Week of October 25, 2010



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Initial Soo Replacement Lock complete

DETROIT – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announces the completion of two contracts that initiated construction of the proposed new “Poe-sized” lock at the Soo Locks, located on the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.


TAB Construction Company of Canton, Ohio, completed the installation of two coffer dam cells at the Soo Locks as the first step in creating a replacement lock at the Soo. The contractor used the $3,184,534 contract to complete construction of a coffer dam at each end of the Sabin Lock to allow for dewatering as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepares for future construction. The coffer dams were constructed, in simple terms, by driving steel sheet piling, in a circular pattern, into bedrock then filling the cells with stone material.


In addition, Kokosing Construction Co., a small business from Fredricktown, Ohio deepened the downstream approach channel for the proposed new lock with a $7,068,525 contract. The work was completed by Kokosing’s Durocher Marine Division of Cheboygan, Mich.   During the excavation process of the downstream approach a combination of about 71,000 cubic yards of bedrock and overburden material was removed. Blasting was necessary to remove the bedrock material. The excavated material was placed in designated areas on the northwest pier, just past the International Bridge on Soo Locks property.


“With the completion of these contracts we move forward in beginning the replacement lock project using the funds that Congress has provided,” said John Niemiec, the Corps’ project manager for the replacement lock. “We look forward to receiving future funds which will be utilized to move this project

to completion.”


Key sectors of the U.S. economy depend on Great Lakes shipping with many commodities flowing through the locks. In 2008, 8,461 vessels passed through the Soo Locks, carrying 80.6 million tons of cargo, mainly iron ore, coal, stone and other bulk products.


The Soo Locks are situated on the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. and consist of four locks, of which only two are operational, allowing vessels to transit the 21-foot elevation change at the St. Marys Falls.  The two operating locks are the MacArthur and Poe, which were placed into operation in 1943 and 1968, respectively.  The Davis and Sabin Locks were built during the World War I era and have exceeded their design life, and due to extensive wear and deterioration are out of service. The Poe Lock is the only lock at Sault Ste. Marie capable of handling the Great Lakes system's largest vessels, which account for more than 70 percent of the potential carrying capacity of the Great Lakes fleet. Due to the significant economic consequences of a disruption of service at the Poe Lock, the new lock would have dimensions and capacity identical to the Poe Lock, which is 1200’ x 110’ x 32’ deep with a 21.7 lift.  The new lock would provide the redundancy needed to ensure continued and reliable passage through the St. Marys Falls, while also addressing security and efficiency issues. 


Operation and maintenance of the Soo Locks falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District. The locks have been a part of the Corps’ navigation mission since 1881.


Michigan Sea Grant Awarded $1.5 M to Help Restore Great Lakes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan Sea Grant was awarded more tha $1.5 million to help tackle some of the most challenging issues facing the Great Lakes. The program will lead two restoration projects and will assist on five others. The projects focus on endangered fish, invasive species, beach contamination, sound boating and marina operations, and water pollution.


The grants are part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $475 million federal commitment to improve environmental quality in the Great Lakes region. Michigan Sea Grant’s work, along with hundreds of other projects in Michigan and the region, will help meet key restoration priorities identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


“For years, we’ve used the Great Lakes as dumping grounds—letting pollution from farm fields, sewers, and factories flow into the lakes, overharvesting fish, and building on valuable wetlands,” said Jim Diana, Director of Michigan Sea Grant. “The country has benefited from industrial production in this region, but our environment has suffered. This initiative is a major turning point for the Great Lakes. We now have some significant funding which enables us to tackle these issues in a comprehensive, coordinated way.”


Michigan Sea Grant will lead two restoration projects:

  • Green Marina Education and OutreachTotal Funding: $478,262, 3-year period
    Clean Marina programs in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin will focus on reducing pollution from boating and marina activities. The grant money will help enhance existing training tools like the web-based Clean Marina Classroom. A large portion of the Green Marina project will be to develop uniform certification standards that can be applied to marinas throughout the region. The project will additionally support more marinas in completing certification.

