News Articles

Eagles @ DTE Power Plant

February 20th, 2014

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/state-and-regional/eagles-make-power-plant-warm-winter-home/article_e277ad39-0e22-5f32-981a-4c8960bbe35e.html

State of the Great Lakes 2012

January 21st, 2014

See Page 17 of the Report Link Below.

http://michigan.gov/documents/deq/State_of_the_Great_Lakes_2012_405640_7.pdf

CANAL WORK ENDS FOR WINTER

January 21st, 2014

December 30, 2013

Source: Monroe News

By: Dean Cousino

The project, part of an overall plan to boost recreation opportunities along the river, is about 85 percent done, with remaining work to be done in the spring

Construction of a channel to divert water from the River Raisin around the Waterloo Dam at Veterans Park in Monroe is about 85 percent completed, with the remainder of the work suspended for the winter.

The bulk of the bypass canal at the park off N. Custer Rd. has been finished, with landscaping, seeding and other site cleanup and restoration items to be done in the spring, said Dan Swallow, director of economic and community development for the City of Monroe.

The work could resume in March or April, depending on the weather, Mr. Swallow said.

The contractor is digging a canal through a portion of the park to skirt the higher dam. A gravel access road was built and areas of the park remained cordoned off to the public because of the work.

The canal is an integral part of an overall plan to increase recreational opportunities and bring better fishing, canoeing and kayaking to the river.

All other sections of the plan essentially have been completed, said Barry LaRoy, director of water and wastewater utilities for the city. These include the dams behind the Monroe Post Office and near Virginia Dr. off W. Elm Ave.

“The last portion of the work to make the project fully functional is finishing the channel” at the Waterloo Dam, Mr. LaRoy said.

The contractor planned to set a footbridge and open the channel soon at the dam, according to Scott Dierks, senior engineer for Cardno JF New, an Ann Arbor consulting firm that is working with the city’s engineering department.

The new channel is to include a mechanism allowing it to be closed off as a safeguard to potential migration of the invasive sea lamprey, which preys on fish. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality requested the controls after studying the channel plan.

The entire project is being paid for mostly with grants from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It included building rock ramps at the two low-head dams between the Roessler St. bridge and St. Mary’s Park. The aim is to allow for fish migration upstream to points west of the city.

Work finished on the low-head dams and was nearing completion at the Grape Dam and mill race just west of Ida-Maybee Rd., Mr. Dierks said in a recent engineering update on the overall project.

When the Waterloo Dam work is completed, the passage for fish as well as recreational vessels such as kayaks largely will be unimpeded from the dam at the Old Mill in Dundee all the way to Lake Erie, Mr. Swallow said.

WINGED WONDERS

January 21st, 2014

December 27, 2013

Source: Monroe News

By: Suzanne Nolan Wisler

Most people know what a snowy owl looks like thanks to “Harry Potter.”

The mostly white bird is the young magician’s companion and helper.

But around these parts, they’re not common sights. They generally make their homes north of mid-Michigan and into Canada.

But this year, local birders made what they conside an exciting find — a snowy owl near Ida.

Nick Assenmacher and his family spotted the owl atop a utility pole and lines and in the adjacent field after it caught a mouse, said Jerry Jourdan, who compiles local results for the annual Christmas Bird Count, which was held Dec. 21.

It’s the first snowy owl to be recorded in the local count’s 44-year history, he said.

The veteran birder, however, said he wasn’t surprised at the sighting. Snowy owls are being seen more regularly in the Great Lakes region.

Just as decorating Christmas trees and getting together with family and friends has become a Christmas tradition, the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a tradition for bird-watching enthusiasts. The national event sponsored by the National Audubon Society has been taking place since 1900.

Monroe County has been involved for 44 years, said Mr. Jourdan, who’s tabulated local results since 1980.

This year’s Monroe-area count was held on a rainy Dec. 21 with 25 people participating.

Besides the snowy owl, the count officially recorded the area’s first white-winged scoter, rough-legged hawk and red-shouldered hawk, said Mr. Jourdan.

The CBC is the “largest single citizen science event in the world,” said the Erie Shores Birding Association, longtime local count sponsors.

