have taken their messages of energy independence on the road in Michigan. The state’s primary is just a few days away. Rick Santorum has been the most vocal candidate about energy and environmental issues on his campaign stops in Michigan. He says “radicals” are blocking energy independence and economic growth in the country. Michigan Public Radio’s Laura Weber has more:

At a campaign stop in west Michigan this week Rick Santorum was asked for his stance on man-made global warming. He responded…

“There is a radical ideology of radical environmentalists, who, in fact, do put the earth above the needs of man, and see them in conflict with each other.”

Santorum says the federal government should focus on the needs of people first – such as the need for more jobs. He says when people have their needs met they are better able to take care of themselves and, in turn, the earth. He says ultimately the responsibility of environmental stewardship is on the individual. But Santorum says radical environmentalists are using global warming to manipulate the federal government.

“And so I never signed on with global warming. I realized…[applause]”

And then Santorum clarified—

“Let me be specific so I’m not taken out of context—manmade global warming. I do believe the Earth warms, I do believe it cools.”

Santorum rejects the science of climate change – though the vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is real and caused mostly by people.

Santorum also says the federal government needs to stop hoarding and protecting the country’s bountiful natural resources. He says natural gas and coal could be used to enrich the United States, lower fuel costs at the pump, and establish energy independence. His rival, Michigan-native Mitt Romney, agrees.

“Coal, oil, gas, nuclear, solar, wind, ethanol – use all those resources, so we have an ample supply of energy ourselves, and don’t have to send hundreds of billions of dollars buying energy every year. And by the way, put in place that keystone pipeline. That’s a no-brainer.”

But environmentalists in Michigan say the proposal to install an oil pipeline from Canada, through the middle of the U.S., is not a no-brainer for Michiganders. The Enbridge pipeline ruptured in the Kalamazoo River two summers ago.

“Yeah, I think Michigan has seen the dangers firsthand that communities around the country face.”

That’s Jordan Lubetkin with the Michigan chapter of the National Wildlife Federation.

“Pipeline spills are not a rare occurrence. In fact they happen hundreds of time per year.”

The Keystone pipeline proposal is an issue on which all of the major Republican candidates appear to agree. That includes Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, who have not campaigned in Michigan with Santorum and Romney. In fact, it appears there are few environmental issues the candidates disagree on. All of the candidates have also spoken in favor of more drilling for oil and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But the theme that runs through all of the energy platforms is finding ways to create more jobs while diminishing dependence on foreign oil.

Ryan Werder with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters says the intersection of energy and job creation could play perfectly in Michigan.

“The candidates are talking so much about market forces, and they’re talking about ‘let the private sector do as it will,’ and I agree. Clean energy is where the market is going.”

And Werder says Michigan is equipped with a strong manufacturing industry ready to build on wind and solar energy industries. Werder says he wishes at least one of the Republican candidates would address the economic opportunities presented by clean energy.

“We’ve suffered a greater economic depression than any other state in the country, and so we need to be the most innovative, and the most forward-thinking out of any state in the country.”

For the Environment Report, I’m Laura Weber.

Visiting a Black Bear Den

  • An 11-year-old male black bear that was just placed back in his den after a checkup by DNR bear experts. He's still under the effects of the tranquilizer in this photo, but they'll wear off soon. (Photo by Mark Brush)

Black bears are doing really well in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources estimates there are somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 black bears in the state. They’re mostly in the U.P. and the northern lower peninsula. But in recent years… bears have been heading south and pushing into new territories.

Bears have been spotted in the Thumb, and around Flint, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek and Lansing.

Dwayne Etter is a bear researcher with the DNR.

“We’re trying to understand better how bears are using these habitats, how they’re moving through the landscape, if there’s corridors they’re using.”

To do that, they trap bears, put GPS radio collars on them, and let them go. On this day, they’re checking on an 11 year old male bear in Oceana County. They’ve invited a lucky few to tag along as they go right up to the sleeping bear in his den.

“The only access is right at him, so there’s no sneaking up, he knows you’re there. The other issue we have is that our wind is blowing right into the den, so he’s getting to smell us too.”

Bears are not true hibernators. They’re sleepy this time of year… but they can wake up quickly. Dwayne Etter says that’s especially true this winter because it’s been so warm. So Etter sends us civilians up to the top of a ridge to watch from a distance. He and two other DNR staffers approach the bear from a meadow below.

Mike whispering: “See that hump down there? That’s his den.”

Mike Wegan is a wildlife technician with the DNR. We watch as the guys make their way through the valley below us.

