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  • Living Along Enbridge Line 5 in Michigan

    Living Along Enbridge Line 5 in Michigan

    If you live anywhere along the route of Enbridge’s Line 5 crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) pipeline, which travels 547 miles across the Upper Peninsula, the Straits of Mackinac, and down through Lower Michigan, you should be asking state and local government officials and emergency responders a lot …Read More »
  • Legal Fact from Legal Fictions

    Legal Fact from Legal Fictions

    A Preface When I sat down to finish this post this morning on the news about Michigan’s agreement with Enbridge to consider replacing an aging, dangerous Line 5 crude oil pipeline through the Great Lakes basin, I realized that what I should really be writing about is yesterday’s dire warning …Read More »
  • New Book: A Great Lakes Journey Toward Advocacy

    New Book: A Great Lakes Journey Toward Advocacy

     Author Mary McKSchmidt will discuss and read from her new book, Uncharted Waters: Romance, Adventure, and Advocacy on the Great Lakes, Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1-3 p.m. at Horizon Books in Traverse City. Mary McKSchmidt is an adventurer—a woman who has wandered across southern Africa; achieved success in positions typically …Read More »
  • A Warm Welcome to Our New Deputy Director, Kelly Thayer

    A Warm Welcome to Our New Deputy Director, Kelly Thayer

    It brings me great pleasure to announce that Kelly Thayer has joined the FLOW team as our new Deputy Director. Kelly will play a lead role in strategic communications and overall program development and implementation. We have dreamed about this day for a long time.   Kelly is a familiar …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Grand Traverse Commons

    Friday Favorite: Grand Traverse Commons

    Though not the flashiest or most spectacular, this week’s Friday favorite is my regular place to hike. It is less of a handsome tuxedo and more of a favorite autumn sweater. One summer in Traverse City, I hiked somewhere in this network of trails every day. I am talking about …Read More »
  • FLOW Releases Report to Save Our “Sixth Great Lake”

    FLOW Releases Report to Save Our “Sixth Great Lake”

    Today marks the beginning of a campaign to protect groundwater in Michigan and our surrounding states as the “Sixth Great Lake,” a lightning-bolt phrase promoted by Dave Dempsey, FLOW’s senior policy advisor and author of a sentinel groundwater report released by FLOW this week. In this second of a trilogy …Read More »
  • Water (Civil) Wars?

    Water (Civil) Wars?

    Dr. Daniel Macfarlane is an Assistant Professor in the Freshwater Science and Sustainability program in Western Michigan University’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He is the author or co-editor of published books on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project and US-Canada border waters, and forthcoming books on the International Joint Commission and the …Read More »
  • The Campaign for Fresh Water

    The Campaign for Fresh Water

    FLOW Releases Model Legislation to Protect Michigan’s Public Waters and the Rights of the People Who Depend on Them from Unauthorized Privatization We’re writing today to invite you to join us in an exciting and critical new venture, the launch of The Campaign for Fresh Water, FLOW’s comprehensive and solutions-based …Read More »
  • PFAS in the Huron River: Every Mile, Every Fish, Every Day

    PFAS in the Huron River: Every Mile, Every Fish, Every Day

    As usual, our 15-year-old son Quincy had fishing on his mind. It was the steamy Friday afternoon start of Labor Day weekend in Ann Arbor. We had just moved Quincy’s brother Alex into a University of Michigan dorm room, and taken my wife to Detroit Metropolitan Airport to visit her …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: A subtle gem in Traverse City

    Friday Favorite: A subtle gem in Traverse City

    When it comes to beautiful places, the Grand Traverse region has an embarrassment of riches. I hope to live to 100, so I can visit them all. One I have come to know well may be one of the most subtle. It’s practically in my back yard beside the Munson …Read More »
  • Paddle Protests & Water Celebration: Weekend Wrap-Up

    Paddle Protests & Water Celebration: Weekend Wrap-Up

    Saturday, September 1 was a day of action for citizens of Michigan. The fourth annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest was held in the Straits of Mackinac, followed by the inaugural Water Is Life Festival. Organized by Jannan Cornstalk, both events drew participants from all over the mitten, coming together to …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Gibraltar Island

    Friday Favorite: Gibraltar Island

    This week, I had the opportunity to travel to a new place that I knew nothing about, which is one of my favorite things to do. I was honored to be hosted by Ohio Sea Grant for a stay at Gibraltar Island in western Lake Erie. For such a small …Read More »
  • Michigan’s Latest Emergency Drinking Water Crisis: PFAS, Another History Lesson Ignored Again

    Michigan’s Latest Emergency Drinking Water Crisis: PFAS, Another History Lesson Ignored Again

    In 1962, with the release of her seminal work, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson sounded a warning to the American public about the perils of persistent pesticide chemicals like DDT to silence the very ecosystems they attempt to tame. Carson’s story underscored the interconnectedness of all living things and systems and …Read More »
  • We Need Another Great Lakes Agreement

    We Need Another Great Lakes Agreement

    Toward the end of Dan Egan’s award-winning book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, the author observes that in the 1960s Michigan unilaterally planted exotic salmon in the Lakes.  The action produced a new sportfishery but also changed the ecology of the Great Lakes in unforeseen ways, with …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Brown Bridge Quiet Area

    Friday Favorite: Brown Bridge Quiet Area

    Look through any Traverse City visitors’ guide book for places to see during your stay, and nine times of out of ten, they’ll point you straight to Sleeping Bear Dunes. With its sweeping, majestic views from the dunes overlook and Caribbean blue waters of Lake Michigan below, it’s no wonder …Read More »
  • U.S. Senate Hearing Sets the Stage for Turning Off Dangerous Enbridge Line 5 in Great Lakes