    Michigan Sea Grant Program Director Jim Diana is principal investigator, Communications and Education Services Director Elizabeth LaPorte is co-principal investigator, and Extension Program Leader Chuck Pistis will act as manager of quality assurance on the project.

    “Since the beginning of the Michigan Clean Marina

Program in 2005, we’ve helped more than 35 marinas become certified and learned a lot about the needs of  marina operators,” said LaPorte. “Now we have the opportunity to share these lessons with our partner states, magnifying our impact in the Great Lakes region.”


  • Restoring Native Fish Habitat in the St. Clair RiverTotal Funding: $1,040,000, 2-year period
    New underwater reefs will be constructed to encourage reproduction of native fish such as lake whitefish, walleye and lake sturgeon. Studies before and after construction will allow biologists to evaluate the impact of the work and improve future habitat restoration efforts.

    “We’ve been planning for this project for over four years,” said Jennifer Read, Michigan Sea Grant Assistant Director and principal investigator on the project. “And our team is building on experience with similar projects in the Detroit River. This project is exciting because it is the first of its kind in the St. Clair River system and could potentially have a huge impact on important sport, heritage and endangered species such as walleye, lake whitefish and lake sturgeon.”


In addition to the projects above, Michigan Sea Grant is collaborating on five restoration projects led by other institutions. A portion of these grants will support the work of Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educators.

  • Outreach to Reduce the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species.
    Michigan Sea Grant Extension Project Coordinator:
    Southwest Educator Dan O’Keefe.

  • Expanding Vessel-based Education Programs.
    Michigan Sea Grant Extension Project Coordinator:
    Southeast Educator Steve Stewart.

  • Controlling Phragmites along Lake St. Clair.
    Michigan Sea Grant Project Extension Coordinator:
    Urban Southeast Educator Mary Bohling.

  • Beach Information Communication System.
    Michigan Sea Grant Project Extension Coordinator:
    Regional Coordinator Sonia Joseph Joshi.

  • Laser Technology for Tracking Beach Contaminants.
    Michigan Sea Grant Project Extension Coordinator:
    Regional Coordinator Sonia Joseph Joshi.



Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Oct. 22, 2010

Weather Conditions:  Temperatures hovered near seasonal averages over the week despite a cold front moving through the region on Wednesday and Thursday.  The frontal system dropped up to 1 inch of rain in parts of Michigan and New York, with smaller amounts of rainfall in Wisconsin.  Month-to-date precipitation totals are below average for Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron, with Lakes Erie and Ontario near average.  Showers are likely through the week, with snow possible in northern areas.  Above-average temperatures over the weekend are expected to drop steadily as the week progresses. 


Lake Level Conditions:  Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie continue to be below last year's levels. These lakes range from 6 to 8 inches below their levels of a year ago.  Lake Ontario, however, is 2 inches above its level of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is expected to decline an inch, while Lake Michigan-Huron is forecasted to decline 2 inches. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and, Ontario are predicted to decline 4, 3, and 5 inches, respectively, during the month. See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.

Forecasted October Outflows/Channel Conditions: The outflows from Lake Superior into the St. Mary's River, from Lake Huron into the St. Clair River, and from Lake St. Clair into

the Detroit River are expected to be below average in October.  The Niagara River's flow from Lake Erie is also predicted to be below average, and the flow in the St. Lawrence River is forecasted to be above average throughout October.


Alerts:  Lake Superior's water level is currently below chart datum and forecasted to remain below datum over the next six months.  Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.




St. Clair



Level for Oct 22






Datum, in ft






Diff in inches






Diff last month






Diff from last yr







Fishing in Chicago Parks

With 11 stocked park lagoons, a reviving Chicago River, 22 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, and access in eight harbors and along the north side of Navy Pier, Chicago offers many opportunities for year-round fishing. The types of fish to pursue are varied: Coho and Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Brown Trout, Yellow Perch, Smallmouth, Largemouth and Rock Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Carp and Channel Catfish.


