What it means to be a Glen Lake Guardian

What it means to be a Glen Lake Guardian

The Guardian program educates and advocates protecting the Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed by engaging in best practices. Guardians voluntarily pledge to protect, and share their advocacy with others.

Aiming to help everyone understand how to better care for our lakes, river and watershed is the reason to read and familiarize yourself with best practices.

Guardian logo

Best practices

A comprehensive list is described in the Stewardship Checklist. (If you would like a hard copy of this manual, please contact the GLA, and we will mail you a copy.)

For the Guardian Program, we have identified 13 best practices that are very important to the watershed. These best practices are listed below with a brief description on why they are so important. We would like each of you to “Pledge to Protect” at least one or more best practices from three of the six categories listed below. Hopefully, you’ll pledge to do most or all of the items listed. Every little bit matters in the end.

In the Water

Trumpeter swan Little GlenObtain state permits when you’re thinking of modifying your shore is a good idea because permit requirements generally are written to protect water quality. Determine the best method to control invasive plants by contacting the chair of our Invasive Aquatic Plant Committee, Bill Meserve, at 231-334-7645.

Don’t feed the waterfowl on your shoreline and you’ll keep ducks, geese, and swans from gathering in concentrated groups where they will defecate, introducing harmful E. coli bacteria and excessive nutrients to the water.

Rake leaves and grass clippings to keep them out of the water. Composting your leaves away from the shore will return nutrients to the forest and not in the water.

Watercraft and Recreation

Use the GLA boat wash (or a home boat wash) before you launch your boat to keep invasive plants and aquatic animals from entering the lake.

Avoid using soaps and shampoos in the lake.

Inspect boats for fuel/oil leaks.

On the Land

ellie beachBy using eco-friendly soaps and detergents, you are prolonging the life of your septic system and not damaging the essential bacteria and other microbes that help make your septic system perform as it should.

Using eco-friendly pesticides will protect the environment from chemicals.

Proper storage of pesticides, fertilizers, and fuels will protect our ground water.

Taking part in the periodic hazardous waste collections will safeguard these products from entering soils, ground water, septic systems, and surface water. Adding chemicals from products such as paints, oils, pesticides, herbicides, medical wastes to either the ground water or surface water would be a serious breach of protecting our lakes and river.

Invasive Species Prevention 

GLA Volunteers and DNR Assembling LGlen Boat wash stationUse the GLA boat wash (or a home boat wash) before you launch your boat to keep invasive plants and aquatic animals from entering the lake.

Well and Septic System

Pumping your septic system on a regular basis helps prolong the life of your drain field along with preventing your system from malfunctioning and extending the life of your system. Failed septic systems can pollute the lake.

By avoiding bleach and not adding commercial products to your septic system, you prolong the life of your system and save money. Commercial products have little or even harmful effects on your septic system, according to the Leelanau County Health Department and septic haulers.


Greenbelt 2Greenbelts (vegetated buffers) help protect the water by removing excess nutrients entering the lakes and rivers, thereby preventing overgrowth of aquatic plants and algae. They also protect the lake from erosion that usually has a harmful effect on the lake by transporting nutrients and changing the natural bottom of the shoal. Greenbelts also provide habitat for all kinds of wildlife, while deterring geese and ducks from congregating in your yard. While the best lake protection is provided by a greenbelt across your full lakeshore, we have established a goal of 70% greenbelt protection for the Guardian Program.

(Note: In a few lake areas, wind and wave patterns on some shorelines are so severe a retention wall may be necessary. Our GLA biologist will work with you and your landscaper to design the best protection, given your unique circumstances.)

Planting trees is a good practice to consider because trees help fortify the greenbelt and replace trees that are diseased or have been damaged by storms. The watershed is experiencing significant die-off of Ash, Birch and Beech trees and oak-blight disease has now been documented in Leelanau County. The leaves of a tree help deflect the rain, slowing it down thereby reducing the harmful effects of runoff and erosion.

Using lake water for irrigation instead of well water is a wise choice because lake water already has some nutrient content to feed your greenbelt thereby reducing the need to fertilize.

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