    U.S. Senate Hearing Sets the Stage for Turning Off Dangerous Enbridge Line 5 in Great Lakes

    Michigan Senator Gary Peters, ranking member of a Senate committee overseeing hazardous pipelines, held a public hearing in Traverse City, Michigan Monday, ground zero in a race to turn off Enbridge’s 65-year old Line 5 before it spills millions of gallons into the Straits of Mackinac and blackens the water, …Read More »
  • Make More Michigan Underwater Parks

    Make More Michigan Underwater Parks

    Michigan’s state park system is considered one of the finest in the nation.  Dating back to 1917, the system includes 103 parks and recreation areas that sustain more than 25 million annual visits. But there’s another, smaller park system, and it’s underwater. The underwater preserve system is also on public …Read More »
  • Friday Favorites – Power Island

    Friday Favorites – Power Island

    Power Island in Grand Traverse Bay has always been a hometown favorite of mine. I have been visiting Power Island since I was a young boy and have always been fascinated about the stories my mother would tell me about how she would visit the island as a young girl, …Read More »
  • Finally, An Honest Conversation About Line 5’s Real Risks to Our Waters and Our Way of Life

    Finally, An Honest Conversation About Line 5’s Real Risks to Our Waters and Our Way of Life

    Over three years ago, on July 15, 2015, the State of Michigan’s Petroleum Pipeline Task Force released its recommendations for the state to conduct an independent risk analysis and independent alternatives analysis on the Line 5 pipelines located in the open waters of the Great Lakes. The Governor’s Advisory Board, …Read More »
  • Friday Favorites – the Mackinac Bridge

    Friday Favorites – the Mackinac Bridge

    Friday Favorites is our new series where we explore some of our favorite places in and around the Great Lakes. The Mighty Mac, the Big Mac, the Mackinac Bridge. One of the most iconic sights in the Great Lakes region, the Bridge has always been a source of wonder for …Read More »
  • Water is on the Ballot, Too

    Water is on the Ballot, Too

    Now that the primary election is behind us, Michiganders will pay increasing attention to this fall’s all-important electoral choices.  FLOW is contacting the nominees for Governor, Attorney General, and northwest Michigan House and Senate seats this week to inform them of the water and public trust issues we think they …Read More »
  • A Tunnel for Line 5? – That Would be a Big Mistake

    A Tunnel for Line 5? – That Would be a Big Mistake

    In an end-run around the public participation process they established, Governor Rick Snyder and Enbridge, Inc., the owner and operator of Line 5, are exploring the possibility of building a $500 million tunnel to replace the stretch of 65 year-old Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.  …Read More »
  • Friday Favorites – Pyramid Point

    Friday Favorites – Pyramid Point

    Friday Favorites is our new series where we explore some of our favorite places to play in and around the Great Lakes. Traverse City residents might be rolling their eyes at the suggestion of Pyramid Point as one of my favorite places in the Traverse City area, but hear me …Read More »
  • Using Art to Explore Our Relationship with Water

    Using Art to Explore Our Relationship with Water

    Sarah Bearup-Neal is the Glen Arbor Arts Center’s Communications/Gallery Manager. She graduated from Michigan State University in 1978 with a BFA in Studio Art and has maintained an active studio practice focused on fiber art since 1999. Sarah lives in Benzie County. Each year, the Glen Arbor Arts Center mounts …Read More »
  • Putting the Public First

    Putting the Public First

    I remember the shock of the journalists on a 1985 media tour of the Rouge River in southeast Michigan when they were told to look down from a bridge to see raw human waste in the waters below. In 1985?  Hadn’t we taken care of raw sewage by passing the …Read More »
  • Protecting Traverse City’s Tap Water

    Protecting Traverse City’s Tap Water

    Anyone who visits Traverse City can easily see how important freshwater is to this region. The iconic Grand Traverse Bay, numerous inland lakes and the Boardman River winding through downtown make freshwater an essential part of Traverse City’s landscape and culture. Our unique freshwater resources provide remarkable recreational opportunities that …Read More »
  • The Right of Passage

    The Right of Passage

    After more than 30 years of working on environmental policy, I moved to within a few hundred feet of one of the Great Lakes.  Given the opportunity to stroll along the shore as often as I wanted, I suddenly realized I didn’t know what I could legally do when the …Read More »
  • “Old-School Conservationist” and a New Book

    “Old-School Conservationist” and a New Book

    Editor’s note:  Tom Bailey has served as executive director of the Little Traverse Conservancy for more than 30 years.  He retires next month. Michigan State University Press has published a collection of Tom’s essays, entitled North Country Almanac.  Tom will be signing and discussing his book Saturday at Horizon Books in Traverse …Read More »
  • The Public Trust Doctrine Percolates into State Courts, Legislators, and Commissions to Protect Groundwater, Streams, Lakes, Economies and Quality of Life

    The Public Trust Doctrine Percolates into State Courts, Legislators, and Commissions to Protect Groundwater, Streams, Lakes, Economies and Quality of Life

    “Water Justice Flows Like Water.”[1]   Law professor Sprout D. Kapua’ala, borrowing from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech in 1968 (“justice rolling down like waters”), captures decades of conflict over the streams and waters of Hawai’i, siphoned and dried from a century of withdrawals and diversion …Read More »
  • Enjoying the Great Lakes This Summer

