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community weblog - [ Environment ]

Water levels get overdue attention

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As the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron continue to drop alarmingly, it’s comforting to see our federal leaders take notice.
This week two of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s top ministers, our own MP Tony Clement, the Industry Minister, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, sat down with Georgian Bay Association representatives to discuss water levels.
For years, the Georgian Bay Association, cottagers, paddlers, anglers, marinas and many others whose lives depend on the Great Lakes have been sounding the alarm about out depleting waters - leading to a study by the century-old Canada-U.S. entity called the International Joint Commission. The findings concluded that, yes, water levels are dropping and will continue to. The causes included the dredging of the St. Clair River, global warming, and a slow rebound of the earth’s crust following the surface’s depression during the ice age. The solutions? Too expensive, the study deemed.  more ...


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Enlisting earthworms to fight Great Lakes algae

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Cover crops have become a key ally in the Great Lakes region’s war against nutrient-enriched runoff that grows algae in the lakes and its tributaries.

But so have one of soil’s most ancient and mysterious creatures: earthworms.

The dynamics between earthworms and an important layer of soil just beneath the surface is one of nature’s most fascinating out-of-sight, out-of-mind stories of nesting behaviors that make near-shore land more fertile and productive while also providing more passageways for water to seep in. That helps reduce runoff.  more...



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Drought may shorten Great Lakes fall tourism

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A drought-shortened color season may blunt the impact of  Great Lakes fall tourism.

Stress induced by the dry summer may have leaves starting to fall a week or so earlier than normal, said Bert Cregg, a professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Forestry.

“I would say this past week and the weekend coming up are going to be the peak [in color],” he said referring to Michigan.

The truncated season has some tourism officials concerned.  more...



Environment  Other  

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On the Great Lakes, a Dry Summer Slows a Recovering Shipping Industry

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Robert Ginn / Getty ImagesLow water levels on the Mississippi River, which have snarled cargo traffic and completely halted hundreds of barges at a time, got most of the media attention during this year’s arid summer. But the weird weather is also having a severe impact on those making a living transporting goods in the Great Lakes region.  more...


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Feds back research to stop Great Lakes invasions

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Federal grants will support stepped-up research into ways to prevent invasions of the Great Lakes by foreign animal and plant species, with special emphasis on refining techniques that detect their DNA in the water, officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it was distributing $8 million among 21 universities and nonprofit organizations for invasive species research studies. In addition to warding off future attacks, the projects will develop alarms to signal when invasions are starting and new methods of controlling those already under way.   more...



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Some see dollar signs in invasive fish

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 In 1673, French explorer Père Marquette traveled down the Illinois River. In his journal, he wrote of encounters with "monstrous fish" so large they nearly overturned his canoe. In all likelihood the fish Marquette was talking about were channel catfish, but nearly 340 years later another monster now harasses boaters on the Illinois -– the Asian Carp.
 
"Oh everybody hates ‘em, except for people that shoot ‘em and stuff like that. I hate ‘em when I’m trying to tube with my kids, but then when we’re trying to shoot ‘em I like them. So it’s a love-hate thing," said Josh Havens, a fisherman.  more...


Environment  Fishing  Other  

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No surprises in most recent sea lamprey study

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A surveying crew checking into sea lamprey populations in a few Presque Isle County streams found no surprises in a recent survey, and efforts to keep the parasite from breeding in the upper reaches of one river continue to show positive results.
 
Aaron Jubar, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish biologist, said surveys conducted between Sept. 11-20 in Northeast Michigan showed populations of sea lamprey larvae to be mostly under control.
 
"We did not find anything that would need a treatment sooner than what we might be expecting," he said.  more...


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Why So Many Waterspouts in the Great Lakes?

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There have been dozens of sightings of waterspouts on the Great Lakes over the past several weeks. While waterspouts are a common occurrence across the lakes this time of year, their frequency this year is unprecedented.

A record 154 waterspouts have been sighted on the Great Lakes, meteorologist Wade Szilagyi told NBC News on Monday. Szilagyi is head of Canada's International Centre for Waterspout Research. Records have been kept by the Canadian research service since 1994.  more...


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BPAC notes cleaner river

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The waters of the St. Clair River run a little clearer and cleaner than they did decades ago, and recent action from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows it.
 
The EPA recently removed two impairments from the St. Clair River area of concern designation — the degradation of aesthetics and added costs to agriculture and industry.
 
“There is a lot of really exciting stuff happening around the river right now,” said Patty Troy, U.S. co-chairwoman of the Binational Public Advisory Council. “A lot of these impairments are interrelated. The problems that are causing one impairment also impact another.”  more...


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Locals want action on water levels

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COLLINGWOOD – A group of local residents has come together to lobby Georgian Bay politicians to take action on the low water levels in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.
 
Al Truscott, who has lived on Georgian Bay for more than 20 years, says it's the worst he's ever seen and it's going to get worse.
 
"The American Army Corps of Engineers is predicting that the water level in Lake Huron is going to match, and go below, the historic low of 1964," said Truscott in an interview this week. more...


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Law Enforcement Arrives at Betsie Bay to Close Fishery at Mouth of River

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At about 5:15 Monday, the Alert got word from county commissioner Don Tanner that law enforcement officials were headed to the crowded scene at the east end of Betsie Bay to put a stop to both the fish saving and fish snagging taking place there.
 
Per the DNR’s September 14 press release, the area to be closed to fishing lies between the red lines in the image below.
 
Tanner said Justin Vanderlinde, Benzie County’s game warden, said the 21-day waiting period for the fishing closure to take effect was under review.
 
“The biggest problem that Justin has is that people are not listening to them. So they’re sending law enforcement over there to put a stop to all this.” A relative of Don Tanner’s was fishing in a boat Friday and said, “I’m down there at O-dark-thirty and here comes a bunch of guys with nothing but landing nets, no fishing poles at all. They’re taking stringers of fish out of there. That kind of crap needs to stop.”  more...


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Toxic-algae warning Lake Erie’s first this year

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The state is warning some swimmers to steer clear of the Maumee Bay State Park beach on Lake Erie after a water sample turned up toxic algae.This is the first algae warning this year at Lake Erie.

“We continue to monitor (the water) and post signs to make sure the public knows and can make wise decisions,” said Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.Similar warnings have been posted at Grand Lake St. Marys in western Ohio and at three beaches at Buckeye Lake in central Ohio. more...



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Clean beaches and water free from sewage: It’s up to us

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Twenty million patrons visit Chicago’s beaches each summer.

That factoid from the Chicago Park District’s website got my attention earlier this year as I was researching another commentary.

I wondered, did I read that right, 20 million? I checked the site again because the number was far more than I would have guessed. It was right.

On reflection it starts to make sense. more...



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Local leaders participate in Great Lakes conference

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Local representatives addressing a conference on the Great Lakes in Cleveland this week said they will return to the region with a host of topics to discuss with area leaders.

The leaders participated in this week's annual meeting of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition in Cleveland. 

Kay Nelson, environmental director for the Portage-based Northwest Indiana Forum, participated in discussions surrounding Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes.  more...



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What will candidates do to protect the Great Lakes?

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Representatives of the two presidential campaigns are expected to address a Great Lakes conference in Cleveland on Thursday morning. They'll no doubt ask for support at the Great Lakes Restoration Conference, but they also need to spell out what their candidates are prepared to do to protect and restore the natural habitat of the lakes.  more...


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