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What's New
Industry, nature co-exist on Detroit’s Zug Island
The Detroit News (10/24)
Home to the U.S. Steel Corp mill operations, Zug Island, along the border of Detroit, Mich., is silhouetted by smokestacks that regularly emit flames. But nature always finds a way, even on Zug Island.

Kayakers look to paddle Krispin Drain on Harsens Island
The Times Herald (10/20)
This project is the last of nine habitat improvement projects in the St. Clair River, in Michigan, and should be done by mid-November. Once the work is completed, kayaks and canoes will be able to use it to access the interior of the island.

Ojibwe tribes want Madeline Island registered as historic site
Wisconsin Public Radio (10/12)
Two Ojibwe tribes are seeking to nominate Lake Superior’s Madeline Island, Wis., for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Old bird waste yields new insight on today’s environment
Great Lake Echo (9/23)
Canadian researchers are plunging deep beneath the ammonia-rich bird waste on eastern Lake Ontario’s islands to uncover the ecological implications of a growing population of double-crested cormorants.

St. Martin, Rocky islands added to wildlife refuge
WLUK - Green Bay, WI (9/23)
Two islands between Door County and Upper Michigan are now officially part of a national wildlife refuge.

COMMENTARY: Grand Traverse Islands offer opportunities
Door County Advocate (9/22)
As the Friends of the Grand Traverse Islands works to gain the designation of a National Lakeshore for the island chain, supporters of the effort see the possibilities.

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The 35,000 islands of the Great Lakes form a superlative natural system. In fact, the largest lake island in the world is Manitoulin in Lake Huron (Ontario), covering 1,068 square miles. Due to their isolation, islands have unique properties warranting special attention and protection. The properties of Great Lakes islands include high proportions of endemic and endangered species, fish spawning areas, open and perched dunes, and nesting colonial waterbirds and migratory waterfowl. These islands contain many critical natural features, cultural resources, and recreational opportunities that, despite being threatened by pressures of unplanned development and habitat destruction, have yet to be holistically addressed.

More Great Lakes island facts:
  • The Thirty Thousand Islands of Georgian Bay, Ontario, actually include around 17,500 islands.
  • The Thousand Islands between New York and Ontario number about 1,500.
  • Lake of the Woods, shared by Ontario, Minnesota and Manitoba, is said to contain 14,000 islands.
  • Finland claims to have more islands than any other country, with a stated total of 179,584. However, Canada probably exceeds this number with its immense areas of island-strewn lakes and thousands of miles of rocky coastline.
  • The largest island created by human action is the Ile Rene-Lavasseur, a 780-square-mile island in Manicouagan Reservoir, Quebec. The reservoir was formed by the damming of a river to flood a 210 million-year-old meteor crater. The crater's central uplift became the island.
References: Great Lakes Island Project, Michigan State University, 1996; Josh Calder, Island Information

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General Resources
Great Lakes Islands Committee
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
View the The Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team's overall assessment of the islands for protection and restoration efforts along with informational factsheets and helpful links.

Islands of the Great Lakes
U.S. EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office
A team has been identifying Priority Island Conservation Areas (PICAs). These PICAs will be part of the forthcoming Framework for the Binational Conservation of the Great Lakes Islands, which will help island managers, owners, and policymakers prioritize and target island conservation actions.

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Lake Erie
Pelee Island

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Lake Huron
Bois Blanc Island
Drummond Island
Georgian Bay Islands
Les Cheneaux Islands
Mackinac Island
Manitoulin Island
People, Places and History: The 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay
Thunder Bay Island

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Lake Michigan
Beaver Island
North Manitou Island
South Manitou Island

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Lake Ontario
1000 Islands

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Lake Superior
Apostle Islands
Isle Royale

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St. Lawrence River
St. Lawrence Islands

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Related Resources
GLIN: Cruises in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Lighthouses in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Sustainable Development in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Wildlife of the Great Lakes Region

See also: Largest Islands of the Great Lakes, courtesy of Josh Calder's Island Information.

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Updated: November 24, 2015
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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