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Great Lakes

Piping plovers.
Roger Eriksson

Piping plovers are an endangered species of bird that builds its nests on Great Lakes beaches. Its main habitat is the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

But some of the birds' nests are being washed away by high water levels.

Vincent Cavalieri, piping plover coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says the birds could be especially at risk this year. He says although the recorded number of bird pairs has increased since last year, the rising water is likely to cause problems during this year’s nesting season.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The U.S. and Canada are working to restore populations of a prehistoric fish in the Great Lakes that was nearly wiped out. We went out with a crew of researchers to see what they’re doing to bring the sturgeon back.

An autonomous vessel on water.
Guy Meadows

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the future of self-driving cars. But what about autonomous ships?

When the Great Lakes governors and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec begin their 2019 summit on Friday, one of the events on the schedule will be a demonstration of “smart ship” technology.

soldier holding GI Joe the pigeon
Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

 

Today on Stateside, we talk about rethinking how we measure whether a school is succeeding or failing. Plus, a conversation with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein about how people with disabilities bring unique, important perspectives to the workplace.

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Rising Great Lakes water levels are causing damage to some structures on Michigan shorelines. The Holland Sentinel reports a section of seawall at Kollen Park in Holland sustained damage during a storm.

Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, said lake levels are expected to topple record highs this summer.

“For the month of May, a new record high for the month was set and additional record highs for the months of June, July, August and September are expected,” he said.

Asian carp
USGS

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has saigned off on a $778 million plan intended to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

The money would be used to upgrade a lock and dam in Illinois. But the proposal still needs Congressional approval.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Federal agencies are asking for the public’s input on a new action plan for the Great Lakes.

The third phase of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan sets new five year priorities and goals starting in 2020.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Plans for an enhanced barrier to try to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes might have just taken a crucial step forward.

The plan would fortify the existing Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill. to attempt to block carp from getting to Lake Michigan.

The project just got a signoff from the Illinois governor to go into a pre-construction and design phase.

Molly Flanagan is with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. She says it’s a big project, but it’s an essential one to keep invasive Asian carp out of the lakes.

The untold history of Yemeni sailors on the Great Lakes

Apr 29, 2019
Group of Yemeni sailors interviewed during Howell's class
Razi Jafri / Michigan Radio

Our state is home to the nation's largest population of Yemeni Americans. But what attracted Yemeni immigrants to Michigan in the first place?

For many, the driver was economic opportunity, particularly the kind that could be found while sailing the Great Lakes.

Wind turbine
Tim Wang / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lake Erie could become home to an offshore wind farm in the next few years.

The proposed Icebreaker Wind project is a six-turbine wind farm that could be built off the coast of Cleveland.

Dave Karpinski is with the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation.

“For the Cleveland area, it's a chance to be a leader in this new emerging industry in the US,” he said.

Karpinski says the wind farm would create clean energy and jobs with little impact to residents and the environment.

Picture of Lake Superior
Isabella Isaacs-Thomas / Michigan Radio

A new report commissioned by the Environmental Law and Policy Center urges Great Lakes states to mitigate and prepare for the "profound" effects of climate change.

The report, authored by more than a dozen Midwest and Canadian researchers, says Great Lakes states will see more very hot days, increases in heavy rainfall and flooding, declines in crop yields, and threats to drinking water.  

American Sign Language for A - S - L
U.S. Air Force Photo Illustration/Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson

Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer announced a plan earlier this week to introduce a 45 cent gas tax by October 2020. Are there enough road workers to put all that funding to use? Plus, Ingham County is building a public defender office from the ground up. We talk about the challenges of developing a brand new governmental department. 

A man in coveralls bends over a hole in ice and pulls out a net.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A decline in lake whitefish is pushing some tribal commercial fishermen out of Lakes Michigan and Huron. They’re spending more time in Lake Superior, the only place they say they can still make a living. This has fishermen and scientists worried about whether whitefish populations there can withstand the extra pressure.

Walking along Lake Erie
Flickr user abdullahh

With March approaching, the end of winter is just barely within reach, which has many of us dreaming of hot summer days at the beach. And now the ability to have those long walks on the beach has just been guaranteed.

The Supreme Court rejected a case this week that would have called into question who is allowed to access Great Lakes beachfront property. 

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Experts are predicting higher-than-normal water levels on the Great Lakes this summer, some of which may set records.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Detroit recently issued its latest six-month forecast for the lakes.

