Are beaches public where roads end?

With more than 10,000 miles of coastal, inland and island shorelines, the Great Lakes have the most freshwater access in the world – at least, in theory.

A western Michigan court case embodies the abiding conflict between private property owners and the public over rights to Great Lakes shorelines at road ends.

MASHUP: Mapping Michigan’s best pest and natural resources management

Michigan Christmas tree growers looking to chemically combat the gypsy moth are out of luck – the time period to spray insecticides has ended for all counties. But a new tool makes it easier to know when it’s okay to spray. Michigan State University’s interactive map Enviro-weather combines weather data and best pest and natural resources practices. It recently added gypsy moth spray windows and temperature maps to help tree farmers treat the invasive insect. This mashup isn’t just for Christmas tree growers.

Ohio lawmakers could override veto of Great Lakes water use bill

The Toledo Blade reports today that Ohio lawmakers could override the governor’s veto of a bill establishing the Great Lakes region’s weakest water protections. Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed the hotly contested bill earlier this month. House Speaker Bill Batchelder told the Blade that nothing’s off the table, and that he wasn’t sure how to move forward in drafting legislation that would comply with the 2008 regional compact to protect the Great Lakes. Two former Ohio governors and environmental groups opposed the bill on grounds that it failed to meet the compact’s scientific requirements and protect Lake Erie from large water withdrawals. It would take 60 votes in the House and 20 in the Senate to override the governor’s veto; there was enough original support for the bill in both chambers for this happen, according to the story.

Limits to ballast rules fail in court; lawmakers debate similar action

Attempts to limit state authority over ballast water rules fell flat last Friday, but the legal tug-of-war continues this week as lawmakers consider the nation’s environmental spending. Last week’s decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit supported states in regulating water used in balancing shipping vessels more strongly than federal rules. This week the U.S. House of Representatives votes on a spending bill that includes an amendment penalizing states with stronger protections by withholding Environmental Protection Agency funding of any kind. That means states like New York, which have strong ballast water rules, would lose Great Lakes restoration funding, according the Natural Resources Defense Council. Ballast water containing invasive species has had devastating impacts on the Great Lakes and inland waterway systems, said Thom Cmar, an attorney with the council’s Chicago office.

See emerald ash borers in action; states still battling the bug

Now is the best time to see the destructive, tree-eating emerald ash borer up close and personal. The inch-long green metallic beetles are most numerous from late June to mid July, according to the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network. But don’t be fooled by lookalikes. Here’s a guide for proper identification of the nasty nuisance. Officials have banned imported firewood, removed ash trees and even released tiny wasps to prevent them from overwhelming the region with little luck; the beetle has spread to all Great Lakes states over the past decade.

Michigan museum to screen Knight Center invasive species documentary Wednesday

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, a St. Joseph, Mich. museum will screen Bad Company, a one-hour documentary examining how humans have altered the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes region. ‘Bad Company’ is Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism’s fourth documentary. Michigan State University instructor and filmmaker Lou D’Aria and co-produer Matt Mikus will be present at screening at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, 601 Main Street.

MASHUP: Climate change ‘Hot Map’ features Great Lakes cities

Life-threatening heat waves, record snowfalls and lake level drops are just a few climate change catastrophes in store for the Great Lakes region, according to an interactive map recently launched by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Climate Hot Map features current climate change impacts to locations across the globe, including five Great Lakes hot spots. Click on “see detail page” at the bottom of each icon box for more information on impacts to that location. Scientists expect more intense lake-effect snowfall in the Midwest and more precipitation during the winter and spring due to rising temperatures, according to the page for Cleveland, Ohio. And warming summer temperatures in Wyoming County, N.Y. are stressing cows and lowering milk production and birthing rates, according to the map.