Kaye LaFond | Michigan Radio
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Kaye LaFond

Data Journalist

Kaye is shared between Michigan Radio and Interlochen Public Radio.  A graduate of Michigan Tech's environmental engineering program, she covers science, the environment, northern Michigan, and stories that involve crunching a lot of numbers.

She lives in Antrim County with her 3 cats. She enjoys anything outdoors, but is partial to swimming in the Great Lakes.

Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy poses for a portrait outside of the Antrim County Building in Bellaire.
Mike Krebs / Traverse City Record Eagle

In early October, Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy learned she had to reorder the ballots for one of the precincts she oversees. A candidate for trustee in the Village of Mancelona needed to be added to the ticket before the upcoming election.


Jan-Michael Stump / Traverse City Record-Eagle

This story is a Traverse City Record-Eagle data reporting project.

Political tension surrounding Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home Stay Safe order boiled over during protests in Michigan’s capitol this week.

But a Record-Eagle analysis of anonymized cellphone tracking data indicates politics may have influenced Michiganders’ travel habits for weeks.

turtle creek casino sign
JAN-MICHEL STUMP / TRAVERSE CITY RECORD-EAGLE

Over the last couple of weeks, Michigan officials worked to slow the spread of COVID-19, take care of citizens and stay operational. The twelve federally-recognized tribal governments in Michigan faced the same challenge.

None of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders apply to tribes — they’re sovereign states. Still, every tribe in Michigan closed or at least reduced staff in its government offices. All still provide some level of services.

Michigan communities are organizing to help with needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a dozen informal, grassroots networks are operating around the state.

Sometimes known as mutual aid groups, they work alongside government agencies and charities and often coordinate with them. They can help with grocery deliveries, financial assistance, childcare and more.

If you need this kind of help, or if you have time or a skill to offer, browse the map to find a local group to connect with. If you start your own mutual aid effort in your community — let us know. Send an e-mail to kaye.lafond@interlochen.org or digital@michiganradio.org. We'll be keeping track and updating the map.

ROYALBROIL / CC BY-SA (HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY-SA/3.0)

Update 03/17/2010: The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians will close Kewadin Casinos by 03/22.

Update 03/16/2020: Bay Mills Indian Community will close Bay Mills Resort and Casino by 03/20.

IPR has compiled a list of coronavirus response actions taken by tribal governments in Michigan — you can find it here.

IPR is compiling a list of major coronavirus response actions by tribal governments in Michigan. Staff will update it as often as possible through the pandemic.

The last update was on 03/31/2020 at 2:51 PM. Please refer to tribal government websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date information.

Realtors and interest groups opposed to regulation are shaping septic system policies in Michigan's state and local politics.

Realtors don't like the idea of inspections tied to home sales. Anti-regulation lawmakers don't like the alternatives.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy is advancing plans for a bedrock tunnel for its Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. 

Asian Carp
Kate Gardiner / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

President Donald Trump's proposed budget won’t fund a barrier to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes despite recent remarks that he would protect the lakes from the invasive fish.

It does, however, include one win for the Great Lakes: another $123 million in 2021 to build a new lock in Sault Ste. Marie ($75 million was already appropriated to start construction on the lock in 2020).

The City of Charlevoix is known for its beaches, lighthouse and fishermen. The Anishinaabe call it “Zhingwak Ziibing” or “Pine River.”

It’s less well known as a superfund site.

Pollution was first discovered in the city’s groundwater in 1981. The city quickly switched to Lake Michigan drinking water, as legal restrictions were put on the groundwater.

You’ve probably heard about harmful blue-green algae on Lake Erie (it's actually not algae at all - it's cyanobacteria). A large bloom of it famously shut down the City of Toledo’s water supply in 2014. But, did you know that cyanobacteria also blooms on Michigan’s inland lakes every year?


map of Line 5
Enbridge Energy

A tribe in Northern Wisconsin still wants Line 5 off their land, despite a $24 million offer from Enbridge.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge Energy earlier this year, asking them to immediately shut down the portion of the Line 5 oil pipeline that runs through their reservation.

An emaciated deer stands near a fence.
Terry Kreeger / Wyoming Game and Fish Department/CWD Alliance

To help combat chronic wasting disease, Michigan is banning deer baiting and feeding across big parts of the state. It’s highly unpopular with some hunters and lawmakers.

But, banning bait will only slow CWD from spreading to new areas, and more aggressive approaches that might actually stop it could be just as unpopular.

Daniel Hinmon is working to keep Anishinaabe traditions alive.
Mike Krebs

When you think about the tip of the mitten, what comes to mind? Fudge? Beautiful beaches? Vacation cottages?

