Tag Archives: CAFO

In 2012 Saginaw Bay Muck Was Poop


This post was originally published in 2012. It’s one of the most viewed and searched for on ThumbWind.  With the recent budget cuts announced for the EPA by the current administration it’s feared that the Great Lakes and Saginaw Bay will once again experience muck and fecal encrusted beaches.

We were trying to think of a tactful headline for this piece but decided cut to the chase. Huron County lake front owners have known for years that the declining water quality in Saginaw Bay is due to two factors. 1) Outdated and failing septic tanks and overflow from Bay City. 2) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations CAFOs. Now we have actual experts that confirmed local suspicions of what exactly is in the muck that has been appearing on beaches.

At the 2012 Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference held at Saginaw Valley State University, Marc Werhougstraete, a Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife research assistant, said muck means sewage and fecal matter are likely present.

The blue green muck is composed of different types of algae, macrophytes and decomposing organic matter that varies from season to season. In research Werhougstraete conducted at the Bay City State Recreation Area, he found both human and bovine feces (poop) in the muck.

Basically if you see the muck on the beach, think “poop”. Don’t go into the water and don’t let your kids play in the wet sand. “To reduce risk of contracting illness”, said Werhougstraete,  “avoid contact with muck, wash hands when in contact with it and do not submerge your head in the water.”

Common muck management, such as raking, also can release the pathogens from the muck. People cleaning beaches should do so in the morning, when the beaches are less busy and the sun can kill bacteria, Werhougstraete said.

The algae and muck have gotten so bad in recent years it now compares with the situation Lake Erie faced in the 1960s. NASA released pictures shot from the space station that showed the full algae bloom in 2011.

Featured image from  NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research


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Vast Areas of Michigan Transform from Norman Rockwell Rural to Industrial Horror in Three Years


Author Note: This post received tremendous response last year. Since that time the political mood in Huron county has changed to be more cautious of Big Wind projects. Set back and sound restrictions have put a damper on many future projects. We would like to hope that we had something to do with this new attitude. This is a repost from April 2105. 

In only a few short years, Huron County Michigan went from a sleepy rural county internationally known for its navy beans and pioneer-sugarsugar beets to the premier wind energy and animal product producer in Michigan. Hundreds of wind turbines dot the county primarily along the western edge facing Saginaw Bay. Wind and Factory Farms have changed the landscape and threatens to permanently change the culture of this agricultural and tourist area north of Detroit. Currently there are over 300 wind turbines in place. If plans continue at the current rate, Huron County will become dense industrial energy corridor consisting of over 1200 wind turbines over 300 foot tall converting wind for an energy hungry economy. In addition, industrial farming has taken over the community with at least 21 factory farms holding in estimated 800,000 animals in production  with 24×7 operations. The most in Michigan.

CAFO1Wind energy and CAFOs have radically changed the landscape of the Upper Thumb.  Traveling up Pinnebog Road off of M-53 I always enjoyed my first glimpse of the sunset of a Friday night has we neared our cottage after a long week working in Detroit. Those memories are gone. Between the smell of the CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and the Wind Turbines the remote nature of the Upper Thumb’s interior is now under thepits consistent glare of lights,  and towers. The eye burning stench of holding ponds with tons of manure  from 1000’s of penned up animals is more prevalent then ever.  These are not your idealistic 4-H farms, but industrial operations. The publication, Food & Water Watch, classify Huron County is one of the few extreme areas in the nation for factory farms.

Huron County is located at the northern tip of Michigan’s Thumb and is surrounded on three sides by water – Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. With over 90 miles of shoreline tourism from nearby Detroit, Flint and Saginaw. Huron County’s most important industry is agriculture, as with most of the other Thumb counties. However this designation will undoubtedly change was this area becomes an industrial wind energy zone with over 1600 Mega Watts of electricity produced annually.

This change is not limited to the Upper Thumb. Now this same industrial push is happening in Logan County Ohio, Henry County Indiana and other areas of the Great Lakes region.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) threatens Lake Superior; Citizens take action


Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative

April 21, 2015 by Mary Doughtery

Giant open-air cesspool from a CAFO featured in Mark  Devries' drone video of a factory farm. Giant open-air cesspool from a CAFO featured in Mark Devries’ drone video of a factory farm.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) was a foreign word in the Lake Superior Basin prior to the summer of 2014. Today the residents of Bayfield County know many new terms: nutrient management plans (NMP), best management practices, manure lagoons, gestation crates and animal units.

As the community learned about these things, We The People became very concerned and engaged. An organized response sprang to life, challenging a corporate factory hog operator from Iowa. The proposed Badgerwood facility is projected to have 26,000 hogs, annual production of 6.8 million gallons of liquid manure, annual facility water usage of nearly 34 million gallons—all in close proximity to Lake Superior, 10% of the world’s fresh water.

The proposed Badgerwood CAFO is sited in the Town of Eileen in the Fish Creek Watershed less…

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