All Posts By

Scott Brown

A Steadily Increasing Number of Wake Boats Operating on Michigan’s Inland Waters Are Rendering Damage to Shallow Water Habitat and to Developed and Natural Shorelines

by Scott Brown, Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board Member

A dramatic upsurge in the number of wake boats operating on Michigan’s inland waters has resulted in a significant escalation in reports of overturned kayaks, swamped fishing boats, and damage to both developed and natural shorelines. The increasingly alarming situation has not only elicited the intense anger of affected waterfront property owners, paddle boat enthusiasts, and fisherman but it has also helped attract the attention of local, county, and state government officials to an increasingly important water resource management issue. A sharp increase in sales of the extraordinarily powerful and frequently disruptive boats that are capable of generating wakes whose energy greatly exceeds those that occur naturally as a result of high winds has served to bring the contentious issue to the forefront of public debate.

Based upon the findings of recent studies of the potential ecological impacts of wake boating conducted on inland lakes located in the province of Quebec, by an “average of a factor of four times”, wakes generated by near shore wake boat passes induced a significant increase in the level of energy reaching vulnerable shorelines. Moreover, a study of the impact of wake boat operation on critical shallow water habitat also conducted on the lakes of Quebec, revealed that high levels of turbulence associated with wake boat operation and their high energy wakes is capable of re-suspending bottom sediments, damaging aquatic plants, and of disturbing critical fish habitat situated in depths of up to fifteen feet. Lake managers, aquatic biologists, and conservationists throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region are increasingly aware of the fact that frequent exposure to the high energy waves generated by wake sport enabling boats is likely to be having a long-term negative impact on a steadily escalating number of vulnerable inland lakes and other ecologically sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance would greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences with the negative consequences of near shore wake boat operation with your local law enforcement agency as well as with your respective state representative and senator.

To view a webinar dedicated to exploring the destructive influences of wake boat operation that was produced by the Maine Lakes Society, click here. Thanks to Dr. Jo Latimore of MSU Extension for sharing this webinar link!

MWA E-Newsletter Updates Now Available for Download

Michigan Waterfront Alliance E-Newsletter-based
Updates Now Available for Download

Michigan Waterfront Alliance is please to announce that beginning now, e-newsletter updates that are broadcast to our members and affiliates via the internet are now available for download. Click here to download the most recent e-newsletter.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Launches Facebook Page

The President and Board of Directors of Michigan Waterfront Alliance are pleased to announce that we have launched a Facebook page dedicated to promoting our organization’s mission and goals. Visitors to our Facebook page will find photos and posts related to our primary mission of “creating or preserving state laws, and/or policies designed to protect, preserve, and promote the sustainable use of Michigan’s incredible natural heritage of immense freshwater resources”. Readers of this newsletter are encouraged to like, follow and frequently visit our new Facebook page. To visit Michigan Waterfront Alliance’s new Facebook page, click here

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Proposes to Conduct Two Presentations During the Upcoming Michigan Inland Lakes Convention

by Bob Frye, President, Michigan Waterfront Alliance

Legal Aspects of the Public Trust Doctrine as it Pertains to Michigan’s Lakes and Streams

Conference attendees will be apprised of their legal rights under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act and Public Trust Doctrine by noted attorney-at-law Bill Carey of the firm Carey & Jaskowski PLLC and Dane Carey of the Law firm of Kuhn Rogers PLC.

This session is intended to provide an overview of the legal remedies that can be used to compel a response to the misuse of water rights in the State of Michigan. An example being the Nestle water withdraws in the Reed City area. The discussion will focus on the viability of bringing a legal action against the abusers of water rights to pre-vent the resulting environmental impairment.

An Update on Critical Aspects of the Forty Year Starry Stonewort Bio-Invasion

Workshop attendees will receive an overview of the natural history, biology, morphology, reproductive capacity, the eco-physiological prerequisites of starry stonewort as well as a review of the number and distribution of inland lakes and other water bodies in Michigan that have been invaded by starry stonewort. The three hour session will also feature presentations regarding on-going efforts to develop bio-chemical means of effectively controlling the highly invasive macro-alga species, in addition to a presentation by the manager of the Finger Lakes Institute Starry Stonewort Collaborative, an EPA funded project intended to assist water resource managers and aquatic biologists in the Great Lakes region in developing exotic invasive starry stonewort specific management strategies.

A Steadily Increasing Number of Wake Boats Operating on Michigan’s Inland Waters Are Rendering Damage to Shallow Water Habitat and to Developed and Natural Shorelines

 

 

by Scott Brown, Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board Member

A dramatic upsurge in the number of wake boats operating on Michigan’s inland waters has resulted in a significant escalation in reports of overturned kayaks, swamped fishing boats, and damage to both developed and natural shorelines. The increasingly alarming situation has not only elicited the intense anger of affected waterfront property owners, paddle boat enthusiasts, and fisherman but it has also helped attract the attention of local, county, and state government officials to an increasingly important water resource management issue. A sharp increase in sales of the extraordinarily powerful and frequently disruptive boats that are capable of generating wakes whose energy greatly exceeds those that occur naturally as a result of high winds has served to bring the contentious issue to the forefront of public debate.

