Lake Huron Update Lake Huron was once known as the “Lake of the shaggy-haired tribe” after the first French explorers’ impression of the area’s native residents. Manitoulin, an island separating the North Channel from Georgian Bay and Lake Huron proper, is the largest freshwater island in the world. Lake Huron was the first of the Laurentian Great Lakes to be discovered. Lake Huron is the second largest Laurentian Great Lake in surface area and third largest in volume. It is the third largest freshwater lake in surface area and also sixth largest in volume in the world. The Lake Huron basin ranks second lowest of all the Great Lakes in number of human inhabitants. Saginaw Bay contains 37 % of the Lake Huron inhabitants. Pollutant loadings to Lake Huron from water sources are the lowest of all the Great Lakes, while air sources are the highest. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will not discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, national origin, color, marital status, disability or political beliefs. Questions or concerns should be directed to the MDEQ Office of Personnel Services, P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909. This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office. Prepared by the Office of the Great Lakes Michigan Department of Environmental Quality John Engler, Governor; Russell J. Harding, Director www.deq.state.mi.us/ogl/ Michigan Travel Bureau Did you know...? Tom Gagon 2000/2001 Lake Huron Update Lake Huron Initiative www.deq.state.mi.us/ogl/huron.html Printed by authority of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Total number of copies printed: 10,000 Total Cost: $3,633.55 Cost per copy: $0.36 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Office of the Great Lakes Michigan Department of Environmental Quality P.O. Box 30473 Lansing, MI 48909
Lake Huron Update
Lake Huron was once known as the “Lake ofthe shaggy-haired tribe” after the first Frenchexplorers’ impression of the area’s nativeresidents.
Manitoulin, an island separating the NorthChannel from Georgian Bay and Lake Huronproper, is the largest freshwater island in theworld.
Lake Huron was the first of the Laurentian GreatLakes to be discovered.
Lake Huron is the second largest LaurentianGreat Lake in surface area and third largest involume. It is the third largest freshwater lakein surface area and also sixth largest involume in the world.
The Lake Huron basin ranks second lowest of allthe Great Lakes in number of human inhabitants.Saginaw Bay contains 37 % of the Lake Huroninhabitants.
Pollutant loadings to Lake Huron from watersources are the lowest of all the Great Lakes, whileair sources are the highest.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will not discriminate againstany individual or group on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, national origin, color,marital status, disability or political beliefs. Questions or concerns should be directed tothe MDEQ Office of Personnel Services, P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909.
This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office.
Prepared by the Office of the Great LakesMichigan Department of Environmental Quality
John Engler, Governor; Russell J. Harding, Directorwww.deq.state.mi.us/ogl/
Michigan Travel Bureau
Did you know...?
Lake Huron UpdateLake Huron Initiativewww.deq.state.mi.us/ogl/huron.html
Printed by authority of Michigan Department of Environmental QualityTotal number of copies printed: 10,000 Total Cost: $3,633.55 Cost per copy: $0.36
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Office of the Great LakesMichigan Department of Environmental QualityP.O. Box 30473Lansing, MI 48909
Georgian Bay is large enough tobe among the world’s 20 largestlakes by volume. Early explorerslisted Georgian Bay as a separatesixth lake because it is nearlyseparated from the rest of LakeHuron by Manitoulin Island andthe Bruce Peninsula. High-qualitylake trout habitats are still presentin Georgian Bay and nearDrummond Island.
Sheltered by Manitoulin andDrummond Islands, the NorthChannel is the home of hundreds ofislands and an unspoiled, fresh-water boaters paradise. Thischannel is connected on thewest end by the St. MarysRiver and on the east end by theGeorgian Bay.
This eutrophic bay is made upof a shallow inner bay with anaverage depth of 15 ft. and anouter bay with an average depthof 48 ft. The Bay has manysub-bays, which are believed tobe prime nursery grounds forfish. Historically, Saginaw Baysupported the second largestwalleye fishery in the GreatLakes, second only to that ofLake Erie.
Local Lake Huron restorationefforts need to focus on Lake Huronfisheries, wildlife and biodiversity withinthe watershed. Significant researchefforts toward restoration have
The only site solely in Michigan,Saginaw River/Saginaw Bay, isdesignated as an Area of Concernprimarily because of fish consumptionadvisories, contaminated sedimentsand nonpoint pollution sources.Pollutants of concern include nutrients(principally phosphorus) and pathogens.
Of equal importance are the areasof high quality habitat in the lake.These include areas such as SaginawBay, St. Marys River, Misery Bay,Eastern Georgian Bay, ManitoulinIsland and the Bruce Peninsula.
Michigan Travel Bureau
Historically, there was a diversepopulation of fish species native toLake Huron. Now, there are over145 nonindigenous species, bothaquatic and terrestrial, within theGreat Lakes basin, many of which arefound in the Lake Huron basin.
Nonindigenous species, alsoreferred to as non-native, exotic andalien species, threaten the diversityand abundance of native species andthe ecological stability of Lake Huron.Also impacted are commercial,agricultural and recreational activities.Since the 1800s, exotics such aszebra mussels, ruffe, and gobies arebelieved to have been introduced intothe Great Lakes from ballast waterdischarged from ocean vessels.
