The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Advance Copy Giveaway

My publisher, Crickhollow Books, is giving away a few advance copies of my book on Goodreads.

To enter, click HERE.

[Your friends will thank you for sharing this!]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reading from A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH

Here is a short reading from my book...not for the squeamish:

(you may want to let it load completely before viewing...)

Monday, December 20, 2010

From My Stack of Reading...

The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland SeasThe Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jerry Dennis is one of the best 'Great Lakes Writers.' His work has inspired me, and this account of his journey by boat through four of the Great Lakes all the way to the Atlantic Ocean is a great read.

I'm not much of a boater, but I do enjoy learning about the lakes and this book explores many aspects of the lakes.

Dennis also tells of his time as a crew hand on a sailboat in the Chicago to Mackinac Island race. I've been in Chicago for the start of this event when the lake is filled with sails. It was fascinating to be along for the ride by reading this book.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another book!

A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach will be released in March and will be available wherever books are sold.

I have a second book coming out next year, a novella set in Atlanta. I have been writing fiction for many years and was a finalist for the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction in 2009.

ATLANTA depicts the tapestry of life in this modern city.

ATLANTA follows the interweaving lives of mothers and daughters,
siblings, friends, and lovers.

ATLANTA explores finding yourself, losing yourself, and the strength discovered in a steadfast friend.

If you pre-order, there is a big discount. The book will be released this coming summer.

To read an excerpt and pre-order, go to:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quagga Mussels

I've been reading a lot lately about the quagga mussel. This filter-feeding bivalve is native to the Ukraine and was transported into the Great Lakes in a ship's ballast water. It was first seen in Lake Erie in 1989. Since then, the quaggas have populated all five of the Great Lakes. Since then it has spread to the Mississippi River, to waterways in Colorado, and even as far as California.

As with any species transported into an ecosystem where it has not been before, the invader often has a competitive advantage. This is because it there may not be natural predators to keep the invader's population in check.

Transported over to the Great Lakes and dumped into these deep, phytoplankton-rich waters, the quaggas multiplied and spread.

It is now estimated that there are 900 TRILLION quaggas
in Lake Michigan.

Seriously. They number in the HUNDREDS of TRILLIONS, and they are crashing the lake's ecosystem.

Read more about this crisis HERE.

And here's one of the most comprehensive articles I've ever read on dealing with invasive species. It was in a recent issue of Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Avian Botulism Conundrum

Dead birds on the Lake Trek

While on my walk around Lake Michigan, I passed many dead and dying birds. Most were victims of avian botulism. It was heartbreaking to know that there wasn't anything I could do for the ones that were partially paralyzed and helpless on the shore. They would either recover or die depending on how much of the toxin they had ingested.

What causes it?

The bacteria that produces the botulism toxin (Chlostridium botulinum) is naturally present in the environment. It the same bacteria that produces toxins that can kill people if not destroyed when canning food. It is an anaerobic bacteria which means it thrives in an oxygen-poor environment.

If the bacteria has always been around, why are more and more birds dying each year? And why has the end of 2010 had a particularly high mortality rate?

Changes in the lake

The lakes have changed with the introduction of the invasive mussels (both zebra and quagga mussels). You've seen the changes if you've walked the lakeshore. The striped shells of the dead zebra mussels are strewn in the sand along Michigan's western coast. And if you've spent any amount of time on the lake you've probably seen algae blooms that seem to grow larger each year.

Scientists haven't fully figured out all the feedback loops that allow increasingly more devastation to our bird population, but it goes something like this:

  • Algae blooms are encouraged by run-off from farms and discharges of untreated sewage from treatment plants overwhelmed by heavy rain. And the blooms increase when the water temperatures increase.
  • Algae blooms decay and use up oxygen in the process leading to anaerobic zones.
  • Anaerobic bacteria like Chlostridium botulinum proliferate in these 'dead zones' and release toxins into the water.
  • Toxins are filtered out of the water and concentrated in the mussels.
  • Mussels are eaten directly by birds or by fish that are then eaten by birds.
  • Birds are paralyzed by ingested toxins. The effects are dose-related and it takes very little to kill a bird.
Why has 2010 been particularly devastating?

