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  • Events
  • Headlines
  • Publications 
  • Staff News

Sea Grant 50th ...

June's 50th anniversary theme is Coastal Tourism.  The 50th team have put together a collection of Coastal Tourism mobile apps and videos as well as a guidance for promoting this month's theme and a summary of Sea Grant highlights related to Coastal Tourism. 

Update on May's theme of community resilience: A new interactive map on the Sea Grant website highlights community resilience projects happening around the country. There is also a summary of Sea Grant's work on community resilience efforts available. 

Contents
Events
Headlines
Publications
Staff News



Events
June 21-July 1 - Drill Conductor Training for Great Lakes commercial fishing vessel captains - Michigan and Wisconsin
June 30 - Stone Lab Guest Lecture Series - Conservation at the Toledo Zoo - Stone Lab, Put-in-Bay, OH
July 7 - Webinar: Forecast for Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie in 2016
July 7- Stone Lab Guest Lecture: Can Lake Erie help us monitor algal blooms in the rest of the country? - Stone Lab, Put-in-Bay, OH
July 9 - Fisheries Fundamentals Workshop - Stone Lab, Put-in-Bay, OH
July 14 - Stone Lab Guest Lecture: The Role of NOAA in Great Lakes Research - Stone Lab, Put-in-Bay, OH
July 18-20 - Saginaw Bay Fishing Camp - Bay City, MI
July 19 - 1pm EDT “Fisheries Knowledge Exchange” webinar.  local seafood distribution, small-scale fisheries, and coastal community development.  
July 23 - BioBlitz Professional Development for Educators - Vanderbilt, MI
July 23 - Aquatic Invasive Species Sentry Volunteer Training Program - Duluth, MN
July 28 - Stone Lab Guest Lecture: The GLRI and the GLWQA - Stone Lab, Put-in-Bay, OH
August 4 - Stone Lab Guest Lecture: Conserving the Great Lakes as a Whole System - Stone Lab, Put-in-Bay, OH
August 17 - Crude Move Webinar Series: Regulatory Activity and Environmental Requirements
September 19 - PA Lake Erie Environmental Forum  
September 29-30 - Community-based Social Marketing Workshop - Burlington, VT
 
Headlines
Michigan Sea Grant - Research tackles key Great Lakes issues
Every two years, Michigan Sea Grant funds research that addresses important ecological and socioeconomic Great Lakes issues. For the 2016-18 funding cycle, two integrated assessments, one core research project and two research fellows received funding.  The 2016-18 funded projects include:

