The 5 Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of five freshwater lakes located in North America. They are the largest group of lakes in the world by total area and contain 21% of the world’s freshwater. The five Great Lakes are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. They cover an area of over 94,000 square miles and are shared by eight states and two Canadian provinces.
Location: The State of Illinois
Illinois is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is bordered by Wisconsin to the north, Indiana to the east, Kentucky to the southeast, Missouri to the west, and Iowa to the northwest. Illinois is also known as the Prairie State and is home to several major cities, including Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States.
Which Great Lakes Does Illinois Share a Border With?
Illinois shares its border with only one of the five Great Lakes. That lake is Lake Michigan, the only one of the Great Lakes located entirely within the United States. Lake Michigan borders the state of Illinois to the northeast and is approximately 307 miles long and 118 miles wide.
Lake Michigan: Illinois’ Only Great Lake Border
Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that borders the state of Illinois. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area. The lake is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, clear blue water, and scenic shoreline. Lake Michigan is also a popular destination for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities.
The History of Illinois’ Border on Lake Michigan
Illinois’ border on Lake Michigan dates back to the 1830s when the state’s northern boundary was established. The border runs along the shore of Lake Michigan and is approximately 63 miles in length. The border has remained unchanged since its establishment and has played an important role in the state’s economy, transportation, and recreation.
Lake Michigan: The Second Largest of the Great Lakes
Lake Michigan is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area. It has a maximum depth of 925 feet and a shoreline that stretches for over 1,600 miles. The lake is fed by several rivers, including the Fox River, the Manitowoc River, and the Menominee River. Lake Michigan is also home to several islands, including Beaver Island, North Manitou Island, and South Manitou Island.
Economic Importance of Lake Michigan for Illinois
Lake Michigan plays a vital role in the economy of Illinois. The lake is a major transportation route for the state, with shipping ports located in Chicago, Gary, Indiana, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is also a major source of drinking water for the state, with several water treatment plants located along its shoreline. The lake is also home to a thriving fishing industry, with several species of fish, including salmon, trout, and whitefish, found in its waters.
Environmental Challenges Facing Lake Michigan
Like all of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan faces several environmental challenges, including pollution, invasive species, and climate change. Pollution from agricultural runoff, stormwater, and industrial waste can harm the lake’s ecosystem and make the water unsafe for human use. Invasive species, such as zebra mussels and Asian carp, can disrupt the balance of the lake’s natural ecosystem. Climate change can also have a significant impact on the lake’s water levels and temperature, which can affect the aquatic life and surrounding communities.
Illinois’ Role in Protecting Lake Michigan
Illinois plays an important role in protecting Lake Michigan from environmental threats. The state has implemented several programs to reduce pollution, prevent the introduction of invasive species, and mitigate the effects of climate change. Illinois has also worked with neighboring states and Canadian provinces to develop a comprehensive plan to protect the Great Lakes.
Tourism and Recreation on Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. The lake’s sandy beaches, clear blue water, and scenic shoreline make it an ideal location for swimming, sunbathing, and other recreational activities. The lake is also home to several national parks, including Indiana Dunes National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Conclusion: Lake Michigan’s Vital Role for Illinois
Lake Michigan plays a vital role in the economy, environment, and recreation of Illinois. As the only one of the Great Lakes that borders the state, it provides a critical source of drinking water, transportation, and recreational opportunities. However, the lake also faces several environmental challenges that require ongoing attention and action to protect its ecosystem and the surrounding communities.
References: Sources Cited in This Article
- "Great Lakes." National Geographic Society, 4 Jan. 2019, .
- "Illinois." Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 Nov. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/place/Illinois-state.
- "Lake Michigan." Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 May 2020, https://www.britannica.com/place/Lake-Michigan.
- "Lake Michigan." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 11 Feb. 2021, .
- "Tourism and Recreation at Lake Michigan." Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University, https://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/our-work/coastal-tourism/tourism-and-recreation-at-lake-michigan/.