Great Lakes Today

Lots of people were already upset about President Trump’s plan to slash Great Lakes funding in next year’s federal budget.  Now he’s recommending a $50 million cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for this year.  


The International Joint Commission, the bi-national group that helps to oversee the Great Lakes, held two public meetings in Buffalo on Tuesday – and more than 200 people showed up to share their concerns.

U.S. and Canadian commissioners representing the Great Lakes met in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday to hear from environmental groups and the public on the region’s progress.

The International Joint Commission's U.S. Chair, Lana Pollack, opened with a message: “What we’re here today to do is to hear from some experts, hear from the public, and thereby advise the governments in both countries as well as local jurisdictions on how lakes can best be protected."

On Tuesday, the International Joint Commission, a group that helps regulate the Great Lakes, is coming to Buffalo to listen to your concerns -- and discuss issues that are important to the Buffalo region.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Egan has covered Great Lakes issues for 15 years.  This month, he released his first bookThe Death and Life of the Great Lakes, an in-depth biography of the lakes – from the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the current issues with harmful algae blooms and invasive species.


A new report sums up the crazy winter that brought unusually warm temperatures to the Great Lakes region -- as well as some brutal Lake Effect snowstorms.

Toronto recorded its highest February temperature -- 66 degrees -- on Feb. 23, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The following day, more records were set in Syracuse (71), Binghamton, N.Y. (70), and Erie, Pa., (77).

Great Lakes Today will host a Facebook Live event for the International Joint Commission's Buffalo public meeting on the health of the lakes.

Two sessions will take place March 28, and both will be streamed live on Facebook.

Wetland habitat restoration will be among the issues highlighted at an upcoming public meeting aimed at improving the state of the Great Lakes. The Buffalo meeting on March 28 is one of six being held regionally by the International Joint Commission, the bi-national group that helps regulate the Great Lakes.


John Nicholls/Shutterstock

The Great Lakes shipping season officially kicks off Monday with the opening of the Welland Canal, the shipping channel that connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.


The Trump Administration’s proposed budget is out – and it eliminates the $300 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which finances environmental projects all over the region.

The budget also zeroes out the $250 million allotted to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants, including 33 Sea Grant programs nationwide. Based at universities, Sea Grant programs focus on educating the public, outreach and research. 

Groups representing mayors, governors, and Great Lakes states are descending on Washington this week to push back against reported budget cuts for environmental programs. 

Tuesday begins three days of speakers and presentations at the Great Lakes Commission’s semi-annual meeting. It also means three days of meetings with Congress and the Trump administration to promote the region’s priorities, including money for infrastructure and an initiative to restore the health of the lakes.

Second of two parts

Unstable ice has been a factor in the deaths of more than 30 people across the northeast and Great Lakes region this winter. One of those tragedies took place last month on Conesus Lake, N.Y. 


A little house on the shore of Lake Ontario is gaining national attention.

After being pummeled with water, cold air and high winds, portions of the house that face the lake are  covered in thick layers of ice.

A budget proposal to slash federal funds for the Great Lakes cleanup is being skewered in the opinion pages of the region's newspapers.

In Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and other Great Lakes states, editorials have called the draft proposal "foolish," "unacceptable" and a "job-killer."

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

An Erie County Legislator and local advocates for Great Lakes cleanup say the Trump Administration's proposed cuts to such efforts would prove harmful not only to the water and wildlife in it but also the local economy.


NYPA

A sure sign that spring is just around the corner can be seen on the waters off of Buffalo. Crews from the New York Power Authority started the process of removing the nearly 1.66 mile long Lake Erie - Niagara River Ice Boom on Monday.

The Trump Administration could be proposing a 97 percent cut in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding when it unveils the federal budget later this month -- a move that is drawing harsh criticism from some regional officials.  The initiative is one of many Environmental Protection Agency programs in jeopardy.


A new book by Michigan poet Cindy Hunter Morgan breathes life into shipwrecks that dot the floor of the Great Lakes.

"Harborless" is her re-imagining of tragic moments when the Philadelphia, Chicora and other ships were lost. 

President Donald Trump took aim Tuesday at a rule that outlines the reach of the Clean Water Act, saying the rule was a "massive power grab" by federal regulators. But six attorneys general vowed to fight the rollback -- with lawsuits if necessary.

 

When the bars and restaurants in Put-in-Bay close at the end of summer, you might think the entire island shuts down. But a couple hundred hardy year-round islanders in Western Lake Erie stay put.  As winter sets in, eventually even the ferries shut down and the only way on and off is by plane.

Residents in the Great Lakes region will get a chance to voice their concerns about the waters' health in a series of March meetings. The International Joint Commission, which helps regulate use of the Great Lakes, has announced dates and other details of meetings scheduled in Buffalo and five other cities.


Add this to the unexpected news coming out of the Great Lakes region: a huge fireball tearing across the midwest skies early Monday, headed for Lake Michigan.

Remarkable video from several sources, including a police dashboard camera, shows a blue-green fireball searing the night sky.

Residents near an abandoned military base in Michigan are worried about an unseen invader: toxic chemicals that have contaminated wells in the town of Oscoda. Now the chemicals are spreading farther -- and have even reached Lake Huron.


Areas along the Great Lakes are bracing for big lake effect snows this weekend -- and there probably will be more this winter.

The reason: Water temperatures on all five lakes are higher than normal, so little ice has formed.

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.

Veronica Volk

Jon Gee of Environment and Climate Change Canada stands on a platform overlooking a part of the Hamilton, Ontario, harbor called Randle Reef. It's one of the most polluted sites on Canada’s side of the Great Lakes. 
 


A Wisconsin town is getting a lot of attention these days -- on the issue of drinking water.

 

Waukesha lies outside the Great Lakes basin, but it has received permission to take water from Lake Michigan. Officials are still debating the impact of the precedent-setting decision – and a group of mayors is challenging the town’s action.

 

Meanwhile, Waukesha is moving full speed ahead.  


Just minutes after President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office Friday morning, changes began to take place -- starting with the government's website. The page dedicated to climate change was one of many revisions on whitehouse.gov.

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.”

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