This year on some stretches of shoreline, up to 50 dead birds have washed up per mile. Several bloggers covering the Leelanau Peninsula have reported on the increased mortality (check out Books In Northport Blog).

This year has had a confluence of several factors leading to this increase in mortality. It was a warm year, so the lake temps were up significantly. It was also an especially rainy year and that led to massive discharges of untreated or partially-treated sewage from major cities around the lake. Heavy rain can also carry run-off from farms which contain animal waste and fertilizer. All of this fertilizer and organic material feeds the algae.

What can be done?

It seems that the more that is learned about avian botulism, the more perplexed scientists and naturalists are at the best way to attempt to solve the problem. They admit that they may not know all the variables contributing to the problem. And a factor like increasing lake temps during an especially warm year are outside our immediate control.

It would seem logical to control the variables within our immediate control. Cities like Grand Rapids have updated their sewers to partition sewage from storm drain collection. This city has reduced their sewage discharge into the Grand River to almost zero while cities like Milwaukee, Chicago and Gary continue to divert billions (that's billions with a 'b') of gallons of storm water mixed with untreated or partially-treated sewage into Lake Michigan annually.

Green zones along the lakeshore are an important buffer for the lake and wetlands can serve to filter water before it enters the lake.

If you own property on the lake, don't fertilize, or check with the DNR for the type they advise using.

If you see dead birds on the lakeshore, don't handle them with bare hands or let dogs munch on them. The toxins persist after the bird dies and can be harmful to any other vertebrate coming in contact with it. Report number and type of dead birds to the DNR and make a note of any banding numbers on birds. If possible, bury carcasses or tie up in garbage bags and discard to minimize the chances of another animal being poisoned.

Pintail or Merganser Duck??

Duck enthusiasts and experts, please comment: Is this a pintail or a merganser duck? I saw many of them in the greater Leelanau Peninsula area, usually with large broods of chicks.

Seeing this reminded me of the children's book
Make Way for Ducklings

I saw a lot of wildlife during my Lake Trek and tried to convey the wonderful 'wild places' we still have along Lake Michigan's shoreline in my book. Advance copies should be in my hands next week, and I'll be sending out ARCs to reviewers, many bookstores, and to those who walked at my side on the Lake Trek.

The book will be available everywhere March 2011.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Book from My Stack of Reading...

Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from ChicagoWhy Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago by Blair Kamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blair Kamin has been writing about Chicago's architecture for more than a decade for the Chicago Tribune. This book was part of my reading before I began my walk all the way around Lake Michigan. I wanted to better understand Chicago -- since I began and ended my Lake Trek there -- and understanding its architecture was part of that.

This readable collection of Kamin's essays gives a wonderful overview of the choices that have made Chicago's skyline and city so special.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From my stack of reading...

Leelanau: A Portrait of Place in Photographs & TextLeelanau: A Portrait of Place in Photographs & Text by Ken Scott & Jerry Dennis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book combines the photographs of Ken Scott with essays by Jerry Dennis. And it's all about the Leelanau Peninsula, one of my favorite places in Michigan. Through all four seasons, this team portrays the riches of Michigan's 'pinky,' that spike of land jutting off the NW of the state's mitten.

Ken Scott is a master photographer and his images draw me back to this book. Jerry Dennis lives in this region; he knows it well because it's a part of him. His essays pair wonderfully with the images, rounding out each photo with stories that live.

A great holiday gift for people who love Leelanau!

I read a huge stack of books while doing research for my Lake Trek and I'll share some of them here over the next months leading up to the release of
A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach
March 1, 2011

Here's what Jerry Dennis had to say about my upcoming book:

"In her walk around Lake Michigan, Loreen Niewenhuis accomplished what many of us have only daydreamed about. Her adventure is told with verve and boldness, and she is a clear-eyed observer of the lake and its beautiful and sometimes ravaged shore. This book is a welcome addition to the literature of the Great Lakes."

