A "town hall" type forum on Great Lakes issues is now as
close as your nearest computer. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
A “town hall” type forum on Great Lakes issues is now as
close as your nearest computer. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Chuck Quirmbach reports:
There are forty-two million people in the Great Lakes region and it’s
a little hard getting them all in the same room, but now, you can go to
a computer website for discussions about Great Lakes issues, and to
share your favorite Lakes experience.
The Wisconsin-based Biodiversity Project has set up the interactive site,
great lakes town hall dot org. Jeffery Potter is a spokesperson
for the Project.
“When it came to the Great Lakes Town Hall, we wanted to create a
resource where people across the region could come together, share
their ideas in an inclusive environment, and really talk about and get
more engaged in issues that are vital to protect the Great Lakes as a
resource for all of us.”
Potter says the website features a weekly guest expert, and there’s
a moderator on duty. Anyone can look at the site, but you’ll be asked
to register in order to make comments.
Researchers began a program to reintroduce whooping cranes in the eastern U.S. in 2000. This winter, some young cranes are learning how to migrate south from older birds. The biologists tracking the birds say so far, the new recruits are catching on. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Christina Shockley reports:
Researchers began a program to reintroduce whooping cranes in the
eastern U.S. in 2000. This winter, some young cranes are learning how
to migrate south from older birds. The biologists tracking the birds say
so far, the new recruits are catching on. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Christina Shockley reports:
At first, humans led the new flock of whooping cranes from Wisconsin
to Florida by flying ultra light planes. Now, some of those birds are
teaching a few younger cranes how to make the trip.
Kelley Tucker is with the International Crane Foundation, one of the
groups involved in the reintroduction project. She says this winter, four
young whooping cranes are flying with older cranes and sandhill cranes
on the migratory path. They’re relying partly on instinct, partly on the
lead of the older birds.
“The birds will be a couple miles apart, but some of the biologists have
said ‘I have a sense that the younger birds know where the older birds
are.’ Sometimes they’ll roost within a mile or two of the older birds.”
Tucker says eventually she hopes all the chicks will learn to migrate
from older birds, and the ultra light planes won’t be used. She says it’s
important for the cranes to make it back to Wisconsin in the spring to
Some populations of gray wolves could be taken off the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to issue proposed new rules for gray wolves in the upper Great Lakes region in the next week or so. We have more from the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tracy Samilton:
Some populations of grey wolves could be taken off the endangered
species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to issue
proposed new rules for gray wolves in the upper Great Lakes region in
the next week or so. We have more from the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Tracy Samilton:
The growth of the grey wolf population in the Great Lakes area is good
or bad, depending on who you talk to. Wolves help control deer herds,
but they also prey on livestock.
Adrien Wydeven is with the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources. He says in extreme cases, states might want to let farmers
who’ve had problems shoot wolves they catch in the act of killing
“And we could consider the possibility of a public harvest of members of
general public applying for permits to trap or hunt wolves in limited
There will be a 90-day public comment period before the delisting of
Great Lakes wolves is adopted. It will apply mainly to wolves in
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Each state will also have to adopt
its own wolf management plan.
The federal government, states, and Indian tribes recently finished a plan to restore the Great Lakes. The plan is expensive, but environmentalists hope federal money is in the works. They’re looking to other restoration projects for inspiration. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Shawn Allee
The federal government, states, and Indian tribes recently finished a plan
to restore the Great Lakes. The plan is expensive, but environmentalists
hope federal money is in the works. They’re looking to other restoration
projects for inspiration. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Shawn
Congress already backs cleanup plans, such as the one in Chesapeake
Bay, but will Congress support Great Lakes restoration, too?
One advocacy group says the track record’s unclear. A report by the
Northeast Midwest Institute compared seven eco-restoration efforts. Co-
Author Karen Vigmostad says Congress starts projects, but doesn’t
always stay committed.
She cites the Florida Everglades.
“There’s been some planning money, but in terms of actually
implementing the plan, the money has not been forthcoming. The state
of Florida’s pretty much been footing that bill.”
The Great Lakes restoration plan faces its first major hurdle soon.
President Bush will release his budget by February. Great Lakes
advocates want 300 million dollars to kick-start the project.
