Great Lakes

Stateside
3:28 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Great Lakes are rising, according to one study

Great Lakes water levels are rising
NASA Goddard Photo and Video Flickr

There are new reports that expect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to climb nearly two feet this summer.

One comes from the Army Corps of Engineers, which projects lake levels to rise by 20 inches. 

Al Steinman is the Director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University. 

Steinman attributed much of the rising water levels to significant rain this spring. 

"We've risen eight inches since April."

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Environment & Science
10:19 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Lawmakers resist wind turbines in the Great Lakes

Credit www.geograph.org.uk

Two northern Michigan representatives want to keep the picturesque shoreline of the Great Lakes free of spinning wind turbines.

New legislation introduced by Republicans Greg MacMaster and Ray Franz would stop any proposed research or production of offshore wind power in the Great Lakes that border Michigan.

It would also ban it for the future.

Critics say the bill lacks foresight.

"We think it is a mistake to limit research in this area," said James Clift, policy director of the Michigan Environmental Council. "We have a number of universities who have gotten grants to do research on offshore wind. It may be decades down the road, but to restrict our ability to even learn the possibilities there is extremely shortsighted."

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Environment & Science
6:22 am
Sun June 2, 2013

Great Lakes governors closer to agreement on Asian carp

A Bighead carp caught in Lake Calumet, near Chicago, in 2010
Illinois Dept of Natural Resources

The Great Lakes governors are meeting this weekend on Mackinac Island.

There may have been a small breakthrough on a plan to deal with the threat of Asian carp spreading into the lakes.

There’s been some tension among the Great Lakes states over what to about Asian carp spreading from the Mississippi River system to Lake Michigan.

The two join at a shipping canal in Chicago. The Great Lakes Council of Governors agreed to adopt a common strategy to fight the spread of invasive species.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue May 28, 2013

The curious history of a tasty little Great Lakes fish

The Chubby Mary ® has a smoked chub in it.
Photo courtesy of The Cove. Used with permission.

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

Not too long ago, we reported that native fish are doing really well in Lake Huron.

The fish involved are not exactly well known species. But there is one that’s a household name in lakeshore communities. Its success is sparking some scientific debate.

A fish cocktail

The owners of The Cove in Leland have a problem. Food and travel writers who pass through seldom forget to mention the Chubby Mary®.  It’s a Bloody Mary with a smoked chub in it.

Mario Batali even put a photo of the cocktail on Bon Appetit’s website along with his endorsement.

The problem is there aren’t many chubs for sale these days because they are really hard to find in the Great Lakes.

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Politics & Culture
5:26 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Stateside for Monday, April 29th, 2013

With approval by the U.S. State Department, the plan to build a new, second bridge from Detroit to Windsor is moving forward. On today's show we take a look at the community in Detroit where the bridge will be built.

Just what will happen to the Delray neighborhood? And, then, we'll speak with a woman who has hiked the shorelines of all five Great Lakes.

But first to the state Capitol, where we saw a flurry of voting last week as lawmakers put together the next state budget.

It's expected to total about $48 billion.


The Republican-controlled state House approved spending for schools and colleges as well as a budget to fund the rest of state government.

The state Senate, also controlled by Republicans, approved about half of its budget plan with more votes scheduled this week.

Now, these votes set the stage for negotiations between the two Chambers in May because the goal in Lansing is to get the budget complete by June 1st.

Joining us are Chad Livengood, Lansing reporter for The Detroit News, and Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent for Crain’s Detroit Business.

Arts & Culture
5:25 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

A hike along the Great Lakes

http://www.laketrek.com

As we move into our middle years many of us yearn to do something to change things up in a big way.

Battle Creek's Loreen Niewenhuis took that question and really came up with something different: she got up from her desk, put on her hiking boots and started walking.

First Loreen walked around Lake Michigan.

Then she decided to walk over a thousand miles - hiking the shorelines of all five Great Lakes.

Her adventures are chronicled in her new book A One-Thousand-Mile Great Lakes Walk: One Woman's Trek Along the Shorelines of All Five Great Lakes published by Crickhollow Books.

