by Melissa Aronstein article “You gotta love it if you love the weather!” exclaimed a woman on a recent visit to the Great Lakes.
“You know what, it’s really hot in here, but it’s so beautiful.”
And the water is beautiful.
“It’s got a lot of life, so it’s got that vibe,” added a woman in a wheelchair.
As if to reinforce the point, the Great Lake, home to a staggering amount of biodiversity, has been named the world’s best-preserved body of water for the third consecutive year by the International Institute for Marine Science (IIMS).
IIMs’ “Great Lakes of the World” series, released this week, also ranks the Great Bay as the second-most-preserving body of freshwater in the world, following only Lake Superior in North America.
The “Great Lake” designation comes with its own set of unique challenges.
For one thing, the lake has been protected by federal law for more than 80 years, which means it has been heavily damaged by pollution and development and now hosts more than a million tourists annually.
It also has been one of the few places in the US where it is still popular with tourists, thanks in part to its many attractions and restaurants.
But as the Great Basin is now undergoing a massive environmental cleanup, which includes a $1 billion plan to remove pollutants from the lake’s waters, it is now experiencing unprecedented pressure to become more beautiful.IIM’s Great Lakes of America report ranked the Great lakes in six categories, ranging from the “natural” to the “archipelagic,” and then “preserve.”
While the report praised the Great Lands for having “an outstanding ecological integrity” and “a rich marine ecosystem,” it also highlighted the “lack of connectivity” and suggested that a new generation of tourists and local residents are also taking a big risk in seeking out the lakes.
Iims, in conjunction with the Great American Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (GACCA), has partnered with the Lake Michigan Biodiversification Alliance to create the Great Biodiverse Trails for Great Lakes (GBL) program.
While these new trails are a welcome change, the GACCA warns that it is a risky endeavor and that “there is not a lot in the way of guidance to help guide these people.”
The GACACCA also pointed out that there is a “growing perception that Great Lakes tourism is ‘in decline’ and that visitors are becoming disengaged with the lake.”
Indeed, in 2015, there were more than 3 million visits to the lake, according to the US Geological Survey.
So, while it is encouraging that IIMs is putting more emphasis on the Great Land, it will be interesting to see how tourists will react to the GBL program.
While it is true that the Greats are one of America’s most pristine bodies of water, and a place where nature reigns supreme, it remains to be seen how popular it will become.
And that could change if the Great Great Lakes are protected for all time.
The report noted that the average age of a Great Lake is 60 years old, and it is projected that the total length of the Great River will shrink by one-third by 2035.
In addition, the Lake Superior Basin, home of the world-famous Lake Superior, is forecast to shrink by nearly half by 2050.
This will make the Great lake in particular less attractive as a tourist destination, according the report.
“There is an increasing trend to look to the oceans as the natural setting for a great experience, and the Great Ocean, as well as the Grand Canyon and Grand Teton National Parks, have all been cited as prime examples of great-tasting, natural-tourism experiences,” it continued.
Additionally, as a result of the climate change that is impacting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which covers more than 1.3 million square miles of ocean, “a substantial portion of the water available for human consumption is now located at or below the surface,” according to IIMS.
Despite all of these factors, the report also suggested that “our greatest challenge is not simply the challenges posed by climate change, but also the need to provide the communities in which we live with the tools to sustainably manage and sustainably preserve these ecosystems.”
In addition to promoting a healthy environment, the study also suggested “the use of marine protected areas (MPAs) to provide protection for marine species that might otherwise be lost to climate change.”
But the report’s authors caution that the “greater use of MPAs” is only one of many ways that the US could be able to support a healthier Great Lakes environment.
Another option is for the Great Plains and Great Lakes states to create new MPAs in response to the impacts of climate change and