Great Lakes

The Great Lakes basin is home to the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, and the lakes provide 21 percent of the world's fresh water. In northern Michigan, the lakes are key to our way of life, both today and spanning back to the region's first inhabitants. 

Fishtown Preservation Society

 

The few full-timers left working as commercial fishers in Michigan received good news this month amid a tumultuous year for the industry.

John Levanen / Flickr

In a scathing letter, several Michigan legislators urged the state Department of Natural Resources to renew all commercial fishing licenses and permits from 2020.

That’s after the DNR announced new restrictions that close the fishery for part of the year and limit the depth where fishers can catch whitefish to 80 feet. 

Max Johnston / IPR News

 

Grand Traverse Bay and inland lakes across Michigan, like Lake Leelanau and Torch Lake, will be ice-free by the end of the century if carbon emissions continue at current levels. 

 

  

Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

 

At a lock and dam site in the suburbs of Chicago, there’s a plan to build a set of booby traps to keep invasive carp from reaching the Great Lakes. 

 

It would involve a barrier of bubbles, an electric field, underwater speakers, and a price tag of over $800 million dollars. 

 

  

Lake Michigan is lower than it was at this point last year, but still 31 inches above its long-term average.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

All five of the Great Lakes closed out 2020 at lower levels than they were a year ago. But according to new projections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the upper lakes are still expected to remain high in 2021.


Peter Payette

The few commercial fishers that remain in Michigan are suing the state’s Department of Natural Resources over changes to industry rules. 

There have been 57 drownings in Lake Michigan in 2020, which is the most on record according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Fifty-seven people have drowned in Lake Michigan this year, making it the deadliest on record.


The Grand Haven lighthouse and waves get a good dose of what Todd and Brad Reed call, "magic light" during a November storm in 2015.
Todd and Brad Reed Photography

For most people, November isn’t a great time for a day at the beach. But Ludington photographers Todd and Brad Reed aren’t most people. They dream of capturing Lake Michigan at its gnarliest.


Above average precipitation is expected over the Great Lakes from December through February, according to NOAA.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Michigan could see a lot of snow this winter according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which came out with its 2020 U.S. Winter Outlook on Thursday.


Mainville and Craymer (2005)

 

Normally, the waters of Lake Michigan sit around 580 feet


Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

This week, hear how high water in the Great Lakes is unearthing Native American burial sites. In some places along Lake Michigan, human remains have been discovered at the beach.

Also, more water isn’t the only reason the lakes are higher, a higher elevation that is. The Great Lakes are still rebounding from the last ice age.

 

And what’s in those holes in your garden?

 

    

 

T. Lawrence, Great Lakes Fishery Commission

 

The nationwide shutdown was especially ill-timed for fishers in the Great Lakes.

Amanda Holmes

This week we look into why commercial fishers in the Great Lakes have been left out of federal aid for fisheries nationwide, to the tune of $300 million. (The Great Lakes got zero.)

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

This week we bring you two birds with very different reputations. 

Search and Rescue missions in the Great Lakes are up from last year by nearly 300.
U.S. Coast Guard

The pandemic, high water levels, and warm temperatures could mean more drownings on the Great Lakes. 

There have been 58 reported drownings so far this year, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. 32 of those have occurred in Lake Michigan.

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels on the Great Lakes might finally start going down.

With the exception of Lake Superior, each of the Great Lakes have likely reached their peak water levels for the year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


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.

Joshua Stevens, NASA Earth Observatory

 

If you took a dip in Lake Michigan in early July you might have noticed the water felt pretty nice.

Lexi Krupp

Interlochen Public Radio welcomes Lexi Krupp this week as our new science and conservation reporter. Lexi comes to us from Gimlet Media, where she helped the “Science Vs” podcast team distinguish what’s fact from what’s not, and has written for a range of publications including Audubon and Vice.

 

She will lead IPR’s efforts to deepen the public’s understanding of the natural world, covering the land, water, forests, climate, wildlife and farms in upper Michigan.

Lake Michigan waves crash onshore at a beach in Frankfort, Michigan. Lakes Michigan and Huron were almost three feet above the June water level average.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels in the Great Lakes continue to remain high. 

Every month this year, Lakes Michigan and Huron have surpassed record-high water levels set in the 1980’s. In June, those lakes were nearly three feet above average. 


Peter Payette

Grand Traverse County residents are having a hard time coping with the Great Lakes’ near record high lake levels.

“We’re seeing unprecedented storms and high, high levels in the lakes and groundwater, and the combination is just causing a lot of issues unfortunately,” said Arthur Krueger, director of municipal utilities for Grand Traverse County.

One of these issues is regular flooding in basements of local homes and businesses. Some desperate residents have turned to illegal solutions.

"Sunset Station" in Arcadia Township has been devestated by high waters from Lake Michigan pounding its shoreline.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels in the Great Lakes are really high right now. Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie are all breaking records and creating all sorts of problems for communities on their shores.

Two floods, two weeks and too much water

Jun 11, 2020
Dan Wanschura

The second extreme rain event in two weeks has led to yet another sewage spill in the Boardman River in Traverse City.

 

A public health advisory has gone into effect, and the Grand Traverse County Health Department has advised the public to stay out of the water at beaches including Clinch Park, Sunset Park, Bryant Park and the Grand Traverse Senior Center. 

 

Potential new cormorant management plan

Jun 11, 2020
Sam Corden

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has crafted a new plan to address double-crested cormorant conflicts in the US.

 

It proposes killing as many as 77,000 of the migratory birds in the Mississippi and Central flyways each year. That covers 24 states, including Michigan.  The FWS estimates the population in the region is about 500,000 migrating cormorants, which nest in Canada, the Great Lakes and other parts of the upper Midwest. 

 

Classical IPR in Concert: A Tribute to Rick Jones

Jun 3, 2020
Debra Jenner-Townsend

If you’ve lived in northern Michigan long enough or have been a frequent visitor, then you may have attended a performance of the northern Michigan ensemble Song of the Lakes.  

In the early 1980s, Ingemar and Lisa Johansson, Mike Sullivan and Rick Jones began playing and performing sea shanties and traditional Irish melodies. Their charisma and energy attracted audiences around the world, and soon they were known as the unofficial Ambassadors to the Great Lakes.  

 

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