The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

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.