Great Lakes islands aim to help each other

Sep 29, 2017

Downtown Put-In-Bay
Credit Elizabeth Miller/ideastream

There are thousands of islands in the Great Lakes – most of them small and only suitable for wildlife.  But a few have people living there year-round, and there is a burgeoning plan to create an islands coalition.

Year-round island communities like the one at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island face challenges we don’t have here on the mainland.  Peter Huston works for Put-in-Bay’s Chamber of Commerce.  “It’s being able to have a reasonable year-round economy, transportation, food,” says Huston.

Other islands have these problems too.  And what if they could all work together? 

That was the goal of this week’s Great Lakes Island Summit, a days-long conversation about the challenges of island life.

The idea comes from the Maine Island Institute, a group that supports 15 islands around the state.  But the Great Lakes Island Coalition would be a little different.  “We are a collection of several states and provinces, so in order for us to be able to solve some problems we’re going to have to work as a greater group,” explains Huston.

Huston says one idea presented at the summit is a passport program to attract tourism to all the Great Lakes islands.

12 Islands were represented at the summit including Canada’s Pelee Island, and Harsen’s Island near Detroit.