The Glen Lake Garden Club has been a “Guardian” of Glen Lake for over 40 years. Each year its nearly 80 members contribute to conservation and community beautification projects around the watershed. On February 19 the Garden Club will be hosting our very own Guardian Ambassador, Tricia Denton. As guest speaker, Tricia plans to share information on the Glen Lake Guardian Program, highlighting key elements of the award-winning Michigan Shoreland Stewardship Survey with practical tips for taking care of our land to protect our waters, both seen and unseen.
Interested in learning more about the Glen Lake Garden Club or attending this event? Please contact Tricia Denton at 231-313-0359 to RSVP by February 16 to get on the guest list.
Then join us at the Glen Lake Community Reformed Church at 12:30 pm on February 19. Enjoy dessert and beverages in the community room followed by Tricia’s interactive session about water protection at 1pm.
Is all the land that drains water into Glen Lake and the Crystal River “created equal?” No. Are there portions of our watershed more critically and ecologically sensitive than others? Yes. Critical areas can be defined as portions of our watershed that have the greatest likelihood to affect water quality and aquatic habitat. The watershed map here shows the critical areas that in sum total equal about 25% of our watershed.
There are five categories of critical areas that include the following:
Riparian Corridors: (Blue) An area that includes land from the shoreline to a 1,000 foot setback boundary for Glen Lakes, Fisher Lakes, Crystal River, and Hatlem Creek.
Forested Ridgelines: (Yellow) These are the steep, forested slopes that harbor permeable soils susceptible to erosion that drain into the lake.
Hatlem Creek Subwatershed: (Red) An ecologically rich, diverse, complex wetland that drains into Glen Lake via Hatlem Creek
Crystal River Dune/Swale Complex: (Orange) An area classified globally as a rare and complex ecosystem.
Groundwater Recharge Areas: (Pink) Areas where the fastest and largest quantity of groundwater enters Glen Lake.
Central to the mission of the Glen Lake Association is to ensure that these critical areas are not degraded. Fortunately, much of these critical areas lay within the boundaries of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and will be preserved and protected for generations to come. However, the Riparian Corridor, where homes occupy nearly 98% of buildable lots along the shore, can pose a significant threat to water quality. Also, areas of strong groundwater recharge mean what you do to your land will impact the surface water of the lake very quickly.
If you live within any of the boundaries of these critical areas of our watershed, consider taking the pledge to protect and join our Glen Lake Guardian program. By doing so, it will provide our waters with the best protection we can offer. After all the lake and river give us, shouldn’t we in turn give back by living responsibly? It is a win-win for both.
For more information about critical areas in a watershed click here.
Groundwater is water that has filtered through the ground and lies “perched” on bedrock or clay. Some of it comes from rain and snowmelt, some of it from during and even before the time of glaciers. This water flows, pulled along by gravity. The flow is either fast or slow depending on the topography and coarseness of the soil. Steep slopes and sandy soils will have faster groundwater flow and low slope gradients and heavy clay soils will yield slower groundwater flow. Either way, the groundwater eventually makes its way to Glen Lake and the Crystal River.
Why does all this matter? Water that enters the soil will travel through, picking up and carrying pollution along the way, eventually delivering toxic chemicals into the lake, including PFAS, excessive nutrients, or harmful bacteria from improperly functioning septic systems.
A lack of natural groundcover can reduce groundwater recharge by causing run-off of rain and snowmelt. When water flows over the ground surface, it can pick up sediment and pollutants, carrying them directly into the lake. Natural vegetation like trees, shrubs and native grasses help intercept this water, allowing it to go into the soil. Vegetation also helps keep water in the ground by protecting against evaporation. Do your part and protect our water, seen and unseen. Groundwater or surface water, they are all connected. Remember our GLA saying, “It’s All About the Water!”
This topic is a reminder that it’s especially important to be mindful of what we put in and on our land. This applies to upland and inland areas, too, not just along our shores. We have to consider the whole watershed. Even miles from the shore, the groundwater from these places eventually makes its way to the lake. Groundwater not only replenishes Glen Lake, we also depend on it for our drinking water. Shorelander or Uplander, we all bear the responsibility to protect the land, in order to keep our groundwater unpolluted.
Some recent Michigan news headlines have featured images of foamy lake and river water attributed to excess levels of PFAS (per-and polyflouroalkyl substances), a class of over 3,500 human engineered chemicals developed since the 1940s. Without knowledge of how they would affect the human body or ecosystems, these substances have been incorporated into a wide range of products including: firefighting foam, non-stick coatings, water repellant clothing, stain resistant carpeting and fabrics, floor cleaners, waxes, paints, insect traps, microwave popcorn bags and more.
In addition, perfluorinated compounds, a subgroup of PFAS, have been referred to as “forever chemicals” because the chemical bond that holds the molecules together is the strongest chemical bond. Some PFAS compounds, perfluoroalkyl acids are also highly mobile in water and are bio-accumulative, meaning they build up in organisms faster than they can be excreted. The human health impacts of these substances are still poorly understood but have been linked to a number of health related problems including but not limited to certain types of cancers.