Not only do invasive speciescompete with native species for foodand habitat, they may also increasethe cycling of persistent bioaccumulativechemicals in the food chain.
Specific areas within the LakeHuron basin that are significantlydegraded are considered Areas ofConcern. Two Canadian sites,Spanish River and Severn Sound,are responding well to remedialactions and showing recovery. Oneadditional site, Collingwood Harbour,Ontario, was the first, and remains theonly, Area of Concern to be restored.
Georgian Bay Association
In many of the other GreatLakes, chemical contaminants are amajor concern. For Lake Huron,habitat is a primary concern. Eventhough pollutants (principallythrough fish consumption advisories)are a problem in Lake Huron, thereare few sources of persistent toxiccontaminants within the Lake Huron
been undertaken, yet Lake Huron fishand wildlife continue to be exposed to amultiplicity of physical, chemical, andbiological stresses. In terms ofimportance, major stresses that affectthe biodiversity of Lake Huron fish andwildlife communities are:
• degradation and loss of historicalhabitat in tributaries (principallyimpassable dams) and nearshorehabitat, including coastal wetlands;
was established by representativesfrom the Michigan Office of the GreatLakes, state, provincial, federal andlocal agencies and interest groups witha common goal “to restore andmaintain the chemical, physical, andbiological integrity of the waters,tributaries, and nearshore terrestrialand aquatic ecosystems of LakeHuron.” The focus for the LHI is towork with all levels of government andprivate interests toward restoration andcontinued protection. Also, the LHI isworking with similar interests towardrestoring the chemical environment ofthe lake through targeted pollutionprevention efforts and on-going
One of the most common exoticsfound in Saginaw Bay is Eurasianwatermilfoil. This plant forms thick matson surface waters and can interferewith many types of recreationalactivities.
The sea lamprey is another exoticspecies present in Lake Huron.Lamprey populations are at theirhighest near the northern point of LakeHuron in the St. Marys River. This riverhas been providing suitable habitat
for lamprey spawning. Preliminaryassessments show significant reductionsin sea lamprey larvae in the St. MarysRiver since extensive internationalefforts began in July of 1998. Theseefforts sought to eliminate 92 percentof the sea lamprey produced in theriver, thereby achieving the goal ofreducing the populations in LakeHuron and northern Lake Michiganby 85 percent over the next 15 years.
basin. Future efforts need to bedirected toward controllingout-of-basin sources of atmosphericdeposition and restoring and protectinghabitat within the Lake Huron basin.These efforts are important for all ofthe Great Lakes as well.
Lake Huron has been impactedby human activity to a point that theloss of fish and wildlife habitat is nowa serious concern. One of the keys torestoring the lake is the protection ofexisting critical habitat and therestoration of degraded habitatincluding those within the lake itselfand its tributaries and wetlands.
The ecological well-being of LakeHuron is determined to a great extentby the condition of its tributaries. Thetributary streams provide critical habitatfor spawning and young fish. Many ofthe lake’s tributaries have beenseverely degraded because of dams,sedimentation, nonpoint sourcepollution and land-use practices.
What is theLHI Action Plan?
The Lake Huron Initiative ActionPlan identifies trends regarding specificcritical pollutants, use impairments andecosystem objectives, and actions thatcan be taken to address the impairmentswithin Lake Huron. The plan is not asextensive as a lakewide managementplan, such as those being preparedfor the other Great Lakes. However,the plan is an effort to address issuesof common concern within the LakeHuron basin. The LHI has identifiedimportant future efforts focusing ontwo key issues:
• Fish and wildlife habitat andbiodiversity and
• Critical pollutants/use impairments
Since the creation of the LHI ActionPlan, the following actions have beenundertaken:
• Development of a bi-national systemto identify, map and quantify high-quality natural communities and
important habitats (funded-ongoing)
• Initiate efforts to remediate impactof dams (ongoing)
• Sediment cleanups in Saginaw andPine Rivers (funded-ongoing)
• Secure funding for the $177 millionbuffer strip program for the SaginawBay watershed (funded-ongoing)
sediment remediation efforts in theSaginaw and Pine Rivers.
With combined efforts, the LakeHuron Initiative Action Plan hasbeen produced to identify priorityissues and coordinate future effortsto ensure a sustainable Lake Huron.
Lake Huron Drainage Basin
LegendWatershed unavailable to GreatLakes fish due to dams
Historical lake trout spawning areas
Lake HuronJames W. Herbert
Kayak cover photo: Kate Ter HaarCanoe cover photo: Carol SwinehartWatershed map: Geomatics Unit, Environment Canada
Lake Huron Update
The Lake inthe Middle
Lake Huron has been called “thelake in the middle” both geographicallyand in environmental quality. LakeHuron receives water from two ofthe Great Lakes, Lake Superiorand Lake Michigan; it sends waterto Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Lake Huron has relatively goodwater quality. It has lost significantareas of high value coastal wetlands,yet the fishery is relatively healthy.
This Great Lake supplies drinkingwater to 1.5 million people. Inaddition, Lake Huron’s connectingchannels, the St. Marys and St.Clair Rivers, provide drinking waterfor another four million people.
Michigan Travel Bureau
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
James SchardtU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyGreat Lakes National Program Office77 W. Jackson Blvd., G-17JChicago, IL 60604312-353-5085email: [email protected]