You can find out where, when and how (license info.) to fish in Chicago through the links below. We also offer fishing opportunities in a number of summer programs and events.


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Urban Fishing

Program offers free, instructed fishing at Chicago Park lagoons. In addition they offer no-cost informative and fun fishing lessons and environmental and fishing conservation seminars for youth that can be conducted at any fishing site in Chicago or at your park or school. For more information contact Brenda McKinney, Urban Fishing Program Director, 847-294-4134, 847-294- 4137 or (312) 771-9741. [email protected]


For more information about fishing programs sponsored by Mayor Daley's Fish'N Kids of the Chicago Park District and Mayor Daley's Fishing Advisory Committee, call Bob Long, Jr., "The Fishin' Guy!" at (312) 742-4969.


Finished carp fence dubbed ‘substantial’

What is nearly 1,200 feet long, 8 feet high, has dozens of 50-foot rolls of chain-link fence fastened to 123 four-inch posts by more than 1,000 wire ties, and bolstered by almost 120 concrete barriers weighing 2 ½ tons each?  An Asian carp fence.


The numbers document the dimensions of a barrier constructed at Eagle Marsh near Fort Wayne designed to block potential advancement of Asian carp toward the Great Lakes. “Substantial,” is the word Indiana Department of Natural Resources director Robert E. Carter used to describe the fence.


Construction of the 1,177-foot main fence and a supplemental 494-foot debris catch fence began in early September and was completed on October 19.  The final cost of the fence project is still being determined, but indications are it will be less than the $200,000 bid estimate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are funding the cost of the project through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


“I tip my hat to DNR staff that tackled this project and got it done in a timely and efficient manner,” Carter said. “This may not guarantee Asian carp never get into the Great Lakes someday, somehow, but with a temporary barrier this substantial, it certainly seems unlikely this will be the route.”


The DNR took a lead role in the fence project after identifying Eagle Marsh as a potential pathway for Asian carp to move from the Wabash River system into the Maumee River, a tributary to Lake Erie. Although the Wabash and Maumee basins drain in opposite directions and have no direct connection under normal conditions, their waters do comingle under certain flood conditions in Eagle Marsh, a 705-acre restored wetland near Fort Wayne.


The DNR pursued the mesh fence barrier as a short-term option while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other


federal agencies develop a permanent solution.


“The completion of this fence marks another milestone met in the framework we laid out to prevent invasive Asian carp from establishing themselves in the Great Lakes. The barrier at Eagle Marsh is an example of what can be done through strong state and Federal coordination,” said John Goss, former Indiana DNR director who is the Asian Carp Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


While blocking passage of adult Asian carp is a primary goal of the fence, it also is designed to allow movement of water so as not to increase flood elevations and cause property damage.  As an added component of floodwater monitoring, the U.S. Geological Survey installed gages on the fence that will measure water levels in effort to ensure the fence does not block water flow during significant flooding events.


DNR staff supervised the fence’s construction by two Fort Wayne companies – Brooks Construction and R&C Fence.


Asian carp refers to several species of fish originating from Asia. Three species of the non-native fish – bighead, silver and black carp – were imported to the southern United States to keep aquaculture ponds clean and to provide fresh fish for markets. Some of the fish escaped into the Mississippi River system in the 1980s and 1999s after flooding and have expanded their range northward ever since.


Bighead and silver carp were first detected in Indiana in the late 1990s at Hovey Lake Fish & Wildlife Area in the southwest corner of the state. Since then, they have moved up the Wabash, East Fork and West Fork of the White River, the Patoka River, and the Ohio River and some of its tributaries in southern Indiana.

Sea lamprey barrier to be built at Trail Creek

Final preparations are underway for construction of a low-head, fixed-crest dam to block passage of sea lampreys in Trail Creek, a stream in Michigan City that supports spring spawning runs of native fish.


