Monday, December 26, 2011

The Dynamic Great Lakes is a Green Book

The Dynamic Great Lakes is available on Amazon's Kindle:

The book got so many great reviews that the publisher deemed it "Critically Acclaimed."
The book has been updated recently. It is also available in paperback on, Barnes & Noble and many other fine bookstores.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Steelhead are Running Now

Unlike some types of salmon that may die after spawning, the steelhead lives to return and spawn year after year guided by their uncanny senses. Their particular place of birth is imprinted in their bodies and nothing short of death can keep them from returning to it. Their senses, especially their senses of taste and smell and extra senses located in lateral lines, lines that run along both sides of their body from the tail to the head, guide them to their traditional place for spawning. Beneath their lateral lines are a system of pores, canals and sense organs linked to the brain. With their lateral lines, fish are able to detect unseen enemies or prey. They sense currents, obstacles with the lateral line's sixth sense, in an intermediate area between hearing and touch; it allows the fish to remember low frequency vibrations and pressure waves built up as the fish passes rocks or other fish. Experiments have shown that fish use their keen sense of smell to help them home in on their traditional spawning grounds imprinted in their memories.

Great strength, speed and endurance make trout and their close relatives the salmon, the champions of fish. Their strength propels them over dams and through swift currents.

Read more about fish and other denizens of the deep in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes available on the Kindle reader, and as a paperback on,, Schuler Books and Music and many other fine bookstores.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Dynamic Great Lakes is available on Amazon's Kindle:

The book got so many great reviews that the publisher deemed it "Critically Acclaimed."
The book has been updated recently.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Work of Ice Age Glaciers

Pictured are glacial grooves on Kelley's Island in Lake Erie.  This is the work of Ice Age glaciers.  Here is a quote from my book, the Dynamic Great Lakes:

The glaciers ground softer rocks into smaller and smaller pieces.
The underside of the glacier picked up sharp pieces of stone and
rasped them across the earth. The glacier rasped polished grooves in
hard rock along Lake Superior’s northern shore and other places
such as Kelley’s Island in Lake Erie.
Some Ice Age glaciers remain in northern Canada and Greenland.  The Dynamic Great Lakes is available at Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores and fine bookstores.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Should Not Happen

A BP (BP) refinery in Indiana will be allowed to continue to dump mercury into Lake Michigan under a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The permit exempts the BP plant at Whiting, Ind., 3 miles southeast of Chicago, from a 1995 federal regulation limiting mercury discharges into the Great Lakes to 1.3 ounces per year.

The BP plant reported releasing 3 pounds of mercury through surface water discharges each year from 2002 to 2005, according to the Toxics Release Inventory, a database on pollution emissions kept by the Environmental Protection Agency that is based on information reported by companies.

The permit was issued July 21 in connection with the plant's $3.8 billion expansion, but only late last week began to generate public controversy. It gives the company until at least 2012 to meet the federal standard.

The action was denounced by environmental groups and members of Congress.

"With one permit, this company and this state are undoing years of work to keep pollution out of our Great Lakes," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., co-sponsor of a resolution overwhelmingly approved by the House last week that condemned BP's plans.

Studies have shown that mercury, a neurotoxin, is absorbed by fish and can be harmful if eaten in significant quantities, particularly by pregnant women and children. Each of the eight Great Lakes states warns residents to avoid certain kinds of fish or limit consumption.

The permit comes as the states, working with the federal government, are trying to implement the $20 billion Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, an umbrella plan to restore the health of the lakes signed in late 2005.

Indiana officials said the amount of mercury released by BP was minor.

"The permitted levels will not affect drinking water, recreation or aquatic life," Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Thomas Easterly told the Chicago Tribune.

BP said it doubted that any municipal sewage treatment plant or industrial plant could meet the stringent federal standards.

"BP will work with (Indiana regulators) to minimize mercury in its discharge, including implementation of source controls," the company said, according to the Tribune.

Part of the concern is that the Great Lakes have only one outlet — the St. Lawrence River.

"Lake Michigan is like a giant bathtub with a really, really slow drain and a dripping faucet, so the toxics build up over time," said Emily Green, director of the Great Lakes program for the Sierra Club.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Books By Barbara Spring

           Books by Barbara  Spring You will find reviews of my three books at this link.  The books are available on, Barnes & Noble and many other places on the www.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My watercolor of Flower Pot Island in Georgian Bay, part of Lake Huron.  I enjoyed hiking the Bruce Trail in Canada and going out on a glass bottom boat to observe sunken ships.  These waters can be dangerous.  Wind and waves have sculpted the sandstone into shapes resembling flower pots.

