The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Asian Carp Invasion Update

The fight to keep the Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan continues. While the Supreme Court failed to take decisive action earlier this month, the case is still before them. And work is continuing at both the state and national level.

Here's an update from the Attorney General of Michigan, Mike Cox:

Late yesterday the Obama administration set a February 8th date for a meeting with the governors from Michigan and Wisconsin. If Governor Granholm can get the locks closed in such a summit it would be good news for Michigan and the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, I will continue to pursue all avenues to ensure we protect the Great Lakes and our jobs from the threat of Asian Carp.

The U.S. Supreme Court is still considering Michigan's request to close Chicago-area locks connecting carp-infested waterways to Lake Michigan and has set a deadline for other states and interested parties to submit briefs by February 19. President Obama continues to defend the narrow interests of his home state but others are beginning to act.

Over the course of the last week, thanks in large part to your efforts, new bi-partisan efforts to protect the Lakes have been launched by lawmakers in our State and Nation's capitol.

Congressman Camp and Senator Stabenow launched the CARP Act, Michigan's full Congressional delegation has signed a letter asking the President's administration to act quickly and state lawmakers have formed the Michigan House Shoreline Caucus and are preparing to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court backing Michigan's request to protect jobs and close the locks.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Lake in All Seasons

I began my Lake Trek on March 16, 2009, and finished on September 26, 2009. I began at the tail end of winter when there was still ice on the lake, and finished in the first days of the following fall as the first leaves were falling.

The lake changes with the seasons.

I saw it rage during a spring storm, and, in the final days of summer there was a day when it was inert without so much as a whisper of movement against the shore.

The animals and insects and plants changed as I walked the lake. They shed their winter coats, transformed from caterpillar to butterfly, and completed the eternal cycle of plant-flower-seed-death.

One connection of these cycles that was present on just about every segment of my adventure was the milkweed-monarch cycle. The empty pods from last year were at the beginning of my journey. Then, the new plants emerged and were feasted on by the monarch caterpillars as they struggled to produce their intricate blooms.

As the caterpillars bulked up for the change into creatures of flight, the milkweed dropped its flowers and set about, once again, making seeds to release in the fall and winter winds.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Revisiting the Lake Trek: Segment 5

This segment spanned the 105 miles between Ludington and Suttons Bay, Michigan. It included the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, one of my favorite stretches of lakeshore. You can truly see the hand of the glacier here.

I hiked this segment alone and did some camping along the way. Note the serious backpack.

Note: You may want to press the 'play' button, then pause it and let it completely load before resuming play. This will allow it to play smoothly.

You can find all videos from the Lake Trek on YouTube at:

Walk with me:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Part 2

Lucas had the day off of school when I drove over to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, so I took him along for the ride. The shelf ice goes out pretty far now, but we could still hear the icy open water lapping at the far edge.

Ice is good for the lake because it slows down evaporation in the early spring.

Snow on the dunes can take interesting forms as the blowing sand covers, shapes, then moves off to reveal miniature snow sculptures.

I mentioned in my previous post that this area has incredible biodiversity and some habitats not found anywhere else on the planet. There are arctic and desert plants growing side by side here, trees normally found in the south grow on one dune, and trees normally found further north on the next. There are endangered plants and insects here.

A preserved specimen of the endangered Karner blue butterfly sits on wild lupine flowers in the photo to the left. The numbers of Karner blues are dwindling due to loss of habitat. The wild lupine flourishes in areas post-burn, and as parks have tried to suppress the natural cycle of fires, they have reduced the available area for the lupine to thrive.

Rangers are trying to reverse this by doing controlled burns in the park.

The next time you're driving around the bottom of Lake Michigan, take some time to explore the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It's your park.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fighting the Asian Carp Another Way

After the Supreme Court sided with protecting the minimal economic interests of the state of Illinois in their decision to let the locks continue operating in the waterways leading to Lake Michigan, I wasn't sure what other actions could be taken. Enter the Honorable Debbie Stabenow, Senator for the state of Michigan. She has introduced the CARP ACT in Congress.

If passed, it will take decisive action to keep the carp from reaching the lake including:

Immediate closure of certain Chicago-area locks: Directs the Army Corps of Engineers to close the O'Brien Lock and Dam and the Chicago Controlling Works until a controlled lock operations strategy is developed.

Immediate installation of interim barriers : Directs the Army Corps of Engineers to install barriers in the North Shore Channel and the Grand and Little Calumet Rivers to prevent the migration of bighead and silver carps into Lake Michigan, as well as between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) and between the Illinois & Michigan (I&M) Canal and the CSSC to prevent carp from entering the Canal during a flood event.

Enhancement of existing barriers and monitoring systems: Includes granting authority to the Army Corps of Engineers to acquire all real estate interests necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance of the barrier system.

