If you think your neighbor across the border sends too much garbage to your local landfill, you now have a songwriter on your side. The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
If you think your neighbor across the border sends too much garbage to
your local landfill, you now have a songwriter on your side. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Some states are dumping grounds for trash from other states and from
Canada. The U.S. federal courts have ruled that the garbage hauling is
interstate commerce and have protected the practice, but that doesn’t
quiet a Wisconsin musician who lives near a fast growing landfill which
takes in trash from three states.
“Thank you for your generosity. Mountains full of garbage give us one
more place to ski.”
Kevin McMullin’s song urges the other states to just send cash instead of
trash, but many pro-business legislators in some states see trash as cash.
So, when environmentalists call for higher landfill dumping fees to try to
slow the amount of garbage… the lawmaker’s song remains the same –
they vote no.
More than 90 colleges across the country are locked in a competition. Only this competition isn’t played with a ball it’s played with trash. The GLRC’s Fred Kight explains:
More than 90 colleges across the country are locked in a competition.
Only this competition isn’t played with a ball it’s played with trash. The
GLRC’s Fred Kight explains:
The competition is known as Recycle-mania and it started five years ago
when officials at two rival schools in Ohio decided they needed to do
something about the amount of trash being generated on their campuses.
Over a period of several weeks, the two competed to see who could
recycle the most.
The next year, more colleges signed up… and now the number
participating is up to 93. They’ve joined in to reduce waste and save
money but Ohio University organizer Ed Newman says there’s more to it
“We’re cranking out citizens from this place… and if they could take
some of these better habits and expand on them… transfer these ideas to
the community… I think that’s part of our role as an educational
The winning school will be crowned after the competition ends on April
A group of private landowners recently asked for help from the federal government to stop what they say is a threat to a rare fish in the region. The GLRC’s Gretchen Millich reports:
A group of private landowners recently asked for help from the federal
government to stop what they say is a threat to a rare fish in the region.
The GLRC’s Gretchen Millich reports:
The Huron Mountain Club, along with the Sierra Club, claims a
proposed mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula would pollute the only
remaining spawning grounds of the Coaster Brook Trout. They’ve asked
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare the Coaster Brook Trout
Peter Dykema is a spokesperson for the Huron Mountain Club. He says
the fish was once abundant, but now spawns in only one stream.
“150 years ago, it was one of the most celebrated game fish in America.
It is one of the most beautiful animals you’d ever see and we believe it
will be possible to restore that fish, if not to its original abundance to
considerably greater abundance than we now have.”
Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company wants to dig for nickel and copper
underneath the Coaster Brook Trout’s spawning grounds. Dykema says
an endangered listing would require the company to make sure their
mining activities don’t harm the fish.
Pennsylvania has joined a growing number of states that are cutting mercury emissions beyond federal guidelines. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause brain damage in fetuses and small children. The GLRC’s Susan Phillips
Pennsylvania has joined a growing number of states that are cutting
mercury emissions beyond the federal guidelines. Mercury is a
neurotoxin that can cause brain damage in fetuses and small children.
The GLRC’s Susan Phillips reports:
Pennsylvania officials say the EPA’s current mercury standards threaten
public health. That’s why they announced a plan this week to reduce
mercury pollution by 90 percent within the next decade.
Michael Fiorentino is an environmental lawyer and a member of a
committee that will review the plan.
“Pennsylvania has some very significant coal fired power plants and the
mercury emissions are also significant so it’s the perfect opportunity for
the state to step in and do more than what the federal government was
willing to do.”
Industry representatives in Pennsylvania say the new standards will put
the state’s power plants at a competitive disadvantage. They support the
less stringent federal guidelines.
With three dozen coal burning plants, Pennsylvania is one of the largest
mercury polluters in the country.
Faced with a severe cut in federal funding, the state of Ohio is scaling back its fight against the emerald ash borer. The burrowing insect has killed millions of ash trees in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. And researchers fear the bug will soon spread to other states. The GLRC’s Mike Thompson
Faced with a severe cut in federal funding, the state of Ohio is scaling
back its fight against the emerald ash borer. The burrowing insect has
killed millions of ash trees in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, and
researchers fear the bug will soon spread to other states. The GLRC’s
Mike Thompson reports:
Since the emerald ash borer was first spotted in Ohio in 2003, the state
has cut a quarter of a million ash trees – most of them in the northwest
part of the state. The federal government has paid for the cutting, but
Ohio’s federal funding for ash tree protection has shrunk from 17 million
dollars to about 1 million dollars.
