Spring really is coming. We can practically promise. Head to the link below to study up on our invasive species, and download the app to help with reporting!
Douglas, Michigan — On Saturday, February 23, Drs. Greg Murray and Kathy Winnett-Murray, professors of biology at Hope College, will talk trees at the Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ. The event is free, open to the public, and runs from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
These zoologist-biologists have been studying trees (and the things that live in them and near them) since they came to Hope College in 1986. As ecologists, they love exploring interactions among creatures in all sorts of environments. Hope students often join them in their research, particularly in Hope’s splendidly forested dune forest preserve, and in Costa Rica, where Greg has studied forest dynamics for 37 years. Greg and Kathy have also led May Terms in Ecuador, the Galapagos, the Sonoran Desert, and Tanzania.
Drs. Greg and Kathy explain, ”Even trees standing outside your window in the dead of winter are providing you with ecological, economic, and health benefits that most folks take for granted.” All while “just standing there.”
During the summer of 2018, the Murrays and an eclectic group of tree-lovers — biology student Katelyn DeWitt, Hope’s sustainability coordinator Michelle Gibbs, partners from the City of Holland, and computer science professor Dr. Mike Jipping and his app-savvy students– found new ways to love trees. They’ll share the story of what they learned together and how they hope it will promote the value of trees to our communities. It’s a story about the benefits of trees now and in the future.
The professors will share several resources for people to take home/link to/download as part of the presentation.
Attendees should feel encouraged to bring their cell phones in case they want to try out some of the apps presented during the talk.
The presentation is free to the pubic, light refreshments will be served.
This talk is part of the education series conducted by Douglas UCC’s Creation Justice Team. To follow the series and the work of the team online, visit https://ducccreationjusticeteam.blog/.
Are you looking for ways to advocate for our environment with local and state legislators? Well, here you go.
The link above takes you to the road map developed by Michigan’s League of Conservation Voters along with more than 20 other environmental organizations across the state. It’s a good read. The top priorities for the first term:
*Shut down the dangerous Line 5 pipeline.
*Establish a PFAS drinking water standard so we can protect communities and ensure clean drinking water for all.
*Remove barriers to clean, renewable ‘energy like wind and solar.
But there’s much more. Follow the link!
Hi folks. We are hoping to entice Dr. Winnett-Murray and Dr. Murray to come to Douglas to teach us about our trees and all the way they contribute to our neighborhoods and waterways. But these two and their expertise are available RIGHT NOW, or at least tomorrow, in Holland. Here’s the scoop. Stay tuned on more opportunities to catch up with them and their programs:
WINTER HAPPEING 2019
Saturday, January 26
Haworth Inn and Conference Center
225 College Avenue, Holland, MI 49423
This event is open to the general public and is sponsored by Public Affairs and Marketing.
Admission to the seminars is free. Lunch is $13. For additional information please contact: Lynne Powe (616) 395-7860 or email@example.com
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Registration: Haworth Inn and Conference Center, 225 College Ave.
All seminars will be held at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center
9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
New Ways to Love a Tree – Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. K. Greg Murray
Ballrooms 1 and 2, Haworth Inn and Conference Center
It may be the dead of winter, but the tree outside your window is very much alive, providing you with ecological, economic and health benefits that most folks take for granted. All while “just standing there.” During the summer of 2018, the Murrays and an eclectic group of tree-lovers — biology student Katelyn DeWitt, Hope’s sustainability coordinator Michelle Gibbs, partners from the City of Holland, and computer science professor Mike Jipping and his app-savvy students — found new ways to love trees. They’ll share the story of what they invented and how they hope it will promote the value of trees to the communities of Holland and Hope College. It’s a story about the benefits of trees now and in the future.
Drs. Greg Murray and Kathy Winnett-Murray, professors of biology, have been studying trees (and the things that live in them and near them) since they came to Hope in 1986. As ecologists, they love exploring interactions among creatures in all sorts of environments. Hope students often join them in their research, particularly in Hope’s splendidly forested dune forest preserve, and in Costa Rica, where Greg has studied forest dynamics for 37 years. Greg and Kathy have also led May Terms in Ecuador, the Galapagos, the Sonoran Desert and Tanzania.
