I grew up an hour from Lake Michigan and it was a special occasion to be able to go to “the lake” for a day. There were many days, however, where you didn’t want to get anywhere near the lake because of the giant mounds of dead, rotting, alewives communities were attempting to manage. Many of the beach towns, like Saugatuck and South Haven had boarded up hotels and downtowns. But a commitment to clean water and the introduction of salmon into the Great Lakes changed all of that…..
Today we are faced with new threats to the Great Lakes. Invasive species are destroying native species and altering the lake’s ecosystem. Sewage overflows are fouling the water and closing beaches. Filled and drained wetlands are not available to nursery wildlife and buffer stresses to the lakes. Southern and western politicians are calling for “national
strategies” of moving Great Lakes water to thirsty desert and drought impacted states. The list goes on.
What we need is a national commitment to restoring and protecting these fresh water seas, not a strategy of neglect. It is time to move federal legislation to stop invasive species from entering into ballast water discharge; To fund conservation as part of a re authorization of the Farm bill; To pay for separating storm water from sewers; To clean-up toxic hot spots; and to Fix the hole in Lake St Clair.
A visit to “the Lake” is still a special occasion; I want to keep it that way.
Donna Stine is Deputy Director of Policy for Michigan United Conservation Clubs.