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.


Historic Preservation
4:33 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Deal Nixes New Hotel On Mackinac Island

This walkway between the Arnold dock and Main Street will not be overshadowed by a new hotel under a deal signed this week.
Credit Peter Payette

The view of Mackinac Island’s oldest ferry terminal has been protected. Island officials worked out a compromise this week with a developer who wanted to build a new hotel in front of the Arnold Transit dock. It looks like a victory for supporters of new historic protections on Mackinac Island.

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The Environment Report
9:47 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Explore a century-old freighter, "dive" on a shipwreck at new Great Lakes museum

The National Museum of the Great Lakes. It cost $12 million to build, with the vast majority of the money coming from public sources.
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 7:27 pm

I thought I knew a lot about the Great Lakes, until I met Chris Gillcrist. He’s the kind of guy you want on your Trivial Pursuit team.

This is the kind of fact I learned from him every few minutes:

“The first millionaire in American history is John Jacob Astor. It’s a guy trading beaver pelts from the Great Lakes and sending them to Europe.”

Gillcrist is the executive director of the new National Museum of the Great Lakes. It opens this Saturday, April 26, in Toledo.

There are a lot about shipwrecks here, sure,  but Gillcrist wants you to know it’s much more than that.

“We look at it as retrofitting American history to more accurately depict how the Great Lakes impacted the nation as a whole over the past 300 years,” he says.

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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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