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Great Lakes

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump has signed legislation to update maps of environmentally sensitive areas of the Great Lakes.

The legislation prioritizes and updates federal maps used to respond to emergencies and protect habitats, species and structures along the Great Lakes that are most likely to be impacted by a potential oil spill or other major disaster.

The last time some of these maps were updated was back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Keith Ladzinski / National Geographic

The cover story in this month’s issue of National Geographic takes a deep dive into the many major threats to the health of the Great Lakes. In the magazine you’ll find dramatic photos of massive algal blooms and surging floodwaters, as well as up-close portraits of invasive species that are disrupting the local ecosystems.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, Attorney General Dana Nessel joins us to talk about the recent threats made against a number of elected officials—including herself. Plus, a conversation with a University of Michigan senior who has received a Rhodes Scholarship. And, we'll talk to two journalists from National Geographic who have captured the damage and delight of Michigan’s Great Lakes.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

If they choose to do so, the governors of the Great Lakes have less than three weeks to object to an Environmental Protection Agency proposal.

That proposal would exempt cargo ships that only travel in the Great Lakes from having to treat ballast water to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. For years, the Great Lakes shippers say they were not responsible for invasive species; it was the ocean-going cargo ships that were the problem.

DUSTIN DWYER / MICHIGAN RADIO

Applications for shoreline protection permits tripled this year compared to last, according to Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The department granted 2,284 permits in the year ending September 30, compared to 730 permits the previous year. Most of those permits went to residential property owners wanting to protect their homes from rising water levels.

Often those permits allow the construction of rock walls as a barricade against encroaching waves.

Common tern holding a fish
Phylis Cooper / USFWS

Research shows chemicals banned years and even decades ago are showing up in some Great Lakes shorebirds. Scientists found P-C-Bs used as a coolant in electrical transformers, fire retardants called P-B-D-Es and derivatives of the insecticide D-D-T in terns. The pollutants were at levels high enough to potentially harm the health of the birds. 

JEFFREY PAUL

Storm chasers and meteorologists observed a record number of waterspouts over the Great Lakes this month, according to the Toronto-based International Centre for Waterspout Research. 

The group confirmed 240 of the spectacular weather events over the Great Lakes between September 28 and October 4. 

 

A waterspout can form on a cloudy day, when cold air passes over warmer waters. The resulting vortex sucks down condensation from the cloud cover, creating a phenomenon that looks like a tornado.

 

International Joint Commission

Another of Michigan’s Areas of Concern has been cleaned up and taken off the list. Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the governments of Canada and the U.S. identified 43 pollution hot spots around the Great Lakes and identified them as Areas of Concern.

The Lower Menominee River at the Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula border was one of them. It has now been removed from the Areas of Concern list.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, President Donald Trump placed a phone call to the Big Ten commissioner to discuss what might expedite the start of the season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A Sports Illustrated writer weighs in on the politicization of sports in 2020. Also, how U.S. presidents’ historical treatment of Black Americans informs the present moment. Plus, the thawing of the Great Lakes, as seen through the lens of a National Geographic photojournalist.

a large expanse of lake surrounded by trees at dusk with a purple blue sky
Amy Sacka

In the latest edition of National Geographic, you'll find a big spread dedicated to exploring how ice coverage has dramatically decreased on the Great Lakes over the past 40 years. The photos you'll see, of not-so-solid lakes, and people navigating warmer Michigan winters, were taken by Detroit photojournalist Amy Sacka.

a USPS mail truck
washjeff.edu

Today on Stateside, U.S. Senator Gary Peters joins us to talk about his plans to investigate delivery delays in the United States Postal Service. Also, a check in with a University of Michigan researcher on the impact of the pandemic on Michigan's many homeless students.

a photo of "Beach Finds II" which is a light blue box filled with vials laid out in front
Courtesy of Geo Rutherford

Today on Stateside, we'll talk about the biggest races and issues on the August 4 primary ballot. Plus, a conversation with the Michigan Teacher of the Year about the return to school and what it means for his students to have a transgender adult to look up to in their lives.

KATE GARDINER / FLICKR - HTTP://BIT.LY/1RFRZRK

A new study by University of Michigan researchers finds climate change may help Asian carp overcome another invasive species to gain a foothold in the Great Lakes.

The study looks at how three factors (climate change, nutrient management, and invasive mussels) have affected Lake Michigan's vulnerability to bighead and silver carp.  

