Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are together the largest freshwater system on 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. Here you'll find stories and sounds of the Great Lakes.


The Environment Report
2:22 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Restaurants and markets running low on a popular Great Lakes fish

Bernie Fritzsch gets ready for the lunch rush at Monahan's Seafood Market.

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 12:24 pm

Monahan’s Seafood Market in Ann Arbor carries soft-shell crabs from Maryland, Alaskan salmon, and Florida red snapper.

But at the moment, they’re fresh out of Great Lakes whitefish.

Bernie Fritzsch manages the fish market.

“We’re hoping to see it today, but we haven’t seen it for the last week,” he says.

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The Environment Report
1:53 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

The extensive ice cover could delay fish migrations in the Great Lakes

Male and female steelhead trout.

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 1:06 pm


The prolonged winter and the ice cover on the Great Lakes could lead to some lasting effects on wildlife.

For one thing, scientists expect that a lot of the fish that people like to catch will be showing up late to the places they usually spawn.

Solomon David is a research scientist at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

David basically chases fish around for a living.

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The Environment Report
1:26 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Zebra mussel-killing bacteria could help native species in the Great Lakes

Zebra mussels on a Higgins eye mussel

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 11:52 am

A treatment that kills zebra and quagga mussels could soon be available for use in lakes and rivers. It’s very effective and safe.

But it is not likely to undo much of the ecological damage done to Michigan waters by invasive mussels.

It could be good news, though, if you’re a clam.

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Extreme Winter
8:00 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

Drip, Drip: Enough Water To Fill The Soo Locks A Few Times

Credit Peter Payette

Water drips through my kitchen sink all day every day, like many others in the region, to keep my underground pipes from freezing.

For a month or so, we've let it flow at the width of a pencil lead. Some run water advisories are in effect until mid-April.

So just how much water is going through there?

I stuck a plastic gallon milk jug under the flow and timed it. I calculated that I’m running about 90 gallons a day. That's about two bathtubs of water run right down the drain daily.

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3:26 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

An update on Lake Michigan oil spill

The cleanup on Lake Michigan.
Screenshot from The Chicago Tribune The Chicago Tribune

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 2:29 pm

An oil spill from a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., this week has raised new worries about the stepped-up processing of Canadian tar sands – and threats to Lake Michigan.

Considering that seven million people in Chicagoland depend on Lake Michigan for drinking water, even a little spill might be cause for concern.

Exactly what was spilled? How far did it spread? And has BP contained the leak?

We're joined now by Michael Hawthorne, a reporter with The Chicago Tribune.

Listen to the full interview above.

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The Environment Report
4:41 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Wilderness Proposals Increasingly Divisive On Capitol Hill

Good Harbor Bay is one of five zones of the national lakeshore that are now officially federally protected wilderness areas.
Linda Stephan

Fifty years ago, Congress set out to guarantee future generations would always have access to America’s great outdoors in its most natural state. But several recent requests for wilderness protections have been languishing on Capitol Hill.  

In the past five years, just one new wilderness bill made it to law. This new law guarantees 35 miles of northern Lake Michigan shoreline will be forever left wild.

Good Harbor Bay

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National Lakeshore
4:43 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

President Obama Signs Sleeping Bear Wilderness Protections

Credit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

President Obama today (Thursday) signed into law the first-ever formal wilderness protections for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. More than 32,500 acres will remain primitive in perpetuity. No new roads or other amenities will be built in these areas.

 We explained the changes in detail in a blog post last week, after the U.S. House gave final approval.

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National Lakeshore
11:17 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Sleeping Bear Wilderness Plan Heads To President Obama

Credit Jim Sorbie/Flickr

Tuesday evening there was an historic vote in Congress for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The U.S. House voted to create the park’s first-ever formal wilderness plan. The bill now awaits the president’s signature.

Our conversation with Deputy Park superintendent Tom Ulrich on the long process toward the wilderness plan, and what it means for the future of Sleeping Bear. Also, Congressman Dan Benishek explains why it took years for Congress to pass a wilderness plan that had broad public support.

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4:12 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

What will it mean for the Great Lakes once spring finally gets here and that ice melts?

Michigan was clobbered by snow and ice storms in January and February.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

As our long, cold, snowy winter has dragged on, one result can be seen with stunning clarity from outer space. Satellite photos prove that the Great Lakes are nearly totally covered with ice, and we're close to setting a record for the most ice cover in 34 years.

We wondered if we might break that record, and we wondered what this will mean for the Great Lakes once spring finally gets here and that ice melts.

Alan Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University joined us today.

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Michigan Dune Shoreline
7:26 am
Mon March 3, 2014

U.S. House To Vote On Sleeping Bear Wilderness

Credit Jim Sorbie/Flickr

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today (Monday) on a plan to designate 32,500 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as wilderness.

The move comes after more than a decade of debate both in northern Michigan and in Washington.

Under the legislation there are specific protections for hunting and fishing. Congressman Dan Benishek says the bill also ensures natural features will be protected, along with county roads, access to the water and historic structures. 

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