Niewenhuis has taken off her hiking boots and joins us today on Stateside.

Listen to the full interview above.

Environment & Science
2:23 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Raising water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron with man-made stuctures

Lake Michigan and parts of Lakes Superior and Huron from space.
NASA

The International Joint Commission (IJC) recommends that the U.S. and Canadian governments investigate the option of placing man-made structures in the St. Clair River to raise water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron.

The IJC is a binational organization that develops recommendations and resolves disputes over waters between the U.S. and Canada.

More from Jon Flesher of the Associated Press:

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The Environment Report
12:02 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Record-breaking storms add two inches to Lakes Michigan and Huron

Walking on land that used to be underwater on Old Mission Peninsula
NOAA

Audio from the Environment Report for Thursday, April 25th.

Recent storms are improving the low water levels in the Great Lakes, at least a little.

Lakes Michigan and Huron hit record low levels this winter.

(See National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Water Level Dashboard for a look at Great Lakes levels in historical context.)

Ships are carrying less cargo, and boaters have had trouble getting in and out of harbors. To help with the low lake levels, the state started emergency dredging projects for some harbors. And experts say the recent storms are also helping a little.

Keith Kompoltowicz is the Chief of Watershed Hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.

It’s normal for the lakes to go up a little in the spring, but Kompoltowicz says we’ve had so much rain lately that the typical spring increases in Lakes Michigan and Huron are up by about two inches more than normal.

"There’s a huge contribution from those storms," said Kompoltowicz. "It’s looking like we came up from the first of the month through 22nd of the month. We’re up well over 5 or 6 inches, so far, from start of the month."

Two inches more on Lakes Michigan and Huron means the storms dropped 1.6  trillion gallons of water into the system.

But they’re called the GREAT Lakes, so even with all that water, Kompoltowicz says the lakes are likely to remain low.

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Stateside
4:54 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Protecting the Great Lakes

NOAA

The future of the Great Lakes, their management, and their usage were among key topics in a forum held recently at MSU's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.

The forum focused on the key question of how we should manage these huge bodies of fresh water in order to guarantee their availability for future generations.

This is happening while the Obama Administration is asking for $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Jennifer Read is Deputy Director of the University of Michigan Water Center and Jon Allen is Director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.

Both were in attendance at the forum, and they give us an overview of  what was discussed.

You can listen to the full interview above.

Environment & Science
1:09 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Michigan AG says fund cannot be tapped for Great Lakes dredging

Dredging on the River Raisin.
USEPA

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s pleased with an official opinion from state Attorney General Bill Schuette.

It says the state constitution does not allow the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for dredging and other types of maintenance on public harbors.

The governor says that affirms his position.

"As we look at, let’s look out to the future, I would not use the trust fund at all. That is not a place that I would look to for resources for this," he said.

The Governor and the Attorney General say the Natural Resources Trust can only be used to acquire and improve property for the public’s use.

Snyder and the Legislature reached a compromise earlier on an emergency dredging bill that taps into the Waterways Trust Fund and the state’s General Fund.

The money will be used for dredging this spring to clear harbors suffering from record low water levels. Low water levels could affect Great Lakes shipping and recreational boating.

The Environment Report
8:55 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Saltless surfing: Riding the waves of the Great Lakes

Great Lakes surfers brave all kinds of bad weather.
Photograph by Mike Killion

When you think “surfing,” you probably think sunshine, “Aloha!” and warm beaches with palm trees. You probably don’t think winter, icebergs, and Lake Superior.

Surfing the Great Lakes is at its prime during the winter months, and this year’s delayed spring is providing a dedicated group of Great Lakes surfers with some great swells. Winter and early spring storms produce large waves that are ideal for surfing. 

Ryan Gerard is the owner of Third Coast Surf Shop in New Buffalo, Michigan. He’s noticed the effect of a late spring on surfing conditions.

“It is kind of a double edged sword,” he said. “The surf conditions have been pretty good lately because we’ve been having more of these weather conditions that bring us waves. I guess the other side of the sword is that we’re ready for summer too.”

