2015 has been a busy year for Great Lakes island talks & plans

A quick update is that Dave Ewert and I gave invited talks about the islands of the Great Lakes at the April 2015 NatureConserve “Biodiversity without Boundaries” conference in Traverse City. I gave the history of the Great Lakes Islands Collaborative and Dave followed with key information from Islands of Life. We’ll also be giving a talk (Dave) and moderating (me) a Michigan islands session at the upcoming October 28-30, 2015, State of Lake Michigan Conference, again in Traverse City. We’ll post links to relevant information as they come available. Hope to see some of you there! Come say hi!

Our island team is in the process of discussing and making plans for future work, and I’m actively engaged in my own book research with recent trip to Ontario (including my first look at the controversial Wolfe Island wind turbines seen in the distance in my panoramic photograph below). So stay tuned!

Distant wind turbines of Wolfe Island

Distant wind turbines of Wolfe Island – click to enlarge (copyright 2015 Karen Vigmostad)

Two years is too long

I’ve been on a long journey to a new home in new city and new life. Haven’t been and am still unclear what to “do” with my beloved Great Lakes Islands Project. I’ve carried it forth in bits and pieces and am clear it needs to take a new form. I am sorry I didn’t take this blog along with me but left in limbo.

I did circle much of Lake Superior in August 2012 getting on and near many islands. I will circle all of Lake Michigan this summer doing the same. Joy. But it is about the journey, is it not?

For now I am just updating here a little with an image from a few years ago of former island team members Linda Wires (left) and Francie Cuthbert (right) doing their survey work right before we sat down to work together on the island project with the rest of the team. You might want to buy a copy of Linda’s brand-new book, The Double-Crested Cormorant: Plight of a Feathered Pariah (Yale University Press). A fantastic read and a ten-year labor of love by one of the world’s experts on this much-aligned, misunderstood and under-appreciated bird. Either I’ll talk Linda into writing a section of my book or I will write a piece on the special case of the cormorant in the Great Lakes.

Linda Wires and Francie Cuthbert counting Common Terns on Grosse Ile

Linda Wires and Francie Cuthbert counting Common Terns on Grosse Ile

Proposals for habitat restoration RFP due April 13

This morning Matt Doss of the Great Lakes Commission shared the announcement below.  Looks like promising source of funding for critical Great Lakes island habitat restoration projects.  Funders are especially interesting in multi-species and ecosystem-based projects, and note the  deadline of April 13th.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Partnership has released a request for proposals (RFP) for community-based habitat restoration.  The RFP will close on April 13th, 2012.  The Partnership typically funds projects between $25,000 and $85,000 in federal funding and requires a minimum of 1:1 non-federal match.  The statement below reflects the focus of the funding as stated in the RFP.

Focus areas: NOAA and TNC are looking to support community-based restoration of a diversity of habitat types and no habitats are excluded.  We will consider any innovative restoration project nationwide that supports NOAA trust resources, and particularly those projects that have a multi-species benefit or emphasize Ecosystem-Based Management.  A focal area of particular interest, though not exclusive or limiting, is native shellfish (bivalve) restoration projects.  Projects throughout all USA states and territories are eligible to compete for these grants.  Preference will be given to projects at priority sites identified through Marine Ecoregional Assessments and other TNC priority setting approaches at the state and territory level (contact TNC state or territory staff listed in Appendix II or NOAA/TNC Partnership Coordinator, Boze Hancock, bhancock@tnc.org).

The RFP is available at:


2012 promises new island initiatives

South Bass Island (Lake Erie)

2012 is shaping into a good year for Great Lakes island activities:

  • The island team is in initial discussions to develop a formal work plan to foster implement of island conservation throughout the Great Lakes ecoregion.  We’ll be seeking support for those efforts.
  • Within the next few weeks I will be on Ann Arbor cable television talking with show host Barbara Lucas about Beaver Island and the big picture of Great Lakes islands conservation.  I’ll post links here when I know when it will air.
  • I’m working with a publisher on an island book proposal.  The book will be the cumulation of 25 years of my passionate interest and  involvement with the islands.

I’ll also further develop this blog so as to share these initiatives and involve more people in learning about and better caring for the islands.

Karen Vigmostad

Two-hour discussion at SOLEC on Great Lakes islands being planned

Spent today on telephone and email crafting interactive session for this year’s State of the Great Lakes Conference (SOLEC) in Erie, PA, in late October. Such fun to be back in the saddle. Partners Dan Kraus of Nature Conservancy Canada and Dave Ewert of The Nature Conservancy will present and update the 2010 “Islands of Life” report. They’ll provide lake-by-lake assessments including for Georgian Bay islands and the Beaver archipelago. Linda Wires and Francie Cuthbert of University of Minnesota will provide a new presentation on colonial-nesting waterbirds and their recently funded 2012 monitoring of 100 islands of particular importance to these amazing birds.

We’ll devote much of the two hours to asking session participants help the Great Lakes Islands Network determine next steps. Ideas we are considering include regional reporting, working on a uniform Great Lakes coastal ecosystem classification system, and assistance to island communities, researchers, managers, and owners.

So please come to Erie, PA, October 26 and 27, to help guide the future of Great Lakes islands! The islands session is set for Wednesday afternoon. Here are some links to SOLEC: Binational.net and US EPA.  On these sites are links to past SOLEC reports on critical Great Lakes issues and lake-by-lake assessments.

Deepening commitment to the islands, coasts, and lakes

I spent five days along the shores of Lake Michigan at a writing retreat arranged with friend and novelist Jane Hoppe.  I focused on my August 2011 circling of Lake Superior to experience and explore the islands and coasts.  I fleshed out the chapter outline for my book and finalized the interview protocol for the interviews I will conduct during field research around the lakes.  Somehow the soulful depth of this journey has taken hold and I wonder how my life will now unfold.

Back in the saddle

Some of my 1,900+ books that were moved, and a bit of Henry Boy!

Life is still chaotic as I face what seem like endless boxes that need to be unpacked and two offices that need to be organized.  But in the past two months I’ve done the move and been on trips to the Georgian Bay, Cape Cod, and Bowling Green, KY.  In August I start my circle tour of Lake Superior.  Now time to get back to the beloved islands, my writing and photography, and getting reacquainted with UM-Dearborn (where my islands office is) and Ann Arbor (where my new home is).  But first time to tackle those boxes!

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program applications due Nov 1st

Received this grant announcement today that could address habitat restoration, education, and coastal resource planning for islands in Wisconsin waters:

The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) is seeking proposals to enhance, preserve, protect and restore resources within the state’s coastal zone – all counties adjacent to Lakes Superior and Michigan, with their nearly 1000 miles of shoreline. We anticipate awarding approximately $1.5 million in grant.

WCMP Grants are available for coastal wetland protection and habitat restoration, nonpoint source pollution control, coastal resource and community planning, Great Lakes education, public access and historic preservation.   Applications are due November 1, 2010.

Applicants are encouraged to contact WCMP staff early to discuss ideas for project proposals and application requirements.  When developing proposals, please pay close attention to the following items:
*       Application materials and the Request for Proposals are available on the WCMP website (http://coastal.wisconsin.gov)
*       There is a cost-share requirement for all projects.  Matching funds must be from non-federal sources, and may be in the form of in-kind contributions.
*       For habitat restoration and construction projects, be sure to include copies of all required permits or permit applications and title documentation with the application materials.  For all projects, be sure to include copies of required documentation and letters of support.