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What's New
Oil pipeline projects face litany of challenges heading into 2015
The Brandon Sun (12/18)
In recent years, the debate over pipelines has spread beyond the direct environmental impacts, like beluga whale habitat in the St. Lawrence River, into broader issues such as climate change and First Nations rights.

Conservation group buys more of island in Lake Michigan
WLUK-TV - Green Bay, WI (12/17)
The Nature Conservancy has bought 36 acres of forest and shoreline on an island in Lake Michigan.

Detroit River comeback benefits Lake Erie
Port Clinton News Herald (12/10)
During the '60s, Lake Erie was viewed as a dead lake, fouled with pollution and toxic algae. With it suffered the Detroit River. In recent years, Detroit has reclaimed habitat and natural areas. Even areas still heavily industrialized along the river have seen a recovery.

Plan invests $24.7M in Michigan recreation projects, land
Detroit Free Press (12/8)
In Michigan, 69 projects are getting the green light from the Natural Resources Trust Fund, a fund which gets its money from oil and gas royalties paid to the state.

TransCanada should look at other options: Couillard and Prentice
The Montreal Gazette (12/2)
Philippe Couillard and the premier of Alberta strongly hinted on Tuesday that TransCanada should find another place for the oil port it planned to build near a beluga nursery in Cacouna.

Sonar maps Lake Huron trout habitat
Great Lakes Echo (12/1)
Maritime archeologists are swapping shipwreck surveys for lake trout mapping in Lake Huron, and they’re using sound waves to do it.

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Overview
The Great Lakes ecosystem's sand dunes, coastal marshes, rocky shorelines, lakeplain prairies, savannas, forests, fens, wetlands and other landscapes contain features that are either unique to or best represented within the Great Lakes Basin, according to a 1994 biodiversity report by The Nature Conservancy.
 
For example, the Great Lakes sand dunes are one of the largest systems of freshwater sand dunes in the world, ranging from high, forested dunes and linear dune ridges commonly backing sand beaches, to active dune fields covering thousands of acres, such as those near Ludington, Michigan. Native dune species include the dune thistle (Cirsium pitcheri), Houghton's goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii) and the Lake Huron locust (Trimerotropis huroniana).
 
Some of the last, best examples of the continent's most imperiled savanna communities lie along the lakeplains of the southern Great Lakes, near Windsor, Ontario, and along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, in particular. Also occurring in the lakeplains is a unique community of arctic and prairie species that persists from the colder, then dryer climatic periods following glaciation. Often called by the Scandinavian name "alvar," these communities are scattered in an arc that follows the Niagaran Escarpment from upper Michigan through southern Ontario and to northwestern New York. Never widespread, this remarkable open bedrock landscape remains intact in only a handful of places.
 
The extensive freshwater marshes of the Great Lakes coasts also are unique in ecological character, size and variety. They range from small wetlands nestled in scattered bays to extensive shoreline wetlands such as those of southwestern Lake Erie, freshwater estuaries such as the Kakagon Sloughs of northern Wisconsin and the enormous freshwater delta marshes of the St. Clair River.

 
References: Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Ecosystem, The Nature Conservancy, 1994

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General Resources
Canada's Aquatic Environments: Habitats
University of Guelph
Includes more than 9,000 pages of information on aquatic animals and habitats.

EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office webpage provides up-to-date information on the President's budget proposal to allocate $475 million towards an EPA-led interagency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Habitat Advisory Board
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has long recognized that habitat quality and quantity relates directly to determining which measures will ensure maximum sustained productivity of Great Lakes fish.

Habitat Management Programs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This index provides information about the various habitat management programs in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

NOAA Restoration Center
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The NOAA Restoration Center enhances living marine resources to benefit the nation's fisheries by restoring their habitats.

Prairies in the Prairie State
Presented by the Openlands Project and the Illinois State Museum, this exhibit discusses the environment, plants and animals, and human interaction of the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie

Prairies of Illinois
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Illinois is known as the "Prairie State," part of the vast grassland in central North America. Learn about the remnants of tallgrass prairie and related flora and fauna through this series of maps, photos and historic overviews.

The Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Ecosystem: Issues and Opportunities
The Nature Conservancy
This 1994 document provides a "first look" at the special biological diversity of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem and at those human activities that place it at risk.

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Education
Habitattitude
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Adopt a conservation mentality: Protect our environment by not releasing unwanted fish and aquatic plants into the wild. Find out what you can do to help this growing problem on this site.

Living By Water Project
The mission of the Project is "working towards healthier human and wildlife habitat along the shorelines of Canada", and to help shoreline residents obtain information to protect their property, prevent problems like erosion, and protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat.

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Related Resources
GLIN: Agencies and Organizations, Environment
GLIN: Biodiversity in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Land Use in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Sanctuaries and Reserves in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Wetlands in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Wildlife of the Great Lakes Region

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Updated: December 21, 2014
Maintained by: Christine Manninen, manninen@glc.org
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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