Great Lakes

James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service /

A new group needs your help to keep invasive plants like Bell’s honeysuckle and Oriental bittersweet out of the Great Lakes region. 

Rising Water Threatens The Great Lakes Shoreline Too

Apr 23, 2020
Alan Mbathi / IPB News

As sea levels rise, the nation’s Atlantic and Pacific coastlines are eroding — putting homes and businesses in jeopardy. But climate change also is increasing erosion on what’s called the nation’s “third coast” — the Great Lakes shoreline. 

Report shows mixed results on Great Lakes lamprey control

Nov 13, 2019

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Officials say populations of fish-killing sea lamprey remain at near-historic lows in Lakes Michigan and Ontario but are above target levels in Lakes Huron, Superior and Erie.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission issued a progress report Tuesday on containing the parasitic lampreys, which invaded the lakes in the last century from the Atlantic Ocean and threatened trout and other native species.

They use suction-cup mouths and razor-sharp teeth to feed on blood and body fluids of other fish, usually killing their hosts.

Body of missing swimmer recovered in southwestern Michigan

Jul 12, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) — Indiana conservation officers say the body of a missing teenager in has been recovered in southwestern Michigan.

They say Chikaming Township Police in Berrien County, Michigan, told them that the body of a male matching the description of 17-year-old Rahem Mason of South Bend was found by a member of the public along a beach around 12:40 p.m. Thursday. Conservation officers responded to the scene and positively identified Mason. He's believed to have accidentally drowned.

While state and federal agencies are trying to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, there’s evidence that one type is already reproducing in Lake Erie. If they become established, there’s concern that the invasive fish could spread to other lakes — including Lake Michigan.

Asian carp DNA found in Chicago area near Lake Michigan

May 21, 2019
Provided / Illinois Department of Natural Resources via AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Officials say genetic material from Asian carp has been detected near Lake Michigan, but a follow-up search turned up none of the invasive fish.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted results last week from sampling conducted in the Chicago Area Waterway System in early April.

Most of the 401 water samples were negative, but six registered DNA hits for silver or bighead carp in Lake Calumet, a few miles from Lake Michigan.

Scientist say if the fish become established in the Great Lakes, they could out-compete native species.

Robert Franklin / South Bend Tribune via AP

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Water levels are surging in the Great Lakes and likely will set records this summer, forecasters said Monday — a remarkable turnaround from earlier this decade that's bringing welcome relief to shippers and marina owners, but causing flooding and heavy erosion in some areas.

5 governors oppose Trump plan to cut Great Lakes spending

Mar 14, 2019

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Governors of five states oppose President Donald Trump's call for a 90 percent spending cut for a Great Lakes cleanup program.

The president's 2020 budget offers $30 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which gets $300 million most years. It removes toxic pollution, prevents algae blooms and species invasions, and restores wildlife habitat.

The governors said Wednesday the cut would cost jobs, hurt tourism and jeopardize public health. They urged Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, to fully fund the program.

Few Answers After Ohio EPA Aquifer Hearing

Mar 13, 2019


Protestors gathered outside Fayette, Ohio’s Local School Tuesday to show their frustration at potential plans to pump water from the Michindoh Aquifer. The protest took place before an information session at Fayette’s Local School regarding the approval of a test well.

President Donald Trump has overridden an Obama executive order meant to protect the oceans and Great Lakes. It was written in response to the 2010 BP oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Huge pot farm coming to Great Lakes region

May 29, 2018

Take a drive through the picturesque landscape of Niagara on the Lake and you’ll see acres of vineyards, farms and wineries.

You’ll also find a greenhouse with one of the largest marijuana farms in the world. And if you’re standing close enough -- just a few yards away from the building -- you can smell weed.

Inside the greenhouse, a tour is starting. We get a peek at the growing room.  Hundreds of lush green plants, in pots, lined up in rows under very bright growing lights. Large fans positioned near the ceiling.

Congress Saves Great Lakes Funding

Mar 22, 2018 / NPR

Federal funding for the Great Lakes has survived again thanks to Congress.  This is the second time the Trump Administration proposed a big cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Congress restored it in full – $300 million a year.

