Once Henry Ford’s personal waterfowl hunting preserve, the Ford Marsh in southeast Michigan is now part of the 5,700-acre Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, located within the River Raisin Area of Concern. The marsh’s 175 acres of Lake Erie wetlands provide crucial habitat for bald eagles, wood ducks, osprey, blue-winged teal, whitetail deer, great blue herons, and hundreds of other native plant and wildlife species. Unfortunately, habitat quality has declined over many decades at Ford Marsh following the installation of a dike where the River Raisin empties into Lake Erie. This dike prevented water levels in the marsh to fluctuate. Without the natural flooding and drainage patterns that are crucial to supporting healthy native wildlife and vegetation, wetland conditions stagnated, allowing aquatic invasive plants like water lily and phragmites to heavily colonize the area. Now, thanks to a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, Ducks Unlimited has restored these vital wetlands. Read more here.
As we head into the 4th of July weekend, here were some of the biggest Great Lakes restoration stories from last week:
The State of the Great Lakes 2017 Highlights Report has been released and delivers both good and bad news, according to Cleveland.com. While the report show progress towards reducing toxic chemicals in the Lakes, it also warns of increasing threats from invasive species and harmful algal blooms.
The Chicago Tribune reports that a live Asian carp was found in the Calumet River, less than 9 miles from Lake Michigan. This discovery comes as Washington debates significant cuts to the GLRI and other programs funding efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, the Detroit News reports on bipartisan lawmaker efforts to force the U.S. EPA to release a long awaited report strategies for preventing the entry of Asian carp.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio issued sharp criticisms of the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to Great Lakes funding, reports the Toledo Blade. Sen. Brown characterized the proposed cuts as a significant threat to the region’s economy.
Michigan Radio reports that the results of a recent safety test on Enbridge’s Line 5 underneath the Straits of Mackinac have been scrapped by the Michigan DEQ. The agency cited a conflict of interest for one of the researcher that called the independence of the report into question.
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (June 27, 2017)—Today the Trump Administration took the first step in rescinding a part of the Clean Water Act, which provides protections for 117 million Americans. The target of the rollbacks is the Clean Water Rule, which provides needed clarity for Clean Water Act protections and was finalized in June 2015 after months of public comment. This move by the Trump Administration creates uncertainty around which streams and waters fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act and which are exempt.
“With this rollback of the Clean Water Rule, the Trump Administration has taken another step backwards when it comes to protecting the Great Lakes,” said Todd Ambs, Campaign Director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The Clean Water Rule provides drinking water protections for 30 million people in the Great Lakes region and regulatory certainty for businesses here as well. Repealing the rule threatens to pollute our drinking water and provides an unnecessary blockade to business development.”
Here are some of the biggest Great Lakes restoration stories from last week:
WXYZ-TV reports on a resurgence of lake sturgeon in the Great Lakes, particularly in Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River. Meanwhile, a recovery for lake sturgeon populations in Lake Ontario is being threatened by President Trump’s proposed elimination of the GLRI, according to Great Lakes Today.
The Toledo Blade reports on a renewed push by Great Lakes mayors to address climate change, following President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord. The renewed commitment was made at the annual Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative conference in Montreal.
The Chicago Tribune reports on concerns by environmental groups, EPA employees, and lawmakers over the proposed cuts to the EPA by the Trump Administration. The cuts include 31% reduction in the agency’s budget, the elimination of the GLRI, and the potential closure of the Region 5 office in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press reports on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s praise for the GLRI in Congressional appropriation hearings last week.
Enbridge Energy claims its recent stress test of its Line Five oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac show the pipeline remains structurally sound, according to Michigan Radio. Environmental groups have raised concern that an oil spill in the Straits, at the confluence of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, would be catastrophic. mLive provides details on how and when to comment on these studies.
North Country Public Radio reports that proposed cuts to the National Sea Grant Program by the Trump Administration would significantly impede research into harmful algal blooms. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has spoken out against the cuts to the Sea Grant Program.
WBFO has a story examining the progress made towards cleaning up the industrial pollution Lake Superior so far, and how this progress might be threatened by the Administration’s proposed elimination of the GLRI.
Our latest Great Lakes success story is outside of Mt. Pleasant, Wis. The Pike River travels through lower Wisconsin before emptying out into Lake Michigan. Prior to restoration, the river was in a straight channel and prone to flooding during heavy rain events. The erosion would travel downstream and contribute to pollution in the lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked to naturalize the river, giving it curves to slow the flow of water to reduce flooding and helping to restore habitat. Read more here.