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

The first woman to lead the Coast Guard district that covers the Great Lakes is retiring Wednesday. 

In the two years Rear Admiral June Ryan has been Commander of the 9th District, the winters have been mild.  And there hasn’t really been a need for ice-breaking – what she calls the Coast Guard Great Lakes' greatest challenge.


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.


Gray wolves in the Great Lakes region should keep their spot on the endangered species list, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled Tuesday.

For a lot of people and business around Lake Ontario, flooding put summer on hold. Now that the water is going down, businesses are coming back, including an amusement park on one of Toronto's harbor islands.


An Asian Carp was caught recently in a place where it shouldn’t be – beyond an electric barrier meant to keep the species out of Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes. Researchers at Southern Illinois University are trying to figure out just how it got there.


Seventy-five years ago, the SPARS were created to take the job of thousands of Coast Guardsmen who had to leave their posts to fight in World War II. 

Mabel Johnson was one of them – she enlisted in 1943 and was first sent to Cleveland.  The 102-year old returned Thursday for a visit.


As scientists watch for the spread of toxic algae blooms in western Lake Erie and other hotspots around the Great Lakes, it's important to remember the dangers for pets.

There’s more than just fish and sand in the Great Lakes.   According to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Michigan, there are over 6,000 shipwrecks in the lakes – and an estimated 30,000 lives lost.


Despite a White House proposal to eliminate $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the House Appropriations Committee voted late Tuesday to fully fund the program through September 2018.

The vote marks an important step toward securing funding for the Great Lakes cleanup program in the federal budget for the next fiscal year.


On Tuesday, environmental advocates will be watching closely as a Congressional spending committee considers a $300 million restoration program for the Great Lakes.

Update: Committee vote is good news for the Great Lakes.

President Trump's 2018 budget plan eliminated the money, which has gone to a wide range of projects -- from cleaning up pollution to battling the Asian carp. Now, Congress has a chance to restore funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

​As scientists forecast a significant algae bloom in Lake Erie this summer, environmental groups are calling for tougher government policies to reduce pollution from farms.


Invasive fish and plants that have plagued the Great Lakes region for decades are getting some special attention this week.


USGS, FEMA assessing Lake Ontario flooding impact

Jul 13, 2017

U.S. Geological Survey scientists are using drones, radar and water-pressure sensors to track the effects of flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline to help emergency managers track and respond to historic levels of flooding.

There's some good news from Illinois, where an Asian Carp was recently caught just nine miles from Lake Michigan.

In two weeks of intensive, follow-up monitoring, no bighead or silver Asian carp were found, a regional monitoring group says.  

U.S. Coast Guard File Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 13 people and assisted 16 others over the past busy weekend across the Great Lakes.

It’s easier to get to Sheila Consaul’s summer home 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,” she says.

  

Upset by continued flooding on the Lake Ontario shoreline, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to shake up the bi-national group that helps to regulate the Great Lakes.

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

Fake distress calls like this one placed via marine radio can sound identical to real ones. And the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District, which covers the Great Lakes, takes every call seriously.

But the number of fake calls has skyrocketed this year.


The Erie Canal's 200 years old. Strike up the band.

Jul 6, 2017

The first shovels to dig the Erie Canal went into the ground on July 4th, 1817. When it was completed in 1825, the canal transformed the nation’s economy, allowing goods to move from the Hudson River to cities along the Great Lakes.

To mark the occasion, David Alan Miller, the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s music director, dreamed up the plan to commission and perform original works at seven stops along the route.


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


Flooding along Lake Ontario is still causing problems in Toronto, the biggest city in Canada, particularly for the picturesque harbor islands.


New York Congressmen who represent the southern shore of Lake Ontario say a U.S.-Canada regulatory body should pay for damages caused by weeks of flooding.

Rep. Chris Collins said the International Joint Commission's new management plan for the lake is "a disaster." Rep. John Katko said the plan has "wreaked havoc."

The National Wildlife Federation issued a statement in response to the recent discovery of an Asian Carp found just a few miles outside of Lake Michigan.

Angelica A. Morrison reports

A new report on the health of the Great Lakes is out this week, and it shows a grim outlook for Lake Erie.


Michigan officials have terminated a contract with a firm analyzing a controversial petroleum pipeline that runs through the Great Lakes, due to an employee's alleged conflict of interest.

The war of words between N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the International Joint Commission is continuing,  as residents along Lake Ontario deal with weeks of flooding.

In a letter to Cuomo, the IJC says flooding was triggered by heavy spring rains. And it rejects his suggestion that preventive counter-measures -- like releasing more water through a downstream dam -- should have been made.

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.


Best Bass lakes include six in NYS

Jun 15, 2017
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Lake Erie and Chautuaqua Lake are among New York's best lakes for bass fishing. Bassmaster Magazine is out with its list of the top "25 Best Bass Lakes" in the Northeast last year.

Mayors from the Great Lakes region said Thursday that they will continue to fight against climate change -- despite President Trump's withdrawal from an international agreement.

"While the president of the United States has bowed out of the Paris Agreement, we are stepping up as cities to lead the charge against climate change," Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Mayor Paul Dyster said in a statement. He is the new chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

Part 4 in a series on 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.

 

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