So state officials say they will reduce the cutting of ash trees to keep the
bug from spreading. The state will let the northwest Ohio infestation run
its natural course, choosing instead to cut trees in other parts of the state.
Melissa Brewer speaks for The Ohio Department of Agriculture
“If you ignore those infestations, those infestations are going to grow and
you are going to see an expedited demise of our ash trees.”
Ohio agriculture officials say they will also use federal money to monitor
the insect, enforce quarantines and educate the public.
The pine marten is a member of the weasel family that makes its home in yellow birch trees. (Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
Yellow birch trees can be used for lumber and paper, but they are also home to wildlife. (Photo courtesy of the Virginia Department of
Environmentalists and the U-S Forest Service often fight over the best way to balance between cutting timber for lumber and paper, and preserving wildlife habitat. Lately, the battle is over whether government just looks at each tract of land where it sells timber or whether it looks at the cumulative impacts of logging on National Forests. The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Environmentalists and the U.S. Forest Service often fight over the best
way to balance between cutting timber for lumber and paper, and
preserving wildlife habitat. Lately, the battle is over whether
government just looks at each tract of land where it sells timber or
whether it looks at the cumulative impacts of logging on National
Forests. The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
When some people look at a stand of trees they see lumber for a house or
wood for paper.
“Let’s go to the yellow birch.”
But when Ricardo Jomarron spots a stand of yellow
birch trees, he sees a valuable home for the pine marten – a member of
the weasel family. The marten is endangered in some states.
“The great thing about yellow birch is that it has a propensity to become
hollow while staying alive. So you have this wonderful den for pine
marten and other species to rear their young that isn’t going to blow over
in a windstorm.”
Jomarron is standing in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in
northern Wisconsin that’s near the border with Michigan. Last year,
Jomarron’s group, the Habitat Education Center won a federal court case
that has blocked timber sales on about 20-thousand acres in the million
and a half acre Chequamegon- Nicolet.
A judge ruled the Forest Service had violated the National
Environmental Policy Act by not considering the cumulative impact of
logging on other forest species. Logging not in just one place, but many
can have a larger impact on some wildlife that the judge said the Forest
Service didn’t consider.
But it’s not just the act of cutting down the trees that worries the
environmentalists. It’s the loss of shade that some plants need to survive
and new logging roads crossing streams where erosion damages trout
The Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center is representing the
Habitat Education Center. Attorney Howard Learner says the case is not
about banning logging in the national forests. He says it is about
restoring a system that he argues has gotten out of whack.
“In part because the Forest Service was looking at one timber sale and what the
impacts of that were, and then they’d look at another one and what the impacts of that were, and
they didn’t look at the overall impact – and what was the forest rather
than the trees.”
The Forest Service eventually decided not to appeal the judge’s rulings to
stop the disputed sales in this one forest. It’s taking another look at the
cumulative impact of the proposed deals, but the Forest Service says it
didn’t approve the timber sales without getting advice from state and
tribal experts on water and wildlife.
Chequemegon-Nicolet forest supervisor Anne Archie says her agency
has done a good job. She says if you really want to study the total effect
of forest management, look back a century when loggers cut everything
“70 to 100 years ago there was no national forest. It was shrub land and
burnt over grassland. Now the National Forest is there that provides a
habitat for the species. So cumulatively in 70 to 100 years, we’ve been
growing the habitat for the species that Habitat Education Center…we’ll
we’re all concerned for those species.”
But Habitat Education Center and other environmental groups say the
Forest Service still isn’t doing a thorough job of determining the impact
that logging might have. The environmentalists and conservation groups
say the agency’s follow-up study on the Chequemegon-Nicolet is like
Swiss cheese with many more holes than substance. Depending what
happens at the end of the current comment period, the groups could ask
the judge to keep the lid on the timber sales.
Logging companies that cut and mill the trees from the forest are not
happy about the legal battles.
James Flannery runs the Great Lakes Timber Company. He says if you
want to look at the cumulative impact to the forest, you should look at
the cumulative impact to the economy of the area.