Daniel Hinmon, a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB), wants you to know that his homelands are so much more than that.

“We are still here, you know?” he says.

Two sheets of paper, one with a meeting agenda, one with a resolution in support of Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Cheboygan County passed a resolution to support Enbridge’s construction of a tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac at their board meeting Tuesday morning. 

 

Eight counties — Cheboygan, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Gogebic, Grand Traverse and Ontonagon — have now passed nearly identical resolutions.

Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

At least eight counties have passed resolutions supporting Enbridge Energy’s proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel through bedrock would replace the Line 5 twin oil pipelines that currently sit on the lakebed.

People stand in the water, holding both ends of a large net.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A new nonprofit is training citizen scientists to collect data on fish in the Great Lakes. They think it could be a game-changer for research in the region, and even help prevent the establishment of invasive species.

The land around Little Traverse Bay, including Petoskey and Harbor Springs, is part of the area in question.
Flickr user Charles Dawley / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal judge has ruled against the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in a lawsuit to affirm its reservation boundaries.

The tribe sued the State of Michigan in 2016, arguing that the Treaty of 1855 established a 337-square-mile reservation on lands including the cities of Petoskey, Charlevoix and Harbor Springs.

A bridge over a murky river has a drain with bars across it.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

From January 2018 through May 2019, 6.7 billion gallons of diluted or partially treated sewage, called combined sewer overflows (CSOs) spilled into Michigan waters.

CSOs are the result of sewer systems that drain both stormwater runoff AND human and industrial waste. Eighty municipalities in Michigan have such systems, known as combined sewer systems.

Looking underneath a bridge at sunrise, a group of boats in the water surround several swimmers attached to orange buoys.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

More than 300 people braved the Straits of Mackinac Sunday for the 13th annual Mighty Mac Swim.

Michigan Radio’s Kaye LaFond rode along on a security boat and got a first-hand look at what goes into herding swimmers across four miles of the straits.


Photo shows the inside of a culvert. It's square with concrete walls and a very shallow stream of water is running through it.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Climate change is likely to bring more extreme rainfall and flooding to Michigan. So, flood risk in the next 100 years will probably look very different than in the last. But, much of our infrastructure, like culverts, bridges, and storm drains, is still being designed and built based on the floods of the past.


a map shows the straits of mackinac with some satellite imagery
screenshot from Enbridge report to the state

Indigenous governments and activists in the Great Lakes have been leaders in the movement to shut down the twin oil pipelines that run under the Mackinac Straits.

Now, one of the most visible people in that movement has left his tribal government job and set up his own consulting firm. One of his clients? The pipelines’ owner, Enbridge Energy.

This sudden change has upset indigenous communities in the region, and some worry it’s a “divide-and-conquer” tactic.

A flooded beach near Lake Michigan.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

The last major outbreak of avian botulism on Lake Michigan was in 2016, when hundreds of dead birds washed up on shore. The bacterial disease has affected waterfowl like loons and mergansers in the Great Lakes for decades. But high water levels on the lakes are good news for the birds, at least temporarily.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A recent study, that no Michigander needed, confirmed that we have the worst roads in the country.

But, all roads in our pothole-plagued state are not created equal.

A man with a long dark ponytail stands in a river holding a 3-pronged spear.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

For April in the Western Upper Peninsula, it’s a pretty warm day. The Little Carp River, surging with snowmelt, winds through a forest of hemlock trees.

Robert Rajacic is scrambling up and down riverbanks, expertly carrying a spear in his right hand. He’s hoping to use it on some rainbow trout.

The Little Carp River
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently seeking public comment on an application for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) to set their own water quality standards. The KBIC is based out of L'Anse Township in the Upper Peninsula.

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State officials are warning Michiganders to completely avoid touching PFAS foam. Previously, they emphasized not ingesting it.

PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl substances) are a class of chemicals used in firefighting foam, water-proofing substances, and more. The chemicals have been found in 119 municipal water systems.

A man leans out of a car door and lifts his binoculars to the sky.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

More than four million people crossed the Straits of Mackinac last year. But they are also one of the busiest migration spots for raptors, or birds of prey, in the United States.

Two men in conservation officer uniforms smile and eat pancakes in a steamy barn
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

 

Maple sugaring season is just wrapping up in northern Michigan. This delicious tradition of boiling maple sap to make syrup is practiced in the state on many scales.

But indigenous communities in the area were tapping trees long before settlers arrived.

From the top of a mountain, a snowy landscape with trees reveals a view of Lake Superior in the distance.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Most wind energy projects in Michigan are on farmland in the southern part of the state. They are often controversial even there, but one company wants to put a wind farm in an Upper Peninsula forest. Many community members don’t feel that’s the right place either.

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