  • Using an Integrative Assessment for Green Infrastructure Implementation: Planning for a Sustainable Future - Donald Carpenter of Lawrence Technological University, with Sanjiv Sinha of Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., and Avik Basu of University of Michigan.  Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils and natural processes to manage stormwater at the source. Many Michigan communities have begun to examine green infrastructure as an alternative to traditional gray infrastructure, and have begun using a range of natural and built systems/processes in their stormwater management programs. However, large-scale strategic implementation of green infrastructure is not common due to many challenges including competing regulatory drivers and policy frameworks, lack of goals and metrics, lack of funding, lack of incentives for private parcel owners, and others. This project will identify and address challenges associated with the large-scale adoption of green infrastructure in the state of Michigan.
  • An Integrated Assessment of Cisco Restoration in Lake Michigan - Sara Adlerstein, Julia Wondolleck and Michael Wiley of University of Michigan, and David Clapp and Randy Claramunt of Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Cisco, historically the dominant prey species in the Great Lakes, supported a large fishery but was decimated by overfishing, habitat deterioration and invasive species interactions. Now restoration opportunities exist as habitat has improved and key invasive species are declining. This project will engage people likely to be affected by cisco restoration and will facilitate dialogue with managers from local, state, federal and non-government organizations involved in decision-making. It will help resource managers evaluate policy options by providing and assessing relevant information and identifying necessary tools and data to guide restoration.
  • Restoration Economics: Investigating the Effects of Area-of-Concern Remediation on Residential Housing Prices and Neighborhood Demographic Characteristics - Michael Moore and Robyn Meeks of University of Michigan.  This project will analyze the economic impacts of restoration activities in the 31 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs). AOCs are areas within the Great Lakes Basin with a legacy of environmental degradation of a water body. Key AOC program milestones include listing in 1987, restoration efforts to address beneficial use impairments and final delisting. The project team will study the impacts of these milestones on economic outcomes in the vicinity of AOCs, including: housing prices, population density and neighborhood composition (such as residents’ income and educational characteristics). The research will contribute to the field of environmental economics and to Great Lakes policy by: improving our understanding of the economics of hazardous waste; evaluating the benefits, costs and impacts of AOC restoration; and providing a template for project evaluation under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
  • Use of Dual-Frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON) Cameras to Estimate Migration Timing and Abundance of Fishes in Medium and Large Streams in Michigan - Erin McCann (research fellow) and Kevin Pangle (advisor) of Central Michigan University, and Nicholas Johnson of USGS Great Lakes Science Center (agency advisor).  This project will be the first to use state-of-the-art acoustic cameras in Great Lakes tributaries to estimate migration timing and abundance of sea lamprey, a damaging invasive species, and rainbow trout, a valued species. Dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) cameras are capable of imaging fish up to 40 meters away using sound waves, allowing researchers to identify and count fish in large rivers with turbid and/or no-light conditions. The project will develop a semi-automated computer program used for analyzing DIDSON echograms that will be made freely available. The research fellow will compare DIDSON counts of upstream migrating adult sea lamprey with estimates calculated from mark-recapture methods currently used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The fellow also will determine whether DIDSON technology provides any previously undocumented insight into the timing of stream entry of sea lamprey and rainbow trout.
  • Assessing the Spatial Characteristics and Temporal Distribution of Harmful Algal Blooms in Western Lake Erie - Angela Yu (research fellow) and Colleen Mouw (advisor) of Michigan Technological University, Tom Johengen of NOAA-GLERL Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (agency advisor).  This study aims to characterize and understand the spatial and temporal extent of Microcystis blooms in Lake Erie’s western basin. Microcystis is the microscopic blue-green algae responsible for toxic algae blooms that have impaired drinking water supplies in Toledo and other area communities. To accomplish this, a combination of satellite imagery, continuous buoy observations, previous in situ field measurements, meteorological observations and river flow data will be utilized to identify the optical water type and signatures in satellite imagery associated with harmful algal blooms. The research fellow is interested in how the combined impacts of input from the Maumee and Detroit rivers and wind stress influence bloom initiation and movement within the basin. 

WI Sea Grant - Walleye in Waiting

Like many involved in Wisconsin’s burgeoning aquaculture industry, Chris Hartleb is part of the search for sustainable fish species that can be successfully grown and sold in pond and flow-through/tank aquaculture operations. For the last 8 years, Hartleb and UWSP-NADF have had their eyes trained firmly on the walleye.  And with good reason. Walleye has many advantages as a commercial aquaculture fish species—a walleye fillet is firm, white and sweet-tasting, and, in a nod to the health-conscious, it’s also low in polyunsaturated fat.

But walleye also has one enormous drawback for those trying to raise them in tanks and on fish farms: It’s a cannibalistic fish. State and federal fisheries that routinely culture and stock walleye typically only achieve a 15 percent survival rate.  Obviously, a 15 percent survival rate won’t translate into a workable business model for aquaculture farms, regardless of size or scale. Hartleb and aquaculture expert Greg Fischer, NADF’s facility manager, have been working to find strategies to improve it.  Their efforts are now backed by Wisconsin Sea Grant as part of that agency’s recently approved round of 2016-18 research projects.  Hartleb and Fischer’s approach has been to take the best available research on improving walleye survival and combine it.  For instance, they’ve used strategies such as slightly clouding the water or painting the inside of the tank black, making it more difficult for the fish to see and want to attack each other. Adjusting the levels of light in the tank area has also been somewhat effective in reducing cannibalism and increasing survival rates.  So has lowering the density in each tank.  “The biggest thing is actually the diet,” said Hartleb. “We’re trying to formulate a starting diet as young fish, so they’ll eat that instead of their brothers or sisters.”

Combining tank strategies with experimental feed has resulted in some tanks with walleye yields as high as 45-50 percent for the first 30 days, numbers that are much more workable for a burgeoning aquaculture operation. The key, obviously, is making the jump from “some” to “most” or “all.”  “The real question is, can you turn a profit with a 30 percent survival rate?” Hartleb said.