- Jerry Dennis, author of The Living Great Lakes

Monday, November 15, 2010

I LOVE the Indies!!

I had a fantastic weekend Up North celebrating my sister's birthday with a bunch of her wild friends.

Happy Birthday, Leslie!

While on the road, I stopped in at several bookstores to tell them about the March 2011 release date for my book
A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach.

During the Lake Trek, I stopped in at many bookstores along the lakeshore. Driving around the state has given me the freedom to visit stores farther inland.

I stopped in at Great Lakes Books & Supply in Big Rapids, Local Flavor Books in Boyne City, Round Lake Book Store in Charlevoix, and Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord.

Check out the links in the sidebar to get to each stores' website!

I also visited some stores I'd hiked to last year including Horizon Books in Traverse City, McLean & Eakin in Petoskey, The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague.

Books + coffee = PERFECTION

I tried to visit the stores in Grand Haven, but Washington Street is all torn up for the brand new snow melt system they are installing under the sidewalks. Looks like the place to do some holiday shopping (once the construction is complete!).

So, I found my way to the beach to enjoy the waves and mild weather.

The official March launch of my book will be at Brilliant Books in Suttons Bay, Friday, March 11, 2011.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Q&A on Lori A. May's Blog

A big thanks to author extraordinaire Lori A. May for featuring me in a Q&A on her blog today.

Here's a bit about Lori:

Lori is a poet, novelist, and freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications such as The Writer, Tipton Poetry Journal, and anthologies such as Van Gogh's Ear. Her novels include The Profiler and Moving Target. Her latest book is stains: early poems. She is a college writing instructor and Editor of The Ambassador Poetry Project. Coffee is her greatest addiction next to the tradition of putting ink on paper.

Check out the Q&A HERE.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Michigan Green Chemistry Governor's Award

The Great Lakes Green Chemistry Network, an organization whose mission is to promote the practice of Green Chemistry in the binational Great Lakes basin, has won the 2010 Michigan Green Chemistry Governor's Award for outstanding work by a public sector organization to advance green chemistry. "Green Chemistry is an innovative approach to how chemicals are designed and created that uses twelve principles to guide the elimination and reduction of hazard. Green Chemistry is all about finding safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in an effort to protect human health and the environment," said Lin Kaatz Chary, project director of the Network. "We believe it has tremendous potential for addressing the many environmental challenges in the Great Lakes basin."

Here are the 12 guiding principles of Green Chemistry:

The Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry

1. Prevention - It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.
2. Atom Economy - Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.
3. Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses - Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
4. Designing Safer Chemicals - Chemical products should be designed to effect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.
5. Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries - The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.
6. Design for Energy Efficiency - Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.
7. Use of Renewable Feedstocks - A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.
8. Reduce Derivatives - Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.
9. Catalysis - Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.
10. Design for Degradation - Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.
11. Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention - Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
12. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention - Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.

This all sounds like a common sense approach to 'greening up' our industries.

Check out their website -- including their many recorded seminars you can stream -- at:

The Sea Lamprey STARS on Dirty Jobs

The sea lamprey is the focus of the most recent episode of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs"

Mike Rowe, the show's host and willing participant in these 'dirty jobs,' will shadow scientists as they attempt to corral and control the lamprey population in the Great Lakes.

The sea lamprey was one of the earliest species to travel the shipping canals dug to allow transport of goods from the lakes out into the St. Lawrence Seaway. These waterways allowed the lamprey to enter and colonize the lakes back in the 1920s.

Lamprey attach themselves to large fish and suck the life out of them. By the 1950s, the lamprey had significantly depleted the lakes of large, predator fish. This allowed the population of alewives (a smaller fish) to explode.

Controlling the lamprey population and restocking the lakes with trout and salmon allowed some semblance of balance to return.

(Photo is from the Inland Seas Education Center located in Suttons Bay, Michigan)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Massive Storm Whips Up Lake Michigan

This week one of the largest storms to ever hit the Midwest struck. High, sustained winds whipped up Lake Michigan as the barometric pressure dropped to a point lower than during the storm that sunk the Edmond Fitzgerald lake freighter in 1975.

