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Hot Topics

Looking Ahead to Discovery Boat Cruises

Education, News March 12, 2019 No Response


It may seem far away yet we know how fast the weather can change – for the better– in northern Michigan! Plan ahead for a memorable time with family and friends by scheduling a Discovery Boat cruise.

Cruise Glen Lake and learn about it in ways that bring the GLA mission home. It’s all about the water, and what amazing water it is. Learn about water quality, ways to keep the watershed healthy, geology and how the area lakes and dunes were formed, plus so much more.

These cruises are great for the whole family! There are four Fridays available in July, and the first Friday in August. Times include 10:00 am and 12:45 pm departures. There are 10 open cruises– don’t delay and reserve your spot today.

Schedule your Discovery Boat cruise here.


Leelanau School Students Are Crystal River Guardians

Education, News March 10, 2019 No Response

The students pictured above were able to attend the recent Third Coast Conversation series kickoff event featuring a keynote by local author, Jerry Dennis. While there, students were able to participate in small discussion groups with concerned citizens and leaders from local, regional, and worldwide organizations. Groups explored the role freshwater plays in local history, culture and sense of place. Dennis challenged attendees to create a renewed sense of local pride in our water by helping develop a shared mythology of the Great Lakes and freshwater. But this is just one example of how the Leelanau School supports “protecting the watershed drop by drop.”

Promoting community engagement around environmental stewardship is nothing new at the Leelanau School. If you recycle, and we hope you do, you are probably familiar with the recycling drop-off location on Leelanau School property. But did you know that for nearly 90 years, the Leelanau School has served as custodian of approximately 2,000 feet of the lower reaches of the Crystal River and surrounding significant wetlands?

This educational community of nearly 80 students and staff preserves the natural buffer along the banks of the river and protects adjacent wetlands; exercises best management practices that protect surface and groundwater by recycling solid wastes, uses eco-friendly cleaning products, composts organic wastes, minimizes pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, and refrains from using fertilizers in close proximity the river. These efforts engage students, staff and visitors through education to promote wise use of natural resources and the protection of surface and groundwater. 

Do you know of other organizations, groups or businesses in our community that support the ideals of watershed protection?  Would you like to nominate them for GLA Guardian recognition? 

Contact Guardian Ambassador, Tricia Denton at

New Species Discovery a Clue to Swimmer’s Itch?

Education, News February 25, 2019 No Response

Helisoma, Ram’s Horn Snail is an aquatic host to the newly discovered parasite in Glen Lake.


It’s a rare occurrence when a new species is found! But that is exactly what scientists believe has occurred right in our backyard. After years of studying Glen Lake water ecology and organisms, we are now faced with the discovery of a new parasite that could be part of the Swimmer’s Itch life cycle.

A team of scientists with Freshwater Solutions, LLC (FWS) in partnership with the GLA have been working on Swimmer’s Itch in our lakes for decades. Up until the 2018 season, research had focused on the one species believed to be the primary offender in causing Swimmer’s Itch in Glen Lake. The accessibility and affordability of qPCR technology have for the first time made it possible and practical to determine if other previously overlooked parasites could also be contributing to Swimmer’s Itch and to what extent. 

So, in 2018, a new approach was used to collect and count every possible itch-causing parasite from all species of snails present in Glen Lake. Predictably, they found the other known itch-causing parasites that are assumed to play a minor role in Swimmer’s Itch. However, a never-before-identified parasite showed up under a microscope. This discovery initially confused and
dumbfounded the FWS team. Was it a sub species? Was it actually one of the known parasite species? Or–most extraordinarily– was it a new species?

After isolating and preserving the unknown parasite, sending it to the University of Alberta for further
analysis, consulting with the University of New Mexico where there is a library of known parasites, and having the parasite analyzed at the genetic level, preliminary results suggest that we have a new schistosome species.

“More tests and checks will continue in the coming months but be prepared to hear more about the announcement to the world that on Glen Lake and other lakes in our region, a new scientific species has been discovered,” says watershed biologist, Rob Karner, who is very excited about the find. “Once the scientific paper that details this discovery is submitted for publication and is
accepted, the fun part will be what to name it,” says Karner.

Karner also commented that, “the discovery speaks to the level of energy and sophisticated scrutiny that GLA is getting from our collective efforts with FWS and the exceptional talent possessed by their team.” At this point, experts are not sure if this new parasite causes itch or which avian (duck) species it cycles through. Hopefully, it does not cause itch but preliminary analysis suggests that it is very closely related to the known parasites in Glen Lake that do.

In order to better understand these questions and more, additional research is already planned for summer 2019. Stay tuned for
updates as we gain better understanding of how this and other itch-causing parasites are impacting our lakes.

For more information on discovering a new species, check out these links.
Newfound Species.
These Are the Top 10 New Species Discovered Last Year.