It’s a question the UWSP-NADF group is already working hard to answer. Backed by a USDA grant, Hartleb, Fischer and the UWSP-NADF has been working with Northside Enterprises, an aquaculture operation in Black Creek, Wisc. to test some of these strategies within an established business model. UWSP-NADF provides Northside with young fish and tracks the results.  Another such partnership involves Nelson and Pade, Inc., a Montello, Wisc.-based aquaponics business.  Aquaponics typically uses tilapia that are based on a 9-month production cycle.  If Hartleb and Fischer can shorten the typical 12-14 month walleye production cycle to match that of tilapia, the rapidly developing aquaponics industry could  have another valuable fish to culture.  

In addition to its work with walleye, UWSP-NADF has also spent the last few years culturing a hybrid aquaculture species that combines the sauger and the walleye. The saugeye, as it’s known, is a faster-growing fish—whereas the walleye can take 11-13 months to grow from egg to fillet size, the saugeye only takes nine. It’s also far less cannibalistic than the walleye, eliminating the biggest barrier.  The saugeye occurs in the wild, so it’s not a genetically manipulated fish.

Hartleb and Fischer are encouraged by the progress they’re making with both fish species—which is a good thing, given that the fate of 52 Friday-night fish frys could be depending on the outcome.  “Walleye is do-able,” said Fischer. “It’s not going to be easy, but with the right infrastructure, we’re convinced we can create a viable business model that grows the industry. There’s a market here—we’ve just got to take it.”

OH Sea Grant - Watching Fish See

In Dr. Suzanne Gray’s lab at The Ohio State University, a fish in a cylindrical tank slowly swims in circles as it follows the black and white panel rotating around the outside of the glass. Gray and her Ohio State collaborators, Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter and Eugene Braig, are studying how well fish can see both prey and predators underwater, and how that ability is influenced by changes in water clarity. They hope that the research will help Lake Erie fisheries adapt to algal blooms that reduce underwater visibility, which is important to visual hunters such as Walleye. Those important sport fish, along with prey fish like Emerald Shiners, are the current focus of the project. “We wanted to integrate this really basic science – visual physiology – with the people who are out there catching the fish,” Gray said. “Walleye fishing in Ohio is close to a $1.8 billion industry, and Walleye are going to be influenced in some way by changes to the visual environment that happen with the algal blooms in the late summer and fall.” PhD student Chelsey Nieman already completed a pilot study for the project at Stone Lab, working out details like setting up tanks for various experiments and taking care of the fish used in the study. Her two months at the lab were funded by Ohio Sea Grant’s Small Grants Program, which provides up to $10,000 in research support to applicants.  More



IL-IN Sea Grant - Crude oil brings the Great Lakes risks and benefits
Every day millions of barrels of crude oil are piped, trucked, freighted, and shipped throughout the Great Lakes basin from the Canadian Alberta oil sands and the Bakken oil fields to refineries across the nation. This much crude oil moving around the Great lakes region is not only a challenge for transportation systems but is bringing concerns over the safety of crude oil transport front and center.  Yet crude oil is important to the region, creating economic growth in the form of jobs, industry, agriculture, and government revenue.  Last fall, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network invited people from academia, industry, and non-profit organizations to Chicago to discuss research that would address concerns inherent to transporting this vital commodity. The goal of the resulting research agenda is to support optimal movement of crude oil throughout the Great Lakes with regards to public safety, the economy, and environmental protection of coastal resources.  More

IL-IN Sea Grant - Biologists can be Heroes too!
Despite all the good that natural resource biologists strive to do in monitoring the spread of Asian carp in Illinois waterways, their very presence could have unintended, perhaps even harmful consequences.  All waters are filled with environmental DNA, (eDNA) bits of cells and genetic material left behind like fingerprints at the scene of a crime. Biologists are concerned that while monitoring the movement of Asian carp they may be inadvertently spreading eDNA and clouding their monitoring efforts as well as introducing invasive species into other waterways.  “eDNA is not an invasive species, but we recognize it can be spread by boats or by our gear in the water. In our work we definitely see it can happen very quickly,” said Kevin Irons of Illinois Department of Natural Resources and coordinator of the monitoring and response plan.“These best management practices work to prevent our day to day activities as natural resource professionals from moving this eDNA around and further exacerbating invasive species spread.”

