The graph above displays the water level verse target for March. The dam gates have been at their lowest setting all winter but the Glen Lakes remain high to target due to precipitation. Starting March 15 the lake level target starts to ramp up, from 596.6’ in winter to 596.88’ for summer. The First Quarter Report from the GLA Water Level Committee was submitted to Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, who reviewed and approved it.
The Glen Lake Association will not be surprised to receive shore erosion comments when families return from their winter hiatus. Although the dam has been set at its lowest level for more than 180 days, allowing for the highest possible dam flow, a lower winter evaporation rate and unusually high inputs of rain and snowmelt have caused the lake elevation to remain well above historic winter heights. (Check out the latest issue of the GLA Newsletter for additional lake level stats). These higher levels are welcomed by most in summer, but can contribute to winter and spring erosion on shorelines lacking a natural vegetation buffer.
The cycle of ice formation and break up on the lake can further complicate the potential for significant erosion. This winter’s ice was marked by repeated freeze-thaw cycles, delaying formation of and persistence of a solid mass. As ice forms or breaks up, winds can push it against the shore, rolling up sand and peeling back lawns. This is called ice jacking and scours beach away from locations unprotected by deeper rooted natural vegetation. Prevailing westerly winds paired with multiple higher wind events this winter amplified this effect, especially on the east shore of Big Glen.
At left: Due to some very windy days and ice not forming on the lake until February, there was more erosion than usual this year. This picture is of Big Glen on the east-northeast shore. Note the undercutting of the grass and lack of exposed sand. Normally the sand slopes gradually from grass to water and waves would only touch grass on the waviest days.
Despite the best efforts of the Water Level Committee volunteers who regulate the dam flow, the surprising amount of rain and snow over the past six months along with yo-yoing temperatures reduced our ability to mitigate winter beach erosion. While we can’t control Mother Nature, there are things each of us can do individually to make our shores more resilient and resistant to erosion.
If you experienced erosion this winter, we want to hear from you. Help us identify which areas have been most affected and let us offer resources for helping you protect your shore in the future. Now is the perfect time to make changes to your shore that can better protect your property, reduce maintenance costs, and improve lake health as well as your personal enjoyment.
At right: The ice came off the lake dramatically. Strong winds pushed the ice up over the shore and into the trees in places along the east shore.
For the Water Level Committee
231 735 6085
GLA is pleased to announce that we are the online webinar sponsor for the 54th Annual Michigan Lakes and Streams Association Conference that was to be held this May at Crystal Mountain Resort. That event has been cancelled but the MLSA is offering free webinars featuring speakers and presentations from the conference every Friday for the next seven weeks. GLA is the exclusive sponsor of this series!
Here’s the link for the first episode which aired last Friday on the Shoreland Stewards program. GLA is acknowledged several times during the program. You can see slides highlighting GLA participation in the Shoreland Stewardship Program (GLA is top in the state!) at around 51:30. GLA’s Guardian Ambassador, Tricia Denton, speaks at 1:01:33.
Future episodes can be found on the MLSA website. Enjoy some good lake and stream education right from your couch!
There are three other, lesser known and often overlooked bodies of water in our watershed. Let’s take a look at the first. Tucker Lake is about 15 acres wide and 15 feet deep, and is completely within the National Park’s boundaries. There are no riparians on this lake. It has one boat ramp that is managed by the National Park Service and has one outlet, namely, Tucker Creek. One nice aspect of this lake is that if you are on the lake in a canoe, row boat, or kayak, there is a commanding view of one of our most prominent glacial moraines—Miller Hill.
Historically, the land closest to the lake was used as a township dump and many residents in the early decades of the 1900s would take their trash to the lake. The dump has since been cleaned up by community members, including students from the Leelanau School. The National Park Service has monitored the site for hazardous waste.
The lake is considered eutrophic—rich in nutrients that support a dense plant population—and is in the advanced stages of “aging.” Some day in the next 200 years or so, it will cease to exist and gradually will turn into a swamp as it fills in from the bottom towards the surface.
The bottom of the lake is soft, brown, and full of organic material. Most of the surface of the lake is covered with lily pads in the summer, but in the spring and fall it is open water and plays host to migrating buffleheads, goldeneyes, mallards and wood ducks. It also is host to the red shouldered hawk, which can be heard screaming during courtship in the spring with the sound echoing off Miller Hill. They sound like bluejays on steroids!
The lake is surrounded by a natural shoreline and intact wetlands. Beaver, muskrats, raccoons and deer can be seen browsing on the vegetation on just about every visit year-round. The color of the water is the result of tannins from the decomposing shoreline plants. Fishing in the lake will produce bluegill, perch, rock
bass, northern pike, large-mouth bass, bullhead and pumpkinseeds. Spring is a fun time to visit to hear the male American toads collectively making loud trills as they call out to their mates.
During winter, the ice is rarely, if ever, safe for human travel. The decomposition of the aquatic plants and springs make the ice dangerous for walking on the thin ice – even during a cold winter. It is a very nice lake to visit from a nature observation perspective and it is picturesque in all seasons.