WBEZ | Lake Superior http://www.wbez.org/tags/lake-superior Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Resource wars: mining vs. the environment http://www.wbez.org/content/resource-wars-mining-vs-environment-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-17/wild rice.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>All week we’ve been talking about how the Great Lakes region can capitalize on its pristine environment. But across the Upper Midwest, mining companies are prospecting for iron, copper, nickel and rare earth metals. This new mining boom promises to jump-start stalled local economies. But because it also threatens the ecosystem, environmentalists and local Indian tribes are united in their opposition. For Front and Center, Joel Bleifuss traveled to Northern Wisconsin with producer Jennifer Brandel to explore how this modern day ore rush is forcing a debate over the true meaning of the region’s wealth. </em></p><div id="PictoBrowser111117175618" style="text-align: center;"><em>Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</em></div><br><p>“Backpacker” magazine describes this range located 20-miles south of Lake Superior as the “the Alps of Wisconsin.”</p><p>On the edge of the Chequamegon National Forest, the Penokee Mountains host hikers in the summer and hunters in the fall.</p><p>It’s also where a mining conglomerate wants to dig a four-and-a-half-mile-wide open-pit iron ore mine.</p><p>Just down the road from the proposed mine, is a picture postcard of a town called Mellen.</p><p>The town has seen better days, and many of the 845 residents consider the mine a salvation.</p><p>“We need jobs—bottom line,” says Jean Waddle.</p><p>Jean runs the Penokee Mountain Deli &amp; Sausage Co., one of the town’s only remaining restaurants. “I've watched my business dwindle you know, and I'm not gonna make it like this,” she says.</p><p>And the current recession comes on top of a long-depressed regional economy.</p><p>That means hard times in the North Woods.</p><p>“What about young people?” I ask. “Do they have a future here?”</p><p>“No, no, they graduate and leave,” says Jean. “You think there’s going to be changes and there are changes—downhill—that’s the only changes I’ve seen. You either decide this is where you want to live and you have to live accordingly, or you leave. And most people leave.”</p><p>Jean speaks for a lot of the year round residents, like Joe Barabe.</p><p>“We’re hurting up here,” says Joe.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> <div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><br><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACT: </span>Made a job? Tell us about it</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/iron-range-mining-94146"><strong>The sound of iron mining</strong></a></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-14/who-owns-fish-how-tribal-rights-could-save-great-lakes-89135">Tribal rights on the lake</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Joe has been the mayor of Mellen since 1987. His three kids have left Mellen for jobs in more prosperous areas of the country.</p><p>“We’ve been waiting for this mine, basically to happen for a long time, so were pretty excited you know,” says Joe. “You are talking about 700 hundred jobs at $50,000 a year. It will change the dynamics of everything. Our schools are all declining. We need the tax base. Whatever they have to bring in, we need it.”</p><p>The mining company has assured people up here the mine will operate in an environmentally responsible manner.</p><p>But many locals who live along Lake Superior’s shores see the mine as a threat to their livelihoods.</p><p>“I fished all my life really, since I was knee high to a grasshopper. My mom couldn’t get me off the dock,” says Wayne Lowe Jr. who is the head smoker at Bodin Fisheries in Bayfield Wisconsin.</p><p>He fearsmining willpollute the water and damage the fishery.&nbsp;</p><p>Wayne says you can’t put a price on Lake Superior. <img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-17/slides%20for%20fact%20sheet.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 463px; margin: 2px; float: left;" title="Graphic courtesy of The Nature Conservancy (www.nature.org/wisconsin)"></p><p>“It’s the biggest freshwater lake in the world,” says Wayne. “If that goes, lots of jobs are gonna go. The lightbulb’s gotta turn on sometime, and say hey! We got to protect this stuff – for us, and our kids, really.”</p><p>Environmental groups throughout the region are keeping close tabs on the many mining companies prospecting the hills that ring the Upper Great Lakes.</p><p>The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Conservation in Wisconsin, Matt Dallman,&nbsp; says the mining company has not disclosed exact plans for the mine, but he’s concerned because the Bad River’s ecosystem is unique and mine runoff could contaminate waterways.