Sarah’s soaring intro to Mountain Sunday, for the last of three services in our Creation Justice season. Enjoy:
Essay about Mountains — by Sarah Swift –9/23/18
At the August meeting of the creation justice team we had a lot to cover — September is Creation Justice month ….- cleaning beaches and highways and launching our community wide book read.
There was a smaller item on the agenda – we were asked to raise our hand if we were willing to do a reading on either Planet Earth, the Skies, or the Mountains. I raised my hand – and was assigned Mountains. I had expected that when the time came I would be handed something to read. I was wrong about the ‘hand me something to read part.’
Before I start talking about mountains, let me first say that mountains have not been a significant part of my life. Raised in very flat central Michigan, the first “mountain” I ascended was Sugarloaf, as in that little bump of a hill that was a ski “mountain” — for a brief while.
In my twenties, living in Boston I was introduced to the “real mountains.” One fall day I climbed my way to the top of Mt. Washington, the largest mountain east of the Mississippi. Beginning in autumn forests and passing through a minor snowstorm to reach the summit. It was beautiful and exhilarating and breathtaking – literally. This was the beginning and end of my exploration of mountains.
The Creation Justice committee is focused on the environmental issues that surround and impact us. We respond by becoming educated and then proactive with regard to that we can protect, recover, improve and sustain. Water, air, animals, nature — things that are integral to nature and our lives.
The question then is how do mountains fit within the realm of Creation Justice?
A very long time ago Mountains began rising up from the center of the earth. The oldest mountain range on the planet, the Barberton Greenstone Belt is in south Africa and is 3.6 billion years old. NIcknamed “The Genesis of Life,” the geological components of these mountains provided information to geologists that allowed the scientists to estimate the ages and origins of all other mountains in the world.
On a human and more personal level, we describe mountains as majestic, magnificent, peaceful and powerful. They are described as: awe-inspiring, grande, godly, imposing, beckoning, inspirational, dangerous, unpredictable.
We are drawn to their vistas and views. We see them as a backdrop that will never change. And yet we also know they can launch into motion without warning — an earthquake, an erupting volcano, a severe weather event: all have triggered instant chaos, destruction and death.
In religious and spiritual realms mountains have always had meaning: – either as gods, or tools of gods, or as the settings for the greatest stories — of conflicts, revelations, sacrifices, inspirations and miracles.
So is there any threat from mankind to mountains that are, in human terms, eternal? Yes — the most significant threat is from mining. Strip mining in particular – which is happening in 24 states currently with no sign of stopping. High value minerals, metals and fossil fuels can only be extracted by mining. If a mountain either contains or sits upon one of these compounds then they are a target for devastation.
Strip mining is desecrating mountains in the southern Appalachians – only 9 hours from here. Mountaintops are being stripped bare of everything green and living to extract coal. More than 470 mountaintops have already been sheared off — leaving behind debris including trees and coal dust that are contaminating rivers and streams. This particular mountain range is 1.2 billion years old. Man dates back only 200 thousand years, and in a fraction of that time found a way to exploit these mountains.
But there is hope for the mountains. In a world where power is the end-game for countries, corporations, political leaders and even single individuals, the power of the mountains are still greater. They rise and fall and shift and settle, and may even sink beneath the oceans but they do not disappear. They are from the earth and of the earth and as long as there is earth there will be mountains.
I will end with a writing that underscores how mountains sustain themselves —
This is a passage written by John Muir- mountain man, journalist, scientist, explorer. He was the force behind the bill to set aside Yosemite as a national park – inspiring the later formation of the national park system. He was also the founder of the Sierra club, an environmental and political force still very active today.
In March of 1872, Muir was camping in valley in Yosemite near a mountain wall he had been studying for months. At 2:00 am he was was awakened by an earthquake. The earth turned to jelly, the mountain roared and then a massive slice of the mountain wall he had been researching collapsed into the valley. When it all finally stopped and grew quiet he wrote this:
“Nature, usually so deliberate in her operations, then created a new set of features simply by giving the mountains a shake – changing not only the high peaks and cliffs, but the streams.
