ONLINE: Shores in Danger – Isthmus


Press release : November 4 “Imperiled Shores” Lake Michigan water levels over the past decade have reached some of their highest and lowest levels in history. What does this bode for the future? Join us for an in-person or live roundtable to learn more.

Click here meet other experts with whom we work to find the stories that answer the question: what is our future in water? We hope to bring future virtual and in-person exploration of the past, present and future of the Grand Green Bay Waterscape to be lit in early 2022.


my floating life

don’t save love

for things

To throw things

to the flood


by the flood

Leave the new one not bought-

all one at the end –

the water

–Lorine Niedecker *

A group of children search for crayfish under the limestone slabs of a bay in Door County. The rolling waves on a sandy beach or the calm of the sunset punctuated by the cry of the seagulls above our heads. The smell of smoked fish and the parade of fishing charters weaving their way to the pier. Or maybe it’s the tall ships passing under the drawbridge or the small slum cities on the frozen bay, many of which fly their green and gold flags of allegiance.

The 120 mile long Green Bay has a bittersweet place in our thoughts. The waters become part of our identity and the best parts hold an important place in our memories. But it has always been a place challenged by our actions on the ground. In recent years, water levels in the Great Lakes have risen at an alarming rate with increasing heavy rainfall, resulting in inundated marinas and coastal erosion and inland flooding with even small amounts of rain. . Great Lakes temperatures are also increasing, adding an additional threat to a struggling fishery by potentially decreasing the effectiveness of the lampricide, which curbs the spread of the invasive sea lamprey. A ubiquitous class of chemicals known as PFAS, often found in fireproof and food containers, has been found in drinking water and some studies have found high levels in fish elsewhere in the state. The bay continues to face polluted runoff and other invasive species. What is our future in water? How to stay resilient? That’s a question to ask in virtual and in-person meetings across the state, including Grand Green Bay.

Green Bay has been ridiculed since early days for smelling just a little bit foul, like exhaling the hundreds of acres of wetlands at the mouth of the Fox River that once fed one of the fisheries the most productive of the Great Lakes. Many of these wetlands were filled with the expansion of the town of Green Bay, modifying a major system of flood control, filtration and rearing areas for fish. The bay was once teeming with commercial fishing boats, now long gone as the Great Lakes fishery suffered from a combination of invasive species and mismanagement.

In living memory, these waters have always been working waters. A busy port, ships from remote areas may have dumped ballast water filled with non-native species like rusty crayfish and zebra mussels which have become invasive. With cries of alarm reaching a crescendo in the 1960s and 1970s, projects were launched decades later to clean up contaminated industrial sites and control polluted runoff. Deformations of wildlife, fish consumption advisories, closed beaches and ‘dead zones’, created by algae fed by runoff, are just a few of the issues that resulted in the designation in the 1980s by the International Joint Commission under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as an Area of ​​Concern in Need of Thorough Cleanup.

Over the past 30 years, many of the recommendations contained in corrective action plans have been implemented. But challenges remain. The “easy” fixes have been fixed, while some of the more difficult fixes have become more complex. Now high lake levels, erosion and coastal damage just add another layer of complexity. What do communities need to prepare for? What are the stories that need to be shared? What’s your story on the water?

* Permission given by Bob Arnold, literary executor for Lorine Niedecker

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