A proposed change to an existing state statute regulating the operation of sand and gravel mining operations is being unanimously opposed by the Glen Lake Association.
The change, Senate Bill 431, would restrict regulation by local units of government in the decision-making process for these operations. This bill has raised concerns about water contamination within the watershed.
Edward Lanphier, president of the GLA, noted that sand and gravel sites are by nature large and involve significant disturbance of natural resources.
“Glen Lake is a groundwater-fed lake and we depend on groundwater for our drinking water. And though aware of the importance of county sand and gravel pits to our economy, preempting local oversight of these operations is not in our community’s best interest,” he said.
Senate Bill 431 would limit the discretion of local units of government as it relates to aggregate mining operations and its negative impact on water quality due to runoff and erosion issues; air quality concerns and the remediation of sand and gravel mining sites; and the amount of water usage required during the mining process. Other concerns by opponents to the legislation include hours of operation, the location of haul routes, noise, dust control, traffic safety, and the impact of mining activity on adjacent land uses and property values. All these issues need to be evaluated locally to ensure sand and gravel mining facilities can be operated efficiently, but with minimal disruption to the local community.
The GLA has written a letter of objection to the Senate committee and legislators considering this statute change and is joined by numerous other leading state and civic groups in opposing its passage. They include The Leelanau Conservancy, Sierra Club of Michigan, The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, to name a few.
Beach sanding is a term which describes a shoreline practice that creates an artificial “sandy beach” in a place where it does not naturally occur.
A recent national study by the Environmental Protection Agency on inland lakes showed that the number one thing that protects lakes from water quality decline is to have natural shorelines. Plants that grow in the buffer zone along the shore absorb harmful nutrients before they get into the water. Making artificial beaches will only stimulate the decline of water quality of Glen Lake over time.
Beach sanding happens either when riparians add sand to their property or they remove shoreline plants in the buffer zone to expose existing sand, or both. The best practice is to not create artificial beaches where they do not naturally occur.
Once an artificial beach has been created, there will be maintenance issues. Erosion of the applied sand may occur and what some consider “weeds” will be a continual challenge to the artificial beach. It is strongly recommended that you NOT apply weed killers to your beach in the attempt to try and control unwanted plant growth.
If you would like to restore your shoreline to its natural state, please contact the Glen Lake Association.
The invasive species yellow iris has spread in the watershed over the past several seasons and the GLA is asking riparians for their help in eradicating the plants. Property owners have been notified and are part of the solution to combat the spread. A group of nine NMC Freshwater Studies Program students are currently working with our GLA interns, assisting with identification, mapping and removal.
The work is focusing on the Fisher Lakes, but plants also can be found on the north and east shores of Big Glen and along the Crystal River. The removal project this season is expected to continue through the first week of October.
Native to Europe, Northern Asia, the Middle East and northern Africa, the yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) most likely made it’s way to our shores as an ornamental plant. Many landscapers, pond designers and home gardeners choose to include it in their designs for it’s beautiful yellow flowers in bloom from mid June to mid July. It is lovely, in bloom, but problems arise when the seed pods mature, arch over the water, split open and disperse. It can travel far and wide on the waters of our lake, washing into crevices, lodging against berms and taking root. Over time it can create a dense mass, choking out the diversity of native plants that keeps our shores looking like northern Michigan and that keep our local ecosystem healthy.
Observed increasing over last several years by our watershed scientist Rob Karner and invasive plant specialist Laurel Voran. Laurel has been aware of this plant’s agressive nature from her work in the horticultural field and from the experiences of others in our region and nationwide. One person who has been involved with controlling this plant around Portage Lake described his experience like a game of “whack-a-mole” : “At first there were just a few, and then we found it popping up here, there and everywhere!”
This year we have taken efforts to carefully identify and document where yellow iris has taken root. We have done surveys by boat, by foot and by drone to assist in documenting as many current infestation sites as possible using mapping software.
We have removed the seed pods of any plants that flowered this summer to prevent further spread via water currents. (the seedpod stems arch down and can release into the water – spreading far and wide.)
Small infestations have been removed by digging. We are in the process of contacting affected landowners and determining best methods to destroy larger populations.
What you can do:
1: Contact us immediately if you know you have yellow iris and have not already heard from us. Remove any existing seed pods, or give us permission to do so.
2: Pay attention to any iris on your shoreline and let us know if any have yellow blooms next summer.
3: Ideally: Work with us in removing any yellow iris from your shoreline. Minimally: remove and destroy seedpods from yellow iris plants you desire to keep.
4: Do not purchase any yellow iris to plant anywhere on your property. (And- Be aware that yellow iris and our native blue blooming iris (Iris virginica and/or Iris versicolor) are confused in the trade. You may intend to purchase either of the natives, but it may reveal itself to be the yellow iris upon bloom.)
5: If you find this Iris for sale at nurseries or garden centers, ask them to stop selling it.
6: Donate to the GLA to support terrestrial invasive species efforts to help us cover the costs of erradicating it.
7: Educate your friends and neighbors about the threats of this plants, in spite of it’s beauty.
Learn more by watching these informative videos on the subject.