Michigan Environment Watch

Michigan Environment Watch examines how public policy, industry, and other factors interact with the state’s trove of natural resources.


Algae is again fouling Lake Erie. Thanks a lot, Ohio.

September 6, 2019 | Mike Wilkinson

As water quality fears rise, many Michigan farmers are doing their part to stem the flow of algae-producing nutrients, widespread measures that Ohio can only dream of.

Higgins Lake’s crystal waters are under threat. Blame poop (and other stuff)

September 6, 2019 | Joel Kurth

It’s not just Higgins Lake. Leaky septic systems and fertilizers are leading to a growth of algae in northern Michigan’s clear water lakes and could require big-time investments to fix.

Audit: Michigan Office of the Great Lakes didn't keep track of money

August 30, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The government agency is supposed to restore wetlands, but hasn’t updated action plans for years and failed to keep tabs on grants, an audit finds.

Rising waters of Lake Michigan assault Grand Traverse coast. In photos.

August 28, 2019 | John L. Russell

Vanishing beaches. Swamped piers. Snapped concrete. Near-record high waters battered the scenic peninsula from Traverse City to Leland.

Battle looms over laws to slow spread of invasive species in Great Lakes

August 26, 2019 | Jim Malewitz, Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Ballast water regulations have limited the introduction of new species in the Great Lakes, but new research shows they may be spread by domestic freighters. The shipping industry claims new rules would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Michigan environment roundup: State says Flint is violating Safe Drinking Water Act

August 26, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The latest can’t-miss journalism about natural resources in Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Opinion | Wind turbines helping fund schools? It’s happening in Michigan

August 26, 2019 | Peter Sinclair

An unexpected funding source – revenue from wind turbines – is helping some Michigan schools stay afloat.

All eyes on Grand Traverse Bay as deadline looms for tribal fishing decree

August 22, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

A consent decree that carves out fishing rights in the Great Lakes for five Michigan tribes is set to expire next August and negotiations have yet to start with the state. The outcome could shape fisheries for decades.

Environment roundup: Michigan punts on PFAS testing at dairy farm

August 22, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The latest can’t-miss journalism about natural resources in Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Q&A: Demystifying sky-high electricity rates in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

August 22, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

“There is widespread discontent” with the U.P.’s biggest electricity provider: Upper Peninsula Power Co. Elise Matz, a consumer advocate, wants to help Yoopers understand what’s going on.

Michigan farm country testifies of widespread crisis as crops go unplanted

August 13, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

At a legislative hearing, Michigan farmers, academics and public officials predict fallout from bad weather and a trade war will be widespread and long-lasting.

Study: Asian carp could thrive in Lake Michigan, despite earlier doubts

August 12, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

 A new University of Michigan study found that voracious bighead carp could survive in wider areas of Lake Michigan than previously thought. The findings loudened calls for Congress to approve a $778 million barrier to prevent the invasive fish from jeopardizing the Great Lakes’ $7 billion commercial fishery. 

Before debates, Gretchen Whitmer urges Democrats to protect Great Lakes

July 29, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Joining fellow Democratic governors in Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Michigan’s governor urges presidential hopefuls to protect the Great Lakes by backing proposals that would improve water quality and thwart invasive species. 

It’s not just Flint: Poverty is bad for your health in Michigan, study finds

July 25, 2019 | Ted Roelofs, Jim Malewitz

As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer focuses on environmental justice, a new study by the University of Michigan maps ‘hot spots’ where low-income people of color are exposed to high levels of pollution.

As PFAS fears spread, Michigan ramps up testing by zapping fish

July 24, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

‘Welcome to the rodeo’: Bridge Magazine gets first-hand look at Michigan regulators’ efforts to learn more about toxins in ‘forever chemicals’ by killing and testing fish.

Michigan environment roundup: Lake sturgeon on the rebound

July 24, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The latest can’t-miss journalism about natural resources in Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Think it’s hot now? Michigan’s 90° days could quadruple in 20 years

July 16, 2019 | Magdalena Mihaylova

Climate change could bring sweltering, dangerous summers to the Midwest, a new report warns, with 34 days per year above 90° if nothing is done. Kalamazoo, Benton Harbor and Monroe would be the hottest.

Climate change could bring woe to Michigan’s lakes, farms, forests

July 16, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

More than heat, unchecked climate change could worsen crop yields, infrastructure and air pollution. Here’s what researchers say could happen in Michigan in coming decades.

Michigan environment roundup: Expect severe algae blooms on Lake Erie

July 16, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The latest can’t-miss journalism about natural resources in Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Invasive plants choke Michigan waters. So why can anyone order them online?

July 11, 2019 | Alexandra Schmidt

Residents can order invasive plants through specialty websites, even though they are illegal in Michigan. Is there a better way to protect the state’s fish, waters and tourism industry?