Guest Speaker Richard Castle, Consumers Energy
Our speaker was Richard Castle of Consumers Energy. Richard is the Natural Resource Manager for Hydro Generation. He spoke about what Consumers Energy does and what their Hydro Operation does.
All Consumers Hydro operations are managed under land and water management plans approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The land management plan covers three main areas: recreational development, forestry, and wildlife management.
Consumers Hydro Operations managers 13 river hydros in Michigan, located on the Manistee, Muskegon, Ausable, Grand, and Kalamazoo rivers. All operations are regulated by FERC.
Joint management teams are in place for each of these areas, with representatives from Consumers, the USFS, Michigan DNR, USF&WS, and the Michigan hydro re-licensing coalition. These groups meet regularly to perform consultation on operations and land management for each area.
Each land management plan has five sub-plans: buffer zone management; wildlife, threatened-endangered species, and forestry; bald eagle management; recreational development; and lease/license facilities.
Consumers manages over 12,000 acres. These areas are open to the public with the following rules: hunting is allowed; snowmobiles allowed on trails; no ATV’s or UTV’s; no camping or fires, take out what you bring in; and Leave No Trace. Enforcement is by CE Hydro Patrol in cooperation with the DNR, US Forestry Service, and local law enforcement agencies.
Consumers places a strong emphasis on wildlife management. Within their managed properties, they have programs for the endangered Indiana bat, the Karner Blue Butterfly, Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, etc. They also have programs for nest-box placement, milkweed planting, warm season grass planting, timber cuts, and a bat box program.
Thunder Bay Audubon news
Linda Klemens, TBAS President announced that next year (2015) is the fiftieth anniversary of TBAS.
Sunrise Coast Birding Trail
The birding trail is getting closer to a reality, with sign design selected and areas selected for sign placement. Keep an eye out on the US-23 Heritage Route site for more information.