For years, auto companies have argued that making cars morefuel-efficient also meant making them smaller and more dangerous topassengers. But a new study by the General Accounting Office saysthat’s no longer true. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Matt ShaferPowell reports:
For years, auto companies have argued that making cars more fuel-efficient also meant making
them smaller and more dangerous to passengers. But a new study by the General Accounting
Office says that’s no longer true. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Matt Shafer Powell
The recently released GAO report says such technologies as lean-burn engines make it easier to
produce more efficient cars without making them smaller. But a researcher who contributed to
the study says if the government were to increase mileage standards, it could still create the
temptation to cut corners on safety. David Greene says that’s why the government will need to be
“It’s possible that if you went about this the wrong way, it could be harmful to safety, but it’s not
necessary to degrade safety in order to improve fuel economy.”
Meanwhile, some environmental groups are hoping these findings will clear the way for stricter
government mileage regulations. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Matt Shafer
Many Great Lakes states are having unusually low numbers of ozone warning days this summer. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports experts say the weather should receive the credit:
Many Great Lakes States are having unusually low numbers of ozone
warning days this summer. (IL, MN, IN, OH all zero, Michigan has had two)
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jonathan Ahl reports experts say the
weather should receive the credit.
Summer is typically the peak time for ozone. High temperatures
several days in a row combining with pollutants in the air create more smog.
That can lead to health problems, especially in children and the elderly.
Mike Koerber is the technical director of the Lake Michigan Air
Directors Consortium. He says weather is the main factor in the lower
“There have been some state ozone control programs
that we have benefited from. But certainly the weather, the below normal
temperatures, the lack of 90 degree days plays a major factor.”
Koerber says if this trend continues, this year may have the lowest number
of warning days in the Great Lakes area since states began keeping track of
ozone levels. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jonathan Ahl in
Work to restore a creek to its original stream bed could be a model forchannelized waterways throughout the Great Lakes region. The GreatLakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Work to restore a creek to its original streambed could be a model for
channelized waterways throughout the Great Lakes Region. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
The Nippersink Creek near Chicago used to be a wide ditch. In the 1950’s it
was straightened into a channel make room for farmland and to drain the
fields. The McHenry county conservation district bought the property to
make a park. It just finished restoring the stream to the original creek
bed. Brad Woodson works for the district. He says making the creek
meander through the area has helped the ecosystem.
“The sheer amount of stream miles has been increased probably three
or four times. When you put more habitat on the landscape, you’re going to
get more wildlife.”
Those who canoe the Nippersink like it too. The twists and turns are more
fun to paddle than the narrow, straight channel was. Environmentalists in
the area say the Nippersink dechannelization could be a model for other
creek restoration projects.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Lester Graham.
Mc Henry County Conservation District's Ed Collins and Brad Woodson look over their work. The Nippersink creek near Chicago has been transformed from an agricultural ditch to its original meandering course.
For 50 years the
was constrained to a narrow channel.
After a half century of being confined to a narrow, straight channel, asmall Midwestern stream is being restored to its original meanderingpath. Not only has the newest incarnation of the creek become a home tomore wildlife, but it’s protecting other areas from floods and becominga model for restoring other channelized creeks. The Great Lakes RadioConsortium’s Lester Graham reports:
After a half century of being confined to a narrow, straight channel, a
small Midwestern stream is being restored to its original meandering path.
Not only has the newest incarnation of the creek become a home to more
Wildlife, but it’s protecting other areas from floods and, becoming a
model for restoring other channelized creeks. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
(Sound of creek bubbling)
For 50 years this part of Nippersink Creek near Chicago was not much more
than a ditch, a narrow agricultural channel used to drain the
surrounding farm fields. Now the Nippersink wanders its way through a meadow of grasses and blossoms. The creek winds back and forth as it makes a
leisurely trek northward. It took nearly a decade of planning and a couple of years of excavating to restore the Nippersink to its old creek bed.
Ed Collins is one of the people who worked to transform the Nippersink
from ditch to stream.
“The folks who benefited economically from it being a channel
over the years —and rightfully so— they’re retired now. And, we’re kinda
letting the stream retire. It’s career won’t so much be corn and beans now,
but it’ll be open space and rapids and an opportunity for families to have a
canoe trip and to go fishing. So, it’s still serving the community, just in
a different way.”