Mike Petrucci / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, how one Detroit emergency room physician is searching for answers and solutions to handling the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, what would it mean to safely reopen the state.

washed away dunes and a deck perched on the edge
Courtesy of Jim Davlin

A relatively dry February in Michigan still produced record-setting monthly water levels in four out of the five Great Lakes.

That's bad news for residents living along the state's coastlines, where shoreline erosion continues.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tracks lake levels on a weekly basis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Federal, state and local officials are looking at ways to respond to ongoing high water levels in the Great Lakes this year.

Jeff Yoakam is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He says the threat differs depending on where you are in Michigan.

“It’s different on each side of the state, to be honest with you,” says Yoakam. “West side of the state (Lower Peninsula); erosion is a big problem out there. East side of the state… it’s more flooding.”

Lake Erie at Massie Cliffside Preserve.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects Lake Erie to hit record breaking high water levels February through May.

Lauren Fry, Technical Lead for Great Lakes Hydrology with the Army Corps of Engineers, says Lake Erie’s all-time record water level for January was nearly met last month.

A white house sinks down a sand dune into Lake Michigan
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Record high water levels in the Great Lakes are wreaking havoc on Michigan’s shorelines. Dramatic erosion along the shore has put both private homes and public infrastructure at risk. Randy Claypool, aerial videographer and owner of Truly Michigan Aerial, captured footage that shows just how severe erosion is along Lake Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump is proposing a slight increase in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). 

It’s a change in policy for an administration that tried to slash funding in the past. The president had proposed cutting the GLRI’s budget by 90%. But Congress reinstated the funding. 

The president’s budget proposal calls for spending $320 million on projects to clean up the Great Lakes in Fiscal Year 2021.   

woman walking on beach
soupstock / Adobe Stock

High Great Lakes water levels are threatening some homes and other structures. On Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced a new plan to aid Michigan shoreline property owners affected by land erosion by those high lake levels.

map of Line 5
Enbridge Energy

A tribe in Northern Wisconsin still wants Line 5 off their land, despite a $24 million offer from Enbridge.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge Energy earlier this year, asking them to immediately shut down the portion of the Line 5 oil pipeline that runs through their reservation.

Lake Huron waves crashing
n_his_image / Adobe Stock

Rising water levels in the Great Lakes are bringing pieces of shipwrecks ashore along Michigan's Lake Huron shoreline.

Two sheets of paper, one with a meeting agenda, one with a resolution in support of Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Cheboygan County passed a resolution to support Enbridge’s construction of a tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac at their board meeting Tuesday morning. 

 

Eight counties — Cheboygan, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Gogebic, Grand Traverse and Ontonagon — have now passed nearly identical resolutions.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are pushing an expansion of a program designed to protect the Great Lakes.

The current Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is set to expire in 2021.

Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

At least eight counties have passed resolutions supporting Enbridge Energy’s proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel through bedrock would replace the Line 5 twin oil pipelines that currently sit on the lakebed.

People stand in the water, holding both ends of a large net.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A new nonprofit is training citizen scientists to collect data on fish in the Great Lakes. They think it could be a game-changer for research in the region, and even help prevent the establishment of invasive species.

Traverse City pier looks to attract cruise ships

Aug 16, 2019
Discovery Center Pier
Discovery Center Great Lakes

The Discovery Pier in Traverse City is hoping to attract cruise ships around the Great Lakes. The United States Coast Guard certified the pier as a cruise port back in December, and the newly formed Traverse City Cruise Consortium is hoping to capitalize on the trend of smaller cruise ships in the Great Lakes.

Malak Silmi / Michigan Radio

At times, the threat of climate change can feel overwhelming. Up to one million species are on track to become extinct in the near future, water levels are rising at a rapid pace, and parts of northern Michigan are warming at a faster pace than other parts of the state and the country. 

Looking underneath a bridge at sunrise, a group of boats in the water surround several swimmers attached to orange buoys.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

More than 300 people braved the Straits of Mackinac Sunday for the 13th annual Mighty Mac Swim.

Michigan Radio’s Kaye LaFond rode along on a security boat and got a first-hand look at what goes into herding swimmers across four miles of the straits.


Grass carp
USGS

Michigan and Ohio crews are on the lookout this summer for invasive grass carp.

The grass carp survey is being done by the Michigan Department of Natural Resource's Grass Carp Response Team.

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