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I Want Your Outdoor Job: Fiona Westner-Ramsay and Mike Ramsay, Canoe Paddle Makers

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Badger Paddles Paddles.

I Want Your Outdoor Job is a new series I have started that finds people in the outdoor industry who are making a living doing exactly what they love to do, and asks them how they did it.

First out of the gate are friends of the site, Fiona Westner-Ramsay and Mike Ramsay, owners of Badger Paddles based out of Huntsville, Ontario.

When not working on their canoe paddles, Fiona and Mike are the primary caregivers for their autistic son, Makobe and actively work on autism awareness in Ontario.

1) How long have you been in business and what got you started?

Fiona: Mike and I met over 10 years ago while working at the Toronto Sportsman Show in the Swift Canoe booth. Mike was working for Swift and I was the guest paddle painting artist. We married a few years later. We always had a dream to work in the outdoor industry and own our own business. With my father (a.k.a. Poppa Badger) being a wood worker and finisher as well as inherited owner of the family business, Badger & Son (he was the grandson), we naturally spent time around his shop learning the ropes, working with wood, mostly fine furniture.  more...


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Grand Valley researchers work on projects to restore lake

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Two Grand Valley State University researchers are working to restore habitat in the Muskegon Lake area, and assist in getting Muskegon Lake de-listed as an area of concern in the Great Lakes.

Al Steinman and Rick Rediske are co-principal investigators on a pair of projects in Muskegon Lake and adjacent Bear Lake.

The planned improvements include a new design and engineering project to restore habitat in Muskegon Lake, which is connected to Lake Michigan, and a wetland restoration project upstream from Bear Lake.

Even though restoration efforts in the area have been underway for several years, some challenges remain. Fish and wildlife habitats are still recovering, and fish and wildlife that live in the area are considered degraded.  more...



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Muskegon, Grand Haven harbors have projects outlined in proposed budget

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WEST MICHIGAN – The Muskegon and Grand Haven harbors would have projects completed as part of the preliminary 2013 budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as proposed by President Obama.

Grand Haven’s harbor is set to be dredged and receive an extensive project to improve navigation. Muskegon’s commercial harbor would be dredged.

The proposal shows $1.36 million for the Grand Haven projects and $611,000 for the Muskegon work. more



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Shipping company invests $500 million in new ships

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Canada's biggest Great Lakes- St. Lawrence Seaway shipping company is on a $500-million shipbuilding binge to renew a significant number of its aging fleet.

Algoma Central Corporation's Greg Wight spoke about it this week to Georgian College marine school cadets and at the 122nd annual International Shipmasters Association conference in Owen Sound.

Wight, the company president and chief executive officer, said the long-term future of the industry had been far less certain only a few years ago.

"Nobody was re-investing in the industry --if you were it was piecemeal on fixing older ships," he said Saturday morning in an interview over coffee.  more...



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Georgian Bay’s ‘lost port’ gets a new face

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There were plenty of picture-perfect locations beckoning to Marie and Cam Bonner when they considered where to build their dream home on the water, but they chose one where they’re also helping to resurrect a unique and historical maritime centre.

The huge deep-water harbour on which Port McNicoll sits at the southern tip of Georgian Bay, a few minutes’ drive from the town of Midland, is a place that some once said was destined to become the “Chicago of the North.” Tonnes of rail and ship freight passed through the port annually; thousands of new Canadians, and then wealthy cruise passengers, trod its boardwalk.  more...



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Michigan boating business rides wave to recovery

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After a six-year downturn, the boating industry is on the rise in the Great Lakes State.

The Detroit Boat Show at Cobo Center is riding this wave of tentative recovery, boasting more boats, brands and leased exhibit space than in prior years when it opens Saturday, said boat show spokeswoman Nicki Polan.

Sales of luxury yachts, refurbished boats, dock space and maintenance services are increasing, Metro Detroit businesses say. Boat repossessions are diminishing, a local company reports. And yacht club membership is recovering, according to two local clubs.  more...



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Lake St. Clair levels high now, but won't last, official says

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There will be higher water levels than last year around Lake St. Clair this spring, but boaters and other water lovers shouldn't think that will last.

The lakes will be about the same depth as last year by summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts.

Boaters and anglers who might be expecting low lake levels because of the lack of snowfall will be pleasantly surprised in early spring to find the lake higher than last year.

