Monday, December 17, 2012

Shore Ice on Lake Michigan

West Michigan with its prevailing winds used to have spectacular ice formations like this one every winter.  I took this photo a few years ago and I always watched ice building up, usually beginning Thanksgiving.  But I have not seen this in recent years.  The weather has been too warm

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Amazon Page and my books

My Amazon page has information about the books above.  Just follow the link and you will see a short video of me.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

White Cedar Lives a Long Time

White cedar on the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin.  This tree is not large but it is old.  It can withstand strong wind and waves, cold winters and hot summers as it clings to layers of limestone on the shore of Lake Michigan. White cedar  (arbor vitae) can live for over 800 years.  It's a hardy tree indeed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Great Lakes Water Levels are Down

The Great Lakes water levels are down.  With so much water it does not seem possible that people in the Great Lakes basin need to conserve water, and yet it is becoming necessary.

 According to Alan Steinman, PhD and director of Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon, dredging in the St. Clair River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has lowered water levels by a couple of inches. Dredging opened the drain to cause the lake water to run out to the Atlantic at a faster pace.  Other causes of lower water is evaporation—a hot summer—little rain and snow and little or no ice cover in the winter.  Global warming is causing great changes in the Great Lakes.  Lower water levels dry up wetlands around the lakes.  These areas are nurseries for fish and birds and serve to filter out pollutants.  Boaters may find themselves high and dry. 

So for those living in the Great Lakes watersheds, don’t waste water.  Think of ways to conserve.

Read more about the Great Lakes in The Dynamic Great Lakes.  The book will provide you with basic facts about Great Lakes and how they function.  The book is available on Amazon’s Kindle and in paperback.  Also available from Barnes and Noble and many other places where books are sold.

Friday, November 16, 2012

satellite picture of the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are a flowing river of freshwater seas.  Not Great Lakes but part of the system are Lake Nipigon the farthest north, and heart shaped Lake St. Clair.  Read more about these Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.
Available from, Amazon's Kindle e reader, Barnes & Noble and many other fine bookstores.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Door Peninsula Wisconsin

Lake Michigan on the Wisconsin side of the lake shows layers of limestone and a beach that does not show when water levels are high. I took this photo on the Door Peninsula. Here you may find fossils embedded in the sedimentary rocks. It's a great place to explore.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Great Lakes Water Levels: 1985 and 2012

The Great Lakes water levels rise and fall. The photo is from 1985 when cottages were undermined by high water and waves on Lake Michigan. This year the lakes are the lowest they have been for 130 years and there is a lot of sand on the beach. Yet, it's never a good idea to build too close the water since the lakes are dynamic. They are always changing. Global warming may continue to cause lower water levels, but no one really knows. Read more about the Great Lakes and their changes in The Dynamic Great Lakes

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kite Boards on a Windy Day

On this last day of September the kite boarders are are making the most of the beautiful windy day on Lake Michigan. I took this photo in Grand Haven above the city beach. I don't know who won the contest, but I enjoyed the beauty of the event.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sturgeon in the Great Lakes

Excerpt from The Dynamic Great Lakes "The largest and most primitive fish in the Great Lakes is the Sturgeon. Cruising along on bottoms of the lakes, they remind us of dinosaurs that roamed planet Earth in earlier epochs. Their huge bodies are supported by cartilage as well as bone. They can weigh up to 300 pounds, and like some dinosaurs, they have rows of plates along their heads and bodies to protect them. When all of the lakes and their tributary rivers were cleaner than they are now, and when there were no dams to block their way, these great fish would spawn by running up rivers. In Lake Superior, they still run up the Sturgeon River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to spawn and may be seen surfacing like submarines, sticking their snouts above the water in pools below waterfalls. The Sturgeon has been living in the Great Lakes ever since the last glaciers retreated and fish entered the lakes through crystal clear tributary streams. Sturgeon’s eggs (roe) are a delicacy known as caviar when processed for human food. In 1974 the Sturgeon was included on a list of threatened species. These ancient fish cruise the lake bottom feeding upon crayfish, insect larvae, clams and bottom plants. This is their ecological niche where they use their long shovel shaped snout with a sucker-like mouth underneath to feed. Two whisker-like barbels near their mouths help them to feel their way along the bottom. The Sturgeon is slow to mature; it may not spawn until it is 14 to 22 years old."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kiteboards on Lake Michigan Sept. 22

