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Students on course with technical skills

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On a morning that would otherwise be spent in class at Bradley Tech High School, nine teens were sanding, grinding, measuring and painting this week aboard the Great Lakes schooner the S/V Denis Sullivan, docked off Canal St. on the Menomonee River.

When times were good and grants were more generous, the tall ship wintered in southern Florida, but it's stayed in Milwaukee for the past three years.

A new program called Schooner Boatworks, supported by several grants and Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, has made the most of that situation for the past two years by allowing about 20 Bradley Tech students to work on the ship for 2 1/2 hours each Tuesday for 12 weeks during their second semester.  more...



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Great Lakes ice down dramatically over 40 years

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Winter ice cover on the Great Lakes has dropped dramatically over the past four decades, according to a new report. Peak ice has dropped by 71 percent on average, with Lake Michigan ice decreasing by even more.

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compared satellite photos going back to 1973. Jia Wang, an ice climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the changes are stark. In a year like 1979, ice covered about 94 percent of the lakes in the dead of winter. more...



Environment  Other  

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U.S. waterways crackdown makes waves with boaters

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Local boaters and paddlers are frustrated by the spectre of another crackdown by U.S. customs officials, who are calling on them to phone in should they plan to cross into U.S. waters.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks, get-tough rules on boaters called for more documentation and notification prior to crossing the border of the Detroit River and Great Lakes waterways.

The past couple of years, the rules have been somewhat more relaxed as recreational boaters believed they could go back and forth into U.S. waters for fishing, paddling or travelling without first calling U.S. border authorities - as long as they did not touch down on shore, anchor or come into contact with an American boat.



Other  Watersports  

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Save the Dunes asks for Great Lakes protection

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MICHIGAN CITY — Save the Dunes sent three delegates to the “Healing Our Waters Coalition, Great Lakes Day” last week in Washington, D.C., and Jeanette Neagu, president of the board of Save the Dunes, came home understanding the urgent nature of issues affecting Lake Michigan and the other four Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes provide 20 percent of the fresh water on the planet,” Neagu said. “The planet.”

Ryan Strode, another board member and Nicole Barker, executive director of Save the Dunes, also made the trip to Washington D.C.


They visited with staff members in offices of Republican Indiana Senators Dan Coats and Richard Lugar, with the staff of Democratic Second District Congressman Joe Donnelly and with other members of Congress.  more...


Environment  Other  

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Torresen's Spring Thaw event Saturday a sign of the coming boating season

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The annual Spring Thaw event at Torresen Marine Inc. in Muskegon is a sure sign for area sailors that hours of boat bottom preparation and gelcoat polishing will be under way shortly. The lack of winter in West Michigan could accelerate the beginning of the boating season.The Spring Thaw event is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Torresen Marine’s Muskegon Lake headquarters, 3003 Lakeshore. It is a preseason recreational boating event.  more...


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Muskegon groups rally to support Clipper relocation to Heritage Landing

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The Milwaukee ClipperMUSKEGON – Even before approaching Muskegon County commissioners on details of moving the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper to the county's Heritage Landing, ship supporters lined up broad support.

The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper Preservation Inc., a nonprofit group that has restored and created a museum with the historic Great Lakes passenger ferry, presented commissioners this week with a number of letters supporting the move to Heritage Landing on the downtown Muskegon Lake shoreline.  more...


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Attendance, boat sales, space sales - all up at the 54th Annual Detroit Boat Show

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February 24, 2012 -- Livonia, MI -- The 54th Annual Detroit Boat Show which finished a nine-day run at Cobo Center in Detroit saw a small (1.2%) increase in attendance but a strong uptick in boat sales over 2011.  62,970 people attended the event which ran February 11 – 19 and plenty of those people were boat buyers.  “We had a number of exhibitors who had their best show in over 4 years, said Show Manager John Ropp.  “All commented that the right people were attending the show – and that interest and sales were strong.”  “Positive news about the auto industry, declining unemployment numbers and improving home values is building consumer confidence which is driving boat sales,” said Ropp. more

Events  Other  



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Low Cost Life Jackets for Teens Available for Camps, Schools, Non-Profit Programs

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ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 28, 2012 -- The BoatUS Foundation's Teens Afloat Program helps keep teens safe on the water by offering discounted vest-style life jackets - at just $5 - to non-profit summer camps, schools, or any local non-profit organization providing on-the-water educational programming for teens. Now is the time to help your group get in on the discount. more

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Great Lakes foster different type of comeback

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Call Michigan the comeback state.