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Will Congress preserve Great Lakes restoration funding?

The view from the Empire Bluff hike.
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

President Obama is asking for $300 million for the Great Lakes in his 2014 budget. That money would go to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

It’s a huge project to clean up pollution, fight invasive species and restore habitat.

Chad Lord is the policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. He says there’s been a lot of progress over the last four years.

“All of these results are coming from the investments in new wetlands, buffer strips along rivers, cleaning up toxic sediments in areas around Detroit,” he says.

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Environment & Science
12:22 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

New study suggests Asian carp "at the doorstep" of the Great Lakes

Carp caught in an Illinois lake (file photo)
Illinois Dept of Natural Resources

A new study claims there is evidence that a small number of Asian Carp have reached the Great Lakes.   

Asian Carp is an invasive species that could potentially damage the Great Lakes environment and seven billion dollar fishing industry.

The paper released Thursday was written by scientists with the University of Notre Dame, The Nature Conservancy and Central Michigan University. It summarizes findings from a two-year search for the carp in and around the Great Lakes. 

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The Environment Report
11:59 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Michigan chefs experiment with Asian carp

Chefs prepare Asian carp.
Sarah Payette

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

One of the strategies to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes is to eat the fish now living in the Mississippi River. But finding a market for millions of pounds of carp is not easy. Peter Payette wondered if people could get excited about Asian carp as a seafood delicacy. So he put some in the hands of chefs in Traverse City:

Asian Carp doesn’t taste like much. In fact, you might describe its taste as neutral.

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Breaking
2:16 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

$20.9 million for Great Lakes harbor dredging

A dredge working on Lake Michigan.
USEPA

The lower water levels in the Great Lakes are taking a bite out of the state's pocketbook.

Today, the Legislature sent a budget bill to Gov. Snyder that includes $20.9 million in funding for dredging harbors and marinas suffering from low water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Update 2:00 p.m.

Here's more on the $20.9 million approved for harbor dredging.

MLive's Tim Martin has a list of the 49 harbors and marinas to be dredged with the funds.

The bill had bi-partisan support, but State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) voted against a bill to fund dredging of public harbors and marinas with money from the state's Waterways Fund.

"The Waterways Fund pays for things like maintaining our public marinas so that the public can have access to clean restrooms and great park locations at public marinas around the state - and they depleted that to do dredging. And to me, I just think it’s the wrong priority,” said Warren.

Supporters said it's more important to provide access to the harbors and marinas now. They say they plan to put money back into the Waterways Fund later on.

State Senator Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) said passage of the legislation today (before legislators take a two week spring break) will allow dredging to start in time for the summer boating season.

“With this emergency situation, we needed the money now. We didn’t need to wait, because it won’t do any good once we get into July and August to try and do the dredging then. We needed to put the money up front, get the bids out, get the work done,” said Hansen.

Gov. Snyder is expected to sign the bill quickly to free up the money for dredging contracts.

11:01 a.m.

The state Senate has sent Governor Rick Snyder a budget bill that includes almost $21 million to dredge Great Lakes harbors suffering from record low water levels.

We'll have more soon.

*An earlier headline read "$21 million for Great Lakes harbor dredging." $20.9 million was approved. We changed the headline.

Politics & Government
1:23 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Emergency dredging money moving through House

A dredge outside of Leland Harbor.
Andrew McFarlane Flickr

Lake levels are low, especially in Lakes Huron and Michigan, so harbors and ports want help clearing the way before boating season starts.

Gov. Snyder called it an emergency.

Members in the Legislature seem to agree as emergency money from the Natural Resources Trust Fund, a fund normally used for public land acquisition or improvement, is closer to reality.

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Politics & Government
10:04 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Battle lines drawn in Lansing over dredging

How should Michigan pay for dredging?
Andrew McFarlane Flickr

A battle over how to pay for emergency harbor dredging is brewing in Lansing. State Senator John Moolenaar (R-Midland) is sponsoring a bill that would explicitly identify harbor dredging as a proper use of  funding from the state's National Resources Trust Fund.