It's a windy autumn afternoon and the kiteboards on Lake Michigan are making the most of it. Read about the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, a critically acclaimed non-fiction book about all five Great Lakes and their connecting waters.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rainbow Over Lake Michigan

I snapped this photo this a.m. There was rain and then the sun popped out and this glorious rainbow appeared over Lake Michigan. Unforgettable.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On the Door Peninsula

Ancient saltwater seas once covered what are now sweetwater lakes. The saltwater seas deposited limestone in layers. In the photo you can see how the limestone was formed over time in layer after layer. I took this photo on the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin. It juts out into Lake Michigan in such a way that sailors called it Death's Door due to hazardous conditions. Now it is simply called the Door Peninsula.

Read more about the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes
with information about how these lakes were formed and what lies around and under the water.

The book is widely available on the www and in bookstores.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marram Grass

Roots of marram grass weave fine
webs under the sands as
a network expands
thousands of feet.
Stalks bow down to west winds
and multiply season after season
until the tasseled dune
waves with green grace.
Each year the dunes grow higher
in tasseled grasses
in marram grasses’
loving embrace.

--Barbara Spring
Excerpted from Sophia's Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Webcast between U.S. and Canada

Watch the signing on this webscast between the U.S. and Canada for the health of the Great Lakes.

Alliance for the Great Lakes

Congratulations to the U.S. and Canada on agreeing to a plan to protect and restore the Great Lakes across national boundaries – now bi-national funding and prevention need to keep pace in coming years. Watch live online as Canada’s Minister of the Environment Peter Kent (Environment Canada) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson sign the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 2012. The new Agreement’s coverage of climate change impacts, habitats and native species, and invasive species are welcome additions that follow prior recommendations of the Alliance and other non-governmental organizations to help confront new threats facing the Great Lakes. We look forward to both governments working together to restore the Great Lakes in fulfillment of the promises set in this renewed agreement.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

International Joint Commission teleconference

From the Holland Sentinal

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is inviting public comment via a public hearing by teleconference on the final report of its International Upper Great Lakes Study Board, Lake Superior Regulation: Addressing Uncertainty in Upper Great Lakes Water Levels.

The teleconference will be held at 7 p.m. Sept.19 and provides an opportunity for people to comment who were not able to attend one of the 13 public hearings that the IJC held in July. The deadline for written comments has also been extended to Sept. 30.

Participants may join the teleconference on either of the following lines and are encouraged to dial in 10 minutes before the 7 p.m. start time. The number for the teleconference is 877-413-4814, PIN 7297456.

Written comments may also be submitted via the Upper Great Lakes Public Hearings website.

For more information, visit

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fall Turnover of Water in the Great Lakes

Here is an excerpt from my book The Dynamic Great Lakes

available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble and many other stores.

Fall Turnover of Water

On a cold November night with no clouds, the reflections of the
moon and stars sparkle on the calm surfaces of the lakes, and the
silhouette of a vee shaped string of geese migrating southward
crosses the salmon colored moon. Cold north winds have cooled the
Great Lakes waters.
As the air cools, the water becomes cooler and cooler. When
water reaches 39.2/ F, it reaches its greatest density. Waves rolling
in on the beach look heavier, almost like boiling sugar water as it just begins to thicken. The fall turnover of water is about to occur,
an important event in the natural cycle of the Great Lakes. When
surface lake water reaches 39.2/ F, its maximum density, the water
sinks since the surface water is heavier than the water below.
The sinking top layer of water causes the lake water to turn over.
The fall turnover of water in the Great Lakes is important because
oxygen poor water in the deeper areas of the lakes mixes with
surface water containing more dissolved oxygen (DO). This keeps
the bottom from becoming depleted of oxygen.
Bottom dwelling fish and plankton need dissolved oxygen in
water just as we need oxygen in air. When the layers of water turn
over, there are no longer three layers of water since mixed water
results in uniform temperatures.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Environmental Victory: Return of the Eagles to the Great Lakes