Gusts from the storm were measured at over 60 mph near the lake. Sustained, westerly winds across Lake Michigan caused waves exceeding 20 feet tall.

This map depicts wave data from Lake Michigan on Wednesday. Orange means waves over 15 feet, red is around 20! All this wind causes a massive 'standing wave' or seiche as the lake water is pushed to the east.

Below is a photo from the roughest day on my Lake Trek. My son and I had sustained winds of 35 mph with gusts over 45.

The lake is a living entity. It can rage or whisper...murmur or scream.

And if it ices over in the winter it is briefly, eerily silent.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Support your local INDIE bookstore!

On the way back from Milwaukee last month, I stopped in at a couple of bookstores on the drive home. Sometimes, a bookstore owner will recognize me and call out, "Hey, you're the Lake Walker Woman!" (or something to that effect). And they want to know when the book is coming out.

I'm thrilled to have a release date of March 1, 2011. Look for my book on their shelves then. There are links to all the bookstores I have visited in the sidebar of this blog. Check them out, or find the indie bookstore nearest to you by going to INDIEBOUND.ORG

I also stopped in to see the lake at New Buffalo, Michigan. It was a pretty dramatic evening at the beach! New Buffalo has a new independent bookstore right on the Red Arrow Highway. It's called BUFFALO BOOKS and is inside the Harbor County Trading Company. I'll be doing a signing there next summer, so watch for updates on my Facebook Fan Page ('Like' it in the upper sidebar here to get info on your news feed on Facebook).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lake Michigan Rocks!

I've always been a rock hound, and my Lake Trek gave me a golden opportunity to collect rocks from the entire shoreline of Lake Michigan.

The series of four 'waves' of glaciers that formed our Great Lakes dragged rocks from as far away as within the Arctic Circle and deposited them in our lake. You won't find this wide a variety of color and mineral composition anywhere else in the world.

In the video below, I've placed my collection of Lake Michigan rocks on a map of the lake.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Big Lake Bash

I had the pleasure of attending the Alliance for the Great Lakes GREAT LAKE BASH this week. I took my mom along to the site on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The second shot is of me and my mom, the sun is behind us, getting ready to lower itself into the lake.

The last photo is of the Alliance's President, Joel Brammeier, addressing the gathering.

I have been a member of the Alliance for the Great Lakes for years now, and they do important and effective work to protect our Great Lakes. They are an important ally in the fight to keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

The Alliance does important work on many levels, from educational materials for teachers to use with their students, to shaping policy to protect the lakes, to working to pass the Great Lakes Compact which dictates how the lakes' water can be used.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Publishing Contract SIGNED!

It's official!

I just returned from Milwaukee where I met with my publisher, Crickhollow Books, and signed a contract for the book about my Lake Trek adventure. The image to the left will be the cover of the book.

I'm excited to be working with Mr. Phil Martin, my editor and publisher. Below is a photo taken of us after our celebratory dinner in Milwaukee.

Mr. Martin shares my love of Lake Michigan and he even took time away from his work to walk with me for a few miles south of Milwaukee on the last segment of my journey.

It has been a second adventure to write the book and to find a good 'home' for it in the hands of Mr. Martin. He's able to move quickly to get the book published, and it will be available everywhere in the spring.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It was a Cloudy and Blustery Day

It was a blustery day on Lake Michigan yesterday, windy enough to draw the kite-boarders out into the surf. They zipped along the top of the water, leaping off the top of cresting waves.

I was out at St. Joseph's Silver Beach -- the closest lake access to my home in Battle Creek -- for the Adopt-A-Beach (tm) clean-up day organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes. The Alliance does great work for our Great Lakes.

This annual 'mobilze the masses' effort does more than just get people out to clean our beaches. The Alliance also gathers data on how much and what type of trash was gathered. They've been collecting this data for 20 years now. Over 150 TONS of trash have been collected to date.

The site coordinator for Silver beach was the Gamma Iota Sigma professional fraternity at Olivet College. They brought the bags and gloves and data sheets for all of us to work with.