“They’re going to come in, and dart him from the opening of the den.”

They dart the bear. It takes a couple minutes for the drug to set in.

“Sometimes they’ll kinda poke it with a stick to see if it responds at all. Once they determine it’s out and it’s safe, they’ll reach in there, give the bear a tug on the arm, and then we’re good to go.”

Watch a video about the black bear checkup by Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush

More about southern Michigan bears from the DNR


(sound of walkie talkie): “You can go ahead and bring everyone around.”

We hop into trucks, drive around to the meadow and hike up to the den. A couple of the biggest guys climb into the den and haul the sleeping bear out.

(sound of pulling bear out of the den)

He’s jet black… and he’s smaller than I expected.

“Do you have a thermometer? Yup.”

They take his temperature and they cover him with coats to keep him warm. They swap out his old radio collar for a new one, and give him an overall checkup.

DNR wildlife assistant Dan Moran points out this bear’s got a few battle scars.

“He probably fights, but he’s probably the boss.”

Then, the guys roll him carefully into a tarp, and attach a scale to a big stick they found in the woods. It takes four guys to lift the bear.

(grunting) “He’s not off the ground guys, sorry.” “Ugh, set him down.”

They try a couple times… but the scale’s not working.

“He’s heavy, how about that?” (laughter)

They estimate the bear weighs around 300 pounds.

When they wrap up their work, they pull him up the hill and put him back into his den.

“Butt first, butt first!”

Dan Moran brushes snow off the bear’s head and arranges him with his head peeking out of the den.

(Moran to bear): “There you go. That’s better, yeah.”

“Because he’s still under the drug we want him lying so his airway and nose are clear. We don’t want his nose stuck in the mud or snow or dirt.”

Then Moran tests the new collar to make sure it’s working.

(radio tracker beeping)

Later, they’ll download data from the bear’s old collar and find out where he’s been.

Dan Moran says bear encounters will be rare and there’s nothing to fear. He says bears will probably run away before you even see them.

“Bears are pretty reclusive, pretty shy, they travel mostly at night so you don’t see them a lot. Respect the animals, you know, but don’t be afraid of them, enjoy them.”

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

A Pig Ban Gets Muddy

  • A Mangalitsa pig at a farm in McBain, Michigan. (Photo by Peter Payette)

Wildlife officials took aggressive action last year to keep pigs from running wild on the landscape. Certain kinds of pigs were declared an invasive species. But farmers and ranchers say the move was too extreme. They’re challenging the science of the ban. As Peter Payette reports, distinguishing between pigs can be complicated:

Stuart Kunkle has ten pigs at his small farm south of Traverse City.

“We have a mix and some purebreds here. We have two mulefoots which are the black pigs. That’s Rosabelle and down there is Trinity at the end… then we’ve got a mixture of what we believe is Russian boar and Mangalitsa.”

All these pigs are hairy and the Mangalitsas are almost as dark as the mule foots.

Kunkle got into pigs for a few reasons. One is: he has a day job and pigs are less work than other animals. And he says the market for pastured pork is growing and chefs have become interested in some of the unusual breeds.

But his pigs might soon be illegal. Kunkle isn’t certain but he has the list of characteristics the state will soon use to identify illegal pigs.

“They have erect ears, which I have heard that the erect ear is something associated with the Russian boar. But you know, I want to say except for certain breeds, I want to say a lot of the pigs I’ve ever seen have erect ears.”

Stuart Kunkle is not exactly who the state was targeting when it banned feral swine.

Wildlife officials have been talking for years about the dangers posed by hunting ranches that sell wild boar hunts. They say the animals sometimes escape and there are now thousands living in the wild.

One top official has referred to them as four-footed Asian carp.

Dan Eickinger is with Department of Natural Resources. He says states in the south that have large pig populations will never get rid of them.

“They just simply recognize that control techniques are effectively off the table for them that it’s just a problem they’ll have to live with now.”

To avoid that here, Michigan declared some pigs an invasive species.

But banning so called wild pigs is not that simple. All pigs are descended from the Eurasian boar. Boars were domesticated, resulting in a new sub-species. Sometimes, domestic pigs escaped and become wild again.

That led to the classification of another sub-species, feral swine. And all these types can cross breed, further mixing the gene pool.

Scott Everett sums it up like this.

“There is only one species of swine. What they’ve attempted to do is invent a different species and put that species on the invasive species list.”

Everett is working with the Michigan Animal Farmers Association. It’s a group of ranch owners and farmers fighting this rule.

