Lake Michigan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed spending $275 million to upgrade defenses against an invading force. The enemy? A fish. Specifically, Asian carp that are threatening to break through to the Great Lakes.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, joined environmental group representatives to decry the S.S. Badger’s polluting of Lake Michigan.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Standing on the Lake Michigan overlook at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — a wooden deck perched 450 feet above the lake’s steel blue water — it’s evident why the northern Michigan park was voted “the Most Beautiful Place in America” in 2011.

The panoramic view of towering sand dunes that plunge into pristine beaches, which then melt into a seemingly endless expanse of water, is breathtaking, hypnotic. 

Glen Lake from Sleeping Bear Dune
Robert Pahre / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Though Illinois is not famous for its mountains, it has other pleasures. As a westerner turned midwesterner, I decided to bloom where I’m planted. I’ve learned to appreciate both the Great Lakes and the prairies. Although Illinois does not have a nonhistoric national park, neighboring states with natural national parks surround it. All of these are national parks, though the names sometimes sound otherwise — national lake shores, national monuments and the like.