We gathered approximately 40 pounds of trash including hundreds of cigarette butts and pop caps, lots of miscellaneous plastic bits and straws, bottles and cans, balloon bits still attached to ribbons, and one weathered sleeping bag.

Last year over 5,000 people took part in this cleanup. This year it was expanded into Wisconsin, so there will probably be even more participants.

I picked up a lot of trash as I walked the shoreline last year. It felt great to be part of a larger group caring for our lakes yesterday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beach Clean-up: September 25

While walking the edges of Lake Michigan last year, I occasionally came across trash. Most of the time -- if it was small and light -- I picked up the trash and carried it with me to the end of the day's hike. Sometimes, there was large debris and I wasn't able to take it with me.

It's amazing how much trash washes up on our beaches each year. Some is from sewage treatment facilities that dump excess water and waste into the lake during heavy rainfall. Some is from careless people who toss stuff off of their boats or onto the beaches.

I saw so many mylar balloons during my hike that I'll never buy one again. They never degrade in the environment, and zebra mussels love to attach to the ribbons on balloons.

I'll be volunteering for this year’s September Adopt-a-Beach™ Cleanup Event on Sept. 25 at St. Joesph's Silver Beach.

Last year there were over 5,000 people combing the beaches in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Not only is trash gathered, it is also documented and weighed.

It's not too late to sign up! Check out the Alliance for the Great Lakes page.

I hope to see you out there.

And I'll blog about the experience here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I've found my SPARK

I had a wonderful time being interviewed on Tisha Berg's 'Find Your Spark' blog talk radio show this Monday. Here's:

The entire interview is available to stream in the sidebar, but below are some of my favorite moments:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Enbridge Oil Spill Clean-up Continues

The Enbridge oil spill may not be on the national news anymore, but the clean-up efforts continue. I had been meaning to get out to see the progress for some time, but had been rained out several times. Yesterday -- Sunday --- I was finally able to drive to the site and was surprised to see the efforts fully underway even on the weekend.

Much of the booming and skimming efforts downstream of the spill have stopped since the oil has now been contained closer to the spill site.

The segment of the pipe that ruptured has been removed and replaced. Enbridge is testing the pipeline before they turn the flow of crude back on.

Pipelines. They've been causing a lot of trouble lately.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Asian Carp, Quagga, and Pollution...and that's just the beginning...

I love this photo shot from far above the earth on a cloudless day over the Great Lakes. It gives you a sense of the massive size and even depths of the lakes (Erie and Ontario are shallower and the greenish hues are probably algae blooms). The photo is clickable if you want to enlarge it to look more closely at each lake. Just click the 'back' button on your browser to return here.

90% of America's fresh, surface water is in these lakes, and about 20% of the entire world's fresh, surface water.

I've been asked many times what the ONE THING is that we can do to protect Lake Michigan and all of our Great Lakes. Is it stopping the Asian carp? Is it getting rid of the quagga mussel? How about cleaning up pollution?

The truth is that there is a constellation of threats to our Great Lakes.

As with any complex problem, the solution is usually equally complex.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is a multi-year approach to targeting these problems with not only legislation, but with funding.

EPA Chief Lisa Jackson announced the latest round of grants this week. She says:

“These grants are a long-overdue investment in a place that is home to millions of Americans, billions of dollars in economic activity, and 95 percent of our nation’s fresh surface water. It’s essential that we act today, and set a new standard of care for the next generation. President Obama has made protecting the Great Lakes a national priority. EPA is investing in a diverse network of partners to put boots on the ground and boats in the water to begin this historic Great Lakes restoration effort.”

Oh, there is one important thing we all can do. Write your representatives in Congress in support of the GLRI.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

That's BILLION with a 'B'

It's difficult to comprehend why in the age of navigation via triangulation of satellite signals (that's what your car's GPS uses to guide you), wireless internet, and cappuccinos with a flavor shot that we're still dumping BILLIONS of gallons of untreated sewage mixed with storm water into our lakes each year. Sometimes, into Lake Michigan in a month.

