The first logging under new Bush administration rules has begun in a National Forest roadless wilderness area. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:
The first logging under new Bush administration rules has begun in a National Forest
roadless wilderness area. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:
This is the first logging since the Bush administration eased a rule put in place by the
Clinton administration. That rule had made tens of millions of acres of wilderness areas
off-limits to logging, mining and development.
Protesters near Grants Pass, Oregon delayed the logging for a few hours by blocking a
bridge, but one person was arrested and the blockade removed to allow loggers to enter.
The logging operation is cutting down trees killed by a fire in 2002. The timber is being
taken from the site by helicopter.
According to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the logging began after a
federal judge refused to block it pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the Bush
administration’s new “roadless rule.” The suit was brought by conservation groups and
the states of Oregon, Washington, California and New Mexico. The court ruling is not
expected before September.
Centennial Acres Golf Course in Sunfield, Michigan has increased protections for employees who mix and
load chemicals, and has learned how to apply pesticides correctly. (Photo by
The golf course is enrolled in the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.
The course has built barriers around its wellheads to guard against potential groundwater
pollution. (Photo by Erin Toner)
The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program recommends golf
courses build cement pads and walls around fuel tanks to prevent leaks and
contamination. (Photo by Erin Toner)
Golf courses are among the biggest water users in the country,
and they use a lot of pesticides and fertilizers that could end up in waterways. The potential for pollution is growing as golf becomes more popular around the world. But thousands of golf courses are working to become certified as environmentally-friendly. The GLRC’s Erin Toner reports on a program that helps golf courses comply with environmental laws, save money, and become more natural:
Golf courses are among the biggest water users in the country, and they use a lot of
pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that could end up in waterways. The potential for
pollution is growing as golf becomes more popular around the world. But thousands of
golf courses are working to become certified as environmentally-friendly. The GLRC’s
Erin Toner reports on a program that helps golf courses comply with environmental laws,
save money, and become more natural:
I’m at Centennial Acres Golf Course in Sunfield, Michigan and it’s a perfect summer day:
the sky is a deep blue, the air is warm and it smells like grilled hot dogs. The hot dogs
are for military veterans here for a golf outing. The outing hasn’t started yet, but already
most of the day’s work on the course is finished. The fairways and the greens have been
sprayed and mowed, and a couple of high school kids are washing the mowers and
parking them in a big garage.
(Sound of sprayer)
Debbie Swartz is the director of the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship
Program at Michigan State University. It certifies golf courses that have completed a list
of environmental improvements. Today, Swartz is doing a follow-up visit at Centennial
Acres to check on the course’s progress. She’s watching how the staff is cleaning the lawn
“The problem is that you need to get rid of the water and you need to get rid of the
clippings. And years ago, a very easy solution would be to take this operation and put it
as close to a river as possible. And we’ve learned over the years that that’s not
appropriate. You’re loading a waterway with nutrients and so we needed to come up with
solutions on how we could clean equipment in an environmentally-sound way.”
Swartz says Centennial Acres is doing it the right way. The mowers are being cleaned on
a cement pad to reduce runoff. Clippings are first blown off the machines with air
sprayers so fewer pesticides end up in the water. Then, the clippings and the water are
applied to the golf course. This is one of many changes the course has made after
enrolling in the Environmental Stewardship Program. It also installed cement pads and
walls around its fuel tanks and it built barriers around wellheads to guard against
groundwater pollution. Josh Mattice is the golf course superintendent. He says he was
surprised at all the things he needed to work on:
“Absolutely, there was a lot of stuff that that’s the way it’s been for years and you really
don’t pay much attention to it and when somebody else brings it up it kind of turns a light
bulb on and says oh, geez, you know, that’s a good idea, or that’s something that we need
to look into.”
Mattice says the biggest change was protecting ponds and creeks on the course from
chemicals. To do that, he stopped mowing right up to the water’s edge and let those areas
grow naturally, weeds and all. The vegetation serves as a buffer, trapping chemicals
before they get into the water. Mattice says these overgrown areas were kind of tough at
first for the golfers because perfectly manicured courses have been the gold standard in
“It was rough at first, ha, ha, that’s for sure. But now that they’ve gotten used to it and
understand the reasoning behind it, they’re all for it. They’ve learned to appreciate the
Now, 15 acres on the golf course never get mowed, saving gas and money. Similar
buffers zones are being created at nearly all the golf courses in the stewardship program.
(Sound of golf swing)
Paul McCoy is teeing off at Centennial Acres. He’s been a member here for 15 years, and
he golfs every single day. McCoy says he doesn’t mind the natural buffers because they’re
mostly out-of-play areas anyway. And he likes the wildlife they attract:
“When I’m out on the course every day and I see turkeys all over the place, like I did
today, eight turkeys. Yesterday I saw two bucks out there with the velvet steel on the
horns. And I’ve seen the hawks nest out there with two hawks, a mother hawk and I see
that everyday I think it’s a great place to be right here on this golf course.”
About a quarter of Michigan’s 900 golf courses are enrolled in the Environmental
Stewardship Program. Audubon International has a similar certification program, with
more than 2 thousand golf courses enrolled worldwide.
It costs a couple hundred dollars a year for courses to be involved in these programs. But
the cost is pretty low compared to potential fines for violating environmental rules. The
program’s also helping to bring in business for some courses. Already this summer, a
handful of groups have booked Centennial Acres for their golf outings specifically
because the course has been certified as a friend of the environment.