It’s been noted that some of the most invaded waters are where not only lots of people go, but also where lots of biologists do their work. Irons looked to Pat Charlebois, IISG AIS outreach coordinator, to help with the guidelines aimed at biologists.  “Some of the personnel involved in the agencies doing fieldwork don’t have a protocol in place to deal with this kind of thing,” Charlebois said. “They might not be familiar with the steps they can take or if they’re not from Illinois, they might not be aware of laws that are in place.”  IDNR is promoting prevention and trying to be proactive by encouraging the same recommendations aimed at the average angler, remove, drain and dry, but with more detailed decontamination guidelines.  “In Illinois we have our Be A Hero—Transport Zero™ campaign, so as biologists we need to be a hero and not transport things around,” Irons said.  “Sometimes we get so caught up in looking for the fish that we forget another tenet of good science—prevention.”  Find out more in about the guidelines in the 2016 Monitoring and Response Plan for Asian Carp in the Upper Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway System.

IL-IN Sea Grant - Peoria stormwater issue reaches a tipping point

Antony Corso was charged with addressing one of the most pressing issues Peoria has: combined sewer overflow. When a wet-weather condition arises and rain and melting snow overwhelm the system, this can result in raw sewage dumping into the Illinois River. The problem, which for years has plagued the city, is being closely watched by the United States and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies. The message the agencies gave the city was clear: Develop a plan to fix it.  

Kara Salazar, sustainable communities Extension specialist with IISG, led a visioning session workshop using a complex, web-based planning tool, Tipping Points and Indicators. The tool is a collaboration of 22 scientists and nine institutions. It compiles research from around the Great Lakes that identifies impacts on water quality from multiple land uses—agriculture and urban—in various locations, particularly near lakes and streams.  Tipping Points uses data to help communities and planners understand how close their watershed is to ecological thresholds and what the watershed will look like if land-use decisions continue on the same course. Cross a tipping point, and you risk not being able to rehabilitate an impacted region.  Before this Peoria project, Tipping Points had not been used on such a heavily urbanized location.  More

PA Sea Grant - Assessment of Sevenmile Creek reveals what fish species are present before restoration efforts 
Sevenmile Creek, a tributary with direct drainage into Lake Erie, suffers from issues such as stream erosion and sedimentation. Pennsylvania Sea Grant in cooperation with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie has developed a grant proposal to develop remediation efforts targeting a specific stretch of Sevenmile Creek located near the Glinodo Center north of Route 5 in Harborcreek Township.  Restoration efforts such as native tree plantings, inclusion of cross vanes, a gravel island, and widening the existing forested riparian buffer will take place to reduce surface runoff into the stream and to better shade the stream and improve habitat. More

MN Sea Grant - Educators Embark on Superior Science Expedition
A group of 15 educators from throughout the Great Lakes Basin are preparing for a rare adventure that starts and ends in the Duluth Superior Harbor of Lake Superior. From July 9-15, the chosen few will be studying Lake Superior with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and university scientists aboard the EPA's research vessel, Lake Guardian. During the week they will investigate Superior's ecological, physical and chemical processes in a way that will allow them to bring Great Lakes science into classrooms and curricula.  More  and IL-IN Sea Grant article

IL-IN Sea Grant - PPCP teacher workshop opens up The Medicine Chest
Last week IISG and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois hosted a workshop for Illinois and Indiana teachers on pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in the environment to help these teachers introduce or expand the issue of PPCPs into their classrooms.  More

NY Sea Grant - Historic Round Boat Highlights Clean and Safe Boating Tips for 2016 Boating Season
Dave White, the New York State Boating Educator of the Year in 2015, developed the Discover Clean and Safe Boating campaign in 2008 in partnership with the Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York trade group. Each year BIA members provide a different type of vessel for the educational campaign that travels to events and venues statewide to engage public interest in water safety and environmentally-friendly boating practices.  The round boat, a Circraft dating to the early 1970s, was donated for use with the 2016 educational tour by Burke’s Marina, Raquette Lake, NY.

Publications
OH Sea Grant - First Year of Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative
Ohio Sea Grant has released the annual report for the first year of funding for the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI), which seeks statewide solutions for harmful algal blooms in Ohio.