The administration staff is divided on whether to spend that much.
Russ Allen breeds and grows thousands of shrimp in a
barn in his backyard. The entire process is contained. There's no water
coming in or going out, and there's no waste leaving his farm. (Photo by
Russ Allen sells all the fresh shrimp he produces three days
a week at his market in Okemos, Mich. (Photo by Corbin Sullivan)
Russ Allen breeds shrimp in big tanks of water that mimic
an environment off the shore of the ocean, where the water quality and
temperature are stable. (Photo by Corbin Sullivan)
Recently, shrimp surpassed tuna as the most-consumed seafood in the United States. Most of the shrimp Americans eat is produced in Southeast Asia, India, Mexico and Brazil. Russ Allen wants to change that. He’s opened one of the world’s few indoor shrimp farms in the Midwest. Allen says his operation meets an obvious market demand, is good for the environment, and presents a new economic opportunity for the country. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
Recently, shrimp surpassed tuna as the most-consumed seafood in the
United States. Most of the shrimp Americans eat is produced in
Southeast Asia, India, Mexico and Brazil. Russ Allen wants to change
that. He’s opened one of the world’s few indoor shrimp farms in the
Midwest. Allen says his operation meets an obvious market demand, is
good for the environment, and presents a new economic opportunity for
the country. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
In a big blue barn in Russ Allen’s backyard, there are thousands of
shrimp… beady-eyed, bacteria-munching, bottom-feeders.
Here, the life cycle of the shrimp starts in the breeding center, where
two big tanks of water mimic a place 150 feet deep off the shore of the
ocean where the water quality and temperature are stable. Allen says
it’s the perfect environment for shrimp to mate.
“Like in just about all animals the male chases the female, and they do a
little courtship dance, and then the male will deposit a spermatophore on
the female and when she spawns, the eggs pass through the
spermatophore, are fertilized and then go out into the water.”
A few months later, the shrimp end up in the production room where all
they do is eat, and sometimes, if they get excited or spooked, they jump
right out of their tanks.
“They don’t like light…”
“Oh (laughing)! Do you ever have them hit you as you’re standing
“Oh yeah, that’s why we have the nets up so they don’t jump.”
Russ Allen has been farming shrimp for three decades. He started in
Ecuador, and then went to Belize, where he started the country’s first
Allen and his wife moved back to Michigan in 1990, when he started
designing his indoor shrimp farm. It finally opened for business about a
year ago, and now, he’s selling all the shrimp he produces.
(Sound of shrimp market)
Allen says his indoor shrimp farm is one of the first of its kind in the
world. There’s no waste leaving his farm, so pollution’s not an issue,
and because there’s no water coming in or going out, there’s no danger
of introducing diseases into his system.
Allen says an indoor farm also moves shrimp farming away from fragile
coastal ecosystems. That’s where most of the industry has developed
around the world.
“In a place like the United States with all the development on the
coastline and land costs, you can’t really do it anywhere near the ocean
anyway. So, if you’re going to have a viable shrimp farming system in
the United States, you need to move it away from – you know – these coastal areas.”
But indoor farms haven’t always been a viable option, either.
In the 1980s, a handful of them opened in the U.S., including a big one in
Chicago. They all failed because the technology didn’t work quite right,
and because the cost of production made them unable to compete with
Bill More is a shrimp farming consultant and vice president of the
Aquaculture Certification Council. He says now, indoor shrimp farmers
have a better chance of making a go of it.
“Coming from third-world countries, there’s been a lot of issues with
illegal antibiotics being found in shrimp. There’s been environmental
and social issues that environmentalists have come down hard upon. It’s
sort of prompted the opportunity for a good indoor system where
you could manage those and you didn’t challenge the environment.”
But More says creating and maintaining a clean, organic indoor shrimp
farm is still very expensive, and it seems an even bigger problem now
that the price of shrimp is the lowest it’s been in a decade.