“Part of the money generated from forest sales comes back to
communities. If we have no forest sales and there’s thousands of acres of
forests land that we harvest I’m more worried about the income of these
communities, which will be zero.”
But the environmental groups argue the broad expanse of the forests
need to be protected from multiple timber sales that cumulatively could
cause wider ecological damage. They say ignoring the health of the
forest ignores another important industry of the area: the tourism that
brings a lot of money to the north woods.
The emerald ash borer is killing ash trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Ontario... and scientists say all the ash in North America is at risk if the beetle can't be stopped. (Photo courtesy of USFS)
Adult emerald ash borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the little larvae chew right through the bark and feast on the living tissue under the bark. The beetles cut off the tree's water and food supply. When the larvae become adults, they emerge from the tree, leaving a D-shaped exit hole.(Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of
The bark of an infested ash tree splits and pulls away from the tree. Chunks of bark can fall off the tree as it dies. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Agriculture)
A tiny green beetle is killing millions of ash trees. And so far nobody’s
found a way to stop it in its tracks. The GLRC’s Rebecca Williams reports cities and states are struggling to find money to keep the beetle from spreading:
A tiny green beetle is killing millions of ash trees. And so far nobody’s
found a way to stop it in its tracks. The GLRC’s Rebecca Williams
reports cities and states are struggling to find money to keep the beetle
Once emerald ash borers chew their way into your ash trees, there’s
pretty much only one thing you can do.
(Sound of chainsaw and tree cracking and falling)
Crews here have been sawing down and chipping up trees six days a
week. In some places, crews are cutting down both dead and live trees.
Dead trees are a safety hazard. Cutting live trees near infested areas can
help contain the beetles.
The emerald ash borer is native to China. Scientists think it got in on
wood packing crates more than ten years ago. The emerald ash borer eats
through the living part of the tree just underneath the bark. The beetles
cut off the tree’s water and food supply… so it starves to death. 15
million ash trees are dead or dying in Michigan. Hundreds of thousands
are dying in Ohio, Indiana and Ontario, and it could spread to other states
Some cities have been hit really hard. For example, some of the trees in
Ann Arbor, Michigan have been dead for a couple of years. Kay
Sichenader is the city’s forester. She says she’s worried about limbs
breaking off trees, or bark falling off in 80 pound chunks.
“There’s some terrifically bad ones out there. Nothing will make me
happier than when those trees are down, I gotta tell you.”
This isn’t the first time cities have lost big shade trees. Dutch elm
disease almost wiped out American elms in the 1960’s and 70’s. It’s a
little ironic: people planted ash trees to replace the elms because they
thought ash trees were invincible.
That love of ash trees means cities are losing 20 or 30 percent of their
trees, and they’re spending millions of dollars to take trees out.
Forester Kay Sichenader says her city normally takes out a thousand old
trees a year. Now, she’s got ten times as many trees to cut down.
“If I never bumped it up, and we just remained with our thousand a year,
we would never change because it would take me ten years to get the ash
out. In the meantime I’d have 10,000 more dead trees to deal with. It’s
Sichenader says the city’s trying to get the dead ash trees out as fast as
they can. She’s contracted five extra crews to saw down trees. She
hopes they’ll be done by the end of the year, but it might be longer.
Many homeowners are getting impatient. They’re worried about big
branches falling on their cars or homes. Or worse, falling on their kids.
Laura Lee Hayes lives in a cul-de-sac with four infested ash trees. She
points out a big branch on her neighbor’s dead tree.
“This whole piece is just laying here, ready to pull off, and there are
small children that play in this yard. That’s why I look to my city to get
over here and get these trees down. There’s a real frightening aspect to
Hayes says she tried to pay to take the trees down herself, but she found
out it would’ve cost more than a thousand dollars.
In Indiana, homeowners now have to spend their own money to get rid of
dead trees in their yards. State officials say they can’t afford to keep
cutting down live ash trees to slow the infestation. The state won’t be
giving money to help cities cut down dead trees either. That could mean
the emerald ash borer will spread unchecked.
At first, the federal government sent states several million dollars to fight
the beetle, but now the money’s just trickling in. In 2004, Michigan
Governor Jennifer Granholm asked President Bush to declare the state a
federal disaster area. That request was denied. Recently, officials in
Ohio and Michigan said they’ll have to cut back on containing new
These trends worry scientists.
