Scientists are working to control a new non-native beetle that’s destroying hundreds of thousands of ash trees in the Midwest. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
Scientists are working to control a new non-native beetle that’s destroying hundreds of
thousands of ash trees in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Erin Toner reports:
The Emerald Ash Borer is native to Asia, and probably made its way to the United States
through wood packing materials. Therese Poland is an entomologist with the
USDA. She says so far, the beetles have destroyed 100 thousand ash trees in southeastern
Michigan and southern Ontario.
“We think it’s been here for at least five years and even with some of the other exotic
beetles that have been discovered in recent years, when they were first discovered they
weren’t as widespread as this.”
Poland says there’s a quarantine over the infested areas to keep the beetles from moving
to new areas. Officials are inspecting nurseries to make sure they’re not selling infested
trees. They’re also checking whether tree care companies are disposing of trees properly.
But officials admit they probably won’t be able to stop people who unknowingly transport
infested firewood or yard waste.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Erin Toner.
A new study on urban sprawl suggests the Midwest is doing better than some parts of the country, but there are still some trouble spots in the region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
A new study on urban sprawl suggests the Midwest is doing better than some parts of the
country. But there are still some trouble spots in the region. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
A study released by Smart Growth America says California and the south are having the
worst problems with sprawl. But Detroit, Rochester and Syracuse, New York, and the
Gary-Hammond area of Indiana just missed being in the top ten. Researcher Rolf
Rendahl of Cornell University in New York says those are areas where sprawl partly
occurs because of economic distress.
“With very little demand for new development, land is cheaper and people can build
Rendahl also says the suburbs in those areas generally have relatively permissive land use
policies. The study says sprawl can trigger ozone pollution and various traffic problems.
The group recommends more rehabilitation of urban properties and transportation
planning that doesn’t promote sprawl. The National Association of Homebuilders
contends the Smart Growth report ignores housing affordability and consumer choice.
For the Great Lakes Radio consortium, this is Chuck Quirmbach.
As far back as the Boston Tea Party, taxes have stirred passions. In campaign season, the word “tax” is tossed around like a grenade, often prompting politicians to duck and hide. But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Julia King, thinks politicians should stop running from the “Tax-and-Spend” label and instead defend taxes – and the many vital services they fund:
As far back as the Boston Tea Party, taxes have stirred passions. In campaign season the
word “tax” is tossed around like a grenade, often prompting politicians to duck and hide.
But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Julia King, thinks politicians should
stop running from the “Tax-and-Spend” label and instead defend taxes – and the many
vital services they fund.
Despite a shaky economy, a looming war, despite rising numbers of uninsured
Americans, somehow there are still politicians who peddle tax cuts as cure alls.
It’s about time we clear something up: When a candidate says, “I’ll lower your taxes,”
he’s put forth only half of an idea. The other half of that idea involves cutting programs
that could be important to many of us.
I recently stood on a Northern Indiana lakeshore and admired a crisp, autumn scene. But
instead of inspiring me the quiet water and the changing landscape filled me with a dull,
nagging worry. I imagined a future without such places – or at least without public
access to them.
Like countless other venues around the country, the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources recently suffered the loss of 8.2 million dollars in permanent budget cuts, cuts
that forced the elimination of arts and cultural programs in state parks, the closing of
some parks, and the “downsizing” of many that stayed open. Still others were turned
over to private operators who increased fees to cover actual costs, making visits now
unaffordable for some people.
Few politicians seem willing to admit that slashing taxes means shrinking public service
and even public safety. Yet this is the time to connect the dots, to thread together rhetoric
and reality. It’s a long list of things that make a society — our society — livable. A
thriving park system is just one piece of the delicate mosaic we call civilization.
Is there ever mismanagement of public funds? Sure, and it deserves attention. But,
seriously, when’s the last time you saw a park naturalist in an Armani suit or behind the
wheel of a Rolls Royce? For the most part, government employees are not whooping it
up on your tax dollars. And never mind Enron – in Indiana the salaries of just 10 of our
highest paid executives could support the entire Indiana Department of Natural
Resources’ general fund. That’s a story that plays out in nearly every state across the
Right now — in the midst of campaign season — is the time to sort through national and
local priorities. Whether anyone acknowledges it or not, cutting taxes means cutting
away at the fabric of society.
Surely if our nation can find the money and the will to fully fund war and death, we can’t
claim poverty when we’re challenged to enhance life.
Julia King lives and writes in Goshen, Indiana. She comes to us through the Great Lakes
Lorraine Kellerman operates the mercury separator in one dental office. Kellerman says it's easy and satisfying to recycle the mercury.
