Here in Michigan, we’re lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful states in the nation. Between pristine and iconic destinations like Traverse City and Mackinac Island, down to bustling urban metropolises such as Grand Rapids and Detroit, it’s easy to see why Michigan was recently ranked as the best state in the U.S.
But if there’s one (or four) things that make living here spectacular, it’s Michigan’s Great Lakes. Read on for a few reasons why these lakes are so important and what we can do to protect them.
Other than being a centerpiece for Michigan’s booming tourism industry, the Great Lakes serve many diverse purposes to us living here in Michigan and our neighbors in surrounding states.
Notably, Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior, and our distant friend Lake Ontario, are possibly the most unique freshwater resources on Earth, containing one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water supply and nine-tenths of the U.S. freshwater supply. Because the lakes and their watersheds span areas of the United States and Canada, they’re also an excellent case study for international shared resource management.
From a numbers standpoint, the Great Lakes watershed region supports 7 percent of the agricultural production of the United States and 25 percent of Canadian agriculture. Apart from water for agriculture, the Great Lakes supply 25 percent of Canada and 10 percent of the United States with drinking water.
They serve as not only as havens for recreation during all seasons, these inland seas also provide a crucial marine transportation system for many of the state’s top economic industries. Canals, rivers, straits, locks and channels connect the lakes together form one of the busiest shipping areas in the world. Over 150 tons of cargo move over the Great Lakes each year!
But besides it all, the utter importance of maintaining the Great Lakes is like that of taking care of our own homes. In a place where so many of us live, work and play, it’s our responsibility to keep these lakes clean for generations to come while recognizing how important they are to our continued way of life.
How is this possible? It’s easy! First and foremost, when you’re out on the water or beach be sure to clean up after yourself and recycle whenever possible. You can also volunteer with various organizations around the state to help cleanup local waterways and help safeguard the lakes from invasive species such as the Asian Carp that come up through the Mississippi River. Finally, educate younger generations on the privilege of living in a place with an abundance of clean freshwater and the importance of saving and protecting it.
If you’re interested in learning more interesting facts and stories about our great state, be sure to check out our other neighborhood focused blogs.