Sea lampreys attach to fish with a sucking disk and sharp teeth as they feed on body fluids, often scarring and killing host fish. An adult sea lamprey can kill 40 or more pounds of fish. Sea lampreys have been a major cause of the decline in lake trout populations. Lake trout are a long-lived species that don't reach maturity until at least age 6 and live in excess of 20 years, making them a prime host for sea lamprey.


Barriers are one of the integrated approaches used to reduce the number of sea lamprey in the Great Lakes and have reduced or eliminated the need for chemical treatment on many streams. Barriers are constructed to block the upstream migration of spawning sea lampreys while allowing other fish to pass with minimal disruption.

Historically, Trail Creek was treated with a chemical lampricide about every six years to reduce the number of young lamprey entering the lake. Placement of the barrier should eliminate the need for these treatments and reduce the number of lamprey in the lake.


The 52-inch-high, 45-feet-wide barrier will be placed in Trail Creek near Springfield Avenue. It will include a lamprey trap and a fish ladder that will allow non-jumping fish to move freely through the system.  The trapping facility will be operated from middle March until June 15. All adult sea lampreys will be collected and removed while other fish species will be passed above the barrier. A jumping pool immediately downstream will allow adult steelhead and salmon the ability to move above the barrier during their upstream spawning migrations. Fishing opportunities will be restricted within 100 feet on either side of the barrier.




Hartwick Pines to Host Three Snowshoe-Lacing Workshops

Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling is hosting three two-day snowshoe-lacing workshops Dec. 11 and 12, Jan. 15 and 16, and Feb. 26 and 27. This is your chance to lace your own pair of snowshoes. All three workshops will be held at the Michigan Forest Visitor Center at Hartwick Pines. 


Snowshoe styles available will be the Green Mountain Bearpaw snowshoe (36 inches long by 10 inches wide, with no tail), which will be made at the December and January workshops, and the Ojibwa snowshoe (54 inches long and 11 inches wide, canoe-shaped with a pointed, upturned toe), which will be laced at the February workshop. While building your shoes, you will learn about the history of snowshoes, their use and why they are a popular pastime in Michigan. You will also receive detailed instructions to finish your shoes if they are not completed at the class. The workshops are informal; wear comfortable clothes and bring along a sack lunch. The park will provide a variety of hot beverages.  

Due to limited space, reservations are required for all classes. Reservation deadlines are: for the December workshop, Dec. 6; for the January workshop, Jan. 3; and for the February workshop, Feb. 15. Please call the Michigan Forest Visitor Center as soon as possible. The total cost is $160. A $25 deposit is required to secure your spot; the remainder is due at the workshop. For additional information and to have a registration packet sent to you, please call (989) 348-2537 or email [email protected].


Other programs offered at Hartwick Pines this winter include cross-country skiing by lantern light on Jan. 15 and 29 and Feb. 12 and 26, and guided snowshoe hikes on Jan. 8 and 22, Feb. 5 and 19, and March 5. For more information, please call (989) 348-2537 or visit www.michigan.gov/hartwickpines and www.michigan.gov/loggingmuseum. Hartwick Pines State Park is located at 4216 Ranger Road in Grayling.



Extended Weekend Hours Set at DNRE Shooting Ranges

In preparation for the upcoming hunting seasons, the DNRE has extended weekend shooting hours at four of the state shooting ranges it oversees, including the Rose Lake Shooting Range in Bath (Clinton County); the Sharonville Shooting Range in Grass Lake (Jackson County); the Ortonville Shooting Range in Ortonville (Lapeer County); and the Pontiac Lake Shooting Range in Waterford (Oakland County).


During the weekend of Oct. 30-31 and the weekends in Nov. 6-7 and 13-14, Rose Lake and Sharonville shooting hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and the Ortonville and Pontiac Lake shooting hours are 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.   Weekday hours will remain the same: Ortonville and Pontiac Lake ranges are

open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Rose Lake and Sharonville ranges are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


During October, the Ortonville, Pontiac Lake, Rose Lake, and Sharonville ranges are open six days a week, closed only on Tuesdays, and from Nov. 1 – 15 these ranges are open daily.  Range fees at Ortonville and Pontiac Lake are $4 per day for each shooter age 16 and older. Children under 16 are free. Rose Lake and Sharonville have no fee.


