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What's New
POTUS proposes cut In Great Lakes protection program — again
The Associated Press (2/9)
For the third consecutive year, President Barack Obama is proposing to cut a program that focuses on the Great Lakes’ biggest environmental threats.

Stefanik talks invasives with environmental groups
Glens Falls Post-Star (2/6)
In N.Y., a plan to restore water levels of the St. Lawrence River back to historic norms was a major talking point at a summit focused on combating invasive species.

Erie County’s microbead ban was far ahead of its time – maybe too far
The Buffalo News (2/3)
In N.Y., the Erie County Legislature was ahead of the game last summer when it passed one of the most stringent laws in the country banning microbeads, which are seen as polluting rivers and lakes. Perhaps a little too far ahead.

Werner OK with oil pipeline in Great Lakes
Traverse City Record-Eagle (2/2)
In Traverse City, Mich., city Commissioner Tim Werner called a 63-year-old pipeline that carries 23 million gallons of crude oil through the Straits of Mackinac each day an "unknown risk" and declined to support a resolution asking state officials to shut it down.

Coalition concerned about copper mining waits for next move
Duluth News Tribune (1/30)
The Downstream Business Coalition is sitting mostly quiet as the PolyMet copper project awaits approval. Critics say the mine and processing plant could release pollution into the St. Louis River watershed that could find its way downstream to Lake Superior.

Designation of Erie watershed stalls in council
The Toledo Blade (1/27)
In Ohio, Lucas County commissioners are imploring Toledo City Council's committee-of-the-whole to support them in their effort to get the sprawling 4 million-acre western Lake Erie watershed designated by state and federal officials as impaired.

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Overview
The environment of the Great Lakes region is blessed with huge forests and wilderness areas, rich agricultural land, hundreds of tributaries and thousands of smaller lakes, and extensive mineral deposits. The region's glacial history and the tremendous influence of the lakes themselves create unique conditions that support a wealth of biological diversity, including more than 130 rare species and ecosystems.

The environment supports a world-class fishery and a variety of wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, weasel, fox, black bear, bobcat, moose and other furbearing animals. Bird populations thrive on the various terrains, some migrating south in the winter, others making permanent homes. An estimated 180 species of fish are native to the Great Lakes, including small- and large-mouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, lake herring, whitefish, walleye and lake trout. Rare species making their home in the Great Lakes region include the world's last known population of the white catspaw pearly mussel, the copper redhorse fish and the Kirtland's warbler.

The region's sand dunes, coastal marshes, rocky shorelines, lakeplain prairies, savannas, forests, fens, wetlands and other landscapes contain features that are either unique or best represented withink the Great Lakes basin. For example, the world's largest freshwater dunes line the shores of Lake Michigan.

Over the course of history, many types of pollution have inflicted and been reduced in the region, yet significant challenges remain. These range from threats to divert water out of the Great Lakes basin to the introduction of nonindigenous invasive species and airborne toxics into the basin. Protection of water quality and sustainable development remain long-term goals.

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General Resources
Great Lakes Atlas
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
This Environmental Atlas and Resource Book is an excellent resource on the Great Lakes, including physical characteristics, natural processes, people, concerns, joint management and new directions (mirrored on Environment Canada's site).

Great Lakes Radio Consortium
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium produces environmentally focused radio features and news featured on more than 100 public radio stations around the Great Lakes region and several national radio programs.

Illinois Natural Resources Information Network
Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Provides natural resource-related information to the citizens of Illinois so that individuals and groups can make informed decisions about natural resource management and policy.

Science & The Environment Bulletin
Environment Canada
This bimonthly publication provides information on leading-edge environmental science and technology. Includes collections on habitat, pollution, species at risk, water and related topics.

Software for Environmental Awareness
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Purdue University produce free interactive software programs on environmental topics.

Summary of Environmental Law in North America
Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)
The CEC created this summary to improve public access to the environmental law of the three parties to the North American Free Trade Agreement; i.e., Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Visualizing the Great Lakes
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
GLNPO has an extensive collection of images from around the Great Lakes that is available for you to use.

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Updated: February 13, 2016
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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