&nbsp;</p><p>“It’s the drinking water source for the city of Ashland is Lake Superior and the Chaquamegon Bay,” says Dallman. “And this water that comes out of those hills eventually ends up in to that area. So it’s important for not only the plants and animals, but also the people who depend on that for a drinking water source and for the recreational benefits.”</p><p>Indian tribes are making their opposition heard too.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Ojibwe tribes recently gathered near ancestral burial grounds on Lake Superior’s Madeline Island.</p><p>“Our tribe has been here a thousand years,” says Mike Wiggins, the tribal chairman of the Bad River Indians. “We try to ensure that we're going to be around another thousand years. We don't have the luxury of as a people fleeing somewhere or having another mini state created. We are home and this is all we've got.”</p><p>Mike says the footprint of the proposed mine sits atop 23 creeks, streams and rivers that flow directly into the bad river reservation, specifically the Kakagon Slough. It’s a 16,000-acre marsh that includes 40 percent of Lake Superior’s wetlands.</p><p>The slough is also home to the last coastal wild rice beds anywhere in the Great Lakes. Mine runoff containing sulfides is toxic to wild rice.&nbsp;</p><p>“That wild rice is a sacred crop,” says Mike. “A staple and a symbol of who we are as a people, what our culture is about, what sustains us.”</p><p>All of the 11 Great Lakes Ojibwe tribes oppose the mine.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Len Moore, a 28-year-old carpenter, is a member of the Bad River Band.</p><p>His family has lived here for hundreds of years, and he says the mine operators don’t understand what’s at stake.</p><p>“I believe that they see it as an opportunity to make money,” he says. “But they don't see how much damage they'll do to the local environment and the people who are attached to it, who survive around or in the area or off the land. I'm a hunter myself and you know, if the river goes and becomes toxic and bleeds right into Lake Superior and everything will suffer down the chain.”</p><p>Tribal leaders have met with pro-mining Gov. Scott Walker to state their case. Moore says the Ojibwe people have sacrificed enough.</p><p>“We as a people have a little bit left of what our ways were. We try to preserve that as best we can. We don't ask for much other than to respect our future. We wish no ill-will towards any of the mining corporation or their personnel, or anything like that,” he says. “But we do need to defend and protect what we have, however that works out.”</p><p>How it works out could be made more complicated by the possible recall of Gov. Walker.</p><p>Regardless of what happens in the Penokees, one thing will not change. Vast mineral wealth lies beneath the forest covered hills of the Upper Great Lakes.&nbsp;</p><p>And with world demand for iron, cooper and other minerals on the rise, this debate over mining in the Great Lakes basin will not be resolved any time soon.&nbsp;</p></div></p> Fri, 18 Nov 2011 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/resource-wars-mining-vs-environment-0 The face of climate change in Lake Superior http://www.wbez.org/content/face-climate-change-lake-superior <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-12/89058/six.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="daylife_smartgalleries_container" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 375px; width: 500px;"><iframe class="daylife_smartgalleries_frame" src="http://galleries.wbez.org/gallery_slideshow/1310510116211?width=500&amp;disable_link_to_hosted_page=0&amp;height=375&amp;show_related=0" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 100%; width: 100%;" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div><p>Wednesday we reported how <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-13/climate-change-hits-mightiest-great-lakes-89058">climate change isn’t just hitting polar bears and melting glaciers</a>. Scientists and advocates say it’s hitting the Great Lakes too. Now, see the land and people who are feeling and researching the impact.</p></p> Thu, 14 Jul 2011 16:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/face-climate-change-lake-superior Climate change hits mightiest of the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-13/climate-change-hits-mightiest-great-lakes-89058 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-12/89058/six.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Climate change isn’t just hitting polar bears and melting glaciers. Scientists and advocates say it’s affecting the Great Lakes too, even Lake Superior, the lake that’s so big, all the other Great Lakes could fit inside with room to spare. Climate change already is playing out in warmer temperatures and melting ice, and scientists expect more dramatic changes. That could alter the way of life, even on the greatest of the Great Lakes.