FLOW’s Public Trust Month

And introducing our Great Lakes Passport

In July 2019, we introduced our Great Lakes Passport to help you celebrate and exercise your rights during what we at FLOW are calling Public Trust Month. During 2019’s record high water levels on the Great Lakes, know your rights and responsibilities in Michigan when walking the beach and enjoying the water.

Here in the Great Lakes State, our freshwater seas, bottomlands, and shore are protected from sale, private control, or impairment for us—the public—to use and enjoy. Those protected activities include walking the Great Lakes shoreline (up to the ordinary high water mark), boating and navigation, drinking water, fishing, gathering and sustenance, and swimming and other recreation. Click the arrows above to flip through your Great Lakes Passport to access and adventure! Be sure to share it with a swim buddy too. And here’s a downloadable version for saving, printing, and sharing of your Great Lakes Passport.

The Public Trust and YOU

“The Great Lakes belong to all of us. It’s in our DNA,” said FLOW executive director Liz Kirkwood. “We know that those waters that surround us, that bathe us, that nurture us underneath our feet, are inalienable rights for all.”

During this high-water month of July, FLOW will publish video postcards each weekday that feature Michiganders (and citizens of the Great Lakes Basin) explaining what the Public Trust Doctrine means to us and how our precious, publicly-owned fresh water shapes our lives and relationship to this place we call home.

“We chose July because this is the height of summer and the connections people have with our waters,” added Kirkwood. “This is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the Great Lakes and think about what stewardship really means. What will we do to make sure these waters are protected for our children and our children’s children?”

We saw the Public Trust Doctrine in action in late June when the State of Michigan and Attorney General Dana Nessel took the important step of defending the Great Lakes by suing Enbridge and alleging that its occupation of Line 5 violates the Public Trust.

Read more about how the Public Trust affects YOU.

Did you ever wonder, “What is the Public Trust, and why should it matter to you?”

Take a visual tour of the Public Trust to learn more

FLOW’s 2019 “Public Trust Month” Video Postcards

FLOW treated July 2019 as “Public Trust Month”. We reached out to you, the public, and asked “Who owns the Great Lakes?” We talked to a U.S. Senator, a state attorney general, a tribal chairman, a mayor, fly fishermen, artists, ballet dancers, an author, a child in a kayak. Here is a video montage with some of your answers.

Michiganders and visitors of all backgrounds share their thoughts on who owns the Great Lakes and the value of the Public Trust
Judah, toddler, July 2, Clinch Park in Traverse City


Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General, July 3, Traverse City Library 


Gary Peters, U.S. Senator, July 4, Mackinac Island


Michael Delp, Mad Angler poet, July 5, Historic Barns in Traverse City


Liesl Clark, director, Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, July 8 


Andrew Stier, Paddle TC employee, West Grand Traverse Bay, July 9


Howard Learner, ELPC, July 10


Mary Van Valin, July 11


Constanza Hazelwood, July 12


Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy, July 15


Phil Ellis, Community Foundation, July 16


Mary Powell, Green Mountain Power, July 17


Chien Nowland, Nauti-Cat captain, July 18


Bryan Newland, Bay Mills Indian Community, July 19


Sarah Wolff, ballet dancer, July 23


George Goodman, Mackinac Island Community Foundation, July 25


Jim Carruthers, Traverse City Mayor, July 26


Anne-Marie Oomen, poet, author, playwright, July 29


Doug Stanton, author, National Writers Series founder, July 30


Anneke Myers, Mackinac Island City Council, July 31


Andy Levin, Congressman, August 1