Great Lakes Today

Will money run out for Lake Ontario flood victims?

Sep 29, 2017

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.


Part 2 of a series

You don’t have to look very far for events redefining the environmental movement – in terms of who works for advocacy groups and who they work for. Just go back to 2014.


Part 1 of a series

The environmental movement started more than a century ago.  Theodore Roosevelt was known as the conservation president, and there’s a famous 1903 photo of him with the Sierra Club’s founder.

“That photo represented the environmental movement of Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir and this is the two of them in Yosemite National Park,” says Aaron Mair, past president of the Sierra Club – and its first black president

Western Lake Erie’s algae bloom is in full swing – and the water is a sickly green.  

At Maumee Bay State Park near Toledo, Ohio, the lake looks like it’s covered in paint. Thick lines of scum swirl around as the sun beats down.

 

You know the story: Boy meets spider. Spider bites boy. Boy develops extraordinary powers – and uses spider silk to design uber-cool suit.  

Now, scientists are flirting with the world of sci-fi – and using genetic engineering to develop real-life uses for that silk.


A $275 million plan to keep Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan -- and the Great Lakes system -- drew both criticism and praise at a hearing in Chicago.

Researchers recently announced the discovery of over 7,000 grass carp eggs in a Lake Erie tributary.  The good news? This isn’t the Asian carp species we’re trying to prevent from entering the Great Lakes.  The bad news? Grass carp pose a different threat. 

Asian carp is a catch-all term for four different species of invasive carp: black, grass, silver, and bighead. 

Video: Avro Arrow model found in Lake Ontario

Sep 8, 2017

A expedition team said today that sonar imagery had located a test model of the Avro Arrow, a Canadian fighter jet, on the floor of Lake Ontario.

Members of the team showed a video of wings, booster rockets and other pieces of a plane.

Update 9/12/2017: The  City of Toledo has moved its water quality dashboard back to clear.

For a city on Lake Erie, it's the season for monitoring toxic algae blooms -- and drinking water.

Toledo Ohio know how dangerous the blooms can be. In 2014, toxins contaminated its water supply, forcing a "do not drink or boil” advisory for two days.

Harvey, climate change and the Great Lakes

Aug 30, 2017

Houston's more than 1,000 miles from the Great Lakes, but the devastation brought by Harvey carries some painful lessons for cities far to the north. As the nation confronts climate change, one of the biggest worries will be the increasing number of storms.


Coming in 2024 -- the Great Lakes solar eclipse

Aug 22, 2017

In the after-glow of Monday's eclipse, we can start looking forward to an even more exciting event for the Great Lakes region: the 2024 total solar eclipse.

Niagara Falls up close, with a Maid of the Mist captain

Aug 21, 2017

On most summer days, you’ll find Capt. Rod MacDonald in the Maid of the Mist wheelhouse. It’s a few steps up from the top deck and the hundreds of tourists in blue rain slickers.


The Asian carp captured this summer near the southern tip of Lake Michigan -- triggering a big scare -- apparently slipped past electric barriers.


A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls 2016 the warmest year on record around the globe.  The surface temperature of the Great Lakes was also above average -- and that's not good news.


Did Great Lakes just get another invasive species?

Aug 15, 2017

A new non-native species has been found in western Lake Erie, the EPA said Monday.

It's named Brachionus leydigii. And it's a type of zooplankton, which means it could be food for lots of fish.

This spring's heavy rain in the Lake Ontario region had quite an impact on homeowners, but it also affected the water offshore. The rainfall overwhelmed sewage systems in cities around the lake, and pushed tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the water.


EPA's Pruitt praises Great Lakes restoration program

Aug 9, 2017

The EPA has released its annual report highlighting work under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative -- and environmentalists might be surprised by the high praise from Scott Pruitt.

In a statement accompanying the report, Pruitt, who leads the EPA, said the initiative "is protecting public health in the Great Lakes more than any other coordinated interagency effort in U.S. history."

In a long-awaited report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says new measures are needed to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

The report says the current defense at the Brandon Road lock in Illinois – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The Army Corps' recommended plan would add water jets and complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor. 


More than 150 years ago, the Great Lakes region played a key role in the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves made their way to cities along the lakes and crossed the border to freedom in Canada. Fast forward to today, when thousands of asylum seekers are passing up a chance to live in the U.S. – and are heading north too.


Niagara Falls blob violated NY regulations, official says

Aug 2, 2017

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 3

The recent black, odorous wastewater discharge near the base of Niagara Falls violated New York regulations, a state official says. But it's unclear whether any fines will result.


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.


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.


Dogs and algae blooms -- a fatal combination

Jul 26, 2017

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.


$300 million fund for Great Lakes faces key vote

Jul 17, 2017

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.

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