The Detroit News reports that Lake Superior is unusually high and by May could reach a record set in the mid-1980s. Lake Erie also could hit record highs in late spring.

A sign that says "Honor the Treaties" hangs between two trees against a snowy landscape.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

On a chilly day in early January, the ground at Camp Anishinaabek is covered in a foot of snow, extra crusty from thawing and re-freezing. The outdoor firepit where campers gather in warmer weather is deserted, and instead, they've congregated in a dark, slightly smoky tent.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The partial federal government shutdown could have wide-ranging consequences for the Great Lakes. There already are some problems, but things could get worse if the shutdown drags on.

A graph shows annual average temperature values for the State of Michigan from 1895 through 2018. The graph varies widely from year to year but shows a general upward trend.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

New Year, new data. Climate change continues to affect the mitten state. Here are four places you should keep watching for it.

ASIAN CARP REGIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE

Michigan’s outgoing governor is trying to convince his counterpart in Illinois to support a project aimed at keeping asian carp out of Lake Michigan.

Asian carp are seen as a threat to the Great Lakes fishing industry. The invasive fish has moved up from the Deep South along the Mississippi River basin, reaching a point several miles from Lake Michigan.

Picture of Lake Superior
Isabella Isaacs-Thomas / Michigan Radio

The federal government’s recent National Climate Assessment broke down how our planet’s changing climate is projected to impact the United States region by region. Headlines about the report have used words like "chilling," "ominous," and "devastation."

So what changes can residents of the Great Lakes state expect to see in coming decades?

A satellite photo of the Great Lakes
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory/Flickr

Mayors from Great Lakes cities have united with leaders from First Nations communities to criticize proposed new rules for approving Great Lakes water withdrawals.

The Anishinabek Nation, a political advocacy group representing 40 First Nations communities in Ontario, has joined forces with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, made up of mayors from the Great Lakes region. The groups are concerned about proposed new procedures for approving water withdrawal requests under the Great Lakes Compact, the agreement governing the removal of water from the Great Lakes basin.

Enbridge Energy

A new study predicts a major potential economic effect of an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits to the entire Great Lakes region.

The Line 5 oil pipeline which crosses the Mackinac Straits is operated by Enbridge Energy.  

flight of beers
Flickr/ Quinn Dombrowski

 

Today, there's no federal or state restriction on the level of PFAS contamination considered a public health threat. What there is, is an advisory. We speak to a former EPA official who helped create it. Plus, what can we learn about our own freshwater seas from researchers studying the African Great Lakes?

4 tables of boys at Christmas party at Coldwater State Home & Training School (ca. 1925)
University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library

Today on Stateside, a conversation with the reporter who broke the story of two Detroit funeral homes that were shut down for their mishandling of human remains. Plus, our education commentator shares her thoughts on how Michigan schools could update their classrooms to better serve modern students. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.  

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

On today's Stateside, you've probably seen pictures of plastic pollution in the ocean forming giant islands or entrapping sea animals. But what happens when plastic gets into the Great Lakes? Plus, a Michigan chaplain pushing for prison reform in the 1930s wanted to enrich inmates lives with art. 

protesters against Line 5 on the water
Courtesy of Andrea Pierce

This Saturday, a flotilla of kayaks, paddleboards, and birch bark canoes will paddle out into the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

It's the fourth annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest against the pair of oil and natural gas liquids pipelines known as Line 5 that lie beneath the Straits. 

Barbara Barton and Roger LaBine
Barbara Barton

 


There is a rich tradition of wild rice in our state, especially for Michigan's first people. The plant plays a big role in the culture of Anishinaabe tribes, who call it manoomin. 

A whitefish survey
Morgan Springer

Lake whitefish are the most important commercial fish species in Michigan.

But in the last decade, state biologists say fishers are harvesting about a third of what they used to get. The catch dropped to 1.7 million pounds last year, down from five million pounds in the early 2000s.

Agencies across the Great Lakes are trying to learn more about the population decline.  

Waves on Lake Michigan.
user ellenm1 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


It has been a dangerous month on Lake Michigan.

While there has been a below average number of drownings in the lake overall this year, there was a significant spike in deaths during August. 

Ten swimmers have already drowned. One is still missing.

A man and two women sit around a campfire, a banner in the background says "Honor the Treaties"
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Water Protectors are camping in Northern Michigan to call for a shutdown of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline.

 

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