My book, The Dynamic Great Lakes is now available on Amazon's Kindle as well as paperback.  The book is about the many interesting features of the Great Lakes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sand Sculptured by Mother Nature

Sometimes ice and wind carve sand into shapes.  These sand sculptures make me imagine a game of checkers or an army of trolls marching.  I took these photos a couple of years ago.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Great Yin Mother

Sophia's Lost and Found:
Poems of Above and Below
The Great Yin Mother

Yin rocks her cradle, an inland sea
supports us on her thighs

rolls us over her high waves.
Her unbridled strength plays.
Sweetwater mother’s waves
slap us…we tumble in her broad lap.
Risible whitecaps burst their mirth—
Yin’s laughter splashes the shore away.
I want to believe this lake
our mother will hold us forever—
that there is no such thing
as a ring of nuclear power plants
poised on the brink of melt
down to the core.
Surely yang unbalanced us.
Better by far were dragons breathing fire
than invisible death seeping through
air earth fire water.

Excerpted from Sophia's Lost and Found by Barbara Spring

Available from Barnes & Noble, and many other fine bookstores

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pacific Salmon in the Great Lakes

Lattices of salmon ribs litter the banks of a stream. On cold autumn nights, frost flowers bloom reflecting star light. The stream babbles and unintelligible song as it rushes westward. It is the salmons’ place to be born, to spawn; it is their place to disintegrate and die. Salmon are anadromous fish, fish evolved to follow an elegant rhythm of always returning to their birth stream to spawn after maturing in a saltwater or sweet water seas.

For male and female salmon alike, the imprint of place is their obsession. As smolts they burst from their transparent eggs still wearing a yolk sac on their bulging bellies. Like their ancient ancestors who breathed glacial melt water through their gills, the newborns streak down stream to the freedom of the great inland sweet water seas known as the Great Lakes. In jade green waters they feed their voracious dream until their bodies grow heavy with it—until they resemble silver purses stuffed with treasure: slick coral beads and pearly white milt.

Summer sun dazzles down through the thermoclines—the layers of warm, cool, cold water—where it enters through the fishes’ pineal eyes—triangles on top of their heads—giving them sure knowledge of their place in the larger scheme of things. They bide their time drifting in schools, fanning their tails in repose, gorging on small fish. They dream of their place where clear water chortles over quartz and granite under shifting shadows of white pine and tamarack. It is their place and as their urgent need to return gathers force under a moon that grows heavy on the horizon, a moon the color of salmon eggs, a moon that must change to bone white, the salmon mill about in the harbor.

The fishes’ bellies grow heavy as the harvest moon. The dream becomes reality as celestial cues, the sun, the moon, the stars enter each cellule and each dancing atom of their bodies. Then they begin. The fish return to their stream and nothing will stop them: they ignore hunger, snares, treble hooks. On their silvery sides their lateral lines carry everything they need to know; their maps and compasses imbedded in the circuitry of their bodies…the hereditary wisdom of their species carried in a network of circuits from pineal to tail. It is a sure knowledge of the west Michigan river system linked to the Great Lakes, or in other places, other river systems and other fresh or salt water oceans. It is also the wisdom of the constellations and the way their light glaces from silvery skinned fish, sparkling a wisdom older than mankind. To a salmon obsessed with its sense of place, failure means nothing. They defy high dams, leaping, leaping, leaping again and again until they hurl themselves over the top.

Home at last, the female hollows out a nest on the stream bed with her tail then cascades hundreds of coral bead like eggs into it. The male waits driving away his rivals with fierce charges. It is time. The male salmon releases a small galaxy of milt that will begin the life/death cycle again. Male and female have spent their silver purses in the stream. They are finished. In the next few days their flesh will fall away while they linger, easy prey for the raccoons, bears, ospreys and eagles. With their bones picked clean and their young curled in sleep on the stream bed, the transformation begins again. An osprey shadow glides over the shining stream. The sun rises as the moon glows faintly in the West.