    Enjoying the Great Lakes This Summer

    Summer in northern Michigan is one of our favorite things, and we are trying to enjoy it to the fullest while it is here. With all of the busyness this season, it does become a conscious effort. It’s not unusual to hear this around the FLOW office: “Wow, is it …Read More »
  • Water: the Great Uniter

    Water: the Great Uniter

    Last Thursday, July 6, was FLOW’s second annual An Evening for the Great Lakes hosted by amazing co-organizers Cammie Buehler and Jeremy Turner at the beautiful Cherry Basket Farms near Omena. What a fantastic night! We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who made the event such a major …Read More »
  • Attorney General Bill Schuette has Ample Legal Authority to Pursue a Shutdown of Line 5

    Attorney General Bill Schuette has Ample Legal Authority to Pursue a Shutdown of Line 5

    By: FLOW Chair, Skip Pruss Taking Legal Action Recently, John Sellek, Attorney General Bill Schuette’s campaign spokesperson, pushed back on the charge that the Attorney General could have taken legal action to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 petroleum pipelines at the Straits of Mackinac, stating “If this claim about the …Read More »
  • FLOW’s Vision to Address the World Water Crisis

    FLOW’s Vision to Address the World Water Crisis

    “The water cycle and the life cycle are one” —- Jacques Cousteau   A White-Water Trip Down the Currents of the Public Trust Doctrine In ancient times, people knew water and the life cycles were the same. Without water, civilizations collapsed. Rome, with its dependence on water and the spokes …Read More »
  • Tapping into Local Awesomeness

    Tapping into Local Awesomeness

    The Local Movement Did you know that the City of Traverse City has been addressing plastic pollution, climate change, and water privatization for almost a decade? I’m so proud of our small but mighty Midwest town here in the heart of the Great Lakes. In 2009, our city adopted a resolution …Read More »
  • Picnics with Less Plastic

    Picnics with Less Plastic

    In preparation for Cherry Festival and the warm days ahead, we wanted to highlight one of our favorite summer activities. For many, picnicking in a park or near Lake Michigan is a summer tradition. In keeping with our #getoffthebottle campaign and dedication to reducing our single-use plastic footprint, we've made …Read More »
  • It’s Time for the State of Michigan to Put Protection of our Great Lakes and Citizens First

    It’s Time for the State of Michigan to Put Protection of our Great Lakes and Citizens First

    Almost three years ago, with the release of Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force’s report on July 14, 2015, Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that the days of Line 5 were numbered. The public also believed that the State of Michigan planned to seek two independent studies on Line 5 to …Read More »
  • JoAnne Cook Brings New Perspective to FLOW

    JoAnne Cook Brings New Perspective to FLOW

    In May, Tribal law expert and educator JoAnne Cook joined FLOW’s Board of Directors. JoAnne, who lives in Northport, is a former Council member, Vice Chair and Acting Chair of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. She also served as Chief Judge of the Little Traverse Bay Band of …Read More »
  • President Trump’s Executive Order to Industrialize Great Lakes Violates the Public Trust

    President Trump’s Executive Order to Industrialize Great Lakes Violates the Public Trust

    On June 19, 2018, President Trump issued an Executive Order that declared “the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters of the United States are foundational to economy, security, global competitiveness, and well-being of the United States.” The purpose of this order is three-fold: Facilitate economic growth and industrial use of …Read More »
  • Progress on Plastics

    Progress on Plastics

    Roughly 500 million straws are used and disposed of in the United States every day.[1] Even though you might want to think that the majority of those straws end up in recycling facilities, the reality is that they do not. These tiny unnecessary tubes end up in landfills, city streets, …Read More »
  • Art and the Environment:  Northport Sees the Big Picture

    Art and the Environment:  Northport Sees the Big Picture

    It’s not often that more than 200 people collaborate to create a work of art – but the experience of Northport suggests that more communities should try. Last September, the Village of Northport dedicated a 32” high, 109’ long Marina Mural, Bay Presents (as in “gifts”), which is quickly becoming …Read More »
  • Water for Flint, Not for Nestlé

    Water for Flint, Not for Nestlé

    Flint is still dealing with the lead poisoning of residents’ drinking water. Residents of Detroit are once again experiencing water shutoffs. Ontario has the highest number of Drinking Water Advisories in First Nations out of all the provinces in Canada. All the while Nestlé is allowed to pump millions of …Read More »
  • The Public Trust Doctrine and the Implications of the Walker Lake Litigation

    The Public Trust Doctrine and the Implications of the Walker Lake Litigation

    FLOW’s organizing principle is the public trust doctrine.  What sounds like an exotic concept is quite simple.  This centuries-old principle of common law holds that there are some resources, like water and submerged lands, that by their nature cannot be privately owned.  Rather, this commons – including the Great Lakes …Read More »
  • Inspiring Young Minds to Take Action

    Inspiring Young Minds to Take Action

    In honor of Earth Day 2018, FLOW volunteer Deyar Jamil gave a presentation on Reducing, Reusing and Recycling to the 4th and 5th graders at Immaculate Conception Elementary School.  Deyar asked students to think about what changes they might be able to make in their own lives to help protect …Read More »
  • Michigan DEQ Ignores Law to OK Brine Disposal Wells

    Michigan DEQ Ignores Law to OK Brine Disposal Wells

    With neither review nor transparency, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on June 1, 2018, granted permits to Michigan Potash Operating for three deep-injection wells to dispose of brine waste in the heart of a wetland complex about five miles southwest of the city of Evart, in southern Osceola County. The latest approval …Read More »
  • Countdown to a Line 5 Shutdown

