Tag Archives: Great Lakes

“All Hands On Deck”


The term “All Hands On Deck” is used to indicate (the need for) the immediate involvement or efforts of all the members of a party, or of a large number of people, especially in an emergency. The rapid and determental changes proposed by the current Administration against the ongoing funding to restore the Great Lakes have alarmed the entire region. There is a grass roots effort now underway to generate awareness and action that we can clearly see other people are concerned and share the value of keeping and restoring the Great Lakes for generations to come. 

great-lakes-spaceThe Great Lakes –Superior, Huron, Michigan, St. Clair, Ontario and Erie – make up the largest body of fresh water on Earth, accounting for one-fifth of the freshwater surface on the planet. 40 Million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes.

But the Great Lakes are being threatened. Some of the threats are: Invasive species like carp and zebra mussels, radioactive waste to be dumped in Lake Huron, sewage overflows in Erie and other head waterways, pipelines that leak, water bottling companies with unlimited access to our water, manufacturing waste run off, funding cut backs of the NOAA that monitors changes in the Great Lakes and Coast Guard cuts that maintain the safety of all who enjoy our Great waters.

In early March, Kimberly Simon of Charlevoix, Michigan was meditating after hearing about proposed budget cuts to the GLRI (Great Lakes Restoration Initiative) and envisioned an “All Hands On Deck” event where people would join hands all around the Great Lakes. Currently there are over 50 events planned in five states and in Canada. More than 1,400 people have joined the All Hands On Deck discussion group on Facebook.

 “The idea resonates with people across a very broad region because they all realize theimage Great Lakes are precious resources that are essential for our environment, our economies and our way of life,” Simon said. “Sites may differ by community but on beaches or boardwalks or any other places, the intention is the same; to bring people together in an expression of unified concern about something we all can agree on. We all want to take care for our Great Lakes.”

Simon said the goal of All Hands On Deck is to unite communities around the Great Lakes in a non-partisan way and demonstrate the need to base policies for regulating and researching water issues on science.

Thumb Sun RiseI personally live on an inland lake in Michigan but vacation every year on one of the Great Lakes. Nothing compares to the beauty and majesty of the Great Lakes and its beaches! I, along with my family and some friends, became involved with Kimberly’s efforts and will be Captains of events in Port Austin and Caseville. This is a nonpartisan event for all ages and we invite all to come to join us on the beach or join us in your boat on the water.

Information is available at www.allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org

I can be contacted at: PortAustinahod@outlook.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1164392330338398/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Or give me a call: 1-810-441-8378

The event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on July 3. Sign in starts at 8 a.m. for those who wish to come early.

Denise Rowden


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M25: the Ribbon around the Thumb


M25_SignA favorite tour for motorcyclist is the State Highway M-25. It’s a 147 mile road running from Port Huron to Bay City Michigan. With waters of Lake Huron or Saginaw Bay on one side and rolling pasture and farmland on the other it’s one of the more interesting drives in southern Michigan.

Officially M-25 is a state trunk line highway in the US state of Michigan. M-25 is part of the Lake Huron Circle Tour for its entire length. Starting at a junction with Business Loop I-69/Business Loop I-94 in Port Huron M25_Maprunning north along the coast the highway passes through Lexington, Port Sanilac, Harbor Beach and Port Hope. At Port Austin is the northern most point of M-25. From here the road turns west and south running through Caseville, Bay Port, Bay, Unionville and ending in Bay City. The section of M-25 in Bay City was named what is now called a Pure Michigan Historic Byway by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Originally called the Bay City Historic Heritage Route you can see historical neighborhoods and large Victorian homes constructed by the lumber barons of the 1800s.


Do you love Michigan’s Thumb? So do we. However we were frustrated on not seeing cool T-shirts that M25reflect our favorite spots. So we created ThumbWind-Mercantile. This on-line shop offers T’s unique to Michigan’s Thumb and can’t be found anywhere else. Check it out.

Roadside Parks and Scenic Turnouts

One aspect that is truly unique to M-25 is the number of places to stop, rest or take in the view. There are a number of interesting turn–offs provided by MDOT to get off the highway. Most are right on the beach.

77_LkHuron_sm_263618_7Lake Huron – Located South of Port Sanilac in Sanilac County. This stop has great views of Lake Huron, with stairs from the park to the beach. Historical Marker for “Great Lake Storm of 1913” when sudden tragedy took 235 lives and 10 ships sank.

Four Mile Scenic Turnout – Location is south of Forestville in Sanilac County. Offers some of the best views of Lake Huron, with stairs from the park on the bluff down to the beach.

White Rock – Located south of Atwater Road, Sherman Twp in Huron County. Great views of Lake Huron and White Rock. Steps to beach, observation deck, walking trails connecting to non-motorized path on M-25. White Rock is a large, white, off-shore boulder used as a boundary marker to define the territory released by the Native American tribes of Michigan to the United States under the Treaty of Detroit in 1807.

Jenks – location is 2 miles west of Port Austin in Huron County. Features a spectacular view of Saginaw Bay, with beach access, restroom and picnic facilities.

Thompson Scenic Turnout – located 10 miles southwest of Port Austin in Huron County. Thompson Park features 2 large grindstones and access to sandy beach on Saginaw Bay, picnic tables and benches.

Brown – located 3 miles south of Bay Port in Huron County. Contains the historical Marker for “The Great Fire of 1881.” A million acres were devastated in Sanilac and Huron counties.


Hiker

 

Have we made the Great Lakes into a Plastic Soup?


