Great Lakes Today

Great Lakes Today, a collaboration of public media stations, was created to highlight issues affecting the lakes. The main partners are WBFO (Buffalo), ideastream (Cleveland) and WXXI (Rochester). Other stations in the region will also contribute reports. Great Lakes Today is funded through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Ways to Connect

It may be hard to imagine a composer being inspired by public hearings and court cases. But Lake Erie and its problems take center stage in a new oratorio from Cleveland composer Margaret Brouwer.


Angelica Morrison / Great Lakes Today

Federal recovery aid will be coming to Lake Ontario shoreline communities after President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for spring and summer flooding.

The Blue Water Bridge soars more than 200 feet above the St. Clair River at the southern tip of Lake Huron.  Every day, thousands of people cross this span, which stretches for more than a mile between the United States and Canada.

Crossing a bridge this high and long can be a little unsettling, even for an experienced driver. But what if you could make the trip with your foot off the gas and your hands off the wheel?


The city of Toledo and nearby communities have earned the dubious distinction of being the first to report outbreaks of human illness due to algae toxins in municipal drinking water, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2017 algae bloom is over in western Lake Erie.  And while it didn’t directly threaten drinking water, its bright green hue prompted national attention and hurt Lake Erie’s tourism business. 


  

At Brighton Beach outside Duluth, the waters of Lake Superior are stunningly clear. Looking into about six feet of water, it’s easy to see smooth rocks at the bottom.

But Lake Superior has lost its long-held title as the clearest of the Great Lakes. A recent study showed that lakes Michigan and Huron have changed drastically.

  

Over the years, billions of dollars have been allocated to restoring the Great Lakes – whether its money spent cleaning up pollution, preventing invasive species, or educating the public.  A new regional initiative will analyze how effective some of these efforts – and dollars – have been so far. 


The Great Lakes offer lots of spookiness -- from century-old shipwrecks to blood-sucking animals. For Halloween, we pulled together some of the creepiest photos. Take a look -- if you dare.

Thomas Howes is standing at the canoe landing of a small lake, about a half-hour outside Duluth. It’s part of the reservation of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Deadfish Lake is almost completely covered with the tall green stalks of wild rice plants.


For anyone who doubts the power of the Great Lakes, now's the time for a reset.

This week, data buoys on Lake Superior recorded 28.8-foot waves, according to the Great Lakes Observing System.

Gord Downie was more than the lead singer for The Tragically Hip, more than a Canadian rock icon.

Downie, who died recently of brain cancer, also was a great friend of the Great Lakes. Especially Lake Ontario, where he learned to swim.

There’s some bad news in the Great Lakes and it’s all about the sea lamprey, an eel-like creature that literally sucks the life out of fish. They do a lot of damage and now they’re on the rise in some lakes.

That trend has stumped scientists.


Graphic displaying oil transport through out the Great Lakes Region

Matthew Child, a scientist with the International Joint Commission, talks with Great Lakes Today's Angelica Morrison about the transporting oil throughout the Great Lakes region.

It’s day two of the Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Buffalo New York. Hundreds  are learning about problems that affect the lakes, including microplastics.


The ethanol mandate was among the topics of discussion at the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Buffalo, N.Y.

Agriculture Policy Analyst for the National Wildlife Federation David DeGennaro discusses the issue as it relates to the Great Lake region.

Matthew Child, a scientist with the International Joint Commission, talks with Great Lakes Today's Angelica Morrison about the transporting oil throughout the Great Lakes region.

As the Healing Our Waters conference gets underway in Buffalo, environmental advocates from around the region have a front-row seat to issues central to the city.

But the conference is also a time to gather hundreds of environmentalists and start to inspire change -- on issues like diversity.  

The Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Restoration Conference is under way this week, bringing attention to critical Great Lakes issues.


Tens of thousands of fish were killed off in streams in the western Lake Erie basin earlier this year. Now the state of Ohio is holding three men responsible for the fish kills.


Payne Horning

At a special state hearing in Oswego County Tuesday, government officials admitted that there is effectively no way to prevent Lake Ontario from once again reaching the record high levels seen this year. In fact, they said it is bound to happen again. However, they think there may be ways to reduce the amount of damage the flooding caused along the shoreline.

Capt. Rod MacDonald has been piloting Niagara Falls tour boats for 29 years. He's seen a lot on the Maid of the Mist -- from anniversary celebrations to fatal jumps over Horseshoe Falls.

But some things stay the same: He wants his passengers to experience the falls up close. And he wants to keep them safe amid the swirling, churning waters. 

Niagara Falls, N.Y., has a messy problem -- it continues to dump sewage and discolored water downriver from the popular tourist attraction. The most recent incident happened Wednesday afternoon.


Several states, including a few in the Great Lakes region, have received a sizable chunk of money from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The funding is to increase protections in watershed areas.


There are so many plans and programs in place to clean up the Great Lakes, it’s hard to keep track. In mid-October, environmentalists from across the region will meet to discuss their biggest challenges. 

Restoring wetlands, fish success stories, and the relationship between wildlife and microplastics will all be discussed at the conference hosted by the National Wildlife Federation’s Healing our Waters Coalition. 

Julie Cataldo is strapped into a harness as she sits in her wheelchair just a few feet from the edge of the Erie Canal. A hydraulic lift hoists her from the chair and swings her out over the water.

The lift lowers her into a kayak, and its operator adjusts her seat.


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


WBFO File Photo / WBFO News

Homeowners along the Lake Ontario shoreline whose property was damaged by floods this year have until Friday to apply for state-funded relief.

As a deadline approaches for Lake Ontario flood victims to seek state aid, there are indications that the money may be stretched thin.

At the eastern end of the lake, about $1 million already has been committed to 45 homeowners in a three-county area, WRVO reports. 

But more than 900 homeowners have applied for help in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, says Gary Beasley, who heads a nonprofit administering area flood grants.

The algae bloom season continues in western Lake Erie, casting turning the lake and Maumee River green.  These photos show the bloom's progression from mid-September to the end of the month.

Final part of a series

I meet Kim Smith-Woodford on a rainy day at Euclid Creek Reservation east of Cleveland.  It’s a big wooded area, with a trail lining the creek and shelters for birthday parties.

The park is an urban oasis – where folks from all backgrounds go for exercise or a picnic.  And it means a lot to Smith-Woodford.  It’s where she became more interested in the outdoors.


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