How to educate lakefront property owners about the critical need to better protect the Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed?
That question was the impetus to begin a new initiative in early 2015. The Glen Lake Association began planning for the adoption of a water “Guardian” program similar to one instituted by another environmental nonprofit to the north, the Lake Charlevoix Association. GLA watershed biologist, Rob Karner, met with the group and a localized plan was approved by the GLA board of directors to create the Glen Lake Guardian program for the watershed.
The main objective was to educate waterfront property owners or “riparians” about best management practices to be used throughout the watershed to ensure water quality and protection.
Led by Rob Karner, then GLA president Denny Becker, member Bob Boles and other board members, GLA’s Guardian initiative was adopted, planned and launched during the summer of 2015, all within a five-month period.
The Glen Lake Guardian agenda included a program logo, brochure, media releases, program details and instructions, website and newsletter content, pledge forms, banners, stickers and other materials. The Guardian program was officially announced to the membership at the annual meeting, postponed from August to September, due to the devastating August 4 windstorm that hit parts of Glen Arbor and other areas across northwest Michigan.
That first year, the Guardian program attracted 177 sign-ups. In 2018, the board hired Tricia Denton to head the program and serve as GLA’s Guardian Ambassador. Tricia possesses a wealth of community connections, scientific knowledge and a passion for helping each person find how they can better protect water. Since the addition of a Guardian Ambassador, the number of volunteer property owners, businesses, watershed residents and visitors who have pledged to follow practices to protect our ground and surface water has grown to more than 400.
There are many ways to become a Guardian. Riparian property owners are encouraged to “Score Their Shore,” but anyone can be a Guardian. By taking the “Pledge to Protect” and agreeing to adopt practices to protect their own property and others they use and enjoy, everyone can do their part. A pledge may include using eco-friendly soaps and detergents, keeping septic systems in good working order, and installing or maintaining a greenbelt by planting or allowing native vegetation to grow along the shoreline.
This successful educational initiative of the GLA has already spread to other watersheds in Michigan. It is our hope that it will continue to grow here in our watershed, across the state and beyond. As the saying goes, “What’s good for the water anywhere is good for the water everywhere; It’s all connected!”
To learn more about how you can protect the watershed “Drop by Drop,” contact Tricia Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or to sign the “Pledge to Protect,” at Take the Pledge or “Score Your Shore” here.