photo by Steve Damstra

Years ago there were practically no eagles around the Great Lakes due to DDT. Their eggs would not hatch. After reading Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, Norm and I worked to ban DDT in our community and then the state. Above, see the ...results! It took a long time for DDT to purge out of the Great Lakes system, but now we rejoice every time we see an eagle fly. This environmental success story was the inspiration for me to write The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Piping Plover

My water color of a rare bird. Piping plovers like to make thier nests on the shore and the eggs are vulnerable to predators and even to people who may step on the eggs while strolling along the shores. I saw a piping plover in Grand Haven Michigan along the sandy shore, but not recently.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Michigan's Singing Sands

Michigan’s Singing Sands

Build sand castles or lie on the beach, boogie board, kite board or sun bathe. Sand beaches in other parts of the world are o.k., but sand beaches in Michigan are of an especially fine quality. Why? someone asks.

This sand is composed of quartz granules, dark colored magnetite and other fine grains of rock. People love to walk in the so called singing sands…it feels good underfoot. When a toe or shoe is dragged across the sand, there is a high pitched sound or singing. This is due to the high quartz content of the sand.

At any time of year, you may find people enjoying the cool wooded dunes at Hoffmaster State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan in Norton Shores near Muskegon. Some of the best sand dunes in the world are found here and along the coasts of the Great Lakes. At Hoffmaster State Park, there are beaches and places to camp, trails through the wooded dunes, and stairways to climb over the dunes to breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. Naturalists take visitors and school groups through the park and point out owls, song birds and plants.

But to really learn about the dunes, you must visit Gillette Nature Center at the center of the park where there are displays explaining how the dunes were formed by actions of the glaciers and the west wind. The displays show dynamic dune succession: that is how dune plants and animals change over time. It was in dunes such as these that Henry Chandler Cowles studied botany and then wrote “ The Ecological Relation of the Sand Dunes of Lake Michigan” in 1899. The discipline of ecology was born in dunes like this.

There are hands on displays, kids really go for this, on the lower level and a collection of creatures…mammals, reptiles and fish found in and near the dunes.

In the fall, the changing colors of leaves are worth a walk in the dunes and in winter, people like to cross country ski on an old logging trail that hugs the side of a dune. In spring, wild flowers bloom under the trees. Bird migrations pass through here.

Many beautiful and unique dunes were leveled in the past and their intricate ecosystems destroyed by mining the sand for industry and building subdivisions. We still have some dunes left to enjoy on the Great Lakes. They are well worth preserving. After all, they were created over thousands of years. Once gone, dunes with their intricate ecosystems, can never be resurrected by humans.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Research on Lake Huron

Great Lakes Echo

Lake Huron to be home of long-term research program

Aug 2 2012 By Sara Matthews

Lake Huron has the most shoreline and is the second largest Great Lake. Yet it gets perhaps the least scientific attention.

That will soon change. Lake Huron is the home of a new long-term research program started this summer by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

From the agency’s base at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Mich., scientists are studying water quality, invasive and native species, nutrient levels and physical properties of the lake.

It’s long overdue. Lake Michigan has been the site of a long-term research program since the 1980s.

“Lake Huron is the least studied [Great] Lake,” said Henry Vanderploeg, the program’s lead researcher. “We’ve done a lot of work in Saginaw Bay and want to expand our monitoring program on Lake Huron.