“Participation helps contribute to the most comprehensive, longest-running database in ornithology, which provides valuable information regarding the distribution and abundance of early winter bird populations all over the Western Hemisphere,” the association said.

It all began as a way to save birds.

That long-ago Christmas Day, ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed the Christmas Bird Census as an alternative to the annual Christmas Side Hunt, which encouraged participants to shoot birds and bring in the largest pile of feathers.

The 1900 count involved 27 birders and 25 circles from Toronto to Pacific Grove, Calif. Participants counted 90 species.

Christmastime was chosen as it marks the end of fall migration.

Today, more than 50,000 birders throughout the Western Hemisphere participate in 1,700 counts. Birds can be counted for two days before and after the count date, said Mr. Jourdan, and counting at all times of day is encouraged.

“Typically we have between 15 to 25 helping to count as many birds and species in the 15-mile radius count circle over a 24-hour period,” said Mr. Jourdan.

He enjoys looking back at the count’s history and sees encouraging news among bird populations.

In 2006, Monroe produced 82 species, the highest in the state.

“The Monroe count consistently places in the top three or four counts in the state in terms of number of species, and most years, No. 1 in terms of total numbers,” said Mr. Jourdan.

This year, participants counted 74 species.

“If you look at the historical data, it is interesting to see how the count has developed over the years. We have early records of such birds as barn owls, snowy owls and rails that have not been seen in the county for over 20 years,” he said.

“We are beginning to record species that are typically wintering in more southern states, like great egrets and northern mockingbirds,” Mr. Jourdan said.

“Bald eagles have made a dramatic recovery the past 10 years, and the Monroe Power Plant and its warm-water discharge has contributed to the recovery by providing wintering grounds for the birds. A few years ago we counted over 200 bald eagles during our Christmas Count.”

This year, they counted 103 eagles.

Pleasant Passageway

September 27th, 2013

Source: Monroe News
By: Charles Slat

Tons of rock and stone are being dumped into the River Raisin in Monroe to sculpt the waterway into a more pleasant passageway for fish and people.
Lee & Ryan, a Greenfield, Ind., contractor, is altering the areas around low dams in the river, creating a better spawning ground for game fish and better fishing grounds for anglers.
“We’re putting little swales in it for the fish and also some sitting stones,” explained Renne Mitchell, site superintendent for Lee & Ryan.
The crew used heavy equipment to ferry in huge boulders, “armor stone” and smaller crushed rock to the dam just south of Roessler St. so fish can make their way upriver to feed and spawn.
It’s another segment of an overall project begun last year to improve habitat and eliminate a series of dams that tend to block fish migration from Lake Erie.
The depth near the dam off W. Elm Ave. across from Norman Towers has been decreased to less than two feet from five feet by filling the downstream side of the dam with rock.
Mr. Mitchell said 2,300 tons of rock are being used to create better fish passage and better protect nearby banks and sewer lines that cross the river in the area.
The work on the dam was expected to be completed by today and the crew will move to a similar dam a bit farther downstream where 2,100 tons of rock are expected to be used in the same fashion.
Barry LaRoy, director of water and wastewater utilities for the City of Monroe, said placing the rocks along the dam above Sister’s Island was a bit complicated.
“The island splits the flow of the river as the flow goes around it,” he said. Placement of the stones had to account for that.
The “sitting stones” — large boulders placed just downstream of the dam — will provide a resting place for migrating fish because they will serve to block the force of the current for the fish before they proceed up over the dam and traverl farther upstream.
The boulders also will be handy perches for anglers who will be able to wade easily into that part of the river on top of the newly placed stone.
Dams removed or lowered last year already have seemed to improve the number of game fish in the river in downtown areas and has increased the number of fishermen in the downtown area.
After work on the two dams south of Roessler St. is completed, Lee & Ryan workers will move on to creating a fish channel through part of Veterans Park to skirt the Waterloo Dam and then will improve fish passages at the dam at Ida-Maybee Rd.
All the work is expected to be completed by the end of November at an expected cost of $1.39 million, mostly paid by federal grants.