We have the fastest job growth anywhere, and native lake trout are filling up the Great Lakes.

But there's another native making a big comeback, and it's not going to be pretty.

In the 1960s and '70s, we had huge problems with a kind of slimy green algae called Cladophora. It would grow in thick mats on the bottom of shallow lakes and near the shores of deeper waters.  more...



Environment  Other  

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Wilmette considering fence, fee for beach

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Access to one of the rare free beaches along the Lake Michigan shore in Illinois may soon be restricted in Wilmette, as the park district considers building a $100,000 fence and charging admission.

The debate over limiting access to Gillson Park's south beach dates to the 1960s, said Wilmette Park District Board President James Brault. It was rekindled in August, when a teenager drowned in an area where swimming is not allowed because no lifeguards are on duty.  more...



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Coast Guard warns of unsafe ice on Lake Superior

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The U.S. Coast Guard Station Duluth warned the public of unsafe ice Sunday.

“Ice conditions are deteriorating rapidly. Major wet cracks and ice breaks have been recognized the last few days,” Boatswains Mate Third Class Matthew Murphy said. “With forecasted temps climbing to the high 30s, this will only accelerate weakening ice.”

Warm weather and shifting winds have combined to create extremely hazardous ice on the St. Louis River, according to the Coast Guard.  more...



Other  SNOW  

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Pinery abundant with rare wildlife

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Just an hour and twenty minutes to the west of London on Lake Huron is a unique and beautiful nature preserve -- Pinery Provincial Park.

While many Southwestern Ontario people know the Pinery as a "go to" summer spot for beaches and camping, it offers much to nature enthusiasts through all four seasons.

One of the most important aspects of the Pinery is its oak savanna habitat. Because this is such an unusual form of Carolinian forest it has become home to unique and rare species of plants and animals.

I spoke this week with Alistair MacKenzie who is responsible for natural heritage education and resource management at the park. I was astounded to learn that there are 160 "tracked species." These include plants, insects, birds, and other animals. Some of these species are at risk. The Eastern hog-nosed snake for example is threatened and is protected by both federal and provincial laws.  more...



Animals  Other  

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In winter, a park on Lake Erie is the gateway to a sci-fi moonscape.

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Don't climb the ice dunes, warn the rangers and the signs. Yet danger seemed remote amid the serene frosted landscape near the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, a 7-mile spit of land arching into Lake Erie from Pennsylvania's far northwest corner.

Nevertheless, locals share tales of daredevils who have attempted ice dune ascents only to crash through and break an arm or a leg, or succumb to hypothermia, or risk drowning in a frosted tomb. Then there was the woman stuck on a dune that broke free and drifted away from the shore.

For those who aspire only to plant their eyes, not their feet, on the dunes, the rewards come with lesser risks, such as fingers numb from clutching cameras.  more...



Environment  Other  

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Wind project on Lake Ontario shore threatens endangered birds: Nature Canada

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PICTON, Ont. - A proposed wind energy project in Ontario's rural Prince Edward County has ruffled feathers with Nature Canada, which says the turbines would threaten several endangered bird species.

The location of the project at Ostrander Point, on land owned by the province, is "one of the most significant sites for migrating birds in eastern Ontario," the national conservation group says. Every year tens of thousands of birds stop there to refuel, drawn by the unique geography of the area on Lake Ontario's shoreline.

"While Nature Canada recognizes wind energy is an important green energy solution, wind farms in the wrong place can be bad for wildlife."

The group has suggested citizens tell the province's Environment Ministry to refuse the application by Toronto-based Gilead Power Corp. for the project.  more...



Animals  Other  Wind  

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FCC Course Change Promising for Boaters

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Agency Acknowledges GPS Interference Issues with LightSquared Plan

ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 16, 2012 - Recreational boaters who rely on global positioning devices to keep them safely on course can breathe a sigh of relief since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans on Tuesday, February 14 to revoke conditional approval of a proposed cellular telephone network that could interfere with GPS signals. The decision came after the U.S. Commerce Department advised the Commission that "At this time there are no mitigation strategies" that could prevent interference with GPS signals if the cell phone network planned by a private company, LightSquared, were to be built as proposed. more

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