Significant changes in the Lake Huron ecosystem are a main focus of the research. A decline of nutrients in the open water is leading to a food shortage for prey fish like salmon. At the same time, fish like walleye and smallmouth bass in the nearshore are increasing.

So are blooms of cladophora, an algae that emits a sewer-like odor as it rots on beaches.

Nutrients, the food web and water quality create the ecosystem of Lake Huron, Vanderploeg said, “but no one really knows how the Great Lakes systems work together.”

Studying the lake may give clues to how to effectively manage it for both water quality and fish production, he said.

Similar studies already done in Lake Michigan will be used to compare the lakes to better understand how they work.

Huron and Michigan are considered the same lake hydrologically, Vanderploeg said. But EPA monitoring data shows changes in similar plankton communities are occurring faster in Lake Huron.

“The reasons for that are not understood yet,” he said.

The effort will research how:
■winds, waves, temperature and current affect ecosystems
■sediment influences algae blooms
■bottom-dwelling organisms affect algae growth and the availability of phosphorous
■the food web is distributed in both near- and open- shore environments
■bottom-dwelling organisms like quagga and zebra mussels are spread through the lake.

The agency ‘s participation in the 2012 Lake Huron Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative is the starting point for the long-term program.

The initiative is a joint effort between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office and Environment Canada to study one Great Lake per year. The studies

The U.S. EPA’s Lake Guardian is one of the ships traversing Lake Huron this summer gathering data for the initiative. Photo: U.S. EPA

are one element of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement made by the U.S. and Canada in 1972 to create an international effort to protect the Great Lakes.

Participating agencies collaboratively examined ecological problems in Lake Huron to create research questions, said Glen Warren, an aquatic biologist with the Environmental Protection Agency. Finding the answers will aid management decisions.

“Lake Huron has undergone some drastic changes in the last ten years or so,” Warren said. “The work we are doing will lead to better management of the lake.”

Other agencies studying the lake include the U.S. Geological Survey, wildlife and environmental agencies from Michigan and Ontario and universities from both countries.

“There are 11 Canadian and U.S. organizations and 24 science monitoring projects going on this summer,” said John Marsdon, a manager of Great Lakes issues and reporting for Environment Canada.

“Environment Canada covers all the lakes every year, so does the EPA, but the cooperative field season 2012 for Lake Huron harnesses everyone in a coordinated fashion,” he said.

Researchers say it’s a good strategy.

“When we cooperate it’s amazing how much we can get done,” said Paul Horvatin, chief of environmental monitoring and reporting branch for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “It all adds up to more than what we can do separately.

“It will lead to a much better managed lake.”

In 2010 the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative studied Lake Michigan; in 2011 it focused on Lake Superior. Meetings are already underway to coordinate ships and areas of study for Lake Ontario in 2013. Lake Erie will be next.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Relief Map of the Great Lakes System

Read about the interesting features of the Great Lakes system in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.  The book is widely available at Barnes & Noble and in paperback or on Amazon's Kindle reader.
Here is a review of The Dynamic Great Lakes: 
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."
Reviewed by Norman Goldman
Courtesy Bookideas

Friday, July 20, 2012

Salmon and Steelhead Fishing in Lake Michigan

Sports fishers try their luck on Grand Haven's pier.  Steelhead and salmon are being caught on alewives.

Learn more about fish in the Great Lakes in The Dynamic Great Lakes a non-fiction book about changes in the five Great Lakes and their tributaries.