The GLA has been doing its part to stay up to date on this emerging water/health issue. Several members of the GLA board and Guardian Ambassador Tricia Denton participated in an international “virtual town hall” on threats to groundwater sponsored by Circle of Blue, Bridge and Detroit Public TV. The GLA also sponsored Rob Karner, Watershed Biologist, and Tricia Denton, to attend the annual Michigan Inland Lakes Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan where among the many seminars that were attended, one featured a workshop on two PFAS subgroups PFOS and PFOA.
In the wake of news related to contaminated sites, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) conducted testing of municipal water systems and schools across the state. The private municipal water system for many of the residents of a neighboring lake in northwest Lower Michigan–Walloon Lake–was part of this statewide testing. Interestingly, PFOA and PFOS chemicals were found to be present in the drinking water but in what is currently considered to be low and “acceptable levels.”
Because the Glen Lake area is not served by any municipal water systems, we were not part of the statewide testing,
and do not have any indication that we are at significant risk for high levels of PFAS chemicals. However, we are exploring testing options
for our lake and a small group of selected water wells that have traditionally been used for baseline testing of other substances in the
past. Rest assured, we will keep you up to date as we discover more about this emerging topic as it applies to our watershed.
There is so much more to know and learn. For more information about this evolving subject, please click here: PFASFactSheet.
To learn more about PFAS, listen to podcasts or review transcripts from the groundwater “virtual town hall” referenced in this article, please visit Circle of Blue.
Hurry and register for this interesting and educational inland lake workshop before the Tuesday, Jan 8 deadline.
“Introduction to Lakes” is offered in a convenient self-paced online format, and is designed for anyone interested in lakes, including lakefront property owners, lake users, local government officials, lake managers and educators.
Exciting news! The Michigan Shoreland Stewards program has been awarded the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) Award for Leadership and Service in Community Education and Outreach.
This award recognizes Glen Lake Association and other neighboring lake associations for design, facilitation, and performance of exceptional education and outreach activity that promotes community understanding, protection, preservation, and appreciation for our lakes, rivers, and streams.
This program was made possible over the past two years by a great deal of hard work and the financial assistance of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and many lake associations in northwest lower Michigan, including the GLA.
“Ambassadors” for the program were identified by local lake associations to participate in assisting the MISSP in developing and testing training, education and outreach for the program. The GLA’s early work on stewardship initiatives was one of the models used for the development of this program. The hiring last spring of GLA Guardian Ambassador Tricia Denton is just one more example of the GLA’s continued commitment to being at the forefront of water protection efforts. Tricia will continue to catalyze riparians to engage with the Michigan Shoreland Survey, Glen Lake Guardian pledges and additional education outreach to ensure a bright future for protecting and preserving water quality on and in our Glen Lake/Crystal River Watershed.
Having an national, award-winning program ready for you to use is just one more reason to engage with the 40 question survey on the Michigan Shoreland Stewards website. By registering and completing the Michigan Shoreland Stewards survey you will automatically receive customized educational information tailored to your property along with detailed recommendations for improving your “lake friendly” status. Find out more by going to this website:
It was recently reported that the water in Big Glen appeared more “cloudy and foamy.” The question is why does the Big Glen look less desirable in the fall than in the summer when the water is more clear?
The answer is the lake has “flipped.” During the summer, Big Glen thermally stratifies creating a layered cake like arrangement with warm water at the surface sealing off the cooler bottom water (hypolimnion). Much of the phosphorous present in the lake is sequestered at the bottom of Big Glen and is separated from the upper sunlit and warmer water at the top. As air temperatures drop in the fall and the upper water cools,the now cooler and therefore more dense/heavier water sinks,forcing phosphorus at the bottom to go to the top.
This “flipping” or “turning over” of the water column allows phosphorous to become available to plants such as algae. This boost of available nutrients is the driving force for algal blooms that makes the water more cloudy. Once the algae are done “blooming” the algal cells die and the wind channels the decomposing algae into foamy water that washes up on shore in the fall. Guess what comes next? Winter.
For more information on this natural phenomenon click here.
The recent “Clean Water: What Can I Do?” talk by GLA Guardian Ambassador, Tricia Denton was well attended. Held at Glen Lake Community Library, topics included: current GLA water protection programs; wastewater treatment challenges and nutrient loading of surface water. We’re thrilled to report that five Leelanau School students took our GLA Stewardship Checklist with them to evaluate their school’s stewardship of 2,000 feet of Crystal River frontage.
Also, 20 attendees became new Guardians after participating!
Clean Water: There is always something each one of us can do to protect this precious natural resource. Come learn more about threats facing our water at a community conversation on November 28.
Held at the Glen Lake Community Library beginning at 7 p.m., learn practical applications for doing your part. Glen Lake Guardian Ambassador Tricia Denton will be available to answer questions, share tools and help you develop a customized plan.
Have questions or want to do more? Feel free to contact Glen Lake Guardian Ambassador, Tricia Denton, with your questions.