</p><p>In Lake Superior, there’s a thin stretch of green surrounded by water called <a href="http://www.madelineisland.com/">Madeline Island</a>. For most of the year, you can only get here by kayak or ferry. But when the weather gets cold enough, you can drive on frozen Lake Superior.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-14/face-climate-change-lake-superior-89136">Photos: The face of climate change in Lake Superior </a></p><p>"It’s the main road to freedom, it’s transportation at a very most base level," says Lois Carlson, who heads the Madeleine Island Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>But the Ice Road is not without its perils, says her co-worker, Suellen Soucek.</p><p>"When you’re going across the Ice Road, you don’t wear your seatbelt and you make sure your windows are rolled down," Soucek says.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; 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I’m always glad to get off and on the other side."</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>But the ice road isn’t lasting as long these days. This past winter, Carlson says, it had just opened when there was a thaw and then heavy winds.</p><p>"People actually heard what sounded like a sonic boom," she says. "It just exploded out the ice."</p><p>A study by a local student, Forrest Howk, in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, found the ice season, when ferries can’t run, has declined on average 15 days a decade since 1975. &nbsp;</p><p>A leading climate change researcher in the Great Lakes, <a href="http://www.d.umn.edu/%7Ejaustin/ICE.html">Jay Austin</a>, says ice cover on Lake Superior decreased from 23 percent to 12 percent over the past century.</p><p>"There are going to be far fewer years when there’s heavy ice cover on the open lake, and far, far more years when we just see no ice," Austin says. He's a professor with the University of Minnesota Duluth’s <a href="http://www.d.umn.edu/llo/">Large Lakes Observatory</a>.</p><p>"Climage change is real," he says. "It’s something that’s not just happening half a world away."</p><p>Austin heads out on the research vessel the Blue Heron to measure signs of climate change on Lake Superior. He wants to know why a bright yellow buoy had stopped tracking water temperatures.</p><p><em>"</em>Anytime you put something electronic in the water, you’re asking for trouble," he says. He wants to get the buoy back up and working again right away.</p><p>"We care because we want to understand whether or how the climate is changing."</p><p>Austin crunched 25 years of data and found the lake surface was warming quicker than anyone thought, about twice as fast as the air.</p><p>"It’s really crazy, it’s almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 25 years, very surprising," he says.</p><p>Water temperatures are up on Lakes Michigan and Huron, too.</p><p>"Instead of the water temperature being 60 at the surface it’s 70 at the surface, and that’s actually sort of a big difference, especially if you’re a fish, and you have specific temperatures at which you enjoy existing or you have specific temperatures at which you’re capable of spawning, it does sort of affect lots of systems down the line, this is not just an abstract study of lake temperature in and of itself," Austin says.</p><p>A few hours away, to the east, there’s a tiny corner of Lake Superior where some of the changes Austin measures are already becoming apparent and are expected to intensify in decades to come.</p><p><a href="http://www.cityofbayfield.com/ecomunicipality.htm">Bayfield</a> is a town of 486 people. This is where the famous Ice Road to Madeline Island begins. Bayfield is nearly as far north as you can go in Wisconsin. It’s on a steep hill, so pretty much everywhere you go, you see Lake Superior.</p><p>Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald and his wife are enjoying the view while grilling a pizza.</p><p>"We don’t really suffer through the winter, we like it, we go through it, it’s just a way of life," MacDonald says.</p><p>He knows this way of life and the cold-weather traditions so deeply rooted in the culture might be changing.</p><p>"So I think right now the ice fishing is OK, but they’re going to have to realize that unless they can walk on water in 50 years, they won’t be ice fishing," he says.</p><p>What are they going to do?</p><p>"Some of those guys will go nuts. They’ll have to go on the north side of the lake up into Canada to get what we used to have here."