A related Environment Report story

The DNR Feral Swine page


The group already has one lawsuit against the state. And they sent a letter earlier this month outlining their objections to the science involved.

They say there is no clear way to distinguish between pigs.

The DNR has a different view. They say domestic pigs have become their own species after years of separation from wild boars. And Dan Eichenberg says his department has been clear about what they’ll look for.

“I think it’s quite the opposite of saying we’ll know them when we see them. I think we’ve clearly articulated the points we’ll be looking for in helping us determine whether a pig’s been prohibited.”

Back at Stuart Kunkle’s farm, he is making no plans to get rid of his pigs. He doesn’t think the state’s rules will stand up.

“I’m concerned but I’m raising my pigs and that’s what I plan to keep doing.”

The prohibition on feral pigs takes effect on April 1st. At that point, the state plans to begin contacting anyone they think has an illegal animal.

For the Environment Report, I’m Peter Payette.

Muskegon Lake Cleanup & When Science Meets Art

  • Watershed Monotype 05 / Leslie Sobel

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

Muskegon Lake is on a list of polluted hot spots around the Great Lakes called Areas of Concern. It made that list because of decades of industrial pollution.

Richard Rediske is a professor of water resources at Grand Valley State University. He says the last phase of cleanup is underway. The next step will be to improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

Rediske is working on projects to restore wetlands and remove debris at an old sawmill site. He says he expects it’ll take another five years to get Muskegon Lake off the Areas of Concern list. It was listed in 1985… so, getting the lake cleaned up and restored will end up taking more than three decades.

“That’s pretty much typical. White Lake to the north of us is actually going to be delisted this year so they’re a little ahead of us. It takes a long time to assess the problems and then fix them.”

Michigan has 14 Areas of Concern.

(music bump)

This is the Environment Report.

At a lot of universities, the sciences are housed on one part of campus, the arts on another. But the two sides will have a chance to intersect this week, when the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan opens its first art gallery. Jennifer Guerra has more:

I have in my hand a beautiful survey map of the Mississippi River from the 1940s. The map is made up of these endless spaghetti swirls of pink and green and blue lines.

Now, what do you get when you combine this colorful survey maps with recent satellite images of the River from when it flooded last spring?

Well, for artist Leslie Sobel – you get a little thing called inspiration:

“I got fascinated by these images. And then I started trying to paint my emotion, capturing what was physically happening, but also trying to be more of a painter about it; more brushy.”

The paintings in what she calls her WATERSHED series will be on display at the new Art and Environment Gallery.

The images evoke water and movement, but like all good works of art, interpretation is up to the viewer. Like this deep, dark red, river-shaped S that dominates one of Sobel paintings. She describes it as “this giant swath of red becoming almost a monster.”

And here’s how ecologist Sara Adlerstein sees the deep, dark red S:

“I see the veins in the red, and I see the danger. I know how threatened these environments are because they’re closer to humans than the large ocean.”

Most of us live closer to rivers than to other bodies of water, so Adlerstein says we have more opportunities to harm them.

Adlerstein – who’s not only a research scientist, but also an artist – is the one curating the new gallery. When it comes to environmental issues, she says scientists need to be able to communicate with people outside of their field:

“If you’re not able to communicate to the general public, then your work is not all that relevant. So I’ve been exploring to do that through art; I think art speaks to the heart. With an image you can communicate directly to the heart and make people think about how to educate themselves if they’re interested in the issues.”

She hopes the new gallery will show scientists and students that charts and pie graphs aren’t the only way to share their research. Sometimes, a deep, dark red river-shaped S can say volumes.

For the Environment Report, I’m Jennifer Guerra.

The Art and Environment gallery opens in the School of Natural Resources and Environment building on Thursday, February 16th at 4 p.m.

Fruit Growers and a Changing Climate

  • Cherry grower Jim Nugent prunes his trees. (Photo by Bob Allen)

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

Warmer temperatures and melting snow are less than ideal for winter sports and outdoor festivals. But as Bob Allen reports, the weird weather has northern Michigan fruit growers holding their breath, hoping to avoid disaster:

In his more than 20 years as an agricultural extension agent in the Traverse City area, Duke Elsner says this is the most bizarre winter weather he’s ever seen.

“The ups and downs have just been remarkable. The inability to hang on to a cold period for any length of time has been very strange.”

A gradual drop in temperature at the beginning of winter and holding there below freezing for long periods are the ideal conditions for plant to become frost hardy.

And hardiness is what protects them from getting damaged by cold.

But when temps bounce up into the 40’s and 50’s as they’ve done frequently this winter, some of that hardiness is lost.