    Countdown to a Line 5 Shutdown

    Photo credit: Nancy May 7 – It would take at least seven years to plan and build a tunnel under the Mackinac Straits, according to an estimate by Michigan Technological University, if proven to be legal and feasible, while Line 5’s threat to the Great Lakes would grow larger. 6 – A Line 5 …Read More »
  • The Joys of Kayaking Northern Michigan

    The Joys of Kayaking Northern Michigan

    If you can’t find me at my desk at FLOW headquarters, you will usually find me somewhere on the water. I am a fan of pretty much any water activity you can think of. However, kayaking has become one of my favorite ways to get out on the water. I …Read More »
  • Why Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation’s Contested Case Against the Nestlé Water Permit Is Right and Necessary

    Why Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation’s Contested Case Against the Nestlé Water Permit Is Right and Necessary

    Permits that Harm Water and Natural Resources Michigan officials have been busy this spring — busy handing out permits to take or destroy Michigan’s water and natural resources in violation of clear constitutional and legal mandates: A mandatory duty to protect the public’s paramount interest in our air, water, and …Read More »
  • Changing the World, One Child at a Time

    Changing the World, One Child at a Time

    Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.  In honor of Earth Day, I gave a presentation on Reducing, Reusing and Recycling to approximately 700 students at three different schools in Traverse City.  We talked about issues including natural ecosystems, sustainability, population growth, and urban …Read More »
  • Wishing for Water in the Porcupine Mountains

    Wishing for Water in the Porcupine Mountains

    Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Great Lakes get their first official burst of summer. Stores and restaurants of coastal towns extend their hours and see the first long lines of the season. The beaches and bays fill with laughter and people and boats. Not much compares to summertime on the …Read More »
  • Enough is Enough: It’s Time to Decommission Line 5

    Enough is Enough: It’s Time to Decommission Line 5

    Every year, a million visitors reach the shores of Mackinac Island, also known as Turtle Island to the Anishinaabe peoples who first settled here in the Great Lakes.  Unlike most visitors, every May I make an annual pilgrimage to the island to argue the case to decommission Line 5 to our …Read More »
  • The Buck Stops With Them

    The Buck Stops With Them

    Photo: Nancy May – work available at numerous shops on Mackinac Island FLOW reminds state leaders they have the power to defend the Great Lakes from Enbridge. Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have the legal authority to protect the Great Lakes from the major risk posed by the antiquated …Read More »
  • An Evening for the Great Lakes

    An Evening for the Great Lakes

    A Special Celebration to Benefit FLOW Come join us on July 5th for an evening of farm-to-table fare from Epicure Catering, beverages from Baia Estate Leelanau, Arbor Brewing, and Iron Fish Distillery, and delight in the music of 4-time GRAMMY winning mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile. An Evening for the Great Lakes …Read More »
  • Morning on the Manistee

    Morning on the Manistee

    5:32 AM Fishing! Bleary eyed, I rolled out of bed and slowly pulled on a tshirt, long-sleeved shirt, flannel, sweatshirt, and jacket. Tossing a bigger jacket, raincoat, and extra socks into my bag, I dragged myself to the kitchen and immediately flipped the switch on the instant kettle. Give me …Read More »
  • Saving the Straits of Mackinac

    Saving the Straits of Mackinac

    Saving the Straits of Mackinac Yesterday, May 22, 2018, marks the day that our state’s citizens, threatened with the terrible harm of an oil spill from a failed Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, took matters into their own hands. The Straits of Mackinac Alliance (SMA) filed a contested-case …Read More »
  • Appreciating Our Submerged Lands: Michigan

    Appreciating Our Submerged Lands: Michigan

    Submerged Michigan   38,000 square miles.  That’s a lot of real estate.  In fact, it’s bigger than the square mileage of 12 states — including Indiana, West Virginia and Massachusetts.   It’s part of Michigan.  It’s a part you and all other citizens of Michigan own.   And it’s all underwater, …Read More »
  • DEQ Decision Endangers Au Sable River, Violates Public Trust

    DEQ Decision Endangers Au Sable River, Violates Public Trust

    By Tom Baird, FLOW Board Member Once again, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has sacrificed our precious water resources for the profits of a privately owned business and the promise of a couple of low wage jobs. As a result, the waters of the Au Sable River will be …Read More »
  • Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms

    Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms

    Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms A Sunday afternoon spent walking through downtown Traverse City, taking in some much needed and long overdue sunshine and fresh air, strolling along the Boardman River and picking up trash – a perfect day, right? Perhaps that last part sounds less than appealing, …Read More »
  • BAYKEEPER® Heather Smith is Protector and Educator Too

    BAYKEEPER® Heather Smith is Protector and Educator Too

    Grand Traverse Bay is one of the Great Lakes watershed’s special places.  Protecting, restoring and preserving it is the job of many, but a special role goes to Heather Smith, the Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER® at the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay since August 2016.  FLOW was curious about Heather’s work, …Read More »
  • Public Trust Perspectives

    Public Trust Perspectives

    FLOW’s organizing principle is the public trust doctrine.  This centuries-old principle of common law holds that there are some resources, like water and submerged lands, that by their nature cannot be privately owned.  Rather, these commons – including the Great Lakes — belongs to the public.  And governments, like the State …Read More »
  • FLOW Demands State Reject Latest Enbridge Ploy