As soon as the rock avalanches fell the streams began to sing new songs; for in many places thousands of boulders were hurled into their channels roughening and half damaging them, compelling the waters to surge and roar in rapids that changed to meadows, through which the streams are now silently meandering…Thus rough places were made smooth, and smooth places rough. But on the whole, by what at first seemed pure confusion and ruin, the landscapes were enriched…..In this work of beauty every boulder is prepared and measured and put in its place more thoughtfully than are the stones of temples.”
Muir went on to conclude that this was a “Fine lesson; and all of Nature‘s wildness tells the same story – the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort – each and all are the orderly beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.
Randall gave this glorious intro to Sky Sunday, part of our three-week Creation Justice Season at the DUCC. Enjoy:
Good morning. I’m Randall Braaksma, and I’m part of the Creation Justice group at Douglas UCC, and I’m here to talk to you about the sky. Perhaps you’ve worn one of these [face mask respirator] when you were doing some dirty, dusty work around the house or on job site. But many people wear these every day just to breathe a little easier.
I lived for several years in Beijing, China, and this was not a fashion accessory, it was often a necessity. I remember the day Beijing’s normally smoggy skies went clear blue on a crisp December day. We were all amazed until we remembered that the Olympic Committee was visiting to review Beijing’s bid to host the Games.
The city government of Beijing had the power and control to make its citizens stop polluting in order to make a good impression. But just for a while. The smog began descending almost as soon as the Olympic Committee’s plane took off.
Air pollution continues to be a big problem in places like Beijing, Dehli, and Manilla. And it’s causing damaging health effects for millions around the world. Today, about 235 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. And more than 80 percent of asthma deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries. Overall, the World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 million people die each year due to air pollution.
Statistics like that certainly make this a justice issue. So, what can we do about it?
Pastor Sal has often exhorted us to speak truth to power. And Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us to do that. Just a few weeks ago, the E.P.A. announced it’s looking at letting coal plants that are nearing retirement keep on working, or should I say polluting, with a refurbishment that DOES NOT include adding pollution controls. And just this week, the administration said it plans to roll back rules covering methane leaks and the “flaring,” or burning, of potent greenhouse gas by energy companies. This while U.N. General Secretary António Guterres called climate change the defining issue of our time and said, (quote) “the time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.”
Clean air is a basic human right. When it’s in danger, we must fight this injustice. We can take that fight to the national and international levels. We can take it to our individual lives, too. Last week, Pastor Sal talked about the need to become aware that Christ is in us and in everything, including, or should I say especially, the air we breathe. The challenge is to ask ourselves is, How can I be more aware so that the decisions I make every day do the sky good and not harm?
Did you miss this? I hope not. Eric’s lovely introduction to Planet Earth Sunday at DUCC.
“Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
This all too familiar passage from Genesis is in some ways at the root of our modern-day environmental crisis. In particular, the word “dominion” has become somewhat problematic. Webster’s dictionary defines dominion as “supreme authority” or “absolute control”. At this point in our history and culture, we have taken this charge quite literally, plundering the earth for its resources as if we are the “supreme authority”, and as a result, we are putting our own existence in peril. Something about our approach is not right.
If we could somehow see our actions outside of our own culture and context, perhaps we might understand our responsibility differently. Indigenous cultures throughout the world, those who have held on to primal teachings, have something to teach us. Native American cultures don’t share our story of dominion or even the language of stewardship – their story is of relationship with the Earth. In language and in practice, these cultures model more closely our own biblical example that God set forth in Genesis – Creator in loving relationship with Creation. Right stewardship flows from a loving relationship. And it is by remembering and rediscovering this love that we will find our way forward.
Today, on this first Sunday of Creation Season, we begin by celebrating “Planet Earth”. We open ourselves to learn from lava and trees, soil and water, moths and ravens, and all that our planet has to show us. We seek to learn the language of seasons and cycles, which makes us more attuned to the underlying rhythms of life, We hope to show the type of compassion that extends beyond all borders, beyond our species, to “all the ends of the earth” – compassion from a “God’s-eye view”. And we pray that this compassion results in action and justice for our common home, planet Earth. Please join me in our unison prayer.