Previously published in The Grand Valley Review, a publication of Grand Valley State University.
copyright by Barbara Spring

*Pacific salmon were planted in the Great Lakes as predator fish to control an invasive species, the alewife. Fishermen have been delighted with these sporty fish. Read more about this phenomenon in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes available on Amazon's Kindle reader and widely available in paperback.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Climate Change affects the Great Lakes as reported by the AP

Al Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign to awaken people to the climate change threat, said warmer temperatures could nullify much of the progress made in recent decades to heal the battered Great Lakes. Increasingly, severe storms made worse by greater volumes of water vapor in the atmosphere are causing wastewater treatment system overflows that dump raw sewage into the lakes, he said. That forces beach closures and promotes growth of algae blooms that create oxygen-deprived zones where fish can’t survive.

“We’re still acting as if it’s perfectly OK to use this thin-shelled atmosphere as an open sewer. It’s not
 Gore said. “We need to listen to the scientists. We need to use the tried and true method of using the best evidence, debating and discussing it, but not pretending that facts are not facts.”
Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign to awaken people to the climate change threat, said warmer temperatures could nullify much of the progress made in recent decades to heal the battered Great Lakes.
Increasingly, severe storms made worse by greater volumes of water vapor in the atmosphere are causing wastewater treatment system overflows that dump raw sewage into the lakes, he said. That forces beach closures and promotes growth of algae blooms that create oxygen-deprived zones where fish can’t survive.
After largely disappearing as phosphorus discharges into the lakes were reduced decades ago, the algae problem has returned and is worse than ever in some places, primarily on Lake Erie. Smelly clumps of algae are fouling beaches on Lakes Michigan and Huron.
Gore’s critics have accused him of making exaggerated claims about climate change and cashing in on his activism through investments in green technology. But leaders of the International Joint Commission said his comments about the Great Lakes were based on findings of scientists in the region.
“He’s quoting what the researchers are saying,” said Ted Yuzyk, the Canadian co-chairman of an IJC group that plans to release a report next spring on how climate change is affecting the lakes. Researchers have found that heavy storms promote algae growth not only through sewage overflows, but also by washing greater amounts of nutrient-rich soils into the lakes, Yuzyk said.
Lana Pollack, who was appointed by President Barack Obama as the U.S. chairwoman of the commission, said: “There’s absolutely no doubt the challenges we face are greater and more confounding because of climate change.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Salmon Poem

Light from a star that died

shines out
from jade green eyes.
A salmon tail fans streambed stones
and dark silt swirls.
Millennia ago a star spurt fire and
now a constellation of eggs
and white milt spiral down
in black water.
Fishbone lattices litter the stream
that speaks of glaciers
and purls.
Frost flowers bloom on the cut bank
while embryos curl in sweet cold sleep below.

from The Wilderness Within by Barbara Spring

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lake Erie is in Trouble Again

Lake Erie
Lake Erie is in Trouble Again
Editorial from the Detroit Free Press 10/18/2011