The book is available on Amazon's Kindle and in paperback.  Also widely available in store such as Barnes & Noble, Books a Million and many independent bookstores such as Schuler Books, The Bookman and at Hemlock Crossing Nature Center in West Olive, Michigan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grand Haven's Pier Needs Repairs

The pier in Grand Haven needs repairs.  People like to fish from it and some can be seen doing just that.  I took this photo that shows fishing boats in the channel of the Grand River and out in Lake Michigan.  Pictured is the cat walk and its shadow with the lighthouse showing through the metal structure.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

A Walk on the Pier with Mallard Ducks & Ducklings

Many fish lines are in the water today at the pier on Lake Michigan.  A mallard duck keeps her
brood safe on a rock below.  While the ducklings snuggle together she keeps a look out. A salmon might find a duckling good eating although they are mostly interested in alewife.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Coho Salmon Time in Lake Michigan

Lots of people are fishing for the Pacific salmon in Lake Michigan right now.  How did Pacific salmon get in the Great Lakes?  It's a good and true story.  Read my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes to learn how this happened.
This book is available at Barnes & Noble, and on Amazon's Kindle reader.  It is also available at many independent bookstores.  Learn all you can about the amazing Great Lakes system and their fishes.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Plein Air Watercolor on the Beach

A sand piper tiptoes across the sand while a herring gull flies over the waves.  I painted this water color on the beach in the morning.  The distant clouds are rosy and the waves roll in.  Many writers like to paint.  I am one of them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Time on the Great Lakes

Delight.  Happiness. Joy.  Kids love to play in water and run on the sand and build castles.  That’s what this time of the year is about around the Great Lakes. People relax to the sounds of the waves and see the blues and greens of the water. 

We share these waters with many species of birds.  Sometimes we can see the American bald eagles scavenging the beaches for dead fish or we may see other species such as the rare piping plover.

Read about the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes available at Barnes & Noble, Schulers Books and Music, The Bookman and many other stores on the web and elsewhere.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lake Michigan Wind for Sports and Alternative Energy

Lake Michigan has wind power.  That is why it is suitable for producing energy from wind.  Board sailing and kite flying are popular. Sailing regattas dot the lake this time of year. The potential for producing clean energy with wind turbines is great.
Read about the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.  The book is widely available at, Amazon's Kindle reader, Barnes & Noble and many independent bookstores and museums.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Historic Tightrope Walk over Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls are immense.  All the water from Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and their tributaries flow over Niagara Falls.  Yesterday a Wallenda walked a two inch wide tightrope over Horseshoe Falls to the Canadian side.  Below is a link to this historic walk along with some other famous dare devils

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Great Lakes Order the Dynamic Great Lakes from the publisher.  In this book you will find information about salmon fishing in the Great Lakes and how this came about. You will also learn about how the Great Lakes were formed as freshwater seas and their importance.

The book may also be ordered in paperback and for Kindle from and is available at Barnes & Noble, Schuler Books and Music and many other fine independent bookstores.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So Much to be Learned from Nature

Trees are for crossing streams, for playing and for dreaming.  A young girl has crossed the stream and will have to walk back as if on a balance beam.

School is out for the summer and so much can be learned from nature.  There is health in the fresh air and freedom of the outdoors.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Birds of the Great Lakes Shores

I sold some paintings yesterday at an art market, but not the one above.

The birds love the cherry tree in our yard.  Orioles, cat birds, robins.  They are gobbling up the cherries so I do not think there will be any left for us.  This morning I saw chickadees in the little birdhouse I painted.  There are a pair of wrens in another birdhouse hanging from a tall conifer and a pair of mourning doves raising a second brood in the bushes in front of our window.  Ruby throated hummingbirds visit our yard and if their feeder is not filled, they peer in our window knowing someone indoors fills it.

We hear the herring gulls and crows talking constantly and we see hawks and eagles flying over our house. This is a delightful time of year and the birds know it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Persephone Brings warblers, catbirds, mayflies, foam flowers


Persephone Emerges

Under willows’ first fuzz
Eden green
goats graze
feeding unborn kids.
The warbler haunted woods
flickers green fire—
the river brims a billion suns.
Persephone burst
from under earth covered with leaf mold
and blinking in the fawn spotted dawn
in the cool wooded dunes.
Above her head, flecks of foam
flowers, bloodroot and trillium
splash the dark soil,
spilled milk
at a sacrificial rite.
Persephone emerges.
Morning light veils her body
darts through her jewels
her crown of diamonds, rubies, emeralds.
She carries sweet spring
time in her
with the vision of night.
On the mirror still surface of a lake,
mayflies suffer breech births,
wiggle out of wetsuits

nymphs no longer

and with wings clear as water
they wobble into flight
rise like clouds of smoke
in golden light.
A catbird speaks in tongues
its throat bubbles out ineffable delights.
Bees spin in dusty pollen,
melt water burbles,
rises through red veins of leaves,
Persephone’s footprints fill with water.

