How connected do you feel to the Lakes?

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Sarah Coefield

Sarah Coefield far from the Echo newsroom

One of my sources, a scientist at the Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon, Mich., recently chided me for writing about the Great Lakes from the middle of Michigan here in East Lansing.  How could we properly relate to the Lakes when we are so far away, he wondered.

It got me thinking.  Does he have point?

The Great Lakes Echo is hardly on the beach.  According to Daft Logic’s handy Google Maps distance calculator, the Echo newsroom is 71 miles from Lake Huron, 82 miles from Lake Erie, 88 miles from Lake Michigan, 236 miles from Lake Ontario and 258 miles from Lake Superior as the crow flies.   And as long we we’re being honest, in the six years I’ve lived here, I’ve only been to two of the Great Lakes.

But do you have to be on a Lake to feel connected to it?  They influence state policies, provide research opportunities for our universities, influence our weather patterns, draw tourists and their cash, and make this region of North America just a little more unique.  I don’t have to be on the beach to remember that I’m surrounded by massive freshwater seas.

But Michigan is unique.  We have more Great Lake shoreline than any other state.  How connected do the folks in Indiana feel to their tip of Lake Michigan?  What about Minnesota, with a side-swipe of Lake Superior?  Or Pennsylvania, the state with the least amount of Lake shoreline?  We’re all in the same basin, we share invasive species and federal policies, but does everyone feel a connection to the Lakes?

Should we be writing about the Lakes when we can’t see one out the window?

3 thoughts on “How connected do you feel to the Lakes?

  1. You’re closer to the lakes than I am, and for that I’m jealous. I don’t even live in the Great Lakes basin – I’m down here in the Greater Indianapolis area, in the Mississippi River basin. It’s about a three hour drive to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore which is roughly the nearest spot on the Lakes to me.

    So maybe I’m not the best person to answer your question, but I very much appreciate your writing. I’m a big fan of the Lakes–they’re my favorite place to vacation, and I’ve driven around each of the Great Lakes in turn. I appreciate being kept up on Great Lakes issues. And although Indiana has only a small section of the Great Lakes shoreline, hopefully as an resident of a Great Lakes state I can have some small positive impact on legislative issues relating to the Great Lakes.

    Please keep writing! The more attention that gets drawn to the Lakes, the better. And if you’ve only been to two of the Lakes, I’d strongly recommend getting to the others–not because you need the cred to write about them, but just because each of the five Lakes is beautiful and special in its own way and well worth visiting.

  2. Your still in the Great Lakes watershed so your fine.

    If you feel like you need more Great Lakes cred maybe you should take a road trip.

    A few years back me and some friends took a road trip on the 4th of July and swam in all five Great Lakes in 21 hours. We left Port Huron and swam in Lake Ontario in Hamilton On, Lake Erie in St. Thomas On, Lake Huron near Alpena, Lake Michigan somewhere along route 2, and then Lake Superior in Marquette.

    We were just bored and always talked about doing swimming in all of the Great Lakes in under 24 hours. We did get hassled by customs, because who in their right mind would do something like that?

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