“Our trees and vines can take below zero in a normal winter. I sure wouldn’t want to drop below zero at this point in time, I’ll say that.”

That’s fruit grower Jim Nugent. He and a couple of his neighbors are doing the yearly chore of pruning his cherry trees.

(sound of pruning)

With long-handled saws they reach up eight or ten feet to strip away branches and limbs.

Nugent knows his orchard is vulnerable right now because of a loss of winter hardiness. But there’s not a lot he can do about it.

Things could go either way at this point.

A sudden drop to zero would be serious.

But orchards still may slide by unscathed. If temps gradually drop below freezing and stay there, trees will regain some of their hardiness.

“I don’t believe at this point we’ve had any damage.”

Just down the road from Nugent’s orchard, vines are spread on trellises across the slope of a south-facing hill at Black Star Farms.

At this point, a few days of warmer weather is not such a big deal to winemaker Lee Lutes.

He says grape vines are more deeply rooted than cherry trees and able to withstand cold.

Lutes is more concerned about lack of snow cover. Usually at this time of year there’s a foot or two on the ground. And that blanket of snow insulates the tender parts of the vine that are just above the ground.

“We had that nice snow storm here last week and I felt a moment of relief there seeing six inches of snow on the ground. And now it’s gone again. It’s never good to see exposed ground at this time of the year.”

Growers are wondering if these wild fluctuations in weather are just random events or if they might be the new normal.

Jeff Andresen has been looking into that question. He’s the state’s climatologist and a professor of geology at Michigan State.

And he says the dramatic swing from the cold hard winter of last year to nearly the opposite this year is not just a random spike in a long term pattern.

These extreme changes, he says, are a sign of global climate change.

“It’s not just noise. It’s something longer term and it’s related to a more global signal.”

Climate change tosses up another challenge for northern Michigan fruit growers.

Even if they get through this period of lack of snow and warmer weather, spring brings a new risk.

Andresen’s research shows an overall increase in temperatures of two degrees statewide in the last thirty years.

That’s pushing fruit trees to blossom earlier by as much as a week to ten days.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the last date of spring frost also was shifting to keep pace. But it’s not.

That means the buds that produce the fruit are more exposed to the kind of freeze that wiped out the cherry crop in 2002.

But the peninsulas of northwest Michigan are some of the best tree fruit sites in the world. The surrounding waters help to moderate the most extreme winter weather.

Grower Jim Nugent says what these recent changes in climate do is put a premium on the best sites to grow fruit.

“Our better fruit sites up here are still pretty outstanding. Even with the changes I think we’re going to have a fruit industry here for a long time.”

For the Environment Report, I’m Bob Allen.

Climate change is already happening in the Great Lakes region: Learn more

An Environment Report interview about adapting to climate change in the Great Lakes region

Living With Wolves

  • There are an estimated 687 wolves in the state of Michigan. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes were recently taken off the endangered species list. Now, the state of Michigan is responsible for managing the wolf population.

Michael Nelson is an associate professor of environmental ethics and philosophy at Michigan State University. He’s an author of a new report on people’s attitudes about wolves in Michigan. So, your report is based on a statewide telephone survey. What’d you find out?

MN: Well, we found out a number of things. We asked a few questions of people. Generally, we found out that people enjoy knowing there are wolves in Michigan. This varies from place to place. We also found out that in general, the people of Michigan really support wildlife biology, wildlife science as an important way to make decisions about wolves.

RW: How do people’s feelings about wolves change based on where they live in the state?

MN: Yeah, you know, I think we all realize that Michigan, like many other states, has different kinds of cultures within the state. And of course, we also know that people who live in wolf territories have different ideas than people who don’t, and people who live in rural areas have different ideas than people who live in urban areas. Generally, we found that there was less support for wolves in the U.P. as opposed to the Lower Peninsula. Overall, 82% of Michiganders enjoy knowing wolves exist in Michigan – that’s how we phrased that question. In the northern lower peninsula where there are wolves now, it was 82%, they were average as well. In the U.P. it was 61% of people who enjoyed knowing wolves existed in Michigan.

RW: And far and away, most of the wolves in the state are in the U.P.

MN: That’s right.

RW: So, Michigan’s wolf management plan does not call for a hunting season for wolves. The state legislature would have to decide that. In your survey, you asked people, “Should there be a wolf hunting season in Michigan?” What’d you find out?

MN: Well, we found out that 85% of Michiganders disagree with that, and it varies, again, a little bit from place to place in the state. And that 14% of Michiganders agreed that they would be likely to purchase a license to hunt or trap wolves. Of course, we’re only reporting their behavioral intention. Their actual behavior would be something else.

