TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.

Record low Great Lakes water levels over for now

Scientists say the longest period on record of abnormally low Great Lakes water levels has ended, but it’s uncertain whether the recovery is temporary or the beginning of a new long-term trend.

The slump began in the late 1990s. It continued for 15 years, culminating early last year when Lake Michigan and Lake Huron set low-water records. Since then, levels have sharply rebounded.

In September, the levels of all five of the Great Lakes were above average for the first time since the drop-off began, said Drew Gronewold of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Between January 2013 and this November, Lake Superior rose 2.3 feet, while Lakes Michigan and Huron rose 3.2 feet.

Gronewold and Keith Kompoltowicz of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the recovery is due primarily to heavy rain and snowfall in the region over the past two years

LOUISVILLE, Ky.

Religious-themed ark park loses its offer of a tax break

Kentucky has withdrawn its offer of tax breaks for a religious-themed park that would feature a 500-foot-long wooden ark.

Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart says the planned project had evolved from a tourism attraction into an outreach for the Christian ministry that is building it. Stewart wrote in a letter Wednesday to the group’s lawyer that “state tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination.”

He said the group was no longer honoring its pledge to not discriminate in hiring for the ark park.

The long-planned Ark Encounter attraction is being built by a nonprofit subsidiary of Answers in Genesis, the Kentucky-based Christian ministry that operates the popular and controversial Creation Museum.

The ark project got preliminary approval in July for up to $18 million in tax rebates

— From news service reports