Collins works for the McHenry County Conservation District. The district
bought this creek and the surrounding land from the farm family. The
district wanted the property not only because of the creek, but also
because of some interesting glacial formations called kames. Kames are hills of
rock and gravel that were deposited as a glacier melted here some 18-thousand
Collins says parts of those kames were dug away to cover up the
“The stream was actually filled with sand and that sand was a
different color than the original channel. So, it was similar to just having
somebody draw a chalk line along what used to be the old channel. And when
that was excavated out, when you got through that sand, you were right back
to where that channel was in 1951.”
And the excavated material was put back to restore the kames.
With those hills towering behind them Collins and his colleague Brad
Woodson are standing at the edge of one of the streams restored banks.
They’re watching a blue heron hunt. Shore-birds weren’t drawn to the old
ditch. Woodson says not only has the habitat along the Nippersink
There’s a lot more of it. Since the shortest distance between two points is
a straight line, like a channel, woodson says the meandering nippersink
is now a lot longer than it used to be.
“Yeah, we’ve actually added miles to this stream, if you can imagine
that. And there’s more habitat diversity there also.”
Because it helped wildlife, the McHenry County Conservation District got
some financial help from the federal government and some more from
environmental groups. And, when the work of digging out the old stream
bed began lots of local volunteers offered their labor.
“Working with the land brings you back to your roots.”
Martha Carver says she volunteered some weekend time, and now that
the Nippersink is beginning to take shape, she’s glad she did.
“It’s like genesis again. So, volunteers don’t mind being knee deep
in mud day after day, that sort of thing, because they know it’s going for a
marvelous project and they’re going to see the results fast.”
McHenry County needs to see results fast. It’s in the path of Chicago
sprawl. Already the county is feeling the pressure of intense development.
Natural areas and green space of all kinds are becoming more valuable to
the county, making restoration projects such as the Nippersink creek worth
the trouble and the cost.
(Sound of equipment)
Digging out the old channel has kept bulldozers and dump trucks busy for
the past couple of years. Now, a backhoe is putting back boulders the size of
beach balls along an outer bank of one of the creek bends. The
Conservation District’s Ed Collins says the big rocks will help reduce erosion and slow the flow of the creek. Collins says while the Nippersink will be beautiful when its fully restored, it’ll also have a practical side, one that helps justify the 700-thousand dollars spent on it.
“In terms of the amount of flood damage streams do across the
Midwest that have been straightened, I don’t think there’s any cost
comparison between what it cost to make this a wild river again and the
damage, accumulated damage its done from flooding over the past 50 years.”
Still, the cost of restoring the creek has not been insignificant. Since
land is being gobbled up by subdivisions in McHenry county, you might
expect local environmentalists to push the Conservation District to buy
more land to preserve, rather than spend it on restoring the ramblings of a
creek. But one of the more active environmental groups, the McHenry
County Defenders, applauds the Nippersink project. Lenore Beyer-Clow is the
“Part of their mission is also to protect sensitive ecological
areas and promote those areas for habitat as well as open space protection.
I think this project is a model for the country. It hasn’t been done very
much before. And it has great value that can then be replicated throughout
Now the Conservation District workers and volunteers are busy planting
prairie grasses and flowers along the Nippersink’s banks to complete the
restoration of land and water, in hopes that the entire area will serve as
a model to other communities in the great lakes region.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Lester Graham.
Several states in the Great Lakes region (IL, IN, MI, NY, OH, PA) willsoon be forced to reduce harmful emissions from power plants during fivemonths of the year. That’s the result of a recent federal appeals courtruling that allows the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce newemissions standards. Lawyers representing the EPA argued that emissionsof nitrogen oxide from the plants are partly to blame for the increasein asthma cases and other respiratory problems. The new standards willnot only improve human health, but also environmental conditions in thecountry’s largest state park. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s BrendaTremblay reports:
Several states in the Great Lakes region (IL, IN, MI, NY, OH, PA) will soon be forced to reduce harmful emissions from power plants during five months of the year. That’s the result of a recent
federal appeals court ruling that allows the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce new emissions standards. Lawyers representing the EPA argued that emissions of nitrogen oxide from the plants are partly to blame for the increase in asthma cases and other respiratory problems. The
new standards will not only improve human health, but also environmental conditions in the country’s largest state park. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Brenda Tremblay
(Sound of voices, bird chirps from porch of Covewood Lodge)
The summer vacation season is in full swing on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack
Mountains of Upstate New York. (sound of screen door slam, footsteps) At the Covewood Lodge, staff members are running around, getting ready to host a wedding. The lodge’s owner, Major Bowes, says he’s loved life in the Adirondacks for fifty years.