</p><p>This area could have summers like central Indiana by the end of the century, according to a <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/greatlakesparksinperil.asp">new study</a> by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and National Resources Defense Council. It predicts temperatures here could rise up to 12 degrees on average year-round, which means warmer winters as well.</p><p>"To a certain degree, people have liked have milder winters, but if you start forecasting that out over a long period of time, we won’t have winters anymore," MacDonald says.</p><p>Other Bayfield leaders are concerned too.</p><p>"When you think about walking out in the Northwoods and being in the evergreens and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, those things may not be available to our grandchildren," says <a href="http://www.superiorforum.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=124&amp;t=1560">Bob Krumenaker</a>, the park superintendent of the <a href="http://www.nps.gov/apis/naturescience/climate-change-and-sustainability.htm">Apostle Islands National Lakeshore</a>. He’s one of the leading voices on climate change in the national parks.</p><p>He takes me on a boat tour of the Apostles, 22 islands known for lighthouses and sand caves. The islands slide past each other like ribbons of green against the blue waters of Lake Superior.</p><p>"National parks end up being, even though it wasn’t what we thought we were here for, the terrific canaries in the mine," Krumenaker says.</p><p>Most climate change models predict that lake levels will drop several inches or more by the end of the century. Krumenaker says that could make it difficult to operate a boat in spots, could concentrate pollution in the water, and even change the size and location of the islands themselves.</p><p>He can't say whether the recent low levels are due to climate change. But he points to a dock they had to retrofit as a sign of what may come.</p><p>"Small boats were at risk of getting caught underneath the dock, and there were big bolts and rusty rebar and other things that we didn’t even know were there because they’d always been covered up by the lake," he says.</p><p>Krumenaker says he had no idea climate change was hitting the Great Lakes until 2006, when he attended a conference.</p><p>"It was a very eye-opening moment in ways I can’t think of any other time in my career where I’ve says, Oh my God, I really need to get involved in this."</p><p>He and his staff took action, working to educate the public. They know climate change is global, but they say they want to do what they can to not make it worse. They’re switching to fuel-efficient vehicles, promoting bicycling, and experimenting with solar generators to reduce their carbon footprint.</p><p>"We’re telling the story and we’re trying not to hit people over the head to say, Oh my God, the news is horrible, although it is," Krumenaker says. "But say this is important, it’s about a place you care about and you can do something about it."</p><p>Not everyone is convinced. Some of the people Krumenaker and the mayor are trying to reach are the old-timers who frequent the Northern Edge. It’s a bar and restaurant decorated with bears carved out of logs, and a stuffed fuzzy bear holding a welcome sign, right next to an extreme hunting video game.</p><p>People know to keep the big round table in the corner free each morning. That’s because at 9:30 on the dot, the coffee club arrives.</p><p>They offer me coffee right away.</p><p>"Julian, you lived in Bayfield, 94 years now?" one of the men asks another man.</p><p>"95," Julian Nelson replies. He's a retired commercial fisherman and ferry captain. He remembers wooden sidewalks.</p><p>"The lake is the boss. It tells you what you can do and what you can’t do, when you can do it, and if you can do it," Nelson says.</p><p>"It’s just lovely, you can’t find a nicer lake to be by, especially with all these islands out here, and the fishing is great, even if you just go for a boat ride, it’s lovely," says Gus Jordan.</p><p>"Don’t say the fishing’s good here, there will be everyone from Illinois," says Julian's son, Bob Nelson, to great laughter around the table.</p><p>I ask what they think about climate change.</p><p>"There are differing views at this table, but I’m one that thinks global climate change is occurring, and that it’s a very serious threat," says Bill Bussey, who the men like to introduce as Bayfield’s best and only attorney.</p><p>Al Weborg shakes his head.</p><p>"I think it’s a bunch of BS, climate change," he says. "Yeah, it works in cycles, fishing works in cycles, farming works in cycles, and we're in a cycle, that's all."</p><p>Julian Nelson chimes in: "I'm inclined to agree with you, Bill."