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Boaters rejoice; Lake Michigan 9 inches higher

Lake Michigan has been rising for about the last year.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the big lake is 9 inches higher than a year ago, but it's still 9 inches below its long term average for April.

Lake Michigan's water levels fell deeply for about a decade, until Wisconsin had two straight winters with heavy snows.

In 2008, the corps said the lake rose continuously from January through July, and forecasters expect the same thing to happen this year.

Meanwhile, the International Joint Commission will issue a draft report in a few days which could partially explain the huge declines in recent years.

The commission studied the impact of a major dredging project in the St. Clair River in the 1960s, which allowed ocean-going freighters into the upper Great Lakes.

Most experts say the dredging caused the waters of Lakes Michigan and Huron to permanently fall by at least 16 inches.

The recent rise added about 2 feet to the Lake Michigan levels on the Wisconsin shore. And it couldn't come too soon for boats both large and small.

The Lake Carriers Association says a 1,000 foot freighter must release about 270 tons of cargo for every inch the Great Lakes fall, so those boats don't run aground.

Meanwhile, Bill Walker of the Milwaukee Yacht Club said large sailboats could not use the lake a couple years ago, because the shores had way too much mud.