Mitigating the impact on commerce and the City of Chicago: Instructs the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct two studies: one to develop a strategy to mitigate the effects of this bill on existing commerce in the canals and rivers, and one to abate the effects on Chicago flood control.

Preventing and eradicating Asian Carp: Grants the Army Corps of Engineers new authority to eliminate and prevent the spread of Asian Carp through the use of fish toxicant, commercial fishing and netting, harvesting, and other means necessary.

This points out the wisdom of a three-branch democracy. Checks and balances, my friends, balances and checks.

Let's encourage the Executive and Legislative branches to bring some balance back to the system after the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. If this decision stands unchallenged, we will move from a democracy to a corpocracy where corporations control the government. If that happens, the government formerly 'of the people, by the people, for the people' will no longer exist.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

On top of Mt. Baldy in January! I drove to the lake yesterday and explored the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a bit in its cloak of winter white. The photo above is of me on Mt. Baldy, over 100 feet above the frozen and foggy lake.

The shelf ice goes out quite a ways now, which is good for the lake. Good ice cover helps the lake to retain its water in the spring. The wind was quite mild, so I could hear the open water moving at the edge of the ice in the distance.

Mt. Baldy is threatening to swallow the parking lot and bathrooms on its south side, so there are efforts underway to stabilize the back side of the dune with native grasses. This dune is a living dune; it migrates up to 5 feet a year with the wind.

When I was on the Lake Trek, I missed going to the visitor center for this area because it was a ways off the lake. This time, I stopped in and had a look around. There are some wonderful exhibits about the park, the biodiversity there, and the history. I'll post more about this park soon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Revisiting the Lake Trek: Segment 4

This segment spanned the 75 miles between Grand Haven and Ludington, Michigan.

I was joined along the way by my friend, Mary, and for the last two days by Leslie and Milene (my sister and cousin).

Note: You may want to press the 'play' button, then pause it and let it completely load before resuming play. This will allow it to play smoothly.

You can find all videos from the Lake Trek on YouTube at:
Sign up to be a subscriber on YouTube and you'll get an e-mail when I upload a new video.

Walk with me:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Asian Carp before the Supreme Court

This Friday, January 15, the case to keep the Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan will be argued before the Supreme Court. [Since this is a matter involving more than one state it must be judged in the highest court.] The state of Michigan is requesting that the locks on the canals around Chicago be shut to permanently bar the fish from entering the lake. The argument to keep the canals open will site that closing the canals will hurt the economy by making goods transported through the locks more expensive since they will have to be moved via rail or truck.

The non-profit group The Alliance for the Great Lakes has noted that only a small proportion of goods transported around Chicago actually go through the locks, and the the lake could be cut off from the canals minimal impact on the flow of goods.

Let us all hope that the court is more focused on the future of the lake than anything else.

Sign the online petition to stop the Asian carp from reaching lake Michigan:

Update: The Supreme Court sided with the state of Illinois and will NOT order the locks to be closed.

Ice Sculptures on the Pier

I went out to the city of St. Joseph shortly before the holidays, just to visit the lake. There had been a storm the week before, and the wind and waves had conspired to shroud the railings on the pier with a draping of ice.
The lake was calm and fog was forming over the water which was still warmer than the air. When the lake gives up its moisture like this, it usually means snow will fall inland (hence 'lake effect' snow). And we had gotten quite a snowfall from the storm that left its lasting mark on the pier.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Revisiting the Lake Trek: Segment 3

This segment spanned the 50 miles between South Haven and Grand Haven. I was delighted to have my son, Lucas, along on this part of the Lake Trek. We had some wild weather along the way!
Note: You may want to press the 'play' button, then pause it and let it completely load before resuming play. This will allow it to play smoothly.

You can find all videos from the Lake Trek on YouTube at:
Sign up to be a subscriber on YouTube and you'll get an e-mail when I upload a new video.

Walk with me:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Timely Gift

A tract of lakeshore -- 171 acres of it -- has just been purchased and protected. This untouched land is located just north of Oval Beach in Saugatuck, Michigan, and stretches up to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River where it empties into Lake Michigan. The Land Conservancy, the City of Saugatuck, and The Nature Conservancy joined with private donors to close the $20 million dollar deal just before 2009 ended.

The preservation of this wild area is a gift to us all.

Revisiting the Lake Trek: Segment 2

Here is the second video of Segment 2 of the Lake Trek, New Buffalo, Michigan to South Haven.

I walked this segment with my son, Ben, from March 24-26.

Note: You may want to press the 'play' button, then pause it and let it completely load before resuming play. This will allow it to play smoothly.

You can find all videos from the Lake Trek on YouTube at:
Sign up to be a subscriber on YouTube and you'll get an e-mail when I upload a new video.

Walk with me: