Lake Michigan

An Asian carp was caught this summer in a place where it shouldn’t be – beyond an electric barrier meant to keep the species out of Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes. Now, a researcher at Southern Illinois University is trying to figure out just how it got there.

Lake Michigan has a way of conjuring up days gone by

May 11, 2017

Lake Michigan is a giant time capsule. It swallows stuff up and spits it back out somewhere down the line, both in time and place.

All sorts of things get pushed up on the beach by waves in summer and by the freezing and thawing of ice in the winter. When the snow melts in spring, there aren’t that many people combing through the odds and ends in search of lost treasure or even just cleaning up the trash. That means it's easier to see how Lake Michigan is its own special sort of time capsule coughing up treasures up and down the shore.

Amanda Holmes

The town of Leland has raised $250,000 to buy its own dredging equipment. The money comes from private donations through the crowd-funding website FundLy.

Leland Harbormaster Russell Dzuba says the federal government used to pay for harbor dredging, but in recent years, it hasn’t been a priority.

Susan Bence

A Wisconsin town is getting a lot of attention these days, on the issue of drinking water. Waukesha lies outside the Great Lakes basin, but it has received permission to take water from Lake Michigan. Officials are still debating the political and financial impact, and a group of mayors is challenging the town’s action.

Remnant fish species discovered in Antrim County

Jan 2, 2017
Photo Credit: MDNR

Researchers have discovered a very special population of fish lurking in the depths of Elk Lake in Antrim County. These fish share a unique heritage, linking them to the native lake trout that disappeared from Lake Michigan over 50 years ago.

Aaron Selbig

If you’ve spent a summer day on the beaches of Grand Traverse Bay, you’ve probably seen parasailers soaring across the sky. Parasailing is a popular, fun way to get out on the water, but the Traverse City parasailing business also has a cutthroat side.

Sam Corden

Since 2006, Lake Michigan has seen a steady stream of dead birds washing up on its beaches, and this fall has been exceptionally grim.

So far, researchers and volunteers have found around 5000 dead birds along the shore.

Two researchers are monitoring the coast where dead birds have been washing up: Dan Ray of the National Park Service and Jeanie Williams of the Inland Seas Education Association.

Sam Corden

Larry Bordine grew up a surfer in California, but when he moved to Michigan in the 80s, he left the surfing lifestyle behind.

 

After a trip to Hawaii, Larry’s childhood passion was reignited, and he wanted to bring that passion back home to Michigan. He bought a surfboard but it didn’t work with the fresh water waves – so he designed his own board just for the Great Lakes.

 

In the last few weeks, roughly 600 birds have died along the shore of Lake Michigan. They washed up on the beaches within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with more dead birds reported on beaches in the Upper Peninsula.

Mark Breederland, Michigan Sea Grant

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to own your own lighthouse, there’s one for sale in the Manitou Passage. The federal government is auctioning off the 81-year-old North Manitou Shoal Light, with an opening bid of $10,000.

The auction is part of an effort to restore and maintain Michigan’s historic lighthouses. But restoring a lighthouse might be more difficult than you think.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The City of Ludington is thinking about its future. City leaders have come up with a 20-year master plan that’s meant to guide development in Ludington over the next two decades. It lays out challenges and opportunities the city is expected to face.

One of those challenges is climate change. The master plan predicts higher temperatures in the future, along with less snowfall and more frequents storms.

 

As the country fell into the Great Depression, the SS Senator sunk to the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Aaron Selbig

When you think of hydraulic fracturing, Michigan may  not be the first state that comes to mind. But according to The FracTracker Alliance in Cleveland, Ohio – a group that studies the global oil and gas industry – Michigan is playing an increasing role in fracking.

That’s because the fracking process requires a special kind of sand that’s found near the Great Lakes.

Anyone with even passing knowledge of the Great Lakes knows that there are secrets beneath those waves: ships that have foundered.

Many have been found, and their locations are well known, but there are still mysteries to be unlocked.

One of the biggest dates back to a night in September 1929. The ship Andaste was headed from Grand Haven to Chicago when it vanished in a sudden storm on Lake Michigan.

Should a Wisconsin city with a contaminated groundwater supply be allowed to siphon drinking water from Lake Michigan?