--Barbara Spring

Excerpted from The Wilderness Within

This book is widely available in bookstores and on the web at, etc.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Flower Pot Island in Georgian Bay is named for the limestone feature pictured.  I enjoyed a boat trip where I saw many islands and I was so impressed that I painted this watercolor.  The color of the water is very beautiful and its clarity allows views of sunken ships from glass bottom boats.

I visited The Bruce Peninsula while researching my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

This painting is now on display in Grand Haven Michigan's Community Center Lakeland Artists Show.

My book is available at Barnes & Noble, and many other fine independent bookstores such as The Bookman in Grand Haven, MI.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Grand Haven Kite Festival

If someone told me to go fly a kite, I would.  It's lots of fun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

M Live Story by N Reens: Directional Drilling

I thought this was settled.  We cannot endanger the Great Lakes freshwater.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Sen. Debbie Stabenow wrote the bill that banned drilling for oil on the Great Lakes, but Republican candidates seeking to challenge her in November are making it a campaign issue to out one of their own.
Holland Republican Pete Hoekstra, who lives about two miles from Lake Michigan, is under fire from his GOP opposition and Democrats alike for the alleged shifting tide on his oil drilling position.
In a stop last week in Clarkston, Hoekstra told tea party members that he supports directional drilling from onshore sites around the Great Lakes. That’s the opposite stance he took in 2001 and 2005, when he voted for a ban on the practice while in the U.S. House.
Hoekstra clarified Monday that he believes the issue belongs to states to decide, not Washington, and that advances in technology have made it a safer practice than before.
But it didn’t take long for Hoekstra’s Republican primary opponents Gary Glenn and Clark Durant, environmentalists, and state and national Democrats to seize on the apparent misstep.
Gary Glenn is an underdog running against Pete Hoekstra for the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat held by Debbie Stabenow.
Glenn, while trying to draw a distinction between himself and Hoekstra at a Monday candidates forum in Grandville, said that he supports the practice. Energy independence and domestic production are poised to be key issues in races across the country and Great Lakes drilling could be an $8 billion industry, Glenn said.
“Pete said he favored directional drilling under the Great Lakes, and then Pete ran for cover under (scrutiny) from environmentalists,” Glenn said Monday.
Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, and Progress Michigan, on Monday, all called for Hoekstra to reverse his drilling position, but none mentioned Glenn’s admitted “drill, baby, drill,” drive.
Hoekstra pushed back on Glenn’s allegation, contending no one wants people without an interest in the Great Lakes making decisions for those in the water basin. He likened it to attempts to divert water to others states, an idea quickly rejected under the Great Lakes Compact.
“That decision better be made here in the state,” Hoekstra said. “If you let that decision be made in Washington, they’ll tell you where to drill. If you call that running from accountability, you can do that. Or you can say, OK, that’s pretty smart. I’d rather trust the people (here) over the people in Washington to make that decision.”
Durant, considered by pundits to be Hoekstra’s primary competition, drew his line in the sand, taking the opposite tack as Glenn and backing Stabenow’s position of a Great Lakes drilling ban.
“I’m not going to let one driller go into the water of the Great Lakes,” Durant said. “It’s a tremendous asset. We do not need to put that at risk to drill, baby, drill. There are plenty of places to drill. Don’t put the Great Lakes at risk. That’s one of the things that makes Michigan special.”
Democrats criticized Hoekstra’s alleged drilling flip-flop, and Glenn’s position by association, by saying federal studies indicate there are about 312 million barrels of oil under the water. That would provide 16 days of energy and have virtually no impact on world markets, Democrats said.
"Hoekstra's desire to end the federal ban on drilling the Great Lakes for oil is totally out of the mainstream and completely outrageous,” said Mark Brewer, the chair of the state party. “Even most Republicans have supported the ban on drilling in the Lakes because they recognize that a disaster like the BP spill in the Gulf or the Enbridge spill in Michigan could destroy the Great Lakes - and the jobs and industries that depend on them.”
Follow Nate Reens on Twitter at