In Joel Brammeier's (president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes) letter to the editor in today's Detroit Free Press, he says:

In late July, torrential rains struck again, and some 8.5 billion gallons of sewage mixed with storm water, and the street litter it ferries was flushed into Lake Michigan -- more than 2 billion gallons from Milwaukee topped by another 6.5 billion gallons from Chicago.

Read the entire letter

These photos were taken this July on a remote stretch of beach near Norwood, Michigan, north of Traverse City. Algae blooms are rampant along the lake this year and I couldn't explain this foam (last photo) along a large stretch of the shoreline.

Investing in sewage treatment facilities so they are able to handle large rainfalls without dumping sewage into our lakes may not be the most popular public works project, but our beaches are suffering and our lake is unhealthy.

We've treated our Great Lakes as vast dumping grounds -- for sewage and industrial waste and run-off from farms -- for far too long.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Excerpt now live at ONTOLOGICA

A short excerpt from A 1,000 MILE WALK ON THE BEACH is in the online journal

Ontologica: Journal of Art and Thought

Click on the cool artwork to download a free PDF of the journal. My piece begins on page 82.

Thanks to the great editors at Ontologica!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Oil Clean-up Continues

The booming and skimming efforts continue at several points along the Kalamazoo River. These first photos are from today (Friday, July 30) at Historic Bridge Park.

There is still a lot of oil on the surface of the water and even some small chunks of crude floating by, but it has decreased since I went there on Wednesday.

After checking out the river, I drove some supplies to Marshall. Here, at Crossroads Church, they are collecting what is needed to clean and rehab wildlife injured by the spill.

They are also collecting bottled water to distribute to residents who live near the spill.

To learn more about what they need and when, join the Facebook Group: Kalamazoo River Oil Spill.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Worst Oil Spill in the History of the Great Lakes

The EPA now estimates that 1 million gallons of crude oil have been released from the ruptured Enbridge Energy pipeline. Much of that oil has made its way into the Kalamazoo River.

I traveled further downstream from the spill today. The efforts to boom and skim the oil are underway at several points on the river.

The first two photos are on the river in Galesburg, 20 miles downstream from the spill. The sheen was light here, but still evident.

The photo to the left shows the power plant on Morrow Lake. There is a dam here and officials were hopeful that this barrier along with booms could be used to contain the oil.

In Comstock, just downstream from this dam, I saw a light sheen on the edges of the water where it had pooled in the shallows.

Below is video I shot today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oil Spill in West Michigan Heading Toward Lake Michigan

The overpowering smell of oil on the river is a much stronger warning than the signs which are posted for miles along the Kalamazoo River. I stopped at three points along the river for maybe 15 minutes total, and came away with a fierce headache.

This river flows through the center of Battle Creek (where I live), then through the towns of Galesburg, Kalamazoo, Plainwell, and Allegan. Then, finally, between the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck before joining LAKE MICHIGAN. There are many wetlands along the way and the river harbors much wildlife. I've kayaked stretches of this river and have seen deer, turtles, blue heron, trout, and muskrat.

Estimates of the amount of oil have been raised to one million gallons. Why was the oil allowed to gush for hours before the flow in the pipeline was shut off? We're still waiting for an answer from Enbridge Energy.

The last photo here is of the Ceresco Dam in Marshall. The EPA is using a Coast Guard helicopter to survey the extent of the spill. This is just a mile or two from origin of the spill. The second photo shows how the crude oil is gathering in the vegetation.

Watch the video below for a closer look at the spill.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ellsworth Shale

During my visit to Torch Lake, I met up with Gerry Sell (and her dogs Miss Sadie and the Cowboy). They walked with me during my lake trek along the shoreline just north of Elk Rapids.

This time, they walked with me along their 'home stretch' of the lake just south of Barnes Park near Eastport.

Gerry pointed out the Ellsworth Shale deposit in the area. This shale is greenish and is found south of the Antrim (grey) shale outcropping.

In the photos above, you can see the shale deposits extending out into the lake.

Check out the link to Gerry's blog in the sidebar: Torch Lake Views.