Oakland Press: Michigan summers offer a wide variety of fun for everyone

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

While the official start of summer is still days away, all the signs of the season are here: The kids are on summer break, swimming pools have opened, and blockbuster movies are showing in the theaters.

The Great Lake state offers families a rich variety of outstanding outdoor summer activities. From fishing and farmers markets, to holiday activities, to boating and swimming — and much, much more — Michigan provides us with endless opportunities to make the most of summer.

Did you remember to take advantage of Michigan’s Summer Free Fishing Weekend? This annual event was held Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12. Each year, the weekend offers an outstanding opportunity for Michigan families and out-of-state visitors alike to get together and enjoy some of the world’s best fishing on both inland and Great Lakes waters.

One of the more exciting and surprising fishing opportunities is now found in the Detroit River. Sports fishermen have long enjoyed fishing the Great Lakes for lake whitefish, but these fish also used to be plentiful in the Detroit River. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the river was well known as a home to lake whitefish. Unfortunately, habitat loss, pollution, and other factors led to the decline of the whitefish in the river. The last documented spawning of the fish was in 1916.

Then, in the fall of 2005, fisheries scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service verified the presence of spawning lake whitefish and fertilized whitefish eggs.

Thanks to decades of anti-pollution efforts begun in the 1970s, the Detroit River has recovered. Yes, summer in Michigan means great fishing — including fishing in the Detroit River!

Summer also means farmers markets across the state are kicking into high gear. Agriculture is one of our most important and thriving industries. Local growers, producers and even small winemakers reflect the industry’s vitality at farmers markets. I encourage you to visit some of these markets. The Oakland County Market is now open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. You may contact them at 248-858-5495 for more information.

Fourth of July is just around the corner. Independence Day means more than cookouts and fireworks. It is good to take some time each July 4 to honor those who risked their lives to stand up to injustice and tyranny. One popular tradition is for communities and volunteers to place American flags on the graves of veterans as a tribute to our fallen heroes and in remembrance of the true cost of freedom. I encourage you to join with your community and celebrate the liberty we hold dear.

Perhaps you’ll be out boating and swimming in one of the Great Lakes this Fourth of July or enjoying one of our thousands of inland lakes. Michigan’s lakes are a treasure, and swimming in them is one of the joys of summer.

If you plan to spend time on the water this summer, I encourage you to take the necessary precautions to make it a safe and fun experience. Take swimming lessons, follow local safety guidelines and look out for powerful rip currents.

Whatever your plans for summer, I hope you make the most of what our great state has to offer.

Have a great Michigan summer!

This column first appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.