With Erie's health in jeopardy, years after herculean efforts to clean it up, there's a dire need to take action before it worsens -- and spreads.
In August, for example, the view from space showed algae spanning almost the entire western basin of Lake Erie. Well into this month, stringy swirls and vast nearshore swaths remained.
The algae can choke out other life. It creates even more problems -- and stink -- as it dies off. And the mass of algae in Lake Erie is increasingly dominated by more toxic varieties that already have been known to poison pets.
Research to date suggests the problem arises from a combination of agricultural practices and the weather.
But no one can do much about the weather, in this case the increase in major downpours that flush fertilizing phosphorus off fields rather than helping it soak in. Last spring was particularly rainy, almost certainly a factor in this summer's algae growth.
Another factor, tentatively identified by University of Michigan research Donald Scavia, is a trend toward fall fertilization on farms, rather than waiting to do it entirely in the spring each year.
Among the confounding factors: Back when Lake Erie was in trouble before, researchers knew that keeping soil on the fields would also help keep fertilizer on the fields. Farmers made dramatic improvements in reducing the sediments that got swept away -- only to find now that the phosphorus somehow escapes on its own to nourish the algae.
Continued agricultural research can presumably solve the riddle of timing and placement of fertilizer, but it must be done quickly and it must be well-funded.
Meanwhile, climate trends are hardly in Lake Erie's favor.
The frequency of heavy rains began increasing in the 1990s, Scavia said, and is expected to double by the end of the century. A longer growing season -- one of the potential pluses of climate change, in some people's view -- also gives algae more time to grow each year. At least one new type of algae has been found, and the mix of algae types runs heavily toward those that have toxic qualities.
The lake's dead zones also are growing. They occur when decaying material, such as from algae, takes up so much oxygen that none remains in the water for fish and other biological entities that need it.
And Toledo, whose water intake is perilously close to where major algae blooms can form, now spends an additional $3,000 to $4,000 a day on filtration to keep its drinking water safe, according to a University of Toledo researcher.
Scavia's research suggests that the arrival of zebra and quagga mussels in Lake Erie has not been a determining factor, although it's hard to believe they don't contribute at least a bit to the problem. As for fertilizer types, agricultural studies to date suggest the problems are just as severe in tributary basins where farmers don't use liquid manure as in those where they do. And since farmers would rather grow crops on their fields than algae in Lake Erie, they are very likely to follow whatever guidance they can get on fertilizing -- but someone has to figure it out first.
And the explosion of algae, in all its complexity, is only one of the problems facing the lakes.
Issues old and newSeveral groups joined together last week in Detroit for Great Lakes Week, making all of the serious issues highly visible. This unprecedented event offered the best opportunity yet for everyone involved with the lakes to mingle, to work toward maximum coordination of research, restoration and activism, and to speak with one voice in Washington and Ottawa, and in state and provincial capitals.
The problems are both new and old -- algae in Lake Erie being the best example of an old horror story spinning off an even more frightening sequel.
The other threats are equally large, and often as complex:
Invasive species: A newer problem, the ongoing threat of invasive species continues to top most people's lists. There's no doubt they have upset, and perhaps decimated, the balance of food for fish in the lakes, in addition to other problems they cause.
Overflows and runoff: After strong progress on upgrades to sewage treatment plants decades ago, storm-induced overflows increasingly put more waste into the water again. Combined with the effects of surface runoff, that impact shows most obviously on beaches that must be closed to swimmers after major rainstorms.
Contaminants: The lakes face other, less visible threats, too. The ban on dioxins and PCBs led to a decline of their presence in the lakes, but they still show up in fish tissue. And so do many of the chemicals that replaced them. Pharmaceuticals and compounds used in personal care and cleaning products are detectable in the water, too. Dangerous substances such as mercury continue to drop into the big lakes and inland waterways, washed in by rain after they've risen from the smokestacks of sources such as coal-fired power plants.
Glimmers of hopeThe most encouraging news involves parts of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other projects that have begun to take hold.
The Great Lakes Legacy Act, the result of a long campaign by former U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, has gathered enough steam that some of the region's biggest toxic hotspots are being dredged out and restored. Within a year, three of these spots will be ready for delisting from their Areas of Concern designation. Over the next two-year cycle, assuming consistent funding, five areas are to be cleaned and delisted.
Restoration activities appear to have exploded this summer. Wetlands have been restored, land-based invasive species have been cleared out, partners have worked together along shorelines and riverbanks all across the basin to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in areas that feed the lakes. Several of these projects got targeted to accompany work at Areas of Concern, so the newly cleaned spots will also be newly welcoming to wildlife -- and people.
And, as beautiful as the lakes are, people remain the bottom line. Beauty has little value if the water doesn't meet the three priorities for human use: drinkable, swimmable, fishable. Lake Erie is coming perilously close to being none of those things. As a harbinger, it is a call to action.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wooded Dunes of West Michigan

I painted this while at Hoffmaster State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan.  Pictured are the trees on wooded sand dunes.  Right now the colors are in their glory.  It's wonderful to get out and see them. 
To learn more about the Great Lakes and their wooded dunes, read The Dynamic Great Lakes.  Available from Barnes & Noble, Schulerbooks, Amazon's Kindle and many other fine bookstores.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Birds in the Wooded Dunes on Lake Michigan

In the wooded dunes along Lake Michigan some birds are preparing for winter.  The tufted titmouse hammers seeds into the bark of trees for times when they will be hard to find.  Woodpeckers fatten on insects found in the bark of trees.

I painted this watercolor of a woods near my home.  We see pileated woodpeckers that remind me of the cartoon Woody Woodpecker.  When I was a kid, I loved that cartoon.  A dead tree recently fell and it was filled with large holes made by the pileated woodpeckers.  When they are at work on a tree their loud hammering resounds through the woods. Their calls sound like tropical birds. But I did not paint that sort of woodpecker.  Pictured is the downy woodpecker that we often see and the tufted titmouse that often hangs out with chickadees. These birds will stay with us for the winter.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Kite Boarding on Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is up to its old tricks again: the waves are very high and kite boarders are loving it.  It is dangerous, but that must be part of the appeal.  I took this video a year ago.  The lake is even wilder today. Click the link to see kite boarding.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Circle of Life: Salmon

Light from a star that died
shines out
from jade green eyes.
A salmon tail fans streambed stones
and dark silt swirls.
Millennia ago a star spurt fire and
now a constellation of eggs
and white milt spiral down
in black water.
Fishbone lattices litter the stream
that speaks of glaciers
and purls.
Frost flowers bloom on the cut bank
while embryos curl in sweet cold sleep below.