This post was also published in 2012 and is the third most read environmental post on ThumbWind. To me this is development is disheartening but so evident with plastic debris commonly washing up on our beach. This is the fourth article in the Our Water, Our Life Series. 

The next time you brush your teeth or wash your face you may be contributing to adding plastic into the Great Lakes. The New York Times is reporting that micro-plastics are now identified as a serious threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. As of now there is no way to stop the plastic contamination from products with micro-plastics from entering the watershed.

 The Great Lakes are now a Plastic Soup

microplastics great lakesIn a recent study was conducted by the 5 Gyres Institute headed by Dr. Sherri Mason SUNY College at Fredonia New York. Water samples in July 2012 were taken in the Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario and showed an average abundance was approximately 43,000 microplastic particles/km2. One sample taken downstream from two major cities in Lake Erie, contained over 466,000 particles/km2, greater than all other sample areas combined. Samples taken in Lake Huron just north of Port Austin, Michigan showed a microplastic contamination range between 10,000 and 20,000 microplastic particles/km2. This was the first study to analyze the impact of plastic contamination of the Great Lakes. The surprise is that concentrations of plastic contamination exceed data collected in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

 Detrimental Effect on Humans Unknown but Likely

Scientists are still working through the links of the chain leading back to humans; about 65 million pounds of fish are caught in the Great microplastic in fishLakes each year. Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, said that the bits of plastic have a great capacity to attract persistent pollutants to their surface. “Plastics are not just acting as mimic food, but they can also cause physical damage to the organism,” she said. She has examined fish guts and found plastic fibers — possibly from the breakdown of synthetic fabrics through clothes washing — that are laden with the chemicals, and said she expected to find beads as well. The entire food chain in the Great Lakes region appear to be affected.

The plastic pollution problem may be even worse in the Great Lakes than in the oceans, Rios said. Her team found that the number of microparticles — which are more harmful to marine life because of their small size — was 24 percent higher in the Great Lakes than in samples they collected in the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

 Waste Treatment Plants Fall Short

microplastic4While many of the beads appear to enter the environment when storms cause many wastewater treatment plants to release raw sewage, it is increasingly clear that the beads slip through the processing plants as well, Dr. Mason said at a sewage treatment plant in North East, a town near Erie.

Studies are currently underway to assess the effectiveness of waste treatment plans in the Great Lakes region. Dr. Mason and several students are looking at the presence of these plastics and synthetic materials passing through waste water treatment plants. This would cover water that was flushed down toilets and passed through household drains. Currently Mason’s study is focused on treatment plants in upstate New York.

 Products to Avoid

Facial and body scrubs are the largest contributor to microplastic contamination. In a Hair_wash_with_shampoostudy conducted by 5 Gyres, a single tube of Neutrogena “Deep Clean” contained over 350,000 plastic particles. Microplastic particles and microbeads can be found in facial scrubs, shampoos & soaps, toothpaste, eyeliners, lip gloss, deodorant and sunblock sticks. These microparticles are made of Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon. PE and PP are the most common.

Some companies have promised a voluntary phase-out of plastic beads. Others have made no commitments.

Promises to phase-out:

  • Beiersdorf (no set date)
  • Colgate-Palmolive (by end of 2014)
  • Johnson & Johnson (by end of 2015)
  • L’Oreal (no set date)
  • Proctor & Gamble (by end of 2017)
  • Unilever (by end of 2015) (D)

 Citations

New York Times Scientists Turn Their Gaze Toward Tiny Threats to Great Lakes, December 14, 2013. By John Schwartz

Polluting plastic particles invade the Great Lakes, Reported by American Chemical Society, April 8, 2013, By Lorena M. Rios Mendoza, Ph.D

Microplastics in consumer products and in the marine environment, Position Paper – 2013, 5 Gyres Institute, Plastic Soup Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Plastic Free Seas, Clean Seas Coalition

Graphics

  • Wikipedia Commons, NOAA, Thumbwind

It’s Time to Consider a Bounty On Asian Carp


Michigan is one of the few states with open and active bounty statutes. These laws date back to the 1800’s and were meant to address the same problem we have today; invasive species. The Norway rat, English sparrow and Starlings were such a problem that Michigan placed a small bounty, $.02 – $.50 cents for each carcass. There is a story of kids in Pigeon Michigan shooting sparrows near the grain elevator to prevent spoilage on the grain. They brought the birds into the local post office “by the bushel”, for payment.

Southern Illinois University has issued a report advocating the use of overharvesting the bighead and silver carp as an immediate, revenue-positive complement to other control efforts.  Populations of these fishes are growing dense in the lower and middle Illinois River and both species are approaching the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) and the defensive electrical barrier set up there to stop it. The team believes the downriver source populations of the fish will continue to send individuals upstream to challenge the CAWS and ultimately the Great Lakes until their numbers are reduced.

From Detroit Free Press

ThumbWind.com advocates placing a $10-20 bounty on each and every Asian Carp caught in Illinois. Rather than spending endless millions on technical silver bullets try good old fashioned overharvesting. Local fisherman and communities would benefit from both the income and as a potential food source. In China, where the big head variety is used to make soup, the fish has been hunted to near eradication. The invasive snakehead is wiping out local bass population in Maryland. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries (DNR) has offered a $200 gift card to Bass Pro Shops if fishermen manage to hook and kill a snakehead. Florida is in the process of training and offering incentives to hunters and trappers to hunt and kill invasive pythons, which have become a deadly problem.

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