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 in part by a grant from The Joy Family Foundation.

Ways to Connect

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. 


Jim Kennard

Rochester-based explorers say they have located the Washington, a sloop that sank more than 200 years ago off the coast of Oswego, N.Y.


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.”

More marine sanctuaries coming to Great Lakes

Aug 11, 2016

At the H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego, N.Y., a popular exhibit is Derrick Boat 8, which came to rest at the bottom of Lake Ontario in 1984.


ANGELICA A. MORRISON / WBFO

Toronto is one of the largest cities in the Great Lakes region and its long shoreline offers quick access to the cool waters of Lake Ontario.

Paul Skawinski, University of Wisconsin

There are lots of invasive species vying for the public’s attention -- especially in the Great Lakes -- so researchers trying to raise awareness about a tiny aquatic animal called the spiny water flea have to get creative.


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.


NOAA

Wedged between Fletcher Street and the waterfront of Alpena, Mich., is a long row of warehouses. It used to be a paper mill, but these days it's home to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


The hot button issue of oil pipelines continues to get a lot of attention. In the Great Lakes there’s a long running battle over a crude and natural gas line that runs through a waterway connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.


U.S. Geological Survey

The issue of invasive species threatening the region’s waterways is getting more attention. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, along with other state and local officials, gathered at Buffalo's Outer Harbor Monday to announce federal legislation aimed at preventing invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.

5 Things to Know: Invasive species in the Great Lakes

Jul 13, 2016
Angelica Morrison, Great Lakes Today

To mark New York's Invasive Species Awareness Week, we asked Andrea Locke of Buffalo State to answer some questions on the issue. As Coordinator of the Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management office, she has all the answers.

by ANGELICA A. MORRISON

Marie Lorenz is a well-known nautical artist lead by her sense of adventure. Her newest quest started in Buffalo.

In a rowboat she made herself, she is paddling down the Erie Canal to her home in New York City a trip that's about 500 miles.


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.  


Submitted Art

There is some good news in store for the Great Lakes. A federal agency said Thursday morning that forecasts show the western side of Lake Erie will experience a less severe algae bloom this year.

by ANGELICA A. MORRISON

On a typical mild weather day it’s not unusual to find nature lovers and a few hikers exploring the trails on the Jackson Falls preserve, located in the western New York town of Aurora.


Darrielle Snipes

When the Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland this month, security measures may cause problems for boaters on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. 

With less than three weeks to go to the convention, the U.S. Coast Guard is setting up special restrictions on some waters – as well as a spot for protesters.

Jim Kennard

A schooner that sank off the shores of New York in Lake Ontario almost a century and a half ago has been discovered.

Underwater explorer Jim Kennard says he and his colleagues Roger Pawlowski and Roland Stevens were canvassing miles of lake bottom with a remote control video camera when it happened.

"All of a sudden you see something and the adrenaline kicks in."

Elizabeth Miller

Summers along the Great Lakes include fishing, boating -- and dangerous algae blooms that can shut down beaches. These blooms are caused by excess phosphorous, a lot of which comes from farms. Now some of the region's farmers are testing agricultural practices that could reduce harmful runoff.


by ANGELICA A. MORRISON

In a matter of seconds, a sunny day on the lake boating, sailing or canoeing can turn into a nightmare with  heartbreaking loss. That kind of loss will last a lifetime for Phyllis Kopytko. 


Elizabeth Miller

When the Cuyahoga River caught fire on June 22, 1969, it badly scarred Cleveland’s image.  Some other polluted rivers were burning in American cities, but Cleveland’s fire was highlighted in Time magazine.  The river and city became the butt of jokes -- and the inspiration for a Randy Newman tune. But today, a new generation is embracing the “Burning River” name. 

What you need to know about Waukesha vote

Jun 21, 2016
National Park Service

On Tuesday, governors of the eight Great Lakes states approved a precedent-setting request by a Wisconsin city to take water from one of the lakes. The request sparked months of controversy.

Vote on Great Lakes water use nears

Jun 20, 2016
National Park Service

This week, a decision is expected in a fight along the Great Lakes. Waukesha, Wisc., wants to draw water from the lakes. No one's ever made a request like that, and some worry that more will follow. Great Lakes Today Managing Editor Dave Rosenthal discusses the issue with Susan Bence of WUWM in Milwaukee.

Representatives from cities along the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River are gathering in Niagara Falls this week to grapple with a number of environmental issues. The meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative includes discussions about climate change, drinking water, managing nutrients and invasive species.

Cool Globes come to Canalside

Jun 16, 2016
Photo courtesy of State of NY

New at Canalside: a "Cool Globes" public art exhibition. The 12 sculptures offer messages for people and businesses to take action on climate change.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release announcing the installation, “New York has led the nation on climate change and this project highlights our continued commitment to protecting our planet for future generations."

The globes will be on display until November.

Region's mayors tackle big issues

Jun 15, 2016
Dave Rosenthal

Here's your chance to watch local officials grapple with water safety, climate change and other big issues. On Thursday and Friday, tune into the Great Lakes Now coverage of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative annual meeting. It's live from Niagara Falls. 

Downtown Rochester, N.Y., can feel a little removed from the Great Lakes. The front lawn of the Christ Church on East Avenue is almost 10 miles from the shores of Lake Ontario, which might be why some passers-by don’t recognize the lakes -- even when they’re standing right in front of them.

Environmental and state leaders in New York are calling on Ohio to get its phosphorous run-off into Lake Erie under control.

BY ELIZABETH MILLER

Security and rescue operations on Great Lakes waters are changing. The U.S. Coast Guard is planning to temporarily shut down eight Coast Guard stations around the Great Lakes. It’s the beginning of a larger transition aimed at improving the efficiency of stations around the nation. But Ashtabula, Ohio, doesn’t want to see its Coast Guard unit go. 


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