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Day Before May

Praise from William Stafford

looking at an old notebook
I was bored last night so I started looking through some old notebooks I had kept. I came across page after page of drafts for a poem. It was interesting to me to see the process of getting the words down to what I was actually trying to say. The early drafts became the poem "Circuits" that is in my book, The Wilderness Within.

Years ago, William Stafford, Poet Laureate, looked at the poem "Circuits" in a workshop and said it reminded him of the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins. And then he asked me, "How easy is this for you?" I did not mention the pages of drafts, but I did say that I like to play with words. I do. Writing poetry is playing with words until I get it right.

Here is the 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.

This books is widely available at, Barnes & Noble and many other bookstores.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On the Singing Sands: Lake Michigan

This beach is famous for its singing sands.  When you drag your toe or shoe across wet sand it gives you a high pitched sound.  Read more about this phenomenon in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.
The book is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon (also the Kindle edition) and many other bookstores.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mayflies: Excerpted from The Dynamic Great Lakes

Mayflies Are Indicators of a Healthy Environment
Around the islands of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, mayflies are good indicators of a healthy

habitat. Some people call them fish flies;

there are several varieties well known by fishermen who tie artificial


On a warm day in late June or early July, the northern waters of

the Lakes Huron and Michigan and all of Lake Superior undulate

gently. Reflections of trees shine in their glassy waters. Suddenly the

surface pops with the emerging of billions of fish flies wiggling free

from their cases; they are lucky if they live to fly off before a fish

sucks them out of the water first. If they fly, ducklings, songbirds

and flocks of seagulls gobble them like guests at a festive banquet.

The graceful flies with soft bodies and transparent veined wings

that do survive, find a mate, mate, and then the female lays about

3,000 eggs on the surface of the water. The eggs sink to the bottom,

develop into larvae, or the nymph stage. On the bottom they stay for

one or two years, feeding upon plankton and molting up to 30 times

until it is time for them to emerge as adult insects, popping out of

their casings like popcorn. The life cycles begin again.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sea Lamprey Fit for a Queen DFP

Sea lamprey, above, are protected in England, so pie-makers for Queen Elizabeth II put out a call to the Great Lakes. / SUSAN TUSA/DETROIT FREE PRESS

