Great Lakes

Courtesy Moheb Soliman

The shorelines of all five of the Great Lakes add up to almost 11,000 miles.

That’s about the same distance between Lansing and Perth, Australia.

Or to visualize it another way, if you took a piece of string as long as the Great Lakes shoreline, you’d be able to wrap it around 44 percent of the Earth’s circumference.

Traveling that much ground in just four months might sound a little intimidating.

Flickr - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Governors and environmentalists from around the region are gathering in Chicago this week to discuss Great Lakes issues. We check in with commentator Gary Wilson about the topics getting the most attention for September’s Great Lakes Month in Review.


Enbridge oil spill response photo
Kevin Lavery / WKAR

Enbridge ships 540,000 barrels of natural gas liquids beneath the Straits of Mackinac every day. The company just completed a full-scale oil spill response drill at the Straits. Current State's Kevin Lavery was there, and reports on the simulation.


Could fish farm expansion in MI hurt the Great Lakes?

Sep 15, 2015
lake trout photo
USFWSmidwest / flickr creative commons

From chinook salmon to rainbow trout, the Great Lakes are known for some of the most incredible freshwater fisheries in the world, but could they also become a hotspot of open water fish farming? We talk to Dr. Bryan Burroughs, executive director of Trout Unlimited, about why environmentalists are saying that would be a bad idea.


Tiny invaders could be big headache for Great Lakes

Sep 1, 2015
a picture of a freighter in the Sault St. Marie Locks
G.L. Kohuth

Invasive species pose a real threat to the Great Lakes. But not all of them are easy to spot. Current State talks to Joan Rose, co-director of MSU’s Center for Water Sciences, about the risk that invasive viruses could pose to the ecosystem. 

If the Great Lakes put up “most unwanted” posters, they’d be plastered with pictures Asian carp, zebra and quagga mussels, and sea lamprey.

picture of Great Lakes steamship
Wikimedia Commons/University of Maryland Digital Collections)

The Great Lakes might not be your first choice for a cruise vacation. But the passenger ships in the region used to be some of the most luxurious in the entire world. We learn more about these “floating palaces” from Detroit Historical Society Joel Stone, whose recent book profiles the history of the Great Lakes steamship industry.

If you wanted to travel in style around the Great Lakes during the 19th and early 20th centuries, you took a steamship. The boats' massive ballrooms and ornate furnishings earned them the nickname “palace steamers.” 

algae photo
Flickr Annie and John

Three of the Great Lakes made the news this month.

The town of Waukesha, Wisconsin is moving ahead on its plans to draw Lake Michigan water; U.S. Senators are trying to delay the creation of a nuclear waste facility close to Lake Huron and the federal government is investing big money to prevent algae blooms on Lake Erie. 

Current State talks with Great Lakes journalist and commentator Gary Wilson.

http://www.vermontlaw.edu/

It might be the “mother of all hiking trails.”  A devotee of the Great Lakes is proposing a nearly 11-thousand mile path that would circumnavigate all five of the lakes.

Flickr - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

The conversation around climate change often focuses on how it will disrupt human life. Scientists warn that food shortages, flooding in coastal cities, and deadly heatwaves are just a few of the potentially devastating consequences of a warming planet. But humans aren’t the only ones at risk. Even small changes in temperature could drastically alter the native habitats of plants and animals across the globe, including here in Michigan.

Flickr - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

The alewife was once the scourge of the Great Lakes. The small, silver herring made its way into the basin through the St. Lawrence River in the late 19th century and proceeded to wreak havoc on the ecosystem. If you were around the region in the 1960s, you might remember the stench of thousands of dead alewives washing up on Great Lakes beaches. Now, scientists are concerned with a decline in the population of this invasive species and how the shrinking numbers of alewives could impact their main predator, the popular Chinook salmon.

Satellite image of Great Lakes
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

At the end of each month, Current State checks in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we look at the latest developments in Flint’s drinking water problems, hear about a conference on toxic algae blooms, and look at what the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case could mean for Michigan’s energy policy.

On Lake Superior, a different kind of “ice-cycle”

Mar 6, 2015
Courtesy - John Murphy

Most Midwesterners are ready to thaw out after this cold and snowy winter. It's pretty exciting to see above 40 degree temperatures forecasted for next week. But there’s one group of people who aren’t ready to say goodbye to the ice and snow just yet: the North Coast Cycling Association in Bayfield, Wisconsin. They rely on a frozen Lake Superior for their Saturday trips to Madeline Island.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Winter is still holding a firm grasp on Michigan and much of the country. In a state surrounded by fresh water, it’s imperative that the Great Lakes and the rivers which feed them are kept open for commerce. That’s the job of the United States Coast Guard, which operates several icebreaking ships on the lakes.

WKAR File Photo

At the end of each month, we check in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin.  

For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we hear about progress on pet coke in Chicago, what’s next for fracking in Michigan, and how budget cuts could impact the fight against Asian carp in the basin.

Satellite image of Great Lakes
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

At the end of each month, we check in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we look at how a lawsuit in Iowa could have implications for the Great Lakes, the latest in Flint’s water woes, and the problems that microfibers are causing for Great Lakes fish.

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