Since 2009, the initiative has funded thousands of projects that help the Great Lakes by cleaning up pollution, combating invasive species, and protecting wetlands. And it has received support from Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Darren Nichols has been hired as executive director of the Great Lakes Commission.

Nichols succeeds Tim Eder, who left last year to work for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The commission is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It represents the interests of the eight Great Lakes states before the federal government on water management and protection issues.


In 2017, President Trump proposed cutting $300 million for Great Lakes projects. That money stayed in the federal budget, but as a new year begins, environmental advocates have lots of concerns – including cuts to the EPA. 

Groups throughout the region plan to take the fate of the Great Lakes into their own hands in 2018.

This means working with communities on climate change and collaborating to clean up polluted waters.


Over the past two winters, there wasn’t much ice cover on the Great Lakes. That changed with this month’s deep freeze.

Frigid temperatures have frozen more than 40 percent of Lake Erie’s surface, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA.  Scientists there predict ice cover could jump to almost 90 percent by Sunday.

This time last year, ice barely covered 2 percent of the lake.

Northwest Indiana’s Lake Michigan port will get nearly $10 million from the federal government for infrastructure upgrades to boost its capacity.

The port of Burns Harbor is spending nearly $20 million total to add rail miles and railcar storage, truck handling facilities, dock space and a new cargo terminal. The U.S. Department of Transportation FASTLANE grant will contribute to that.

Indiana’s ports move millions of tons each year of the stuff that’s made and used at Midwest factories, including steel, grains and coal. The three ports – one on Lake Michigan and two on the Ohio River – connect Indiana to the national and global economies, and each has to find its own ways to keep up with change.

For the first part of a three-part series, we visited the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor to see how it’s secured its place in the steel industry.

Western Lake Erie is again dealing with nutrient pollution and harmful algae this year, and environmental groups say the states around the lake—including Indiana—aren’t doing enough to keep the water clean.

Water that flows into western Lake Erie — from Ohio, Michigan, Ontario, Canada and Indiana — carries a lot of nutrients that come from farms and urban areas. And when those nutrients hit warm lake water during the summer, algae grows.

Elizabeth Miller / ideastream

There are thousands of islands in the Great Lakes – most of them small and only suitable for wildlife.  But a few have people living there year-round, and there is a burgeoning plan to create an islands coalition.

Year-round island communities like the one at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island face challenges we don’t have here on the mainland.  Peter Huston works for Put-in-Bay’s Chamber of Commerce.  “It’s being able to have a reasonable year-round economy, transportation, food,” says Huston.

Payne Horning

Two replica Christopher Columbus ships are sailing across the Great Lakes this summer, offering visitors a chance to learn about the famous explorer's voyages. But some say the ships only tell half of a story.

Aboard the Pinta replica in Oswego, N.Y., harbor, tour guide Collin Foster lectured a group of students last weekend about Columbus and his famous voyages. "It was 33 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean, everybody has to remember that,” he said.

Summer is E.Coli Season on the Great Lakes

Jul 18, 2017 / Indiana's Lake Michigan Program

No one wants to eagerly head to the beach just to find out it’s closed, but with summer storms affecting Lake Michigan’s water quality that could be common. Beaches close unexpectedly because of polluted waters. Polluted waters are very serious, they can contain disease-causing pathogens such as E.Coli bacteria.

Deputy Director of Communications Tara Wolf from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management explains what E.Coli is.


“Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a naturally occurring bacteria that lives in the digestive tracts of humans and animals.  The presence of E.Coli in the beach water along Lake Michigan’s shoreline is a strong indication that the water may have recently been contaminated by sewage or animal fecal waste that may contain many types of harmful disease-causing organisms.


Swimming in and swallowing beach water contaminated with high levels of E.Coli can make you sick with abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache and muscle aches.Tara wolf tells us how to avoid polluted Indiana beaches.


