Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, home to a fragile fishery, and delicate shoreline beaches and dunes. They are also central to northern Michigan tourism, economies and our way of life. 

Tom Carr

The largest coal-fired passenger ship still operating in the United States is the S.S. Badger in Lake Michigan. It’s a beloved 1950s car ferry that sails between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

For years it was the subject of an environmental controversy because it was polluting the lake.

This year, that’s changed.


This piece is the first for The Living Memory Project, an occasional series connecting the past to the present in Northern Michigan.

On May 7th, 1979, Judge Noel Fox ruled in favor of three Indian tribes in a dispute with Michigan over fishing in the Great Lakes.

Judge Fox’s decision was blunt. He called the history of government dealings with Indians a “shameful record of broken treaties and unfulfilled promises.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A fleet of Canadian-owned ships will be the first in the Great Lakes to have ballast treatment systems on board. The systems will kill invasive species that live in the ballast tanks of ocean going ships.

It’s a big step toward solving a problem that has plagued the Great Lakes for decades. But the issue is still contentious.

Spring has a lot of faces around the country, like the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., and the sap run in Vermont. On one Michigan island, it's horses that are the harbinger of the season.

Mackinac Island draws a million visitors a year for its scenery, fudge and horses. Cars aren't allowed on the island, and every spring, hundreds of horses are ferried from their winter hiatus in the Upper Peninsula for a good grooming and harness fitting, before beginning their summer jobs pulling carriages.

The two reasons: 1) the process of moving water that far, and that high, wouldn't make economic sense; 2) Great Lakes water is locked down politically.

The ongoing drought in California has hit its fourth year. 

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