___Barbara Spring

An excerpt from my book of poetry and essays: The Wilderness Within.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Dynamic Great Lakes on Kindle  The Dynamic Great Lakes is $9.95 when ordered for Amazon's Kindle.  The link goes to my Amazon page.

There is a bumper crop of salmon and trout this year since their food base, alewives, is abundant. The Great Lakes are dynamic. Everything changes all the time. In my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes I show how this happens.

 I have a free app on my computer for Kindle. How cool is that?

The Dynamic Great Lakes is also in paperback at many fine stores such as the Bookman in Grand Haven, MI.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

EPA Research Vessel Lake Guardian

Research conducted on the Great Lakes is very important.  With the knowledge gained, lets hope that our government has the will to do what is necessary for the sake of our freshwater seas.

The Lake Guardian is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) largest Great Lakes' research and monitoring vessel. It is the only self-contained, non-polluting research vessel on the Great Lakes. The Lake Guardian, operated by the EPAs Chicago-based Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO, conducts monitoring programs that sample the water, aquatic life, sediments, and air in order to assess the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem by using state-of-the-art data collection techniques and instruments during the biannual spring and summer surveys. It is also used to support research activities conducted by Federal, State, and, local agencies, and universities. R/V Lake Guardian has been operating on the waters of the Great Lakes for the past 12 years. The ship is offshore, collecting data, for approximately 7 months a year

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tern Rides the Wind

A tern rides the wind over Lake Michigan.  People fly kites on the beach, sail, surf and kiteboard taking their cues from the birds.  Regattas, sunset sails and all such pleasures are found on the Great Lakes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Price now $9.95 + s&h for all of my books

Sophia’s Lost and Found:Poems of Above and Below

My other books are The Dynamic Great Lakes non fiction

The Wilderness Within poems and essays from wild places in the world.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

National Parks and Lakeshore areas on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan

This is a wonderful time of year to visit national parks on the Great Lakes.  Pictured are Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Each place is unique.  On Isle Royale there are wolves, moose and hiking trails that go through thimbleberry bushes.  At the Pictured Rocks there are boats that can take you past the beautiful rock formations.

Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan is a wonder with its high dune and trails.  And the Indiana dunes are not quite as high, but both of these areas have been built by waves and the prevailing west winds.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In Grand Haven MI There will be a Salmon Festival

Friday, September 16th is the Fresh Catch Fish Boil from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. Enjoy a traditional Salmon Fish Boil, live music, and more. $10 for Adults & $5 children. It's a great family event put on by the Grand Haven Sons of American Legion!
Grand Haven Salmon Festival September 16-18, 2011 21+ID Required for Wine/Beer Tasting Events

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fishing for Trout and Salmon in the Great Lakes

The fishing boats are out today.  Read about how the Great Lakes became a mecca for trout and salmon fishing in The Dynamic Great Lakes, a critically acclaimed non-fiction book.

The book is widely available in bookstores and on the net.  Barnes & Noble offers a good price.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fennville Winery and the Trace

The Trace played at the Fennville Winery in Michigan to an appreciative crowd.  It was one of their cookouts with three kinds of wine included and excellent food.

Because of the moderating effect of the Great Lakes, vineyards such as the one at Fennville grow beautiful grapes.

Sitting next to the vineyard, listening to wonderful music and drinking wine with excellent food is the essence of summer time fun.

In the photo are Steve Damstra, Robin Spring and Mark Lamm of the Trace.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A tern takes flight over the Great Lakes above a welter of waves. 

The Dynamic Great Lakes is a book about the nature of life in, above and around the five Great Lakes.  It is available in Michigan from Schuler books in Lansing and Grand Rapids, The Bookman in Grand Haven, Barnes & Noble and plus many other fine bookstores.

The Great Lakes inspire many artists and writers alike.  I am both.  I painted this watercolor and many other works both visual and written.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fun in the Summer Time Great Lakes

Catching a wave on Lake Michigan.  The Great Lakes are freshwater seas where people frolic on the beach, kiteboard, paddleboard, surf, sailboard and fly kites on the beaches.

