Great Lakes classrooms move outdoors during pandemic

OUTDOOR CLASSROOMS: There are some schools and alternative programs that are keeping kids out of school — literally — during the pandemic. Winter or not, they’re teaching outdoors. We talk to the Detroit Waldorf School, a private school in Detroit, and the Cambridge Farm and Forest School in Ontario, which are giving students new outdoor learning options. By Chioma Lewis. FOR DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

Pieces of microplastics are common on Great Lakes’ coastal dunes shorelines.

Microplastics threaten Great Lakes, and not just the water

MICROPLASTICS: Microplastic particles, typically studied as aquatic pollutants, have become common in coastal dunes on Great Lakes’ shorelines, a new study says. The situation is worse than originally expected, based on findings from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Sources include a Michigan Sea Grant educator in the Saginaw Bay area. By Lillian Young. FOR ALCONA, ST. IGNACE, CHEBOYGAN, SAULT STE. MARIE, HOLLAND, LUDINGTON, MARQUETTE, MANISTEE, OCEANA, BENZIE, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, LEELANAU, HARBOR SPRINGS, BAY MILLS AND ALL POINTS.

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Buckthorn is the oldest cutter on the Great Lakes.

Oldest Coast Guard cutter with smallest crew and largest Great Lakes responsibility needs replacing

The U.S. Coast Guard wants to retire its oldest cutter on the Great Lakes, the 57-year-old cutter Buckthorn based in Sault Ste. Marie. Doing so will take years, however, as the Coast Guard awaits congressional budgetary approval to begin the process of replacing up to 35 aging cutters. The Buckthorn covers between Whitefish Point on Lake Superior through the St. Marys River connecting Lake Huron to Lake Superior to Cedarville. The first replacement may not be ready until 2025, and it could take until 2030 for all the new ones to enter service.

CSI Great Lakes: genetic material helps researchers find invaders

eDNA: Environmental DNA is playing an increasingly important — but sometimes controversial — role in monitoring invasive species in the Great Lakes. Experts from the DNR and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explain. By Yue Jiang. FOR ALCONA, ST. IGNACE, CHEBOYGAN, SAULT STE. MARIE, MAQUETTE, BAY MILLS, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, LEELANAU, TRAVERSE CITY, HOLLAND, OCEANA, BENZIE, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS AND ALL POINTS.

A dead fish washes up on the shores of Lake Erie, which suffers from harmful algal blooms.

Turning toxic lemons into lemonade, from algae to biofuel

ALGAL SCRUBBERS. A Western Michigan University professor says new algal turf scrubber technology could combat the algae blooms that threaten to suffocate the ecosystem of the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie. The devices filter water over areas designated for algae to grow and eventually be harvested for use as biofuel. Changes in farming practices to reduce runoff removing nitrogen and phosphorus from surface water upstream would still be necessary. By Lillian Young. FOR BLISSFIELD, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS AND ALL POINTS.

The number of cases of Lyme disease, caused by bites from the blacklegged tick, climbed from 152 to 404 in Michigan over a four-year period. Pictured is a female blacklegged tick.

As temperatures rise, Great Lakes region faces spike in Lyme disease

LYME DISEASE: Warming temperatures have lengthened the breeding season for the blacklegged tick that carries the bacteria for Lyme disease, and the number of reported cases in Michigan has risen sharply. The ticks live in wooded and rural areas. Increasing concern about climate change could contribute to public demand for a new vaccine. We talk to experts at the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program in Ann Arbor and nationally. By Lillian Young. FOR CRAWFORD COUNTY, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, PETOSKEY, ALCONA, MONTMORENCY, CLARE, BENZIE COUNTY, HOLLAND, GREENVILLE, BLISSFIELD, IONIA, CHEBOYGAN, OCEANIA, HERALD REVIEW, LAKE COUNTY, BIG RAPIDS, CADILLAC, LEELANAU, THREE RIVERS, STURGIS, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS AND ALL POINTS.

The Great Lakes region has some of the largest alpaca herds in the country.

Great Lakes farmers look to the future with alpacas

ALPACAS: Move over chickens, cattle and pigs. Alpacas, a transplant from Peru, are growing in popularity among farmers in Michigan and elsewhere in the Great Lakes Region. We hear from the owner of a Mount Pleasant alpaca fiber business and the Great Lakes Alpaca Association. By Anne Hooper. FOR MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP! AND ALL POINTS.

Erosion from high water levels on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan has exposed tree roots.

Is Lake Michigan the most dangerous Great Lake?

DROWNINGS: Is Lake Michigan the most dangerous of the Great Lakes when it comes to drownings? This year as of Sept. 30, it accounted for 55 of the lakes’ 94. We hear why from the Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium and Michigan Sea Grant. By Katheleen Fitch. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, HOLLAND, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, ALCONA, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, MARQUETTE, HARBOR SPRINGS, BAY MILLS, SAULT STE. MARIE, OCEANA, BENZIE AND ALL POINTS.