OH Sea Grant -  Forecast for Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie in 2016
On July 7, 2016 from 2-4 p.m. ET, Ohio Sea Grant’s Stone Laboratory will host a public webinar to explain NOAA’s 2016 Seasonal Forecast of Harmful Algal Blooms for Lake Erie. The event will feature expert commentary, a discussion of the history of this issue on Lake Erie, and Ohio’s response to the problem. The webinar is free, but registration is required.

OH Sea Grant - Lake Erie Birding Trail Guidebook Second Edition
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife and Ohio Sea Grant have re-released the Lake Erie Birding Trail Guidebook, a compilation of birding locations all along Ohio’s Lake Erie coast.

MI Sea Grant - West Michigan Angler’s News is Now West Michigan Fish Notes
http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/news/fish-notes-newsletter/

MI Sea Grant - Extension Articles

WI Sea Grant - Currents

This is the second summer for the “Integrated Nowcast/Forecast Operation System” (INOFS) project, which combines the academic know-how of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers with the outreach capability of Wisconsin Sea Grant, the coastal issues expertise of the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the resources of the three city parks departments. Once the equipment is operational, the public can view rip current conditions at these beaches by accessinghttp://infosportwashington.cee.wisc.edu. The warning information is also available as a downloadable app for mobile devices at the bottom of this page: http://infosportwashington.cee.wisc.edu/pw_rip_watch.html.  The project is the brainchild and personal mission of Chin Wu, a UW-Madison professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Rip currents claim more lives on the Great Lakes annually than tornadoes, lightning and floods,” Wu said. “Our project will address these tragic statistics.”  INFOS is funded with $200,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Storms Program, which is a regional effort to make Great Lakes coastal communities safer and more resilient to storms, weather hazards and climate change.

The second project, called “Be Current Smart,” is a Great Lakes-wide public awareness campaign and beach safety equipment distribution effort. Also in its second year, the project involved distributing free water safety and emergency rescue equipment to 41 beaches last summer in Wisconsin. This summer, thanks to remaining funding, three cities: Racine, Port Washington and Ashland, Wis., will receive more new equipment.  “The hope is that having life jackets and throw rings available on the beaches will increase the likelihood of rescue in the event a swimmer gets in distress,” said Gene Clark, a coastal engineer with Wisconsin Sea Grant. Beach safety messages can be accessed on the project website: http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/dc/.

WI Sea Grant - Virtual Beach
In an effort to better protect public health, Sea Grant has refined an approach known as “nowcasting” to provide beach managers with more timely information of water-quality conditions. In the past, managers relied on 18-hour lab tests to make decisions on when to issue and lift swim advisories or closures. The nowcast approach relies on real-time computer modeling of bacteria concentrations. 

In a previous position with the DNR, Mednick helped expand the use of nowcast models, working closely with local managers across the Great Lakes region, as well software developers at the EPA and USGS to develop and implement a pair of computer systems that form the pillars of beach nowcasting.  The first is a desktop decision-support tool called “Virtual Beach.” This software walks users through the process of developing and running the statistical models used to predict real-time water quality.  The second is a Web data-portal called EnDDaT (Environmental Data Discovery and Transformation), which provides easy and free access to a wealth of historical and real-time environmental data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Observing System, and other sources.
http://www.seagrant.wisc.edu/home/Default.aspx?tabid=646

MN Sea Grant - ParkPointBeach.org
The ParkPointBeach.org website offers updates on beach, weather, and water conditions 24/7 through October. The information there includes water temperature, wave height, UV index, rip current risk, weather, and bacteria warnings assembled from the National Weather Service and other organizations. Webcam photographs of the beach are uploaded hourly.

WI Sea Grant - Eatwisconsinfish.org Relaunch
Newly simplified navigation, bright images and plenty of recipes are in evidence. The site is part of an initiative of the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute that educates consumers about the health benefits of seafood consumption, and how to evaluate the safety and sustainability of the seafood they buy.

IL-IN Sea Grant - Take Aim Relaunch
This comprehensive resource provides a wealth of information for resource managers, retailers, hobbyists, aquatic farmers, and more on how to prevent the spread of AIS that can happen with plants and animals that come to new environments through the marketplace. The website includes links to regulations, lists of contacts and invasive species, and species prediction tools for the Great Lakes and beyond.

