Located just south of Lake Michigan in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Great Marsh provides crucial wetland habitat for a variety of native wildlife and plants. Migratory birds such as the sandhill crane rely on the Marsh for nesting sites. The Great Marsh also plays a critical role in filtering out nutrients and other pollutants from stormwater runoff, preserving the water quality of Lake Michigan. Yet despite its ecological importance the Great Marsh has been significantly altered by centuries of human activities. Developers in the 19th century constructed a series of ditches to drain the Great Marsh, converting much of its wetlands to other land uses such as agriculture and industry. The ditch system divided the Great Marsh watershed into three distinct watersheds, fragmenting its wetland habitat and disrupting its natural hydrology. This has reduced the ability of the Great Marsh to absorb stormwater, increasing the flow of polluted runoff into Lake Michigan and increasing basement floodings in nearby communities. Altering this ecosystem has also allowed trees and invasive plants such as hybrid cattail and reed canary grass to displace native plant communities, degrading the habitat quality of the Great Marsh. Now thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the National Park Service is restoring the Great Marsh ecosystem. Read more here.
We hope you’re having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Here are some of the important Great Lakes restoration stories from the past week:
Michigan Radio reports that U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have introduced legislation aimed at improving the safety of oil pipelines crossing the Great Lakes. The proposed bill would increase accountability on pipeline operators in the event of spills.
The U.S. EPA has decided it will not force Ohio to declare its portion of the western Lake Erie basin as impaired, according to the Toledo Blade. Environmental groups believe that the current incentive-based nutrient reduction programs are insufficient to reduce nutrient loading in the western basin, which has seen several significant harmful algae blooms in the past few years.
The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association and the Ohio Soy Bean Association have spoken out against the proposed elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, reports the Norwalk Reflector. The agricultural associations have asked the Trump Administration to continue funding the GLRI at its current level of $300 million a year.
mLive reports on a USGS study that predicts that if Asian carp would cluster along Lake Michigan’s shorelines if the invasive fish reached the Great Lakes, due to warmer waters and an abundance of food sources. This could potentially devastate a multi-billion dollar fishing industry.
Following months of extremely high water levels in Lake Ontario, New York State will provide $5 million in grants to small businesses as they recover from the floods, reports WHEC-TV. The state will also provide $10 million to municipalities impacted by the floods.
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (May 23, 2017)—Today the Trump Administration released its full budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, which eliminates core Great Lakes programs and slashes the budget of federal agencies like the U.S. EPA. The budget contains the same cuts that the administration proposed in March, when it released an outline of spending priorities in a so-called “skinny budget.”
The proposed 2018 budget—which runs from October 1, 2017 through September 1, 2018—eliminates the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other core clean water programs that benefit communities large and small in the Great Lake states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Our latest Great Lakes success story comes from the Lost Nation Golf Course in Willoughby, Ohio. Ward Creek travels through the suburbs of Cleveland, meeting up with the Chagrin River, which then flows into Lake Erie. A portion of the creek notorious for flooding and erosion bisects the golf course. Prior to restoration, the golf course lost several playable days each year due to flooding. Thanks to an investment by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Ward Creek’s shoreline has been stabilized with native plants, reducing erosion and sediment build-up in Lake Erie, while improving the golf experience (and revenue) at a local golf course. Read more here.
In case you missed the past week in Great Lakes restoration news:
The Toledo Blade reports on this year’s International Association for Great Lakes Research Conference, which was held this week in Detroit. Among the topics of discussion was the potential for harmful algal blooms to become more prevalent in Lake Erie’s central basin.
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee passed a bill this week that would loosen regulations against ballast water discharges by cargo ships, reports mLive. Environmental groups argue that this would harm efforts to prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.
The Star Tribune reports on the establishment of the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Management in Ann Arbor. Funded by a $20 million federal grant, the center will research important Great Lakes topics such as climate change, invasive species, and harmful algal blooms.
The Toledo Blade reports on a federal lawsuit filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over the Agency’s refusal to rule on Lake Erie’s impairment status. Lake Erie has been subject to numerious harmful algal blooms over the past several years, including the 2014 bloom that contaminated drinking water in Toledo.