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Great Lakes Islands Could Create Coalition To Attract Tourists, Address Challenges

photo of South Bass Island from plane

There are thousands of islands in the Great Lakes. Most are small and only suitable for wildlife. But a few have residents year-round. Elizabeth Miller of Great Lakes Today reports on a plan to build cooperation among these islands.

Year-round island communities like the one at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island face challenges we don’t have here on the mainland. Peter Huston works for Put-in-Bay’s Chamber of Commerce, says, "It’s being able to have a reasonable year-round economy, transportation, food."

Other islands have these problems, too. So the goal of this week’s Great Lakes Island Summit is to have a days-long conversation about the challenges of island life and to find ways to collaborate.

The idea comes from the Maine Island Institute, a group that supports 15 islands around that state. But the Great Lakes Island Coalition would be a little different.

“We are a collection of several states and provinces, so in order for us to be able to solve some problems we’re going to have to work as a greater group,” explains Huston.

Huston says one idea presented at the summit is a passport program to attract tourism to all the Great Lakes islands.

Twelve islands were represented at the summit including Canada’s Pelee Island, and Harsen’s Island near Detroit.

Great Lakes Today is a collaboration of ideastream, WBFO Buffalo and WXXI Rochester.