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. 

The uncertain future of Great Lakes funding

May 11, 2017

Now that President Trump has signed the spending bill, Great Lakes funding is safe, at least for now.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is funded in full for 2017. But Trump wants to eliminate this funding entirely in his 2018 budget proposal.

A fight is brewing over Great Lakes fish

May 4, 2017

The rules for commercial fishing in Michigan are being rewritten in Lansing. The law is old and needs to be updated. There are only 21 non-tribal businesses licensed by the state to catch fish for market. Tribes fish under their own rules.

Fish consumption advisories usually focus on one chemical at a time – like mercury – and these advisories tell you how much of each kind of fish you should eat, and what to avoid. But they don’t often tell you much about mixtures of different chemicals in the environment that could be in fish.

David Cassleman

Advocates for a new Soo Lock have been trying to get Congress to fund the estimated $600 million project for decades. Congress first authorized the construction of the lock in the 1980s but has not come up with the money to pay for it. 

The buildup of nutrients in western Lake Erie can trigger algae growth – and contaminate drinking water in nearby cities. That happened as recently as 2014, when Toledo residents could not drink their water for two days.

President Donald Trump released his budget plan today.

The Pentagon and Homeland Security win big in the plan while the Great Lakes, Community Development Block Grants, the EPA, heating assistance for the poor and the arts lose big.

It's a mighty tall order: maintaining navigation channels through the Great Lakes all winter long.

That mission is fulfilled by a mighty ship: the USCGC Mackinaw. She's the only heavy ice-breaker the U.S. Coast Guard has on the Great Lakes.

She docks in Cheboygan, and during the winter months she maintains navigation channels through the Great Lakes by splitting ice.​

Vasilios Tasikas, the commanding officer of the Mackinaw, spoke to Stateside about his ship’s unique mission.

David Cassleman

Some supporters of building a new Soo Lock are hopeful that President Trump could finally be the one to deliver the goods.

Groups like the Lake Carriers’ Association have been trying to get a new lock built at Sault Sainte Marie for decades. 

Early budget indications suggest the Trump administration could slash funding for the Great Lakes.

There are many possible cuts to EPA programs. Great Lakes restoration money could be cut by 97%, and money for beach monitoring could be also at risk.

 

Dan Seavey wasn’t the only jolly pirate who commandeered ships on the Great Lakes, but he may have been the “jolliest.”

 

 

It's an especially precarious time for Lake Erie's future.

President Trump called for a trillion dollar investment in infrastructure this week in his address to Congress.

The Great Lakes Commission has ideas for where some of the money should go. The Commission is an interstate compact agency that represents Great Lakes states. The agency released recommendations today for rebuilding our water infrastructure.

The story of the Great Lakes is one of remarkable beauty and extraordinary violence.

According to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, the Lakes have collectively claimed some 6,000 ships and 30,000 lives. As long as ships have been on the Lakes, ferocious storms have been swallowing those ships—and their crews—whole.

It’s that grim yet compelling history that Cindy Hunter Morgan explores in her new collection of poems, Harborless. The collection is Morgan’s telling of 40 different Great Lakes shipping disasters, stretching across two centuries.  

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.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Cormorants will be safe from sharp shooters in the Great Lakes this spring. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not ready to restart a program that allowed lethal control of the birds to protect sport fish, and the agency says it might be years away.

For more than a decade, the federal government allowed double-crested cormorants to be killed in 24 states in the eastern U.S. In the Great Lakes, it was mainly done to protect sport fish like perch and bass.

The International Joint Commission, a treaty organization that advises the United States and Canada, says the two countries should do more to keep microplastics out of the lakes.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are five millimeters or smaller. Microbeads are used in things like soap and toothpaste. Microfibers are tiny fibers that wash off our synthetic clothing, like fleece.

Those tiny plastics can end up in the Great Lakes and can get into fish.

ENBRIDGE

An environmental group from Traverse City is challenging the claim that Line 5 is needed to keep residents of the Upper Peninsula warm.

FLOW released a report this week about the oil and gas line that runs under the Straits of Mackinac. The group says the line is an "immanent hazard" to the Great Lakes and the report says Enbridge exaggerates the number of homes heated with propane pumped in on Line 5.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is determined it’s going to build an underground storage bunker for nuclear waste at the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant in Kincardine, Ontario.

That location is less than a mile from Lake Huron.

Michigan’s congressional delegation has objected to the project every step of the way. Now, with a New Year and a new administration in the White House, come fresh efforts.

Will grass carp spread in the Great Lakes?

Jan 31, 2017

There are grass carp in three of the Great Lakes, but it’s not too late to do something about it.

That’s one of the conclusions of a new risk assessment on this type of Asian carp by the United States and Canada.

Amanda Holmes

Small harbors in Michigan have a big problem. Over time, access to harbors gets blocked by sand and sediment, and the harbor needs to be dredged. But the money to pay for dredging just isn’t there anymore.

The Canadian company that’s proposing to bury its nuclear waste in an underground site near Lake Huron doubled down this week on that controversial site.

Ontario Power Generation was ordered to do a study of alternative sites – options other than the proposed 2,200-foot underground repository at the Bruce power plant near Kincardine, right by Lake Huron.

That report came out last week.

Adam Bechle

Tsunamis can devastate communities along the oceans. The giant waves are often triggered by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. But scientists say tsunamis are also a common occurrence on the Great Lakes. 

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.

Caviar, climate change and a Great Lakes fish

Dec 13, 2016

Scientists have been worried about the herring population in Lake Superior recently. In fact, last year they warned it might collapse.

Lake Superior is the only one of the Great Lakes with a large population of this native fish.

This fall, new rules protecting herring took effect in Wisconsin and Minnesota and things appear more stable.

But there may still be a big problem lying beneath the surface.

Peter Payette

Scientists have been worried about the lake herring population in Lake Superior recently. In fact, last year they warned it could be headed towards a collapse.

Lake Superior is the only Great Lake that still has a significant population of herring - or cisco as they're commonly called.

This fall, new rules protecting herring took effect in Wisconsin and Minnesota and things appear more stable. But there may still be a big problem lying beneath the surface.

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