Friday, March 7, 2008
The fastest boat on the great lakes, the Earth Voyager, has a mast 97 feet tall and moves pretty dang fast. She'll be touring the Great Lakes this summer as part of the Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives Tour, which will highlight how healthy lakes equal healthy economies and drinking water for the region. The tour will include concerts, street fairs, and art exhibitions in a dozen Great Lakes cities. Make sure to contact the organizers if you're in one of the port cities and want to help get the word out on Great Lakes restoration.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
“I learned that
Yep, Lakers (the ships, not
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Um... an article about uh... legislation to close loopholes in duh... ballast water legislation is here.
I’m following up with state leaders to get their thoughts after Great Lakes Day – finding out how the lobbying went and how everyone back home can get involved. Here’s my email interview with Joel Brammeier of Alliance for the Great Lakes:
How did it go? How were legislators and staff reacting to the
I’ve never seen members of Congress so anxious to demonstrate leadership onThe
Great Lakesissues. From education to appropriations, legislators want a piece of the action and know that restoration is going to pay dividends for the Great Lakes Illinoiscoast is unique among the Great Lakes states – it’s almost all very urban and includes the Chicagodiversion, which takes some of out of the watershed. What political and environmental issues does this bring up for Illinois Illinoisactivists for Great Lakesrestoration?
Illinois residents should be aware of the tremendous benefits they already receive from being part of the Great Lakes watershed, but also what they’ve lost – clean healthy beaches, natural coastlines and native fish.
Illinoisis a Great Lakesstate through and through and will benefit from the unique restoration projects possible in an urban setting.
Why is Lake Michigan important to the
area? Why should we try to keep it healthy? Chicago
Number one, we drink it. Number two, it drives our economy. And after that, what more reason do you need? From booming coastal tourism in
Chicagoto charter boats to the anglers boaters to the family day at the beach, Lake Michigan defines metro . Chicago
What can people in
Illinoisdo to get involved with Great lakesand wetland restoration?
Let your member of Congress know it’s a priority to you. If you live in a coastal community, ask your local parks department and municipal offices to join efforts like the
Lake MichiganWatershed Ecosystem Partnership to help target public dollars toward restoration. Volunteer with the Alliancefor the Great Lakes through its Adopt-a-Beach and Coastal Allies Network program, where you restore the Great Lakes on the ground as well as in Springfield and Washington DC.
If I’m a busy Chicagoan who loves the Lakes with time only for three letters or phone calls to legislators or newspapers, where should those go and what should they be about?
Write your member of Congress and ask for more money, cleaner water and better habitat for the
Great Lakes. Write an editorial letter to a community newspaper or for your church, school or boat club. Finally, get involved with your local agency that manages land in the Lake Michiganbasin, like the Chicago Park District. Restoration starts close to home.
Alliance for the Great Lakes' Adopt-a-Beach Program Sign Up
Lake Michigan Ecosystem Partnership
Chicago Park District
Representatives Kaptur, Tubbs-Jones, Sutton and LaTourette are all on board. Some other officials from outside the basin are iffy this year – some are locked in tough reelection campaigns and they don’t have it near the top of their lists.
Hit them over the head with the Brooking's Institute findings that suggest a 4 to 1 return on investment. Funding the Great Lakes Legacy Act and State Revolving Loan Fund will help create jobs and increase property values. If they are not interested in the environment, interest them in the economics.
A woman spoke passionately at the opening meeting about the fact that her constituents (single moms, working poor, etc) lack access to clean drinking water and from her perspective that need far outweighed the environmental issues that we seemed so occupied with. On that I had some thoughts:
A lack of clean drinking water in the
The group gathered in DC last week was primarily joined to one another by environmental issues. Indeed we are greatly fortunate that we are wealthy enough to take time out of our days to care about these things. However, our desire to focus on these keystone concepts of water and the ecosystem will in the long-run result in cleaner waters for more than just ducks and fish and plants – we ought to remember that when communicating with our public officials, the media, and our friends and neighbors.
What can people in
Participate in opportunities like Great Lakes Days. Make it as inexpensive a trip as possible... by participating in these activities, you'll learn (and better appreciate) an incredible amount about the
I’m originally from southern
My favorites are
“Lakes cleanup would give $50B lift to economy” (Ann Arbor Business Review)
“Healthy Waters, Strong Economy” (PDF of Brookings Institution Report)
Maumee Bay State Park
East Harbor State Park
South Bass Island Lighthouse
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Charlie is an engineer who works with his friends (Friends of the Detroit River, Friends of Belle Isle, Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium, Friends of the Rouge...) I talked with him about what they're all doing over in the Detroit area:
So if you're in Southeast Michigan and you aren't friendly with your rivers and lakes, check out Charlie's friends and get involved!
I'm continuing to follow up with some state leaders for the campaign about how Great Lakes day went and how folks back home can build on the momentum. Here's my email interview with Dereth Glance, Executive Program Director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment:
How did it go? How were legislators and staff reacting to the Great Lakes message?LINKS:
Great Lakes Day was once again a great success. The NY delegation heard loud and clear from constituents and advocates about the urgent need to enact the comprehensive blueprint to restore and protect our Great Lakes. Key legislators and staff were familiar and passionate about halting Aquatic Invasive species hitching a ride in ballast water, reauthorizing and improving the Great Lakes Legacy act to remediate toxic mud that persists along our shorelines, and increasing funding for communities to deal with sewage fouling beaches. We recognize the competing interests for a small amount of money, but it was clear that NY delegation has a sophisticated understanding of the threats facing the Great Lakes, our upstate economy, and our recreational assets.
What are some political and environmental issues specific to New York that people there should know about if they want to get behind Great Lakes restoration?
New York is the gateway to the Great Lakes. Ocean going ships must traverse through the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario before arriving to the ports of Toledo and Duluth. New York receives little economic benefit from shipping, but experiences all of the costs associated with aquatic invasive species that arrive in our waters unchecked by predators. New York's remaining 5 toxic hotspots must be cleaned up for current and future generations--Congress must strengthen and improve the Great Lakes Legacy act before it sunsets on Sept 30th of this year. Additionally, Congress must appropiate adequate resources to improve our aging and failing sewage systems that lead to foul beaches, contribute to algal blooms and low oxygen levels that choke aquatic life. Revitalizing the upstate economy is directly tied to restoring and protecting New York's freshwater coasts. Forty percent (40%) of New York's land mass is wholly located within the Great Lakes Basin, including the Finger Lakes and residents depend upon our amazing freshwater ecosystem for hydropower, drinking water, agriculture, industry, and recreation.
What can New Yorkers do to get involved with Great lakes and wetland restoration?
New Yorkers can sign up to receive timely action alerts at Citizens Campaign for the Environment (LINK) and join the Healing Our Waters Coalition at healthylakes.org.
If I’m a New Yorker who loves the Lakes with time only for three letters or phone calls to legislators or newspapers, where should those go and what should they be about?
Write to your local paper, a brief letter to the editor (200 words or less) about how much the Lakes mean to you and how important it is for Congress to protect the lakes by improving sewage treatment plants, stopping aquatic invasive species, and cleaning up toxic mud and restoring habitats. Drop a quick line to your Congressional member and Senators about the Great Lakes and what this amazing freshwater ecosystem means to the upstate economy and identity. Tell Congress to reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act, enact a coast guard bill that stops aquatic invavise species from hitching a ride in the ballast of ships, and fund sewage treatment plants to keep our beach clean and safe!
Audubon New York
Save the River (Upper St. Lawrence River Keeper)
Photo courtesy of Finger Lakes Visitor Connection