Tim Tuominen has been working with Duluth area dentists to reduce the mercury going into the city's wastewater.
Health officials warn pregnant women and children to avoid eating certain kinds of fish. Mercury built up in the fish can damage the nervous system and impair children’s mental development. The National Academy of Sciences says at least 60,000 American children are born at risk for impaired development every year because their mothers were exposed to mercury. Mercury has been eliminated from paint, batteries, and other products. Now, some dentists are doing their part to reduce the mercury going into the environment. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill reports:
Health officials warn pregnant women and children to avoid eating certain kinds of fish.
Mercury built up in the fish can damage the nervous system and impair children’s mental
development. The National Academy of Sciences says at least 60,000 American children
are born at risk for impaired development every year because their mothers were exposed
to mercury. Mercury has been eliminated from paint, batteries, and other products. Now,
some dentists are doing their part to reduce the mercury going into the environment. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill reports:
Mercury is an essential part of dental amalgam, the silver stuff used to fill cavities. The
mercury keeps the amalgam soft until it’s pressed into the cavity, then it bonds to form a
very stable, durable filling. The problem is the small bits of amalgam that are left over
after the cavity is filled. The suction hose that cleans them out of your mouth generally
dumps them down the drain. So they can easily end up in a lake or river, where they can
be eaten by fish.
The average dental office creates about a half pound of waste mercury every year. Just a
tiny portion of that would be enough to warrant fish advisories.
“The amount that’s sewered from dental offices is probably the largest input to the sewer
Tim Tuominen is a pollution prevention specialist with the Western Lake Superior
Sanitary District in Duluth. He’s been working with dentists in the city for nearly ten
years to reduce the mercury they wash down the drain.
He started with the vacuum systems nearly all dentists already have. When the suction
hose whisks amalgam out of your mouth, the pieces are held in a container to keep them
from damaging the vacuum pump. Tuominen showed the dentists how to empty the
container and bring the contents to the district’s recycling program.
In the first two years, the amount of mercury coming into Duluth’s wastewater treatment
plant was cut in half, and it’s been reduced even further since then.
To cut down on mercury even more, Tuominen got a grant to buy more expensive
equipment that captures up to 99% of the amalgam. He offered the equipment free to any
dentist who would agree to use it.
“I’ll go in and install them, train the assistants and the dentists how they operate, that only
takes about half an hour, then after six months I show them how to manage the solids
particles that collect in them over that time period. So it’s really pretty simple.”
Most of the dental offices in Duluth have installed the systems, and Tuominen expects the
rest to follow suit.
Lorraine Kellerman operates the system in one dental office. Once a week she empties
the chair-side traps and puts the chunks of amalgam into a container for recycling. Then
she goes down to the basement where a tank, like an aquarium, collects the finer particles.
The heavy amalgam settles to the bottom of the tank.
“We just put the hose in the drain, turn the lever, and you just wait ’til the fluid runs out
and then you can come back down, it doesn’t take long, it only takes a few minutes
Once a year the amalgam that collects at the bottom is cleaned out and recycled.
Kellerman’s boss is dentist Jim Westman.
“The beauty of this technology is in its simplicity. Gravity works, it’s simple, it’s very
Westman says the dentists in Duluth are happy to use the equipment. It costs about
$500, and the recycling charge is about $50 a year.
Westman is chair of the Minnesota Dental Association’s environmental committee. It’s
been working on a plan to help dentists around the state of Minnesota reduce their output
of mercury. Westman says they want to make it easy for dentists.
“No matter where someone has question in regards to what’s going to work in my
equipment, there’s so many variations from one office to the next, who are my resources
to call or handling, transport, process materials, it’s that who you going to call side of the
question that’s going to make a difference as we build a bigger program. ”
If the voluntary program catches on in Minnesota, it could spread to other states. Michael
Bender is director of the Mercury Policy Project, a national organization working to
reduce mercury in the environment. He says dentists around the country are beginning to
feel they should do their part.
“It’s part of the cost of doing business. It’s not going to break any dentist’s back
financially to cover the cost of doing whatever it takes to be a good business, responsible
to the community, responsible to the environment.”
In December, the Environmental Protection Agency is convening a meeting on dental
mercury. The agency will publish information on ways state and local governments can
keep dental mercury out of the environment.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Stephanie Hemphill.
Bill Erwin and a number of other Michigan apple growers are involved in a huge project to reduce pesticide use in orchards. Erwin says he's among those who will continue the practice.