</p><p>The men sit up and took notice. Nelson was mayor during the debate over the Apostle Islands becoming a national lakeshore. He supported that, despite opposition. He figured, otherwise, individuals would own entire islands someday. He lost the next election, but today, a bay in the lake is named after him.</p><p>"For all of you, I will say that there are very credible reports on climate change written by credible people. They’re there for you to read," Nelson says. "This climate change is a very slow creeping disease, and it is occurring."</p><p>"You have two sides to it, not just one," Weborg says.</p><p>While the debate continues over climate change, some people here are already living with the impact.</p><p>Like Craig Hoopman, a commercial fisherman, and his grandfather, Morris Boutin, who's been a commercial fisherman here for about 75 years.</p><p>Grandfather and grandson sit side by side in a corner of the family shop, Bay Fisheries. Hoopman’s mom works behind a counter full of smoked fish and fresh fillets.</p><p>"I’ve got license number four, the first one ever issued in the state of Wisconsin," Boutin says.</p><p>Do you still fish?</p><p>"No, once in a while, very seldom. He always tells me, go on the boat, I’ll forget how. I’ll never forget how. (Laughs.)"</p><p>The family started fishing here in the 1850s. Craig Hoopman’s the fourth generation. He goes after coldwater fish like whitefish, which he says are going deeper in response to warming water.</p><p>"It’s forcing us just to run farther, we’re going out farther into the lake to find colder water," Hoopman says. "In August and September, we’re running 30 miles, where right now we’re running 10 miles.You have to go where the fish are, it’s not where you want to go, it’s where they are."</p><p>It’s not just fish and fishermen reacting to the changes. Ojibwe elders are seeing an alarming trend that’s affecting an ancient Native tradition of harvesting wild rice.</p><p>Damon Panek is a park ranger and cultural educator who is Ojibwe. He says big, sudden storms are toppling wild rice and drowning it, and scientists predict we’ll be seeing a lot more of these storms in years to come.</p><p>In 2007, Panek says, for the first time in anyone’s memory, there was no wild rice harvest.</p><p>"It’s not about losing the plant as a physical thing, it’s losing that plant as a spiritual thing as well. Losing that, you also lose the ceremonies that go with it, you lose the language that goes with it, you lose a lot more, so in a way, you lose a culture attached to that plant," he says.</p><p>Birch trees, so iconic up here, are used to make baskets, canoes, and dwellings. <a href="http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/resources/12-07.pdf">Studies predict birches and maples won’t tolerate the heat, and they’ll be replaced by more southern trees like oaks and hickories</a>.</p><p>"People are actually starting to think about alternatives to bark. It’s starting to enter their consciousness of preparation, I think," Panek says.</p><p>While those near Lake Superior are already dealing with climate change, it’s heading to the rest of the Great Lakes too. Environmental advocates like Andy Buchsbaum, who heads the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office, say it’s too late to stop it. But he says people can prevent it from getting worse by curbing fossil fuel emissions.</p><p>"Once you begin talking about changing basic temperature, air temperature, water temperature, weather patterns, once that happens, you can’t reverse that quickly, it takes a long time," Buchsbaum says. "We’re now in the position where we're trying to adapt."</p><p>Green roofs and restored wetlands can dampen the effects of extreme storms and help prepare for changing lake levels.</p><p>Experts think if people help boost the resiliency of the Great Lakes now, it will help the lakes heal themselves in the future.</p><p><em>Resources on climate change:</em></p><p><a href="http://www.d.umn.edu/%7Ejaustin/ICE.html">Jay Austin's page</a></p><p><a href="http://www.nps.gov/apis/naturescience/climate-change-and-sustainability.htm">Apostle Islands climate change and sustainability efforts</a></p><p><a href="http://www.nps.gov/apis/naturescience/upload/Climate%20Change%20Adaptation%20in%20the%20Great%20Lakes.pdf">A climate change lecture by Bob Krumenaker with links to a lot of studies</a></p><p><a href="http://ttp/www.cityofbayfield.com/ecomunicipality.htm">City of Bayfield sustainability efforts</a></p><p><a href="http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/resources/12-07.pdf">Bioscience tree study</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wicci.wisc.edu/climate-map.php">Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts</a></p><p><a href="http://online.nwf.org/site/DocServer/Climate_Change_and_Great_Lakes_Water_Resources_Report_FI.pdf?docID=2442">NWF Climate Change and Great Lakes Water Resources Report</a></p><p><a href="http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/News-by-Topic/Global-Warming/2010/10-29-10-Great-Lakes-Adaptation-Report.aspx">NWF Improving the Odds: Using Climate-Readiness to Reduce the Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Lakes Ecosystem</a></p><p><a href="http://healthylakes.