Kalamazoo River spill: How much oil is 800,000 gallons?

Amid the media frenzy following the 800,000-gallon oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, some confusion is brewing over how much oil that is. Specifically, just how deep it would bury a football field. Reporter Tim Martin tried to contextualize the big spill this way Wednesday in an Associated Press article:
“An 800,000 gallon spill would be enough to fill 1-gallon jugs lined side by side for nearly 70 miles. It also could fill a wall-in football field including the end zones with a 14-foot-high pool of oil.” News outlets from Indiana to Los Angeles ran the AP article, and gossip blog Gawker plucked out that quote in particular.

Carp bomb: Carp v. cooperation

Recently, five Great Lakes states sued the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the U.S. Corps of Engineers over the Asian carp issue. But, shortly after that, a group of Great Lakes leaders – including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley – announced a plan to collaborate on a $2 million study to determine the best way to keep invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins. It’s a scientific fact that nothing angers up the blood of Asian carp more than interstate cooperation. So it’s no surprise that the announcement has rekindled the carps’ previously documented (see here and here) hunger for human children:

Thanks to flickr user gbensinger for the contribution. Here’s the place to check out past carp bombs and learn how to get in on the fun.

Lake Superior climate change grab bag

Lake Superior has a fever, and the only prescription is a pile of media coverage. The coldest Great Lake is around 15 degrees warmer than usual for this time of year and on track to beat its record high temperature of 68 degrees, reports ClimateWire’s Dina Fine Maron in the New York Times. Over at the Great Lakes Town Hall, blogger Dave Dempsey recently pointed to a report on climate change in Lake Superior from the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory. The report (PDF) cites research findings that Lake Superior’s surface is warming twice as fast as the region’s air temperatures. “We knew that the upper Great Lakes region was warming more rapidly than the global average, but not this rapidly,” Jay Austin says in the report.

Take a hike! Suggest your favorite Great Lakes trail.

Get outside and do it simply, Detroit Free Press outdoor writer Eric Sharp urges in this article on hiking trails of the Pinckney and Waterloo state recreation areas. Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and tune into nature without spending hundreds on a bike or boat. That’s not to say that I couldn’t sink a few pay checks into ultralight tents, packs, sleeping bags and camp cookware systems. But all you really need are some shoes and a trail. Sharp profiles some the 2- to 30-mile trails in the Pinckney-Waterloo system. Some of my favorites in the state are the Manistee River Trail and some of the 13 trails that cut through the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Cougar country: Big cats confirmed in Ontario and likely in Michigan

Whether cougars are prowling around Michigan and Ontario has been a small mystery. Michigan’s last known cougar was killed in 1906, and Ontario’s was shot in 1884. But evidence that they’re back is piling up. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed the cats are back after biologists checked out scat, tracks and DNA in a three-phase, four-year study, reports Raveena Aulakh for the Toronto Star. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment recently released a trail camera photo of a vaguely feline blur in the Upper Peninsula.

Asian carp

Asian carp: Time to panic?

Fishermen have pulled a live, 20-pound bighead carp from Lake Calumet, the first live Asian carp found past the fish-shocking barrier and only six unimpeded miles away from Lake Michigan.

This begs the question: Can we panic now?

A Great Lakes biologist, sport fisherman and activist suggest not.