He says, “when it comes to recreational access to use our tremendous assets that we have in Michigan, we believe this is consistent, but we wanted to spell it out in state law.”

Environmental groups are criticizing the plan.  They say it would threaten the state’s ability to buy and improve parks and public land.

Hugh McDiarmid of the Michigan Environmental Council admits record-low water levels in the Great Lakes mean emergency dredging is necessary. But he says there are better ways to pay for it than raiding the Natural Resources Trust Fund. 

“Diverting money to dredge harbors,” he says, “would hurt communities around the state who wouldn’t have that money available for their parks and their recreational facilities.”

McDiarmid adds long-term harbor maintenance costs could drain the fund completely.  “Maybe purchasing land to create a new harbor would be a more appropriate use of the trust fund”, he says. “You know, some big investment like that rather than routine maintenance that would bleed the trust fund every year, and really should come from another source.”

Governor Rick Snyder is asking for more than $20 million for emergency harbor dredging in his proposed budget. That money would not come out of the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The Environment Report
11:35 am
Thu February 28, 2013

How the sequester might affect cleanup projects in the Great Lakes

The Kinnickinnic River in Milwaukee before cleanup project. Those watching federal Great Lakes clean-up projects worry the sequester might curb clean-up.
NWF

The NWF's Andy Buchsbaum talks about the sequester and potential affects on the Great Lakes.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but folks in Washington aren’t exactly getting along these days.

They couldn’t agree on how to cut the deficit, and now we’re facing automatic, across-the-board spending cuts from the federal government.

The cuts are scheduled to start March 1.

$85 billion will have to be stripped out of the federal budget this year alone.

The White House sent a press release detailing how these cuts might affect environmental programs in Michigan.

Here's what they wrote:

Michigan would lose about $5.9 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Michigan could lose another $1.5 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

We heard a lot about about how the sequester might affect things like airports, school funding, and Medicare, but we wanted to know more about the numbers above.

How might environmental programs in the region be affected?

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Sports
11:19 am
Fri February 22, 2013

The one that DIDN’T get away is a world record

Joseph Seeberger with his world record Great Lakes muskellunge
Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

In a press release today, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources says Joseph Seeberger has both a state record and now a world record-sized Great Lakes muskellunge.

The International Committee of the Modern Day Muskellunge World Record Program (MDMWRP) recognized Seeberger’s catch as the biggest ever.  MDMWRP is a committee of muskellunge scientists, industry leaders, anglers and outdoor media personalities that formed in 2006.

Prior to Seeberger's submission, there had not been a MDMWRP world-record entry verified.

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Economy
3:07 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

NewsHour on how low lake levels lead to economic problems

Northport Bay on Lake Michigan
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Lakes Michigan and Huron reached their lowest level ever recorded recently, and the other Great Lakes are down as well.

The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Snyder are calling for emergency dredging money to keep harbors open this summer.

Elizabeth Brackett of WTTW Chicago recently traveled to Leland, Suttons Bay, and Ludington, Michigan for her report that aired on PBS NewsHour.Here's her report on how low lake levels can lead to economic problems in shoreline towns.

In Brackett's report, Andrew Gronewold of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory explained the low levels this way.

When the water temperatures increase, which they are right now, especially through the summertime; then, in the fall, when we have the cool air masses coming over the lakes, we have increased evaporation, and that evaporation rate has been exaggerated, particularly this year.

We're also in a year where there's been extremely low precipitation, so over the last year very little rain was coming in to the system, both in the form of snow melting in the springtime and then also direct rainfall onto the lakes themselves.

Brackett also reported on a controversy Rebecca Williams and Peter Payette talked about last week, the lack of funding for harbor dredging.

Chuck May of the Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition said the federal government needs to do more.

Again, from Brackett's report:

The federal government actually owns these harbors, these channels. And they actually have a tax called a harbor maintenance tax that they put in place the beginning of 1985 to take care of these harbors. So far, in the past 15 years, they have collected $8 billion dollars that they have not spent on harbors.

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