No one likes the idea of pesticides in baby food. But nobody likes the idea of a worm in an apple either. So apple growers have been involved in a three year project to reduce pesticides, but still turn out a crop that’s not plagued by insects. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
No one likes the idea of pesticides in baby food. But nobody likes the idea of a worm in
an apple either. Apple growers have been involved in a three year project to reduce
pesticides, but still turn out a crop that’s not plagued by insects. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Gerber makes baby food. A lot of those little jars of fruit use apples in the mix. A few
years ago the Consumers Union, an arm of the magazine Consumer reports, called for the
end of the use of many of the pesticides that end up in children’s food. And the
Environmental Working Group issued a scathing report on pesticides in kid’s food. Like
other baby food makers, Gerber knew it had to do something. It started with improving
methods to wash off or peel off pesticide residue on apples. But, there was only so much
that could be done in the plant.
Todd DeKryger is with Gerber Baby Foods. He says Gerber’s plants did what they could
to get rid of pesticide residue, but it wasn’t enough.
“Our customers were telling us, ‘We don’t want residues in the products we buy from
Gerbers.’ We turn around and tell our growers ‘We need a product without pesticide
residues.’ And it’s really been amazing how they have really bought into that whole idea
of providing a product. You know, and they say ‘Hey, look. We fed our kids Gerber and,
uh, yeah, okay, this makes sense. Now, how can I help?'”
Gerber got some help from a firm based in North Carolina. The Center for Agricultural
Partnerships contacted Gerber at its main plant in Michigan as well as Michigan State
University’s Extension Service and apple growers. They had money to pay for
publications and free consultants for three years for growers who wanted to try a way to
control bugs in the orchards called ‘Integrated Pest Management’ or IPM.
Larry Elworth is with the Center. He says IPM. has worked for other types of fruit
growers, but expertise was needed for the particular climates and growing conditions in
Michigan’s apple orchards to make IPM effective.
“It’s become a way of managing pests that gives growers way more information to use so
they can actually outsmart the insects rather than always relying on a chemical as the way
to control them.”
(apple picking sound)
That all sounded good, but no one had tried it in the apple orchards on a large scale.
“Well, our main concern was whether it was going to work or not.”
Bill Erwin operates Erwin Orchards and Cider Mill.
(sound of rolling apples)
Apple pickers are plucking fruit and gently rolling the apples into a big wooden crate for
shipping to retailers. Erwin says it seemed risky to change farming methods in the
“We’ve been used to the chemistries. We’ve been used to the program and, uh, we
weren’t sure that using lighter chemistries was going to work and we weren’t sure that we
were going to be able to control the bugs.”
Erwin says pesticides are reliable. They kill bugs. The fruit looks good. And the orchard
is nice looking in that there’s no wildlife, bugs, birds or otherwise in the area for very
long. But Erwin says all the beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and spiders that eat bugs
that ruin fruit were also gone. Erwin says he noticed something else that bothered him –
humming bird nests – but no baby humming birds.
So, Erwin and a lot of other Michigan apple growers gave Integrated Pest Management a
shot. Erwin says they found using tactics such as mating disruption of pests works. The
worm in the apple is actually the coddling moth’s larvae which burrow into the fruit.
Apple growers used the female coddling moth’s pheremones against the insect. By
saturating the orchard with pheremones, males didn’t know which way to turn to find a
mate. No mate, no eggs. No eggs, no worm in the apple. And Erwin says he noticed
“Now we find humming birds. We find little baby humming bird nests everywhere in this
orchard. We see bluebirds out here. You never used to see those. And, so, we know we’re
doing something good with the environment and that makes us feel good about this
program. They’ve taught us something and it’s gonna be something we’re going to keep
And it appears the results are good.
The Center for Agricultural Partnership’s Larry Elworth says the three year project was a
“Growers had at least as good if not better quality apple crops than they had before. Fewer bites
from insects chewing on the surface. A lot fewer worms that had burrowed inside the
apples which gave them a higher quality crop and they actually got more revenue for
their crop than they’d been getting before. And they were also able to reduce their overall
costs for controlling insects.”
Gerber Baby Foods is relieved. By getting orchards closer to its plant to reduce pesticide
use, it’s ensured a local supply of apples. Otherwise, it meant trucking in fruit from
farther away and paying more for fruit that met consumers’ demands for pesticide free
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
A coalition of environmental groups and others doesn’t want the Army Corps of Engineers to even study the idea of widening and deepening channels for larger ships on the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
A coalition of environmental groups and others doesn’t want the
Army Corps of Engineers to even study the idea of widening
and deepening channels for larger ships on the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Great Lakes United represents organizations across the Great Lakes region who oppose
opening up the lakes to larger cargo vessels. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is
considering a 20-million dollar study to see if expanding channels makes economic sense
for shipping. Jennifer Nalbone is with Great Lakes United. She says it would be a waste
of money and time.
