The Eagles Are Back

April 29, 2015


Please read about the comeback of the American Bald Eagle in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes by Barbara Spring available on, and many other bookstores. Bald eagles were nearly wiped out until we took action in Grand Haven MI to ban DDT. We went to the city council meetings three years in a row until they were convinced of stopping the spraying of DDT to stop Dutch elm disease.  The pesticide was running into Lake Michigan and building up in food pyramids and the eagles’ eggs became too thin and never hatched. 
After DDT was banned in Grand Haven, Holland Michigan people came and we formed the Michigan Pesticides Council and met at MSU along with ornithologists, Ted Black and George Wallace along with other people such as John Kitchel, Joan Wolfe, Norm Spring (Wolfe and Spring were just named to the West Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame for this work)and others. Through this DDT was banned in Michigan and then the U.S. and Canada.
I wrote the book without mentioning this story, but to show the public how this environmental victory came about through a grass roots process.  It is for the general public so it is easy to read. the Dynamic Great Lakes is widely available at the Bookman in Grand Haven, Barnes & Noble and
eagle photo used with permission of Steve Damstra

Only three left.

Only three left.

After a very cold winter, only three wolves survived on Isle Royale, but the Moose population has soared.

Click the link below for more information

Earth Day April 22

April 9, 2015

For the sake of our children, think of what you might do for Earth Day April 22.On the Beach in Grand Haven, MICare for the Planet

Care for the Planet

View of Great Lakes from Outer Space

BThe birds have returned and and some are starting to build nests even though there is still ice on Lake Michigan.  Pictured is an oriole I painted in watercolor.

Read about ice on the Great Lakes in The Dynamic Great Lakes.  This non-fiction book is available at Barnes & Noble, and many other places.

On the shoreline of Grand Haven Michigan, the ice on Lake Michigan is retreating and people are drawn to the spectacle.  But it’s dangerous to walk out on this ice.  Sometimes people fall through and the water is very cold.  Sometimes dogs get stranded on ice floes and it’s difficult to rescue them.clouds ice


According to Native American legend, Mackinac Island was formed by a giant turtle.  Storytellers long ago said that when the world was very young and all the living creatures were wandering over its surface looking for the best place to live, a large number of turtles came to the marshy southern shore of Lake Erie.  Most of the turtles liked the spot so well they settled there.  But the leader of the band, a huge turtle, was lured northward from Lake Erie by strange lights he had seen moving across the distant horizon.  He could not persuade the other turtles to go with him so he made the journey alone.

When he reached a point of land that partly divided Lake Michigan from Lake Huron, he could go no further because the winds were cold and ice began to form around him.  Finally he could go no further and an icy barrier froze him into place, a little black spot on a waste of frozen water.  When the spring returned and the ice melted, the shell of the huge turtle remained fastened in place by a tall reed.  As the years passed the turtle grew into an island which the Indians named Michilimackinac which means “the great turtle.”  The island has always been an important place for Native Americans who told many stories about it.

Today no cars are allowed on the island.  There are horse drawn taxis and lots of bicycles. .

Shore Ice in West Michigan

February 21, 2015


A February day at the beach in West Michigan. Blown in by northwest winds, wave after wave smashes against ice ridges on the shore of Lake Michigan.  Ice balls bounce and roll—their clattering sound mingles with the swoosh of the spray and the roar of wind and waves.  Children who built sand castles on this beach in the summer now look in wonder at the fantastic shapes wind and waves have carved.  It looks as though a giant ice troll had been playing there, heaping mounds of ice, gouging out ice caverns, grottos and deep crevices then smoothing off ice shelves.  Perhaps another troll came along and smashed some of the ice into huge shards that clink together in the water like pieces of a broken plate glass window.

Quirks of wind, waves and the configuration of the lake bottom cause the shore ice to change from day to day and even change from minute to minute.  It seems as if a sleight of hand magician were playing tricks with water, wind and ice.

