Brief Reflections off Lake Erie

A clean Lake Erie this week was proof, to some, of why it’s been foul in recent years. Several hundred advocates from around the Great Lakes, almost all American, rendezvoused in Sandusky, Ohio for the annual Great Lakes restoration conference.  For 11 years, the conference has gathered these advocates to network but primarily to organize around funding from the federal government to restore the Great Lakes. What they found was a benign and beautiful Lake Erie, not the algae-ridden cesspool unfit for boating or swimming familiar from the last 15 years.  The summer of 2016 grew one of the smallest toxic blooms of the 21st Century. But why? It appears that a dry spring held back the usual seasonal runoff from agricultural lands.  The absence of that pulse of phosphorus denied algae the food it needed to thrive.  If non-farm sources were primarily responsible for western Lake Erie’s problems — for example, sewage plants that generally discharge at comparable levels year-round — a dry spring would have provided less benefit.  That’s the working hypothesis anyway, with obvious policy implications. This year, at summer’s end, Sandusky on the beach sure was...

A Few Recent Huron Photos

Living near one of the Great Lakes is nothing like what you’d expect. it’s far better. In months on the Huron shore, I have seen a raging or calm lake. A blue, green, gray lake.  A lake freckled in summer by small craft and as vacant as a desert in winter. The lake is as changeable as the most volatile personality.  But it is unfailingly beautiful....

Great Lakes and You

Trying to understand what’s happening with the Great Lakes depends in part on understanding what’s happening with the people who live among them. Part of that task involves tapping the heads and hearts of Great Lakes basin inhabitants. If you’re interested in helping, contact me at davedem at Hotmail.com.  Here are some of the questions I hope you will answer. First, about you. Where were you born? How old are you? What is your first memory of one of the Great Lakes? How did it make you feel? What is a recent memory of a Great Lake – an experience, that is? Do you use (recreate in or in the shores of) the Great Lakes? How often do you see one of the Great Lakes? Now, about the health of the Lakes. How important do you think it is to protect the lakes — not very, somewhat, or very? Do you think the Great Lakes are getting better, worse or staying about the same? What helps you form that opinion? What is the number one threat to the health of the Great Lakes? Do you think an individual can do anything to benefit the Great Lakes? What? Are you hopeful or pessimistic about the future of the Great Lakes? Why? Do your friends ever talk about the Great Lakes? If so, what do they say and talk about? Personal or political? Would you say that you care more about one of the Great Lakes than the Great Lakes in general? If so, which one and why? How many of the Great Lakes have you seen? Who do you think...

A Word for Wargin

After a career lingering in or near the halls of government, I subscribe to the not exactly earth-shattering view that the way to engage the public is not with policy talk, but through the heart.  And that’s where Ed Wargin comes in. Ed is a remarkable man and a world class photographer.  His Fresh Coast Project records his Great Lakes travels and the exquisitely, almost achingly beautiful images he captures cannot fail to inspire the public to action. I had the pleasure of writing an introduction to an online book containing some of these images. Now comes word that Ed has posted a film collection on his web site. I haven’t had an opportunity to view then yet,  but I suggest we all do. It will renew our hope.    ...