Michigan environment roundup: Minnesota has Isle Royale envy

Isle Royale is party Michigan but closer to Canada than both the state and Minnesota. Blame faulty maps, copper fever and Ohio, the Star Tribune reports.

Bridge Magazine is committed to sharing the best environmental journalism in and around Michigan, an effort called #EnviroReads.

In Bridge’s Michigan Environment Watch, we share a roundup of recent stories on the Great Lakes or other issues. If you see a story we should include next time, use the hashtag #EnviroReads on Twitter or email Environmental Reporter Jim Malewitz at jmalewitz@bridgemi.com.

Why isn't Isle Royale a part of Minnesota?

StarTribune (Minnesota)

“Isle Royale sits roughly 20 miles east of mainland Minnesota and 55 miles west of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, yet the island in Lake Superior belongs to Michigan. But why?” writes Emma Dill. “...The answer...can be traced to faulty maps, ‘copper fever’ and the dispute over a strip of land in northern Ohio, but first we first have to ask why the island belongs to the United States at all. Isle Royale is, in fact, closer to Canada than either Minnesota or Michigan.”

Spotted lanternfly: The invasive species Michigan scientists want you to look for

Lansing State Journal

“The insects are making their way across the East Coast, feasting on the insides of trees, carpeting infested forests in sticky secretions and threatening multi-million dollar agriculture and forestry industries. They are hundreds of miles away, but with their tendency to lay eggs on vehicles, that doesn't matter,” Carol Thompson reports. “The question isn't if the spotted lanternfly will get to Michigan. It's when.”

Push for powerboat link from Grand Rapids to lakeshore drawing scrutiny


“A push to dredge part of a 23-mile stretch of the Grand River between Eastmanville Township and Grand Rapids is drawing scrutiny in Ottawa County, with some residents and elected officials questioning the project’s environmental impact and maintenance costs,” Brian McVicar reports. “The project is being led by Dan Hibma, a West Michigan developer and husband of former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. He wants to make the Grand River accessible to power boaters looking to travel from Grand Rapids to Lake Michigan, a move that supporters say will boost tourism and could eventually generate an estimated annual economic impact of up to $5.7 million.”

New enviro report underscores loose factory farm regulation

Michigan Advance

“More than a hundred farms in Southeast Michigan may be contributing to Lake Erie pollution, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Environmental Law & Policy Center. Fertilizer in farm runoff is a common pollutant and contributed to a toxic algae bloom that forced Toledo, Ohio, officials to shut off about 500,000 residents’ water for three days in 2014,” Michael Gerstein reports. “But while environmentalists argue for more oversight at the largely unregulated small and midsize farms that produce it, the report may also highlight just how much is unknown about farm pollution, in general. There is little oversight and scant regulation nationwide on small and midsize farm fertilizer use — a major contributor to toxic algal blooms in both fresh and saltwater across the globe.

Straits of Mackinac are a bird of prey superhighway

Michigan Radio

“If you’re a raptor that needs to cross the Great Lakes, the Straits of Mackinac are the path. Mackinaw City is like a raptor migration funnel,” Kaye LaFond reports. “...Last year, the Straits of Mackinac broke a world record for raptor migration. Five-thousand three-hundred and sixty red-tailed hawks flew over on a single day in spring.”

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Tue, 04/23/2019 - 2:49pm

The Isle Royale controversy is an interesting one, another one lesser known is the possibility that that Drummond Island should a part of Canada and not Michigan. The story goes that a system needed to be devised to determine the boundary for islands in the upper Great Lakes and they decided that the direction of the water flow past a certain point on an island would be the determining factor agreed to by both Great Britain (Canada was not yet a country) and the US. The people on Drummond Island decided they wanted to be a part of the US so they got the British representative drunk and convinced him that the water flow went in favor of the US when in reality it was just the opposite and he signed off on the deal that made the island part of the US. I have searched for any documentation of this story or what the agreement was for determining the boundary and came up empty. My guess is it is just something invented by the people on the island (my parents were told about it when they visited there). It makes for a fun story anyway.