–Eric LeJeune, Creation Justice Team, DUCC
Michigan is blessed with more than 11,000 inland lakes and each provides unique recreational, scenic and environmental benefits. These inland lakes are complex ecosystems and are often negatively impacted by both the people that live near them as well as the water that drains into them. Frequently, local communities struggle to protect and manage inland lakes in a way that incorporates the best available knowledge and resources. Concerned citizens, decision makers, local leaders, resource professionals and lakefront property owners can learn about inland lake management and protection by enrolling in the MSU Extension Introduction to Lakes online course.
Introduction to Lakes is a six-week online course specially designed for lake users, lakefront property owners, and lake managers interested in learning about inland lakes. From the comfort of home or office, participants have 24/7 access to six online units complete with closed captioned video lectures, interactive activities, additional resources, discussion forums, quizzes and live chat sessions with classmates and Michigan State University Extension experts. Through this convenient format, participants increase their knowledge and understanding of the following topics:
- Lake ecology
- Lakes and their watersheds
- Michigan water law
- Aquatic plant management
- Community involvement in lake stewardship
The course is taught on a week-by-week basis, allowing for online communication between classmates and instructors through topical discussion forums. The course also includes three pre-scheduled ask-an-expert webinar sessions with instructors and outside experts. MSU Extension course instructors include Bindu Bhakta, Erick Elgin, Dr. Jo Latimore, Dr. Lois Wolfson and Brad Neumann. Sign up for the electronic MSU Extension newsletter and select “lakes, streams, and watersheds” to stay informed about future offerings.
2019 Introduction to Lakes Course Information
Start date: January 22, 2019. The course will open to registrants on January 15 to allow time to get acquainted with the online classroom.
Registration: Registration is now open. An Early Bird rate of $95 is available through December 12, and regular registration ($115) will be available through January 8. Register now for Introduction to Lakes Online
Available Benefits and Continuing Education Credits: Those completing the course can receive the following.
- A free one-year membership to Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations, including 4 issues of The Michigan Riparian magazine
- Sixteen Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Pesticide Applicator Re-certification credits
- 6 Master Citizen Planner Education Credits
- 27 credits in The Wildlife Society Category I of the Certified Wildlife Biologist® Renewal/Professional Development Certificate Program
Cancellation Policy: Course access will begin January 15, 2019, for a “Getting Acquainted” week. If you need to withdraw from the course, you can request a partial refund of $50 until January 21, 2019. Once your request is received, you will no longer be able to access the course. No requests for refunds will be considered after January 21, 2019.
Natural Resources Educator
Michigan State University Extension
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement: National Wildlife Federation Supports Updated Plan to Stop Asian Carp
(November 21, 2018 – Ann Arbor, MI) — Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final draft plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The draft chief’s report of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam includes both structural and nonstructural measures including an engineered lock fitted with an electric barrier, a bubble barrier, an acoustic barrier, and a flushing lock to stop aquatic invasive species like Asian carp, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is located just south of Chicago and is a critical chokepoint to help stop Asian carp from continuing to swim closer to Lake Michigan. The estimated cost of the project is $777.8 million, up from an earlier estimate of $275 million. A previous draft of the plan included water jets in place of the bubble barrier.
A summary of the final plan is available here: https://www.mvr.usace.army.
mil/Missions/Environmental-. Protection-and-Restoration/ GLMRIS-BrandonRoad/
Asian carp include species of bighead, silver, black, and grass carp. After escaping from southern United States aquaculture facilities, they have spread rapidly and have reduced native fish populations in waters connected to the Mississippi River watershed, which connects to the Great Lakes watershed through the Chicago Area Waterway System. Asian carp pose a significant threat to our economy, outdoor heritage, and way of life. In addition, the invasive species is a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes sport-fishery, which is estimated to generate at least $7 billion each year in economic activity.
Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, issued the following statement in response to the release of the updated plan:
“Across the country, Asian carp are undermining our nation’s fisheries and threaten the Great Lakes $7 billion annual sport-fishery. The Army Corps of Engineers plan to rebuild the Brandon Road Lock and Dam south of Chicago is our opportunity to put stronger measures in place to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The plan includes a gauntlet of technologies to prevent Asian carp from moving past the lock, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The investment in this project pales in comparison to the economic risk if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes. We intend to review the updates to the plan in detail and offer official public comment later, but at first glance this looks like the plan we need to protect our waters, our fisheries, our sport-fishing economy and our way of life.”