Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, home to a fragile fishery, and delicate shoreline beaches and dunes. They are also central to northern Michigan tourism, economies and our way of life. 

MDNR

A popular fishery in northern Michigan was charged with illegally buying and selling lake trout. John Cross of Cross Fisheries in Charlevoix was sentenced to a year in prison and will pay a fine of more than $1 million.

Lake trout is heavily protected by state, tribal and federal agencies. A press release says Cross bought almost 50,000 pounds of the fish that was harvested by a trap net, but he reported that he got it via gillnet.

Fisheries Biologist Mark Ebener says what Cross did is more common than you would think

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

As part of his budget proposal announced Monday, President Trump wants to slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 90 percent. 

A computer that says "Foxconn"
Christopher Bulle/FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan-based water law non-profit “For Love of Water,” or "FLOW," filed an amicus brief this week in support of a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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. 

Jacques LeBlanc, a commercial fisherman from the Bay Mills Indian Community, pulls a gill net out of the ice on eastern Lake Superior.
Kaye LaFond

This week on Points North, a decline in lake whitefish is pushing tribal commercial fishermen to the northern edge of their treaty waters. Plus, we look at test results for PFAS contamination in Michigan’s public water and meet a funk band from Boyne City.


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

Morgan Springer

The public has the right to walk the Great Lakes shoreline even along privately owned beaches. The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that right on Tuesday when it declined to hear a case from Indiana.

Wikimedia Commons

Amidst congressional negotiations on border security, lawmakers are trying to protect Great Lakes infrastructure projects that could be caught up in the debate.

A new report says the State of Michigan did not thoroughly review Enbridge’s ability to cover costs in the case of a spill from its twin Line 5 oil pipelines before it signed an agreement with the company. The pipelines run underneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Wikimedia Commons

Anglers across Michigan won’t be able to catch as many perch. Right now they can get 50 per day but this spring it will be 25.

Randy Claramunt with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says perch populations have been declining for decades.

"There’s a lot of pressure on them in specific areas," Claramunt says. "So this … recognizes the value that yellow perch are to anglers in Michigan."

Claramunt says anglers pushed for the change because it may increase perch numbers. The new limit takes effect on April 1.

This You Should Know: Grand Traverse Bay

Dec 22, 2018
T.J. Harrison

Oligotrophic. It’s a word that describes the oxygen-rich, nutrient-poor environment of Grand Traverse Bay. Nutrients are the enemy of a healthy bay, says former Grand Traverse Baykeeper John Nelson. And he says everyone has a role to play in maintaining the cold, clean water.

 

 


MARK BRUSH / MICHIGAN RADIO

Geno Allessandrini of the Michigan Laborers District Council was appointed to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority on Wednesday, but resigned a day later for personal reasons.

The authority will oversee the construction and operation of a tunnel for a new oil pipeline in the straits.

 

Ari Adler, a spokesman for Governor Snyder, says the governor didn’t ask for the resignation.

 

"He did resign of his own free will, and he said that he was stepping aside for personal reasons," says Adler.

 

Sam Corden

Ontario wants to allow hunters to shoot double-crested cormorants. The idea is welcomed by sport anglers who think the fish-eating birds are destructive in the Great Lakes. The proposal from the Ministry of Natural Resources also claims the birds are a threat to commercial fishing.

Morgan Springer

 

The percentage of Americans who fish is in decline and that decline has had an impact on conservation projects, because hunting and fishing licenses help fund everything from habitat restoration to clean water programs.

David Cassleman

The Soo is one step closer to getting a new lock. The Senate authorized nearly $922.4 million in funding for the project Wednesday.

Northland College

If caretakers of the Great Lakes aren’t careful, thirsty people from all corners of the world could come calling for our abundant supply of fresh, clean water.

So warns Peter Annin’s book “The Great Lakes Water Wars," first published in 2006.

Aaron Selbig

Over 4,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency have been deemed impaired.

A new EPA report found miles of Great Lakes shoreline and open water are contaminated by PCBs, dioxin, mercury, and pesticides.

Kyla Bennett is with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an environmental watchdog. She said the data are particularly concerning for the open water of the lakes.

Colin Shea

Saturdays are for selling fish. On this Saturday, Ed and Cindi John aim to earn a week's income in only five hours.

Cindi unfolds the tables while Ed drags big, blue coolers off their truck bed. They’re filled to the brim with fish – cisco, lake trout and lake trout patties.

“We come out rain or shine,” says Cindi. “If it’s pouring rain, we’ll be here.”

 

The U.S. Coast Guard

Environmental groups say the U.S. Coast Guard is not ready for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.

 

The Coast Guard is required by law to have a plan for a spill.

 

However, Margareta Kearney, an attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, says they don’t.

 

 

“There was testimony that clearly stated the Coast Guard is not at the ready to respond to an oil spill in the Great Lakes,” Kearney said.

 

 

Sam Corden

There are renewed calls to kill cormorants in the Great Lakes. There are far fewer of these migratory birds left in the region after years of lethal control. But anglers and some congressmen say there are still too many and they eat too many fish. Conflict with these waterbirds is longstanding in coastal communtities where fishing is important and the birds nest by the hundreds or even thousands.

In 2004, there were almost 1,800 double-crested cormorant nests on Goose Island, a strip of land in northern Lake Huron about 500 feet wide and less than a mile long.

Scientists are creating an experimental warning system for meteotsunamis in the Great Lakes.

Meteotsunamis are potentially dangerous waves that are driven by storms.

Eric Anderson is a physical oceanographer with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Meteotsunamis are a very particular kind of wave and we don’t yet have the ability to forecast when and where they’re going to occur,” he says.

There's a scene in the 1967 film The Graduate where a well-meaning friend of the family pulls Dustin Hoffman's character aside at his graduation party, and gives him this advice:

"There's a great future in plastics - think about it, will you think about it? ... That's a deal."

But back then, the downside of plastic wasn't apparent.

There's nothing better during a Michigan summer than spending time at the Great Lakes.

Stateside asked you what questions you had about the state's freshwater seas, and we'll be bringing you answers all summer long. 

We'll start today with a question from listener Ted Bonarski in Grand Rapids. 

"Are there areas of the Lower Peninsula where the aquifer is filled with Lake Superior water, so that someone pumping up from a well was getting water that was chemically traceable to Lake Superior?" 

What happens if your dog likes to swim in the lake, but there might be toxins in the water?

It can happen in a local lake or somewhere like the western basin of Lake Erie. Toxin-producing cyanobacteria appear. Some people still call it blue-green algae.

Beaches along Lake Michigan are closed when E. coli bacteria gets too high. But a nasty critter found on the bottom of the lake might help keep the beaches open.

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