Michigan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) is pleased to announce that Mr. Ralph Bednarz has graciously accepted an invitation to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. A lifelong lake protection and preservation advocate, Mr. Bednarz brings a wealth of knowledge and experience acquired during a highly productive thirty-five-year career as a water resources and environmental protection manager within the Inland Lakes Management Unit of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) (now referred to as the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Instrumental in planning, developing, implementing, and managing high profile MDEQ statewide lake water quality monitoring programs, including the Lake Water Quality Assessment, and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, it is also important to note that Mr. Bednarz played a critical role in helping to ensure the success of the Michigan component of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sanctioned National Lake Assessments while serving as an EPA Senior Environmental Program specialist following his retirement from the MDEQ in 2011. In addition to his newly acquired role as a Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board member, Mr. Bednarz currently serves on the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society (McNALMS) Board of Directors, and is a pro-active representative to the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, and the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. In recognition of his “significant contributions to the advancement of inland lake education, pro-active leadership in addressing key inland lake issues, and in promoting lake ecology, and management”, Mr. Bednarz also recently received the McNALMS Lifetime Achievement Award. Welcome aboard Ralph!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 30, 2020
Nick Assendelft, Public Information Officer, AssendelftN@Michigan.
Marcy Knoll Wilmes, Aquatic Biologist, KnollM@Michigan.gov
Residents across Michigan will benefit from a new $1.7 million contract for Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps), a network of citizen volunteers who help EGLE by collecting and sharing water quality data with the goal of protecting lakes and streams.
MiCorps includes education, training and networking for citizen scientists working with EGLE program biologists as their guides in learning more about water, Michigan’s most precious resource. EGLE awarded the new contract to Michigan State University, which will administer the program and work with Michigan State University Extension, Huron River Watershed Council and the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association.
EGLE secured funding through the Renew Michigan Fund to continue this valuable program.
“MiCorps is a dynamic program that engages the public in monitoring our inland waters, staying vigilant for problems in their watershed and acting to solve local problems,” said Marcy Knoll Wilmes, EGLE’s MiCorps director. “I am so proud of the volunteers and the work they do across the state. EGLE values the data collected to help us assess Michigan waters. We have some exciting items that will be developed through this contract including a new database, phone app for data collection and mapping/GIS capabilities added to the web site.”
“We are thrilled to continue working with EGLE to support Michigan volunteers in their efforts to monitor lakes and streams,” said Dr. Jo Latimore of Michigan State University, who will provide leadership for the MiCorps team. “The excellent data collected by MiCorps participants supports local conservation work and contributes significantly to our overall understanding and protection of Michigan’s waters.”
The Michigan Use of State and Local Park Funds Amendment will appear on the upcoming November 3, 2020 election ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. While Michigan Waterfront Alliance has not yet taken a position on the amendment, we are pleased to be able to provide relevant information in the interest of keeping our dedicated readers apprised of the latest information regarding important water and natural resource related issues.
Our readers should know:
That a “yes” vote on the amendment changes how revenue in the state park-related funds can be spent, including (a) making projects to renovate recreational facilities eligible for grants and (b) allowing the parks endowment fund to be spent on park operations and maintenance, and (c) removing the cap on the size of the natural resources trust fund.
That a “no” vote on the amendment opposes making changes to how revenue in the state’s park-related funds can be spent, thus (a) continuing to prohibit projects to renovate recreational facilities from receiving grants and (b) continuing to prohibit the parks endowment fund from being spent on park operations and maintenance, and (c) keeping the cap on the size of the natural resources trust fund.
Our members and readers of this newsletter should also know that based primarily on our need to understand how passage of this amendment may affect the propensity of Michigan Department of Natural Resources owned and operated public access boating sites to contribute to the spread of exotic aquatic invasive species, the Michigan Waterfront Alliance is at least temporarily deferring public support of this important constitutional amendment.
Limnologist Ralph Bednarz moved to his new home on Rennie Lake in Grand Traverse County just a couple of years ago and already the water is taking over part of his shoreline. In fact, many home and cottage owners on lakes throughout Michigan are witnessing record high lake levels and responding with emergency measures like sand bags.
In this video, we learn from experts at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) that permits are required to build structures at or below the ordinary high water mark of inland lakes anywhere in the state. So, property owners should take the time to talk things over with EGLE before piling rock or building seawalls on their waterfronts.
To read the remainder of this article, and to watch the video that originally appeared on the Nature Change – Conversations about Conservation and Climate website on July 20, 2020, click here
Formed by a diverse group of Minnesota citizens concerned about the impact of high energy wakes created by modern wake boats on people, property, and inland lake ecosystems, Safe Wakes for Minnesota Lakes is dedicated to “protecting Minnesota lakes for future generations”. The mission statement of the organization is to “prevent environmental damage and injury to people and property caused by artificially enhanced wakes”.
The primary goals of the organization are focused on passing legislation in Minnesota that would restrict the creation of wake boat enhanced wakes to areas of inland lakes a minimum of 1,000 feet from shore, and to a minimum depth of 16 feet. The efforts of the organization are in response to steadily increasing numbers of wake boat facilitated incidents involving paddle boats, fisherman, and damage to docks, moored boats, and natural shorelines.
To visit the Safe Wakes for Minnesota Lakes website, visit safewakes.org
The budget agreement recently struck between House and Senate Republicans and the Whitmer administration to resolve the budget deficit exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is littered with casualties. Unfortunately, the cuts in the budget are hitting close to home – Inland Lakes Aquatic Invasive Plant Species Control Program funding has been cut from the budget.
The FY 2018-2019 budget included a $1.0 million one-time GF/GP appropriation through a supplemental budget; the program was intended to provide grants to inland lake associations for eradication and control of invasive aquatic plant species. Up to this point, however, only $25,000 of the original appropriation had been utilized, and so the remaining $975,000 was re-absorbed into the general fund.
We are not the only folks feeling the pain from the budget agreement, but I do believe this highlights two key points:
1. We have to find a more efficient and effective process for administering grants, seeing that only $25,000 of the $1.0 million available had been utilized.
2. We need to pursue a dedicated funding source for the maintenance and prevention of inland lake aquatic invasive plant species.
We will continue our efforts throughout the remainder of this legislative session so that we’re prepared to provide valuable input from the beginning of the 2021 legislative session.
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 by clicking here, or review the promotion for the Convention that appears within this e-newsletter.
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 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 recent Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center sponsored research that 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.
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!