Mini-monster imperils the Great Lakes
Written by Birmingham Eccentric   
Monday, 21 February 2005 10:09
It happened where your house now stands: A layer of glacial ice over 1,000 feet thick; a 4-million-square-mile moving mountain of ice.

Ice so heavy, so full of raw primordial power and energy it crushed, carved and reshaped the earth's surface. It happened about 11,000 years ago during the last great ice age. You know of the glaciers.

That massive river of ice gave birth to our Great Lakes and created the landscape foundation for modern day Michigan. As the ice sheet retreated great slabs of ice broke off, melted and gifted Oakland County with hundreds of lakes and diverse wetlands.

Now imagine a mysterious cryptic creature that dwells in our deepest lakes, yet slips silently into shallow waterways at the very edge of suburbia. This flesh-eater alien monster has the ability, along with a bevy of strangely named alien friends, to change our environment as profoundly as the glaciers.

How big is this monster? Try 1 inch long.

You - most likely - no nothing of this monster. Few do.

Now imagine Terri Lynn Land planning a war of attrition on slimy and scaly alien monsters in our Great Lakes. Land is our secretary of state just in case you did not know. And Land is working hard to raise public awareness of aquatic nuisance species that threaten Michigan's lakes, rivers, waterways; our very quality of life.

Got a boat? Like water? Water ski? Fish? How about drink water? You best read on. And join the battle.

From the flesh-sucking sea lamprey, to the well known zebra mussel to little known 1 inch fishhook and spiny waterfleas, if Secretary Land has her way, war will rage across all Michigan's wetlands. And the rusty crayfish, Eurasian ruffe, bighead and silver carp and thick mats of purple loosestrife and Eurasian watermilfoil are all in the sights.

Last Saturday, Secretary Land and I sat down for a talk.

We did so at the Detroit boat show. We talked of the secretary of state's office and the Great Lakes Protection Fund. After wandering past polished boats larger than my house, and rows of shoes of common folks who were treading lightly across boat decks and dreaming boat dreams in their stocking feet, Land and Ken DeBeaussaert (director of the Office of the Great Lakes of the Department of Environmental Quality) and I talked aliens.

Bottom line: The Great Lakes have been invaded by a variety of nonindigenous species. These exotic species cause significant, negative disruptions to the ecosystems and wetlands and lake biodiversity. Many of these disruptions are economic as well as biologic.

The mission of the Great Lakes Protection Fund is to "provide a source of reliable funding for new research and demonstration projects to preserve enhance and restore the Great Lakes and it component ecosystems." That takes money. One new source for the money is you; voluntary contributions earmarked for the battle.

Visit any secretary of state office or www.michigan.gov and go to the e-store link to buy a colorful Great Lakes Protection Fund Decal. I made a deal with Terri Land. I needed a photo of a sea lamprey; in someone's hand.

"Hold a lamprey for me, please, Madam Secretary, and I'll buy a sticker." She smiled. And did.

Sticker No. 104 is mine. $35 gets you one. $25 dollars is tax deductible. Educate yourself on stopping the spread of alien species. Your help can squeeze invading exotics through public awareness and research. Squeeze. Protect our glacial legacy.

 
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