Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Isle Royale in Lake Superior

Greenstones,  Wolves, Moose, Thimbleberries, and the Isle Royale redfin lake trout

On the map, Isle Royale looks like the eye in the wolf’s head shape of Lake Superior with Duluth its snout and the Keweenaw Peninsula its mouth.  It is precious since there are few places left on this planet that have been preserved like this.  It is unique; some of the oldest rocks on this planet form Isle Royale, its plants and animals  and minerals.  There are copper mining pits on the Island where native Americans dug rich veins of copper long ago.

     When I think of Isle Royale, I think of Eden, a place away from cars and the noise of machinery. There is no traffic on Isle Royale; only hiking trails.   The sounds of Isle Royale are of bugling moose, the silvery songs of northern songbirds, the lapping of waves on rocks and the quavering voices of loons.  Sometimes there is the slap of a beaver’s tail.  The resident pack of wolves are elusive and seldom seen.  We did not hear them at all.

     My husband and I hiked the trails there and I’ll never forget the thimbleberries  higher than our heads along a trail.  We picked the large berries like none other I have ever tasted, copper color, tangy and delicious.

          We found greenstones, Michigan’s semi precious stone.  We stayed on Isle Royale for a week and every day we took a different hiking trail.  We watched a diving duck teaching her young to dive.  We saw a fox near its den, and had a close encounter with a moose.   As we hiked, my husband Norm said, “I smell a moose.”  I didn’t believe him, but as we came around the bend, there it was, bigger than life, standing athwart our trail.  We kept a respectful distance and it casually strolled off.

          We did not fish, but the rocks off of the island are the place where the Isle Royale redfin lake trout spawn as they have for millennia.  This is an endemic species and it’s good to know it is still returning to Isle Royale every year before returning to the depths of Lake Superior.

          In my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, I have a section devoted to this very special fish, the Isle Royale redfin lake trout.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Lake Levels Rising in the Great Lakes

The Detroit Free Press

Water levels are surging in the Great Lakes and likely will set records this summer, forecasters said Monday — a remarkable turnaround from earlier this decade that's bringing welcome relief to shippers and marina owners, but causing flooding and heavy erosion in some areas.
A six-month bulletin from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicted Lake Superior and Lake Erie soon will reach unprecedented high points, as a heavy winter snowpack across the region's northern section melts and mingles with water gushing into the lakes from rivers swollen with spring rainfall.
Levels have been trending upward at varying rates since 2013, when Lakes Huron and Michigan fell to their lowest points and the other Great Lakes were significantly below normal. That was the nadir of a nearly 15-year slump that stranded pleasure boats, forced cargo vessels to lighten loads, dried up wetlands and fueled conspiracy theories that water was somehow being siphoned off to the parched West.

               "It's quite the shift," said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology with the                           Corps' district office in Detroit. "Now we're at the other extreme."

Lake Superior, which holds more water than the other four combined and sends it in a continuous flow through its southern outlet, is about 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) above its long-term average level for this time of year, and nine inches (22.9 centimeters) higher than a year ago. Lake Erie is 26 inches (66 centimeters) over its long-term average.
Michigan, Huron and Ontario aren't expected to set records but are well above average, Kompoltowicz said.
Great Lakes levels are known to fluctuate over time. But experts said the prolonged drop-off of the past decade and the more recent rise likely result at least in part from a warming climate.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Living Waters

Living Waters

The north woods ring—the waters gather dripping from the tops of pines, running, running, running over ancient rocks.  The veerys trill up and down the scales, the warblers chime their notes through still bare twigs and the water runs, it runs down to Lake Superior swirling downstream, plunging over waterfalls just freed from ice curtains.  Curious deer come to drink from the pool below lifting their heads, standing motionless to sense the air.  Is it bear?  Wolf? Lynx?

Sun dapples down through bare forest trees—sun streams, the ground steams, wet leaves tilt insisting on light, thrust new spikes.  Water flows through mobile root hairs, roots, stems, vaporizes into air.

Wild geese weave the wind, skid along black marsh water among tangles of cat tail.  Further downstream waves curl onto a rock shore polishing stones to oval and the small stones roll chinking and chunking.  They assume their flat round shapes over years of grinding, finding their ease in the wave rhythms, rolling rolling, rolling.  White caps bubble foam and the jade water is a dancing goddess in the middle distance between shore and horizon.

Children arrive to pick up fossils of ancient coral and to find stones to skip on a quiet day.  They chase sea gulls and try to become airborne by leaping and spreading their arms.  Cormorants and sooty terns rise and cleave the air.  The red cheeked kids leap in the early spring breezes, their knuckles chapped.  What do they care?