    FLOW Demands State Reject Latest Enbridge Ploy

    In comments submitted to state officials Friday, FLOW is urging state regulators to deny a bid by Enbridge Energy to install 48 new anchor supports on dangerous Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac while evading scrutiny of alternatives that would protect the environment. Enbridge’s latest request, if approved, would …Read More »
  • Water and Nevada

    Water and Nevada

    When you think of Nevada (and that’s ne-va-da, not ne-vah-duh), I bet a clear picture forms in your mind: Las Vegas and its neon lights, slot machines, Elvis, quick divorces and UFO sightings (among other things). Those are all part of it, yes. But did you know Nevada is an …Read More »
  • Growing the Plastics Conversation towards Meaningful Change

    Growing the Plastics Conversation towards Meaningful Change

    A growing movement is afoot here in the Great Lakes – a broadening recognition and fierce determination to tackle the ubiquity of single-use plastics in our waters. Just in our small neck of the woods in northern Michigan, a number of nonprofit groups, concerned citizens, and conservation districts are seizing …Read More »
  • Interview with Chris Doyal of the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve Council

    Interview with Chris Doyal of the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve Council

    Michigan is the 22nd largest state if you consider only the land within its borders that is above water.  But if you add its submerged lands, it’s the 11th largest. Much of the approximately 40,000 square miles of Michigan under water consists of Great Lakes submerged lands, which belong to …Read More »
  • What Kind of Environmental Agency Does Michigan Need?

    What Kind of Environmental Agency Does Michigan Need?

    For almost eight years, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality has sided with resource exploitation over resource protection. MDEQ’s recent decisions to grant Nestle a 60% increase in the volume of water it can extract from springs near Evart for bottling and sale, and to authorize Enbridge Energy to bypass full …Read More »
  • Water Always Wins

    Water Always Wins

    Last month, I took a plane out to Eugene, Oregon to visit my brother and his girlfriend. We spent most of our time playing pinball and visiting the local tea bar to try out various Oolongs, but one of the days out there, we decided to head out to the …Read More »
  • The Wisconsin Water Diversion Giveaway

    The Wisconsin Water Diversion Giveaway

    The 10-year-old Great Lakes Compact is not just an agreement among eight states. It is also a compact between the citizens and public officials of those states. A decision yesterday in Wisconsin puts both compacts at risk. Wisconsin has now approved a diversion of up to 2.7 million gallons a day of …Read More »
  • Michigan’s Water Legacy

    Michigan’s Water Legacy

    “This couldn’t be just a lake. No real water was ever blue like that. A light breeze stirred the pin-cherry tree beside the window, ruffled the feathers of a fat sea gull promenading on the pink rocks below. The breeze was full of evergreen spice.” — Dorothy Maywood Bird, “Mystery …Read More »
  • Grand Traverse Islands National Park Proposal

    Grand Traverse Islands National Park Proposal

    Eight states border the Great Lakes, but only five national parks.  For those who think the spectacular values of the freshwater coast are underrepresented among the crown jewels of the national park system, there is good news:  a small but dogged group of Wisconsin citizens is keeping the torch lit …Read More »
  • The “Fox in the Henhouse” Michigan Bill Package

    The “Fox in the Henhouse” Michigan Bill Package

    The “Fox in the Henhouse” bill package in the State Legislature is on the move again. The Michigan Competitiveness Committee in the Michigan House of Representatives is holding a meeting Wednesday at 2:30 PM in Room 307 of the House Office Building. On the agenda are the three Anti-Department of Environmental Quality (Senate-passed) bills: SB 652, …Read More »
  • Anatomy of A Spill in the Great Lakes

    Anatomy of A Spill in the Great Lakes

    Five years ago this spring, when I first learned about Line 5, I could only imagine what a catastrophic oil spill would look like here in the heart of the Great Lakes.  Two weeks ago, we dodged a bullet as we watched a hazardous liquid spill from two neighboring transmission …Read More »
  • Kryptonite and Water

    Kryptonite and Water

    This March, I met an amazing young woman from Flint named Kayla Shannon at Freshwater Future’s All About Water conference in Detroit, Michigan.  This conference brought together an extraordinary group of people and organizations across the state from the grassroots, the environment and policy community, and academia, all committed to …Read More »
  • One Word: Pervasive

    One Word: Pervasive

    Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Benjamin: Yes, sir. Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? Benjamin: Yes, I am. Mr. McGuire: Plastics. Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean? Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about …Read More »
  • A Young Organizer Raises Awareness with a June 3 “Floatila” in Traverse City

    A Young Organizer Raises Awareness with a June 3 “Floatila” in Traverse City

    Young people are changing the world.  More evidence is an effort by a young Elk Rapids advocate, Zander Cabinaw, to help organize a June 3 event promoting awareness of aquatic invasive species prevention in the Great Lakes. Hundreds of canoeists, kayakers, paddleboarders and more will turn out for the event …Read More »
  • FLOW Statement on MDEQ Approval of Nestlé Water Extraction Permit

    FLOW Statement on MDEQ Approval of Nestlé Water Extraction Permit

    The MDEQ and the Snyder Administration have failed (again) to fulfill their public trust responsibilities as defenders of our waters. While we are continuing to analyze the state permit and accompanying documentation, and will have a comprehensive response in the near future, some things are clear.  The DEQ issued Nestlé …Read More »
  • The Lake Michigan Mermaid:  Co-Authors Discuss Their New Work