“It’s just terrific, and you don’t have to walk far where you can be back ten thousand years. It looks just the same.”
But the Adirondacks aren’t the same. People used to come to Big Moose Lake to
fish. Now they go elsewhere because this lake is too acidic for most fish to survive.
Even before the fish left, Major Bowes says, changes in the Adirondacks started to affect his own family, in part because they drink treated spring water from the surrounding mountains.
“Our girls were not well when they were growing up. And we couldn’t find out what was the matter with them, and even the Saranac Lake Hospital, we couldn’t, we never did find out. But in the course of searching we found that our water had five times the recommended lead and three times the recommended copper in it. And it was coming because the acid was eating the pipes. We were literally drinking our pipes.”
So Major Bowes started adding limestone to his water supply. He installed a sand
filter, and over time, he says his daughters got better. By that time, people had stopped fishing Big Moose Lake, even though it’s one of the largest lakes in the region. Other Adirondack lakes were losing fish, too — (sound of canoe banging sounds, plastic ruffling) And scientists are pretty sure they know why.
Ok, I’ll set things up here a minute.
Fifty miles north, at the foot of Whiteface Mountain, Walter Kretser and his
assistants climb into a canoe on the bank of Owen Pond. (rowing noises)
They drop a plastic tube into the water, seal it, and draw up a sample to pour into a
(Popping sound, water splashing)
For seven years, Walter Kretser and his team have studied water samples from
fifty-two different Adirondack lakes. Some of the lakes are so remote they have to fly in a helicopter to reach them. The lakes and mountains of the Adirondacks make up the largest State Park in the continental United States. But it’s the park’s location that interests scientists like Kretser. The Adirondack Mountains can rise as high as five thousand feet, and they’re exposed to winds from the southwest. So just about everything that’s put into the atmosphere in the Midwest makes its way to this wilderness.
“So, you know, the atmosphere is coming down like a river towards us and we have this big dam and the dam is the Adirondacks, and everything splashes on top of the Adirondacks.”
(Sound of more rowing, splashing noises)
“Everything” includes acid rain. Coal-burning plants spew nitrogen oxide and
sulfur dioxides into the atmosphere, where they’re converted to acids and carried here in the clouds. The good news, say scientists, is that acid rain caused by sulfur dioxide emissions has decreased in the last seven years. The bad news is that acid rain caused by nitrogen oxide has not decreased: instead, it has increased by 2 percent. Already, Walter Kretser says, 750 of the three thousand lakes in the Adirondacks are so acidified that life in and around the lake is affected. The fish are disappearing, the trees are rotting: even birds and animals such as eagles, otters, and loons, are being affected as the situation gets worse.
“So theoretically, if we continue exactly as we are doing now, we could in fact have as many as forty percent of our lakes affected in the next fifty years.”
That’s why, Kretser says, the latest ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in
Washington is such good news for the Adirondacks. The court gave the
Environmental Protection Agency permission to force nineteen states to reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxide. The reductions will begin in the year 2003: Kretser says he expects to detect improvements almost right away.
“Some of the lakes that are in the middle that are marginally acidified now could in fact be in good shape in just a very short time and could support fish populations.”
“This is an important first step but it’s certainly not the end of the road. It’s kind of the beginning of the journey.”
Jayne Mardock, director of the Clean Air Network, says she’s pleased by the new
ruling. But it has one serious weakness: it only reduces emissions from April ’til October. Because acid rain falls all year round, Mardock says, the EPA should be able to enforce reductions of emissions twelve months of the year. Nonetheless, she says any emissions reduction at all will benefit the Adirondacks.
“In the abstract, yes, it will help, you know, but time will tell how much it will help, actually.”
