Salmon Debate & Smart Thermostats

  • The Desperado heads out at sunrise to go after Pacific salmon in Lake Michigan. (Photo by Lester Graham)

How many salmon can Lake Michigan support?

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

That’s the critical question state fishery biologists have to answer this year.

Everyone involved in the salmon fishery is worried about its future… and now some sport fishing groups say drastic action might be required. They want the state to stop putting more fish into the lake. Peter Payette reports:

There’s not much food for salmon in Lake Michigan these days because invasive species are changing the food web.

But there are a lot of salmon, because more and more are being born in the wild as opposed to in fish hatcheries. That combination of too many fish and not enough food wiped out the salmon in Lake Huron almost a decade ago and they never returned.

That’s why the state has proposed reducing the number of salmon stocked in Lake Michigan by 30-50 percent.

But last month the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fisher’s Association urged lake managers to consider ending all stocking for two years.

Now a charter boat association in Muskegon has endorsed that idea too.

Paul Jensen is part of that group.

“We need to make a radical move to change the pattern and what we don’t want to do is duplicate what happened on Lake Huron.”

But ending stocking might not sit well with some anglers. For decades, more fish stocking meant more fish being caught.

But researchers say the situation is bleak.

The salmon fishing is great so far this spring. But that’s a problem because it means there’s still a lot of fish in a lake without much food.

For the Environment Report, I’m Peter Payette.

This is the Environment Report.

A lot of us have smartphones… you’ve probably heard of smart meters… and now there’s something called a smart thermostat for your house.

I met up with energy expert Matt Grocoff of to find out more:


“The old school thermostats that were programmable were meant to reduce your energy costs. But in 2009, the EPA did a study and found out that nobody was programming them. So, the new breed of smart thermostats do a lot of these things for you without you even thinking about them. They’re called learning thermostats. They learn from your own behavior. So the best thing to do I think is to show you Joe Capuano’s. We’re in his house now and he’s got one of these smart thermostats.”

Rebecca: “All right, hi, Joe.”

Joe: “Hello, Rebecca.”

Rebecca: “We’ve been hearing that this thermostat learns from you. So, is it watching you? What do you mean by that?”

Joe: “It has a sensor in it so that it actually notices the motion that takes place in the house. So during the day, when you’re moving around it knows there’s something going on so it’ll keep the temperature at the temperature you set. When the activity drops off and there’s nobody in the house, it’ll actually set back down to what it calls the “away” temperature. And the way it learns is that it follows the patterns that you have, so instead of programming it, it actually says, okay, from this time to this time there’s no activity in the house, so that’s the schedule I’m going to set.”

Rebecca: “So if you’re upstairs it doesn’t just drop down and make it colder while you’re upstairs?”

Joe: “I’d have to be upstairs for more than two hours before that would happen.”

Rebecca: “So, why is this better than my dumb thermostat at home that I just actually turn the heat down on at night before I go to bed?”

Matt: “These know the humidity level in your house. They know the temperature outside. They know the temperature inside. So they can take all of that data and that information and optimize your comfort by cutting your energy costs, by a huge amount. We’re not talking four or five percent. We’re talking 20-30% for these things.”

Rebecca: “Do you know if you’ve saved any money yet?”

Joe: “I don’t know for sure. I won’t know for sure until we have another really cold winter to confirm it. I think in the long run that I will save money. I’m definitely going to pay for what I put into the cost of the thermostat.”

Rebecca: That was Joe Capuano talking about his smart thermostat – along with energy expert Matt Grocoff of We should note these new thermostats do cost more than the traditional kind. They range in price from $100 to upwards of $400.

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