“The best way to plan a trip to the beach is to go online at and check out BeachGuard for the latest water quality status of the beaches before leaving home.

Indiana Dunes Ranger Bruce Rowe talks about how the weather can affect E.Coli levels.

“When you have certain times in the summer when it’s rainier that’s when you’ll have higher E.Coli counts. So really if we had a large rain today I wouldn’t recommend coming to the beach tomorrow unless you check with the park.”

An easy way to check your local beach E.Coli levels is with the Beach alert App designed by the Indiana Department of environmental management. The app keeps people updated on the water quality of beaches in your area. For more information on how to stay informed on your local beach and learn how you can help keep Lake Michigan clean visit








File Photo / WRVO

Historically high water levels on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are presenting the shipping industry with both challenges and opportunities. 

Bruce Burrows, president of the binational Chamber of Marine Commerce, says $50 million in economic activity is generated each day on the St. Lawrence Seaway. But that's being disrupted because a large dam is releasing record sustained outflows from Lake Ontario. 

"The output is about equivalent to four Olympic swimming pools per second of water now flowing," he says.

Elizabeth Miller / ideastream

"Anyone there? Please, tell us - we're all tired and we're all hungry. Please come back!"

Fake distress calls placed via marine radio can sound completely identical to real ones.  The Coast Guard 9th District - which covers the Great Lakes - takes every call seriously.  But the agency has noticed the number of false distress calls skyrocket this year - to more than 160 calls compared to just 55 in 2016.

The 9th District's Christopher Yaw says hoax calls can greatly deplete resources needed for real emergencies.

Elizabeth Miller / ideastream

It’s easier to get to Sheila Consaul’s lighthouse by boat than by foot.  It sits at the edge of an Ohio state park 30 miles east of Cleveland.

“Unless you have a boat, the only way to get here is to park in Mentor Headlands Beach parking lot, walk out through the dunes area to the beach itself, walk along the beach, and then you have to get up on the breakwall,” explains Consaul.

Mike Mroziak, WBFO News

The International Joint Commission isn’t a well-known group. But it has a big responsibility – helping the United States and Canada regulate the Great Lakes. New York’s Governor thinks the U.S. representatives aren’t doing a good job.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s upset about weeks of flooding that is hurting communities on the Lake Ontario shoreline. He blames the IJC, which controls dams along the boundary waters. And he wants President Trump to replace the two U-S commissioners. One other seat is already vacant.

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments in a legal battle playing out in Long Beach, on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. It centers on a simple question: Who owns the beach?       

Don and Bobbie Gunderson filed a complaint in April 2014 that claimed their property extended to the water’s edge, wherever that is at any given moment.


Final part of a series on President Trump's budget

On the shores of the lower Niagara River, about 10 miles from Niagara Falls, a group of biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepare to examine the largest fish species in the Great Lakes region – the lake sturgeon.

"They were nearly wiped out, mostly due to over-fishing," says biologist Dimitry Gorsky . "We have this remnant population that survived the over-fishing and habitat destruction."

Ben Thorp

Part 4 in a series about President Trump's budget

Thousands of dams have been built across the Great Lakes region -- but many are old and in danger of collapsing. In Michigan, conservation groups and state agencies are pooling resources to remove or repair dams before it’s too late. 

Michigan has about 2,600 dams. Most were built decades ago to generate electricity, control floods and create lakes for recreation.

Elizabeth Miller / ideastream

Part 3 in a series about President Trump's budget

A lot of attention has been focused on President Donald Trump's proposal to eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which doles out 300 million dollars a year for different projects.  But there are some other cuts in Trump’s “skinny budget” that would affect the region, including the National Sea Grant program .

Three months ago, Dr. Chris Winslow became director of Ohio Sea Grant, after holding the position on an interim basis.

Chuck Quirmbach

Part 2 in a series on President Trump's budget

President Donald Trump ’s 2018 budget plan eliminates $300 million in funding to restore the Great Lakes. The plan has sparked concerns among environmentalists, because a lot of that money is being spent to protect the lakes from a voracious fish known as the Asian carp.