“Why spend five years to investigate what previous studies of the Great Lakes navigation
system have already told us, that expanding shipping capacity costs too much and gives
us too little.”
Nalbone says any economic benefit of expanding the channels could be offset by hurting
other economies such as tourism and fishing. Nalbone indicates Great Lakes United
doesn’t trust that the Army Corps of Engineers will give those industries and the
environment proper consideration.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
For years, scientists have been studying what will happen to our environment in the age of global warming. A recently released report draws some conclusions about what may happen in the farm fields. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill Cohen reports:
For years, scientists have been studying what will happen to
our environment in the age of global warming. A recently
released report draws some conclusions about what may
happen in the farm fields. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Bill Cohen reports:
More carbon dioxide in the air will bring larger crop yields, says
plant ecologist Peter Curtis of Ohio State University. He and other
OSU scientists have just finished reviewing 159 studies from the past
20 years on global warming. Their conclusion – by the end of this
century, some plants will produce more grain.
“Corn, for example, about 5%, wheat we’re lookin’ at about 15%, barley
a little bit more – maybe 18%, soybeans at around 20%, and then rice
all the way up around 40%.”
More food, says Curtis, but it might be less nutritious. That’s the
downside his study is predicting if global warming continues – the
crops will contain less nitrogen and that may mean less protein for the
humans, cows, and pigs that eat it.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Bill Cohen in Columbus.
The Coast Guard has completed its investigation into the capsizing and sinking of the J.W. Westcott II. The J.W. Westcott delivers mail, miscellaneous items, and crew members to Great Lakes freighters as they pass through the Detroit River. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports:
The Coast Guard has completed its investigation into the
capsizing and sinking of the J.W. Westcott II. The J.W. Westcott
delivers mail, miscellaneous items, and crew members to Great
Lakes freighters as they pass through the Detroit River. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports:
Last October, the J.W. Westcott II sank while attempting to drop-off and pick up a pilot from a tanker. The J.W. Westcott’s captain and a crew member died in the accident. The coast guard has concluded that the captain misjudged the effects of the water and waves surrounding the tanker. However, the coast guard’s report and an earlier report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found several contributing factors. The J.W. Westcott II was early, there was no communication between the two vessels, and the tanker hadn’t slowed down yet. The coast guard’s report recommends changes in training and procedures for how the J.W. Westcott II approaches, meets, and conducts transfers with ships. Since the accident the J.W. Westcott II was pulled up from the bottom of the river, fixed, and is back delivering mail to the passing ships.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Tamar Charney.
This week, researchers, government agencies, industry and environmental groups will gather in Cleveland to try to assess the environmental health of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
This week, researchers, government agencies, industry and
environmental groups will gather in Cleveland to try to assess
the environmental health of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Every other year scientists, policy makers, and people who make their living from the
lakes gather to try to hammer out some definitions. The meeting is called the State of the
Lakes Ecosystem Conference, or SOLEC for short. SOLEC is designed to come up with
a set of measurements that will be used to define the environmental health of the Great
Lakes. The initial set of measurements, or indicators as they’re called, was 850. It
included everything from numbers of certain rare birds to amounts of certain toxic
chemicals. That was too much to measure over the long term. So the participants are
trying to come up with a much smaller list of key components of the Great Lakes to
gauge whether there’s improvement or deterioration in the overall health of the lakes.
This year’s meeting is just one more step in the process. It will probably be another four
years before SOLEC comes up with a final suite of indicators that can be measured
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
A new study shows prime farmland in the Great Lakes region is being lost to development. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Natalie Walston reports:
A new study shows prime farmland in the Great Lakes region is
being lost to development. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Natalie Walston reports:
The study by the American Farmland Trust ranks Great lakes states at the top of a list of
states with the most rapidly disappearing prime farmland. It says between 1992 and 1997
more than 6-million acres of land nationwide ripe for growing fruits and vegetables were
paved over. Bob Wagner speaks for the non-profit group. He says one problem is the
acreage per person in a housing development has almost doubled in the past 20 years.
“That’s more land that’s needed for each household and we need to get a handle on those
kind of sprawling, fragmented development patterns.”
Wagner says Ohio ranks second in the nation for the amount of farm land lost during the
time period that was studied, while Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New
York state are listed among the top twenty states losing land to urban sprawl.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Natalie Walston.