    The Lake Michigan Mermaid:  Co-Authors Discuss Their New Work

    Poets Anne-Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster will read from their new book, The Lake Michigan Mermaid, at a fundraiser for FLOW on Thursday, April 19.  The reading and reception take place from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the Centerpointe conference center, top floor, on the west arm of Traverse Bay. Published by Wayne …Read More »
  • Humoring Ourselves to Get Off the Bottle

    Humoring Ourselves to Get Off the Bottle

    Today at FLOW, we are launching our latest campaign. It’s called Get Off the Bottle, and it combines facts, law, and policy with good old fashioned humor about the absurd implications of bottled water, whose sales surpassed the sales of soda for the first time in 2016.   Just think …Read More »
  • Can One Person Make a Difference? This Sixth Grader Already Has

    Can One Person Make a Difference? This Sixth Grader Already Has

    Hope is in the air, and the water. On a recent trip to Chicago to attend the Patagonia Action Works conference, FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood met an extraordinary young advocate, Marcella Carter.  Spurred into action by her concern about the oil and gas pipelines threatening the Straits of Mackinac, …Read More »
  • The Environmental Governor

    The Environmental Governor

    On Monday, Traverse City’s own William G. Milliken, the state’s longest serving governor, turns 96.  It’s an appropriate time to reflect not only on his outstanding environmental record — the best of any chief executive of Michigan — but also on his legacy of civility and decency, as scarce these …Read More »
  • World Water Day

    World Water Day

    Today is World Water Day, focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is Nature for Water – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges of the 21st century.   In Michigan, citizens are rallying to call attention to the failure of state policymakers …Read More »
  • MSU Extension Has No Business Supporting the Privatization of the Great Lakes

    MSU Extension Has No Business Supporting the Privatization of the Great Lakes

    Although proponents of Great Lakes aquaculture say it can be done without compromising the lakes, accidents have led tribes and First Nations peoples to call for a shutdown of Atlantic salmon net-pen farming along the West Coast of North America. photo: NOAA It would be hard to imagine Michigan State University Extension …Read More »
  • Wisconsin Water Diversion Proposal Flouts Public Trust

    Wisconsin Water Diversion Proposal Flouts Public Trust

    FLOW’s organizing principle is the public trust doctrine.  What sounds like an exotic concept is quite simple.  This centuries-old principle of common law holds that there are some resources, like water and submerged lands that by their nature cannot be privately owned.  Rather, these commons – including the Great Lakes — …Read More »
  • Have We Learned Our Lessons from PBB?

    Have We Learned Our Lessons from PBB?

    Michigan cattle contaminated by toxic PBB in 1973 were slaughtered and buried in landfills. A story in the Detroit Free Press last week revived memories of one of the nation’s worst chemical disasters.  It happened in Michigan 45 years ago.  And researchers are still trying to figure out what the …Read More »
  • Racing to the Top: A Reason for Hope by Liz Kirkwood

    Racing to the Top: A Reason for Hope by Liz Kirkwood

    There’s no question that this is a tough time to be an environmental lawyer.  Just Google “roll back of environmental regulations” and you’ll get hits like “67 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump” or “A Running List of How Trump is Changing the Environment.”  And that’s just a …Read More »
  • Spring Is Coming

    Spring Is Coming

    Although the snow currently falling from the sky would have us believe otherwise, spring is on the way. Tuesday, March 20 is officially the spring equinox, transitioning us out of the stagnation of winter and into the movement and growth of spring. This time of year, the vernal window, brings …Read More »
  • Happy Dr. Seuss Day from FLOW

    Happy Dr. Seuss Day from FLOW

    March 2 is the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel and, in 1997, was officially proclaimed Read Across America Day in his honor. To be completely honest, my favorite of his books growing up was Fox in Socks, but coming in at a close second was The Lorax. (If you have …Read More »
  • Two Poets, a Mermaid, and FLOW

    Two Poets, a Mermaid, and FLOW

    FLOW is pleased to announce poets Anne-Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster will read from their new book, The Lake Michigan Mermaid, at a fundraiser for FLOW on Thursday, April 19.  The reading and reception take place from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Centerpointe conference center, top floor, in Traverse City. …Read More »
  • Two Love Letters to the Great Lakes

    Two Love Letters to the Great Lakes

    LOVE LETTER TO THE GREAT LAKES:   I HAVE ALWAYS LIVED CLOSE TO YOU, I PADDLED IN YOUR SHALLOWS AS A CHILD, DRINKING IN YOUR TASTE. WAVES CARESSED MY BACK AS I WATCHED SAND ON THE LAKE BED, PILED INTO TINY RIPPLES & DUNES…IT WAS MAGICAL! I DREW MAPS & GAMES WITH MY BIG TOE …Read More »
  • Help Stop an Attack on Michigan’s Water

    Help Stop an Attack on Michigan’s Water

    Should Michigan law make it easier for special interests to grab large amounts of water without public oversight? Most citizens would say no, but the Michigan Legislature is considering a “yes.”  The State House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday, February 28 at 9 a.m. on …Read More »
  • Great Lakes Proud

    Great Lakes Proud

    Great Lakes Proud (GLP) isn’t just a local brand, it’s national, even dabbling internationally (with stickers spotted in South Korea, Japan, Austria, and Croatia – to name a few)  – and the work it is doing locally is adding value fit for the scale. Since 2009, the Michigan-based business has …Read More »
  • Skip the Straw

    Skip the Straw

    The production of plastic was first viewed as a miracle, the birth of a surprisingly durable material. But used as a disposable material, that durability is part of its downfall. Plastic degrades very slowly, and it often ends up in the environment and in the food chain. In 1950, the …Read More »
  • Trump Administration: Importance of Great Lakes Cleanup Equal to Hosting a Military Parade

    Trump Administration: Importance of Great Lakes Cleanup Equal to Hosting a Military Parade

    The Trump Administration on February 14 revealed that President Donald Trump’s proposed military parade, inspired by his attendance at the Bastille Day celebration last July in Paris, would cost taxpayers as much as $30 million. While there’s been broad criticism of the appropriateness of such a display by the world’s …Read More »
  • Let’s Go to the Creek!

