Tag Archives: Lake Huron

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
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Federal government pushes back decision on proposed nuclear-waste bunker near Lake Huron — Global News


Looks like we will have to continue to follow this  issue through August. The proposed site is just across Lake Huron from Harbor Beach. Too close and right on the shore. This is a shared repost.

The federal government has punted a decision on whether to allow a proposed underground storage bunker to house nuclear waste near Lake Huron well into next summer.

via Federal government pushes back decision on proposed nuclear-waste bunker near Lake Huron — Global News

CNN – Huron’s Turnip Rock An “Amazing Formation in America”


Cable News Network, CNN, has declared Huron County’s Turnip Rock one of America’s most amazing, or weird, rock formations. Located on private property and accessible only by canoe or kayak explorers to the site are treated to an amazing limestone formation just off the beach.  The formation has been described as:

This enormous rock received its turnip connotation from thousands of years of erosion from storm waves. Now, it is an island with a few trees and little other vegetation. The land nearby is all privately owned, so the only way to view it is by waterway or trekking across a frozen Lake Huron in the winter. It is quite the comedic, awe-inspiring landmark, located at the tip of Michigan’s thumb.” – Michigan.org

See the story at CNN America’s weird and amazing rock formations


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14 Things to Do Around Caseville if Your Bored with the Cheeseburger Festival


The Cheeseburger in Caseville festival is a summer time fun filled family event with plenty to do and see. However there is only so much grass skirt, trinket stands and cheeseburgers that one can handle for the multi-weekend event. What else is there to do in the Upper Thumb? Here are some suggestions if you, or more likely the kids, have had enough fun with the parrot head life.

Caseville Giant Slide1. Giant Slide – Refurbished in 2015, Key North offers classic fun and great photo and video opportunities The whole family or group of friends can race down a huge multi-lane slide. Great for working off that extra cheeseburger and fries. Located on the south side of Caseville toward Bay Port.

2. Go Karts – The Upper Thumb now has two a full featured go-kart tracks. In  Port Austin. The track is large and its ideal for a tasting of real racing. As an adult you can take the little ones on a full throttle ride around a great winding track. Check out Family Go Karts in Port Austin south of town off of M-53. In Caseville, Key North Mini Golf and Family Fun Center sports the largest track in mid-Michigan. With 15 new karts and some two-seaters so mom or dad can drive the youngsters around that are too small to do it themselves.

3. Miniature Golf – There are numerous classic Putt-Putt and other family friendly courses in Port Austin, Caseville and Kinde. While the adults think of these as trite and insignificant, the kids will remember these little family jaunts for a lifetime. Take advantage of these roadside attractions before they disappear to X Box video games. The biggest of the miniture golf circuit is Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf. It’s short drive east of Caseville this modern course sports Huron County’s largest, (and only), waterfall in the Thumb.


Do you love Michigan’s Thumb? So do we. However we were frustrated on not seeing cool T-shirts that reflect 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.


4. Giant Water Slide and Climbing Rock – Cool off going down a huge water jet slide or try your hand at climbing and repelling down a 25 foot alpine rock. Open seven Kinde Water Slidedays a week noon to 6pm. This adventure is located in Kinde. Kinde is south of Port Austin on M-53.

Bayport Fish Company5. Bayport Fish Company – Visit one of the few remaining operational commercial fish operations on the Great Lakes. Purchase fresh fish on-site and watch the operations. (Hope you like the smell of fish). If your in Caseville you can see their vessel Osprey tied up south of the break wall. Open seven days a week.

6. Port Austin Farmers Market – Open Saturday mornings during the summer season. Crafts, fresh locally produced fruits, fresh and smoked fish,vegetables, craft foods and flea market items.  Considered the largest open-air market in the Thumb. Port Austin

octagon barn7. Octagon Barn – The Thumb Octagon Barn Agricultural Museum is located in Tuscola County approximately 1 mile east of the Village of Gagetown along Bay City Forestville Road 1 mile north on Richie Road, just south of the Huron County border.

8. Huron City Museum –  See Huron County has it thrived in the late 1800’s. The House of House of seven gablesSeven Gables, a beautifully preserved Victorian home, sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Huron. The General Store, a Methodist church, an inn and barns were built during the 1880’s. With a post office, general store, a rooming house and mills, Huron City was well equipped to serve the northern county farmer. Huron City.

Huron County Nature Center9. Huron County Nature Center & Wilderness Arboretum – A 280 acre Nature Center established on a tract of untouched land in Hume Township, Michigan, the Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum  has been under the tender care of the Huron County Women’s Clubs since 1941. Located halfway between Caseville and Port Austin across from Oak Beach.

10. Hit the Beach – There are numerous public beaches throughout Huron County in which to cool off, enjoy a picnic while the kids play iHuron County Beachesn the playground. Most beaches offer ample parking with some with picnic tables, restroom and changing areas and grills for making your own cheeseburger.

Caseville Musuem11. Caseville Museum – Located just one block from Main Street in Caseville you can see artifacts and local treasures from yesteryear. Special events are often held weekly and it offers a quick diversion from the crowds.

12. Rush Lake and Sand Road ORV – Located just south of Sleeper State Park this unimproved road runs from Caseville to Port Austin by way of various roads and trails. If you have a 4×4  and want to try your hand at light off-roading this is worth an hour of looking around the woods. Sand RoaRush lake caseilled is found about a mile south of the cross streets of M-23 and State Park Road. Be prepared. The road is sometimes impassable after rain and the sand can get deep. Only the most adventurous find the ancient and reedy Rush Lake. There are numerous hiking and biking paths. As most of this is on state land its best to have your State Park Passport and ORV sticker in case the DNR stops you.

13. Get Some Ice Cream – Escape the crazy crowds  for an hour and Bybak's Ice Creamexplore other side of the Thumb. In Grindstone Grindstone General StoreCity there are two renowned ice cream shops. The Grindstone General Store and Rybak’s Ice Cream Store. Grindstone General Store is known for its insanely large ice cream cones while Rybak’s is the place for high-end ice cream and homemade candy. Both are located in historic buildings from the 1800’s Rybak’s large front porch is an ideal place to chat with friends and reminisce about your Cheeseburger day.

14. Get Artsy – The  Upper Thumb now has two gallery’s, in Bad Axe the Lofty Roots Gallery white church galleryand Studio opened in 2015 with six local artists exhibiting. While in Grindstone City the White Church Gallery draws in artists from all over Michigan and Florida. Founded by Mike and Carrie Zaitz in a renovated 1800’s church.  Both gallery’s are excellent diversions from the Cheeseburger hangover.