October 2019 Edition of the
Michigan Soil and Water Conservation Society

The official newsletter of the Michigan Chapter
of the Soil and Water Conservation Society

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MI-SWCS 2019 Annual Meeting Review


New Book: Great Lakes Sea Lamprey

Here's what Gretchen Whitmer's new PFAS water rules mean for Michigan
What to Watch in Great Lakes Legislation


"Dancing of the autumn leaves on a surface of a lake
is a dream we see when we are awake."

-Mehmet Murat Ildan


A view of autumn treetops from below

Members and guests to the MI-SWCS Annual Meeting enjoyed fall colors.

 MI-SWCS 2019 Annual Meeting Review

On Monday, October 28th, the MI-SWCS annual meeting took place in at the Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire, Michigan.

Dr. John Freeland welcomed those present in the room and several people connecting to the audio remotely. He shared a few words about the importance of service among professionals and spoke to the experience and expertise among our Chapter. Freeland also mentioned that Michigan is facing exceptional weather conditions and lake levels in addition to changes in trade and conservation policies. All of these suggest the ongoing relevance of the work we do.

New and returning officers were recognized, including the following: Glenn O'Neil is now President-Elect, while Tim Harrigan is Current President and Hugh Brown is retired from his position as Past President. Kelly Goward (Treasurer), Katie Droscha (Vice President), Gerald Miller (Region 3 Director), Rebecca Bender (Region 1 Director), Dan Busby (At-Large Director), Zach Curtis (Region 2 Director) and Daniel Kesselring (Secretary) will continue to serve on the Executive Committee.

The Chapter finances are still in good stead, as affirmed by approval of the Treasurer's Report. Each of the committee Chairs shared an update of their specialty, including Membership and Outreach (Rebecca Bender, Chair), Professional Development (Dr. Gerald Miller), Scholarship (Dr. Zachary Curtis), and Chapter Awards (Dan Kesselring). As a group, we would like to recognize the volunteers who organized the recent nominations and elections.

Dan Kesselring shared an update from the National SWCS meeting, including a provocative question which framed much of the discussion: "which is more important, soil conservation or water conservation?" Exploring the questions of impact and longevity, SWCS has a role to play formally and informally on the priorities we set as stewards of the Earth.

Tim Harrigan also spoke to the importance of collaboration among conservation stewards and professionals. Among his hopes for the Chapter is to engage with professional farmers, USDA personnel, academia, and advocates on a deeper level, growing the benefits of membership and participation.

Thanks again for your ongoing support,

Rebecca Bender
MI-SWCS Membership and Outreach Chair
Current Region 1 Director

Do you have some conservation-worthy news to share?  Upcoming events or topics of interest to the SWCS Professional Development Committee?  Please feel free to share them with newsletter editor, Rebecca Bender at


New Book: Great Lakes Sea Lamprey

By Cory Brant via Michigan Publishing
The stuff of nightmares in both their looks and the wounds inflicted on their victims, sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) are perhaps the deadliest invasive species to ever enter the Great Lakes. At the invasion’s apex in the mid-20th century, harvests of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), the lampreys’ preferred host fish in the Great Lakes, plummeted from peak annual catches of 15 million pounds to just a few hundred thousand pounds per year—a drop of 98% in only a few decades.

Threatening the complete collapse of the fishery, the sea lamprey invasion triggered an environmental awakening in the region and prompted an international treaty that secured unprecedented cooperation across political boundaries to protect the Great Lakes. Fueled by a pioneering scientific spirit, the war on Great Lakes sea lampreys led to discoveries that are the backbone of the program that eventually brought the creature under control and still protects the largest freshwater ecosystem in the world to this day.

Great Lakes Sea Lamprey draws on extensive interviews with individuals who experienced the invasion firsthand as well as a trove of unexplored archival materials to tell the incredible story of sea lamprey in the Great Lakes—what started the invasion, how it was halted, and what this history can teach us about the response to biological invaders in the present and future. Richly illustrated with color and black & white photographs, the book will interest readers concerned with the health of the Great Lakes, the history of the conservation movement, and the ongoing threat of invasive species.
A new book from Cory Brant, researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, chronicles the 70 year history of lamprey crisis and control in the Great Lakes.

Here's what Gretchen Whitmer's new PFAS water rules mean for Michigan
By Jim Malewitz of Bridge Magazine, October 16, 2019

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week formally proposed limits on seven types of PFAS that would apply to about 2,700 public water systems around Michigan. The announcement came seven months after she directed her Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the multi-agency PFAS Action Response Team to draw up the science-based limits, which must undergo additional scrutiny before becoming final.

Just four other states ‒ New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont  ‒ have adopted similar regulations for the “forever chemicals,” which are increasingly being detected in U.S. waters and are linked to serious health risks. Whitmer’s announcement comes as state leaders across the country are calling on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to regulate PFAS in drinking water nationwide — thus far to no avail...

For the full article, which includes specifics on PFAS, their health impacts, and the communities which will be impacted, read on at Bridge: Michigan Environment Watch.

What to Watch in Great Lakes Legislation

This section provides a brief review of current and pending legislative decisions this month regarding agriculture, environmental protection, and natural resources.
  • Public contracts and increased disclosure requirements for asbestos abatement projects regarding environmental violations (SB 0582, HB 5047) referred to Committee on Environmental Quality
  • Requiring reports on use of and require department of environmental quality to accept firefighting foam containing PFAS for disposal (HB 4389) referred to Committee of the Whole
  • Direct legislature to make annual appropriation for certain geological survey work regarding groundwater contamination (SB 0403) referred to committee of the whole with substitute
  • Allow wildlife feeding under certain conditions (amendment HB 4439) referred to Committee on Way s and Means, with substitute
  • Allow use of trotlines or juglines for the taking of nongame fish and snapping turtles to be allowed under certain conditions (HB 5132) signed

For additional information on legislative updates, visit the complete listing at or consider joining the MI-SWCS Legislative Committee.


Michigan Chapter SWCS

Other Organizations
Nov. 5, 2019 Les Cheneaux Water Levels Workshop
Want to learn more about changes to Great Lakes levels? Michigan Sea Grant is hosting a Les Cheneaux Water Levels Workshop 7-8 pm at Hessel School House, 3206 FW. Cedar St., Hessel MI

Nov. 6, 2019 Harmful Algal Blooms: Ecology, Impacts and Management Options

Join MSU Extension in East Lansing(Kellogg Center, 11am-2:30pm)  for McNALMS Lunch and Learn program featuring Dr. Ann St. Amand and Dr. West Bishop, discussing Harmful Algal Bloom in Michigan waters.

May 20-21, 2020 Watershed Management Conference: A Clear Vision of Watershed Management
Henderson, Nevada
*Now accepting abstracts*


MDEQ Calendar:

MDNR Calendar:

MSU Extension Calendar:
Copyright © 2019 Soil and Water Conservation Society: Michigan Chapter, All rights reserved.

This newsletter is a monthly compilation of news stories of interest to Michigan SWCS members and stakeholders. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy of the Soil and Water Conservation Society unless so stated.

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