The bones of whales and sailors roll in the currents—some finding their way out to sea, some becoming, becoming, becoming a diatom’s shining, becoming the bones of an emerald shiner, becoming limestone shale in the loving exchange between the living and the living.  The islands of Lake Superior bear greenstones and jewel like snakes.  Sturgeon and trout spawn leaving pearls and coral in the crevices of rocks.  A moose stands chin deep in and island lake.  The islands of Lake Superior are quiet, remote and cold,  littered with bones.

Curled underground, water drawn up through squeaky pumps splashes into enamel buckets—water clear and cold and tasting of iron.  The iron flows through the veins of the moose and in the red cheeked children.

Loons quiver their greetings and as twilight falls, bullfrogs groan their love songs—they bellow all night long.  I lay awake listening to the water lapping the night and its creatures.

                                                  by Barbara Spring

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Return of Eagles, Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons

The Return of Eagles, Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons

In 1962 Norm Spring read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.  He wondered how anyone could read the book and not do something about the harm DDT was causing to the environment. He was living right across the street from Central Park at the time and the city of Grand Haven, Michigan would spray the elm trees for Dutch Elm disease with DDT.  He was told he could move his car, but along with his wife he had two small children and the house and places where the young children played would be coated with DDT.  The problem was DDT did not kill the elm beetle. it soaked into the ground and everyone could see robins trembling in their death throes in the grass.  The spray washed down the streets and into the storm drains so DDT entered Lake Michigan where it was caught up in food chains.  The fish became highly contaminated with DDT.

 Fish eating birds such as the American Bald Eagle were affected since their eggs became thin and cracked as a result of DDT and did not hatch.  Norm went to every meeting of the Grand Haven City Council for three years and finally the Grand Haven City Council agreed to stop their DDT program.

People came from a nearby city and asked “How did you do that?” and together they formed the Michigan Pesticides Council that met at Michigan State University.  Among the members were:  Norm Spring, chairman, Joan Wolfe, ornithologists Dr. Ted Black, Dr. George Wallace, Dr. John Kitchel,  Charles Schick, Ann Van Lente, , Joseph Kleiman, Theodore Carbine.  Due to their work DDT and like pesticides were banned in Michigan in 1972 and then the ban went nation wide and Canada followed.

Today the Eagles, Ospreys and Peregrine Falcons have returned to the shores of the Great Lakes, the United States and Canada because the democratic process worked.

Norm was inducted into The Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame in 2014 for his work on behalf of the environment.

 Think Globally and Act Locally.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Why I Wrote The Dynamic Great Lakes

Mourning the Loss  

I mourn the loss of what used to be even before I was born. This was my motivation for writing The Dynamic Great Lakes. I care about the environment so much that I had to do something.
When I think of the 500 year old white pines that used to be where I live, I feel a sadness. White pines were called white gold and used for the masts of ships, and in West Michigan, these trees rebuilt Chicago after the great fire.

When I think of the sturgeon that were killed and burned like cord wood because they fouled fishermen's nets, I want to cry.

Glacial relics remain in the dunes and wetlands such as the arctic primrose. The names of flowers are lovely: grass pink, lady's tresses, ramshead ladyslipper. The fragrances of these flowers are in my imagination. Very few are really found.
Few are found because dunes and wetlands have been leveled.

When Jaques Cartier reached the Great Lakes, his men had scurvy. The Native Americans taught the French how to get vitamin C by making arbor vitae tea. The tea was made by pouring hot water over the leaves of this tree. They learned of a natural pesticide from the aroma of white spruce.

Now harmful chemicals are found in the air, water and soil and this is really something to grieve. This was my motivation for writing The Dynamic Great Lakes. I care about the environment so much that I had to do something. This book shows what some people working on grassroots committees have been able to do. It is a hopeful book. It is a beginning. Without basic knowledge about the Great Lakes it is impossible to make the right decisions about them.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Dynamic Great Lakes is for sale.

The Dynamic Great Lakes is perfect for Earth Day, Father's Day or any day. It is a green book that shows what people have been able to do through the democratic process to correct mistakes made in the past. 

 There is information needed to make good decisions about the Great Lakes.  The reading level is middle school through adult.

It's a great book for people who like to fish.  It shows what kind of fish may be caught in each of the Great Lakes: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River.

Let me know if you would like to order a copy for yourself or a friend.  Send a check for $17.00 plus your mailing address to: Barbara Spring, 1416 Lake Ave. Grand Haven, MI