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/how-global-warming-report-081.pdf">Great Lakes Restoration &amp; the Threat of Global Warming, Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition</a></p><p><a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/greatlakes/">Union of Concerned Scientists' Report</a></p><p><a href="http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/climate/superior">Minnesota Sea Grant </a></p><p><a href="http://www.globalchange.gov/">U.S. Global Change Research Program</a></p><p><strong>For an international take on water issues, see Worldviews stories on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-13/year-later-many-pakistan%E2%80%99s-poorest-flood-victims-refuse-return-home-8909">Pakistan's flood victims</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-14/north-china%E2%80%99s-south-north-water-diversion-project-world%E2%80%99s-largest-divers">China's water diversion.</a></strong></p><p><em>Click below to hear more about adapting to climate change with Andy Buchsbaum. He heads the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483552-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-12/89058/Interview%20with%20Andy%20Buchbaum.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 13 Jul 2011 14:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-13/climate-change-hits-mightiest-great-lakes-89058 Biologists battle killer in the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/content/biologists-battle-killer-great-lakes-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-06/88734/Lamprey eel_Front and Center.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A lot of people are worried about Asian carp swimming into the Great Lakes. We know from experience how bad an invasive species can be. Sea lamprey devastated the Great Lakes fishery in the 1940s and 50s, and they still kill a lot of fish.</p><p>Sea lamprey are native to the Atlantic Ocean. They swam into the upper Great Lakes through ship canals. Now that they’re here, they can’t be eradicated; they can only be reduced in number, and that’s a constant battle.</p><div class="daylife_smartgalleries_container" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 375px; width: 550px; text-align: center;"><iframe class="daylife_smartgalleries_frame" src="http://galleries.wbez.org/gallery_slideshow/1309889044740?width=550&amp;disable_link_to_hosted_page=0&amp;height=375&amp;show_related=0" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 100%; width: 100%;" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div><p><br> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big ship diary: nine days on a freighter </a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-04/dredging-shipping-industry-declares-state-emergency-88579"><strong>Dredging: Great Lakes shipping emergency</strong></a></li></ul><p><strong>BLOG POST</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-06/great-lakes-least-loved-creature-video-88538"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-05/Bloody Sealamp_.jpg" style="width: 84px; height: 64px; float: left;" title=""></a><span style="font-size: 11px;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-06/great-lakes-least-loved-creature-video-88538"><strong>The Great Lakes<br> least loved<br> creature (VIDEO)</strong></a></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>“It’s kind of a whack-a-mole situation,” says Don Schreiner, area fisheries supervisor for Lake Superior for the Minnesota DNR.Federal, state, and Canadian government agencies cooperate on sea lamprey control. Schreiner says they’ve tried cutting back efforts on some lakes.</p><p>“We thought we had them under control,” he says. “We moved that control to another lake that needed more help, and sea lamprey just blossomed where we moved the control away from.”</p><p>Sea lamprey swim up rivers to reproduce, so many of the tributaries into the Great Lakes have lamprey barriers now. Fish ladders allow other fish to pass, but sea lamprey can’t get over them.</p><p>On a June morning, Tom Davies visited the barrier on the Brule River in northern Wisconsin. Davies is a seasonal worker for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. One of his jobs is to climb down into a trap on the side of the barrier in hip waders and use a net to scoop out the sea lamprey that have been trapped that day.&nbsp; Davies says some days, there are as many as 600 sea lamprey in the trap.