Living in the heartland of the United States means that many of us look both west and east with equal interest. And being in the northern part of the heartland brings us right next to Lake Michigan, one of the world’s great lakes.
We love this lake. On a beautiful summer day, we can see sailboats out on the horizon as we stroll along the shore. We can play on the beach and in its waters. People fish for yellow lake perch, bluegills, walleye pike, bigmouth bass and more.
Altogether, the Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, account for 20 percent of the earth’s surface fresh water. That is a lot! Not so long ago, Americans took these lakes for granted as if they would be with us in their pristine state forever. That time of innocence has ended.
While we must use lake water for our drinking, pollution with industrial waste and municipal sewage is taking its toll. We are also seeing mercury and agricultural pesticide pollution. I remember seeing the foam of yellow household detergent on the waves of the river below Niagara Falls in 1969 just before the falls were shut off for repair. These magnificent waterfalls are located on the Niagara River which connects two of the five Great Lakes: Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Environmentalists are fighting the algae on Lake Erie and the many invasive species making their way in to each of the lakes from other ecosystems. These invasive species upset the balance of biodiversity and cause some species to become extinct. For example, a huge problem for all the lakes has been the Zebra mussel infestation.
We love our great lakes, and want to support in any way that we can, those who are trying to restore and protect them.