Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project


Enjoying a Great Lakes beach
Enjoying a Great Lakes beach (Michigan Sea Grant)

The Great Lakes shoreline is home to many beautiful beaches that draw tourists and residents alike to the water's edge. In Ontario, the annual recreational value of Great Lakes beaches has been estimated at C$200-259 million,1 while U.S. Great Lakes beaches have been valued at US$1.1-1.4 billion.2


Mapping Great Lakes beaches

  • American beach locations were derived from the U.S. EPA BEACH Act Geospatial database. U.S. beaches were represented by line segments, which we converted to points using the midpoint of each segment.

  • The locations of Canadian beaches were provided by Environment Canada.

  • Asmall number of additional beaches were identified from protected lands databases for the U.S. and Canada.


Data Sources: 

1. Krantzberg, G. and C. deBoer. 2008. A valuation of ecological services in the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin with an emphasis on Canada. Journal of the American Water Works Association. 100(6):100-111.

2. Shaikh, S. and G. Tolley. 2004. Assessing the benefits of reducing Chicago-area beach closure days. The Joyce Foundation Environmental Program. Chicago, Illinois, USA.

3. Song, F. F. Lupi, and M. Kaplowitz. 2010. Valuing Great Lakes Beaches. Selected paper: Agriculture and Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting. Denver, Colorado.

4.Natural Resources Defense Council. 2012. Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches - Great Lakes Supplement. Washington, D.C., USA, 9 pages.