Michigan ballot proposal: Energy and job years

A state ballot proposal could create nearly 75,000 Michigan “job years” by 2025, according to a recent report. The concept of a job year may puzzle Michigan voters asked if 25 percent of their energy should come from renewable sources by 2025.

Grazing goats: the eco-friendly way to control weed growth

Settler’s Ghost Golf Course in Barrie, Ontario is one of the first Canadian courses to use goats as groundskeepers. It is more eco-friendly and cost-efficient, reports the Toronto Star. The practice is common in parts of the U.S. but remains relatively unknown, said Brian Knox, supervising forester and founder of Eco-Goats, a Maryland-based company that works with industries, landowners and environmental groups to implement eco-friendly vegetation control. “I’ve noticed that goats are suddenly becoming cool throughout the U.S.,” Knox said. “People are rediscovering how sustainable they are as livestock.”

Echo recently reported how authorities on New York’s Staten Island are using 20 goats to control invasive phragmites plants that are choking out the native vegetation in two-acres of wetlands.

Compost dog poop with a D.I.Y. “dog waste digester”


It may be a dirty job, but cleaning up pet waste is important. Some dog owners assume that because waste is natural, it can be left anywhere to decompose without risking health, said “dog waste digester” demonstrator Cathy Dueck. But dog waste carries more bacteria than human waste, posing a greater risk to human and environmental health, according to RAIN, a Green Communities Canada program that aims to end non-point source pollution. But dog owners, have no fear! This video from a Canadian environmental group illustrates how to take care of pet waste in a creative way.

Video: How to prevent sickness from blue-green algae blooms


A Wisconsin agency recently released this video explaining how people and pets can avoid getting sick from blue-green algae. Blooms of blue-green algae are a health concern among inland lake beach-goers in the Great Lakes region. This summer’s record heat could increase the risk. “Reports of blue-green algae blooms in June and July were worse this year than they were last year,” said Emmy Wollenburg, outreach specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. August is usually the heaviest month for the algae, but the heat is making blooms pop up much earlier, Wollenburg said.

Three nature nerds are “Lookin’ at It”


Three self-proclaimed nature nerds from Buffalo, N.Y., are on a mission to use comedy to inform the world about nature. Matt Candeias, Steve Fleck and Jason Mazurowski recently published episode five of their humorously enlightening ode to ecology, “Lookin’ at It: A Nature Show.” It features the Great Blue Heron, the largest heron in North America.  Not only did I laugh out loud, I learned that they are one of few heron species that stab through their prey before eating it. The Lookin’ at It crew uses a comedic platform to highlight the greater Buffalo region’s beauty while educating their viewers about the importance of conservation. While some episodes are sillier than others, the marrying of comedy to nature seems to be working. “Anytime someone talks about an ecological issue, it usually comes around to something about polar bears or the deforestation of the rainforest,” Candeias says in the first episode of the show.

Great Lakes coal shipments are down

Flooding that shut down the terminal at Duluth contributed to a 13 percent drop of coal shipments compared to a year ago.

Depressed demand and the lack of harbor dredging contributed to the drop.