EmpowerU! Advocating Invasive Species Management 

Do you work to combat invasive species in Michigan but feel compelled to do more? Learn how to work with decision makers, influence management decisions and stop the spread of invasive species.


In conjunction with National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Michigan State University Extension is launching an online course called, “Empower U! Advocating for Invasive Species Management” to move your invasive species work to the next level.  


Woodland and shoreline owners, master volunteers, and natural resources professionals can grow their skills to meaningfully engage decision makers about invasive species. Through the course you will learn how to craft your own argument to persuade decision makers about the importance of invasive species (aquatic and terrestrial) management or removal in your area.  


The course begins on March 2, 2019 and consists of 5 weeks of online sessions (around 1 hour/week), concluding with an in-person workshop on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Okemos (attendance required).


Through this 5-week course, which consists of a series of self-paced online learning activities and one in-person workshop, participants will: 

  • Gain understanding of the roles and levels of government and whom to contact regarding invasive species management.
  • Learn to use skills such as influence, power, persuasion, framing, questioning and listening in interactions with decision makers. 
  • Know where to find reputable information on the status of invasive species in your area.
  • Create an engagement plan and experience practicing it in a safe, peer-learning environment.
  • See yourself as a resource to decision makers on invasive species management.
  • View engagement with decision makers as a norm and encourage others to do it, too.
  • Network with other people passionate to make a difference around invasive species. 


The cost is $30/person and includes access to the online course, handouts and lunch on the 29th.

Click here to register today! Deadline for registration is Friday, March 1st.


Questions? Contact Julie R. Crick, Natural Resources Educator, Michigan State University Extension

(989) 275-7179; crickjul@msu.edu

Tomorrow – New Ways to Love a Tree

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:


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 powe@hope.edu

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.

CJT’s Sarah, Intro to Mountain Sunday

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 Natures 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.

Introduction to Lakes — an MSU Extension Course, Jan 22 online

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:

  1. Lake ecology
  2. Lakes and their watersheds
  3. Shorelines
  4. Michigan water law
  5. Aquatic plant management
  6. 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.


D2L Header Intro to Lakes

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

Course Details

Available Benefits and Continuing Education Credits:  Those completing the course can receive the following.

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.



Bindu Bhakta
Natural Resources Educator
Michigan State University Extension

National Wildlife Federation Supports Updated Plan to Stop Asian Carp


Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, Senior Communications Coordinator, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-887-7119

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.”

Thank you, Community Readers!

What a night! What a conversation! Here is hoping this conversation, once started, never ends.

Many people to thank. Of course, our speaker Steve Pothoven, from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Muskegon. Here are his Invasive talk slides for your further study. Brittany Goode spoke on behalf of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, where you can involve yourself and your friends in many efforts to care for our Lakes and watershed. Tori Harris from the Allegan Conservation District, invited us to act locally to protect the lands and waters we live aboard every day. And then all the help provided by local Water protectors to find our way to acting with the seven generations ahead of us in mind. You will find our list of local land and water and climate protectors running along the right-hand side of our blog. We are constantly working to keep it updated, so please, when you see we have missed an organization, let us know, and we will add it.

We talked about a couple of books you may wish to explore. There is the newly released update of Peter Annin’s The Great Lakes Water Wars, a book highly acclaimed for its reporting. And for a completely different point of view of the world and our place in it, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. Professor Kimmerer is a Botanist, a poet, and a descendant of the Potowatomie people from the Great Lakes region.

And we ended on an important note. The DUCC and its creation justice team is here for our community. If you wish to see us address another topic or dive more fully into a piece of this one, please write to us at ducccjt@gmail.com. Tell us what you are thinking. To stay informed about what we are up to and when, be sure to subscribe to our notices here. We always announce our programs well in advance. They include education events, film screenings, local road and waterway cleanup actions, sharing harvests, recycling events, green gardening events, green energy awareness, and services focused on environmental justice. Browse this blog to see what we’ve been up to. And that’s just what we’ve imagined so far. With your help, we can imagine so much more.

July 22 Launch for Summer Harvest Table

Gardening is Giving Sign Outlines.jpg

We hope you had the chance to join in with DUCC folks at our Gardening is Giving program in May as Creation Sarah and Compost Ken talked about container gardening, making dirt, and saving our bee populations.

Here’s the next component of our Creation Justice Summer programming — Our Gardening is Giving Summer Harvest Table!

Beginning Sunday, July 22, we invite all DUCC folk to bring along garden bounty they wish to share with members and with the community. We will set up tables outside the church for your veggies, fruit, cut herbs and cut flowers. This sharing of our bounty will be on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have harvest to share, we welcome you to add it to the harvest table before the service.

Harvest table will be available as long as our harvests last. Let’s share what we grow!