Fishing is good also for steelhead, lake run brown trout, coho and chinnok salmon.

Read more about the Great Lakes in The Dynamic Great Lakes available at Barnes & Noble,, Schulerbooks and many other fine bookstores.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Satellite picture of the Great Lakes

From a satellite the Great Lakes waters are easily seen from space.

These freshwater seas support an amazing array of life from the prehistoric looking sturgeon to recently planted fish such as Pacific salmon: chinook and coho.

Read more in The Dynamic Great Lakes available at Barnes and Noble as well as and many other online stores such as Schulerbooksand music.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sports on the Great Lakes

Fishing from the pier in Grand Haven that marks the Grand River that flows into Lake Michigan is popular as is fishing from boats.  Charters take sports fishers out and often come back with a catch of coho and king salmon, Pacific salmon that were planted in the Great Lakes. Yesterday the governor caught a nice steelhead, a lake run rainbow trout, on a charter.  Sometimes football sized brown trout are caught.  The fish are biting now that cooler water has moved in.

Sailing, surf boarding, kite boarding, and paddle boarding are all popular sports on the Great Lakes.  Some like to fly kites or play volley ball on the beach and some just like to gaze.  Sunsets are spectacular.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Boating & Fishing on Lake Michigan

All  sorts of water sports make Grand Haven on Lake Michigan a lively place in the summer.  People love to stroll on the pier where the Grand River flows into Lake Michigan.  Fishing from the pier or from boats is popular as is sailing.

Read more about the Great Lakes and what lies under the water in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.
I will be at the Norton Shores, Michigan Barnes & Noble store on July 23 at 11 a.m. to chat about our wonderful Great Lakes and sign books.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lake Superior's Agawa Paintings

Rock paintings found on Lake Superior's shore. I found this youtube video fascinating.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beach Combing

Beach combing

1 goose, 5 crows, 2 gulls

2 dead perch, 1 dead carp, 1 dead salmon         

1 brown dog with yellow eyes.

1 blue heron with long toes

Walked miles in the sand.

I found a Waboba bobbing in the lake.

I found two long sticks to prop up

My big moonflowers.

Waves say hush, hush, hush.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Storms: Summer's Horses

Summer's Horses

Rain and hail shake my window pane

Summer’s horses in a dead heat

Slam dunk torrents of rain.

Black horses thunder again and again

From dark storms spawned in the west

Rain and hail shake my window pane.

Whinnies, heavy hooves  beat--

And insane sums of rain

Summer’s horses in a dead heat.

Who could save us from the rain

And the cruel blasting hail?

Rain and hail shake my window pane.

If the weather man’s warning fail

Summer’s horses in a dead heat

Will destroy us with wind and hail.

Global warming envelopes the earth

Strange changes devastate life

Rain and hail shake my window pane

Summer’s horses in a dead heat.

--Barbara Spring

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer is in full swing on the Great Lakes.  People are enjoying the sunshine, sandy beaches and fresh air.  To learn more about the freshwater seas, their fishes, their features and their ecology, The Dynamic Great Lakes is informative, yet easy to read.  Order from Barnes & Noble, or find it in your favorite bookstore.

watercolor by Barbara Spring

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Fourth of July at the Lake

The Fourth of July

A songbird ripples still air
In still water salmon and trout lie deep
A skateboard boy rolls
down the steep road.
Mourning doves flutter
To the nest they built
under my window.
I guess I’ll get up.
It’s the fourth of July.

                           --Barbara Spring

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Great Lakes Imprint In Us

Leave the Great Lakes?
We feel their pulse in our blood,
in our sinews, our bones.
vibrations in our bellies.
Their islands arise in waking dreams.
And even in sleep we know
moon, stars and planets float in their waters
until dawn.
The Great Lakes gulp the sun at noon
while diatom symphonies
dazzle green currents
and curious protozoa graze.
In silent depths below
lie burbot, sturgeon, lake trout.
White sailboats belly out in the breeze.
On the beach rare piping plovers
hide their nests among stones.
We walk through singing sands,
scoop pails of water,
build spirit castles of wet sand.
Then we brush sand from our feet
and our hands.
The lakes’ imprint is in us.