    Let’s Go to the Creek!

    “Let’s go to the creek!” Wide eyes and an expectant smile stared up at my dad. Growing up with a state park behind our house, I felt the creek had a mystical quality. We would explore for what felt like days, sliding down the hill, peering in the fox den, …Read More »
  • What a Difference 100 Years Makes

    What a Difference 100 Years Makes

    What a difference 100 years makes. In 1918, a US-Canadian commission reported on the condition of the boundary waters between the two countries with an emphasis on the connecting waters of the Great Lakes. In the words of the International Joint Commission, the situation was a disgrace. It was also …Read More »
  • You Can’t Spin This One

    You Can’t Spin This One

    When a special interest group backs bad legislation, it’s almost par for the course that the group will try to doctor its proposal with seemingly innocuous rhetoric. But deplorable legislation now before the Michigan House of Representatives is so one-sided and anti-environmental that attempts by the State Chamber of Commerce …Read More »
  • An Unprecedented Attack

    An Unprecedented Attack

    Since the 1970s, Michiganders have benefited from – and agreed on the need for – basic environmental protections.  Our health, recreation and tourism economy and quality of life have improved since the days of rivers with dead zones and skies blackened by smoke. Now the Michigan Legislature threatens to undo …Read More »
  • Considering Productivity on World Wetland Day

    Considering Productivity on World Wetland Day

    Today, February 2, is World Wetland Day. A 2012 UN Report says from 1900 to 2012, the world lost 50% of its wetlands. As humans, we value our productivity. We want to gut the unnecessary and utilize every minute and every inch to its full potential. However, when we aim …Read More »
  • President Trump Infrastructure Plan Will Pipe Our Public Water Systems to Private Investors on Wall Street

    President Trump Infrastructure Plan Will Pipe Our Public Water Systems to Private Investors on Wall Street

    “This is our ‘New American Moment,'” President Trump said in the State of the Union speech. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.” He talked of building “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.” But based on an outline released …Read More »
  • Attack on State DEQ Needs Urgent Response

    Attack on State DEQ Needs Urgent Response

    Environmentally, Michigan once strived to be the best. Now the Michigan Senate's policy goal is to sink down with the rest. Two bills approved last week by the Michigan State Senate, Senate Bills 652 and 653, would lead to a deteriorating environment in Michigan. They create two supercharged boards dominated by pollution interests …Read More »
  • Please Call Governor Snyder about SB 409

    Please Call Governor Snyder about SB 409

    FLOW submitted a letter to Governor Snyder, urging him to veto Senate Bill 409, which violates the public trust in the Great Lakes.  We ask you today to do the same. Please call the Governor at 517-335-7858, and tell him to veto SB 409. Letter to Governor Snyder Detailed Analysis of …Read More »
  • When is Clean Not Clean? A Critical Environmental Issue

    When is Clean Not Clean? A Critical Environmental Issue

    The discovery of thousands of discarded chemical drums on the Hooker Chemical Company property near Montague, Michigan in the 1970s helped spur Michigan’s toxic cleanup program. Now retired, Andrew Hogarth was the respected longtime chief of the Remediation and Redevelopment Division – in charge of toxic cleanup – in the …Read More »
  • The State of the Great Lakes

    The State of the Great Lakes

    Are the Great Lakes getting better or worse? Any good scientist will tell you that’s a short question with a long answer, a simple question with a complicated answer.  And after a half hour of trying to explain it to you, they will have made it only a little simpler.  …Read More »
  • Lake Erie and the Public Trust Doctrine

    Lake Erie and the Public Trust Doctrine

    Last week, the U.S. EPA acknowledged the serious algae problem sickening western Lake Erie.  It withdrew its approval of the State of Ohio’s decision not to declare the western Erie basin to be impaired. Does that mean the lake will be cleaned up soon?  Hardly. EPA’s determination bounces the ball …Read More »
  • The Dunes and the Water

    The Dunes and the Water

    “It is said in the desert that possession of water in great amount can inflict a man with fatal carelessness.”  ― Frank Herbert, Dune As a youngster, my favorite novel was Frank Herbert’s Dune, which takes place on a fictional desert planet. Unsurprisingly, this planet houses plenty of sand but precious little …Read More »
  • The Largest Lake in the World

    The Largest Lake in the World

    We have many important public trust resources in our region, but one of them gets little attention —Lake Michigan-Huron. Lake Michigan-Huron is one water body, despite its appearance to the eye and mind.  People living in Empire or Alpena live on the same lake. They’re in the same watershed and tread …Read More »
  • A Clear Plan to Decommission Line 5

    A Clear Plan to Decommission Line 5

    Advocates of shutting down dangerous Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac presented a detailed plan for its decommissioning yesterday.  The plan gives the state officials who are accountable, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Governor Rick Snyder, a detailed, realistic plan for protecting the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil …Read More »
  • Considering Knowledge of the Great Lakes and Plastic Bottles

    Considering Knowledge of the Great Lakes and Plastic Bottles

    Raised on Schoolhouse Rock!, I learned from a very young age that “knowledge is power.” While at first just a witticism I repeated in the show’s quirky inflection, the saying soon became real. This was one of the first bits of power I acquired, and I ran with it. I …Read More »
  • Can We Meet the Majesty of Lake Superior?