IL-IN Sea Grant - Water Garden Resources
If you are planning on cultivating a water garden this summer, and would like more information, check out our brochure and handy wallet card  for tips and guidelines on what precautions to take during the gardening process, as well as lists of what plants to grow and what plants to avoid.  More

WI Sea Grant - Stop the Spiny Video
The video combines the arts, natural sciences, and social sciences to hopefully make SWF a memorable topic for people and inspire them to take action to prevent the spread of SWF and other AIS.

MN Sea Grant -  Invasives
Doug Jensen is quoted in an article in North Star Port Magazine’s Spring 2016 issue on the 10 year success in preventing the spread of any new AIS in the Great Lakes:  http://www.duluthport.com/uploads/2016_Spring_Lo_Res_Final.pdf  Jensen is also quoted in a book, Lake Invaders - Invasive Species and the Battle For the Future of the Great Lakes, by William Rapai published by Wayne State University Press. http://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/lake-invaders

MI Sea Grant - Asian Carp

http://www.record-eagle.com/news/local_news/invasive-fish-could-outcompete-native-species/article_5e21db78-b0b0-53b0-906e-5153cf33b81a.html

MI Sea Grant - Salmon
Kathleen Lavey at the Lansing State Journal wrote a piece on the future of Great Lakes Salmon that quotes Dan O’Keefe:
http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/travel/michigan/2016/05/26/whats-future-great-lakes-salmon/84865094/
The same story also is running on the Freep website (and I’m sure will be picked up by other outlets too)
http://www.freep.com/story/travel/michigan/2016/05/26/whats-future-great-lakes-salmon/84865094/

MN Sea Grant - Coastal Communities
Jesse Schomberg was interviewed in a local news segment about safe fertilizing of lawn and gardens on June 1:  http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/lifestyle/your-green-life/Your-Green-Life-Spring-Fertilizer-381532551.html

MI Sea Grant - Clean Marinas
Port Huron Times Herald website that features Amy Samples!
http://www.thetimesherald.com/story/news/local/boating/2016/05/28/program-keeps-trash-water/85053254/

MI Sea Grant - Small Harbors
small harbors project story online
http://www.thealpenanews.com/page/content.detail/id/554593/RC-learns-about-harbors-project.html?nav=5004

MI Sea Grant - Grand Opening
Grand Opening of the new MI Sea Grant Extension office in the Upper Peninsula.
http://www.sooeveningnews.com/news/20160629/msu8200extension-educator-opens-office-on-lssus-campus
http://www.sooeveningnews.com/news/20160629/lake-state-opens-sea-grant-office
 
Staff News
MI Sea Grant - New Communications Editor
Geneva Langeland is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. She will be breathing new life into Upwellings, and working with the communications team to extend our reach and support the extension and research programs. We are very excited to have her. 

NY Sea Grant - Dave MacNeill to Retire
After 29 years with NY Sea Grant, Dave MacNeill will be retiring on August 10, 2016. 

2016 Great Lakes Commission Fellow

It took a summer internship at the Madison Arboretum to really crystallize things for Michael Polich. Polich, then a UW-Madison graduate student, had watched staff spend several weeks trying to address a difficult situation with stormwater drainage on the Arboretum property, only to be stymied by city regulations.  “I got fed up with the idea that engineers couldn’t actually solve problems,” Polich said. “They can identify a perfectly workable solution, but laws, contracts and regulations often get in the way.”

That was five years ago, but that experience is one of the things that spurred the now 28-year-old Polich, who already held bachelor’s degrees from UW-Madison in civil and environmental engineering and was closing in on a Master’s degree in biological systems engineering, to switch course and add a Juris Doctor to his already packed arsenal. He graduated a few weeks ago from UW-Madison Law School with an environmental law degree.  “At the time, I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t you go to law school and try to solve these problems?’” said Polich.  “Law school is where change happens. This is where the system changes. I could have made an impact just in the public policy arena, but I wanted to do more.”  

Starting next month, he’ll have the chance. Polich’s wide range of degrees and expertise made him a natural choice to become the 2016 Great Lakes Commission Fellow. In mid-June, he heads to Ann Arbor, Michigan, there to spend a year taking part in communications, policy and advocacy work, as well as several specific Commission projects, including the Blue Accounting Source Water pilot, supporting harmful algal bloom and nonpoint work in the Lower Fox River and working on urban stormwater issues. His fellowship is sponsored and administered by Wisconsin Sea Grant.