Based upon the findings of recent studies of the potential ecological impacts of wake boating conducted on inland lakes located in the province of Quebec, by an “average of a factor of four times”, wakes generated by near shore wake boat passes induced a significant increase in the level of energy reaching vulnerable shorelines. Moreover, a study of the impact of wake boat operation on critical shallow water habitat also conducted on the lakes of Quebec, revealed that high levels of turbulence associated with wake boat operation and their high energy wakes is capable of re-suspending bottom sediments, damaging aquatic plants, and of disturbing critical fish habitat situated in depths of up to fifteen feet. Lake managers, aquatic biologists, and conservationists throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region are increasingly aware of the fact that frequent exposure to the high energy waves generated by wake sport enabling boats is likely to be having a long-term negative impact on a steadily escalating number of vulnerable inland lakes and other ecologically sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance would greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences with the negative consequences of near shore wake boat operation with your local law enforcement agency as well as with your respective state representative and senator.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Votes to Support the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention at the ‘Platinum’ Level

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Votes to Support the 2020
Michigan Inland Lakes Convention at the ‘Platinum’ Level

Recognizing the overall importance of pro-actively supporting the on-going efforts of the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, a statewide collaborative organization dedicated to protecting our state’s vast heritage of high quality inland lakes by advancing stewardship, the Officers and Directors of Michigan Waterfront Alliance are pleased to announce that they recently unanimously voted to help enable the upcoming 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention by being a ‘platinum’ level supporter. The Michigan Inland Lakes Convention is a biennial event that brings together lake management professionals, researchers, local government officials, lake enthusiasts, and others interested in protecting Michigan’s water resources.

In addition to providing financial support to the Convention, Michigan Waterfront Alliance has also elected to support the inland lake focused event by submitting three distinct proposals for speaker presentations. For more information regarding the topics of our proposed speaker presentations, please read President Bob Frye’s article that appears at the top of this edition of our newsletter.

Scheduled to occur on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, September 16th, 17th, and 18th, this year’s Convention will occur in a virtual format due to the significant public health concerns currently being posed by the novel corona virus pandemic. To learn more about the upcoming 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention, visit the convention dedicated web page.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Seeks a Viable and Sustainable Means of Funding the Management and Control of Aquatic Invasive Species

Primarily attributed to the overland transport of small-craft boats, recreational boaters are known to play a key role in the unintentional introduction of an increasingly diverse array of often harmful exotic aquatic invasive plant and animal species within thousands of public boating accessible inland lakes in Michigan. A multitude of problems associated with the introduction of aquatic invasive species have been compounded by the fact that neither the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) are presently capable of providing any level of funding assistance to lakefront communities striving to protect valuable public natural resources from the often deleterious influences of exotic species.

In the absence of state funding, or other viable funding options, lake associations and township officials are therefore left little choice but to work together in order to deploy Public Act 188, the Township Public Improvements Act, that provides township officials with the means to assess inland lake property owners for the cost of managing or controlling aquatic invasive species (AIS). Recognizing the inadequacy and unfairness associated with Michigan’s only AIS funding mechanism, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is pro-actively seeking to establish a viable and sustainable means of stakeholder-based funding that would permit recreational boaters to voluntarily contribute to funding earmarked for aquatic invasive species management. Rather than supporting an outright increase in boater registration fees, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is working pro-actively in Lansing to promote the creation of a donation check-off box that would allow recreational boaters to voluntarily contribute funds to support AIS management efforts during the once every three year process of registering their water craft with the Michigan Secretary of State.

The efforts of Michigan Waterfront Alliance are supported by the findings of a number of academic research projects, including the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center sponsored research that is discussed in the previous article, which strongly suggests that the majority of the public stakeholders of our inland lakes, primarily recreational boaters, would in fact be willing to contribute more in terms of resource user fees, for example, in order to support enhanced funding of programs designed to prevent, manage, and control exotic aquatic invasive species.

Mr. Ralph Bednarz, Career MDEQ Inland Lake Water Quality Administrator, and Lake Management Advocate Addresses MWA Board

The Officers and Directors of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance were pleased to have hosted Mr. Ralph L. Bednarz as a special guest during our Friday, March 13, 2020 Board meeting that was held at the offices of Karoub Associates in downtown Lansing. Retiring from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), now known as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), in 2011 following a highly successful 35 year career in environmental protection and water resources management, Ralph managed the DEQ’s inland lakes water quality monitoring programs, including the Lake Water Quality Assessment monitoring program as well as the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP). He was also responsible for the successful implementation of the 2007 and 2012 National Lakes Assessment in Michigan in addition to the development and implementation of the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) volunteer water monitoring network. Tasked to coordinate the implementation of the 2012 National Lakes Assessment in Michigan, Mr. Bednarz returned to the DEQ Water Resources Division as a United States EPA Senior Environmental Employment Program specialist. His educational credentials include a Bachelor of Biological Sciences Degree from the University of Illinois, and a Master’s Degree in Limnology from Michigan State University.

Still actively involved in working to conserve Michigan’s legacy of high-quality inland lakes for future generations, Mr. Bednarz is involved with the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, and the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society. Ralph spoke with the MWA Board members about the critical importance of our unique role as a pro-active advocate and lobbying organization working on behalf of water resources and aquatic invasive species management in Michigan.

Update of Recent Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership Activities

The Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership (MILP) is made up of a broad range of organizations and agencies that have a common interest – protecting inland lakes. Explore this site to learn more about Michigan’s lakes, the organizations involved with the Partnership, and how you can be a part of the effort. You can also follow the Partnership on Facebook and Twitter! The Partnership is busy planning for the biennial Michigan Inland Lakes Convention that will take place in Grand Rapids on September 17-18, 2020.  This year’s theme is “Conserving Lakes in a Changing Environment”. Click here to learn more about the Partnership’s biennial inland lakes focused event.