    Can We Meet the Majesty of Lake Superior?

    A big lake requires a big book.  Lake Superior, the largest lake by surface area in the world, now has one.  Nancy Langston’s Sustaining Lake Superior: An Extraordinary Lake in a Changing World offers a sweeping panorama of the lake’s environmental history, its present challenges and a glimpse of the …Read More »
  • Embracing a New Water Ethic

    Embracing a New Water Ethic

    In 1949, renowned conservationist and fellow Midwesterner Aldo Leopold wrote about a land ethic in a seminal piece published in his classic, A Sand County Almanac. He wrote: “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which …Read More »
  • I Live Near Lake Michigan

    I Live Near Lake Michigan

    I live near Lake Michigan. I am among the lucky ones, as is my neighbor, Tom Shaver, who has said more than once that he pinches himself as a reminder not to take living next to Lake Michigan for granted. Like most of my neighbors, Tom has a deep appreciation …Read More »
  • Resources for the New Year

    Resources for the New Year

    As we approach the new year, many of us take inventory. We take a look at the goals we have set for ourselves, set new ones – or the same ones again – and we head into 2018 with a fresh perspective. I will have a physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger …Read More »
  • The Gift of Freshwater

    The Gift of Freshwater

    In a season of gift-giving, it’s timely to remember that the people of the Great Lakes Basin inherited the greatest freshwater gift in the world. We are slightly more than half a percent of the population of the world, but live among 20% of the surface freshwater of the world. …Read More »
  • The Nutcracker & The Public Trust

    The Nutcracker & The Public Trust

    My children and I recently celebrated the season by watching a wonderful Nutcracker ballet production at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Reading the back of the playbill, I was amazed to learn that this extraordinary music and ballet – now an American classic – was conceived one hundred and twenty-five years …Read More »
  • Tilting at Tunnels and a Brighter Tomorrow

    Tilting at Tunnels and a Brighter Tomorrow

    As a native Michigander and optimist, I’ve always welcomed the first day of winter as a harbinger of longer, hopefully sunnier days just over the horizon. But I was recently reminded by a friend that, of course, the winter solstice that occurred Thursday at 11:28 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, actually …Read More »
  • Grading the Governments on Great Lakes Performance

    Grading the Governments on Great Lakes Performance

    Last month, the International Joint Commission (IJC), created by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the U.S. and Canada, released its first triennial assessment of Great Lakes water quality under a new iteration of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. In the Triennial Assessment of Progress (TAP), the IJC commended …Read More »
  • Fish Farms or Holy Waters?

    Fish Farms or Holy Waters?

    Almost everyone agrees: the old state fish hatchery on the Au Sable River in Grayling is the worst place you could pick for a commercial fish farming operation. It is on the East Branch, just upstream from the famed Holy Waters, the heart of Michigan’s blue ribbon trout fishing industry, …Read More »
  • FLOW Submits a Nonpartisan Comment on Proposed Senate Bill 409

    FLOW Submits a Nonpartisan Comment on Proposed Senate Bill 409

    FLOW has contacted key Michigan lawmakers to ask them to defend the public's Great Lakes waters and submerged lands from intrusion. Legislation before the House Committee on Natural Resources exceeds the Legislature's powers and puts publicly owned waters and submerged lands at risk. S.B. 409 allows private riparian landowners to …Read More »
  • Flint and the Straits of Mackinac

    Flint and the Straits of Mackinac

    What do the Flint drinking water catastrophe and the recent agreement regarding the Enbridge pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac have in common?  Both are the result of a gubernatorial administration with fundamental mistrust of the public it serves. In Flint, the Snyder Administration appointed an emergency manager to short-circuit …Read More »
  • Drinking Water and a Forgotten Tragedy

    Drinking Water and a Forgotten Tragedy

    Fort Gratiot County Park north of Port Huron bustles for a little more than three months of the year, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Large groups occupy the gazebos, families snatch up all the picnic tables, teens play Frisbee in the sand while kids rule a small playground, and the …Read More »
  • Where Did the Water Go?

    Where Did the Water Go?

    Jim Maturen of Reed City is a lifelong conservationist who looked personally into the concern that Nestle’s water withdrawals are affecting critical and sensitive trout streams. He did it the old-fashioned way – he went out in the streams. We asked him for his observations. The controversy over Nestlé’s extraction …Read More »
  • State should end discussion, take action on Line 5

    State should end discussion, take action on Line 5

    When the police pulls a resident over for going 100 mph in a 55-mph zone, they don't cluck their tongues -- they click their ticket books. But when Michigan’s state government catches Enbridge Energy putting the Great Lakes at risk by failing again to disclose dangerous conditions on its Line …Read More »
  • Great Lakes groups band together to challenge Nestlé and water crises in Flint and beyond

    Great Lakes groups band together to challenge Nestlé and water crises in Flint and beyond

    “My grandson that’s not here tonight, that’s twelve years old, he was to be an academic ambassador to go to Washington in the year 2014 and 2015. Well he was an A-B student but by the time the lead began to corrode his brain, he was no longer an A-B …Read More »