Elizabeth Miller

Great Lakes Today Reporter/Producer

Reporter/producer Elizabeth Miller joined ideastream after a stint at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., where she served as an intern on the National Desk, pitching stories about everything from a gentrified Brooklyn deli to an app for lost dogs. Before that, she covered weekend news at WAKR in Akron and interned at WCBE, a Columbus NPR affiliate. Elizabeth grew up in Columbus before moving north to attend Baldwin Wallace, where she graduated with a degree in broadcasting and mass communications.

A leaked list of infrastructure priorities for the Trump administration includes bridges and other big projects for the Great Lakes region.

It’s unclear whether the list is a draft or final version. But it’s sparking excitement about rebuilding the region.

The cost of the 50 projects is more than $130 billion, with half coming from private investment.

This week marks the start of a break in the Great Lakes shipping season.  A time when lakes freeze over, the locks at Sault St. Marie shut down, and crews on big freighters go home to their families.  

But not everyone stops working.

 

Most shipping on the Great Lakes comes to a close with the Soo Locks shutdown on Sunday.  It’s the end of a rough year for cargo companies.

According to the Lake Carriers Association, Great Lakes freighters transported over 83 million tons of cargo in 2016. That was a 4.5 percent decline compared to 2015.

The association’s Glen Nekvasil says shipments rose in only one category.  “Iron ore was the one cargo that increased. It was up about 8 percent, and our grain cargoes were down almost 30 percent.”

In just a few weeks, we’ll have a new presidential administration – and that could mean big changes for the Great Lakes.

Environmental groups are waiting to see how Donald Trump's administration handles issues that are crucial to the region.

Across the Great Lakes, 2016 brought a lot of conflict, with battles over water diversion, petroleum pipelines and other issues.  


It’s 6 A.M. when trucks and SUVS begin pulling into an empty parking lot in Girard, Pennsylvania, a town outside of Erie with about 3,000 people. The vehicles bear license plates from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware.


Tuesday, a coalition of Great Lakes organizations sent a notice of intent to sue the U.S. EPA.  They say the agency isn’t moving fast enough to clean up Lake Erie.

The filing from conservation, environmental, and boating groups is the latest effort to designate western Lake Erie as an “impaired” body of water. 

Cleveland’s own Charles Brush created the world’s first electric wind turbine in the 1800’s. He used it to power his home. And since then, wind turbines have popped up all over the world -- but never in the Great Lakes.

That could change with Project Icebreaker, a six-turbine demonstration to be located eight to 10 miles off Cleveland’s shore.  


For most of the year, two ferries serve the village of Put-In-Bay, which sits on an island in Lake Erie. But in winter, ferry service stops and residents face a quieter, more isolated, lifestyle.


The Great Lakes region is getting another maritime-themed school -- this time in Cleveland.

 


The Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School will open in July with 100 to 120 9th graders for the school year, officials announced this week.

Have you ever wondered where road salt comes from? One source is the Whiskey Island Cargill Salt Mine, which lies far below the floor of Lake Erie.

The Great Lakes have their own miniature version of tsunamis – more than 100 times per year.  That’s according to new research led by the University of Wisconsin Madison.  The name of these waves – and the danger that comes with them – are relatively unknown to those in the region. 


An upcoming conference in Cleveland will tackle marine debris, the pieces of plastic that wash up on the river, ocean, or Great Lake shores.  It's a issue that has affected the health and appearances of beaches around the world.  Marine debris can be anything in the lake that’s not supposed to be there – plastic bottles, grocery bags, or balloons.  It has a deadly effect on wildlife, especially birds.  

At the Maritime Academy of Toledo, students learn basics like math and English. They also take classes on  boatbuilding.

On a fall day in the boat lab, a few students are working on the inside of a small wooden boat. They’re gluing pieces of wood together along the inside of the boat before sanding it down.

An analysis out this week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that algae blooms were "fewer, less dense, and less toxic" this year than in 2014 or 2015.

That's good news for the region, because the blooms can cause sickness in people and animals. They also can create problems in treating drinking water.

The head of the National Museum of the Great Lakes is on a quest. He’s trying to locate Navy pilots who trained on Lake Michigan during World War II. It’s a little known chapter of the lake’s history.


Invasive species -- ranging from sea lamprey to Asian carp -- are a constant concern in the Great Lakes region, and the fear of these aquatic creatures often dominates headlines.

A new conference coming to Cleveland will offer a chance to “hack” Lake Erie for innovations and resolutions to the lake’s issues and problems.


With thousands of teams all around the world, dragon boat racing has become a fast-growing sport.  It’s also popular in the US and Canada, with festivals and races in places like Cleveland, Vancouver, and Buffalo.  There’s a surprising bond with one group in particular – cancer survivors.


Elizabeth Miller

A big threat to the Great Lakes comes from outdated sewer systems that can carry bacteria into waterways.  That can lead to closed beaches and warnings about drinking water. Now, some cities are fighting back – with trees.


Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump threw their support behind the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Thursday via surrogates speaking at a conference in Sandusky, Ohio.

Each campaign's representative spoke separately at the Great Lakes Restoration Conference.  They answered questions about harmful algal blooms, Asian carp, and clean water.                                                          

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority

Each year, ports on the Great Lakes dredge tons of material to keep shipping lanes open. But disposing of the spoils is a big problem. The Port of Toledo has a creative approach: farming.

The Port of Toledo dredges more sediment than any port on the Great Lakes – up to a million cubic yards every year.  The idea of reusing sediment as soil for agriculture is new for the Great Lakes region and ideal for Lake Erie’s western basin.

National Park Service

Mayors of 123 American and Canadian cities are challenging a Wisconsin city’s plan to divert water from Lake Michigan. This is in direct opposition to the Great Lakes governors who approved the precedent-setting request in June. 

Elizabeth Miller

Heavy winds didn’t stop the hundreds gathered to watch the Port Clinton lighthouse make a half-mile journey down the Portage River to its new home on Lake Erie. The 120-year-old lighthouse has been an enduring symbol for Port Clinton, a town west of Cleveland. 
 

Fans followed the path of the 12,000-pound lighthouse Tuesday as it traveled by boat and truck, lifted by a crane three times. It had been sitting for more than 50 years at a nearby marina. 

Elizabeth Miller

Last part of series

With dangerous currents a fact of life along the Great Lakes, officials are looking for ways to limit the number of drownings. 


Elizabeth Miller

Third part of a series

Dangerous currents and drownings go hand-in hand across the Great Lakes. But many are concentrated in Southwest Michigan’s Berrien Co.


Michigan Sea Grant

Second part of a series

Powerful currents on the Great Lakes have caused more than 150 drownings since 2002, according to researchers. And those currents can appear suddenly, says Mark Breederland, an educator with Michigan Sea Grant.

Elizabeth Miller

First part of a series

In her family’s backyard overlooking Lake Erie, Melissa Zirkle watched as her son Jermaine joined some friends in the water. On that July day in 2013, she was building steps in the backyard.

“I kept looking and checking on him, and he was standing in the water and he was laughing, having fun with the other kids,” Zirkle says, recalling the scene along Ohio's shoreline. “Then about two minutes later, I heard cries for help.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The lake sturgeon can live over 100 years, weigh over 200 pounds and grow up to eight feet long. But it has had a fragile existence in the Great Lakes region.


Elizabeth Miller

Nine historical ships docked in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, on Thursday as the first U.S. stop for the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes.  Over the summer, these and other ships will they’ll travel to cities in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  


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