This week, we turn to the scenic, heart-shaped shoreline of Lake St. Clair to celebrate Lake St. Clair Appreciation Day. Looking to this part of the vibrant coastline along the corridor from Huron to Erie gives our communities a chance to reflect on the value water resources bring to daily life and an opportunity to plan for the future care and management of this magnificent water system.
Although even smaller than Lake Ontario, the waters of Lake St. Clair lap beaches that are home to thousands of people who depend on its waters for their economic, physiological and recreational well-being. The lake itself is home to a thriving ecosystem and one of the most productive freshwater fisheries in North America. The northeastern portion of Lake St. Clair is the most extensive delta system in the Great Lakes, providing important habitat for a diverse aquatic community.
Lake St. Clair’s world-class fishery boasts sought after sport fish like yellow perch, walleye, bass and muskellunge. They, in turn, support a local fishing industry that has huge impacts on the area’s economy, and according to the Department of Natural Resources, the lake bears 60 times more fishing pressure than Lake Michigan – with no stocking!
Recreational boating, kayaking and paddleboarding activities are growing across the Great Lakes watershed, and Lake St. Clair is no exception. Lake St. Clair is among the most heavily used boating areas. Macomb County, occupying 31 miles of Lake St. Clair shoreline, is Michigan’s third largest boating county, providing an annual $7.4 billion impact to Michigan’s economy.
According to a Detroit Free Press article, Macomb County is investing in the care of its water system. This includes plans like Macomb County’s important Blue Economy Initiative, focused on enhancing and transforming the local water-based economy through environmental stewardship and sustainable development. Many of the efforts highlighted in the newly released Michigan Water Strategy are already underway or in development in the region.
“Care for Lake St. Clair is important for our communities and water resources and can be undertaken in fostering critical partnerships,” said Office of the Great Lakes Director Jon Allan. “Promoting water stewardship and water literacy sustains our cultural heritage and is key in protecting our waters to move Michigan forward.”
The Michigan Water Strategy is a 30-year plan containing numerous recommendations for the care, management and protection of Michigan’s unparalleled water resources. Part 1, released June 10, promotes stewardship of Michigan’s water resources and protection of its aquatic ecosystems. It will be followed by three more parts highlighting recommendations for the state’s harbors, water recreation, water-based economies, infrastructure and monitoring.
Celebrate Lake St. Clair by kayaking the water, going fishing or learning about healthy ecosystems and about the threat that aquatic invasive species bring to our waters. Find other ideas on the Department of Natural Resources’ July Lakes Appreciation Month activity list.
Rachel Cromell is the outreach coordinator at the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, Department of Environmental Quality.