FRIDAY, March 24 — A roundup of news from around the state, provided by our partners at Capital News Service. Follow the links for the full stories.


Wetlands mitigation may get cheaper for local governments: The Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance is developing a wetland mitigation bank system using Michigan Department of Natural Resources property as bank sites. It is a new partnership of state and local agencies working to set aside state land to make it easier for public entities that need to fulfill the wetlands requirement as they develop infrastructure.


Bills would allow citizens to dine out with their dog: Bills proposed in the House and Senate are aimed at allowing dogs to dine with their owners at restaurants with outdoor patios. Some local restaurateurs are thrilled at the possibility of customers dining with their dogs, while others remain skeptical. The proposal would not be a mandate, but would have several regulations if businesses choose to participate.


Criminal justice bills would define problems to help solve them: Michigan’s recidivism rate is getting better, but still exceeds the national average. A bipartisan effort to shore up the state’s criminal justice system so it can work more efficiently – which advocates say would decrease overall instances of former prisoners reoffending – is reflected in a 20-bill package currently under review by Gov. Snyder. The legislation would reform aspects of prison, parole and probation policies and programs to better support successful rehabilitation and reentry into society.


Cemeteries protect biodiversity amidst death: Cemeteries are more than places for mourning. Scientists are discovering how they can protect biodiversity against perils from encroaching development and climate change. We tour Lansing’s historic Mount Hope Cemetery with the director of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.


Poet researched Great Lakes’ wrecks for new collection: An MSU professor has captured the tragedy of Great Lakes shipwrecks – including some of their strange stories – in a new collection of poems, “Harborless.” The author was influenced by a shipwreck she saw every summer near her grandparents’ property in Oceana County and visited maritime museums at Thunder Bay and Whitefish Point as part of her research.


Porcupine Mountains drilling raises environmental concern: Exploratory drilling for copper at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Western U.P. worries environmentalists who fear damage to the park. The state doesn’t own the mineral rights under the park. The DNR says the company is following all the rules and would need to go through the standard DEQ permit procedures, including a public comment period, if it decides to do actual mining.


Rain, evaporation make predicting lake levels tricky: Predicting water levels in the Great Lakes isn’t as straightforward as it would seem. A warm winter has led to lower ice coverage--just 5 percent of the Great Lakes was covered with ice as of March 1. The average coverage at this time for the last 40 years has been 43 percent. To find out why levels change, we talk to experts who take a long-term view at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor and Environment and Climate Change Canada.


Productivity boost offsets acreage, price declines of corn: Soon Michigan farmers will start planting millions of acres of corn, cultivating what has become a billion-dollar business in the state. Farming is one of the top industries in Michigan, and corn one of the top crops. Michigan farmers grew about 2.4 million acres of corn for grain in 2016, generating $1.1 billion last year – despite a price drop.


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