Lake Superior GLEAMS Blue as 'Least Stressed' of Great Lakes
IMAGE: Maps from the GLEAM Project show Lake Superior is the least stressed of the Great Lakes, but Duluth is facing environmental and ecological threats. Courtesy of University of Michigan.
January 9, 2013
DULUTH, Minn. - The largest of the Great Lakes is also the one faring the best, despite a variety of environmental and ecological threats.
A years-long mapping project shows most of Lake Superior to be blue in color - and Andy Buchsbaum, director of the Great Lakes office of the National Wildlife Federation, says that's a good thing.
"Lake Superior is the bluest of the Great Lakes, meaning it's had the least amount of stress, but unfortunately Duluth has got a very red color. That means that Duluth (and) the St. Louis River ... are places where some of the stresses are the highest."
Buchsbaum says the issues facing Duluth are similar to those at other port cities in the Great Lakes.
"In terms of Duluth, the highest stresses are toxic sediments, sewage - invasive species is a huge one from ballast water discharges - habitat destruction. Those are exactly the kinds of stresses that are right now being targeted by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative."
The initiative has provided funding in Minnesota for everything from moose habitat in Grand Marais to a major cleanup at Stryker Bay. For these local projects and others, across all the Great Lakes, Buchsbaum says the mapping project found that restoration dollars are being used wisely.
"It shows, fundamentally, that Great Lakes restoration funding is being spent in the places that need it the most. So, yeah, there's a lot of work to do, but we also are focusing in the right places and we're doing the right kinds of things already - and that is a cause for optimism."
He describes the efforts as vital for all states in the region, since the Great Lakes provide an economic engine and support a good quality of life.
The Great Lakes Environmental And Mapping (GLEAM) project, conducted by the University of Michigan, has found that the most stressed of the Great Lakes is Lake Ontario. More information is online at greatlakesmapping.org.