For more info:

Ortonville Shooting Range: 248-627-5569

Pontiac Lake Shooting Range: 248-666-5406

Rose Lake Shooting Range: 517-641-7801

Sharonville Shooting Range: 734-428-8035


Michigan Asian Carp Prevention Workshop, Nov 22, 2010

Michigan’s vast water resources are at great risk from invasion by non-indigenous species of plants and animals.  The most recent threat is the Asian carp.  Michigan’s greatest natural asset, one of its clearly defining characteristics, is its abundant water resources - 3,300 miles of shoreline on four of the five Great Lakes, 35,000 miles of navigable streams, more than 11,000 inland lakes, and thousands of square miles of wetlands.  With their invasion of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, Asian carp have disrupted food webs, spoiled tourism and recreational experiences, created public health hazards and wreaked havoc for water-based businesses. 


The Asian carp have the potential to cause significant economic and ecological harm to the Great Lakes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s (DNRE), Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) is hosting a workshop on Monday, November 22, 2010, at the Michigan State University Union in East Lansing to discuss actions being taken at the federal, regional, and state level to

prevent the Asian carp from creating a sustainable population

in the Great Lakes and control their spread within the Great Lakes basin.  Featured speaker, Mr. John Goss, is the newly appointed Asian Carp Director in the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  Other presentations will address new studies on ecological separation, environmental DNA monitoring, and the DNRE’s proposed strategy to address the Asian carp threat to Michigan waters.


This workshop is for resource managers, affected industry, researchers and others interested in addressing the threat of Asian carp dispersing, or being introduced, into Michigan waters. 


There is no cost for the workshop; however, registration is required as space is limited.  For workshop agenda, speakers, and registration information, go to: www.michigan.gov/dnreworkshops and click on “Upcoming Workshops,” or call Ms. Emily Finnell, DNRE, at 517-335-4056.  Pre-registration is required by Wednesday, November 17, 2010.


Anglers get ready: Musky expected to hit hard this fall

MADISON - You heard it here. Musky are going to hit hard this fall in Wisconsin.

"They're going to have to -- they haven't eaten much all summer," says Tim Simonson, co-chair of the state's musky committee and an avid musky angler.

"The recent history is a trend toward a growing number of big fish caught late in the year. So far this year, the musky fishing's been down. The hot summer it made it kind of miserable to fish. And water temperatures were probably above the optimum for musky feeding. "I think those fish are going to hit hard late in the season. I still expect we'll see one of the top three years ever for big fish," Simonson said.


Last year, Muskies Inc. members reported catching more than 100 muskies 48 inches or greater in Wisconsin. That number has grown steadily since the 1970s, and leaped forward in recent years.  Simonson credits the Green Bay musky fishery, re-established through a generation of stocking and other management efforts by DNR and partners, with helping boost the numbers.

"People started discovering those fish in about 2006 and it's ballooned into a real popular destination for big fish, particularly in the fall," he says.  The contribution of big fish from Lakes Michigan and Superior to the Muskies Inc. registry has increased from 2 percent in 2004 to 24 percent in 2009.


Simsonson says there's a perception that fall is a good time to catch fish. Analysis of creel surveys and other records haven't been able to establish that definitively, but there's enough anecdotal information to show that some of the biggest fish are caught late in the season, he says. His advice to anglers is to head to big water if it's big fish they're after. Ultimate fish size is related to lake size.

His short list of places to try: Green Bay, the Chippewa Flowage, the Madison lakes, the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, the St. Louis River, Lake Wissota, Holcombe Flowage, Pewaukee Lake and the Petenwell Flowage.