From The Wilderness Within

the watercolor is a piping plover

Poem and watercolor by Barbara Spring

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, between the communities of Munising (west) and Grand Marais (east). 
Pictured are Grand Sable Dunes.  The Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior are interesting, but these dunes are pretty spectacular too.  There are also many waterfalls in the area. It's a great place to hike and enjoy the beauties of nature: sand, wildlife and freshwater.  For more information about the Great Lakes, read The Dynamic Great Lakes, a critically acclaimed non fiction book about the Great Lakes systemavailable at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and many other fine bookstores.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Duluth, Minnesota to Kingston, Ontario

Pictured is Duluth, Minnesota

On the Great Lakes, linked by connecting rivers and man made locks, a ship may navigate for 2,342 miles from Duluth, Minnesota
at the western tip of Lake Superior to Kingston, Ontario at the entrance of the St. Lawrence River and then down the Saint Lawrence River to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the North Atlantic
Ocean making shipping to and from the Great Lakes worldwide.

Excerpt from the Dynamic Great Lakes

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oversight for Nuclear Power Plants

Since there are numerous aging nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes Basin, 33 plus four that are not running, we should be aware of the loose regulations.  Here is a link to an important AP article:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Great Lakes Are Gifts of the Glaciers

Imagine this if you can.  Glaciers one to nearly two and a half miles high bulldozed their way through our continent four times.  Slowly, ever so slowly they ground across the landscape scooping out old riverbeds and then slowly melted back north over thousands of years leaving freshwater of the Great Lakes in their wake.  Since we do not expect another Ice Age any time soon, we need to care for the glacial water left to us in the Great Lakes and in the groundwater.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Invasive species: purple loosestrife

Wetlands are very important.  The native species of plants help prevent floods and filter out pollutants. They also are nurserys for birds and fish.  Pictured is a wetland with an invasive species: purple loosestrife.  This plant does not belong in Great Lakes wetlands because it takes over and native species are crowded out.  Read more about invasive species in the Great Lakes in my book: The Dynamic Great Lakes.  The book is widely available at, and many other fine bookstores.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review of the Dynamic Great Lakes by Barbara Spring

Reviewer:  Norman Goldman Editor Bookpleasures     

  Many of us know very little about the five Great Lakes other than perhaps being able to name them. As Barbara Spring states in her introduction to her outstanding primer The Dynamic Great Lakes they are "a flowing river of seas left behind by Ice Age glaciers and are nearly twenty percent of the world's supply of fresh surface water; the world's greatest freshwater system." The ecosystem of this great body of water is very complex and unfortunately due to pollution and the fallout of modern industry and agriculture they have gone through a gradual transformation.

One of the unique characteristics of this compact book is that it is written in a language devoid of esoteric explanations. The eight chapters of the book reflect the author's teaching and journalistic aptitudes in knowing how to unravel the mystery of the Great Lakes and the many painful dangers it has faced and continues to face.

Each of the five Lakes is introduced with a brief synopsis of important elements distinguishing one from the other such as: elevation, length, breadth, average depth, maximum depth, volume, water area, retention time, population and outlet. From this point of departure the author deals with the various changes that have taken place as well as the various major issues affecting the Lakes. There are also brief descriptions of the various animal life found in each of the Lakes and how they have been affected by pollution and the appearance of harmful species, such as the Lamprey Eel.

However, we are also reminded throughout the reading of the book that "people power" can have an effect and if we band together and make our voices heard we could exert influence in reversing some of the harmful trends that have caused ecological disaster. For example we are apprised of the situation that occurred in relation to Lake Erie. In 1969 a tributary river of Lake Erie, the Cayahoga, caught on fire due to being heavily coated with oil and debris. As a result, the Federal Water Quality Administration launched a one and half billion dollar municipal sewage treatment program for the Erie Basin which included the five surrounding states: Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.

The conclusion of the book most appropriately reminds us that: "we are all challenged to use our knowledge, creativity and common sense to keep the Great Lakes great. Can you think of ways to think globally and act locally?" We are also warned " life on earth is only possible as long as our limited life support system works.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sturgeon to Imprint on the Kalamazoo River

The Grand Rapids Press
Howard Myerson

NEW RICHMOND -- Dawn Petrowski was careful to use a long feather to gently stir the brew, the salt bath being given to a tankful of tiny Great Lakes sturgeon.

The salt would kill any fungus in the Kalamazoo River water. The feather was to assure the 9-day-old and fragile fish would not be injured. After bath time, it was feeding time. Brine shrimp was on the menu.

"When they (the sturgeon) get bigger, we’ll switch to blood worms, a bigger food. But now they are being fed brine shrimp," said Petrowski, a fisheries staffer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources who had the morning shift at the state’s newest mobile sturgeon rearing facility located along the banks of the Kalamazoo River.