Deb McCullough is a forest entomologist at Michigan State University.
She says states barely have enough money to monitor how far the beetle’s
spreading, and she says a lot more money’s needed for ad campaigns to
tell people to stop moving firewood. The beetle spreads fastest when
campers or hunters move infested wood.
“You have to look down the road, and either you spend millions of
dollars today to try to contain emerald ash borer or we’re going to be
looking at losses in the tens of billions of dollars in the future, and it’s not
too distant of a future.”
McCullough says if more funding doesn’t come in states might need to
have timber sales to take ash out before the beetle kills it. And cities will
still be paying millions of dollars to take out dead trees. That means
people who live in those cities might see cuts in other programs or have
to pay higher taxes.
Deb McCullough says the economic impacts are serious… but the
environmental impacts could be even worse. She says it’s hard to know
how wildlife might be affected if we continue to lose millions of ash
Diseases caused by contaminated water are common in the developing world, but they’re also making a comeback in the United States where the water might be too clean. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Charity Nebbe
Diseases caused by contaminated water are common in the developing
world, but they’re also making a comeback in the United States where
the water might be too clean. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Charity Nebbe has more:
In 1993, the water-borne pathogen Cryptosporidium claimed 54 lives in
Milwaukee. Incidents of that magnitude are rare, but outbreaks of
water-borne pathogens are increasingly common.
Floyd Frost is an epidemiologist at Lovelace Respiratory Research
Institute in New Mexico and he believes the increase in disease is
linked to improvement in water purification technology. As evidence he
points to his research, published in The Journal of Infectious
Diseases, that shows lower incidence of disease in communities that
drink surface water…
“Perhaps the low dose exposures in surface water are immunizing
people so that they don’t get sick, whereas in the ground water it’s
relatively clean most of the time, but when contamination occurs people
get much sicker.”
Frost believes that to prevent future outbreaks water treatment
facilities need to focus on preventing plant failures rather than
The Bush administration is proposing to sell 200 thousand
acres of national forest land. The proposal has drawn fire from environmentalists who are concerned about the long-range effects of the plan. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Steve Carmody reports:
The Bush administration is proposing to sell 200 thousand acres of
national forest land. The proposal has drawn fire from environmentalists
who are concerned about the long-range effects of the plan. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Steve Carmody reports:
The National Forest Service is proposing to sell hundreds of small
parcels of forestland over the next five years. The parcels average 40
acres in size, and the forest service says the sales would generate roughly
800 million dollars, which would be used for rural schools and roads.
Sean Cosgrove is with the Sierra Club in Washington D.C. He says
these parcels may be small, but the effects on larger eco-systems could
“It’s kinda like taking a handful of buckshot and throwing it at a large
piece of butcher block paper. You may not cover that whole entire area,
but you can put holes all the way thru it, where it’s going to have an
In this region, Michigan would be the most effected state, with nearly six
thousand acres in the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests on the
In Minnesota, nearly three thousand acres in the Superior National Forest
are also targeted under the plan.
Federal wildlife officials have proposed removing the bald eagle from the endangered species list. In the lower 48 states, bald eagles have recovered from around 400 nesting pairs in the early 1960’s, to more than 7-thousand pairs today. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
Federal wildlife officials have proposed removing the bald eagle from
the endangered species list. In the lower 48 states, bald eagles have
recovered from around 400 nesting pairs in the early 1960s, to more than
seven thousand pairs today. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin
Major environmental groups hailed the government’s proposal to remove
the bald eagle from the endangered species list.
Doug Inkley is senior science advisor for the National Wildlife
Federation, which helped lead the bald eagle recovery.
“The success of recovering our nation’s symbol…the bald eagle…
demonstrates that with the right resources and with cooperative action by
all of those involved, the Endangered Species Act does chart a successful
path to recovery.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take public comment until May
17th on the proposed de-listing of the bald eagle. It was added to the
endangered species list in 1967, after becoming nearly extinct because of
the use of the pesticide DDT.
Some biologists are calling the proposed de-listing premature, saying the
bird’s numbers haven’t rebounded everywhere, and that its habitat still