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. 

It's getting harder and more hazardous to navigate the Great Lakes. A lack of funding for dredging has left many shallow harbors even shallower and some are closing. Chuck May has been working on this problem since he saw a yacht run aground trying to get into Portage Lake from a storm.

Salmon Stocking Could Be Cut In Lake Michigan

Apr 9, 2012

Managers of Lake Michigan want to cut the number of Chinook salmon being put into the lake by as much as 50 percent next year. They say changes in the lake’s food web make it possible the entire salmon fishery could collapse. Cutting the number of fish stocked should reduce that risk. There’s a meeting this weekend in Benton Harbor to discuss the proposals.

Dan Thomas, President of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council, says most people who pay attention to what’s happening in Lake Michigan see the danger. Thomas says there’s not much food for salmon in the lake these days.

Managers of salmon in Lake Michigan must soon decide how many fish to put into the lake each year. The salmon fishery is a man-made industry in the Great Lakes, produced by planting millions and millions of fish in the lakes. Keeping the salmon population in balance with the food supply is a challenge these days. Some scientists are raising new questions about the salmon's demise in Lake Huron and whether it can be stopped in Lake Michigan.

Sturgeon Heyday

Mar 9, 2012

Lake sturgeon is not a fish you hear much about these days but it was once part of the everyday vernacular around the Great Lakes. The story of its demise is an unusual one. For Americans moving into the region in the 1800s the fish was at first considered worthless but suddenly became a prized food. Laura Bien writes about the history of the sturgeon in her most recent article for The Ann Arbor Chronicle.

There were 87 people who died by drowning last year in Great Lakes waters, according to numbers reported by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

A significant number of swimmers were caught in rip currents. Project CEO Bob Pratt says safety experts are still learning about rip-current survival, but there's some evidence to suggest the best thing for a swimmer to do if caught in a rip current is to stop swimming.

Underwater researchers say there's enough evidence to warrant taking samples from what may be the historic Great Lakes ship, the Griffon. The French owned vessel is thought to have sunk in northern Lake Michigan in September of 1679. The ship was part of explorer Rene de La Salle's effort to link trade from the Great Lakes to settlements on the Mississippi River.

Mercury Problem Improves In Region

Oct 11, 2011

A new study of mercury in the Great Lakes region says the problem has significantly improved in recent decades. But in a few places it appears to be getting worse. That could include northern Michigan.

Mercury has been a problem in the Great Lakes regions for much of the past century.  Coal-fired power plants and incinerators have been the main sources. Mercury accumulates in fish that are eaten by people and birds. It can impair brain development in children.

The federal government is ready to give three more lighthouses to historical groups in Michigan. One is the Waugoshance Lighthouse in northern Lake Michigan. It's an offshore light about 25 miles west of Mackinac City. Chris West is the President of the Waugoshance Lighthouse Preservation Society. He says the light has been out of use for almost 100 years but is still well known to boaters.

Writer's Quest To Know Great Lakes

Sep 23, 2011

Jerry Dennis is a writer from Traverse City who has been writing about the Great Lakes region for decades now. His newest book is en extended meditation on the Lakes in winter time. It's called Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes, published by University of Michigan Press. At the front Dennis suggests the lakes might be the most poorly understood place in North America. So with the help of injured knee to slow him down, he devotes himself to understanding them better. He spoke with Peter Payette on Points North.

The City of Ludington is considering spending $40,000 next year for beach safety, after a tragic summer for swimmers at the city beach and pier.

"No one here can remember the last time we had a drowning at the beach let alone three," says City Manager John Shay.

He says Ludington discontinued its lifeguard service last year because of financial pressures.

Now city officials could bring back lifeguards, do regular beach patrols, or put life saving rings along the pier.

Michigan wildlife officials are pushing for more control of a fish eating water bird. They want to double the number of cormorants killed in Michigan each year, to about 20,000.

Cormorants nest in colonies on islands in the Upper Great Lakes and Canada, and they can gobble up a lot of fish.

But, some other researchers are not so sure killing more cormorants will mean more perch, walleye and bass for anglers. 

Detour's Freighter Cottage

Sep 4, 2009

In the quaint tourist town of Detour, in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, a couple is slowly chipping away at decades of rust. They're creating a summer cottage out of the front-end of a 1920s freighter. So far this is just a big hunk of steel, filled with all the junk no one else wanted when the ship was retired in 1980.

A crowd gathered when the freighter-home first arrived in Detour on a barge, back in 2005. Four years later, and house movers are just finishing up the process of solidifying the freighter's cement foundation.

Chub Fishery Disappearing

Aug 10, 2009

The smell of smoked fish mixes with apple and maple wood outside of Monte's Original Smoke House in Frankfort.

The owner Monte Finkhouse says he can't supply enough smoked chub for his customers.

Chubs were THE smoked fish of choice at local retailers up until the mid 90s.  They accounted for 90 percent of all smoked fish sold at Monte's small store in Frankfort.  

"Chubs are the deepest fish we have," Finkhouse said. "So they're real oily and that makes for good smoked fish."

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