The tiny sturgeon, 140 in all, swam in plastic tanks enclosed in the small trailer parked at New Richmond Bridge Park. The inch-long fish were treated carefully, being the future hope for a dying river fishery where sturgeon were once abundant.

Archaeological evidence suggests sturgeon were a large part of the local tribal fish diet 500 years ago. Today, there are 60 mature sturgeon left in the river, according to state researchers who have been studying the population for past eight years.

The demise of sturgeon on this river follows a course seen elsewhere in the Great Lakes; a saga of overfishing, poaching and spawning habitat loss because of the damming of rivers.

2sturgeon-05.jpgDNR staffer Dawn Petrowski gives the sturgeon larvae a salt bath to kill off fungus.
"What we are most interested in doing here is identifying the Kalamazoo River sturgeon as (genetically) different from those on the Manistee River or from Wisconsin," said Kregg Smith, a DNR fish biologist and sturgeon researcher who recently finished up the work of collecting Kalamazoo River sturgeon larvae for the rearing station.

"When we release these fish in September or October, hopefully, they will be 8-to-10 inches long. We’ll tag them with radio transmitters to monitor their over-winter survival. They will live in the river through January and then move out into Lake Michigan," he said.

That may be the last Kregg and other researchers see of them for years.

Female sturgeon can live to be 80 years old. Males can live to be 65. Males live in Lake Michigan until they are 12 years old. Then they return to their home river to spawn annually or every other year.

Females, however, are slower to mature They may be 18 or 20 before they spawn and then only reproduce every four to seven years.

"We have one female that is about 200 pounds," Smith said. "We see her every four years. We’ve captured her twice in eight years."

Between 50 and 100 young sturgeon are expected to be released this fall. Smith hopes to double that in future years. The Kalamazoo River sturgeon population declines about 2 percent a year, 30 percent every 15 years.

"We want to stock between 100 and 200 a year to stem the rate of loss," Smith said.

3sturgeon-05.jpgThis is the first stream-side hatchery for sturgeon on the Kalamazoo River at New Richmond Bridge Park.
It is a worthy goal that may be difficult to attain.

Larvae netting this spring collected almost 700 quarter-inch sturgeon, according to Smith. But many died because of the stress of netting, handling and an initial problem with facility water temperatures. More are likely to die when their diet is changed to the larger blood-worm, Smith said. But so far things appear to be on track.

"Releasing 100 would be a good year for the first year of one of these trailers," Smith said. "The others have been (releasing) less than 50."

The New Richmond facility is the newest of six mobile sturgeon-rearing facilities parked around Lake Michigan. Two are located on the Milwaukee and Manitowoc rivers in Wisconsin. Two others are on the Cedar and Whitefish rivers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the other is on the Manistee River.

Kalamazoo River water is used exclusively in its tanks, so the young fish imprint on the river. It is filtered and disinfected to remove parasites or other diseases that could affect their health.

Smith said using river water is essential at this early stage to assure the fish imprint on the river and come back to spawn. Studies elsewhere have shown that adult sturgeon later introduced to rivers may not return. They may just wander up another river to spawn.

The Kalamazoo project is a cooperative partnership between the Michigan DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gun Lake Tribe, Allegan County and volunteers with Kalamazoo River Sturgeon for Tomorrow, among others.

The station cost $220,000 to build and was built by staff from the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. Funding came from federal funds allocated to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Al Weener, president of the Kalamazoo River Sturgeon for Tomorrow, said his group has been hoping to see it get built. It has the capacity to handle 2,000 young sturgeon. Volunteers with Weener’s organization help by patrolling the river looking for sturgeon poachers during the spawning season.

"We had the feeling that if something wasn’t done in the next few years, this genetic strain would be gone," Weener said. "It’s been a lot of fun to be involved and this is pretty exciting."

Smith said project the was eight years in the making, time spent assessing the river’s population to make sure there was a viable reproducing sturgeon population. Poaching continues to be a problem, he said. Signs are being posted along the river to warn and advise anglers of the fines involved.

Sam Stafslien, the FWS fish biologist who helped to build the station and who works onsite, said most who have stopped by to see the operation approve of what is being done.

"There is a lot of support for this project," Stafslien said. "People come a long way to see it. We’ve had maybe two people complain, out of 100, They want their money to go to things like walleye and perch."

E-mail Howard Meyerson: and follow him on Twitter at