(Sound from porch of Covewood)
Back at Covewood Lodge, Bowes has welcomed the first wedding guests to his lodge
on Big Moose Lake. (sound of yelling kid) While they’re checking in, he steps out onto the porch and points to yellow, hazy clouds hanging over the mountains across the lake.
“It’s like living downwind of a volcano, twenty-four hours a day. And when the wind’s blowing out of the southwest or even out of the west you don’t have to be a genius to see where the acid rain coming from because you can see the ash in the atmosphere.”
But Bowes is hopeful that in a few years, he’ll be able to stand on his porch and once again see fluffy, white clouds – and maybe even a few fish – jumping out of Big Moose Lake. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Brenda Tremblay in Big
Moose, New York.
Communities around the Great Lakes are struggling with a goose problem. Migratory Giant Canada geese are staying in towns longer, and in somecases, they’re never leaving. They make themselves at home as long asthey can find food and water. These so-called ”resident” geese aremultiplying. In fact, an in-city hunt is underway now in Upper Michiganto kill many of them. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Michelle Corumvisited Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, to see how they’re handling thisbird that many consider a nuisance:
Communities around the Great Lakes are struggling with a goose
problem. Migratory Giant Canada geese are staying in towns
longer, and in some cases, they’re never leaving. They make
themselves at home as long as they can find food and water. These
so-called “resident” geese are multiplying. In fact, an in-city
hunt is underway now in Upper Michigan to kill many of them.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Michelle Corum visited Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, to see how they’re handling this bird that many consider a nuisance.
In Michigan’s Upper peninsula, the honk of the goose is like
Dave Gonyo says the first sound of a goose in April is thrilling.
“You know spring has arrived when they get here, they’re in
pairs, little geese are cute, big ones aren’t”
And there’s too many, he says. At least there were before
Sault St. Marie started moving them and hunting them.
“Two years ago we wouldn’t be walking here because it’d be so
covered with goose droppings. We have prisoners come in to keep
it clean. We couldn’t use this park and football fields, in fact,
some were deemed caustic.”
(Natural sound… honking)
Town officials tried different methods, short of a hunt, to get the
birds to move on. They asked people not to feed them. They tried
scaring them with starter pistols. They also
“translocated” 360 birds earlier this year. That means capturing
them, marking them and moving them to a less populated area west of
town. (But the process has drawbacks. It’s expensive and some
of the adult birds return “home” to the city after being moved.)
The Canada goose can weigh up to 14 pounds.
Joe Wartella lives in the city limits, near the water where the
“They come into your yard and poop and then you can get two
big buckets full, they try to attack you and the kids are
scared of them and it’s a problem.”
Canada geese are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act, and they can only be hunted with a license during hunting
With the number of birds in town still high, and complaints
growing, Sault Saint Marie (last year) created an ordinance to allow
in-city hunting. Hunters can shoot up to five birds each during
Michigan’s early goose season through September 10th. Last year,
155 Canada geese were shot by police and other hunters who got a
permit from the city. The hunt went off without much controversy.
Last year, only one protester against it showed up.
Whether they’re being shot or permanently leaving town, City Parks
and Recreation director Dan Wyers says there’s been improvement
“It’s my understanding we’re one of the few urban areas that
are doing this,(down in se Michigan),but as far as
a goose hunt, we’re one of the few that have a goose management
programs with in the city limits.
Wyers says they’re not out to get every goose, they just want to
take back their parks.
But despite claims of success, resident Joe Wartella says he
hasn’t had any relief.
“I don’t think it is any better. They’re back in the early
Wildlife biologist Rex Ainslee of the Michigan Department of Natural
Resources says geese are adaptable to their surroundings. That’s
why they’re reproducing faster in the cities than in remote areas. He says hunting is effective.
“The reason for removing them is . . .. . we’re replacing some
of the natural controls they’d have on them in the wild.”
The Parks and Rec director says their methods are subject to
change. They may continue the annual in-city hunts and they may
keep moving the birds, although the Department of Natural Resources
says that’s getting complicated too.
“We are concerned about running out of places to put the
birds, the western UP is about the last place.”
The hunt is supervised by the city police department.
Hunters have to register and get special training on hunting in the
city. They’ll will be looking for the Canada geese in parks,
football fields, the golf course and the sewage treatment plant.
I’m Michelle Corum for the Great Lakes Radio Consortium in Sault
Saint Marie, Michigan.