The Great Lakes Islands Network is supported by the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Islands Project. This site–a work in progress–is dedicated to information and conversations to help us better understand and conserve the creatures and features of these valuable, truly irreplaceable islands.
More than 32,000 islands dot the Laurentian Great Lakes–by far the world’s largest collection of freshwater islands. These islands range in size from the world’s largest freshwater island — Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron — to those no bigger than a large boulder and are often home to rare, endangered and threatened species. These islands contain globally rare biological diversity in need of enhanced conservation and stewardship.
The U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Islands Project is the culmination of nearly 30 years of binational efforts to improve the conservation of Great Lakes islands. Starting with a grant from the Michigan Coastal Management Project and NOAA, an island collaboration formed during the 1996 workshop hosted by the newly formed U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Islands Project. The workshop brought together 35 Canadian and American scientists, policymakers, and citizens–most meeting each other for the first time–for three days in Roscommon, Michigan. At that time we didn’t know how many islands there were nor their significance. Keynote papers, structured discussions, and consensus over needs and next steps led to the first State of the Great Lakes Islands report, which was the first collection of scientific papers about the islands (see Resources page to download PDF). We learned during the workshop that the biodiversity of the islands is globally significant and deserving top priority for Great Lakes conservation efforts.
Since that time the Collaborative has grown to over a hundred people in the public and private sectors, islanders and mainlanders, scientists and policymakers, and just plain interested citizens. A second significant grant in 2004 from the Great Lakes National Program Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency led to a long list of products and accomplishments including a geographic information system that includes all 32,507 islands.
Here is the Project Team that did the lions share of work over the span of many, many years. Left to right, Linda Wires, Francie Cuthbert, Megan Seymour, Rich Greenwood (with hat, now retired), Dan Kraus, Karen Vigmostad, and Dave Ewert.
In 2010, two team members–Dan Kraus and Dave Ewert–were c0-authors on the most recent and highly significant Islands of Life: A Biodiversity and Conservation Atlas of the Great Lakes Islands (also see Resources page to download PDF). While the report grew from the work during the EPA grant , it could not have been finished without the efforts of Bonnie Henson, Dan Kraus, Mike McMurtry and Dave Ewert and support from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and other partners.
In 2010 we found ourselves moving to this new home. We updated the name from Collaborative for the Conservation of Great Lakes Islands to simply the Great Lakes Islands Network. We’ll involve as many of the team and others in the Network as possible. In the meantime, we have begun posting Great Lakes islands information and resources for your use and discussion.
So welcome! We hope to provide information and resources of value to those who would join us in improving the conservation of Great Lakes islands! Please do share your ideas, issues, information, stories, and photographs by contacting me at kvigmostad at iCloud.com (replacing the word “at” with the @ symbol and removing extra spaces).
Karen E. Vigmostad, Ph.D.
Director, U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Islands Project
Updated August 29, 2015