RW: Last July, reporter Bob Allen produced a story about illegal wolf kills spiking in the Upper Peninsula. He reported that wildlife officials said they could defuse the situation if they could just get gray wolves removed from the endangered species list.

In the piece, we hear from the manager of the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Club, Larry Livermore. He says in the U.P. – people are increasingly convinced wolves are decimating the deer population.

I wanted to play that for you:

“You have a whole bunch of honest law abiding citizens who have finally had enough and say, you don’t care about us, you don’t understand our dilemma here and so we will take it into our own hands. And that’s happening. People who I never dreamed would say I would shoot a wolf are telling me that they will shoot one.”

Your most recent survey was done in 2010, well before the wolves were taken off the endangered species list. How do you think people’s opinions might shift now that the wolves are off of the list?

MN: Oh, that’ll be the next great survey question. There’s really something important to discover. It was kind of fortuitous that we gave our survey just before the wolves came out, just before they made it to the lower peninsula. So a survey in a year or two could really reveal some interesting things.

Michael Nelson is a professor of environmental ethics at Michigan State University. Thanks so much for talking with me.

MN: Oh, thank you.

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

Dioxin Report Delayed & Huron-Manistee Plan

  • Imerman Park sits on the floodplain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil. (Photo by Shawn Allee)

A report on dioxin that’s more than 25 years in the making… is delayed yet again.

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

The Environmental Protection Agency has missed its own deadline to release a major report on the health effects of dioxins. Dioxins are a class of toxic chemicals.

The EPA says dioxins are likely to cause cancer in humans. Since the mid-1980’s, the EPA has been working to define just how toxic dioxins are. Over the years, the agency has released drafts of the report. These drafts have been picked apart by scientists and industry. Then, the EPA goes back to working on it.

Last year, the EPA decided to split its dioxin assessment into two parts. One part will look at cancer risks, the other part will look at non-cancer health risks. The agency had promised to release the report on non-cancer effects by the end of January. But they missed that deadline.

The EPA did not want to be recorded for this story. They would only say they’re “working to finalize the non-cancer health assessment for dioxin as expeditiously as possible.”

People in central Michigan have lived with dioxin pollution for more than three decades. The pollution is largely from a Dow Chemical plant in Midland. We’ve previously reported that EPA’s dioxin assessment could affect how much dioxin Dow might have to clean up.

Michelle Hurd Riddick is with the Lone Tree Council. It’s an environmental advocacy group based in Saginaw.

“We need our government to issue a clear scientific statement and report on the toxicity of this chemical. But unfortunately it appears it’s probably politics as usual. And the monied interests, the lobbyists, they have the access, they have the influence and public health be damned.”

The EPA has been under pressure from industry groups.

In December, the American Chemistry Council asked the EPA to withdraw the dioxin report from interagency review. In a statement emailed to The Environment Report yesterday, the ACC said a draft of the EPA’s dioxin assessment is flawed… and that the EPA has not considered the economic impact of the report.

Two years ago, The Environment Report produced an investigative series looking at why the dioxin cleanup in Michigan has been delayed for so long. The cleanup process has stopped and started for thirty years, with the federal and state governments passing the problem back and forth. In the series, former EPA Administrator Mary Gade said Dow has slowed down the cleanup.

“I think this corporation is hugely adept at playing the system and understanding how to build in delays and use the bureaucracy to their advantage and to use the political system to their advantage.”

In an email statement, a spokesperson for Dow said the company cannot speculate on how EPA’s dioxin assessment would affect their current work. The spokesperson noted that Dow signed a cleanup agreement with the EPA in January 2010, and said, “We are focused on implementing this agreement and working towards resolution.”

Dioxin Delays: A Special Series by The Environment Report


(music bump)

This is the Environment Report.

The U.S. Forest Service has revised its management plan for the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Bob Allen reports there won’t be any new limits on snowmobiling or gun hunting:

In 2010, a federal appeals court told the Forest Service its new plan failed to follow proper rules and law.

The Court agreed with a man who argued the plan promised quiet recreation in certain non-motorized areas of the forest but didn’t deliver on that promise.

Kurt Meister suggested that some of those areas be marked off-limits to gun hunting and snowmobiling.

That set off a firestorm of mostly negative reaction.

After listening to public comment, the Forest Service is changing the way those areas are classified.

That means there’s no longer a high expectation to experience quiet and solitude in those areas.

The plan still must be accepted by the Court.

For the Environment Report, I’m Bob Allen.