The environment of the Great Lakes region is blessed with huge forests
and wilderness areas, rich agricultural land, hundreds of tributaries
and thousands of smaller lakes, and extensive mineral deposits. The
region's glacial history and the tremendous influence of the lakes
themselves create unique conditions that support a wealth of biological
diversity, including more than 130 rare species and ecosystems.
The environment supports a world-class fishery and a variety of
wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, weasel, fox, black
bear, bobcat, moose and other furbearing animals. Bird populations
thrive on the various terrains, some migrating south in the winter,
others making permanent homes. An estimated 180 species of fish are
native to the Great Lakes, including small- and large-mouth bass,
muskellunge, northern pike, lake herring, whitefish, walleye and lake
trout. Rare species making their home in the Great Lakes region include
the world's last known population of the white catspaw pearly mussel,
the copper redhorse fish and the Kirtland's warbler.
The region's sand dunes, coastal marshes, rocky shorelines, lakeplain
prairies, savannas, forests, fens, wetlands and other landscapes contain
features that are either unique or best represented withink the Great
Lakes basin. For example, the world's largest freshwater dunes line the
shores of Lake Michigan.
Over the course of history, many types of pollution have inflicted and
been reduced in the region, yet significant challenges remain. These range from
threats to divert water out of the Great Lakes basin to the introduction
of nonindigenous invasive species and airborne toxics into the basin.
Protection of water quality and sustainable development remain long-term
General Resources Great Lakes Atlas U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) This Environmental Atlas and Resource Book is an excellent resource on the Great Lakes, including physical characteristics, natural processes, people, concerns, joint management and new directions (mirrored on Environment Canada's site).
Great Lakes Radio Consortium The Great Lakes Radio Consortium produces environmentally focused radio features and news featured on more than 100 public radio stations around the Great Lakes region and several national radio programs.
Illinois Natural Resources Information Network Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Provides natural resource-related information to the citizens of Illinois so that individuals and groups can make informed decisions about natural resource management and policy.
Science & The Environment Bulletin Environment Canada This bimonthly publication provides information on leading-edge environmental science and technology. Includes collections on habitat, pollution, species at risk, water and related topics.
Software for Environmental Awareness United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Purdue University produce free interactive software programs on environmental topics.
Summary of Environmental Law in North America Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) The CEC created this summary to improve public access to the environmental law of the three parties to the North American Free Trade Agreement; i.e., Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Visualizing the Great Lakes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) GLNPO has an extensive collection of images from around the Great Lakes that is available for you to use.