Lake Michigan sunset

Michigan, being the Great Lakes State, gets a lot of attention in the national political and environmental frontier as concerns about climate change and access to fresh water begin to surface in conversations. As the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, keeping the Great Lakes great will soon become a priority for environmental activists nationwide, and even globally.

The entire state of Michigan lies within the Great Lakes’ watershed, and the Great Lakes basin is home to a population of thirty million people between Canada and the United States. For these reasons, prioritizing sustainability, with regard to the Lakes, is important for ensuring access to – and the health of – the water to citizens of this region. But, the Great Lakes region is facing pressure from the Southwest United States and even other parts of the world as fresh water becomes scarcer. Policies have been put in place, and continually challenged, that rest the power to decide where Great Lakes water goes with the U.S. and Canadian states and provinces that immediately surround the lakes.

Great Lakes Basin Watershed

Recent years have also proven difficult for the Great Lakes group to maintain a healthy biodiversity within the system. The Lakes are continually plagued with new influxes of invasive species, like the Asian Carp, that reach the region on cargo ships traveling from the Atlantic Ocean, through Northeast rivers, to the lakes. Invasive species issues are problematic to the overall ecosystem, which reverberates as economic impacts on fishing and tourism industries for the Great Lakes states.

Think about how you are connected to the Great Lakes, especially if you reside within the continental United States or Canada. How can your lifestyle impact the health of the Great Lakes region?

Credits: Lake Michigan image by Meg Mulhall. Other image and data linked to sources.