He also reminds anglers that the musky season will be open a month longer south of U.S. Highway 10. This is the second year since the southern zone musky season was extended to December 31. The northern zone musky season closes November 30.

Rare albino musky caught in Rusk County

RUSK COUNTY - The musky Paul Parise boated on Oct. 6, 2010, from the lower Flambeau River in Rusk County is truly the rarest of the rare: a 51-inch albino musky.


Paul Parise landed this 51" albino musky

on Oct. 6, from the lower Flambeau River

"That is a pretty fantastic catch," says Tim Simonson, co-chair of the Department of Natural Resources musky committee. "Albino musky are pretty rare to begin with, and for one to survive to that size is pretty uncommon given they don't have the protective camouflage to hide from predators or sneak up on prey. This fish stood out from day one, but through luck and maybe some skill, it survived."


The fish is the second albino musky to surface in Wisconsin waters in recent years. In 2005, a DNR fisheries crew caught a white musky in their fyke nets during population surveys. But that fish was much smaller -- 32.7 inches long and 7.9 pounds at the time.  Albinism is a heredity condition in humans, other mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, in which there is a total or partial lack of pigment that gives color to the skin, hair and eyes.


The growth and development of an albino is the same as that of a normal individual. They also have the ability to reproduce offspring.



Other Breaking News Items

(Click on title or URL to read full article)


Study favors dam on Chicago canals
With Asian carp swimming north toward Lake Michigan, politicians across the region have been clamoring to plug the Chicago canal system, a move the canal-dependent barge industry and Illinois leaders say could have drastic consequences for the way cargo and wastewater flows through the Great Lakes' biggest city.

Indiana finishes marsh fence to stop Asian carp
Indiana authorities say they've finished work on a 1,177-foot chain-link fence designed to keep Asian carp from crossing into the Great Lakes in the event of flooding


Two firms pitch offshore wind farm to Evanston
Speaking to Evanston officials last week, an official with Mercury Wind Energy said the company would raise the financing and would own the wind farm but that the average price of electricity could be held constant for the next 20 years.


Proposed plan for gear restrictions on more of Michigtan’s waters has some anglers crying foul

A proposed state plan to establish fishing gear restrictions on 73 additional miles of trout stream is dividing Michigan’s angling community, drawing heated criticism from anglers who prefer to fish bait and guarded praise by others who like the idea but say the plan does not go far enough. There also are those who oppose gear restrictions of any kind, who say rivers are public waters and everyone


Canada cracking down on angler violations

Anglers are still getting out on Lake St. Clair to chase muskie, smallmouth bass, walleyes and perch, and many Americans motor to the Canadian side when the water is smooth, because the fishing often is better there. The OMNR has stepped up enforcement on the lake, and the ministry has released numbers that seem to back that up.  "Overall compliance with Ontario's sport fishing and public safety-related laws was 86%, an increase over spring patrols," the ministry said. But that means 14% were still in violation of the laws.


Judge focuses on reliability of DNA tests as 5 states make final pitch in Asian carp lawsuit
The reliability of DNA testing suggesting Asian carp may already be in waterways near Lake Michigan was the focus of final arguments Monday in a lawsuit seeking the closure of Chicago-area shipping locks to halt the spread of the invasive fish.


Asian Carp opponents make final argument

Attorneys from five Great Lakes states made their final pitch Monday to persuade a federal judge to close Chicago-area shipping locks to halt the movement of Asian carp.  In a three-hour hearing in Chicago, the plaintiffs' lead attorney, Michigan Assistant AG Robert Reichel reiterated that current efforts to stop the invasive species from advancing toward the Great Lakes have not worked. Pointing to dozens of environmental DNA samples collected


Carp invasion may prompt changes to waterways
The battle over closing Chicago-area outlets into Lake Michigan is not only about preventing Asian carp from decimating the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry, experts said.




The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the GLSFC, its officers or staff. 

Reproduction of any material by paid-up members of the GLSFC is encouraged but appropriate credit must be given. 

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