Earth Day lessons 2013.04.24

Written by David Green.

earth.mapsp.earth.kayKay Holubik, a resource technician with the Lenawee Conversation District office, had an Earth Day question Monday for Morenci sixth grade students.

Could anyone think of any problems associated with Lake Erie?

“It’s dirty,” a few students were quick to answer.

Another came up with the problem that’s made the news often in recent years: algal blooms.

An excess of nutrients—chiefly from farm fields, but with additional phosphorus from lawn fertilizer and malfunctioning sewer systems—is causing enormous growth in algae. It’s so extensive, Holubik said, that it can be seen from space.

It’s not the first time that Lake Erie has faced environmental challenges. In the 1970s, its plight even made the Dr. Suess book, “The Lorax.”

Lake Erie is the 12th largest body of fresh water in the world, she said, and it’s the most biologically productive of all the Great Lakes. About half of all the wildlife associated with the Great Lakes is found in Lake Erie.

Algae is a natural part of the lakes, but excess nutrients lead to an explosion in the population of the organisms. That, in turn, produces a toxin that kills fish and birds which adversely effects fishing and tourism. Water treatment costs also rise.

Holubik, along with colleague Makena Schultz, explained her agency’s role in helping keep soil in place.

The Conservation District emphasizes the use of field residue and cover crops rather than leaving soil bare. Filter strips along the edges of fields help keep soil in place rather than washing into streams.

Nutrient management emphasizes the proper use of fertilizer such as manure to prevent an excess from washing off. Proper storage of chemicals will help keep groundwater clean.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
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    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
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    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
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    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
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    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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