</p><p>“You come down off the ladder and you’re literally stepping on them, and they’re swimming all around you, hitting you in the waders,” he says.</p><p>Davies says he and his coworkers have joked that the TV show “Fear Factor” should have had people in swimming suits climb into the trap. It would have been horrifying. Adult sea lamprey are a foot or more long, gray and slimy looking. They look like eels, but a sea lamprey’s head ends in a big, round suction cup mouth, filled with rows of teeth. They kill fish by latching onto them, rasping a hole, and sucking out the fluids.</p><p>Davies grabs a sea lamprey and lets it latch onto his bare arm. He has to pry it off.</p><p>“See the mark they leave so quick?” he asks. There’s a red ring on his skin.</p><p>Workers at the barriers measure and sex the lampreys. The males are saved for one of the control projects. They’re sterilized and released in the St. Mary’s River, between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, where they compete with fertile males and reduce the number of fertilized eggs.</p><p>Workers also apply a chemical to streams where sea lamprey spawn to kill the young.</p><p>The Minnesota DNR’s Don Schreiner says these control efforts cost $20 million a year, “and that’s funding we continually fight for in Congress.” It’s on the books to be reduced by 20 percent in 2012.</p><p>Schreiner says the Great Lakes’ fishery depends on sea lamprey control. Estimates of the worth of that fishery range as high as $7 billion. Most of that economic return comes from sport fishing, but commercial fishing is important to the Great Lakes region, too.</p><p>Even on Lake Superior’s north shore, where the water is cold and deep and doesn’t produce a lot of fish, a small commercial fishery has made a comeback.</p><p>In the early 20<sup>th</sup> century, there were more than 400 commercial fishermen on the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior. But overfishing, pollution, and sea lamprey devastated the fish population. Today, some of that pollution has been cleaned up, fishing has been restricted, and some fish are stocked. Fish such as lake trout and cisco have rebounded. But the state is being conservative, and will only license 25 commercial fishermen.</p><p>Most of those fishermen also do something else for a living. But fisherman Stephen Dahl says he’s not part of a vanishing breed.</p><p>“There’s definitely a perception that we’re the last of the Mohicans, we’re dying out,” Dahl says. “And it’s like, no, it’s changed. It’s a changed world.”</p><p>Dahl heads out into the big lake in a small, open boat every morning, unless there’s too much ice in the harbor for him to break through. He hauls nets from the depths by hand. It’s hard work. Some days the lake is rough and the wind howls. He laughs when he’s asked about being wet and cold.</p><p>“I think I was born wet and cold,” he says.</p><p>Dahl is only allowed to catch cisco, which North Shore fishermen refer to as lake herring. In other parts of the lake, it’s legal for commercial fishermen to take trout and whitefish. They’ve got a ready market. Restaurants and delis on the shore snap up the fish when they’re available. Sometimes, when people know the fish are running, they’ll come to the dock and buy the fish right from the fishermen.</p><p>“This whole local food movement is really good,” Dahl says. It’s increased demand. “Most of the time I can’t keep up.”</p><p>The local food movement helps support an apprentice Dahl recently trained. Dahl’s apprentice, Jason Bradley, now has his own master’s license and his own boat. He’s also co-owner of a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. His customers get the usual box of vegetables, but they can also get a herring share.</p><p>Customer Mark Gordon co-owns a charter sailing business, and likes to serve his customers local food. He’s a big fan of Jason Bradley’s herring.</p><p>“You just feel good eating the fish when you know it’s come right out of the lake,” Gordon says. “There’s no question about where it’s come from and how it was processed.”</p><p>Lake Superior fish is also sold around the country, and even overseas. Some of it goes to Iowa and is made into gefilte fish. Some of the roe goes to Scandinavia.</p><p>Native fish have bounced back in Lake Superior, but the DNR’s Don Schreiner says it’s still a “precarious situation.”</p><p>Schreiner says control measures keep sea lamprey numbers down to about 5 to 10 percent of what they were at their height.</p><p>“It sounds like we’ve done a good job, and we have,” Schreiner says. “Except that sea lamprey are very efficient.”He says biologists estimate that sea lamprey still kill as many fish in Lake Superior as sport and commercial fishing combined.</p></p> Wed, 06 Jul 2011 16:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/biologists-battle-killer-great-lakes-0