One of these tricks is to strand wildlife, dogs or people on a floating cake of ice.  This happens when pack ice, floating pieces of ice compacted against the solid ice ridge, is blown out in the lake again by an east wind.  So be careful if you are going to the beach.

talons1Years ago there were practically no eagles, peregrine falcons or ospreys around the Great Lakes due to DDT. Their eggs would not hatch because DDT and like pesticides caused the shells to break.


After reading Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, Norm Spring worked to ban DDT in our community.  He went to the city council in Grand Haven for three years before the city decided to stop the wholesale spraying of elm trees in Central Park for the Dutch elm beetle.


 With this success, people from Holland, MI came and together with professors from M.S.U. formed the Michigan Pesticides Council.  Because of their efforts, Michigan banned DDT.


 It took a long time for DDT to purge out of the Great Lakes system, but now we rejoice every time we see an eagle fly. This environmental success story was the inspiration for me to write The Dynamic Great Lakes. I wanted to show that people can make a difference when the environment is at stake.




The Great Lakes are a gift of Ice Age glaciers that melted leaving their freshwater thousands of years ago.  Since we do not expect another Ice Age in the near future, we should take care of this tremendous freshwater gift.

If a there should be a major problem at a nuclear power plant that spewed or leaked radiation into the air, water and soil, our freshwater system would be contaminated and the radiation taken up in Great Lakes food chains. We would be at risk.  There is too much at stake.

Nuclear power plants are not insured.  The government would be obliged to pick up the bill for damages to property.  Isn’t it about time to phase out the 37 aging nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes basin?  We have been lucky so far.  But as time goes on, the risk grows.
For more information, read the Dynamic Great Lakes.

silver carp

If silver carp (Pictured) and big head carp enter the Great Lakes these invasive species could ruin sport fishing and commercial fishing. We need a good way to keep them out of the Great Lakes.

Alliance for the Great Lakes • Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition • Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Natural Resources Defense Council • National Wildlife Federation • Ohio Environmental Council
Prairie Rivers Network • Save The River-Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper • Sierra Club-Illinois Chapter
New Data Show Multiple Asian Carp eDNA Hits Just Yards from Lake Michigan
(Wednesday, January 14, 2015) Chicago, IL – Asian carp continue to knock on the door of the
Great Lakes, based on eDNA sampling results released last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. The sampling data, collected in October, show the presence of bighead or silver carp
DNA throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Most alarming is detection of
carp DNA very near the lock in downtown Chicago — less than one city block from Lake
In the face of this threat, last winter the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its Great LakesMississippi
River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) with no clear recommendation for next steps to
prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes
and Mississippi River. The GLMRIS report does, however, identify restoring the natural divide
between the two waterways as the one long-term solution effective in preventing the
movement of aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.
The report identified 13 invasive species at significant risk of moving between the waterways.
Despite this finding, agencies and elected officials have yet to commit to this solution.
A committee of key, diverse regional stakeholders known as the “Chicago Area Waterway
System Advisory Committee” has been formed with a goal to reach consensus on a set of
recommendations to elected and appointed local, state and federal officials and the public on
short-and long-term measures to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from
moving between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins through the CAWS. The Advisory
Committee is working toward a deadline of Dec. 15, 2015, with interim work products as
In the shorter term, the people of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins need quick
action to reduce the risk of invasive species moving between these two great waters. While no
substitute for a permanent solution to the problem, immediate risk-reduction steps can be
taken, including:
• Design of a new engineered channel to be constructed in the approach to the Brandon
Road lock, a potentially effective location for reducing one-way movement of species
towards the Great Lakes;
• Evaluation, engineering, and design of control technologies to deploy in the approach
channel and the Brandon Road lock structure; and
• Research to further evaluate reconfiguring locks as a means to control aquatic invasive
species while maintaining the health of native aquatic life and habitat.


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