Those higher-than-last-year levels in lakes St. Clair and Erie in spring are more of a false positive than a real promise of deeper water, said Keith Kompoltowicz, a Corps of Engineers meteorologist. more...



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BoatUS Asks: If Not Ethanol, Why Not Butanol?

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ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 6, 2012 -- With its ability to attract moisture and clog fuel filters, it's no wonder America's boaters have not been thrilled with ethanol in gasoline, which today is most commonly found as a 10% blend and known as E10 at the gas pump. America's desire for renewable fuels is growing, but recent Department of Energy tests on boat engines showed that increasing the amount of ethanol to 15% doesn't work for boats. While higher ethanol content has been approved by the EPA for 2001 and newer cars and light trucks, E15 is not legal to use in boats and other gas-powered equipment. more

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Coast Guard icebreaker to visit downtown Windsor

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The Samuel Risley — a 229-foot icebreaker with the Canadian Coast Guard — will be stopping by Windsor on Friday.

The vessel is expected to arrive at Dieppe Park via the Detroit River around 2 p.m.

The Canadian Coast Guard calls the ship “the most powerful icebreaker that the Central and Arctic region has,” with four engines allowing it to crush through ice more than two feet thick.



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No aquarium for Windsor

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Aquariums in Cleveland, where this sand shark lives, Toledo and Chicago prove to be too much competition for Windsor. An aquarium is not viable in Windsor.

That's the conclusion of a committee looking into such a project.

City officials and the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research had been studying the idea.

A member of the group, Mario Sonego, who is the city engineer, said there are aquariums relatively nearby. There is a new one in Cleveland, a small one in Toledo and one in Chicago, he noted. Toronto is to build an aquarium at the base of the CN Tower:  more...



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Be A Great Lakes Lighthouse Keeper!

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great lakes
If you're ever had thoughts of living the dream of a more romantic era as a lighthouse keeper, perhaps your dreams can come true.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is looking for people who want to work a couple of weeks as the lighthouse keeper for the Tawas Point Lighthouse this year.

This opportunity is on a volunteer basis.

Actually, you would have to pay $250 each week to use the living quarters, which includes 2 bedrooms and an updated kitchen and bath. But, you would have the chance to take care of the lighthouse, the museum gift shop and give tours.   more...


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'Lake Effect Lace' on display at Erie Art Museum

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So we finally have some snow, in northwestern Pennsylvania, in January. And, the only thing crazy about that sentence is the word finally.

The snow hasn't been AWOL, it's just been lurking in an unexpected place. The Erie Art Museum has been an interior winter wonderland for the past couple of months, what with the excellent environmental photo/painting exhibit "Double Exposure/The Politics of Snow" and an even more intimate look at our flaky winter friends in the Ronald E. Holstein Gallery.

Local artist Carol Posch Comstock has coined a new term for the billions of icy crystals that both bedazzle and bedevil us and our surroundings this time of year: "Lake Effect Lace." Not that there's any demonization going on here; as photographed and presented by Comstock, snowflakes are intricate, elegant little gems that look far too fragile to cause the kind of frenzy they sometimes do when they congregate in snow showers, squalls or blizzards.  more..



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State might require warnings at beaches

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A bill making its way through the Michigan Senate would leave swimmers looking for the all-clear before slipping into any of the Great Lakes.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, calls for installing a system of flags at the entrance to public beaches on the lakeshore advising visitors about the swimming conditions. The system is modeled after a program already in place in Florida.

"It is intended to drive information on water conditions," Pavlov said. "The DNR already adheres to a defined standard for beach conditions; this would just expand it to all beaches on the Great Lakes."   more...



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New bridge

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The new Windsor-Detroit bridge may still be waiting for final legislative approval in Michigan, but one thing is certain - the case for building the downriver crossing is rock solid. The economies of Ontario and Michigan and Canada and the U.S. need the bridge to sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs and create new ones.

Over the past year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has continued to champion the project and, despite the politicking of a handful of Michigan lawmakers, has vowed to get the bridge built.  more...



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Root for S.S. Badger conversion

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 The debate over the fate of the S.S. Badger pits history and tourism dollars against environmental protection.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants the nearly 60-year-old steamship to stop dumping tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan as it ferries as many as 600 passengers and 180 vehicles between Manitowoc and Ludington, Mich., most days from May to October.  more...



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