Great Lakes Michigan Recreation

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Climate Change in Michigan
Climate Projections
Forests & Wildlife
Human Health
Lakes, Streams, & Fish
Property and Infrastructure
Recreation & Tourism
Water Supply & Pollution
Wetlands & Shorebirds
Climate Solutions
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Climate Change Impacts:
Recreation and Tourism

Tourism is one of Michigan's top income producing industries. Birders, hikers, hunters, winter sports enthusiasts, and other visitors to Michigan bring nearly $10 billion into the state. Climate change will affect the type of recreational experiences available in Michigan.

The most certain impacts of climate change will be on winter sport activities. Communities and businesses dependent on revenues from winter sports could be hard hit. Some of these communities and businesses, however, may make up the loss by expanding warm weather tourism and recreation. Among the potential impacts of climate change with implications for recreation and tourism in Michigan are:

  • A Change in the Distribution of Fish Species
    Fisherman with CatchAs waters warm, the types of fish species that inhabit them will likely change. Increases or declines of preferred catch will affect anglers on the Great Lakes and inland lakes. The range of warm-water fish is likely to expand northward, while cold-water species, and even some cool-water fish, may decline dramatically, potentially to the point where they disappear from the southern parts of the region.

  • A Loss of Bird Diversity
    Michigan's Upper Peninsula is one of the most popular bird-watching destinations in the Midwest. More than 300 species bird species spend at least part of their year living in the Peninsula's terrestrial and aquatic habitat. A warming climate will drive complex changes in habitat, food resources, and other factors that will likely diminish bird diversity. Crossbills, siskins, grosbeaks, and breeding warbles are particularly vulnerable to shifts of boreal forest species. Migratory songbirds may be harmed if food is scarce along their route as a result of earlier leaf-out and insect emergence. Waterfowl are also expected to decline. Some resident species, such as northern cardinals, chickadees, and titmice, may benefit if they are able to breed earlier and raise more broods within a season. These impacts will affect Michigan's birdwatching and hunting industries.

  • A Degraded Winter Recreation Experience
    Ice BoatingWarmer winters mean trouble for Michigan, where winter recreation has long been an integral part of people's sense of place. The communities and businesses dependent on revenues from cross-country or downhill skiing, snowmobiling, and, especially, ice fishing, could be hard-hit.

  • An Expanded Summer Recreation Season, with Risks
    As temperatures warm further, extreme heat, extreme storms, elevated ozone levels, and possible increases in risk from insect- and waterborne disease will affect beachgoers and boaters, and may involve some restrictions and require behavioral adjustments by tourists and local outdoor enthusiasts.

Photo Credits:
Moose -- USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest.
Fisherman with Catch -- Courtesy of USDA/NRCS
Ice Boating -- Courtesy of Michigan Travel Bureau
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