Ethanol plants are being built all over the corn belt. 97 plants are
operating and another 34 new plants or expansions are underway, according
to the Renewable Fuels Association. A by-product of the process is corn
mash, or distillers grain. The distillers are hoping to sell it all to
nearby livestock farms. (Photo by Lester Graham)
The federal government has called for more renewable fuels for cars and trucks over the next few years. Ethanol from corn is expected to meet much of that demand. As ethanol production increases, the distillers are looking for ways to make money on some of the by-products of the process. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports on how the ethanol distillers might market what’s left over after turning corn into ethanol:
The federal government has called for more renewable fuels for cars
and trucks over the next few years. Ethanol from corn is expected
to meet much of that demand. As ethanol production increases, the
distillers are looking for ways to make money on some of the by-
products of the process. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports on
how the ethanol distillers might market what’s left over after
turning corn into ethanol:
(Sound of construction)
New ethanol plants are being built every year. 97 plants are in
operation today and the Renewable Fuels Association indicates 34 new or
expanded plants are under construction. The ethanol refinery
industry is gearing up for the expansion that the government wants.
Ethanol plants are basically giant corn alcohol stills. They produce
huge batches of – well – moonshine, but like moonshiner stills,
there’s a corn mash left over. It’s called distillers grain, and with
all the new plants coming online, there’s going to be a lot more of the
by-product in the future. Distillers grain can be used as livestock feed.
So, the agricultural industry is trying to get more cattle farmers and
others to buy it.
Tracy Jones is a farmer in northern Illinois. He says the agriculture
industry and the ethanol plants that want to get rid of the distillers
grain cheaply, have been encouraging farmers to expand their
“And I know some producers that are maybe expanding. It’s a
good deal, but it’s not that good of a deal, and there’s a lot of other
issues that go into the cattle feeding business besides just getting
Jones has been feeding wet distillers grain from Wisconsin to his
cattle for about a year. Jones says the distillers grain makes sense
as long as the price doesn’t get too high.
“We need to buy it cheaply. We’re basically using it as a corn
replacer. So, when we have cheap corn, you still need to buy the
by-products cheaply also.”
Jones says his cattle are gaining weight at about five-cents a pound
cheaper using distillers grain as part of the mix of feed. Part of the
reason is the price is lower, but distillers grain has another
advantage… it’s higher in protein than plain corn. It’s got about the
same protein content as soybean meal.
That makes Jason Anderson think this stuff might be good to
export overseas as a food for people. Anderson is the Economic
Development Director for the city of Rochelle, Illinois. An ethanol
plant is being built in his city. With a couple of major railways and
a cargo container transfer station in his town, exporting dried distillers
grain would be easy. Because of the nation’s trade deficit, about
half the cargo containers go back to their original country empty.
Anderson says the by-product could be dried to a sort of high-
protein corn meal and shipped.
“Dried distillers grain could be put into intermodal containers,
which are sealed containers, put on a train and sent to the west
coast. They could also be shipped over the Pacific Ocean to starving
countries on the other side of the world.”
Corn tofu, anyone?
Exporting dried distillers grain as human food overseas hasn’t been
discussed much, but shipping it to cattle feedlots in Texas and
other cattle country has been discussed. Agriculture experts think
the ethanol plants located in the corn-belt won’t find enough
livestock in the immediate area to buy the product.
“At this point, where the livestock are and where the plants are
there’ll be a lot of them that has to be shipped.”
Jim Hilker is an agriculture marketing expert at Michigan State
University. He says he’s not sure the ethanol plants will make
much money on distillers grain, especially if they have to ship it to
cattle feedlots out west. That’s because they’ll have to dry the
product… and that adds to the cost.
“The first ones, I think, are making some money before we get
saturated on this, and I think if we put a system for handling it and
stuff in place, they’ll probably. But, if they can more than cover
the cost – remember, otherwise there’s disposal fees too. So, a
break-even here is a pretty good deal.”
So if the distillers just recover the drying and shipping costs, it
would be better than paying to dump the distillers grain in a
But farmer Tracy Jones says he thinks the ethanol manufacturers
have already figured out the by-product will be abundant… and
they’re still counting on making some money on it.
“When they do their financials for their ethanol plant, they don’t
plan on giving this product away. So, they need to get something
Jones says he’s noticed the ethanol producers don’t call distillers
grain a by-product of the process. They call it a co-product. He
thinks that’s a little marketing ploy that indicates the ethanol
plants definitely plan to demand a good price for the livestock feed,
regardless of the glut on the market.
A government report has found federal agencies collect a lot of data on water quality, but don’t always share the information in a way that can help the environment. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
A government report has found federal agencies collect a lot of data on water
quality, but don’t always share the information in a way that can help the
environment. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
The investigative arm of Congress, the General Accounting Office, looked at how
federal agencies and state governments gather water quality data. It found the
different agencies are either not coordinating their efforts or have difficulty
doing that. That’s because: 1) agencies collect the same data for different
reasons; 2) they use different methods; 3) each agency is unaware what the
others are collecting; and 4) coordinating the information is just not a big
priority for them. The problem is collecting water quality data is expensive,
so duplication is a waste of taxpayer money.
The General Accounting Office is recommending Congress designate a lead agency
to coordinate the water quality data and establish clear standards so everyone
is measuring the same things in the same way.
For the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium, this is Lester Graham.