Great Lakes islands aim to help each other

Sep 29, 2017

There are thousands of islands in the Great Lakes – most of them small and only suitable for wildlife.  But a few have year-round residents, and there is a burgeoning plan to create an islands coalition.

Year-round communities like Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island face challenges that aren't found on the mainland.  Peter Huston, who 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.  And what if they could all work together? 

That was the goal of this week’s Great Lakes Island Summit, a days-long conversation about the challenges of island life.

The idea comes from the Maine Island Institute, a group that supports 15 islands around the 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.