Waukesha's groundwater supply has a radium problem. Being 17 miles from Lake Michigan, Waukesha's proposed solution is to draw water from the lake. 

But according to the Great Lakes Compact, Waukesha cannot just lay down a pipeline and start drinking Lake Michigan water. It has to ask, and all eight Great Lakes governors have to say "yes."

NASA Landsat

The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin has high levels of radium in its water supply. The city hopes to solve the problem by taking water out of Lake Michigan.

Waukesha is in a county that straddles the Great Lakes basin and under the Great Lakes Compact, it’s allowed to ask for a water diversion. Waukesha’s proposal is now before the eight Great Lakes states that make up the compact. They’ll decide whether or not to allow the diversion.

Waukesha wants to build a pipeline to the Great Lakes.

The city is in southeast Wisconsin, 17 miles from Lake Michigan. It has a radium problem in its groundwater supply.

Radium occurs naturally, but it’s a carcinogen.

Dan Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility, says as the city’s groundwater supply has been drawn down, it’s made the high radium concentration worse.

“And ultimately the radium exceeded the federal drinking water standard and we are now under a court order to come into compliance with that, and the means by which we are going to do that is to develop a new water supply,” he says.

The city has to come up with a permanent solution for its radium problem by 2018.

Mary Jo West

The park’s name comes from the Native American legend of a mother bear who swims from Wisconsin to escape a forest fire.

Marie Scott, a park ranger and interpreter who has worked at Sleeping Bear on and off since the 1970’s, says the park was preserved by joining existing state parks together with private land to retain public access to the so called “Third Coast.”
    

Since the 1930s, Sargent Sand Company has held a permit to mine sand from its property that's surrounded by Ludington State Park.

For years, the 400 acre mine was dormant as the company negotiated to sell its land to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

That sale fell through.

Last year, the mine cranked back up again, and the neighbors aren’t too happy about it.

NASA Landsat

The Great Lakes Compact is facing its first big challenge. Signed into law in 2008 by the leaders of eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces, the compact says only communities in the Great Lakes Basin can draw their drinking water from the lakes.

The challenge to the compact is not coming from thirsty states like California or Texas. It comes from Waukesha, Wisconsin – a suburb of Milwaukee that’s only about 15 miles from Lake Michigan.

People in Michigan are naturally concerned about the thousands of miles of pipelines crisscrossing the state. After all, Michigan suffered through the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history.  

And there's one pipeline in particular that people are quite concerned about: Enbridge's Line 5 moves more than 500,000 barrels of oil and other liquid petroleum products (like propane) a day under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.

Scott Bauer

The month of May is the height of tick season in northern Michigan. Ticks are especially common along the coastal areas of Lake Michigan.

Phillip Huber has been a forest biologist for the Huron-Manistee National Forest for more than 30 years. He says ticks only started appearing in the area about 10 years ago.

“They’re becoming more common, particularly in the really grassy areas," says Huber. "I think that’s where people need to watch out for them, in grassy fields, road sides … that sort of thing.”

The water is exceptionally clear in Lake Michigan right now, and a Coast Guard helicopter crew used a recent routine patrol to capture striking images of some of the area's many notable sunken ships. Some of them date from the 1800s.

Photos from the flight out of the Coast Guard's Traverse City, Mich., air station show a variety of ships resting on the lake bottom, including the James McBride, a 121-foot brig that sank in 1857.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The water in Lakes Michigan and Huron has risen above its historic average. That ends an unusually long period of low water in the two lakes that began in the late 1990s.

Drew Gronewald is a scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. He says historically the lakes would rise and fall over periods of five years or less.

But around 1997, the lakes dropped a few feet and didn't recover. Gronewald says that trend will come to an end this month.

Michigan Sea Grant

Lake Michigan was recently recognized as one of the best places in America to fish for bass. The booming fishery is one sign of what might be a major shift of the lake’s food web. One biologist recently referred to the change as a "revolution."

Even though there are winners, like people fishing for bass, the change is being driven by an invasive species. And it could mean trouble for the most popular sport fish in Lake Michigan.

Chris Noffsinger has an unusual specialty as a fishing guide. He shows you where to catch bass.

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