“The Great Lakes Commission is excited to have Michael Polich join us as our 2016-2017 Sea Grant Fellow,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “Our Sea Grant interns work with us to address issues of regional concern, develop shared solutions and collectively advance an agenda to protect and enhance economic prosperity and environmental health. We’ve been fortunate to have incredible interns through Sea Grant, and several former interns have gone on to join our staff. We congratulate Michael on his selection and are looking forward to having him on board.”

Polich’s wide-ranging  background includes internships with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and Clean Wisconsin. At each stop, he’s learned the value of being able to connect and communicate with decision-makers. That skill may come in handy on another GLC project with which Polich is likely to become involved—GLC’s partnership with Sea Grant on issues related to oil transport on the Great Lakes,

“If you can speak the same language, translate the science, you can initiate dialogue with people who can make the changes,” he said.  While his fellow law school graduates are looking toward landing specific jobs in departments within the field, Polich has his sights trained elsewhere.  “That’s not why I got into it--I didn’t want to sit with a judge and read the law,” explained Polich.  “And that’s what’s so appealing about the fellowship—it lets me explore the government part of the environmental-problems equation at the same time as the legal and policy pieces. The Great Lakes Commission has a seat at the table where decisions are made. You can ask the questions, what sorts of things can we push? What’s the best way to solve this? You’re actually affecting the problem.”

Polich, who grew up in nearby Middleton, Wisc., said he’s excited about expanding his horizons beyond Wisconsin, the place he’s spent the majority of his education and career.  Large cities like Seattle and Washington, DC have the sort of big-scale policy networks Polich would like to join, but he said he may ultimately end up being drawn to a think tank or large nonprofit. As he was completing his law degree, Polich also took a single class at the UW’s LaFollette Institute of Public Policy. The topic was the impact of tax policy.  “If we want to effect change within say, a topic like farmers and runoff, maybe we could implement some kind of tax credit to encourage that,” he suggested. Wherever he ends up, and whatever he ends up doing, it’s clear Polich has prepared himself well.  “I’ve tried to be deliberate in giving myself opportunities,” said Polich, “I want to get as much out of this fellowship experience as I can.”

IL-IN Sea Grant - “Hooks” IAGLR leadership
IISG Associate Director of Research Tomas Höök has been elected president of the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) for the 2016-2017 term. IAGLR, which got its start in the 1950s, is an organization made up of scientists conducting research of large lakes throughout the world. More

IL-IN Sea Grant - 2016 APEX Award
The Be Current Smart water safety campaign won an APEX Award of Excellence for  its social media effort last summer.  More

IL-IN Sea Grant - IAGLR Awards

Three Purdue University students working with IISG researchers took home awards at this year’s IAGLR conference in Guelph, Ontario.

  • The JGLR/Elsevier Early Career Scientist Award went to Jonah Withers, Purdue University, for his article “Diets and growth potential of early stage larval yellow perch and alewife in a nearshore region of southeastern Lake Michigan,” in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. This $750 award recognizes a scientist at the early stages of his or her career and is first author on the top-ranked article in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. Co-authors include, IISG’s Carolyn Foley, associate research coordinator and Tomas Höök, associate director for research and Timothy Sesterhenn, and Cary Troy.
  • IAGLR-Hydrolab Best Student Paper Award - Margaret Hutton, a Master’s student with Paris Collingsworth, IISG Great Lakes ecosystems specialist, received one of two top oral presentations given by students at the Vermont IAGLR 2015 meeting for “Nearshore primary production in Lake Michigan: Analysis of trends using remote sensing techniques.”
  • Paul W. Rodgers Scholarship - The 2016 winner is Timothy Malinich, who works with Tomas Höök, for his project on the “Phenotypic plasticity of yellow perch and the role of phenotypic diversity in fish populations.” The $2,000 scholarship was established in memory of Paul W. Rodgers, who was vice president of LimnoTech, a Great Lakes researcher, and active supporter of IAGLR. It is given to a student to support the advancement of knowledge relating to Great Lakes aquatic ecosystem health and management. This is the final year this scholarship will be awarded.
 
 
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