Sea lamprey may be one of the most hated species in the Great Lakes, but it's a key ingredient in a traditional English pie that will be given to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee in June.
But because the eel-like creatures are now a protected species in England, the City of Gloucester, which has given the pie as a gift to the monarch since the Middle Ages, made a request for the lamprey to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which was only too happy to supply them. Unfortunately, the English need only a few to make the pie.
See a modern version of 15th-Century recipe: Recipe: 15th-Century 'Lamprays Bake'
"We would prefer to send them truckloads of lamprey," commission spokesman Marc Gaden said.
The city used to give the king a lamprey pie each year at Christmas. Since 1836, the pie has been baked for only the monarch's special occasions, such as the queen's coronation in 1953 and her silver and golden jubilee anniversaries.
Although lamprey used to be abundant in the Severn River near Gloucester, the creatures are now endangered and protected.
"It would be like us making a pie out of piping plover," an endangered shorebird in Michigan, Gaden said.
Gaden already has shipped 2 pounds of slimy Lake Huron lamprey, frozen, to Gloucester, but he is vacationing in England and will put on a tie and officially present the fish to the mayor May 4.
Sarrah Maccey of the Gloucester Folk Museum told BBC News that she and a chef will bake the pie, and she is researching ancient local recipes. One traditional 15th-Century recipe calls for the creature to be cooked in a sauce of wine, vinegar, cinnamon and its own blood, then baked in a tall crust.
Martin Kirby, a local journalist who took on the task of finding suitable lamprey for the occasion, said the piecrust is not supposed to be eaten and will be decorated with the city's coat of arms.
Gaden said he doesn't plan to eat any. No one knows for sure whether the queen will take a bite, either.
Eating too many lamprey, which he loved, was said to be what killed King Henry I in 1135, according to Charles Dickens' "A Child's History of England" and other sources. Writer Samuel Pepys mentioned in his diaries in the 1660s that lampreys were a popular delicacy.
Because Gloucester was a center of fishing on the Severn River, the city became the king's source of the fish. Today, Gloucester still has a Lamprey Hotel on its main street.
But across the Great Lakes, lamprey are an invasive, barely controlled nuisance. They attach themselves to the bodies of native fish, such as lake trout, and suck out their innards, usually killing them. After decades of working with poisons, trapping them and attracting them with pheromones, Gaden said the lamprey are about 90% controlled in the Great Lakes.
However, their numbers have been rising mysteriously in Lake Erie.
The commission, which is tasked by Congress to control lamprey, treated several tributaries to Lake Erie with a lamprey-killing poison, but that hasn't cut the population. The theory now is that the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, which connect to Lake Huron, are bringing new swarms of lamprey to Erie, Gaden said. Scientists say they hope treating those rivers will help.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


When my husband brought home some pan fish he had caught for dinner, I wanted to capture the colors so I painted a water color of one of them.  The background shows how the fish would look under water with light streaming down the water column.  Fishing is a favorite sport in and around the Great Lakes.  Read about fish and other underwater phenomena in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.   It is widely available in stores and on the web.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lake Michigan Fishing off of the Pier

There are fish to be caught in Lake Michigan.  If you fish from a pier beware of rogue waves.  Some people have been caught off guard by waves that sweep them away. 
 Read about fish, both native species and planted fish such as steelhead, coho salmon and
Chinook salmon.  Read about the Great Lakes and the biota inhabiting these waters in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes available in paperback and on Amazon's Kindle reader: $9.95.

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5 minute vid of Great Lakes

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Monday, March 19, 2012

American Bald Eagle: an Environmental Indicator

This eagle is carrying its favorite food: a fish.  We are seeing a lot of eagles on the shores of the Great Lakes since DDT and like pesticides were banned.  Since eagles are an environmental indicator, the environment is healthier than it was.  The problem with DDT is that it builds up in food chains.  Food chains in water are long.

Read more about Great Lakes phenomena in my book: The Dynamic Great Lakes. 

Photo by Steve Damstra

The Dynamic Great Lakes is  widely available on the web and in stores such as Barnes & Noble, the Bookman in Grand Haven and other independent bookstores.

Monday, March 12, 2012

At Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

At Palisades Nuclear Power Plant. 

This poem is from my book, The Wilderness Within available at Barnes & Noble, and many other places.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lake Michigan Aubade

                        Lake Michigan Aubade

Mist rises, March morning
                     a song bird’s longing shears moist air,
drifts from thickets.
From empty porches of summer homes
wind chimes play, hollow melodious shards of clay.
And the lake never ceases sounds in March:

ice chunks chink, shards break and break
against the shore.
Waves dash ice against troll caves of ice
and break ice feet.
Mist rises from green briars
where wild birds braid their songs
through tangled skeins
and the blood that rushes through my veins
the waves
on shore.

Excerpted from my book, The Wilderness Within

This book is available from Barnes & Noble, The Bookman, Schulers Books, and many other fine bookstores.