Shrimp farmer Russ Allen says he’s invested several million dollars in
his business. He’s the only guy in the game right now, which he
admits is good for business, but he doesn’t want it that way. He says
he’d like to see the industry grow in Michigan, and throughout the
“In order to do that the government has got to be a partner in this, and
that has been the challenge… that when you don’t have an industry, you
don’t have lobbyists and nobody listens to you and you can’t get an
industry until they do listen to you. So, that’s been our real challenge
Allen says he wants the government to offer tax breaks and other
financial assistance to the aquaculture industry like it does to other
sectors of the economy, but he says he can’t even get some local elected
officials to come and see his shrimp farm. He says with so many
companies moving jobs and factories overseas, he thinks government
leaders should be looking for ways to help new and perhaps
unconventional industries like his, grow.
Emerald Ash borer is a type of beetle that is threatening black
ash trees. (Photo courtesy of USFS)
American Indians have been making baskets from the wood
of black ash trees for hundreds of years. Now, they see that tradition threatened by a beetle. The emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees in Lower Michigan over the past few years, and Indian basket makers are preparing for the day when their grandchildren may no longer find black ash. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bob Allen
American Indians have been making baskets from the wood of black ash trees
for hundreds of years. Now, they see that tradition threatened by a beetle. The
emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees in Lower Michigan over the
past few years, and Indian basket makers are preparing for the day when their
grandchildren may no longer find black ash. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Bob Allen reports:
(Sound of museum)
The Anishinabe believe the black ash tree is a gift to their people, and they say
its carried them through many hard times. The story of the baskets is part of a
display in the Ziibiwing Center at the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation in
Judy Pamp is assistant director of the Center, and she remembers how
important baskets were when she was growing up.
“If we ate it was because there were baskets to sell or trade, and it went from
that being the thing that sustained us to where now it’s more of a an art and a rare art,
and that you do in limited quantities.”
Pamp comes from a long line of basket makers, and she’d like to pass on the
skills to her granddaughter, but she says the baskets aren’t the most
important thing… rather it’s a sense of connection among the generations.
“You know the whole family pulling together, the whole community pulling
together to help one another out… that everybody was important and
everybody had their role.”
Some family members may be good at one part of the basket making, and
there’s plenty of work to divvy up. First, there’s going into a swamp to find a
black ash tree, cut it down and haul it out.
(Sound of pounding)
Then, there’s peeling off the bark, and pounding the wood into strips, called
splints, for baskets. All that can take 25 hours of hand labor. Then, it’s
another 6 or 8 hours to weave a basket. Without the trees, basket makers worry
they may lose that closeness of working together.
The emerald ash borer isn’t on tribal lands yet, but it’s in
two neighboring counties. Scientists say it’s only a matter of time before the
beetle invades the reservation and wipes out the ash tree. The invasive pest got
to the U.S. in cargo shipped from Asia. Despite quarantines the bug continues to
spread because people move infested firewood, timber or landscape trees.
Deb McCullough is an entomologist at Michigan State University. She
concedes ash trees in Lower Michigan are goners.
“Took me a while to get my mind around that. You know we’re going to see
somewhere probably in the neighborhood of four hundred million ash trees in the forests
of lower Michigan that eventually are going to succumb to emerald ash borer
unless something really amazing happens in the next few years.”
McCullough says they’re looking for a way to help trees resist the insect, or a
predator to keep it in check, but it might be years before a solution is found.
So, the tribes are looking at their own ways to deal with the ash borer.
(Sound of splint pulling)
One idea is to harvest a whole bunch of black ash splints for baskets and freeze
them to use later. That would keep basket making going for a while.
(Sound of basket maker)
Another plan is to collect and save seeds from black ash trees.
Basket maker Renee Dillard says someday maybe trees can be replanted from
seed, but she says that means forty or fifty years before any wood is
harvestable, and she doesn’t think she’ll be around then to teach her
grandchildren how to choose the right tree and pound out the splints.
(Sound of pounding)
“As a people, we’re pretty resilient and we can adapt to change. It’s just that we’re
losing an important part of that whole black ash process, and I don’t want my great
grandchildren to just make baskets. They need to understand the whole process because
it’s done carefully and prayerfully.”
Dillard follows the old ways. She lays down tobacco as an offering of thanks for the tree,
and she believes this calls her ancestors to witness her use of the gift.
The Anishinabe don’t know why the emerald ash borer is taking their trees at
this time, but their tradition teaches for every hardship there will be an answer
and something to balance the loss.